Saturday, September 3, 2011

Interview with Susan Crites author of "I Love You More Than Rainbows"

Tell us a bit about you?
A bit about me . . . I live life at a slower pace than most in a quaint, small town with my husband, Jeff, and our 2 sweet dogs, Emma and Sophie.  My favorite subject in school was math and my least favorite was most of Social Studies.  The extent of my artistic ability is not much more than drawing stick figures.  Swimming was my sport of choice from age 5 through college and I feel like a fish out of water if I'm not in a pool regularly.  I have a huge sweet tooth.  I love going for a drive on a nice day with the windows down.  I have a big soft spot for animals, kids, the elderly, as well as those who are physically or mentally challenged.  I'm incredibly grateful to our military.  I love to observe life around me and I find it very important to stop for ice cream, just because.  :)

What inspired you to write I Love You More Than Rainbows?
I rarely have just one thing that inspires me.  I get ideas anywhere and everywhere, but I wanted to write a book that could be a bedtime favorite.  I wanted a book that allows little ones to have that safe, warm feeling as the lights get turned out.  This quote from former First Lady Barbara Bush says it pretty well for me:  
Reading helps us grow, head and heart. It gets children ready for school and helps them do better once they get there. It's a special time for children to be close to grown-ups who care for them - a wonderful way to feel loved. -Barbara Bush
What do you hope children learn from your book?
I believe it's so important for children to hear "I love you" and I have yet to discover a child (young or older) who has heard it more than needed.  That knowledge and security provide confidence and encouragement, allowing them to thrive whether life is going well or is hard.  To know they have a support system gives them hope and joy, even when life is uncertain.  That's my number one goal, but I also hope readers learn to savor the every day things.  The every day things keep life special and remind us all that it's not material objects that keep us happy, but the joy we find in the world around us, wherever that may be.  When adults walk away with those points as well, that's the icing on the cake for me.  

Are you planning to write any new books in the future?  Can you give us a sneak peek?
Currently, I have 5 manuscripts in the hands of a potential agent.  I also have several others close to finished where I'd feel comfortable sending them to be considered for publication.  A few are follow ups to "I Love You More Than Rainbows" so I have a series of "I love you" books, but each with its own personality.  I have a variety of different little tales that hopefully will put a smile on many children's faces, most of which involve an animal as one of the key characters.  I also have ideas for a couple of different series.  It's a tough market, but I look forward to seeing where this journey will take me.

What do you do in your spare time when you’re not writing?
I love taking walks, stopping to smell the roses as the saying goes, spending time with my husband, our two dogs, as well as friends and family.  A good book of any kind can't be beat, especially pool side or on the beach.  I enjoy being outdoors all times of the year and I love watching movies, particularly in the theater because somehow their popcorn always tastes better than popcorn at home.  

Who was your favorite author when you were young?
I loved (and still do) so many different books and enjoyed so many different authors, but the one that comes to mind quickly is Beverly Cleary.  I could relate to her characters so well and her books were ones I could read over and over.  I still do, in fact!  My favorite illustrator has always been Sandra Boynton.  Her work ignites creativity for me.  Now that she writes board books, I of course have a nice collection of those.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read, read, read.  The more we read, the more we notice writing styles, find what we like, what we don't like and why we have that opinion.  Our vocabulary expands, an appreciation for words comes and knowing why a person likes certain books / authors can really help him/her find their style of writing.  Also, don't be afraid to just write.  Like anything else, the more you do, the better you get.  Not everything you write is going to get published, but it will help you on your journey.  Don't let "writer's block" hit you.  If the words aren't coming for what you planned to write, write what is coming to mind.  I typically have a half a dozen manuscripts I'm working on at the same time.  Sometimes I even come up with an idea out of the blue and am able, from that idea, to write a full manuscript easier and quicker than an idea I've been working on for years.  I can't remember ever writing any of my manuscripts from beginning to end.  I write parts and piece them together, then edit, edit, edit.  Again, it's what words are flowing.  A little bit of writing at a time is just fine and let your work sit for a while.  When you come back to it you'll have a fresh set of eyes to help with revision, finding the strengths and weaknesses of your writing, sometimes realizing you need to start over, and sometimes surprising yourself that what you've written is pretty darn good.  

Describe yourself  with 5 words.
goofy, grateful, happy, driven, loved
How did you get interested in writing children's books?    
I'm going to put the blame on my husband. :)  I love being with kids and when they "get me" and my goofy-ness (is that a word?) it only eggs me on to have even more fun with them.  My husband suggested I put some of that onto paper, so after a while of tinkering, I just had fun with it and it has become one of my favorite things to do.  Not everything I write will be published, but the possibilities are endless and the beauty of the imagination is you can go anywhere and do anything.
Where can people buy your books? 
Right now it's not that easy to find a hardcover version.  If you look on Amazon, you can find some from other sellers that are in good shape and frankly, at a terrific price.  Amazon has the small board book version in stock which is nice for the "excited page turners" or those who always want a book handy.  "I Love You More Than Rainbows" is also available on the iPad, Barnes & Noble's Book Nook and Kindle.  
Do you have a web page or fan page?    
I do indeed have a website and I'm on Facebook.  
My website is  (I'm looking forward to putting a new site up.)
I have an author Facebook page: Susan Crites Facebook Page 
I have a book page on Facebook:  I Love You More Than Rainbows  
I'm on Twitter and Linked In and I love having folks on my journey with me!
(FYI - In your search, I'm not the Susan Crites who writes ghost stories. Strictly picture books for me.)  

Anything else you would like to share?
Thank you for the privilege of sharing my book with all of you!  Whatever your choice of books, I encourage parents to take the time and energy to read with their kids.  I think you'll find the rewards are tremendous!

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