Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How I Became a Children’s Book Author

I used to think writing children’s books was boring. Writing for those demanding, whining creatures? Are you kidding? Not for me. No thanks.

That was a few years ago.

Now, nothing fills me with more joy and excitement than writing a picture book or a novel for tweens. Writing for children is like stepping into a fresh, magical, innocent, marvelous world of color and words. Writing for children is, in fact, like walking on a rainbow.

So how did the change happen?

Easy. I had children.

I recently read an interesting post by another children’s author about how in order to write good children’s stories, one must know children. Of course, as always, there are exceptions to the rule, but in general, I find this observation to be true. This doesn’t necessarily mean that one must have children in order to write great children’s stories, but it does mean that one must interact with them, know their fears, fantasies, dreams. In sum, one must have a clear idea of what goes on inside their little heads and hearts.

In my case, having children brought out a tender, gentler part of me to the surface, a part I didn’t know I had. Suddenly, as I read to my little daughter every night, picture books, with their beautiful and evocative illustrations, became very appealing to me. I don’t remember when the exact moment happened, the moment when I thought, ‘I want to write a children’s book.’ But I do know I went from extreme to extreme: from chilling horror to sweet picture books. Two very different worlds, but I’m able to switch from one to the other without much problem. On the contrary, each one serves as a refreshing break from the other. So I may work on a lovable children’s story in the morning, and dive into a disturbing werewolf scene in the afternoon. It’s fun, like having split personalities, without the crazy element (or at least, I hope so!).

So far, I’ve had five picture books out: The Magic Violin, Crash, Chocalín (Spanish edition), Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster and Frederico, the Mouse Violinist. Two more are in the illustrating stages and will be published next year. I also have a middle-grade novel and about ten more picture book manuscripts doing the agent/publisher roundup.

The world of children’s book publishing is extremely competitive, to say the least. It takes hard work, dedication, perseverance and commitment to become a published author. I know the stakes, but once you step into that magical rainbow, there’s no turning back.


Beverly Stowe McClure said...

You're right, Mayra. Once you start writing for children, there is no turning back. It's so much fun, at least to me.

Michelle V said...

Very nice post! It's wonderful when you're doing something you enjoy!

Becoming Supermommy said...

Hi there! Found your through MBC! I'm following you now. Hope you'll follow me back!

Nicole weaver said...

Hi Mayra,

Great post. I too love writing for children, but I must confess it is the most difficult thing I have ever done.

Nicole Weaver

Anonymous said...

Writing for any market is competitive, under any circumstances. I can't begin to imagine how you would compete for the children's attention and the parents' pocketbook!

Cheryl said...

Wonderful post, Mayra. Congratulations on your success. Your books are lovely. So glad you found something you enjoy doing.