Interview with Author Sharon Cramer
Sharon Jean Cramer was born in Jamestown, New Yorkin 1960. She has lived throughout the United States, finally settling in the Pacific Northwest. She attended IdahoStateUniversityand then GonzagaUniversity. Sharonis married, has three sons of her own and she, her husband, and the cougar cubs currently reside, happily, in Spokane, Washington. Cougar Cub Tales: Lost and Alone, written and illustrated by Sharon Cramer is the first book in the Cougar Cub Tales Series and the prestigious winner of the Mom s Choice Award for best picture book http://www.cougarcubtales.com/
Interview with Sharon Cramer author of Cougar Cub Tales
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog
Thank you for having me!
What is the last book you read?
The last book I read was Under the Dome: Stephen King, but that was last winter reading and a guilty pleasure. I’m writing right now, a new YA series, and I don’t read when I write … I feel like I’m too influenced by whatever I’m reading at the time, and it colors my own creativity. Kind of a sad sacrifice if you think about it!
What were your earliest memories of writing?
I wrote a poem for my mom on mother’s day, I don’t think I was even in first grade … I wonder if my brother helped me? Hmmm… After that, I can’t ever remember NOT writing … It’s like food, I need it.
Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
It was, is, an addiction. I CAN’T not write. It’s like … flying … I think, very freeing, and I step out of my skin in a wonderful way when I’m writing. My husband snatches the laptop out of my lap late at night and makes me sleep …
Are you working on a new book?
Oh yes! I’m working on three new books. The third of the Cougar Cub Tales series, called The Sneezy Wheezy Day. One of the cubs becomes ill and they search the forest for friends who might help. It’s the best one so far, I think! And, Marlo and the Monster, which is a step on the wild side. It’s a tedious work in black and white and the story is so very engaging! This one is very different … I’m also working on a young adult, around nine to thirteen age group, series that is very other-worldly; kids sci-fi sort of. I’m really excited about it and am thinking about doing some sketches for it as well. Finally, I have just finished a novel. I can’t breathe a word about it, but will release it under a pen name. It is a fourteenth century period piece that I have been working on for about twelve years.
How did you feel when you were awarded the Mom’s Choice Award for best picture book?
Stunned! I couldn’t stop jumping up and down. Actually, even more excited when the first little book, Lost and Alone won the silver than when Lost and Alone won the gold. I knew it was a great little book, but to have the validation was absolutely fantastic.
What inspired you to write Cougar Cub Tales?
The first little book, Cougar Cub Tales: Lost and Alone is a very old book. I wrote and painted it eighteen years ago for my youngest son, Chase. When he was born, I had two older sons who were eight and ten years old. This little book is about sibling rivalry, which was easy to write about, as you might imagine! Anyway, my twin sister saw the book and told me, “You know … that’s good! You should publish it.” Well, she passed away suddenly in her sleep, and the book went into hiding in my closet. It was just too raw. SOOooo … three years ago, eleven years after her death, I pulled it out of the closet and fulfilled her wise recommendation. That set it all in motion!
How did you come up with each characters?
The Cougar Cub brother and sister are North American critters. I wanted siblings youngsters, male and female, but something that was a strong creature from the Pacific Northwest as well. I live in Washington, and the cougar cubs were a sure fit. Cougar Cubs are adorable and endearing, but strong. Then, I add other creatures from the Pacific Northwest, like bobcats, bears, snowy owls, you know … beautiful and engaging creatures that live around us.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
Not really, although I do have moments when I feel like working on one project more than another.
What is the most difficult part of writing?
Finding the time to do it. If all I had to do was write and paint, life would be a cakewalk. I could wake up and write all day, that would be perfect. I have to make myself walk away from it so that I can engage humanity, ha ha! At this very moment, my husband is shoving toast under my nose saying, “Eat … eat …”
What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?
Sleep … and not nearly enough. No, it’s not that bad, really! I have a horse, ride almost every day. He’s a real nerd and my best furry friend. Check him out on youtube here … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ul8mR_r6po8 I also have three grown sons who live close, and a grand-daughter who is five. She is great, and a tough critic. Makes me compete with Dora and Spongebob … yikes!
How do you react to a bad review?
I haven’t had very many bad reviews, but when I do, I take it with a sense of sincere thankfulness. It is humbling, and makes me also seek the mindset of the reviewer. Like, what was it that I failed to connect with that got me the bad review? It’s all good, really; makes me grow.
What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
First and foremost, I want to entertain them. I want them to love the experience and want to read more! Especially kids! Get good stuff in their hands that engage and challenge them, and they will reach for another and another book. That’s nothing but awesomeness! With the picture books, I also try to slip in a message, like sibling rivalry, intolerance, childhood illness, stuff like that. It’s fun, and the kids are enjoying the story so much that they hardly know they are learning about kids common issues as well.
Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
Dine with? Curious question … I would love to have dinner with the amazing Theodore Seuss Geisel … maybe spaghetti. He inspires me! Go Dog Go! Christopher Moore too; amazing comic writer and personal favorite of mine. A Dirty Job; pure brilliance. And who wouldn’t want to resurrect and brush the cobwebs off of Harper Lee and dine with her while finding out what inspired her to bring Atticus Finch and Scout to life. Wow … that was a great question.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I work very, very hard. I am my own task-master and consider my craft not only my passion but my career. Therefore, it gets the time and energy it deserves. I spend at least ten hours a day working on my trade.
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
For young ones, just read to them, and grab any book you see. The trick is volume at this age. Give them the world, and everything in and out of it, to experience. There is such a plethora of wonderful kids books out there that this is just plain fun! When you run across a book they don’t particularly like, talk to them about what it was they didn’t like.
As your children get older, towards double digits, put some of the classics in their hands, but be cautious. This is a hard age, around tenish. There is a plethora of “tween” lit out there that is just too much! The in-between age still deserves to be engaged with good literature, but without all the dismal, dark and passionate material that is being shoved at them at younger and younger ages. This is a tough one … there is not a huge sea to pick from for this age, believe it or not, and can be extremely frustrating. But hold out; save the darker tales for when they are a bit older…. and speaking of older kids; when they hit their mid teens and beyond, the world is their oyster so to speak. They will read what they will, and process it too. Young adults are reading edgier and more provocative reads than ever. Perhaps just be aware if they are focusing on just one trend, and help them expand on it if they are. For example, if they are only reading vampire novels, try to engage them with some well written comedy or human interest maybe. Don’t let them tunnel vision … it’s a big beautiful universe out there.
What advice you would give to new writers?
Edit, edit and re-edit. Join a writers group to share critiques and take them constructively and with a positive attitude. The goal is to improve. If you are doing rhyme, get a rhyming dictionary. Have your thesaurus at your disposal, and then throw short stories, paragraphs, etc. at anybody you can, for their feedback. When you can, exclude friends and family … sorry, but they love you and may not be your best critic. Also, ask yourself if your passion stems from your creativity or from your desire for recognition or fame. If it is the latter, then you will most likely lack what it really takes TO gain recognition. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein at the age of eighteen as a friendly competition between a few fellow writers … she thought it over so passionately that she actually finally dreamed it … without ever realizing it might be published.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Thank you so sincerely for reading. It is truly a blessing to have you read my material. I hope beyond anything else that I have had a moment to thrill, entertain, shock, excite and inspire you and your child. If I have done that, I am fulfilled as well! Thank you! You are my heroes … I am in love with all of you.
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My name is Ella Johnson. I started Mymcbooks to promote reading. As a former teacher, I know that making basic education fundamentals interesting to children can be challenging. Education can be fun, exciting and captivating for children with the right learning tools. So my goal is to “make learning interesting and fun” for the children while they learn, by introducing them to fun books with colorful and captivating illustrations.
In 2009, I start the giveaway program giving away free school supplies at random to 2 winners each year. I also started a monthly free giveaways for books and gifts.
August 2010, I extended the free school supplies from 2 to 5 winners at random on my blog and also give away 20 bags full of school supplies to familes in need at Chick-fil-A in Brandon, Florida during their family nights. And in 2012, I beat my that number and gave away a lot of school supplies to needy families. Hopefully, I can continue to do this each year.
In 2011, I started writing reviews on children’s books then giving these books away free on Mymcbooks Blog. I increase the number of books we giveaway free to help support parent. My goal is to give away as many as I can each year. This is also a great way to introduce parents to new books.
Mymcbooks blog is always looking for other ways to give kids free books. So I started Mymcbooks Birthday Library http://mymcbooksbirthdaylibrary.wordpress.com/
My goal is to giveaway at least 300 books to children each year.
Books Given in 2011: 315
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Read Interview about Ella Johnson, http://melangeofcultures.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/interview-with-ella-johnson-founder-of-memorable-children-books-gifts/ Interviewer: Nicole Weaver
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