children’s authors

Interview: Literary Classics Award Winner, Carmela Dutra

Carmela Dutra, won Silver in the Early Reader (General) category in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest! Keep reading to learn more about this author and her award-winning book, Little Katie Goes to the Moon.

Congratulations on your achievement! When did you first start writing?

Thank you, very much Chess. I started writing off and on throughout my school years, taking creative writing classes. My first book was published 2013.

What’s the target age group for your books?

Grades 3-6

What inspired your award-winning book?

I knew I wanted something that would encourage girls in STEAM, I wanted it to be something fun and exciting, I just wasn’t sure what. One day, I was looking at pictures online and saw one of a little girl stretching upwards that read Reach for the Stars! It’s like a switch was flipped, and all these ideas just came spilling out.

Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.

Girls can do anything!

Do you have plans to, or have you already, released an audio edition of your book?

I am currently in the process of finishing my audio book for Little Katie Goes to the Moon. I’m excited to see the finished product with all its sound effects, I hope to have it ready for release very soon.

Who would you cast as the voice actor for your main character? 

My main character is a young girl, around 7-8 years old.  One of my best friends is the voice of Little Katie, I love the personality she gave her. If it were to be someone famous, I’m not sure to be honest.

Do you illustrate your own books?

Yes, I am the author and illustrator of all my books.

Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?

Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss influenced nearly every living American who ever learned to read, and I was one of them. He introduced millions of children to the joys of reading and the magic of wordplay. The way he was able to see things through the eyes of a child, teaching important lessons while you enjoyed tongue twisters. To this day I still say when I grow up I want to be like him.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?  

I cannot work if my space is even the slightest bit out of place. Before I can begin I have to clean and organize everything, after about 20 minutes of working, papers are all over the place and I don’t clean up again until I’m finished. When I’m illustrating it’s a must that I have 90s alternative playing the background. The music really helps set the mood for me and allows me to shut everything out around me.

How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?

It’s not easy. I think most authors hate promoting their own work. I think all of us would love to create our magic, then just move on and have everything fall into place. Sadly, that doesn’t happen for the average writer. Being a work at home mom to a small toddler and a photographer calls for a lot of scheduling! I must admit, I am not the best at sticking to my schedules, but they really help me when I do.

Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors?

I want to thank all of my readers, family, friends, and fans. I wouldn’t be able to keep going without all your support. Writing can be very lonely, and you help to make it less so. I would like to give a big congrats to all of my fellow award-winning authors, I am so happy for all of you. I know firsthand how hard all of you have worked to get to this point. Enjoy it, you’ve earned it!

Author Bio

Carmela Dutra is an award-winning author, storyteller, illustrator, wife and mother. She is currently residing with her family in the California Bay Area.

Nothing is more magical for a child than being transported to a new world where they can explore and discover unknown things.  Carmela is very passionate about children’s literacy, which is the main reason she started writing for her niece and nephew. With no intention of her work ever going public, she wanted to create something fun and special for them to enjoy.

She is best known for her frequent visits to classrooms in her community, where she shares her series and encourages children to set free their own creativity through writing, and drawing.

In addition to writing and illustrating, Carmela Dutra is also a professional photographer. Working with children is her passion! Whether she captures their whimsical nature through the lenses of a camera, or with her stories, she hopes to encourage children to find their own passion for reading and writing.

Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Award-Winning Book

Use your imagination and take a walk on the moon side of things with Little Katie and Smudge!

Discover why satellites are so important, explore information about spacesuits, imagine flying in a rocket ship, uncover facts about landing on the moon, learn about who landed on the moon first, and much more!

“This wonderfully imaginative and entirely charming book is one that kids will love to read again and again as they discover fascinating facts along with Katie and Smudge.” Literary Classics Book Awards

This book is available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and Carmela Dutra’s website.

Read more about the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest winners on my Interviews page and the Literary Classics website.

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Interview: Literary Classics Award Winner, Gary Schwartz

The King of Average, written by Gary Schwartz, won two Golds in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest, placing in Tween (General) and Middle School (Fiction). Schwartz will be attending the book festival in South Dakota this September.

Congratulations on your achievement! When did you first start writing?

I’ve written skits and sketches to perform in and kept a journal from the age of thirteen into my forties. During my career in Los Angeles as an actor, I tried my hand at screenplays and scripts but it wasn’t until my fifties that I attempted to write a book.

What’s the target age group for your book?

I’ve always enjoyed entertaining children, but I try to write for adults at the same time. It’s like Rocky and Bullwinkle. I loved the cartoon as a kid, but as I got older I realized it was adult political satire. I watch it today and still enjoy it. That’s my goal to write for kids but aim something at grownups.

What inspired your award-winning book?

To be sure it was The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. It was one of my favorite childhood books and I came up with the idea of trying to be more average than anyone else when I was eleven. That idea made me want to tell the same kind of story with great puns and wordplay.

Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.

“Every cloud has a silver lining.” Spoken by Monsieur Roget, the professional Optimist. I named him Roget, because I got tired of looking up synonyms for optimist in Roget’s Thesaurus.

Do you have plans to, or have you already, released an audio edition of your book?

I have already released the audio book this year and I will have special CD copies for sale at the festival.

Who would you cast as the voice actor for your main character?

Me, of course! 🙂 It’s no secret that my story’s hero, James, was me at age 11. Actually, my other career is as a voice actor in movies, TV and video games. (I am the voice of Heavy Weapons Guy and The Demoman in Team Fortress 2, Langus Tuno in Star Wars, The Old Republic, The Pilot and the “Tank” in Left 4 Dead 2 and several other games as well. Here’s a link to my IMDB profile: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0777229/.)

Do you illustrate your own books? If not, how did you find your illustrator?

My illustrator was a friend of a friend. She was a concept artist at Walt Disney Company and I gave her ideas on how I imagined each character. Her name is Nicole Armitage.

Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?

J.R.R. Tolkien, Frank L. Baum, Roald Dahl, Norton Juster and C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

I write in bursts. I procrastinate a lot, but when I get going I can sit for ten or more hours at a time. I love when that happens. I re-read a lot and vacillate between hating it and thinking it’s not so bad. I would like to be more disciplined, and am trying to be more scheduled, but to date, I have not been super successful. I hired a writing mentor to keep me accountable. That is how I got to finish my book after five re-writes.

How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?

I use book promotion as a way to procrastinate on my current writing project. It’s actually fun to promote, as that is what an actor essentially does his whole career. Promote yourself and work on your craft. I’m coming late to the writing game, but I want to achieve a level of success, if I can.

Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors?

I am glad my first book was so well received and I’m thrilled to know ‘real working authors’ and learn from them. This is a new world for me and so far, the writers I’ve met have been smart, hard-working and really interesting.

Author Bio

Gary Schwartz is an actor, director, and master improvisational acting coach.

He has appeared in numerous film and television projects, including the Oscar-winning feature film Quest for Fire. Schwartz has written for two children’s television series in which he co-starred: Zoobilee Zoo as Bravo Fox and the Disney Channel’s You and Me, Kid. As a voice-over artist, he’s lent his voice to hundreds of film and television projects and is the voice of several well-known video game characters, including Heavy Weapons Guy and Demoman in Team Fortress 2.

The King of Average is his first novel. Learn more at gary-schwartz.com.

You can also follow him and his writing on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Award-Winning Book

This delightful, pun-filled allegory tells the story of a neglected boy who is convinced he has no worth.  Inspired to become the King of Average, he undertakes a journey to a fantasy land filled with interesting characters that have strong personalities while also being archetypes. The book is fast-moving and funny, with a touch of sadness. It will appeal to adults as much as young readers, reminding all that average is not easy since everyone is special in his or her own way.

“This book has incredible depth with a delightfully engaging plot, threads of humor throughout, and a resounding underlying message that is truly inspired.” Literary Classics Book Awards

Amazon ~ Barnes&Noble ~ Audible

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