Welcome to the two hundred and eighty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with children’s author Colleen Robley Blake. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Colleen.
Colleen: Hi and thanks so much for having me on your blog.
Morgen: Oh you’re very welcome – pleasure to have you here. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Colleen: I was born and spent most of my childhood in Trinidad, West Indies with my grandparents and moved to Brooklyn, New York at age twelve to live with my parents. I currently reside in Connecticut. When my youngest son Alex was 4 years old he complained about not being able to do everything his older brother Stephen did. He wanted to go to school, play baseball and get his own library card. One day I decided to write down everything he complained about and that’s how my first book, “I Can’t Wait Till I’m Five” was self published.
Morgen: Ah, sweet. 🙂 What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Colleen: I currently write non-fiction children’s picture books which are real life events of my two boys Stephen and Alex. Sometimes I do consider writing other genres.
Morgen: Writing different things is great when you get stuck although I’m sure you have plenty to keep you going for now. What have you had published to-date?
Colleen: To date I have three books published, I Can’t Wait Till I’m Five (process of re-writing); Mom, I Fired The Babysitter! and Living With Mom Spending Time With Dad. My next book, Don’t You Wish Your Momma Could Cook Like Mine? is currently available for pre-order.
Morgen: Wow, I’ve seen so many cookery-related books coming out (although not children’s) – I put a comment on Facebook the other day wondering whether having a recession was just a coincidence. 🙂 Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Colleen: Yes, I have had many rejections. In the beginning I took rejection really hard but now I just say, “Ok” and keep it moving. Not everyone is going to like my books. The ones that do enjoy my books more than make up for the people that don’t.
Morgen: Absolutely. It’s just the right thing for the wrong person – one person’s opinion. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions?
Colleen: I Can’t Wait Till I’m Five was a finalist in the USA Best Book Awards competition.
Morgen: Well done. 🙂 Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Colleen: No I don’t have an agent. Times have changed and I don’t believe that an agent is vital to an author’s success.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? Were you involved in that process at all? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Colleen: Mom, I Fired The Babysitter! is available as an e-book and yes I was involved in that process. I currently don’t have time to do a lot of reading.
Morgen: Oh me neither although having a new Short Story Saturday (review page) means that I have to at least read one short story a week… no hardship. 🙂 How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Colleen: I do 100% of the marketing for all my works.
Morgen: Did you have any say in the title / covers of your book(s)? How important do you think they are?
Colleen: I choose all the titles for my books which I believe are very important especially since they are children’s books.
Morgen: That’s very true, and they are very clear titles. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Colleen: I am currently working on releasing my next book, Don’t You Wish Your Momma Could Cook Like Mine? and a CD titled, Respectfully, Alex. I just released the first song on the CD, Don’t You Wish Your Momma Could Cook Like Mine? by Rapper-Man which is available on Itunes, Amazon, Jango Airplay and Reverbnation.
Morgen: Oh wow, that sounds like fun. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Colleen: I don’t write everyday and so far I have not suffered from writer’s block.
Morgen: Me neither – I have far more ideas than I have time to do something with… at the moment. 🙂 Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Colleen: I have someone that edits my books.
Morgen: Me too. I really don’t think that you can do it yourself. Plus my editor comes up with some wonderful suggestions. Do you have to do much research?
Colleen: The only research I do is checking to see if there is a book with the same title.
Morgen: That’s a good idea. Yours do sound fairly unique but you never know. 🙂 What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Colleen: My books are told from my kids (mainly my youngest son) perspective.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Colleen: As long as I am in control all my works will be published.
Morgen: 🙂 What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Colleen: I love writing and my favourite part is seeing how much the kids enjoy my books when I do book readings. My least favourite, hardest and most surprising part is marketing.
Morgen: Most of my interviewees have said that. I think in a way we’d all just rather write… or have a better ratio between one and the other. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Colleen: Keep doing what you enjoy. Listen to all the advice that is given to you, but keep being you. Keep writing about what interests you. Don’t give up.
Morgen: Absolutely. If you could invite someone from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Colleen: My books are written in a rhyming prose so the person that most comes to mind is Dr. Seuss. My sister is a wonderful cook so she would be my chef for the day.
Morgen: Ah, handy. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Colleen: Yes. How people treat you is their Karma… How you react is yours.
Morgen: I really like that. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Colleen: Yes. I’m in the process of completing the last song for my CD Respectfully, Alex.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Colleen: When I’m not writing I’m marketing, marketing, marketing. My other favourite hobby is shopping.
Morgen: Ah yes, retail therapy. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Colleen: I just really started utilizing facebook and twitter for my works so right now it’s hard to say.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Colleen: The world is ours as long as we keep putting out great works.
Morgen: 🙂 Where can we find out about you and your work?
Colleen: My books are available on my website www.robleyblake.com. I’m currently working on getting all my books into the stores, but right now Mom, I Fired The Babysitter! is available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Colleen: Yes, I would like everyone to please listen to Don’t You Wish Your Momma Could Cook Like Mine? by Rapper-Man and tell me what you think of the song and become a fan.
Morgen: The title hooked me in. 🙂 Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Colleen: Just thanks a bunch for allowing me to be on your blog. Much appreciated!
Morgen: “Allowing”… I’m such a hard task master. 🙂 Thank you, Colleen.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
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