Author Interviews

* you can find the original interviews and much more on my 'everything writing' blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com), the main items being the interviews (new ones posted there 7am UK time daily) as well as author spotlights, guest posts, flash fiction or poetry 7pm.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Author interview no.628 with children’s writer Dr Cherrye Vasquez (revisited)


Back in January 2013, I interviewed author Cherrye Vasquez for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the six hundred and twenty-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with children’s author Dr Cherrye Vasquez. 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, Dr. Vasquez. Please tell us something about yourself.
CherryeDr. Vasquez: I am a public school administrator and an adjunct professor. I’ve obtained a Doctorate of Philosophy in Curriculum & Instruction; a Master of Education in Special Education; and a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Pathology / Audiology. My specialties include Multi-cultural education and I hold certifications in Early Childhood Handicapped, Mid-Management and Educational Diagnostician. I live in Houston with my husband, Roy and my daughter, Kelly.
Morgen: You write fiction, how do you decide what to write about?
Dr. Vasquez: My writing, although fiction; mirrors my personal life, so my characters were created to fit the story line of my book, so that I could best tell my story and the message that I want children to learn from my book.
Morgen: They say to write about what you know. What have you had published to-date?
Dr. Vasquez: I have published three books to-date. My first book, No Tildes on Tuesday, is a children’s chapter book geared toward children aged 7-13 years old. In addition, I’ve published two Daybooks: Affirmation Daybook and Diversity Daybook. These are journal writing books with the purpose of children journaling about their uniqueness while affirming who they are and what they will become in life.
Morgen: What a great idea. Journaling is so popular with adults that it makes sense to encourage children to do that. Writing can be so therapeutic. Have you self-published? If so, what lead to you going your own way?
Dr. Vasquez: My publisher for No Tildes on Tuesday is Tate Publishing & Enterprises. They do not consider themselves to be a vanity publisher, but many people consider this for them since they require upfront costs to actually publish your work. Tate produced an excellent book for me. My two Daybooks were published through CreateSpace.com
Morgen: If you’re happy with them that’s the important thing. Are your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Dr. Vasquez: My books are available as eBooks, but I have not read an eBook. I do not own a Nook, or other like devices for that purpose. At this time, it’s paper all the way.
Morgen: Most people do prefer paper, although it’s great having the choice. Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books?
Dr. Vasquez: Yes, I had input in the title of my book, No Tildes on Tuesday. Actually, the first title was, “Call Me Biracial, Not Bilingual,” but the “storm committee” at Tate suggested that I look at 10 different titles they created for my book. Of the ten, I decided that No Tildes on Tuesday was a great fit and actually had to add a sentence to include a catchy “play on words” way to depict its meaning.
Morgen: It’s a great title. How important do you think they are?
Dr. Vasquez: Titles are very important. I’ve had many people to question the title of my book, and although it’s a great conversation starter, I’d rather people read the book and experience an “ah huh” moment to determine how the title fits into the story line.
Morgen: :) What are you working on at the moment / next?
Dr. Vasquez: Currently, I am sending out Dedicated Identity, the sequel to No Tildes on Tuesday to publishers. I am also working on a book about bullying. I have not settled on a title for my bullying book as of date.
Morgen: I’ve interviewed a couple of authors who’ve written books on that topic. It’s such an important topic that I don’t think there can be too many books about it. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Dr. Vasquez: No, I can’t write everyday. I have to market everyday to keep my business going, but writing is always on my mind.
I suffer from writer’s block at times, but when I’m in the mood to write down my thoughts, there is no block.
Morgen: Me too. I’m very fortunate. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Dr. Vasquez: I do lots of editing because I am able to put my books down for a while and go back to them. I always need a fresh start and clear mind. When I put my writing down for a while and give myself a break, I can always come back refreshed and find errors. I’ll have to admit, however, that my writing becomes more fully-formed as time goes on.
Morgen: I equate writing to painting or playing the piano; the more we do (practice), the better we get. Do you have to do much research?
Dr. Vasquez: Due to my passion of learning as much as I can about my two platform topics, Diversity and Bullying, I must remain abreast of current laws and trends. For example, some states are implementing the “The Dignity for All Students Act.” Those who are advocates for bully reform must know which states are adhering to this new act. New York and eleven other states enforced this new act July 1, 2012. Becoming more conscious of this news allows me to prepare my thoughts and outline plans to help enforce while giving informed and helpful tips to all involved.
A few years ago I took a course with the Institute of Children’s Literature, so from time to time, I review my notes and remember some of the skills that I learned.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Dr. Vasquez: No, I believe that my work will eventually get around to many states and school districts. Although it may take some time, I stand behind my work and I believe in its effect on students all over.
Morgen: Do you pitch for submissions and / or are you commissioned to write?
Dr. Vasquez: No. In the past, I’ve used Book Markets for Children’s Writers to determine which publishing houses are accepting submissions in my genre. I write because I am passionate about my genre and I want to help as many children as I can become productive citizens in our society.
Morgen: You’re a very positive lady. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Dr. Vasquez: Oh, Yes! I’ve had several rejections. Some people offer great advice for your work while others are uninhibited and direct. Whatever the case, I can learn from anyone’s critique of my work if there be any. I take the critiques and use what I can. I may or may not agree with some of the comments, but it has no barring on my work or hard work. Writers can’t get tangled up in their emotions. Everyone wants to be the perfect author, but the truth is all of us can learn something. At times there will be critiques worthy of me pausing and taking a look. The writer must decipher the difference and then move on.
Morgen: It’s the best thing to do, however hard. Do you enter any fiction competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Dr. Vasquez: I’ve actually tried to enter a couple of competitions via SCBWI, but they do not recognize Tate Publishing & Enterprise as a traditional publisher and denied my entries.
Morgen: It’s a shame that a competition judges by publisher rather than the writing itself but I guess they have their rules (I’m not a fan of rules but do stick to them when submitting anywhere). Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Dr. Vasquez: No, I do not have an agent. Since I have not had an agent, it would be difficult for me to answer this question. I’d hope that an agent would help me get to the best publishers. The more known a publisher is, hopefully they will assist with your work and gaining greater visibility.
Morgen: I think that’s what we all want of an agent, although these days it’s notoriously more difficult to get an agent than a publisher, and I know of agents who have become publishers, or retired / changed career. You mentioned earlier that you “market daily”. How much do you do?
Dr. Vasquez: Marketing is a non-stop job. I rise in the morning with marketing on my mind and I retire with marketing on my mind. So that I can maintain a strong brand for my name and work, I have enrolled in several social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest. Just recently I have indulged in article marketing and collaborative marketing. I now know how to Skype, I am videoing myself more and I will be attending more signings in the near future.
Morgen: It sounds like you’re doing all the right things. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Dr. Vasquez: I love what I do, so writing and publishing are both very exciting for me. If children can gain positive progress from my work, this would please me greatly. The amount of time that I have to spend on the computer marketing my work has taken me by storm, but I love the computer.
Morgen: I definitely spend more time at my computer than anywhere else. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Dr. Vasquez: Aspiring writers must realize that writing the books is the easiest part of being an author. Marketing your book and getting it into the hands of, or in front of your targeted audience will be the most difficult part for you. You will want to keep your faith and take one day at a time. It is also advisable to have money stashed away in order to help you with possible marketing packages, and “out of the box” ideas and tricks to push your book out in the public.
Morgen: It’s all about doing as much as you possibly can, isn’t it. If you could invite people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Dr. Vasquez: I’d love to meet Bill Cosby. I love what Mr. Cosby stands for and I love his ethics for our society and young people. Meeting our Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama, would thrill me immensely. President Obama is the epitome of world peace, love and respect for all people. Like Bill Cosby, he is a very intelligent and forthright gentleman.
Morgen: I think they’d balance each other really well. I always enjoyed Bill’s humour and Mr Obama seems a very genuine man, from what we see on the other side of the pond. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Dr. Vasquez: Love is the key to Diversity!
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Dr. Vasquez: Isabella, my main character from No Tildes on Tuesday is my favourite. If my book were turned into a film, I’d probably ask my daughter if she’d take the lead acting role.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Dr. Vasquez: I usually do not plot my stories. If I get an idea in my head, I’ll just start writing. I have been advised to plot my stories, but I’ll usually write first and then look at an outline later just so that I am focused on great writing.
Morgen: I only plotted my first novel but found it went off tangent so often that I just let it do its own thing. I’ve done that with the five subsequent books, although the latest one is the first of a crime series which need an outline for it and subsequent books. It’s been an interesting process. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Dr. Vasquez: I don’t necessarily have a method for creating my characters, but it is important for me as an author to use terms and current trends that children currently use when I’m writing my books. I want children to relate to my message and book so that it will appeal to their interests, so I have to listen to this age group very well. I’ve learned to ask myself, “Would a 13 year old really use this/these word(s)?”
Morgen: I wouldn’t have a clue. I have a family living next to me with two teenagers and a five year old so I could check with them but it’s probably why I don’t write for children… because I don’t have any of my own. What point of view do you find most to your liking?
Dr. Vasquez: I love the “first person” point of view. I feel that this allows me bring my character to life.
Morgen: It certainly does. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Dr. Vasquez: During the summer of 2012, I was asked to participate in a virtual author tour with Ovaleye.com as an Author Advisor.
Recently, I’ve begun Article Marketing. The articles that I write and post to Myezinearticles.com are definitely relative to my platform topics Diversity and Bullying issues. I am surprised to learn this style of marketing actually gets unexpected contacts and draws people to your website.
Collaborative Marketing is another marketing concept that is very unique. Another author, Josephine Scott, creates beautiful and creative Diversity Cards actually created a card related to Bullying and added my name and website at the bottom.  I’ll place a copy of the card on my table whenever I am doing a signing. By doing so, it creates a marketing win-win for both of us.
Morgen: What a great idea, and a great topic for a guest blog. :) What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies?
Dr. Vasquez: When I’m not writing I love spending time with my family. I don’t have any hobbies to speak of, so any spare time is given to them since most of my time is spent writing.
Morgen: Me too. I have art equipment and a keyboard waiting patiently in my loft for some spare time. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Dr. Vasquez: Writing will be around as long as there are people to write. People are always looking for new and exciting materials to read. Avid readers will keep writers very busy.
Morgen: As long as they write new and exciting. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Dr. Vasquez: To learn more about me and my work, please visit my website at: www.BooksThatSow.com
There, you will also find links to my social networking sites, my blogs, articles and so much more.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Dr. Vasquez: My platform centers on diversity and bullying issues.  It is my desire for children to realize that they are very important and unique.  I believe that all children should learn about each other's similarities as well as differences.  I maintain that when children learn from one another they also learn that others are just as unique, beautiful, and important as they are. Children will become more diversified in their communities, and in our schools while learning and engaging in activities that can be useful in their own lives.
I trust that adults / educators will promote diversity awareness among children by role modelling and creating an atmosphere of respect and care for others while implementing appropriate culturally relevant materials/activities in the classroom setting in an orderly, consistent and systematic fashion.  By doing so, perhaps bullying in our schools will become a record low.
Morgen: Thank you, Cherrye.
I then invited Cherrye to include a synopsis of her latest book…
Isabella, the main character in the book, No Tildes on Tuesday, is biracial. She doesn’t want to learn her father’s first language, Spanish. Abuela, Isabella’s grandmother, wants Isabella to learn Spanish and encourages her son Antonio, Isabella’s Dad that Isabella she speak the language. Isabella is adamant about learning Spanish because she has only identified with one half of her heritage all these years. Isabella goes on a journey to avoid it. When Isabella learns that her family has to move to a new neighbourhood, she believes that most of the children there will speak Spanish, and she won’t be able to understand them, so she doesn’t want to move. Once Isabella moves, she meets a new friend who introduces her to the one half of her culture that she has been avoiding.
*
Cherrye Vasquez is a public school administrator and an adjunct professor. She is a Doctorate of Philosophy in Curriculum & Instruction; a Master of Education in Special Education; and a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Pathology / Audiology. Vasquez specializes in Multi-cultural education and holds certifications in Early Childhood Handicapped, Mid-Management and Educational Diagnostician. She lives in Houston with her husband, Roy and her daughter, Kelly.
Vasquez’ platform centers on diversity and bullying issues.  It is her desire for children to realize that they are very important and unique.  Vasquez believes that all children should learn about each other's similarities as well as differences.  She maintains that when children learn from one another they also learn that others are just as unique, beautiful, and important as they are. Children will become more diversified in their communities, and in our schools while learning and engaging in activities that can be useful in their own lives.
Vasquez also trusts that adults / educators can promote diversity awareness among children by role modelling and creating an atmosphere of respect and care for others while implementing appropriate culturally relevant materials / activities in the classroom setting in an orderly, consistent and systematic fashion.  By doing so, perhaps bullying in our schools will become a record low.
***
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.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
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