November and December is a busy time for author, Susie Caron. Susie is currently celebrating the release of her books, Twee’ and I Am Twee’ as part of her ‘Between You and Me’ series of children’s books.
Susie’s allegory picture books developed over many years experience as a wife, mother, teacher, entrepreneur, riding school instructor, Christian, friend and psychotherapist. Susie explains that she wrote her first series ‘Between You and Me’ as allegories because they allow individuals to make meaning of a story in individually unique ways. Her series is also written to encourage adults and children to read together, which provides multiple benefits in itself. Susie adds, ‘reading, listening to and talking with children about their feelings leads to a deeper connection between adult and child, and that is something we all want with our children’.
Hi Helen. Thank you for inviting me here. I am excited to share some of my journey to become an author.
That’s wonderful Susie. To get started, could you tell us a little about yourself and your writing journey?
Currently I have two picture book allegories for children and adults, but I feel like I’m just getting started.
I love to help children and their adults to connect better. My writing is the result of multiple careers and various life experiences. Early in adulthood, I taught elementary school and adult education. When my husband and I adopted two infants, I wanted to be at home with them so I opened a horseback riding school. Ten years later, an illness caused me to close it. However, my health improved and I entered graduate school to fulfill an earlier dream. As a result I’m currently celebrating my 11th year as a private practice psychotherapist, working with children and their adults. My picture books developed out of my understanding that when kids empathize with a character, they find it easier to talk about their own situations and feelings.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes! I started journaling in childhood by writing to an imaginary big brother, I called Michael. However, work, family life and graduate school studies took precedence over everything for a time. Over the years, my work taught me that children don’t have enough ‘world view’ to adequately understand and describe their situations and feelings. I wanted to write picture books, with an adorable character, that could help them talk about their feelings with adults. My publishing debut as a picture book author seemed to be the best next step.
Did you love reading as a child? If so, what were your favorite books?
When I was very little my mother read poems to me, from A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. Later I read the Nancy Drew mysteries, the Hardy Boys and The Boxcar Children. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I became an avid reader. One of my literature teachers introduced me to works by Pearl Buck, John Steinbeck and Viktor E. Frankl and others. Then in college, I read everything I could get my hands on about children, child development and psychology. When I became a parent I read tons to my children, until they wouldn’t let me! They are adults now and continue to be avid readers!
Who is your favorite author and why?
Actually I don’t have one favorite author. It’s funny that I began publishing with fiction because the books I enjoy reading the most are narrative nonfiction books like James Harriot’s All Creatures Great and Small. I think that’s because I like stories that explore relationships and illustrate how people communicate their thoughts and feelings.
You have published two picture books in your ‘Between You and Me Series’: Twee’ and I Am Twee’. Could you tell us the inspiration behind this series?
The inspiration came from my work with children and their adults. Relationships are the key to understanding ourselves and relating to each other. By calling this series, “Between You and Me,” I indicate to readers that we need each other, and healthy relationships. My message is also that kids depend upon their adults to model and teach how to treat themselves and others. I purposefully designed my books to encourage more conversation about these issues.
What message do you want your readers to take from Twee’ and I Am Twee’?
I want readers to feel good about themselves, and about being themselves. Twee’ is an adorable, lovable character, with flaws, just like us. When she learns something new about herself and relationships in each book, I want kids and their adults to learn and empathize right along with her. Her messages are about affirming value in ourselves and each other.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block or did you encounter any other obstacles during the writing process of your books?
I deal with writers block by backing away from writing for a day. The biggest obstacle I encounter in the writing process is cutting down on the number of sentences, phrases and words I include in the picture books. I am a former teacher and now a psychologist. From each profession, I grew to really enjoy words, lots and lots of words, grouped into long sentences, punctuated by commas, in order to increasingly clarify the meaning. (Do you see what I mean?) I can’t do that in a picture book. So I have learned to just write first to get the story out. I return to it days later with a shovel, a hoe and a rake and take out everything that doesn’t move the story forward. In the process, I end up with a nice clean story with shorter sentences; a read aloud picture book!
Have you written in any other genre?
Yes, but they are not yet published. Right now I’m working on a book for parents. I also have two narrative non-fiction books about my life with kids and pets.
Some writers have a preferred writing schedule, do you?
I don’t prefer a schedule. I do prefer to write in the mornings. However, I initially lay out a book in my head. I like to know the frame or view point of the story, how it begins and ends. Then I work on constructing the middle. Finally, I sit down and just write it out, without critiquing myself at all. Later comes the hard work of editing. Of course, after I think I have finished, I send it out to a professional editor.
Do you have a favorite place to write?
Recently, my husband helped me to furnish an author’s den in our basement and that is all my own. Now I can make messes with sticky notes, and dry erase flow charts that help me when I write. I have to say that is my favorite place.
What is your greatest joy in writing?
My greatest joy is watching children’s faces light up as they identify with Twee’s feelings and her experiences. I see how they are touched when I read to them.
Is there one person you can think of who has played a significant part in your writing career? If so can you elaborate?
Oh, more than one person contributed! My “Between You and Me” series could not have happened without these principal players: 1stMy own two children, and many other children I have had the opportunity to know, to learn from, and to love. 2nd My husband, who always believes in me supports my numerous endeavors. 3rd. My faith. When I get a nudge to do something new, I believe God is in it and will see me through. 4th Kristen Eckstein, who became my publishing coach and Joe Eckstein, my cherished illustrator who brought Twee’ to life.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m really focused on marketing the first two books. However, the third is developing and I believe it will be released later in 2014. I am also engaged in work for a presentation to adults about the essential reasons to read to children as long as possible.
What attributes do you feel are necessary to be a successful author?
In a word: Tenacity. I discovered that writing a book or series is only a small part of the work of an author; maybe less than 25%. There is so much that needs to be done, and without ‘stick-to-it-ness’ attitude, an author could become discouraged. Tenacity and an absolute belief in the value of an author’s work, can, in time, produce a successful book campaign.
What words best describe you?
Well, tenacious of course! But, I’m also often disorganized. I have a mantra I live by daily which includes the concepts: Love, joy, gratitude, service, peace, heart and mind.
Do you have any tips for writers about the writing process or the path to publishing?
If you want to write, keep writing. It doesn’t matter if you plan to publish, but I can tell you as an author and a psychologist, writing can enhance your emotional well-being. If you really want to publish, there are lots of avenues for that. Before you choose one, be certain to research all kinds of publishing. Start to set up and become familiar with some social media accounts. That will help when you begin to market your book.
Thanks Susie for your tips. Let’s look at a page from Twee’.
Encouraging adults and children to read together is so important on a variety of levels, as you explain. So thank you for sharing your writing journey and the inspiration behind your ‘Between You and Me’ Series.
So just to finish up, could you please complete the following:
At school I was….baffled by relationships and non-verbal communication. It has become my life’s mission to read, study, watch, and learn how people come to know themselves, God, family and friends and to develop healthy relationships.
When I was a child I wanted…..to be a mommy!
I relax by… trail riding with my husband over the beautiful Vermont country-side, on our two horses, Apple and Popcorn!
Susie, where can we buy your books?
Thank you, Helen I’d love readers to click on the links below:
NB: If you have any trouble clicking on the following links, kindly copy and paste into your browser – thanks.
My Amazon Author Page
Twee’and I Am Twee’ in quality paperback andKindle editions.
Barnes and Noble:
I Am Twee’.
Readers can also check out my web site: http://www.susiecaron.com
And Twee’s Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/T.Twees
My UTube URL:http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EBaMrhG3DDw&feature=em-upload_owner&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DEBaMrhG3DDw%26feature%3Dem-upload_owner.
Capture the URLs for my books below.
I Am Twee’ Paperback
I Am Twee’ Kindle edition
Twee’. Kindle edition
Susie, thank you so much for dropping by this week and your words of inspiration. We wish you all the best with your ‘Between You and Me’ series, and hope you enjoy the rest of your virtual blog tour.
Thank you Helen for this opportunity to share myself and my books with you and your readers. This was fun!
My pleasure, Susie.
Interview copyright 19 November 2013. Helen Ross writes interviews children’s author, Susie Caron.