Thursday, January 12, 2012
The Writer's Block Interviews: Adele Crouch
1) Describe your journey as an author/writer.
Hello, my name is Adele Marie Crouch. I am an author and an artist. I'm going to take you on my journey, so fasten your seat belts - you are about to go back in time.
It all began when my eldest daughter, Charlie, bought me a computer for Christmas. This was in 1996 and things weren't anything like they are now, in the computer world. The machine was an MS/DOS 386 with no word program. The only way to connect to the internet was dial-up. Facebook and Kindle didn't exist yet and "search engines" were pretty tricky. A neighbor hooked me up with someone who could get my email set up and activated and the training began. Charlie was in Japan and I was in Arizona. She taught me to use the old relic via email for the sole purpose of writing that book she was so sure I could write. Now, I'm no spring chicken so this wasn't an easy task for either of us. I was determined to make her proud of me though.
It took at least six months, but I learned to enter the proper codes and began to write. My first book was an historic novel. I had Encyclopedia's and reference books all over the floor around my desk as I researched information from the 1800's in Missouri (remember search engines weren't quite as user friendly as they are now). Why did I pick Missouri as the location? I have no idea, it just happened. Why did I use the name of my grandmother and all her siblings as the characters for my book? I needed to bring a family to America from a foreign country. Since my grandmother and her family immigrated to America when she was young, they became my characters.
In the middle of working on the novel, I woke in the middle of the night with "stuff" going through my head. I went to the computer, typed it all in, printed it, and saved it for another day. That was the night I wrote my first children's book, How the Fox Got His Color, in November of 1997. I put it out of my mind and finished the novel, Catherine's Travels ~ Book 1, in December 1997. Then the search for a publisher began. I sent out dozens of query letters to no avail. Finally in 2001 I contacted a self-publishing company, paid a pretty healthy sum and my book was in print in September of that year. As you might expect, I didn't do much in sales. I did manage to break even by doing a lot of book signings and press releases, so I was happy. I had done what Charlie insisted I could do and it felt good.
Somewhere in there another middle of the night experience resulted in an additional children's book, Where Hummingbirds Come From. This one went in the file with the Fox story and they both gathered dust. The company I had chosen for my novel didn't do children's books. Then, in 2009 I was watching a talk show on T.V. and saw an interview with a man who had written Bo, America's Commander in Leash. Computers are much more user friendly by now and I Googled him. I found out he was the owner of a self publishing company that specialized in children's books. I contacted them, sent my two books, paid the fee (again), and my books were in print in 2010. The difference between this company and the one that published my novel: my novel publisher was a print on demand. That means no warehouse full of books to try to sell. When someone ordered, they printed. End of story. The children's book publisher printed 500 copies and then charged a fee to keep them in storage and distribute them to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and various book stores. That was on top of the publishing fees.
Charlie came home from Japan and said I should get the books translated into other languages and publish bilingual books. Well I didn't see that happening anytime soon. I was however, able to publish in Kindle format, at no cost. My books went up on Amazon in as many languages as I was able to find translators. Then Amazon came out with a wonderful addition to their site, CreateSpace. I was able to load books and get them on Amazon, in print, at no charge. While all this was going on, I wrote another book and did the illustrations myself. The Dance of the Caterpillars, a pictorial lesson in prepositions, was a fun book to write and illustrate. I did 8 x 10 acrylic paintings for every page in the book. It took about 2 days to write the book and somewhere between 80 and 100 hours to illustrate. It was the first Creations by Crouch publication, thanks to CreateSpace. More translator's resulted in dozens of versions of my books. This journey was beginning to get exciting.
But wait! I'm an author and an artist, I need a website. Once more Charlie came to my rescue. She worked her little heart out and built me an amazing site that show cased my books, my art and my husband's photography, www.CreationsbyCrouch.com. She didn't stop there. She set up separate facebook pages for every language of every book. While she was trying to complete all this, I wrote another book. A chapter book, The Gnomes of Knot-Hole Manor, using words with silent letters and words that sound alike but are spelled differently. More fun illustrations. This time in colored pencil and not as many.
The next project became a coloring book, Creations by Crouch Color Me, with some of the illustrations from each of the children's books. My husband, Doug, does all the layout and designs of all of my books and book covers. He set up the coloring book, we loaded it into CreateSpace and had copies in hand in less than 2 weeks. Until you have done this, you can't imagine how exciting it is. I would like to point out, if you decide to write a book and you don't have any experience in book cover design, please seek professional assistance. The cover can make or break you. People do judge a book by its cover.
I'm sure you must know by now, the website is a continual work in progress. My books have been translated into 14 languages and all the pages for those languages have not been completed. I found a site for translators, langmates.com, and added the new languages so fast that Charlie couldn't keep up. In addition to all that, I finished my second novel, Catherine's Travels Book 2 ~ Lawson's Search.
2) What advice would you give to budding writers?
For all of you budding writers and would be authors, do not give up! Write! Follow your dream, you never know where it may lead. Marketing is the toughest part, but you can do it. A website is crucial, facebook is a great marketing tool (don't forget to put your web address in the information section of your page). Upload your books to Kindle and Nook. Be sure you add links to them from your website. I make my own business cards and tri-fold fliers on Microsoft Publisher. If you feel confident enough, make your own as well. If not, there are a number of places on the internet that will do it for you at reasonable prices. I hand out my card everywhere I go. Leave them with your tip when you go out to eat, give them to friends and neighbors, leave them with the cashier at the grocery store or any other store where you shop. Don't be embarrassed, advertise yourself whenever and wherever you can.
3) What is your definition of success as a writer?
What is the definition of success as a writer? For me, I am there. My books are in the top 10 on Kindle in the English as a second language category. People are using them to learn English and to learn foreign languages. My grandchildren all have copies and I have fans. I'm not on the New York Times Best Seller List, but then I'm not Stephen King either. I write for fun. I write to be able to give books to my grandchildren. I write so I can use my artistic talent to illustrate my books. As far as what I want to accomplish in 2012, there is another book in the works.
Catherine's Travels is an historic novel that takes place in Missouri during the 1800's. Catherine and her family flee war torn Austria seeking a new life in America. Disaster strikes and Catherine finds herself alone in the wilderness.
Catherine's Travels Book 2 ~ Lawson's Search After Lawson's beautiful wife, Catherine, is kidnapped he embarks on a search that will take him across the United States, over the Rocky Mountains and into the land of the Navajo. Catherine will take a terrifying, yet rewarding journey with her husband's starch enemy. Blue Eyes goes on a vision quest that will change his life forever.
How The Fox Got His Color and Where Hummingbirds Come From are picture books for children ages 3 - 6 years of age. The Dance of The Caterpillars, a lesson in prepositions is designed for 2nd grade students. The Gnomes of Knot-Hole Manor is a chapter book targeting 3rd graders.
Adele is an artist as well as a published author. Her books are available on the internet (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waldenbooks), through her web site (http://www.creationsbycrouch.com ), on Kindle and on Nook.
Adele’s children’s books have become popular for English as a second language students all over the world and are on the top 10 list of ESL study material on Amazon. Her website is filled with study material to help people study foreign languages. It includes - vocabulary lists, MP3 files, and even has a list of the questions you need to know to pass the US citizenship exam. All of this is free to the viewer. See: http://www.creationsbycrouch.com
If you wish to contact Adele, you can email: Adele@creationsbycrouch.com