Friday, February 3, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Maranda Russell

1) Describe your journey as an author/writer.
I have been writing for many years, and although I have had some success over the years getting poems, essays and short stories published in adult publications, I had the hardest time breaking into the children's market.  Finally, Mirror Publishing accepted my submission for my picture book Ode to Icky last year, which seemed to open the floodgates so to say.  Since then I have signed contracts with two other publishers for picture books, so I'm finally starting to see some of my hard work pay off!  I have also self-published two ebooks entitled In Memory of Dad and Weezie, the Elephant with Allergies.  These two stories would probably have been hard to sell to a traditional publisher, but I felt that both stories really needed to be told, so I took the plunge and self-published them.   

2) Do you specialize in any particular genre(s)?  
I tend to either write children's books that are funny or ones that address important social, emotional and personal issues.  Ode to Icky is really just a fun, silly story.  In Memory of Dad deals with the subject of grief and loss, and Weezie, the Elephant with Allergies is about adoption, acceptance and unconditional love.

3) Who are your favorite authors? How do they inspire your work?  
Edgar Allan Poe is my all-time favorite.  I think his lyrical prose style influenced me greatly, plus I just love psychological horror stories, even though I don't really write those myself.  Other authors I really like include JK Rowling, Mo Willems, Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, Frances Hodgson Burnett and Emily Dickinson.  As you can see, I love the classics!

4) Tell us about your most current project. 

Most recently released is my picture book Ode to Icky, a picture book about a cat with some terrible hygiene issues and his owner, Candy, a clever little girl who finds a way to make her pet's problems work for her.  

My work in progress is about two abandoned kittens, it is loosely based on two cats that we found sick and abandoned in our church parking lot.  I am hoping that the story will maybe make people think twice about just dumping their pets when they don't want them anymore. 

5) How did you choose your publisher? Describe that process.
I chose Mirror mainly because they were the first to offer to publish one of my picture books.  The other two publishers that I have signed contracts with (4RV and Wandering Sage Publications) were publishers that my fellow author friends had used, so I decided to give them a try!

6) How do you promote your work? What strategies have been the most successful?
I do online promotion, especially for my ebooks, but I find that personal contact is key in selling physical books.  I've sold far more copies of "Ode to Icky" personally than I have online.  I think people just want that personal interaction with authors and they love to get signed copies.

7) What else have you written/published?
Besides Ode to Icky, In Memory of Dad and Weezie, the Elephant with Allergies, I have only been published in literary magazines and online publications geared more for adults.  I did recently sell a children's poem to Stories for Children Magazine.

8) What do you plan to accomplish in 2012?  
I would love to see sales of all my books rise (what author wouldn't lol).  I would really like to win an award, but we'll see how that goes.  I guess I need to figure out which ones I should apply for first!  I also plan on self-publishing another ebook or two and will hopefully find homes for my other picture book manuscripts.

9) What advice would you give to budding writers?
Never give up.  That is the most important thing.  Know that it will take a lot of work, but you can make your dreams come true.  Secondly, never skimp on quality.  Make sure everything that you put out there for the public to see is your absolute best.    

10) What is your definition of success as a writer?
Being able to make a living doing it.  Not sure I'm really there quite yet, but I'm certainly on my way!  

Author Bio

 Maranda Russell now resides near Dayton, Ohio. She is a children's author and book reviewer, a foster parent, a part-time substitute teacher and an enthusiastic lover of cereal and ice cream. She currently writes stories for children based on the experience she has gained as a teacher, foster parent and former child. Of course, the "former" part is questionable since this author still enjoys indulging her "inner child" on a regular basis.

To find out more about this author, her books and the daily challenges of being a writer and a foster parent, please visit her website,

Twitter Handle: @Shojobeatgirl
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