This week the Motown Writers Network has got the spotlight on author K. B. Carr!
K.B. Carr is someone who is lucky enough to be able to do what she loves best-
learn more stuff!
Her mother wanted to know why she asked so many questions all the time. K.B. told her that she asked because she wanted to know stuff. “Curiosity killed the cat.”, her mother said.
“But, satisfaction brought her back!”, K.B. replied.
K.B. is the mother of two children, Ryan and Kelsey, and she tries really hard to answer all their questions if she can.
She lives in West Michigan with her dog, Captain Jack. Jack is a girl dog with a boy’s name.
K.B. says that Ryan, Kelsey and Jack are her favorite Weird & Wacky Creatures.
And, they always will be.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Muskegon and graduated from Mona Shores High School, but I’ve lived in Texas, Florida, and California. I came back home to Michigan in 2005 to be close to my family.
Tell us your latest news?
Right now, I’m working on the next book in the series, as always, but I’m also working on a Kids’ Adventure line of products to go along with the books. And, as always, there are videos and outings planned for the future.
When and why did you begin writing?
I think I’ve always written little things here and there, starting in middle school, but I’d toyed with the idea of the Weird & Wacky series since my daughter was in first grade. She’s 26 now, so that was some time ago! She was classified as a “reluctant reader” and it was a challenge to find subjects that she had enough interest in to get her to sit down and read about. She was always interested in animals, especially the strange ones, and she enjoyed weird animal facts. She loves animals so much, that for a long time, she wanted to become a veterinarian when she grew up. I thought writing my own books would be something to do when I retired, or something for my grandchildren. I finally started writing this year, when I realized that I needed to transition out of my career as an orthopedic therapist, because of a health issue. I thought, “why not start my writing career now, and see if anything comes of it?”
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m not sure that I consider myself as an actual writer. To me, a writer paints pictures with words, and that is a serious talent. I think of myself as an “edutainer”, someone who educates, hopefully, in an entertaining fashion. I write children’s non-fiction and facts can be very dry and boring, so I try to make it funny and fun where possible. I think of myself as Carrot Cake or Zucchini Bread: it’s good, so you keep eating it, but you’re getting your veggies, and you don’t even taste them. Sneaky, very sneaky ;)
What inspired you to write your first book?
Truthfully, the idea that I could learn to publish it myself, instead of having to find an agent, submit manuscripts, deal with rejections, and write what and when I’m told, was very appealing to me. There’s no real pressure and I can go as fast or as slow as my schedule allows, fitting things in when I can. I think there’s no better time for a writer to jump in than right now, when self-publishing has become so popular.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I like to write for kids as if I’m actually speaking to them, so I’m going to call it “conversational writing”. Is that a real thing? Should be!
How did you come up with the title?
Oh, that was the easy part. Everything I read about publishing a book says to make your title as close to the subject as possible. “Weird & Wacky Creatures” seemed like a perfect fit for Book 1, then “Weird & Wacky Endangered Creatures”, etc., with the whole series named “Weird & Wacky Planet” was a no-brainer!
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
Oh, absolutely. Throughout the first and all the way to the last, the theme is conservation: of animals, of plants, of nature in general. Kids are the future custodians of Earth. They need to know what that entails, and do a better job of it than my generation has. To that end, a portion of the sales of my books goes to the World Wildlife Federation to help with animal conservation. Your readers can find out more about the WWF by visiting their website at WWF.org.
How much of the book is realistic?
Since the book is Non-Fiction, all of it is! I had input from two elementary school teachers, as well as their 2nd and 3rd grade classes. I learned about common core education, what a Biome is, and all the elements needed for a child to write a full report on a subject. There is a Glossary of terms in the back and all the terms in it are in bold throughout the book. All the facts needed in a report are in the book, as well as references on the internet where a child can get more information, as well as attribution to the photographer for the photo I used. Education is the BIGGEST goal.
Are experiences based on someone you know or events in your own life?
As I was scrambling to find books that my daughter would be interested in, I found most of the books to be only factual in delivery, and rather dry. I tried to make the books more fun by adding silly comments designed to make her laugh and think about the animal in a different way. That’s the way I write all my books. Learning SHOULD be fun!
What books have influenced your life most?
As a child, I loved Misty of Chincoteagh, and all those types of books. My Aunt was a voracious reader and gave me all her books, so I read Cherry Ames, Vicky Barr, and Nancy Drew.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I would love to have a mentor! Unfortunately, I’ve had to rely on my own experiences, and what I’ve read about writing a book, but I do consider the elementary school teachers to be mentors, of sorts. I know their input has been invaluable.
What book are you reading now?
I’m actually re-reading all of Diana Gabledon’s Outlander series. They’ve made a TV series out of it, and I wanted to familiarize myself with it all over again. I love those kinds of sweeping, epic historicals!
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I honestly haven’t had the time to explore new authors much lately, but I’d like to read Girl On A Train. I hear it’s awesome!
What are your current projects?
Just getting more of the series published, get the physical books published, and get the product line launched. No biggie, right?
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
FaceBook! I’ve been able to connect with other authors, ask questions, and feel generally connected to a wonderful group of talented people. Writing is a solitary pursuit and can be isolating. Find a supportive group!
Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. It is my genuine goal to be able to support myself one day (hopefully, sooooon) doing the work I love. That way, I can do more of it. Indisputable logic, really :)
If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I still change, add, and subtract things in my books. That’s one of the really great things about self-publishing-you can change stuff. I learn and change accordingly, so my books are always the best work I’m capable of at the time.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
A teacher in High School told me that I had a wonderful, creative talent and that my essays always made her laugh. Teachers have such an impact on their students. When you get one that believes in you and tells you so, it can open up whole worlds of possibilities. Thank you, Mrs. Bruce!
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Right now, I’m writing about a Warrior Princess, a Knight in Shining Dragon Armor, a Pocket Dracula, and they’re all animals. Can you guess what they are?
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Keeping the books to a certain size, for sure. There’s so much weird stuff out there, that weeding through what makes it into a book and what doesn’t, is sometimes hard! But, I do make those extra things into downloadable bonus chapters, so nothing is ever completely left out :)
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite author is usually whoever I’m reading at the time, so that’s Diana Gabledon, right now. But, I think a favorite author is someone whose work you would read over and over again, so that’s her for sure. She paints with words and brings me totally into her world. It’s endlessly fascinating.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I haven’t travelled yet, but I certainly plan to. There are endless possibilities when animal conservation is the subject, and I look forward to having the time to do so. Videos are in the works, and I plan to have my son, Ryan do the shooting and editing. He’s a true computer whiz!
Who designed the covers?
My daughter, Kelsey, who wanted to grow up to be a veterinarian, grew up to be a graphic artist, instead! She designs all the covers and the logos, thank goodness. That’s definitely a skill I don’t have.
What was the hardest part about writing your book?
Truthfully, the hardest part is the technical end of things. It took me five days to format the first one for Kindle. Five days! And, I’ve just learned to change the resolution of the pictures myself. I like to joke that when the kids moved out, I was transferred back to the technological stone age. But, as my son says, you can learn anything if you google it. And, that’s true, but I don’t learn it quickly or easily :(
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learn all kinds of stuff all the time! And, not all of it’s tech stuff. Just doing the research on each animal is a wealth of information, and really, it’s my favorite part of the whole process. Good thing, huh?
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just do it. Sit down and start writing. Write about what you’re going to write about, how you’re going to write about it, who’s going to read it, how you feel about what you’ll write about. You’d be surprised at how helpful streaming thought is. I have notebooks full of thoughts that I go back and pick gems out of.
The other thing I find invaluable (besides Google) is to have a outline of the book before I start. That way, I always know where I am in the process and I’m never at a loss as to what I should be doing next. It’s quite a time saver.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes. Reading is important. I could pull out all kinds of statistics about the whys of that, but I think we all know it’s true. If your child (or you) doesn’t really care to read, find subjects that are interesting to the individual and start there. You never know where that will take you.
I would also like to point out that we haven’t done such a great job of encouraging our girls to go into the sciences as a career choice. Do we really want them to be more interested in the Kardashians? This is a serious detriment to us all. Girls have so much to bring to the table, INCLUDING nurturing hearts and compassionate spirits-something that is badly needed. Which leads me to this:
I’d like kids to know how important conservation is and that one day, they’ll be in charge of this planet. How many species of plants and animals will be permanently gone by then? And, how many more will be gone in their lifetime? In their children’s lifetime? It’s a heavy responsibility that we leave them, and we haven’t been such good custodians, ourselves. My REAL goal here is to leave the next generation better educated and prepared to take on the task.
Book: Weird & Wacky Creatures
Series: Weird & Wacky Planet Series
Genre: Children’s Non-Fiction
Amazon link: http://amzn.to/1DCBwnG