I meet the nicest people in the kid-lit world. The other day, I discovered a lovely new series of books about space – and with the mega-celebration this weekend, I knew I wanted to share it with all of you. Especially because the author is also the illustrator and also the publisher. Carmen Gloria is wearing many hats…and she looks good in all of them!
Carmen Gloria was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army, now a veteran, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government and International Politics from George Mason University. She was born in The Bronx, New York and moved to Puerto Rico at the age of ten. She is a member of SCBWI and is a writer, artist, award-winning actress, experimental short film writer/director, and even co-wrote two songs in the Billboard Dance and UK Pop charts. After moving to Norway in 2017 with her family, she decided to focus on her writing. She launched her first children’s picture book series as an author and illustrator, in which the first book “Thank You Mercury” made the Best New Space Books 2019 list by Book Authority.
Well, dear friends…do you see why I just had to invite this amazing woman to stop by to chat with us.
ME: Carmen…welcome! And before we begin with the questions, I want to thank you for your service to the country. I’m sure you have buckets full of stories about your experiences, but today we are going to concentrate on your writing journey.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
CARMEN: Thank YOU for having me, Vivian! You have one of my favorite blogs, and I am so honored to be interviewed by you. I feel pretty lucky in this business to meet people like you, who care so much and are doing so many things for the children’s books community. You’re inspiring. And to answer your first question, Dr. Seuss has always been my absolute favorite, including his illustrations. Also A.A. Milne with his Winnie The Pooh series. I also love Hans Christian Andersen’s books and illustrations by Arthur Rackman.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
CARMEN: I wish I knew how challenging it would be to get the story “just right.” I still find it difficult to finish stories sometimes and not doubt myself. I’ve only just launched my second book, and already learned that making the characters relatable is important.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
CARMEN: I have a home studio where I write, draw and paint. It’s a cute little studio we built when we first moved in to the house. I have a Mac Laptop where I write most of the time, but sometimes I like to just hand write ideas and notes. I feel a bit more free with pen and paper. Writing while traveling is also very inspiring.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
CARMEN: I write best early in the morning with my coffee or tea. Sometimes the muse strikes the middle of the day or at night too, and I just go with it!
ME: Why do you write for children?
CARMEN: I write for children because I love drawing and painting fun and sweet characters that children will love. I also love being able to show and teach children things in an entertaining manner so it doesn’t feel like “school.” I chose to begin with the Kid Astronomy series because as a space lover, I wish there were more books about astronomy when I was growing up. Children are our next generation and they are the ones that will be exploring space.
Other reasons I like about writing for children is the freedom of topic and being able to tap into the imagination – anything is possible.
ME: If you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that parents, educators, writers, librarians might want to hear.
CARMEN: What I’ve learned as a new writer is that we have to stick to our goals. It is easy to fall into doubts as new writers and then stop writing. But we have to keep going and not give up.
As far as educators, parents and librarians, I believe in exploring and being open to sharing new books, stories and new authors to children. Information is limitless and it’s beautiful when we as authors can be a part of what kids absorb in this day and age.
ME: This is fabulous, Carmen! Thank you so much for your insights. I’d also like to pick your brain on behalf of all the authors and illustrators out there – you’ve taken a big step…just like the astronauts did 50 years ago when they stepped out on the moon. You’ve taken the leap into self-publishing – and that takes courage! Would you share with us some thoughts about that?
CARMEN: I debated for about a year whether I was going to publish my book the traditional route or self-publish. I researched and read a lot about how to self-publish, and the pros and cons of both. There is so much information online! I decided on self-publishing because I wanted to learn all of the ins and outs of the publishing business. I am a creative being, but I also love being an entrepreneur. One of the downsides to self-publishing books though is that they are not as easy to promote, as not everyone is open to reading and reviewing books that are not traditionally published. Also not easy if there is not a big budget.
It is A LOT more work to write, illustrate, design, format, and promote the book myself, but in some weird way, it is more rewarding to me. As a self-published author, I appreciate the artistic freedom, making my own deadlines, ownership to my art, and being the final decision maker. I’m sure there are many advantages to going the traditional route, but I’m enjoying self-publishing so far.
ME: Kudos to you, Carmen. And thank you so much…this has been such a pleasure for me. I know that everyone is applauding and will be RUSHING over to Amazon today to view your newest book DEAR PLUTO, using the link for the FREE download of the Kindle version: https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Pluto-Kid-Astronomy-Book-ebook/dp/B07T68GC74/
But before you leave, please share with us that special Apple Pie recipe you were telling me about.
CARMEN: My favorite type of apple pie? Here goes:
- 2 ½ cups flour (320 g)
- ¾ cup butter, 1 1/2 sticks, cold, cubed (170 g)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons ice water, or as needed
- ¾ cup sugar (150 g)
- 2 ½ lb apples, cored, sliced, peeled (1 kg)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ lemon
- 1 egg, beaten
- In a bowl, add the flour and salt. Mix with fork.
- Add in cubed butter and break up into flour with a fork. Mixture will still have lumps about the size of small peas.
- Gradually add the ice water and continue to mix until the dough starts to come together. You may not need all of the water and the dough should not be very sticky. It shouldn’t be too dry either. If it is too dry, you can add more water.
- Work the dough together with your hands into a ball and cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate.
- Peel the apples and slice.
- In a bowl, add the sliced apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, flour, salt, and juice from the lemon.
- Mix until combined and all apples are coated. Refrigerate.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (200°C).
- On a floured surface, cut the pie dough in half and roll out both halves until round and about 3 mm thick.
- Roll the dough around the rolling pin and unroll onto a pie dish making sure the dough reaches all edges.
- Pour in apple filling mixtur
- Roll the other half of the dough and cut it into even strips, 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch wide, depending on how thick you want your lattice strips. You can use a blunt knife or a pizza wheel to cut them evenly.
- Lay out 4 to 7 parallel strips of the pie dough on top, and then lay them over in the opposite direction.
- Trim the extra dough from the edges and pinch the edges to make sure they are sealed together.
- Brush the pie with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sugar.
- Bake pie for 50-60 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
How did you know apple pie was one of my favorite desserts? Anyone have some vanilla ice cream for some pie ala mode?
Please don’t forget to leave a comment because Carmen is offering a print copy of DEAR PLUTO as a giveaway. And take advantage of this last day of FREE Kindle download so you can read the book right now: https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Pluto-Kid-Astronomy-Book-ebook/dp/B07T68GC74/
And dear friends, remember, the greatest gift we can give our favorite authors is to buy, review, and shout out about their books! I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. There are a couple of major kidlit happenings coming up this week: