Monday, October 12, 2015

Amberly Kristen Clowe, Axel and Theo: My Dog is the Emperor of a Faraway Galaxy

AUTHOR: Amberly Kristen Clowe
BOOK TITLE: Axel and Theo: My Dog is the Emperor of a Faraway Galaxy
GENRE: Children’s Chapter Book – Science Fiction, Adventure
PUBLISHER: Tadpole Press…4 Kids.

Please tell us about yourself.
I have been writing since elementary school but decided to pursue it as a career nearly a decade ago. I adore the science fiction genre for early readers and am having a total blast with the Axel and Theo series. I taught second grade before staying home with my babies, so I’m pretty partial to the 7-10 aged readers. I am happily married to a one-of-a-kind who listens to plot twists, accompanies me to book signings and is just as eager to peruse our local library shelves as I am. We have two hilariously curious and adorable children who love my book signings just so they can visit their Nina and Papa.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I am a part-time writer, full-time mom. I furiously write during nap time and at night when needed. My desk sits in the corner of the living room and beside a lovely window, but I’m forever hunting down stolen sticky-note pads. I don’t mind really. It’s become a bit of a game. 

What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book is a rhyming picture book about a little girl who has a serious passion for fashion. At the time I was teaching, and I was amazed at how much my second-graders loved fashion: shoes, clothes, jewelry. They loved it all. They were about as cute as kids get. That’s how Katie Ling Fashion Queen was born. The book signings and parties for that were awesome. I lost count of how many little girls showed up dressed to the nines.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
We have quite the active family. I workout daily. I’m one of those goofy jazzercising moms who thinks she’s hot stuff. What happens in Soul Grooves, stays in Soul Grooves. Haha. I enjoy kayaking, fishing and biking, but I also love a good shopping trip with the girls. My husband and I enjoy teaching a seventh and eighth grade Sunday school class at our church. They’re an awesome group and have been such a blessing to us.
What are your thoughts about promotion?
It’s kind of a love/hate thing for me. I enjoy meeting and connecting with readers. That part is my favorite. But all of the promoting on social media can be a bit overwhelming. It feels so vulnerable to be constantly sharing myself along with my works. Thankfully, now, I have a seriously awesome publicist who is a promotion ninja.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
My toughest criticisms were that, in the beginning, I was incredibly weak grammatically and technically. I had no idea. So that was difficult to hear. But I had many writers and agents telling me how strong my voice was and that it’s way better to already be so solid in this and to work on the other. I’m so grateful that what people were telling me wasn’t all bad. That would have been much more discouraging. I have learned so, so, so much about sentence structure, grammar and the many story elements that I had just never thought about before. It’s crazy to read a manuscript from years ago. The no-no’s really stand out.
Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
My publisher is the amazing Tadpole Press…4 Kids. This is an imprint of Smooth Sailing Press. Actually, it’s kind of an interesting story how we connected. My former agent had sent several manuscripts to them, but those didn’t work out. My agent decided to drop her children’s authors because she was doing much better financially with her romance authors. I was pretty bummed. My husband and I were driving through Huntsville, TX on a trip to see my parents. We stopped at a Bucky’s there, and I stumbled upon several of Tadpole Press’ books. They were such beautiful books, that as soon as we arrived home, I submitted a picture book manuscript to them and very quickly received a yes and a contract. This picture book will be published this year, actually. Even funnier, my publicist/editor/numerous hat-wearer rep with Smooth Sailing, was following my many writing ramblings over on my Facebook page and showed interest for the Axel and Theo manuscript. As soon as I finished, I zipped it to her and here we are.

What are your current projects?
I am currently working on the second book in the Axel and Theo series. It has been way too much fun. Miss Clara Lily’s Gift, my first picture book with Tadpole Press will be out in 2015. I can’t wait for that one. It’s such a special story about how we all have individual gifts and, when used together, can create such beauty.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
My debut chapter book, Axel and Theo: My Dog is the Emperor of a Faraway Galaxy, is about a fourth-grader, Theodore Howard, who discovers his very best friend in the world, Axel, his weenie dog, is actually an alien from a distant galaxy. Early on, Axel is kidnapped from the bad guys, the cats from the planet Catlat. After he sets out on a rescue mission, Theo soon learns Axel isn’t just any alien, he’s an emperor. It doesn’t get cooler than that!

What genre do you write in and why?
I have so enjoyed writing science fiction for chapter books. I grew up watching sci-fi with my dad. It was our thing. He also loves to read as much as I do. So this genre just makes sense to me. It feels like home.
What is your experience working or being around children or teens?
I taught second grade for several years and read many, many books to my students. I fell in love with Beverly Cleary’s humor, among others. And when kids laugh during a story, it just pulls me in.

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?
Joy. My main goal is for newly independent readers to continue to read on their own. I want to help young people become lifelong readers. That’s why I included all the things that I love to read about: creepy creatures in crazy settings, friendship and wild adventure.
Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
I am definitely an outliner. Often, the outline strays or changes as the story progresses, but the outline helps me have an idea of where I want the story to go.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
It depends on the genre. For chapter and middle grade books, I enjoy humor. The setting and characters don’t really matter. For young adult and adult, I enjoy a sweet romance. And with all of the above, I definitely prefer fiction.

What seven words would you use to describe yourself?

Fun, Artsy, Happy, Determined, Caring, Funny, Loyal

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