Lori Calabrese is an award-winning children’s author. Her first picture book, The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade, was awarded DFP’s Best Children’s Book Award. She writes for various children’s magazines, is the National Children’s Books Examiner at Examiner.com and enjoys sharing her passion for children’s books at festivals, schools and events. Visit her website to learn more.
Let the conversation begin!
From idea to completion, how long does it take to write a book?
I think it’s different for every author and for each project. My picture book, The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade, took me an entire year to write. When you invest that much time in a project, you must like it a lot and I have to admit, that one’s close to my heart because it was my very first manuscript and it was rewarding to see it win the 2009 DFP Best Children’s Book Award. But to show that time is different for each project, I wrote another picture book called Oh! The Possibilities and that one only took two weeks to write. I guess sometimes your thought process is overflowing and dying to come out whereas with others, it needs some time.
If there is one genre you’d never write, what is it?
A hot steamy romance. I just can’t see myself writing a book with Fabio on the cover! Definitely count me out.
Was it easier to write before or after you were published?
Great question. I think in my case it’s been easier to write after being published because it’s one monkey off my back. Getting over that hurdle was a big step and once I did it, I found it very rewarding. Knowing that it is possible and as rewarding as it is, definitely makes me want to keep writing and get there again and again.
Where do you get your ideas?
All of my writing inspiration comes from my two boys. They constantly crack me up and have such a fresh take on the world. In fact, the idea for The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade came to me when one of my sons had the flu. When everyone asked how he was doing, I would say, “He caught the bug.” It made me stop and wonder why we say that. Something clicked, so I expanded on the play on words of getting sick and catching an insect. Hence… “The Bug” was born. “Oh the Possibilities” is a children’s book I wrote for John Hancock’s Back to School campaign. They were looking for a children’s book about that age-old question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Everyone always takes the time to tell me how my boys are “all boy.” And they truly are, fascinated by everything from super-heroes to dinosaurs to trucks to dragons. I was thinking about professions and thought, what boy doesn’t dream of being a dragon, right? I built off that, so when my character, Miles, realizes he only has human genes and must decide on something soon, he runs through all the possibilities.
Outliner or seat-of-the-pants writer?
I’m definitely an outliner. I envy those who can jump right in and start writing, but I learned early on that that’s just not me. I need to map out my thoughts, and make sure I have enough supporting material. I like how an outline allows you to get your ideas down without stressing immediately about grammar or word choice too early on.
What advice would you give young writers?
If you’re an aspiring writer, you’ve probably heard the tips I’m about to give you a million times—Read a lot and write every day. When I first started writing and read those tips, I’d say, “That’s it? Really? What else? C’mon. There has to be more!” I was certain these authors were holding back on the secret to success. ??But now that I look back at what’s helped me the most, it really is reading everything you can get your hands on, and keeping up with practice. You really have to keep at it and don’t get discouraged with rejections.