Hope you are having a great week! I met Marcie at her talk on how to write chapter books. Marcie wrote a bunch of chapter books about bears who are super happy and love to party!
I am super happy to share our intermew!
Hazel: Hi Marcie! Thanks so much for being here! What advice do you have for bright young kitties interested in a writing career?
Marcie: “If you can dream it, you can be it.” Read a lot. Write a lot. Take classes. Attend book events and conferences when you can. And never give up on your dream. It will be hard work. It might take a while. But any dream of yours is truly worth it.
Hazel: Do you have any kitties or sock monkeys in your life?
Marcie: I do not have any kitties, but I do have a sock monkey. His name is Bloois. He is quite mischievous and therefore inspires lots of my stories.
Hazel: What’s your favorite sock monkey story?
Marcie: Bloois loves ceiling fans. He calls them “whirl-a-birds.” And although he is often content sitting on the bed, watching the “whirl-a-bird” spin around and around, one time he decided he wanted to ride it.
He climbed up (sock monkeys are very good at climbing) and hung from one of the fan’s blades. He then signaled one of his other stuffy buddies (Bloois is not an only child) to flick the switch. The fan started up and Bloois flew around and around, holding on tight to the blade of the “whirl-a-bird.” Until…he couldn’t hold on any longer and was flung off like a torpedo.
Luckily a vase of flowers broke his fall. But as he laid there, sopping wet and covered in petals, he was grinning from ear to ear.
Hazel: What do the Super Happy Party Bears do when they aren’t partying?
Marcie: One might say, they are always partying. They have breakfast parties and lunch parties and snack-time parties and dinner parties. And doughnut preparation parties and “get ready for bed” parties and slumber parties. Every second of the day is reason to party, according to the Super Happy Party Bears. In fact, they even have “party planning” parties to make sure that each party goes off without a hitch!
Hazel: How did you learn to write for kids?
Marcie: Honestly, I read a lot of kids books. I think the best way to learn about writing a certain kind of book is to read widely in that format or genre. When I wanted to learn how to write picture books, I spent years reading every picture book that I could get my hands on. And I did the same to learn how to write chapter books. Read, read, read!
Hazel: What do you think a character needs in order to resonate with young readers?
Marcie: I try and write characters that are relatable and child-like so that my young readers can see themselves in my characters—even a grumpy porcupine mayor. I mean, who isn’t a little cranky and prickly once in a while? Add a few dashes of humor, a dollop or two of heart, and a whole lot of wacky adventures and readers will be turning pages well into the night (by flashlight, of course) to find out what the character will do next.
Hazel: Why do you think characters are so important to get right in chapter books?
Marcie: Chapter books are often a reader’s first step into independent reading. Therefore, characters in chapter books are like reading ambassadors. They welcome kids into their world to make them laugh, expand their horizons, and take them on exciting adventures. The more engaging a character, the more willing a reader will be to join them on the journey through a book, which leads to another book, and another book, building lifelong readers page by page.
Hazel: What’s the most efficient way you’ve found to take a chapter book from concept to completion?
Marcie: I imagine that the story I am telling is an episode of a cartoon. I outline the story from start to finish, placing chapter breaks where the commercial breaks would be. And then when I write, I visualize the cartoon playing out in my mind. It helps to keep the writing action and dialogue focused, and not rely too much on voiceover-like narration.
Hazel: Wow, what a pawtastic intermew! Thanks again, Marcie!
Thanks for reading!!
About Marcie Colleen
In previous chapters Marcie Colleen has been a teacher, an actress, and a nanny, but now she spends her days writing children’s books! She is the author of THE SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS chapter book series with Macmillan/Imprint, as well as LOVE, TRIANGLE, her picture book debut, illustrated by Bob Shea, which will be released October 3, 2017 with Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. She lives with her husband and their mischievous sock monkey in San Diego, California. Visit her at www.thisismarciecolleen.com or on Twitter: @MarcieColleen1.