Congratulations on being our Book of the Month winner! Your book "Fiasco at the Fair" was so fun to read, we can't wait to know more about you...
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I was born and raised in upstate New York—the second youngest out of 5 children. My mother taught me to be patient and kind. My father instilled in me a strong work ethic. My brothers and sisters taught me humor, humility and how to stay out of trouble (most of the time). When I was 6 years old, we moved to a small town. It was there I graduated high school and got my first job as a cashier at a grocery store. After I became an aunt, I decided to pursue a career in teaching. While I have taught first and fourth grade, there is a special place in my heart for second grade. After 30 years, it is still a joy and blessing to spend each day with my students.
What made you want to become an author? Was it always something you wanted to do? Since I was young I always enjoyed writing, especially poems, but I never considered it for a career. In my 4th year of teaching, I wrote a rhyming story about a boy hiking through Australia. In his travels he meets many unique animals. A reading teacher at my school suggested I send it out for publication. I did and B-I-N-G-O, it was published! I was bit by the “writing bug.”
Is Fiasco at the Fair, your first children’s book?
I have written many picture books, but Fiasco at the Fair is my first attempt at writing a chapter book.
What made you inclined to write a chapter book? And a series?
I have read so many chapter books with, and to, my students. Second graders work hard to learn to read, but when it finally clicks, they become consumed with their new-found power. I love seeing their eyes light up as we read aloud a mystery or adventure story. So, one day I thought, perhaps I could try writing a chapter book. After I developed the plot and started writing, the characters jumped off the page and started speaking. With an intriguing premise, I knew the main characters, Jason and Beth, would have many adventures together. I soon developed further story ideas.
What or where was Fiasco at the Fair inspired from?
We had a new library built, and during its construction, the class would walk down to the end of the hall and watch the progress. I think that was the seed for the Glowing Mystery Series. I began to ponder what would happen if the old library was haunted. Who would do the haunting and why? Who would discover this and how? Enter- Jason, Beth and the ghost, Hector McGreevy!
Have you always loved mystery books growing up?
Yes, I love mysteries. Growing up, I enjoyed Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown.
Are Jason and Beth based on real life characters?
Perhaps a conglomeration of many of the students I taught through the years. Jason and Beth are kind, adventurous and enjoy righting wrongs when they see them.
How many more mysterious adventures will they be going on? I know there is a second book in the sequel, will there be more?
In Book 2, Mayhem at the Movies, Jason and Beth save the World Premiere of a movie that is to be held at their local theater. This fall, in Havoc at the Haunted House (Book 3), the cousins will battle Hector McGreevy again, to stop the demolition of a local “haunted house.” Next summer will be the release of Chaos at Camp _____? (untitled)
We can't wait to read them! Do you ever get writers block? If so what helps you get through it?
If the ideas aren’t flowing, I sometimes take a walk and think through the next part of the story. Other times, I let it go and work on another project. But usually, when I start out early while the creative juices are flowing, I am able to write for an hour or two (in the summer), or 30-40 minutes during the school year. It also helps to sit down in my special writing spot each day. It gets me in the “write” mindset!
Why did you decide to go the self published route? And do you recommend it?
I was so blessed to have my first few stories published by a company in New Zealand. But after writing and submitting other picture book manuscripts, the rejections started to pile up. It was disheartening because I would get positive feedback, but also “Sorry- It’s not right for our list at this time.” The demands of teaching made me put all those stories on the shelf, but three years ago, I learned about the possibility of being an indie author, and I started to pursue new opportunities for getting my books out there.
If you have a desire to get published, it can be done, but it is a tremendous amount of work. Fortunately, I enjoy the many aspects self-publishing involves: writing, editing, working with illustrators, formatting and the most challenging piece, marketing.
What advice can you give new authors starting out on this journey of self publishing?
Read lots, write lots and listen lots. Read in your genre and study the craft. Write daily to develop your style. Listen to podcasts and YouTube videos about self-publishing. There are many people out there who are leading the way through this new and exciting shift in the book industry.
That's great advice and yes there is definitely a shift happening in the publishing world towards self publishing. Are you currently working on any projects/books at this time?
I am formatting Book 3 of the Glowing Mystery Series, Havoc at the Haunted House. I am working on rewriting a middle grade novel, and I am putting together a book for new teachers based on all I have learned in the classroom. But this winter, I will spend most of my time on learning how to market my books- the greatest challenge faced by indie authors---getting eyes on the books.
Tell us where readers can find out more about you and your books?
I have a humble little website for readers to explore- pamelatraynor.com
They will find all my books there, as well as freebies and information about joining my mailing list. I send out a newsletter about once a month. In it, I share my publishing updates, but also write articles about how to pursue one’s own writing journey. I hope to inspire and inform others who may have a passion to write.
I am also on Pinterest- https://www.pinterest.com/pamelatraynorauthor/
I am creating boards that showcase my books as well as boards about writing and self-publishing.
I can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorpamelatraynor/
I love to hear from readers and can be contacted through my website or Facebook page.
It’s a thrill to have Fiasco at the Fair be chosen as MagicBean’s book of the month.
I want to thank MagicBeans Bookstore for this special honor, and for helping me on my writing journey!
We want to thank you for your time and for allowing us to get to know you better, it was such a pleasure. We wish you continued success with your wonderful books!
(Enter our contests for your chance to have your book be the next Book of the Month interview)