Hello! Welcome back to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Barbara Ann Mojica
Barbara Ann Mojica is a historian and retired educator. She writes historical articles for the Columbia Insider under the banner “Passages.” Using the whimsical Little Miss HISTORY character, Barbara hopes to inspire children to learn about historical people and places. Little Miss HISTORY’S antics make reading nonfiction a fun-filled adventure for all ages.
Book Sample: Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT VERNON
Genre: Children’s Nonfiction
Synopsis: Who was George Washington? Washington is best known as America’s first president, but he was also a military hero. If you asked George Washington what he really wanted to be, he would reply, “a farmer.” Seeking to revolutionize antiquated 18th century farming methods, Washington experimented with crop rotation, fertilizers, plowing and plants. The Mount Vernon Ladies Association began restoring his estate to its former glory in 1853. Today the buildings, grounds and The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center reveal the real Father of the United States of America.
Excerpt: In the foyer of the Mansion House there is a large key enclosed in a glass case. It’s a gift from the Washington’s friend the Marquis De Lafayette. The French people used this key to storm the Bastille prison in 1789 to win their independence.
Why do you write? I write because I am on a mission to make learning about historic events and places both fun and educational. In addition I hope to encourage children and their parents to get out to visit and experience these sites that are an integral part of history.
When did you decide to become a writer? Actually I’ve always been writing and researching. I have graduate and undergraduate degrees in history with a minor in English, so the writing process is familiar to me. After I retired from a long career in teaching and administration, I had the time to devote to my mission and decided to publish my efforts.
How long does it usually take you to complete a book? A book generally takes from four to six months to finish. I begin with the research process followed by an organization of my notes. Next comes a rough draft. I let the draft sit for a week or so before coming back to look again. That process is repeated many times until I am satisfied and ready to go for edit. Then my husband/illustrator takes the manuscript and roughs in ideas for drawing and layout. We corroborate page by page. Sometimes the design changes as the book progresses. When both of us are satisfied, the picture book is sent to print.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I don’t have a set time of day for writing though I divide the day into writing, marketing, and scheduling promotional opportunities like book signings, school visits and book festivals. If I had to choose a time, I would say that I am basically a morning person.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I think that I have learned how to write succinctly. Writing children’s books is a lot different from completing an academic thesis. It forces the writer to get to the point and express it clearly.
Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? I always listen to music when creating a book, writing an article or reading a book to review. Music is soothing and second nature to me.
What have you written? I write historical articles centering on monthly themes for a local news magazine, The Columbia Insider. My Little Miss HISTORY Travels to… book series is ongoing. Seven books have been published so far. I also released a coloring book based on her adventures. Now I am about to publish a collection of three of Little Miss HISTORY’s New York City adventures in one volume. After that I have a journey to La Brea Tar Pits in the works.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I don’t outline but write a rough draft and refine it over and over again.
Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? I cannot draw a lick! Fortunately, I am married to an illustrator who has been drawing since the age of five. His website is www.eugenus.com
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? Nothing in particular; I use twitter, Facebook, google + and linked in to connect with fans and fellow authors. I also use email lists to keep in touch.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? It probably sounds trite because everyone says it, but it is so important to be persistent and optimistic. I know that is easier said than done, but it is my best advice.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? My character is based on a younger version of me. I always loved to travel and hike in the mountains a few hours away from my home. My husband incorporated that, along with the rose colored sunglasses that I used to wear. The hiking boots that are two sizes too big are reminiscent of my father’s large feet and military boots. My outfit is similar to that of a park ranger. Little Miss HISTORY tries to be funny, upbeat, strong and resilient even though she sometimes finds herself in some pretty difficult situations. She is a geeky tomboy, who is also a strong female role model
Where do your ideas come from? I select historical faces and places that reflect the best and worst times in history. My choices strive to develop interest and appreciation for history. I firmly believe in HISTORY’S motto, “ If you don’t know your history, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
What is the hardest thing about writing? The hardest part of writing is letting go and sending a book to print. I agonize over the manuscript and illustrations right up to the time that the book is uploaded for printing.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? My latest book is a trilogy of HISTORY’S New York City adventures to The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Intrepid, Sea Air & Space Museum. While the book did not necessitate a lot of change to text, linking the parts together for a smooth transition with illustrations proved a more difficult challenge than I had expected.
If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast? Of course Little Miss HISTORY would be the main character. I would cast her as a teenager, but offhand I can’t think of a contemporary actress for the part.
What one person from history would you like to meet and why? George Washington because he had such courage and tenacity. He also had the good sense to know that the world did not need another king.
Do you or have you sat down and read your book fresh off the presses as if it wasn’t yours? And if you did, what was it like? Yes, I try to visualize myself in the guise of a young reader. It is fun to critique in the eyes of a child again.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? The Wizard of Oz because it is magical and realistic at the same time.
What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer? Nothing is ever perfect. There is always room for improvement.
What are some of your favorite books and why? The Good Earth and To Kill a Mockingbird are two of my favorite classics. I enjoy Clive Cussler and John Grisham’s books. As far as children’s books are concerned, I love Amelia Bedelia books and classics like Charlotte’s Web.
What do you read with? (Kindle, Nook, iPad, iPhone, physical book) I still enjoy holding a paperback in my hands, but because I read and review so many books for my blog, I frequently use my Kindle Fire.
What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? I think that self-publishing levels the playing field for authors. Traditional publishers usually have a set agenda and a limited repertoire of what can be published at a particular point in time. If a writer doesn’t fit that niche, he or she doesn’t have much chance to be selected. In today’s market, the author does most of the publicity whether traditionally published or not.
Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published? Five years ago, I would say yes. While some doors remain closed to self-published or small press authors, the public is beginning to realize the value of GOOD self-published works. Modern readers know what they want to read; they prefer to choose for themselves rather than be dictated to by a few large publishing houses
What do your readers mean to you? I consider my readers personal friends and love to chat with them at book festivals, historic sites, schools, museums or online.
Tell us something unique about you. Like Little Miss HISTORY I am an adventurous traveler. I traveled to Communist European countries when travel there first opened up to the West. My American tour bus got held up at Checkpoint Charlie at the Berlin wall for more than two hours. We passed the time by singing Yankee Doodle Dandy. That whole tour to Russia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and East Germany was a truly memorable experience.
Many thanks Barbara for sharing! For more about Barbara, her work, and getting yourself a copy, follow the links below:
Website / Blog / Twitter / LinkedIn / Goodreads / Pinterest / Amazon / CreateSpace / BookTrailer / Forums / YouTube1 / YouTube2 / Google