First-time children's book author Melissa Carter is the owner of “The Wholistic Package" and she is also a certified Reiki practitioner. Reiki is a Japanese healing art that focuses on balancing energy to creative positive feelings. Melissa has written about Reiki and even offers writing services. Thus, it is not surprising that she has expanded her writing interests into other areas.
Melissa recently released her first children's book, "Little Lucky Ladybug" which is available on Amazon in a paperback and Kindle version and CreateSpace in a paperback version. The story emphasizes uniqueness and individuality in a fun and joyful way.“Little Lucky Ladybug” is written in lyrical rhyming verse and features insect characters such as butterflies, ants, and spiders that most children will recognize from their own backyards. There are no “good guys” or “bad guys” but instead a simple dialogue-driven plot that reads out like a lullaby. The story’s simplicity is what gives it power and, when coupled with the colorful illustrations, beauty. This is an ideal book to read to small children and adults will likely find it very enjoyable as well.
A major strength of this book is the activity section in the back pages--something that many books from major publishing houses fail to include. The activity pages features a maze, connect the dots puzzle, and the option to color several characters. Best of all, there is a “Note” portion at the very end which asks kids to write down their favorite part of the book. This is a particularly wonderful feature since 30 years from now a person can look back on what they wrote when they were a child and smile.
“Little Lucky Ladybug” has been getting a lot of positive feedback. It was listed on Pacer's website--a national anti-bullying organization--and was presented as a "book of the week," on Macaroni Kid's national Facebook page. Ultimately, Melissa hopes to work with schools and organizations to promote the positive message of the story. Recently, she spoke to AXS about her experiences working as an author and her hopes for the future:
AXS: What influenced you to become an author and why did you gravitate towards children's books?
Melissa Carter (M.C.): I have always been interested in writing, since I was a young child. Poetry has always intrigued me. I've always been very creative and expressed myself often through writing. My passion for writing poetry led me to the idea of writing a children's book. I love ladybugs and what they represent and that's why I chose one for the main character. I not only wanted to make the book visually appealing, but also factual. I did some research regarding the facts in the story and there are activity pages as an additional learning tool. The message of my book is that we are all unique in our own way and I wanted to instill this message into the minds of elementary aged children. It's not only about accepting ourselves, but accepting others as well. I would love to make a life changing impact on a child and hope that they remember my book, as an adult.
AXS: What stories and writers inspired you?
M.C.: When I think of writers who inspired me, my Mom is a role model. She always wrote poetry as well. Both of my parents are creative. I also think of Maya Angelou. I absolutely love her quotes and the depth of her poetry. I also spent and spend a lot of my time listening to music. My Mom is a musician and I have always been inspired by lyrical poetry. My favorite musician is Sarah McLachlan. I always found her lyrics very poetic, meaningful and full of emotion.
AXS: What is your all-time favorite book? What's your favorite children's book?
M.C.: I really don't have one all-time favorite book. I think there are so many great writers and books out there. Again, if I were to choose specific writing, it would be the poems by Maya Angelou. I am also inspired by Oprah, Gabrielle Bernstein, and other inspirational leaders. In so far as a children's book, "The Giving Tree," by Shel Silverstein. It was a classic when I was young and I love the message of "giving." My book is of course my favorite as well!
AXS: So far, how many books have you published? Do you have any more in the works?
M.C.: Currently, I have my first children's book published. I'm currently working on an inspirational quote book for adults, a business tip book for entrepreneurs and women in business and I have ideas for another children's book series.
AXS: How did you go about getting published?
M.C.: The whole process for me took several years, because of the creative aspect, finding an illustrator, layout, etc. I was also working on this, while working full-time and being involved with organizations. I did a lot of research and found what worked for me. I also asked established authors for advice. I'm currently self-publishing through CreateSpace. I decided to go this route, because I felt that this was a good option for me financially and is time efficient as well.
AXS: Do you have an agent? If so, what was the process of finding him or her like?
M.C.: I do not have an agent. I chose to self-publish, however if there became an opportunity, to work with a publishing group, I would consider that option. Once I release more books, it would be great to work with an agent or book promoter.
AXS: What is your “dream project”?
M.C.: My dream project is to have the chance to collaborate with true inspirational leaders. I believe one person can make a difference, and many inspirational people working together, can have a tremendous positive impact.
AXS: To date, what has been the most rewarding part of being an author?
M.C.: There are several parts for me that have been rewarding. The first is that I had an idea for a book, and after seeing it come to fruition, after several years, was amazing. The second is that I feel like I am having a positive impact on children. I've had the chance to work with schools and participate in fundraisers, to help provide school supplies to kids. I've had the chance to work with an organization to help donate and present the books to children going through chemotherapy. I've had the chance to participate in local book signings and see the kids' faces when they meet a local author and I've seen excitement from parents about my book as well. The other great reward is that I've inspired others to follow their passions. I've talked to young people in organizations about my journey as an author and I believe I've inspired people of all ages to always follow their dreams!
AXS: Career wise, where do you see yourself ten years from now?
M.C.: In ten years from now, I see myself on a larger platform. I always have seen a bigger picture for myself. My goal is to be able to reach a larger audience and inspire as many people as I can. My goal is to have numerous books.
AXS: What advice would you give someone who is aspiring to become an author, especially of children's books?
M.C.: I would tell them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. If they take the steps to make it a reality, then it is possible. I didn't do anything that anyone else is not capable of achieving. I just did research, took the steps and worked hard. I would also say to have passion, preparation, persistence, and patience; all qualities which are essential when going through the creative process as well as the technical process of book-writing. Also to always believe in yourself, despite all challenges and obstacles and enjoy the steps in the process. My last piece of advice would be to share your talents with the world. We were all given a purpose. I was a girl with a dream and now I'm a woman with a plan!