Meet Crystalee Calderwood

Crystalee, You wrote Angeline Jellybean in rhyme. Did you plan it that way?
CC: No, I started writing and that was what came out. In fact, I didn’t realize at first that it was a picture book, but when I did, I went with it. I had never written a picture book before.

What do you think about rhyming picture books?
CC: Rhyming picture books, when well done, are extremely good for helping children
develop language and memorization skills. The pitfall, of course, is that they are very hard to write well. The classic example of a flawless rhymer is Dr. Seuss, but there are many modern picture books with great rhyme schemes.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is probably one of the best out there. Ask a three-year-old to tell you the story, and they can probably do it. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom has really become an update on the “ABC Song.” It uses rhyme to teach the ABC’s and kids have so much fun with it that they don’t even realize how much they are learning.

Do you think that being a poet helped you when it came to writing Angeline Jellybhean?
CC: I find that 99% of the time I try to write a poem that rhymes, it comes out trite or too sing-songy. but my background in poetry did help me hear the rhythm in my head and sort of know when something didn’t fit right. But really, I have very little experience with rhyming, so that aspect took a lot of work.

I hear that you have also written a YA Povel-any plans on getting that published? Can you tell us about it?
CC: Definitely! Yes, I would love to get it published. It wasn’t until I sat down with some of my mentors recently that I realized how far I need to go with it to get it ready for publication. It needs stronger secondary characters, some plot holes filled in, and a subplot or two. I have my work cut out for me!

For readers who don’t know what a povel is, it is also known as a novel in verse or a novel in poetry.
Povels are novels told as a series of poems. In my case, the poems alternated between the voices and points of view of two characters. Yes, it is as challenging as it sounds. Writing a YA novel is much more exhausting than writing a picture book. It took me almost a year to write my 100 page novel. Angeline came out of me in maybe an hour? Of course, neither book was perfect from the beginning. With the novel, I had to be much more organized. I had to keep track of two character’
lives, hobbies, families, struggles, boyfriends, etc. I also had multiple copies of 100 poems lying around my apartment.

I had to set up a schedule for my novel. I wrote religiously every Thursday night from 6:30-9.
Think about it: a picture book of less than 500 words and a novel of 100 pages. The novel has obviously taken up a much larger chunk of my life.

Lastly, where can readers buy your book?
Barnes and Noble
4RV publishing

14 thoughts on “Meet Crystalee Calderwood

  1. Karen Cioffi

    I agree with Crystalee, writing rhyming stories is difficult…meter, syllable count and so on.

    That’s great that you were able to stick to a specific routine for your novel. That’s also a difficult aspect of writing – setting aside specific amounts of time to actually write.

    Grreat post, Margaret,



  2. col brakey

    Interesting. Thank you for that, but I also want to thank for something else. I suffer from color blindness (tritanopia to be exact). I use Konqueror browser (not sure if that is important), and a considerabland a number of websites are tricky to read because of a problematic range of colors employed ithe design. On this site, as the range of colours is sensible, the website is extremely tidy and pleasant to understand. I don’t know whether it was a calculated and kind undertaking, or simply a happy accident, but thanks anyway.



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