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This week on the Writer’s Way podcast, we talk to McCollonough Ceili about her self-publishing experience, more specifically, about her children’s activity books!
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Visit her website HERE
Laurie: Hello writers. Welcome back to the Writer’s Way podcast. I’m here today with the fabulous McCollonough Ceili. Thank you so much for joining me today.
McCollonough: Thank you for having me.
Laurie: You’re welcome. I could just listen to you talk. I love it. Can you tell everybody a bit about who you are and your background and what you write and all that good stuff?
McCollonough: I’m an Irish American writer. I was asked to write about life on a secluded Island called Galloway Island that’s off the coast of Ireland. And that just kind of got me started to really enjoy writing. And I, my, some family members, some of my American family just wanted me to write about that experience and I did.
Kids as Inspiration
McCollonough: It just kind of snowballed from there. Now I write for children and I tutor children, so I’m always surrounded by little ones,
Laurie: Lots of inspiration.
McCollonough: Lots of inspiration. They tell you crazy things.
Laurie: They really do. I always tell people, if you can’t find ideas to sit in a group of kids or however many kids you have around it, you know with a notebook and a pen and you’ll just have loads of ideas.
McCollonough: Yes. Ask them to tell you what they dreamed about the night that night. And their dreams will give you lots of stories.
Laurie: You probably need to record it because you can’t write fast enough.
Finding an Illustrator
Laurie: Right, exactly. So how did the process go? Are you an illustrator as well? Did you have to hunt one down?
McCollonough: So I had to hunt an illustrator down.
And I was lucky to find a very good illustrator named Summer Foovay out in the West coast, and she illustrates all of my children’s books, and they’re all children’s activity books. We’re a big emphasis on bringing out their creativity, so they’re all color your own, or create your own scene based on what you’ve read.
And you know, it’s all about bringing out the child’s creativity.
Laurie: Oh, I love that. That’s great.
McCollonough: Instead of just telling them what the color…
Laurie: So it’s not really, there’s not really a story. It’s just the activities.
McCollonough: There’s a story, and then they just how they want the pictures to go with the story. You know, there are some pictures that they can color, but then they can color their own picture or create their own picture to go with the story.
Laurie: Oh, that’s brilliant! Has anybody ever said, I don’t want my kids coloring in the books? They get it. They get that.
McCollonough: I think they get it. I think they get it. There’s been a few that parents that are sort of like “are you sure it’s okay?” I’m like, yeah. No. We try to use really thick card stock. It’s like, yeah, just go. Hey, let them scribble away and figure out what they want.
Laurie: Oh, that’s neat.
McCollonough’s Experience with Publishing
Laurie: And how do you publish? Do you publish?
McCollonough: I Published through Create Space. Right now I’m looking for a more traditional publisher, but right now it’s all through Create Space. All my books are on amazon.com.
Laurie: And how well do they sell?
McCollonough: Mmm enough. About five books a month. I mean, yeah, they’re selling, but they’re not my prime audiences, obviously UK and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland seems to be where most of my income comes from.
Laurie: And why is that? Like, are you well known or do, promote them there?
McCollonough: Maybe it’s my name. Yeah, I have really no idea, but that’s where I get the most of my sales is from that region.
Laurie: Oh, interesting. Huh. What has been the most surprising thing, would you say that you’ve learned since starting this?
McCollonough: That I will never retire from it and I will keep doing it even though I have to have other forms of income. You know, I thought that it was just write that one book about Galloway and that would be it and no, I can’t stop writing. I write every day. Yeah.
Laurie: Is it all children? Is that right?
McCollonough: I’ll write other stuff that I have a blog for. But I keep PG rated because I won’t, I don’t want parents to feel afraid, you know, I don’t cuss in it or anything like that. Like a 13 year old could read it and not, parents don’t have to worry about it. Yeah, I just write all the time. Just always have writing something.
Laurie: Okay. What’s the blog about?
McCollonough: The blog is about my adventures in America. Just the, just modern adventure, you know, seeing things through primitive, secluded eyes and everything so.
Laurie: When did you, how old were you when you moved to America?
McCollonough: It was two thousand and two. Hmm. Oh gosh I really don’t know ’cause I’ve just turned 40 so. Older.
Laurie: Early twenties?
Laurie: And you saw it as an adventure. Big change I imagined.
McCollonough: I try. I tried to see it as an adventure.
Laurie: Oh, that’s cool. That’s really cool. So do you find the audience for the blog is also predominantly in the UK?
McCollonough: I really honestly haven’t checked the audience of the blog yet. I don’t even know if I have an audience, you know, I just write.
And if it comes out, you know, people read it. They read it. And if they don’t, they don’t. Yeah.
Laurie: It’s your outlet, yeah. You turn to it. Like you have to have to get it out. Oh, so you’re a true writer.
McCollonough: Because some of it I’m like, ah, I don’t want the public to know that. And then so I go back and I like change names.
Laurie: Oh, okay. Nobody can hit you down.
What McCollonough Has Learned Through the Process
Laurie: You, you wrote in the, you wrote to me that you’ve learned a lot about yourself through the process.
McCollonough: I have, I’ve learned my biggest strengths and my biggest weaknesses. And I’ve learned that different people bring out different sides of you. I don’t know if that’s true for everybody, but it’s definitely true for me.
If I’m in one group of people, I’m playful and mischievous. If i’m in another, I’m more of an adult. I’m in one group I’m like the daughter and still in my teens. I’m being mothered. So it depends on different people and that’s what I’ve really learned is that different people bring out different parts of you.
Laurie: Yeah. That’s very true, I think. What would you say you’ve learned is your biggest strength?
McCollonough: That I can be adjust, I can adjust to whatever’s happening. I don’t get stressed out if there’s a big traffic jam or things don’t go the way I want to for the day. You know, I’m pretty flexible. And I honestly didn’t think I was, and I’ve learned that I am.
Laurie: I think that’s super important to be flexible because you can’t count on anything. Right?
Advice for New Authors
Laurie: What advice do you have, do you think, for new authors?
McCollonough: I would tell them to write for the pleasure of writing and to write for themselves. Don’t write to sell. Yeah, cause you’re going to get disappointed if you just try to write to make a living. Hopefully you will at some point, but write for yourself, not write for others and just enjoy what you’re writing. If you don’t like it, no one else is gonna like it.
Laurie: You know, that’s advice I hear a lot that when you really love what you’re doing, it comes through to people who don’t even know you.
And that’s really important. So. Obviously very good advice. Thank you.
Where McCollonough Can Be Found
Laurie: Where can people find you, McCollonough, if they want to?
McCollonough: They can find me on Facebook at mccollonoughceili They can find me on Twitter at, at Norian girl, which is N O R. Yeah. Hold on. N O R I a N G I R L Norian girl. And on Instagram at McCollonoughCeili.
Laurie: Are you on Twitter a lot?
McCollonough: I’m on Twitter more than anything.
Her Experience with Twitter
Laurie: How do you find that? I’m curious because I haven’t explored it much. It seems so fast moving. I’d love to hear your take on it.
McCollonough: I find it really fun. Honestly, this is kind of embarrassing.
I got on to follow celebrities and I ended up finding more authors to follow. I mean, there’s two celebrities I follow and the rest are authors and other people like that.
It’s fun because nothing is very long, and in this world, we don’t want to sit down and read paragraph after paragraph.
It’s a short blurb of what’s going on. Everybody is a little nosy. They want to know what’s going on in other people’s worlds. It’s fun. Do a little shout out.
Laurie: So you have you built up a big community of author friends?
McCollonough: I think so, yeah.
Laurie: That’s okay.
McCollonough: Around 700.
Laurie: Wow. There’s a lot of us out there. I’ve been intimidated by it. I don’t want to try one more thing.
McCollonough: It’s less intimidating than Facebook. I like it a lot better.
Laurie: Because it goes so fast?
McCollonough: You breeze through, there’s not that many. You can scan it quickly ’cause they just give you a tiny bit of what they’ve written. Then if you want to read more, you can read more. It’s easier to work people.
Laurie: Like a blog post.
Laurie: Oh, like a trailer. Very short. Then you go off Twitter and find more about them.
McCollonough: Right. They often will link their websites or their Facebook and you can go there to get the bigger story.
Laurie: Oh, I see. I’m going to have to try it out. Maybe.
McCollonough: You should!
What Was the Best Thing You Spent Your Book Earnings On?
Laurie: You shared with me one best thing that you’ve spent your earnings on so far. Do you want to share? Because I liked it. I thought it was really nice.
McCollonough: I don’t even remember what.
Laurie: You said you, that you were able to buy your family dinner at one of your favorite restaurants.
McCollonough: Yes. Yes. When my first book first came out, I got about $30 in royalties that first month, and I was able to go to our favorite Japanese restaurant and treat everybody.
Laurie: And say, this is all from my book earnings.
McCollonough: Yeah, exactly.
Laurie: Oh, I love it.
McCollonough: That was really fun.
Laurie: Well, thank you for chatting with me today. And I will post all of your links and where people can find you as well, and I wish you all the best with your books in the future.
McCollonough: Well, thank you. It’s great to talk with you.
Laurie: Thanks. Bye