This month’s Featured Member is author Cat Michaels, who has been a helping hand in the literacy world and the KidLit TV community. Cat has been writing stories since she was in elemetary school and has never stopped. She earned an M.S. degree in special education from the University of Kansas, and has spent over two decades helping students from kindergarten to college and even serving at a community college as a writing coach to support students with Asperger’s syndrome and learning disabilities.
Cat tales are webs of wisdom. She write of everyday life, from magical quests to a pinch of mystery. Her stories brighten the world for children and gives them great opprotunties to discover. Cat runs her own blog where you’ll find many tidbits of authorly advice, activities for kids and posts about what’s abuzz in the kidlit world.
Be sure to read Cat’s interview to learn more about her journey as an author.
Cat: Thanks for having me in your member spotlight, Kid Lit TV!
How did you decide you wanted to become an author?
I always wanted to write. Started my first stories in fourth grade.
When you were growing up what were some of your favorite books?
I read everything I could get my hands on, from Doctor Seuss to Sherlock and Shakespeare.
Who/what is your greatest inspiration for your books?
I often base my characters on people I know, typically friends and family members. In Finding Fuzzy, my niece Jenna and her BFF Elmo inspired me to write about our beach trip, so I made up a blue rabbit Fuzzy for my story’s Jenna to love.
As a writer what are a few of your hobbies?
When I’m not writing, I create pocket gardens for our small suburban yard. I walk or swim every day. Hang out with family and friends. Love experimenting with my new micro 4/3 digi-cam, all kind of apps, and graphic design!
We’ve weighed in on libraries vs. technology on KidLit TV. How important do you think libraries are in the new technology-age society?
No way we can exist in a world without libraries! Twenty-first century libraries are re-inventing themselves as social and learning hubs, where readers and writers can come together to find new books, enjoy special programs, or chat over coffee. I love how they provide access to literacy and cyberspace for everyone. There’s always a wait list for the computer banks at my library! And students are eternally grateful to helpful librarians when it comes to locating hard-to-find research for their English papers!
Because you’ve helped students with learning disabilities from kindergarten to college for more than two decades, what is the best advice you can give students struggling with these disabilities today about learning?
Use every single one of your abilities and resources to reach your dreams. If there’s not a way to reach them by going through the front door, look for people to help you find a back entrance and other ways to find happiness. Most important: it’s normal and totally okay to change your dreams over time to reflect who you are and life’s realities.
What were a few of your struggles in the literacy world?
What is the best part about working with chapter books and middle grade novels?
I like the challenge of taking a complex concept and synthesizing it for kids without dumbing it down. For instance, Sweet T and the North Wind starts out as a tale of magic. However, it ends up showing how Sweet T draws strength from her of family and uses her imagination to deal with the sickness of a beloved family member.
You’re always so active on your blog. What’s some advice you can offer authors who are interested in starting a blog for kids?
Actually, I wouldn’t suggest having a blog just for kids. Kids need to get outside and play in the fresh air, not spend a lot of time on computers. Plus, I’m always concerned about cyber-safety and privacy issues. Instead, I offer a Kids’ Zone on my website that I encourage children to visit with an adult family member. Kids’ Zone has free printables and a gallery of stories and art by young readers that I love to share, with their family’s permission, of course.
What made you choose the children’s book industry?
It was a natural transition me for me as an educator, writer, and auntie. I finally formalized all those stories stories swirling in my head! Plus, I’ve been a communicator or writer (for business) throughout my career … even for fun when I was off the clock.
If you could walk in the shoes of one author for a day, who would that author be?
Thanks for spotlighting me, KidLit TV! You are an amazing source of news and support for Kid Lit lovers.
Looking forward to getting to know YOU better, lovely KidLit TV followers. Please also pop over to catmichaelswriter.com. I’d love to connect on any of social media links you’ll find there, and I’d be delighted if you’ll sign up for my newsletter, Cat’s Connections.
Video Production List for ‘Lil Cat Avatar’s Introduction
Recorded on an Ipad Air 2
Free Buddy Poke avatar- and video-creation app for Droid and IOS
Canva graphic design for background visual
Finding Fuzzy illustration
by Irene A. Jahns