Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Interview with Crystalee Calderwood: Author of Angeline Jellybean

I met Crystalee at Chatham University years ago. She came into class with her beautiful bright red hair and a very happy grin.

We were both in the MFA program for children's writing.  I even remember this manuscript as she worked on it during our critique sessions. It is so cool to see it in print!!

Crystalee has an infectious positive personality. Kids love her as do fellow writers. She is honest and very helpful with critique. Look for her next book, a YA novel, to be on shelves soon!

You go girl!  

Below are the questions I asked her.

1.    Do you have an agent? If yes, how did you go about getting one? If no, are you querying?
     I don't have an agent at this time. I do have my eye on a couple that could benefit me in the future,  but right now I'm working on making some of my dozens of manuscripts presentable enough to actually query an agent!
2.    Angeline Jellybean is your first children's book. Are you working on more PB's or have you switched to MG/YA?
     I have written, but not published, many more picture books. However, for the time being I have switched to MG/YA. The process of writing a novel is much longer for me. However, I love being able to explore big issues in depth. Almost no topic is out of the question when it comes to young adult novels, and I feel like I can ultimately be successful in the genre.
3.    What are you reading right now?

    I just finished The Fault of Our Stars by John Green. Total tear-jerker. I'm currently reading Hunger Games. I resisted it for awhile, but I'm glad I picked it up, because I'm really enjoying it.

4.    Are you using your MFA to teach or are you writing full time?
     Neither. Life didn't work out as I had planned on that front. I am, however, getting certified to teach secondary English in Pennsylvania. I am currently working with middle school and high school students, and my ultimate dream is to someday teach creative writing to teens, whether is be at a private school or through some sort of Writer-in-Residence program.
5.    Would you recommend to newbie writers to go after their MFA?
     I would recommend that hard-working, somewhat experienced writers go after their MFA, but only after doing their research on what programs are the best fit for them. 

If I hadn't gone after my MFA, I may never have started writing for children and teens. But you need to know what the costs of such programs are as well as what you hope to gain from a program. 

Go in with the goal of becoming a stronger writer, or networking with others, but don't have unrealistic expectations about your future in publishing or teaching afterwards.
6. Are you a member of SCBWI? If so, how has it helped you?
    Yes! SCBWI is great for helping children's writers network with other writer and find publication resources. I use the online message boards to keep up with the publishing world and seek advice from other writers. It can be especially helpful if you live some place where children's writers are scarce.
7. Are you a member of other writer's groups or associations? If yes, why?
   I just started a local group in Pittsburgh for Young Adult writers. I set it up because I was having a hard time finding a critique group who understood what its like to write for teens. 

This group of women is amazing. I'm talking real YA novel readers, not just folks who think they know what teens want to read. We've only been together for a couple of weeks, but its already began to rejuvenate my passion for writing.

8. How do you promote your book? Facebook? Twitter? Book signings?
Angeline Jellybean was mostly promoted through my author page on Facebook, Twitter and guest spots on the blogs of other writers I know. 

When you publish with a small press, as I did, promotion is what you make of it. It's difficult to get book signings or readings beyond the local level.
9. What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?
These days, I wake up at 5am in order to make it to the school where I work by 7. I usually eat a banana and a breakfast bar of some sort, or eat it on the way.
10. What do you think of the publishing world today? Dying dinosaurs or come back stars?
The publishing world isn't dying, but it's definitely changing. I'm not sure what I think of the whole ebook publishing movement. I still prefer the feel of a book in my hand over a Nook.
11. What one word best describes you?


12. Do you like jellybeans? Favorite taste? Color?
I always loved the red ones.

. What other websites have helped you to become a better writer?
I have been a member of for about 10 years. is a good place for beginning writers to get their work out into the world to receive critiques.

 I would recommend that writers use online resources, especially if they live in an area where critique groups are rare.
14. Please tell us more about Beginning with Books.

Beginning with Books was a non-profit here in Pittsburgh that brought quality children's books into low income areas of the city. I served with BWB as a member of Literacy*AmeriCorps and participated in their Storymobile

Ultimately, BWB also helped me gain an interest in writing for children. I credit that year for helping me become the writer I am today. Unfortunately, BWB was closed due to lack of funding a few years ago. I like to give trainings on choosing quality children's books to other AmeriCorps members as a way to carry on BWB's mission.
15. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?
My young adult novel The Famous Rose People of Briarwood has made it to the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, so your good vibes would be appreciated in hopes it gets to round two!
16. Do you tend to write in a female or male voice? Why?

    Female. I've never felt comfortable writing in a male voice, especially the teen male voice. 

It amazes me that I'm so hooked on John Green's new novel, his first from the female point of view.  I know what it's like to be a teenage girl, but I don't know what its like to be a teenage boy. I'm afraid I would mess up the stupid little details like what sports teams are cool or what brand of clothes they wear.



  1. I enjoyed this interview. Crystalee is a wonderful person and author. I'm proud 4RV Publishing had the honor of publishing her first picture book.

  2. She is! And I can't wait to read her next debut - the novel!

  3. Nice interview, Angie. Angeline Jellybean looks like a really cute book. And I can understand Crystalee's fascination with The Fault in our Stars. I just finished it and thought it was fantastic. Good thoughts going out her for the Amazon contest.

  4. Great interview Angie and Crystalee! I love the title of your book, I have to cut this short, for some inexplicable reason I have a taste for jellybeans!
    Una Tiers (Fiona is my protagonist)