Thursday, March 3, 2016

March Spotlight Interview with Janet Balletta

Janet Balletta on Luz Del Mes March Spotlight Interview by Maritza Martinez Mejia

Welcome Janet to Spotlight Interview! Tell me:
Q1.What makes you proud to be a writer from The United States?

A1. It makes me proud to be a writer from the United States because my parents were immigrants to this country who worked hard to provide a better life for our family than they had while growing up in their countries. My parents were strong advocates for education and eventually I became an elementary school teacher. Since I am bilingual, my first teaching job was a K-2 ESOLTeacher. In my role as a bilingual teacher, I encourage students to read and write often so they too can develop a passion for reading and writing bilingual and multicultural literature.        

Q2. What or who inspired you to write The Legend of the Colombian Mermaid?

A2. I was inspired to write this book by my mother, Judith, who was from Colombia and a devoted Catholic. She shared the legend of the mermaid with our family every Easter, and it quickly became my favorite bedtime story. What I realized later in life is that, not only the story entertaining, but it teaches a valuable lesson on family values, traditions, and Colombian culture. One day, I was helping my daughter with a book report on Colombia and we could not find any books on Colombia in the Queens library in New York. This further inspired me to write the story in order to preserve it and share it with the future generation of readers. I also wanted to pass the legend down to my children and grandchildren so they could learn more about their ancestry and Hispanic culture.    

Q3.  Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? 

A3. I always referred to the story as the legend of the mermaid because that's how I remember my mother telling it. When I became serious about writing the story I did some research and discovered the story had never been published in the United States. The Legend of the Colombian Mermaid is the title I felt was most appropriate because it's where the legend originated.  Folktales and legends are fascinating to both adults and young children as they are instinctively curious to learn why people or places are famous.  My second children's book is titled, The Legend of Roberto Cofresi – A Puerto Rican Hero, which is about a famous pirate from Puerto Rico.  

Q4. Why do you prefer to write Legends? 

A4  As an educator in the classroom, I found children could easily relate to stories based on traditional folktales and legends because they are often familiar with the stories.  I also noticed using stories children could associate with had soothing and calming effects on the ESOL children because they welcomed the familiarity in a world where many things are brand new for them. To this end, I found the children were more engaged, made meaningful connections, and identified themselves with the characters in the stories. It's also a way of integrating the Hispanic culture into the curriculum for enrichment purposes.          

Q5. What is your promotion strategy to promote your children book?

I have used several strategies to promote my books. My initial strategy was hiring a promotional company which reviewed and featured my mermaid book on their website and blog. I also use social media to self-promote the books in different groups on Facebook, Twitter, and my own website. Since the mermaid book is seasonal, I try to increase promotions just before Easter on social media. Recently, I created free learning activities to go along with the books and they are available on my personal website Other strategies include translating the book into Spanish so there are two versions of it and entering the books for awards such as the International Latino Book Award the mermaid book won last year. Another strategy is offering accessories for the books such bracelets and dolls to accompany the books for the holidays. Finally, I attend several annual book exposition events such as the local library Book Fair, Family Reading Festival, and the Catholic Council of Women Conference.

Thank you for taking he time to answer these questions for LuzDelMes Spotlight Interview.

Janet Balletta's Books:

Legends to teach obedience, generosity and love.
The Legend of the Colombian Mermaid
The Legend of Roberto Cofresi