I met Cari a few years ago at the FaithWriters conference and we hit it off right away. She lives in my hometown and we’ve become great friends. Besides writing, Cari is a wonderful photographer and has won many awards for her talent. If you’ll be attending the FaithWriters conference this year, you’ll have a chance to meet Cari, as she’ll be open for business to take professional headshots. Now, grab a cup of coffee or your favorite softdrink and join me as I talk to Cari about her life as a writer/photographer.

LYNDA: When did you first start writing?

CARI: It seemed like I was always writing as a child and teen, but I didn’t get serious about the business of writing until 4-5 years ago.

LYNDA: Besides writing, you’re also an award-winning photographer. Have you always been interested in photography? Do you ever combine your writing and your photography?

CARI: Yes, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a camera in my hand. I got my first 35mm camera when I was 17, but started getting serious about photography only about 2 years ago. Since I was submitting things for writing, I decided to submit my photography, too, and it’s been fun. It’s also nice to have a passion for both writing and photography. I am planning to combine my writing and photography for future articles and books.

LYNDA: Last year, you won a scholarship to the Highlights Foundation Writer’s Workshop in Chautauqua, New York. That is so cool! Tell us how you won and what that experience was like for you.

CARI: It was awesome. Best experience of my writing career. I applied for a scholarship, which  included writing a children’s book. I was thrilled when I got the award and ended up spending a week at a luxurious retreat in New York with top editors, publishers, and writers in the children’s writing industry. I also met individually for personal critiques with Christine French Clark, Editor in Chief, Highlights magazine.

LYNDA: Do you consider yourself a children’s writer? What other sorts of writing do you do and where have you been published?

CARI: I enjoy writing for children, but also enjoy writing inspirational non-fiction. I’ve always had a child-like sense of wonder and still get excited over the tiniest things, the way kids do. I’ve been published in several local magazines and recently in Woman’s World, a national magazine. Currently, I am seeking representation for a children’s book, The Angel Kiss. It was written at the request of a doctor, who treats haemangioma’s (large birthmarks) and expressed the great need for a picture book addressing this health-related topic.

The Angel Kiss Summary: On her first day of kindergarten, Emily meets an unusual girl, named Sophie, who has a birthmark, or as Sophie’s Grandmother says, an “angel kiss,” on her forehead. While reactions to the girl with the angel kiss vary, Emily soon learns there is much more to Sophie than her birthmark.

LYNDA: What advice would you give to someone interested in writing for children?

CARI: Read and study children’s books. Tap into your childhood, remember what it felt like to be whatever age you are writing for. Network with other writers (we need each other!) and find a good critique group. Be open to the advice you get from critique partners while keeping it true to the story you intended to write. This is not an easy road. It helps to have friends who understand the ups and downs of rejections and acceptances to support you along the way. You (Lynda) are the best when it comes to encouragement and support. She’s the contest queen and that motivated me to become a submit-a-holic, too.

LYNDA: Ha. Thanks, Cari. OK…Bragging time: Share some of the awards you’ve received in your photography and where your photographs have appeared.

CARI: I’ve had several awards in the past 2 years. In 2010, the biggest things were getting 2 photos published in a book, The Ultimate Bird Lover, and coming in first place in a national photography contest, Great Lakes Forever Photo Contest. In 2009, I had a photo published in a book, Best of Photography 2009, which is used in colleges and universities, and I was published in Writer’s Journal magazine.

LYNDA: Tell us about your family.

CARI: I’m single and have two very creative daughters in their early 20’s. One daughter graduated with a film degree and has worked on major motion pictures, and the other daughter is an artist.

LYNDA: What do you like to do for fun (besides write and snap photos)?

CARI: Fun? I’m not sure I understand the question. Smile. It seems like all I do is work, but this is my fun. I love this “work,” and feel like I’m on an adventure. God has done more than I could ask or imagine. It reminds me of the verse in John 10:10 which says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

It’s also a good thing when friends (like you) get me to stop working and go out for coffee or a movie. Movies are the one time my mind quits thinking about my next plot, or conversation I heard at the grocery store to jot down so I can use it in a book or something. Seriously, how does a writer get their mind to quit?

LYNDA: Do you have a website that showcases any of your photos?

CARI: Yes, it’s www.cariweber.com. My website shows very little of my work, but it’s on my To-do list to get a gallery or another venue to see more photos. Please feel free to contact me through the information on my website. If you live in the Grand Rapids area, during the months of March and April, my work will be displayed in an individual photography exhibit at Schuler Books and Music on 28th SE.

LYNDA: That’s so exciting! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. Looking forward to seeing, firsthand, what God is going to do for you and through you as you continue to use your talents for His glory!

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