Have you ever daydreamed of becoming a published author? Seattle-based Samantha Vamos was a practicing attorney when she started writing children's books (in her spare time).
Now this busy Mom of a kindergartener is an award-winning author with a number of books under her belt-- she quit her "day job" years ago. Her newest book, titled The Cazuela: The Farm Maiden that Stirred is a charming story that's a bilingual celebration of community and food. Samantha is graciously sharing her story with GalTime.
GalTime: Did you always "know" you'd be a published author?
Samantha: I never knew with certainty that I’d become a published author, but my dream of publishing my stories was the most consistent hope I held for the last 30 years.
GalTime: What have you learned on your path to fulfilling your dream that you can share with us?
Samantha: I have learned a lot about tenacity and perseverance. I think those characteristics have become engrained after all these years. Also, I have learned that to become a successful writer it’s extremely important to be able to accept constructive criticism, apply it, and adapt.
I probably revised Before You Were Here, Mi Amor (Vamo's first published book) twenty to thirty times before it sold. With that short a manuscript, a revision can mean simply the change of one line, but sometimes the change of one line really alters the tone and pace of a story. Even now that I’m represented by an agent, I revise over and over if my agent gives me comments that she feels are important to improving a story.
GalTime: Who are your favorite children's authors?
Samantha: I am amazed by the work, imagination, and creativity of so many authors including, but not limited to: Judy Blume, Norma Fox Mazer, J.K. Rowling, Dr. Suess, Rick Riordan, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Shel Silverstein, Judy Schachner, Roald Dahl, E.B. White, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madeleine L’Engle, Jon Scieszka, Karma Wilson. There are many more!
GalTime: Can you tell us a little about your newest children's book?
Samantha: The idea for The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred popped into my head one morning while making pancakes. Lacking two ingredients, I thought how much more fun it would be if I lived on a farm and the cow was kind enough to provide a cup of fresh milk and the hen offered an egg. I began walking around my kitchen making up my story based upon the rhythm and format of the familiar nursery rhyme, “The House That Jack Built.”
Like the nursery rhyme, The Cazuela That The Farm Maiden Stirred is a cumulative tale. In this case, the action builds as a few Spanish words repeat.
Five different farm animals (goat, cow, duck, donkey, and hen) and their farmer each contribute ingredients to a pot (the “cazuela”) stirred by the farm maiden. A surprise dish is created (rice pudding or“arroz con leche”) and at the book’s end, an actual recipe is provided. There is also a glossary with a pronunciation guide.
I never finished making pancakes that morning, but I did manage to write a first draft of my story!
Rafael López is an award-winning children’s book illustrator, painter, sculptor, and muralist. His paintings for The Cazuela That The Farm Maiden Stirred are absolutely magical. I’m so very grateful that we’ve been paired on this book.
Galtime: How does getting published change the way you think about things?
Samantha: I hoped I could publish more books so I could write dedications to all the people in my life who have been so incredibly supportive of my writing.
GalTime: What does your son say about Mom, The Author?
Samantha: He has told me with sincerity, on a few occasions, that his favorite books are Before You Were Here, Mi Amor and The Cazuela That The Farm Maiden Stirred. That always moves me.