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JJ Barnes The Table Read

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed children’s book author Zane Carson Carruth about her writing, what inspires her, and the creative process that went into writing her new book, Abella Goes to the Rodeo.

Tell me a bit about who you are

I live in Houston, Texas and am involved with numerous non-profits, have a trademarked series on the tooth fairy and am a certified etiquette and protocol professional. My husband Brady keeps life exciting as he is very interested in all thing’s sports, horse racing, traveling and philanthropy.

Zane Carson Carruth, author of Abella Goes to the Rodeo, interview on The Table Read
Zane Carson Carruth

I keep my suitcase packed with the essentials at all times, because there is usually another trip around the corner. Brady is the Chairman elect of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for the terms 2021-2023, making me the First Lady of the Rodeo. That involvement takes on a life of its own.

When did you first WANT to write a book, when did you take a step to start writing?

I have a lifelong love of writing and wrote poetry and short stories as a young person. I wrote my first children’s book about 26 years ago, however, did not have a clue how to get it illustrated, edited, or published. I put it in a drawer, but never gave up the dream of publishing it. When I was in Charleston completing my etiquette certification classes, I noticed the instructor had written and self-published a children’s book.

From that point on, I was laser focused on getting my book in print. It took months to research and interview illustrators, editors, and layout artists. It was also very challenging learning how to secure ISBN numbers, Library of Congress numbers, bar codes, and PCIP code.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

The honest answer is 26 years.  However, once I began the actual process of getting it to print was about 6 months.

What made you want to write Abella Goes to the Rodeo?

My latest release is titled Abella Goes to the Rodeo. Houston has one of the most impressive rodeos nationwide called the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Every Houstonian has attended or will attend the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (HLSR) during their lifetime. It was a natural fit for Abella to experience the rodeo and show the kids what it is all about. Because my husband is the Chairman Elect, I had access to all the behind-the-scenes information as well as to the rodeo participants, bullfighters and bull riders and barrel man. I chose to focus on the famous bullfighter, Mr. Leon Coffee as the hero.

What were your biggest challenges with writing Abella Goes to the Rodeo?

I conducted a tremendous amount of research on the job of bullfighters, rodeo clowns and barrel men. As well as Mr. Coffee personally. My biggest challenge was getting him on the phone to confirm the facts and obtain his permission to write about him. He does not use email very often, and travels a great bit, so I was had a terrible time contacting him. At one point, I thought I might have to just refer to him as Mr. Folger if I could not get his permission to write about him. But eventually we did chat, and I gleaned a lot of fun information about the process, challenges, and pitfalls.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

There was never any question who I would focus on in my book other than Mr. Coffee.  He is a much loved and respected legend in the rodeo industry and has a long history with HLSR.

Zane Carson Carruth, author of Abella Goes to the Rodeo, interview on The Table Read

Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

There is no largeradversary or opponent in the rodeo other than the bucking bull.

The bucking bull is literally larger than life. Larger and much scarier. Interesting thing about those bucking bulls.  They travel the rodeo circuit just like the cowboys.  Every cowboy knows and dreads that bull that has the reputation as being a “widow maker.” It’s very much a love/hate relationship.  If you draw a bull that does not kick and fight enough, you don’t earn as many points as you do if you draw the meanest/scariest bucking bull in the herd.

What is the inciting incident of Abella Goes to the Rodeo?

Abella is a very caring, sweet little fairy and can “not look the other way “if she sees anything or anyone in harm’s way.  It instinct for her to pick up her magic wand and come to the rescue. In the book, she was warned by the momma cow not to interfere in the rodeo in any way.  No magic whatsoever!

What is the main conflict of Abella Goes to the Rodeo?

The main conflict is when Abella sees the cowboy bucked off the wild bull and needs help getting off the arena floor.  She quickly grabs her wand, and just as quickly is swatted by the momma cow’s tail. Does she wave her wand to save the cowboy, or does she respect the rules of the momma cow and the rodeo?

Did you plot Abella Goes to the Rodeo in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

I do both. I figure out well in advance what my next book will be about and the big picture story.  However, when I start writing, I must let go and let the story write itself. I have learned from experience, not to create every scene in my head and then try to put it on paper. I start writing and let my imagination take over. The books write themselves.

Zane Carson Carruth, author of Abella Goes to the Rodeo, interview on The Table Read

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Abella Goes to the Rodeo need?

I absolutely seek professional help with the editing. Having a fresh set of eyes check the punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, and spacing is a must.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

Everyone has a story to tell or wants to tell.  My advice is pick up a pen and start writing. You will be surprised how easy it is.  Don’t try to write a best seller, just write about what you know.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

My next book will be about Abella befriending a racehorse. I have racehorses and very familiar with the sport. I have a lot of experiences to draw from.

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Am I proud of my books? That is an understatement.  I wanted to get that first book published for years but, the pieces did not come together.  And finally, when that big 18-wheeler pulled in front of my house and unloaded the books my heart was pounding. I tore open the first box to look at the books and teared up.  I could not believe my dream had finally come true and I was holding the most beautiful book I had ever seen.  Yes, it was very much worth the effort.

All my books can be found online at Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart, Amazon, and my website

The World’s First Tooth Fairy…Ever
The Adventures of Abella and Her Magic Wand
Abella Starts a Tooth Fairy School
Abella Goes to the Rodeo
to be released mid-December.

The World’s First Tooth Fairy items can be purchased at www.zazzle/store/world1toothfairy/products  

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