Today we have the incredible Claribel Ortega joining us! Not only is Claribel the author of the upcoming, untitled GHOSTBOOK from Scholastic, but she is the powerhouse behind GifGrrl where she creates gifs and trailers for authors’ books. Adding to her impressive repertoire is her new podcast, WRITE OR DIE. 

  1. What is WRITE OR DIE about?
    Write or Die is a podcast about writers who had a hard time breaking into publishing. Sometimes it’s because of timing, their craft not being where it needs to be or because they come from a marginalized community which has historically been kept out of publishing. I’m trying to tell stories from a lot of different perspectives but I hope to highlight authors who identify as queer or disabled, writers, people of color and Native writers, especially because they have the hardest time breaking in.
  2. You’ve got awesome projects like GifGrrl and your upcoming middle grade debut GHOSTBOOK, what inspired you to begin this podcast and give back to the writing community in this way?
    It was actually because of two of my close writing friends. One who was freaking out about not selling quickly and assuming that meant they would never sell well and another who had been on sub close to a year and had given up hope. I watched them both get so worked up because the general consensus is that if you’re going to sell you sell quickly and I knew that wasn’t always the case.

    Same goes for querying. Things aren’t always linear and they aren’t always fast, I believe it’s a lot more common for authors to struggle for years before reaching their goals. So I wanted to give authors a platform to tell those specific stories. The fast, big money deals rise to the top because they’re sexier, but they’re not the norm.

    Also, with Twitter being such a big part of the writing community, it’s sometimes hard to filter the truth from stuff people say for retweets and likes. On my podcast the stories come directly from the author’s experiences so those listening know it’s from the heart.

  3. How do you approach interviewing authors? Do you get nervous?
    It’s super casual but I do sometimes get nervous. I was nervous af for Daniel José Older because he’s my hero lol but once I start talking to them I relax a lot. It’s so much fun to just talk to other authors about how much publishing can suck and also how wonderful it can be. But mostly the first one.
  4. What are some of your favorite writing podcasts? Non-writing?
    I love First Draft, 88 Cups of Tea and Writing Excuses. Non-writing I’m obsessed with My Favorite Murder, The Dollop and My Dad Wrote a Porno. Yes, I’m a children’s author.
  5. If you could have any guest on WRITE OR DIE, living or dead, who would it be and why?
    Okay I have a few people here. That’s probably cheating but I don’t care. I would literally pass out if Karen Kilgariff from My Favorite Murder (who writes for TV) were ever on the show. I’ll work up the courage to ask her someday. Sandra Cisneros would be the ultimate for me but I would likely pass out if she ever spoke to me so maybe I should avoid it.
  6. What do you want writers to take away from WRITE OR DIE?
    I want them to know that success is about longevity in the industry, not the speed with which you get your foot in the door. I want them to know there’s beauty in the struggle, that they’ll get over the bumps in the road if they continue to work on their craft, that everyone’s journey is their own! I want people to cancel out the noise of the people telling them it’s not possible and to listen to their stories instead. F the haters.
  7. Can you tease for us what the next episode is about and what to expect in future episodes?
    The next episode is going to feature the author of one of my favorite 2017 reads (her MC is evil but she isn’t!) and soon I will be airing a one on one chat with an editor at Disney, lots of tea spilling and wine drinking. I expect it to be a beautiful mess. As the podcast grows I hope to share stories from writers in all different industries, have fun and inspire people to keep going. That’s my main goal, to make sure people don’t give up. Except racists. They can give up until they fix themselves.

Thank you so much for joining us Claribel! You can listen to the WRITE OR DIE podcast on iTunes. Check out the official website: for the full list of episodes and don’t miss the May 11th, 2018 episode… JULIE C. DAO & THE SECRET HARRY POTTER FAN FIC!

Claribel-Author-PicCLARIBEL ORTEGA went from journalism student, editing her classmates often times hilarious ads and ramblings on the back page of SUNY Purchase’s Independent Newspaper, to a small town reporter, where she enjoyed going to board of ed meetings and texting the town mayors about the line at Starbucks.

Today she’s busy turning her obsession with eighties pop culture, magic and video games into books while traveling the world for her day job in marketing.

She lives in New York with her suspiciously intelligent yorkie, Pancho Villa.


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