Leslie Bilodeau Placzek
Published Work: The Audacious Adventures of Zazoo Plazz, Part-time Superhero, Full-time Mom
Leslie Bilodeau Placzek is a graduate of Institute for Children’s Literature. View Course Catalog >
Welcome to the Winners’ Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we are celebrating award-winning author Leslie Bilodeau Placzek!
The Audacious Adventures of Zazoo Plazz, Part-time Superhero, Full-time Mom
Published by Leslie B. Placzek
Amazon and IngramSpark
Give us a short summary of your book.
This collection of vignettes is a playful romp through the quirky imagination of Leslie Bilodeau Placzek (aka Zazoo Plazz), a “Late-Blooming Post-Boomer,” as she enters midlife—and finally learns how to share her discoveries with the world, become her own superhero, tame her “big ’80s hair,” and find an outfit appropriate for running a household, a business, and a half marathon. But will her canine sidekick, DD (aka Bebe, the Divine Diva dog), steal the scene—and the last slice of pizza—and bring Zazoo back down to earth?
Tell us a bit about your path to publishing, from idea to submission to published.
The entire process took two years, from writing to editing, publishing and launching the book on my own. I decided to self-publish because I was excited to share the stories with everyone I knew, especially my family, and I also wanted to keep the stories intact. I launched the book on February 29, 2020, which was perfect timing for a humor book, as it turned out—Leap Day! I didn’t get to have my fancy launch party, but at least my mom got to read my book and give it to all of her friends before she passed away in June, 2021. I am looking forward to writing Book Two of the Zazoo Plazz series soon.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing my whole life, starting with my childhood diaries and illustrated poems that were published in the Hartford newspapers when I was 11 or 12. In high school, I wrote for and co-edited the student newspaper and literary magazine, and also wrote for my college newspaper. From 1998 to 2009, I wrote over 50 freelance feature articles for the Journal Inquirer (a Manchester, CT daily). In between, I wrote press releases, technical papers, newsletters, marketing copy, blogs, social media posts, and—in 2020—my first book.
What’s your favorite genre to write and why?
I love to write essays, because they are quick to write and memorable. They also give people an energy boost during a hectic day (with or without coffee)!
Please list the course or courses you’ve taken with us.
How has taking our courses helped your writing and/or career?
It gave me confidence to submit essays and stories for publication, and instilled a structure and discipline that I had not previously possessed. My instructors drew from their experiences and guided me to do my best work. I don’t think I would have been able to do that on my own, and it wouldn’t have been as much fun!
Have any of your class assignments been published?
The first essay I submitted for publication was accepted by the New York Times, in the “From the Desk Of” column in the Money & Business section. The title was “I Have Seen the Future, and It’s in Consulting.”
My instructor, Kaa Byington, congratulated me on a “slam dunk” and cautioned that I would get several rejections, per the ways of the Universe. I saved all of my replies, especially the ones with handwritten notes (a relic of the 20th century, unfortunately).
Do you have a favorite writing tip you’d like to share?
Often, I will write the first draft of an essay in a digital notebook, just to “get it all out,” then later pull out a few paragraphs and sculpt the final version in a Word document, from a place of heart-centered creativity. The final product is something brand new that pleasantly surprises me!
If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of writing advice, how far back would you go, and what would you tell yourself?
I would remind my younger self (from last week) to follow my own intuition and strive for constant improvement in my craft, and not to compare myself to anyone else. I am the Universal expert on Zazoo Plazz, after all!
Judging by your cover art, is your book for children?
(LOL) It is not, but that is a very common reaction, perhaps because the cover was created by Robin Tatlow-Lord, an Australian children’s book illustrator. Zazoo Plazz is a book for those of us who would like to experience timeless stories, nostalgia, and revisit the simplicity of childhood. I point out the silly faces in the clouds and remind people of that Thanksgiving when their kooky aunt cooked the turkey upside down and the dog ran off with your mother’s apple pie. And you survived, with a great story to tell!
Please tell us the best or most valuable thing you learned from your experience with ICL and IFW.
My instructor, Kaa Byington, often joked that my letters to her with each assignment were at least as entertaining as my stories, and I began to realize that she had captured the essence of my “voice,” a very natural, honest form of making readers feel that they are not alone, that someone “sees” them.
Leslie Bilodeau Placzek has lived most of her life in the Greater Hartford, Connecticut area, recording snippets for books in her head, her heart, and lots of top-secret notebooks. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Money and Business section and the Journal Inquirer (Manchester, CT), among other publications.