Friday, December 1, 2017

A MERRY, NOT SO SCARY JERRY - Interview with Shelley Kinder

Today, in a continuing series of interviews with Spork children's authors, I'd like to introduce you to Shelley Kinder, author of NOT SO SCARY JERRY!

1. How long have you been writing?

I've been writing for three to four years, but dabbled in it a little before that. I had a childhood dream of writing a children's book someday, but it took me a long time to actually do it.

2. Do you work on different picture book manuscripts concurrently or do you stick with one until it’s completed?

Once I start a story, I tend to stick with it until the first draft is done. After that, it will inevitably need revisions, but at least I feel freed up to work on other stories at the same time.

3. How many hours a day do you write? 

There are many days I don't write at all, but I'm always doing something writing related: Reading, critique groups, formulating thoughts in my head, etc. My actual writing, if it's going to happen in a given day, usually doesn't take place until my kids are in bed. My brain works better in that environment. I think as my kids get older, I'll probably fall into a more regular writing schedule. For now, I write when I can't hold it inside any longer.

4. Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

I just read Not So Scary Jerry again and realized I'm actually a lot like Jerry in that it took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but other than that, I wasn't exactly sure. There's a line in the story where the boy says, "What were you born to do, Jerry?" Jerry scratches his head and lists some things he enjoys. In the end, he discovers his true passion. It took me several college experiences, getting married, and having kids to finally realize that writing was my true passion.

5. How long from the point of your idea, until the book was completed?

I believe it was about three years from idea to published book (two years from idea to acceptance of publication). Not So Scary Jerry went through several revisions before I submitted the story to Clear Fork Publishing (Spork). While working with illustrator Caryn Schafer on the book, we agreed on some small changes as well, including deleting a handful of dialogue tags. Caryn added the word "Oooof" to one of the last pages of the story, and it's one of my favorite lines in the whole book. It's been such a great experience working with a smaller publisher and being able to collaborate with Caryn.

6. What are your organizational affiliations for writing and do you believe they strengthened your writing skills?

I'm a member of SCBWI, which has been helpful, but unfortunately, I have never attended one of their conferences. I hear the conferences are amazing, and writers learn a lot from them, so I hope to go to one in the future.  

7. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I recently joined which has a modest monthly fee, and I'm loving it so far! I was just a part of an Inked Voices group with ten of us who all critiqued each others' picture book stories, and then at the end, an editor from Roaring Brook Press gave us all written feedback on our stories. The finale was a live 2-hour chat with all of us, including the editor. It was so helpful to have all of that feedback on one story! There was a fee to join that specific group, outside of the monthly fee, but I found the cost to be very reasonable and probably the best money I've ever spent as a writer. I'll also mention that I paid for a Kirkus review for Not So Scary Jerry, but the review won't be complete until mid-December. If Jerry gets a glowing review (or even a starred review!), I think that will also be money extremely well spent because it could open a lot of doors for the book.

8. What’s next for you?

My second book, titled The Masterpiece, is set for release in the spring (also published by Spork). It's a story about God painting the sunrise into the sky. I have the privilege of working with my mom on the book since she's illustrating it. Her talent amazes me. I know the art is going to be beautiful, and I can't wait to see the final product! 
Other than that, I'm just working on learning more each day, writing as much as I can, and getting my manuscripts into the right hands. After my agent, Vicki Selvaggio, submits a manuscript to editors, I basically just pray that someone gives it a chance.

If you would like to purchase Not So Scary Jerry, here are the links.

Amazon link:

If you'd like to get in touch with Shelley, visit her website at

Thank you, Shelley, for sharing your writing journey with us. Looking forward to many books from you. 

Thank you, Gayle, for inviting me to share my thoughts and experiences on your blog. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!


Wednesday, November 29, 2017



It’s hard to believe that Rock Star Santa is celebrating his tenth birthday this year. Children delight in his lyrical beat and Will Terry’s fun illustrations. Just as Santa travels the world, so has my picture book, Rock Star Santa.  

He has a following in the West Indies, England, Australia, and just this year he made did a concert in Asia. He made visits to schools in New York, Pennsylvania even had a ROCK STAR SANTA Christmas tree in a school in Utah.

To celebrate his tenth birthday, I am giving away a signed copy of ROCK STAR SANTA, a rhyming picture book critique and assorted goodies from Santa’s bag.

It’s Christmas Eve. The tree is lit and children await Santa’s arrival, only they’re not tucked snuggly in their beds dreaming of sugarplums. They’re stomping and clapping at a Christmas rock concert where Santa is the “star.” Santa’s snow-white hair is in a ponytail and he’s ready to rock. The rowdy reindeer band includes Donner on electric bass, eerily resembling Keith Richard. Blitzen has a Paul Stanley-like star painted on his eye as he plays the drums, and you can’t help but notice the resemblance of Comet to Slash, as he shoots across the stage.

But Santa is “THE MAN.” ROCK STAR SANTA is an original, modern day retelling of a Christmas classic, but what happens on this night before Christmas is ROCKIN’.

If you'd like ROCK STAR SANTA to perform in your home Christmas Eve, or receive one of the other Christmas treats in Santa’s bag, leave a comment below stating what you love MOST about Christmas! Or you can email me for more information at

I’ll start the Christmas ball rolling. What I love most about Christmas is –

The smells of the season!
·      The balsam tree fragrance when the lights are on.
·      The molasses crinkle cookies baking in the oven.
·      The cinnamon candles burning on the mantle.

Winners will be announced December 26th. Follow the Storyteller’s Scroll to find out if it’s you!

Rock on! Rhyme on! Ho! Ho! Ho!

Friday, November 24, 2017

It's meet Spork Author Julie Pepper.

This week continues the interviews and giveaways from fellow Spork authors. Today, I'd like to welcome Julie Pepper to The Storyteller's Scroll.

Julie writes picture books and her interview gives us a peek at her IT'S TIME series.

Pre-K - 1st

It’s Time welcomes you to share in the preparation for the very first day of school through the eyes of a child. This near-wordless picture book will draw you into a little boy’s perception of his moments at home, that lead him to his new school, teacher, and class. See what he sees as he is awakened by his mom, and goes through the steps of getting ready for his big day. A connection is made that will open a whole new world for this little one. It’s time.

1. Why do you write the kinds 
of books you do?

I began writing the It’s Time 
series because I liked the idea of a picture book where you don’t see the main character and that everything seen is from his/her perspective. It came about as I was imagining what my son was seeing and feeling on his first day of preschool. 

After I completed the story, I thought this idea had series potential, so happy our publisher, Callie Metler-Smith with Spork, Clear Fork Publishing agreed!

A lot of what I write is humorous. I love the funny/weird/quirky side of life, and I share that with my young readers.

2.     Do any of the books you write come from your own childhood?

I have a couple of ideas for books from my childhood experiences, but I haven’t developed any of them yet. My three children and my students have inspired 90% of what I currently write. They're always doing or saying funny things. I’m always remarking, “That could be a picture book idea!”

3.     Do you work on different picture book manuscripts concurrently or do you stick with one until it’s completed?

I wish I could stick to one manuscript until it’s finished, but that’s not the case. I work on many at the same time. I have bursts of creativity and write everything I can in that moment. Sometimes, I 'll continue with that story, but other times, I set it aside, and return to it later with fresh eyes.

4.      Is writing easy for you?
This is a very interesting question. During those creative bursts, I feel that things flow naturally and it seems easy. However, once I put it out there for critiquing it can become more difficult. I begin with such a strong vision for what I want the story to be, that when I get feedback I need to see what works for me and what doesn’t. 

I tend to second guess myself. on if I took the right advice or if I should have taken more or if I should have taken less. Although this part of story writing for me is more difficult, I always end up with a better manuscript after this process!

5.      How many hours a day do you write?
As a teacher and mom of three youngsters, it can be very hard to find time to write. My husband works the opposite schedule of mine, so when I get home from work, I’m in full mommy-mode. I try to write after I put the kids to bed, but sometimes I'm exhausted. However, during school breaks, or some weekend nights, I can write for up to four hours. This may be one of the reasons I have so many manuscripts going on at one time. I can steal a moment to write an idea down and a bit of the story, but to really sit down and focus on writing doesn’t happen as often as I'd like.

6.     When you begin writing a picture book, do you know what the ending will be?

Usually, yes. However, there have been a couple where I came up with what I thought was an interesting concept, but didn’t know exactly where it was going. Those I set aside, then went back to revise them, at a later date. I also have written a few stories where my original ending has changed after the revision process.

7.     How long does it take to complete one of your books?
It doesn’t take very long to complete books for the It’s Time series.  Since it is minimal words, I work closely with Anne Steele, the illustrator.  So, while it doesn’t take very long to set up the story, Anne and I talk a lot about each page and we will revise as we go if needed.

Other stories take a few months, while some have taken a year. I honestly never think they are done. I have a hard time feeling ready for submitting because I always think there must be something else I could change to improve the story. I'm very new to picture book writing, and feel that by attending more SCBWI conferences, participating in online webinars, and talking with other writers, I will get better at knowing when a manuscript is done…at least I hope that will happen!

8.     What’s next for you?
It’s Time to Go to the Doctor will be coming out in 2018. This time the story is from a little girl’s perspective. Anne has shown me some of her sketches and I’m really excited for this one! It’s also fun to be thinking about where to go with this series. There are so many moments to capture from the eyes of a child.

I also have a quirky picture book titled Cannonball coming out with Spork in either 2018 or 2019. 

I hope this is just the beginning for me. I'm enjoying having this creative outlet, and meeting so many wonderful writers along the way.


Julie has agreed to give away a signed copy of her picture book, It's Time. Just follow The Storyteller's Scroll through the email link in the upper right corner and then leave a comment for Julie below. A winner will be selected by and announced next Friday. Please check back next week to see if you have won  It's Time! 

And thanks for stopping by to spend some TIME with Julie!

Julie is a National Board Certified teacher who holds an M.A.Ed. with an emphasis in Arts in Education. She has been teaching 5th grade in Northern California for ten years, and uses picture books to teach reading and writing mini-lessons. Julie currently lives in Davis, California with her husband and their three hilarious children.

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