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!


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