Thursday, March 17, 2011
Interview with Children's Author Sherry Ellis
I want to thank you for being my guest here on the blog here at Stories for Children Magazine.
What inspired you to write?
I pretty much stumbled into the world of writing. I am a professional musician, so prior to writing my first book, my time was divided into taking care of my two children and playing and teaching the violin, viola, and piano. My career as an author began six years ago in a rocking chair. It was about three in the morning, and my five-month-old son had awakened – again. It was the seventh time that night. This was pretty typical. As I sat in my sleep-deprived state, a poem started going through my head. It was the beginning of That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN. Every time my son woke up, I added to it. By the end of the week, the entire story was composed in my head. I shared it with my three-year-old daughter who suggested that it should be a book. The rest is history.
Do you consider yourself a born writer?
I think I have always had an interest in writing. As a kid, I used to write and illustrate stories. I still have some manuscripts from when I was eight years old. I suppose the potential to be a writer was always there, but up until six years ago, I really didn’t think much about a career as an author.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If yes, how did you ‘cure’ it?
There have been times where I get stuck – times I’m not sure what to write next. Usually if I go do something else and then come back, the problem is solved. I find going for a walk often clears out the cobwebs.
Have you had any training to become a writer?
I have not had “official” training to be a writer. Of course, I had plenty of writing assignments in school. I also belong to a writers’ group, so I have gotten some coaching from peers.
What type of books do you mostly write?
I write picture books for children and books for middle-grade readers. Everything I have written for children thus far has been fiction.
Do your children inspire any of books, characters, or plots?
My children certainly inspired my first two books. That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN was inspired after enduring years of sleep deprivation. That Mama is a Grouch was inspired after tripping over my kids’ clutter and breaking a toe. Kids are always a great source of inspiration. They may say or do something silly, and I’ll think, “Hey, that would make a great book!”
Can you share with us a little about your current book?
My current book, That Mama is a Grouch, is a story about a mom who is having a bit of a tantrum. There are toys on the floor, messes in the kitchen, finger paint on the walls, and she is tired of it. The narrator, a precocious child indeed, can’t understand why Mama is so upset. Mama explains a few house rules and then it all makes sense – at least for a little while. That Mama is a Grouch is a fun book that shows kids that parents are human with feelings and emotions. It’s also a nice tool that parents can use when explaining some of their own house rules.
What type of book promotion works for you? Any special strategies you’d like to share?
I do a lot of networking on author sites like Filedby, Authors Den, and JacketFlap. It’s a way to get the word out about who I am and what I have to offer. I also utilize some of Amazon’s tools like Listmania and So You’d Like to Guides. These tools help me connect my books with similar books and make it easier for my target market to find my books.
What is the most difficult part of writing?
Finishing. This is especially true of longer manuscripts. I’m pretty good about finishing short picture books, but I’m easily distracted when it comes to chapter books. I’ll write, and maybe I’ll almost finish, then I’ll have another idea pop into my head and I’ll start working on that. It’s like a dog being distracted by a squirrel. I really need to work on focusing on one thing at a time!
Do you find it hard to balance your personal writing time with your other job(s)?
I find it extremely challenging to balance writing with my job. I am a professional musician who plays and teaches violin, viola, and piano. I teach after school, and somewhere in there, I have to practice. Between the kids and my work, I have very little time to write. I try to squeeze it in whenever I have an opportunity.
Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?
I am working on a series of books for middle-grade readers called The Adventures of Bubba and Squirt. I recently completed the first draft of the first book, Big Hole to China. These are books in which the main characters travel via magic, to another country. They have an adventure while learning a little about the language, culture, and history of the people who live there.
Tell us about your writing space?
This may sound funny, but most of the time, my writing space is my bedroom floor. It’s a place I can go and not be bothered by kids or animals. Usually I sit down with a pencil and notebook. If I’m doing research for a project, I may have books scattered around me. This is where I do most of my creating. Later, I go to the computer to type the manuscript. That workspace is a desk that’s usually covered with my husband’s motorcycle catalogues.
*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.