Lindsay: Hi there, Jenny, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Café. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us, and for the exciting giveaways you have planned! As we settle into our booth to chat, what might you be drinking?
Jenny: I’d love some coffee.
Lindsay: Coming right up. Are you snacking on anything?
Jenny: I’ll have some of those macaroons!
Lindsay: Now, as you take a bite of your first macaroon there, I have to tell you that I just adore your debut picture book, Just One More! I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about your inspiration for this sweet story!
Jenny: Well, thank you so much! I am in the thick of raising my 3 kids and I am always amazed how their energy goes impossibly on and on, leaving me in the dust. I knew I was not the only parent being pushed beyond the brink of exhaustion by exuberant little persons so I wanted to share in this camaraderie with humor. I know we live in times of over consumption but since the beginning of time kids have mastered the fine art of innocently coaxing for another of this or that. I did want to show that too much overindulgence can get you in trouble but for the most part kids just never want to stop what they are doing if they are having a fun….who doesn’t? I remember my husband throwing my son up in the air to the point of exhaustion and then that little voice inevitably saying, “again again” or “please, just one more time?”, and some how some way, you muster up the energy. Who can stand to put an end to kid’s laughter?
Lindsay: I can definitely share in the camaraderie of giggles and exhaustion! How crazy has life been for you since your book release?
Jenny: My book was released May 29th which gave me 3 weeks to book school visits. I really lucked out with all the snow days that were added to the end of the school year here on the east coast because it allowed for an additional week to book up. I know my school districts locally so I did all the legwork myself but kept my editor abreast of everything I was doing. I had to be extremely organized to keep it all straight which wasn’t always easy. On weekends and some nights I did book signings at bookstores and local libraries and have continued with that through the summer. It has been super crazy and I also just squeezed in the LA conference but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have met so many wonderful people along the way that I will get to share time with again and again. I can see that my efforts have built momentum and excitement and it is making a difference so I will keep on going!
Lindsay: Jenny, you are a dynamo! So glad to hear that your efforts are paying off and that people are getting excited about your work. Can you tell us a little bit about your current project, Claudia and Moth?
Jenny: Well, I don’t have it down to that two sentence minimum, yet….but, it is about a little girl obsessed with butterflies and the summertime, when they are readily available. She loves to spy on them, catch them, and especially paint pictures of them. She is all about the butterflies…you know how kids get hung up and fixated on one thing. But, when fall comes around, and the butterflies fly away, she is zapped of her creative energy….until she opens her sweater drawer and a big white moth flutters out. Indirectly the moth brings her out of her dull-drums over the course of winter.
Lindsay: Sounds very sweet! I really was drawn to the illustration you have up on your web site for it, so I can’t wait to see it completed. As writers and illustrators, we’d love to hear a little bit about the submission process from you. Can you give us some details about how you got started? Any advice or encouragement?
Jenny: SCBWI is the best start I think there is. I wish I had joined earlier on in my process, it is unbelievable the friends and contacts you can make, right at your fingertips. I never heard of it until my agent encouraged me to join….I think he knew I really had a lot of gaps that needed to be filled. My first conference was like an entire college education in making kids’ books. Even from this end of having a book published, I learned so much at this summer conference.
My advice is to do your research and get an agent that is interested in your type of project. I looked into good agencies and who their agents were. I Googled each one and read many blog interviews which gave a great snapshot of what each one was about. I then targeted the few that were a good fit for me. Stephen Barr, of Writers House, liked my concept and wanted to work with me…and worked with me is what he did! I was so happy to take his honed advice he helped me shape my book so it could be pitched but it took 6 months of hard work. Sticktoitiveness!
Lindsay: Thanks for sharing your experience and advice. We’re glad to have you as part of the SCBWI!
Now, I want you to imagine for a moment that you go to flea market and buy an intriguing old lamp. You get home, polish it up, and—poof!—a genie puffs out and offers you the choice of any three artistic masterpieces from any museum in the world. To keep. Forever. What might you choose?
1. Venetian interior with Gigia, John Singer Sargeant
2. Ernesta (Child with Nurse), Cecilia Beaux
3. Chilmark Moor, Martha’s Vineyard, William Lathrop
Now, I need to find that lamp!
Lindsay: Lovely choices. Thanks again for stopping by to chat with us, Jenny. We’re looking forward to meeting you on August 17!
Jenny: Thank you, looking forward to it, too! Yeah, another SCBWI event!
Lindsay: Now it’s your turn, EPA Community, to say hi to Jenny! Let her know how much you enjoyed her interview and insights. AND, if you’re coming to the Industry Scoop Sundae event THIS SUNDAY, make sure to comment and enter yourself to win a critique with Jenny or a copy of her new book!