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An Interview with Jae Sherwood, Author of Little Leona Of Monsters and Fire

Author’s Bio:  Jae Sherwood lives in Annapolis, MD and writes creative nonfiction and poetry for children and adults.  Previously a stay at home mom to three amazing people and then later a middle school English teacher, she is now redirecting her time and energy to focus on her writing.  Jae is currently working to expand the Little Leona safety series with more picture books that tell stories of how kids can keep themselves safe in various situations.

What inspired you to write your book?
JS: As a mother, I loved reading quality books to my children, books that were interesting to me as well and had some sort of message to them.  When I started the poem about a little girl playing dress up and fighting imaginary monsters, it morphed into her fighting a dragon, then morphed into the dragon being a metaphor for a fire.  Finally, I saw that I could relay a message about fire safety through the text and illustrations.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
JS: Yes, I was heavily influenced by an older version of Beauty and the Beast and The Boy Who Drew Cats.  Both were large hardback books with gorgeous illustrations.  I loved reading these to my children.  Also, Dr. Seuss played a role in that I found my children loved the rhyme.

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
JS: This is my first book.  From start to finish it took a year to have a printed copy in my hand.  Much time was spent with the illustrator getting the illustrations exactly right.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
JS: It just came out, almost all at once.  Of course I edited over months, but the body of the poem came out in one sitting.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
JS: No, I don’t listen to music.  I find it too distracting.  I do love opening the window and listening to the wind or if I’m really lucky, the rain.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
JS: Perseverance.  Plain and simple.  I went on my own to the Annapolis Fire Department and asked them to read the book and then asked them for an endorsement.  Not only did they endorse Little Leona, but they are now using it in their child safety education programs in the schools.  I applied for awards and won the silver award from Mom’s Choice.  I held book signings at my own expense, gave almost 100 copies of my book away to organizations I thought might endorse the book, I begged local vendors to carry my book in their stores, etc. etc.  When the job of marketing my book started to interfere with my writing time, I hired a publicist to help me out.  Eclectic PR was able to get me a television interview and helped with scheduling more book signings.

What advice would you give to new authors?
JS: Don’t write unless you’re passionate about it.  But if you are, just persevere and in some way, shape or form, you will be successful.

How about sharing an excerpt from Little Leona Of Monsters and Fire?

Little Leona learns quite young
That there are monsters to be slayed
So she dons her dress
And combat boots
For she is not afraid.

Her mother’s mismatched earrings
She wears for luck, you see
And Daddy’s old tie
A scarf around her neck
Hangs way down to her knees.

Her baby blanket becomes her cape
Flowing from her back
And in her hand
Is Grandpa’s cane
With which she can attack.

Leaping Leona emerges at last
From behind her bedroom door
Tilts her head
Listens closely
Is there stomping on the floor?

Hearing nothing she takes a breath
And marches forth in stride
Looking amid the shadows
And all those places
Where monsters tend to hide.

What’s next for you?
JS: I’m working on the next book in the series titled Little Leona and a Chessie Tale.  It’s a book about water safety which takes place on the Chesapeake Bay.  Leona and her crew go sailing one day and run into Chessie (our own Loch Ness monster legend) which is a metaphor for a storm.  In the chaos, someone goes overboard, but because Leona knows what to do, she gets all of her crew safely to shore.   It should be out later this year.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
·         Website:  www.little-leona-books.com
·         Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jae.Sherwood
·         Twitter:  @poetsdaughtr
·         Blog: www.little-leona-books.com/blog/    
·         Book buy Links:
Amazon:

Barnes and Noble: 

From Maple Creek Media:

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.




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