Monday, December 10, 2007

Author Interview: Sheryl Crawford

Meet Author Sheryl Crawford!
Agent: Sheryl is represented by Etta Wilson of BOOKS & SUCH Literary Agency. Phone: 615-377-1146. E-mail:

Most people who know her call her Sherri. Two little girls call her “gramma.” (Her husband, Bobby-Bear, calls her Sherri-Bear. Shhhh.)

I grew up with my freckled-covered nose in an old set of twelve books my mother read as a girl. MY BOOK HOUSE BOOKS were published by The Book House for Children in Chicago. The first printing was in 1920. These wonderfully illustrated books were filled with fairy tales and fables, princes and talking animals. I laughed and made up my own melodies to go with silly poems. I walked around the house and yard singing them, and pretending to be the characters. I read in earnest, HIAWATHA’S CHILDHOOD by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and yawned with WYNKEN, BLYNKEN, AND NOD by Eugene Field. Even at the age of six and seven I underlined and circled favorite titles and lines. I read with awe stories about Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Boone. I lost myself in a magical world of wonder. These books are one of my dearest treasures today. They actually elicit tender emotions when I open one. With a lump in my throat I remember an unhappy childhood, but it seemed to vanish when I opened those books. They were healing. While reading, I “lived” through these characters that practically jumped off the pages, asking me to join them. Now that is pulling your reader in!

I never knew I could write for children until I was in my late thirties. What a shock when I realized that I could create fun, engaging stories that brought children joy and laughter! Our home was filled with children’s books. I didn’t read them only for the sake of entertaining our two boys—I read them out loud in bed at night with my husband, too! Our kids could hear our guffaws around 10:00 PM. We both loved children’s books. I so desperately wanted to write for children but I didn’t know how. I took two Saturday classes at my local community college on how-to-write-for-children. I was hooked! I brought home stacks of children’s magazines from the library and studied them. I read fourteen books in one year on how to write for children. Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr. accepted my first magazine feature fiction story in 1993. I remember pulling the magazine out of my mailbox in our town-home complex and literally jumping up and down like a maniac, squealing with delight. Neighbors saw this. I did not care. After that first story, I never looked back as God opened the doors. I was published in Highlights, Babybug, and Trails ‘N Treasures. I became a frequent assignment writer for Clubhouse Jr. magazine, and continue to write for them today. Since that time I’ve co-authored seven books with Nancy I. Sanders for Scholastic Professional Books. I’ve been a contributing assignment writer for MY LITTLE PRAYERS by Word Publishing, and have had a reading comprehension story with test published by Harcourt/Trophies. My Christmas book, THE BABY WHO CHANGED THE WORLD was published by Cook Communications. It is now out of print and I’m seeking a publisher. My dream is to turn this book into an audio-book package. The sample audio is sooooo cute.

Featured book: Psalms for a Child’s Heart
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: Hope. Hope inspired me. In the 1990’s I was ill and in bed for nearly seven weeks. But I had hope. My hope rested in my relationship with God. That’s when I wrote my first children’s book, PSALMS FOR A CHILD’S HEART. I literally wrote it from my bed. I chose eight of the best-loved Psalms and wrote them the way a child might say them to God today. I wanted the Psalms to be personal to little ones. I wanted them to have hope. Some children have such painful lives. I was once one of those children. I remember thinking, “Oh, if only I could have known the beautiful truths found in those Psalms when I was a little girl.” I wanted children to feel God’s arms wrapped around them. That is why I wrote it—to help bring hope and joy to little hearts. It took five years for that book to be picked up by a large Christian publisher, Cook Communications. The illustrations are wonderful and were done by Elaine Garvin, a grandmother in Arizona. It is now out of print and I’m hoping to find a new publisher for PSALMS FOR A CHILD’S HEART.

Q: Describe the benefits of writing for short assignments such as magazine articles in between book contracts.
A: There’s a writer’s cartoon pinned on my bulletin board above my desk. It’s been there for years. Picture an empty mailbox with the door hanging open. A human skeleton is hanging over the mailbox with a spider web going from his knee to the mailbox post. That poor writer did nothing but WAIT for an acceptance letter from a book publisher. Don’t hold your breath! It’s important to keep writing for magazines, periodicals, newsletters, Sunday school papers, etc. while you go through those dry spells. They can be long. Years long. Hone your skills with all that practice. When you write short assignments, you are sharing your gift of words to thousands of readers. Writing for magazines is quite difficult and there is much competition. It is not the “easy road” to getting your foot in the door as some amateurs think. There is no easy road. While I wait, hope and definitely pray for that next book contract, I continue to write for magazines. I thoroughly enjoy seeing my imagination in print!

Q: What Writers’ how-to-books do you have on your bookshelf, and which one is your favorite?
A: Whew! My favorite? You have to be kidding (o: I can’t possibly chose just one. I have four—the first four on this list. Are you ready?
Writing for Children & Teenagers by Lee Wyndham
How to Write a Children’s Book & Get it Published by Barbara Seuling
Anyone can Get Published—You can, Too! by Nancy I. Sanders
How to Write and Sell Children’s Picture Books by Jean E. Karl
You Can Write Children’s Books by Tracey E. Dils
Beginnings, Middles, & Ends by Nancy Kress
Writing for Children by Catherine Woolley (Jane Thayer)
Writing and Publishing Books for Children in the 1990’s by Olga Litowinsky
Picture Writing: A New Approach to Writing for Kids and Teens by Anastasia Suen
Story Sparkers: A Creativity Guide for Children’s Writers by Debbie Dady & Marcia Thornton Jones
Creating Characters Kids Will Love by Elaine Marie Alphin
How to Write a Children’s Picture Book by Eve Heidi Bine-Stock
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books by Harold D. Underdown and Lynne Rominger
Writing Books for Kids and Teens by Marion Crook
Children’s Writers’ & Illustrators Market Guide by Alice Pope
Christian Writers’ Market Guide by Sally Stuart

Please note: If you’re an author, illustrator, or editor and would like to be considered for an interview on this blog, please contact Nancy and let her know.

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