Debut Review Challenge with Shannon Stocker

It is my pleasure to welcome Shannon Stocker to the Debut Review Challenge Blog. You won’t want to miss her delightful picture book, CAN U SAVE THE DAY?


For a BONUS ENTRY, please leave a comment on this blog post! (This will apply if you also complete at least one official ENTRY FORM.)


Debut By-the-Numbers: CAN U SAVE THE DAY?

Number of years writing: 

I wrote my first picture book draft at the end of 2015, but I’ve been writing poetry, essays, and songs for as long as I can remember. Lyrics and harmonies were always more my strength than chord progressions and melodies, though.

Number of years from contract to published book: 

Almost two and a half

Date your book was released: 

August 15, 2019

Number of pages: 

32

Number of launch events: 

Only one formal launch, but I’ve done several signings and a blog tour.

Number of days per week that writing takes a backseat to marketing & publicity:

Oh my gosh…this number varies so much. Right after the launch, writing took a backseat almost every day for probably two straight months. Now, I mix a little marketing and publicity in daily…but I should probably be doing more.

Number of critique partners: 

LOL – many! I write in different genres, so I have CPs for NF, some for exclusively PB, and some who critique my memoir and will also help with MG/YA as those books come together. Four CPs are instrumental for me cross-genre, but I also rely on several others for great PB advice.

Number of books you hope to publish over the next ten years: 

I’m less concerned about the number of books than I am the quality and reach of the books I release. My editors have been great, so I’d love to nurture relationships with them (but of course I’m open to new relationships, too!). But I’m extremely loyal…so I really want to work hard for the houses that have believed in me. Eventually, I’d really like to publish at least one quality PB per year, and at least one novel every two years. 

Number of times you’ve pinched yourself that you really have a book out: 

HA!! Daily!!!

Current number of reviews:

On Amazon: 63; On Goodreads: 78

A Few Questions

  • Why do you write for children?

Because it feeds my soul. Children are so innocent and open…they look for joy in the world, and I think that’s just such a beautiful thing. I love the idea of writing stories that make them laugh, or think, or believe. I also love the idea of writing stories for kids who aren’t traditionally represented on the shelves…particularly kids with disabilities, learning differences, or illnesses. It feels important to me. Personal.

  • Who/what are your greatest inspirations?

You know, I’m not sure I’ve ever had this question before. People ask which authors inspired me, but my greatest inspirations are not famous authors. My greatest inspirations are my husband and my children, Cassidy and Tye. They’re always enthusiastic about my stories and bringing me funny ideas (particularly my son!). My critique partners are also incredibly inspirational to me. This business can be so draining—I’m inspired when my CPs succeed, and I’m inspired when they don’t…but they keep going anyway.

  • Without giving anything away, tell us about your work-in-progress. What do you love about it so far? Where are you stuck? 

LOL – which one? Oh my gosh…I have so many irons in the fire. My biggest WIP is my memoir, which is sooooooo close! I’ve gotten stuck so many times on it over the past four years or so. Maybe a memory hurt too much so I had to step away for a while, or maybe I didn’t yet know which memories would be relevant to the themes, or maybe it was just a logistical delay, like having difficulty in finding an old email or medical chart note. But the closer I get to completion, the easier it is to write. I’m doing character sketches for a MG, and I also have several PBs in various stages of revision (and a few sitting in various stages of review with houses).

  • What does your work space look like? Tell us about a typical work session. (Time of day, length of time, pet companion, favorite snack/drink, writing or art routines, etc.) 

Right now, it looks like a warzone! My workspace is currently littered with an empty Kind bar wrapper, water bottle, coffee cup, one of my Chicken Soup books, a copy of Lauren Kerstein’s picture book (ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES), my planner, a billion bills, several pairs of reading glasses, a book of inspirational quotes, antibiotic ointment (what? WHY??), a favorite anniversary card my husband made for me, a Perplexus Epic, and several medical chart files. The walls of my office are lined with canvases of my children – family photos and some of their artwork. Most days I try to get to my workspace by 8:00 or 8:30 am. On Mondays I fill my Tweetdeck with inspirational quotes and nature/child-inspired images for the week, but I otherwise try to get my writing done first thing, while my brain is fresh. When I start to space out, I’ll switch to something else (exercise, chores, critiques, etc). After lunch I go back to writing/marketing stuff/critiques until my kids get off the bus at 3:00. They own me until bedtime! Once they go down, I’ll try to catch up on emails. Just before bed, I also try to scroll through Facebook and Twitter to share good news and touch base with others in the writing community. 

Pet companion is a funny question…we have a zoo. My rotund kitten (he’s 11 months now) likes to sit in my lap at least a couple times a day. We also have a Maine Coon and a miniature Australian Shepherd who sleeps by my feet, and I have a Senegal parrot named Prozac (“Zac”) who often hangs out on a perch by my chair. I am rarely alone in the office! Unless I’m super tired I drink tea and water; coffee hits the spot on particularly sleepy days. I’m a pretty healthy eater, but I do keep a stash of dark chocolate in my desk drawer. You know…for emergencies.

  • When you need to take a creative break, do you have another activity or hobby that recharges you?

I do love to take music breaks! It’s not uncommon for me to break out the guitar or sit down at the piano in the middle of the day. I also find that cleaning, as much as I hate it, clears my mind. Exercise, too.

  • Why did you create your blog, #InHERview?

There are lots of wonderful blogs out there about “the story behind the story.” I created #InHERview as a way of introducing the world to the people behind the stories. My interviews are sort of Rolling Stones-inspired; I talk with female authors (and soon illustrators, too!) about three pivotal moments in their lives. The conversations are very organic and spontaneous. I’ve loved getting to know more women in the kidlit community and feel very honored to be able to share so many of their stories on my site. (http://www.shannonstocker.com/blog/

Time to Play: STORY SMASH!

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Think about all the stories you’ve written that have hit a dead end or are hidden away in a drawer somewhere. For each of the items below, lift an element from a different story to create a weird, unexpected mash-up. Who knows? It may even inspire a new manuscript! 

Character: A restless goat

Setting: The dinner table

Theme: Not wanting to be like everyone else

Problem: He’s filthy but hates baths

Pitch: A restless goat never wants to bathe again but isn’t allowed at the dinner table until he’s clean. Will the kid ever settle down and wash his hooves? Or will his Maaaaama stop forcing him to be like the rest of the herd and finally let Billy fill his belly?

You are the Queen of Puns and Wordplay, as proven by your debut. I would love to read this goat story!


Okay, Challenge Participants! It’s Time to Write Some Reviews!

Leave an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other online site. Every time you write five reviews for debut Kidlit creators between January 1-February 29, 2020, you can fill out this ENTRY FORM for a chance to win prizes. Shannon has generously donated a signed book and a classroom Skype visit. Thank you, Shannon!

TIPS:

  • Support debut authors by suggesting their book titles to your local library.
  • Purchase them as gifts for children in your life, a teacher, or a local school.
  • Share book titles or reviews on social media and tag the author/illustrator.

About Shannon and her Book

Bio: Shannon Stocker is an award-winning author and proud word nerd who lives in Louisville, KY, with her husband, Greg, and their children, Cassidy and Tye. Her debut picture book, CAN U SAVE THE DAY (Sleeping Bear Press), released on August 15, 2019. Her next picture book, LISTEN: HOW ONE DEAF GIRL CHANGED PERCUSSION, comes out with Dial (Penguin/Random House) in 2022, and several of her nonfiction essays have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. Shannon currently serves as SCBWI social co-director for Louisville, a judge for Rate Your Story, and she created the blog series, Pivotal Moments: inHERview, highlighting transitional life stories of female picture book authors. Cool facts: Currently writing her memoir, Shannon is a medical school graduate, a coma survivor, an RSD/CRPS patient and advocate, and a singer/songwriter who once performed two songs, including one original, as part of an opening act for Blake Shelton. To subscribe to her blog, visit her website, http://www.shannonstocker.com/blog/. She can also be found tweeting positive quotes and mantras @iwriteforkidz. Shannon is represented by Allison Remcheck of Stimola Literary Studio.

Book Title: CAN U SAVE THE DAY

Author/Illustrator: Shannon Stocker/Tom Disbury

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Year: 2019

Synopsis: B is an awfully boastful bloke and when he and the rest of the alphabet get together, he can’t help but tease the vowels about their small numbers. So the vowels begin to take off, one by one. The consonants–and the rest of the farm–see just how important vowels really are. With disaster looming and B seeing the error of his ways, can U save the day and set the alphabet right again?

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