Frequently Asked Questions

faq

FAQs from Kids

How did you get started writing for kids?

I’ve always loved to read and when my kids were young, I loved reading to them. It was then that I rediscovered the wonderful world of children’s literature. I had been writing for magazines and newspapers for a while, but then on a cross country road trip with my kids, while listening to a children’s audio book, I came up with an idea for my own middle grade novel. I got so excited that I had my daughter take notes on a map as I rattled off thoughts about my story. When I got home, I started writing.  As I began to explore the craft of writing for children, with my kidlit creativity roused, I found that I was tuning in to story ideas all around me.  And that extended to ideas for picture books.  I love the economy, word play and poetry of picture books.  I also love getting to work side-by-side with award-winning artists.  I hope to publish a novel someday, but for now, my picture books are keeping me plenty busy.

Where do you get your story ideas?

Story ideas are everywhere. I find them in the funny – sometimes naughty – and tender things kids say or do. I find them in the crazy – sometimes naughty – things I did as a kid. I find ideas in art and photographs and on walks – yes, ideas are everywhere. You just need to look at the world and ask, “What’s the story here?” or “What if …?” – like “What if that lamp grew tentacles?” or “What if dinosaurs drove fire trucks?” or “What if your dog became principal of the school?”  Once you start thinking like a writer, you’ll find it hard to turn off the story idea faucet.

What’s your favorite thing about writing for kids?

My favorite thing about writing for kids is trying to think like a kid, and then when all the hard work of writing is done, watching that kid fall in love with a book.

Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?

I like to switch it up. When I write longhand it’s usually on scrap paper or in old spiral notebooks leftover from my kids … you know, the ones with a few pages left.  It’s a green thing. I use those notebooks to scribble out ideas, play around with words, experiment with rhythms.  When an idea starts feeling like a story, I open up a computer document and mess around there.  But then I might print it out – always on scrap paper, there’s that green thing again – and revise and rewrite by hand. Then it’s back to the computer. I go back and forth like this until I think it’s done.

Where do you work?

For a peek into my work space and work habits click here.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Chatting with my kids – regularly. They keep me laughing. My kids can really dish out humor. My timing isn’t always the best, though, because my kids are grown-ups with families and  jobs. For example, I’ll call and say, “Tim, what was that thing you said last week that made me laugh?” And he’ll be like, “Mom, I’m at work. Can I call you later?” And I’ll be like, “Come on. Come on. I think it was something about cottage cheese.” Anyway, you get the picture. I love laughing. And I need daily doses. Then I attempt to translate that feeling into books. It’s a business way of justifying those silly calls.

Do you have any advice for kids who love to write? How about kids who don’t?

Whether you love to write or hate to write, my advice is the same. First, read, read, read. Read a lot. Read often. Comic books, magazines, cereal boxes, funny books, sad books, adventures, fantasies – whatever you like … and some things you don’t. Reading can be the best teacher of writing. I actually schedule reading time into my work schedule. Then write. Don’t be afraid of the blank page or the blank computer screen. Don’t be afraid of sounding stupid. Just do it. Get it down. Write fast. Really fast. Write when you’re not expecting to write. There are a million different ways to write. Start with something you enjoy. Make lists, doodle, rant, rap, write poems, wacky stories, diary entries. But just write. And if you want to, you can always go back and revise. The more you write, the easier it becomes, AND the better a writer you will be.

I have to do an author report. What now?

I have loads of information on my website. Click around and explore. Read all the FAQs. Take a peek at my media kit. In there you’ll find pictures, interviews, book reviews and a whole lot more. If you have other questions that aren’t answered on my website, you may e-mail me and I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

Do you have favorite comfy clothes?

I have a pair of pink striped pajama pants. They are sooooo comfy. But I get funny looks when I wear them to the grocery store.

What’s your favorite food?

Crunchy peanut butter. Right off the spoon.

Can I have your autograph?

While I wish I could travel the globe to sign my books, unfortunately I can’t. So the next best thing is an autographed book sticker for your book. If you would like one or more, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope along with the titles of the books and personalization requests to

Jean Reidy
Attn: Autographs
5721 South Ash Court
Greenwood Village, CO 80121.

Where can I order your autographed books?

Great News! The fabulous Tattered Cover Bookstore has agreed to stock autographed copies of all my books as available. So now, you can order autographed copies online and have them shipped directly to your home or to your favorite young readers. It’s easy. Here’s how:

  1. Head to the Tattered Cover website at http://www.tatteredcover.com/ and search for my books.
  2. Add the desired number of copies of my books to your Shopping Cart.
  3. From your Shopping Cart, click “Checkout” and complete the Checkout form. In the “Order Comments” field at the very bottom of the online order Checkout form, please add the comment “Autographed copy/copies please.”
  4. Review and place your order.

If you have any problems or questions, contact Michael Parker at the Tattered Cover at 303-470-7050.

Of course, if you’re ever in the Denver area, stop in at one of the three Tattered Cover locations. They are phenomenal bookstores and an experience that you’ll never forget!

FAQs from Teachers/Parents/Librarians/Book Clubs

How do I schedule an author visit?

Author visits can fill a few minutes, an hour or a full day, and presentations can be customized to meet your needs. Rates are based on the length and nature of the visit. Virtual visits lasting no longer than 30 minutes are free. Check out my Schools/Libraries page and my Time Out for Teachers page. When you’re ready to chat about scheduling a visit, please e-mail me.   

How can I use your books in the classroom?

Free Downloadable Teacher’s Guides tied to learning standards are available for all my books. Please check out my Schools/Libraries page.

Where can I order your autographed books?

Great News! The fabulous Tattered Cover Bookstore has agreed to stock autographed copies of all my books as available. So now, you can order autographed copies online and have them shipped directly to your home or to your favorite young readers. It’s easy. Here’s how:

  1. Head to the Tattered Cover website at http://www.tatteredcover.com/ and search for my books.
  2. Add the desired number of copies of my books to your Shopping Cart.
  3. From your Shopping Cart, click “Checkout” and complete the Checkout form. In the “Order Comments” field at the very bottom of the online order Checkout form, please add the comment “Autographed copy/copies please.”
  4. Review and place your order.

If you have any problems or questions, contact Michael Parker at the Tattered Cover at 303-470-7050.

Of course, if you’re ever in the Denver area, stop in at one of the three Tattered Cover locations. They are phenomenal bookstores and an experience that you’ll never forget!

FAQs from Fellow Writers and Others

I’ve written a children’s book. What now?

How exciting!! Congratulations!!

I suggest you first contact your local chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, explore their message board and check out all the resources they have available. Next, find a critique group either in your area or online. Here’s great advice about finding a group. Honest critiques of your manuscript are a necessary step in getting published. Then be prepared to revise and rewrite until it’s right. If you need a fresh read of your picture book manuscript, check out my Picture Book Peek Weeks on my blog. You can sign up to be notified of upcoming peeks via my contact form. Also, see my article “Does Your Picture Book Premise Have Power?” and test your manuscript against my list. When you’re ready to submit, The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market will be a valuable reference.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

I’ve benefited from so much great advice over the years. And I’m forever indebted to the people who’ve shared it. But there is one thing I like to keep in front of me, kind of my go-to quote, where I try to land with all my kidlit writing. From editor Allyn Johnston “. . . the true goal of all this work we do together: a child, a story, and a deep and long-lasting connection between them.” That, in my mind, says it all.

Do you donate books to charity?

I do donate books to many charities with which I am personally connected. I’m willing to schedule author events in conjunction with charity events that make sense with the audiences and themes of my books. As I’m only given a limited number of my books free, I have to purchase them for donation. This makes honoring every request impossible. However, if you would like to write to me about a specific charity or author event in conjunction with a charity, please contact me and I’ll consider your proposal.

What exactly is a Picture Book Peek Week?

It’s my way of paying it forward to other writers. Several times a year I offer a contest on my blog during which writers can win a free critique of a fiction picture book manuscript. Become a follower of my blog or check “Picture Book Peek Weeks” on my contact form and you’ll never miss a Peek. 

Where can I order your autographed books?

Great News! The fabulous Tattered Cover Bookstore has agreed to stock autographed copies of all my books as available. So now, you can order autographed copies online and have them shipped directly to your home or to your favorite young readers. It’s easy. Here’s how:

  1. Head to the Tattered Cover website at http://www.tatteredcover.com/ and search for my books.
  2. Add the desired number of copies of my books to your Shopping Cart.
  3. From your Shopping Cart, click “Checkout” and complete the Checkout form. In the “Order Comments” field at the very bottom of the online order Checkout form, please add the comment “Autographed copy/copies please.”
  4. Review and place your order.

If you have any problems or questions, contact Michael Parker at the Tattered Cover at 303-470-7050.

Of course, if you’re ever in the Denver area, stop in at one of the three Tattered Cover locations. They are phenomenal bookstores and an experience that you’ll never forget!

All materials © 2017 Jean Reidy. Author website by Websy Daisy. Shelly the Turtle designed by Genevieve Leloup.