Wednesday, May 16, 2012
The Writer's Block Interviews: Sherrill Cannon
1) Tell us a bit about yourself and where you live and work.
A former teacher, all of my books are in rhyme and all try to teach good manners and consideration for others. In 2011, I was fortunate enough to win eight National Awards for my books, The Magic Word, Peter and the Whimper-Whineys, and Santa’s Birthday Gift. My fourth book Gimme-Jimmy has just been released. I also have written six published and internationally produced plays for elementary school children. A magna cum laude graduate of The American University, I have had a varied career including teacher and coach, newspaper photographer and columnist, Dinner Theatre Manager, and Business Administrator. My husband of more than 50 years and I are now retired, and travel in our RV from coast to coast each year, visiting our children and grandchildren... sharing my books along the way!
2) How did you become an author? To what do you attribute your many awards and successes?
I think I have always been an author, but only recently a published one. I have been writing poetry since I was four years old, when my mother would write down my poems for me. When I decided I wanted to write down a story that my mother had told to me and my brother, and later the grandchildren, (Peter and the Whimper-Whineys) since she just told it to us and it wasn’t in writing, I decided to combine my love for poetry with writing a book for children. I have been very fortunate to win as many awards as I have, but I attribute a lot of it to the lyrical poetry which children love – the music of the words. A reviewer just gave me what I consider my greatest compliment, when she referred to me as “a modern-day Dr. Seuss!” I also have an awesome illustrator, Kalpart, who has been able to capture my characters just the way I had imagined them to be, and brought them to life on the pages. I also spend a lot of time finding ways to share my books with children.
3) Why write for children? Who is your ideal reader?
As the mother of four children and nine grandchildren, not to mention having been a teacher for many years, my focus is on the children. I also see a need to try to help children learn about good manners and consideration for others, disguised as fun stories. My goal is to get my books into the hands of as many children as possible. It’s all about the children! My ideal reader is every child…
4) Tell us about your current release, Gimme-Jimmy. What was your inspiration for this story?
Actually, the title inspired me to write this story. One of my children was in the “it’s mine” stage – and he had a little friend whose name was Jimmy who kept saying “Gimme”- so I would tell them both to not be a Gimme-Jimmy! The story evolved from there.
5) How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?
I promote my work as much as possible, which takes quite a bit of time in this era of social networking as I’m sure everyone knows. I keep up my website (http://www.sherrillcannon.com ) frequently, and have tried to make it as diverse as possible. I also have a Facebook page, as well as a Facebook Fan Page (http://tinyurl.com/Sherrill-S-Cannon ), and a twitter account (@sherrillcannon). I have found BookBuzzr to be quite helpful, since I can offer my books there with whatever portion of them I choose to share (differing from the amazon look-inside-the-book feature which I also use, but they seem to only show the copyright pages and back covers and very little of the book itself.) I like my readers to be able to sample my rhyming! BookBuzzr also allows me to schedule Tweets during the week, and offers some book giveaways that allow readers to bid on the books with points. Another helpful source of contact is through the Google Alerts – which allow me to follow up on questions about whining, good manners, bullying and similar traits that are on various blogs, with suggestions about my books. I’ve joined a lot of blogs and interacted with a lot of new readers doing this, by the way!
6) Who are your favorite authors? What is on your reading list right now?
My favorite children’s author is Dr. Seuss. I also liked the Berenstain Bears books, as well as Shel Silverstein (do you see a pattern here?) For my own reading, having majored in Literature and spending way too much time with the classics, I stick to light, entertaining books that don’t require much “thinking”! Give me Nora Roberts, Barbara Delinsky, Susan Wiggs, and quite a few others – and I’ll just go escape for awhile!
7) Tell us about your work as a playwright. How did you get started?
My daughters were very active in Dinner Theatre as children, and in an attempt to stay involved in their lives, I became a Stage Manager – so I was very familiar with plays. My oldest daughter is an elementary school teacher and she decided that she wanted me to write a play for her first grade class – so that each child would have at least one line, and a chance to be a star. So “Have You Seen My Little Lamb?” was the first of the plays that I wrote (and had the fun of watching being performed…several times!) That was also the first accepted for publication – and seems the most popular with many international performances and many more still scheduled throughout the year. It’s already been performed in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany,United Arab Emirates, Botswana, Ireland, Cambodia and others. The other plays were all co-written with my daughter, Kerry E. Gallagher. She comes up with the ideas and staging, and I write the scripts. It’s been very rewarding for both of us. Our sixth play was just accepted for publication! The plays can be found on www.lazybeescripts.co.uk , just look by author for Sherrill S Cannon.
8) When you are not writing, how do you spend your time? Describe a typical day in your life.
Most of my time is taken up with marketing, which is the other half of writing. There are lots of sites to update, and possible contacts to make, and it really takes a lot of time. Fortunately I am now retired, so it keeps me busy. My husband of 52 years and I spend about six months of the year traveling in our RV. We are now in CA with our family here, heading back to PA and our family there in June. We both like to stay active, too, and enjoy walks and bike riding. The bike paths in Long Beach are awesome!
9) What projects do you have in the works?
I have several other books ready to publish, but just recently wrote one that I am anxious to get out as soon as possible. It was nice to actually write a story again, instead of marketing, updating, and blog interviews (not that this isn’t fun for me as well…thanks Raychelle!) My first book was published in November 2009, then one in March 2010, and then April 2011, now May 2012 – so my 2013 book will be out before you know it!
10) What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?
My most important advice is to decide where your book really belongs. Find your niche, and write in that genre. It will make finding a publisher, as well as marketing, much easier for you. Even though you may have a superior book, a publisher that likes children’s books will probably not make an exception for a steamy novel, no matter how good it is. Another point is to be careful with rhyme. Just because the end of each line rhymes, it doesn’t mean it is acceptable. The meter, or cadence, of the words is just as important, if not more so. In fact, one of my professors suggested I try some “slant-rhymes” – words where the sounds are the same, but not exact, (like self and help) – to keep the reader interested, and to prevent a story or poem get too singsong-like, while still maintaining the meter. ALWAYS read the story out loud, and have someone else do the same, to test the meter.
Facebook Fan Page http://tinyurl.com/Author-Sherrill-S-Cannon
Links to Sherrill's Books
http://tinyurl.com/TheMagicWord (NOTE: The Magic Word has just received its 5th award: 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards FINALIST! Congratulations, Sherrill!)
My SBPRA Link – Press Reviews for all four books