Today on The Writer's Block, we head to New Hope, Pennsylvania to check-in with award-winning children's book author and playwright Sherrill Cannon! This former educator shares with us her mission to write positive, self-affirming stories for young people about mutual respect and following the Golden Rule.
1) Welcome back, Sherrill! Please tell everyone a bit about who you are and where you live and work.
I am a former teacher and grandmother of ten, and the author of eight published rhymed children's stories which have received forty-five 2011-16 National and International awards. I am also a playwright with seven published plays for elementary school children, which have been performed internationally in over 20 countries. Most of my books try to teach something, like good manners and caring for others.
Married for 56 years, my spouse and I are now retired, and live in New Hope, PA for half the year and then travel in our RV from coast to coast the other half to spend time with our children and grandchildren. I have had a varied career: I’ve been a teacher and coach, a professional newspaper sports writer and photographer, a dinner theatre stage manager, and a business administrator. Now I have time to write, when I’m not marketing (which is the other half of writing.)
2) What were you working on when we spoke last? (Interview link: http://raychelle-writes.blogspot.com/2012/05/writers-block-interviews-sherrill.html)
When we spoke last, I was just releasing my 4th book (Gimme-Jimmy) and had won 8 awards. Since then, I have doubled the books to 8, and have totaled 45 awards (so far.) I have found that entering contests has been my most successful means of marketing my books, and if you’d like to see a complete list, I will include it at the end of this interview, or please check out my website. The subliminal message of all my books remains consideration for others – disguised as fun stories – and because of my awesome illustrator, Kalpart, I have been able to use my characters in subsequent books. This is especially fun for me when I am reading another of my books at a school and a child remarks, “Oh look! I see Gimme-Jimmy!!”
Manner-Man followed Gimme-Jimmy, which along with The Magic Word, I term my “manners” books. Manner-Man is a superhero who helps children cope with bullies and teaches them to look within themselves for their own superhero. Manner-Man includes both the characters Jimmy and Elisabeth – and also the illustrations include some of my CureJM kids. All of my books are part of a Fundraiser for the CureJM Foundation where 50% of the cost of the books goes to CureJM. Juvenile Myositis is an incurable children’s autoimmune disease, and many of the kids have interacted with me. Both Addie and Cassie are part of the Manner-Man illustrations! (http://sbpra.com/curejm )
3) You have been one busy lady! Catch us up on what you have done since then.
After Manner-Man in 2013 came My Fingerpaint Masterpiece in 2014 which has won 9 awards including both a Gold Medal in Children’s K-3 as well as an Illustration Award in the Reader’s Favorites contest. It’s all about perspective and perception and is told from the perspective of an unidentified child (boy? girl?) for all the illustrations are what the child sees. There are also many hidden objects in the “masterpiece”! I usually get a 50-50 vote when I poll the kids at the conclusion of reading the book to them. Not surprisingly, it seems the boys vote for a boy and the girls vote for a girl! I consider that a success!!!
Mice & Spiders & Webs…Oh My!, published in 2015, has won 5 awards including the recent Global eBook Gold Medal. It emphasizes the importance of good listening, as well as being an introduction to computers. A child is worried about returning to school since her teacher had mentioned they would soon have mice and spiders and webs in the classroom, but only for the girls. Rosemary discovers that this means a computer mouse and the internet web, but why only females? Could she have misunderstood again?
The Golden Rule is my current 2016 book and is doing very well, since it already has 6 awards including the recent Book Excellence Award Gold Medal, a Children’s Literary Classics Silver Medal, and a Mom’s Choice Award. The focus is very direct in this book: Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. All of my books try to teach children to be nice. This book shows children ways to do that. When I read to the children, I like to ask them, “Have you done something nice for someone today?” Fortunately I usually get a nice show of hands!
My next and perhaps final children’s book for release in 2017 is My Little Angel. It’s for a slightly younger child, and is obviously for those who believe in angels! It’s about a little guardian angel who helps a child throughout the day. All of my books are multi-cultural, but at the request of a fan I have included a couple of animals in the illustrations in this one. Extended family, you know!
5) How did The Writer's Block help you promote yourself? What advice would you offer to aspiring author/illustrators?
I loved being able to participate in The Writer’s Block earlier, and am so happy to become a part of it again. It’s lovely to be able to share my books and the emphasis on being kind… We seem to need the reminder to get along with others – especially in this political environment. As one of my thoughtful fans commented about The Golden Rule…”This is how we change the world…”
My advice to authors/illustrators is to be sure you find your niche in the children’s book world, and to send a positive message. This is the same advice I offered in my previous interview, with the addition that it is very important to also be sure to include multicultural characters and illustrations so that ALL children can identify with your books!
Thank you, Sherrill! Congratulations on everything. My best to you!
You can keep up with Sherrill by checking out her websites www.sherrillcannon.com and http://sbpra.com/sherrillscannon, by connecting with her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sherrillscannon/, and by following her on Twitter @SherrillCannon. Her plays can be found at www.lazybeescripts.co.uk.
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