Sherry Ellis is an award-winning author and professional musician who plays and teaches the violin, viola, and piano. When she is not writing or engaged in musical activities, she can be found doing household chores, hiking, or exploring the world. Ellis has previously published Don't Feed the Elephant, Ten Zany Birds, That Mama is a Grouch, That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN, and Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China. Ellis, her husband, and their two children live in Atlanta, Georgia.
Don't Feed the Elephant!by Sherry EllisPublish: Jan 12, 2018Children's
(9) $2.99kindleeBook, Paperback,
Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to Chinaby Sherry EllisPublish: Sep 04, 2018Children's
Ten Zany Birdsby Sherry EllisPublish: May 15, 2015Children's
That Mama is a Grouchby Sherry EllisPublish: Apr 30, 2010Children's
Most of my childhood was spent in Cleveland, Ohio. Sesame Street and Mister Rogers were my two favorite shows. Basically, those were the only two I was permitted to watch. My parents didn’t believe in letting my brother and I sit in front of the television for more than an hour a day.What caught your interest in music? Who is your favorite musician?
For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in music. There are pictures of me as a three-year-old sitting on my dad’s lap, playing a guitar. If I had my choice of toys to play with, I’d always gravitate to the musical ones. I think I’ve always been wired to be a musician. My favorite musician is Itzhak Perlman, a classical violinist. He was my inspiration to practice and achieve a high level of playing. I also think he’s a great role model in that he did not let having polio get in the way of achieving his dreams.Was writing your first book a struggle? What kept you motivated?
My first book was not a struggle. That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN was the easiest of them all. It was composed in my head in the middle of the night while I sat in a rocking chair with my infant son. Sleep deprivation must have helped my creative flow! The hardest was Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China. It took ten years and countless revisions to see it published. What kept me going? The belief that it was a book worth publishing because of its educational value.What inspired you to write the book "Don't Feed the Elephant?" What is this book about?
Writing an alphabet book was on my author bucket list. I don’t know why an elephant character popped into my head, but it did. I must’ve been hungry, too, because I started thinking about food. I wondered if I could come up with a food item for every letter of the alphabet. I did. Then I imagined what the elephant would do with each food item. The result is a comical story about a very silly elephant playing with food.What is the biggest challenge of being a children's books author? Why did you choose this genre?
As a picture book writer, I must choose my words carefully. It’s important to convey the story in a concise way. The illustrations take care of a lot of the scenes that are not described with words. I enjoy writing children’s books, mostly because I’m a kid at heart, but also because I like collaborating with illustrators, and meeting the kids who read my books.Do you like to focus more on dialogue or scene and character descriptions?
I tend to focus on dialog because the interaction between the characters gives the reader a good sense of their personalities. It’s a show and not tell thing.Which scene in "That Mama is a Grouch" was the most fun to write? Which scene was the hardest and why?
Describing any of the chaotic, messy scenes was great fun. I let my imagination go wild in creating scenarios that would make Mama grouchy. The hardest was imparting the message of the importance cleaning up and following household rules. I didn’t want to be too preachy, but I still wanted that to be a learning feature of the book.What does a normal day in the life of Sherry Ellis look like? On a normal Friday or Saturday night, what do you prefer doing - writing a story or playing violin, viola, and piano?
Most of my writing activities take place during the day, between all the regular household things I take care of. My evenings are generally spent teaching violin, viola, and piano, or performing. My preference? Music. That’s my passion. Playing the viola is my favorite thing to do.What is the best review you received for "Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China"? What was the worst and how did you deal with it?
I have been fortunate to receive a lot of excellent reviews for Big Dig to China praising it for its educational value. It’s hard to pick the best, but I received a nice one from Readers Favorite which called it, “a pulsating adventure with great appeal to young readers, cinematic, and littered with humor.” Recently, I read a review from a student who was older than the intended audience. She didn’t feel it was well-written, said the problems were resolved too quickly, and that at times the humor was not respectful of Chinese culture. The first two didn’t concern me that much, because I felt what I wrote was appropriate for the age it was intended for. Other reviewers seem to agree. But the latter bothered me a lot. I would never write anything intentionally disrespecting any culture. I write to teach about different cultures. This review is not published anywhere, but it made me think that I need to be extremely cautious with the humor I use so as not to offend anyone.
In what ways has becoming an author changed your life in ways you didn't expect? Since becoming an author, I have done numerous library and school visits. I never imagined myself leading story times or standing in front of groups of more than one hundred kids giving PowerPoint presentations! It’s been a lot of fun meeting and interacting with these kids.When did you publish your book "That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN"? What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN was published in 2005. It wasn’t a book I sat down to write. As I mentioned before, it was composed while I was sitting in a rocking chair in the middle of the night. It probably would have stayed in my head if I hadn’t decided to share it with my daughter who was three years old at the time. She liked it and suggested that it should be a book. The rest is history.A lot of authors have a distinct writing style that sets them apart from the rest. What would you say characterizes your writing?
I think all my writing contains some element of humor, whether it’s in the scenes I set, or the character dialog. I also tend to be fast-paced, not having needless conversation, backstories, or elaborate descriptions. The action moves quickly.Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years? What are some goals you hope to accomplish by then?
I hope to continue writing and doing school and library visits. I’d like to see more books of the Bubba and Squirt adventures published. In my head, I have an entire series planned: a total of eight books with a plot thread connecting them. I’ve already written the second and am working on the third. Whether or not these come to fruition depends on book sales.Being an award-winning author, what are your top five marketing and writing tips?
1. Submit only your best work. This means a lot of revision. If you can, join a critique group or find beta readers who can help you polish your work. Spend the money to have your manuscript professionally edited before you submit it. It’s worth every penny! 2. Be patient. Writing is a process. It takes time to write, time to revise, and time to find a publisher who is interested in your work. Things don’t happen in weeks or months. Expect years. 3. Don’t give up. It can be frustrating when the rejection letters keep piling up. Take the time to reassess your manuscript and make sure it is the best you can do. Then continue submitting. It took ten years for Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China to be published. I’m glad I didn’t give up! 4. Be part of an online writing community. It’s important to have an online presence. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all good ways to market your book, but I think even more importantly, you should be part of an online writing community. I’m a blogger. I’ve been doing it for over ten years. The friendships I have made with other bloggers have been instrumental in helping get the word out about my books. Most bloggers are also writers, so they understand the challenges of being an author. They are very supportive, both in purchasing and reviewing your books, and in spreading the word. I am extremely grateful for my blogger friends! I would also suggest joining Goodreads and participating in groups there. 5. Go out and meet your intended audience. I’m a children’s writer. The best way I have found to market my books, is to go and do school author visits and library visits. I have sold more copies by going out and getting in front of the kids who read my books.Could you offer us some of your thoughts on AllAuthor and how it has benefited you? What are some things you think we could change to help it cater better to other authors?
I have been very happy with my experience with AllAuthor. I love the automated Twitter scheduler! I also appreciate the Twitter posts, mock-up banners, and the author interview which have been provided as part of the pro- author/featured book experience. All are great marketing tools! I’m not sure there’s much that can be improved upon. The only thing I can think of is maybe having an optional giveaway feature where authors can have a monthly giveaway of their book to generate more attention. The author would get a gift code from Amazon for their ebook, submit it to AllAuthor, and winners would be selected by an automated system.
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