Author Spotlight: Karen Jameson
June 21, 2019
We are excited to feature author Karen Jameson and her debut picture book, MOON BABIES, illustrated by Amy Hevron (G.P. Putnam's Books, July 2, 2019). Enter to win a copy!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
I’ve always loved books and dreamed of being a writer. But, I also dreamed of being a teacher, and that was my first profession. Between daily read-alouds with my students, and reading to my own children at home, my infatuation with picture books grew. My classroom library grew too!
Connecting with kids through books has been a lifelong passion of mine, as is writing. As plans for an early retirement began to take shape, the idea of combining my two passions seemed inspired. I couldn’t wait to get started! I joined SCBWI in 2012 and never looked back.
Congrats on your upcoming debut book, MOON BABIES. Tell us about it and what inspired you.
Thank you! MOON BABIES is a whimsical tale about baby moons growing up in a celestial nursery. Crescent cradles, breakfast on the Milky Way, and moonwalks lead to more fun and a cozy bedtime. Gorgeous paintings, by Amy Hevron, illustrate these adorable moon babies in their dreamy world.
The book came about as part of a challenge I set for myself. I’d been to a writing retreat where both an editor and an agent expressed interest in my lullaby picture book! I thought a sale was in the bag. When both ultimately passed on the project, I dusted myself off and decided to up the bar. I challenged myself to write three (even better) bedtime stories, each with its own unique spin. MOON BABIES came out of the third attempt.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
I’d say it was something in between. I was still teaching full time when I started attending SCBWI workshops and conferences, so my writing time was limited. After retiring in 2016, my career began to gain momentum. Within six months I had an agent (the lovely Kathleen Rushall of ABLA), and a few months later, I’d sold my first two books. So, a total of 7 years- 5 years from first conference to first sale, plus 2 years for MOON BABIES to launch.
You have a couple of other books coming out. Tell us about them, and did you submit them all as a series?
WOODLAND DREAMS, a lyrical walk through the woods at night, won the 2016 Sue Alexander Grant for the Working Writers’ Retreat (SCBWI LA). It caught the eye of Chronicle editor, Naomi Kirsten, during an editor’s panel at the 2017 SCBWI Golden Gate Conference at Asilomar. She acquired it shortly after and bought FARM LULLABY in a separate deal in 2018. Look for WOODLAND DREAMS in Fall 2020 and FARM LULLABY in Fall 2021.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m so inspired by the current wave of creative nonfiction picture books! I’m hoping to toss my hat in the ring with some nature themed books of my own. Another whimsical tale is in the works, as well!
What are the 1-2 best things you did for your writing career? What advice would you give to aspiring children's writers?
I’d say to build on your strengths. I had a lot of experience teaching second and third graders, so I used that advantage to query nonfiction magazines for that age group. This led to my first published pieces. Likewise, my bedtime book challenge built on the first book’s strengths, leading to more books and eventual sales. So, identify what you do well, then up the bar to do it even better.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I competed in highland dancing when I was in high school and even won some silver and gold medals. I did a mean sword dance back in the day! Ha!
Where can people find you online?
You can visit me at karenljameson.com or connect on Twitter @KarenJameson15.
Karen is the author of the lyrical picture books MOON BABIES (Putnam, 2019), WOODLAND DREAMS (Chronicle, 2020), and FARM LULLABY (Chronicle, 2021). More stories are in the works! She was awarded the 2016 Sue Alexander Grant for the Working Writers Retreat (SCBWI LA) for her rhyming picture book, WOODLAND DREAMS. A retired teacher and active member of SCBWI, she holds a master’s degree in education. Lover of books, wildflowers, farmers’ markets and everything chocolate, Karen lives and works in sunny, Southern California. a Rafflecopter giveaway