Author Spotlight: Sara F. Shacter



Sept. 20, 2019

Today we are excited to feature author Sara F. Shacter and her picture book, JUST SO WILLOW, illustrated by Stephanie Laberis (Sterling Children's Books 2019) in the author spotlight.

Be sure to enter to win a copy!




Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.

As a kid, I loved to make up stories. At one point, I had a notebook in which I wrote The Adventures of Inspector Toenail. (If I’m remembering right, he actually was a toenail…) However I was not one of those kids who filled diaries with deep thoughts, wrote nascent poetry, or drafted novels, and I certainly never considered becoming a writer, with a capital “W.” That seemed impossible.

I went on to major in English – after all, a college degree for reading great books? Sign me up! I then taught high school English for ten years. But I still had stories in my head, and every story featured a child. Somehow I found SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), which inspired me to work on my craft during the summers. When my twin boys were born, I chose to stay home with them. So I resigned from my teaching job and pursued writing full-time.

Congrats on your picture book, JUST SO WILLOW. Tell us about the story and what inspired you.

A gorgeous winter day inspired me, plus the childhood memory of my attempts to tiptoe on freshly fallen snow so as not to ruin it with footprints.



JUST SO WILLOW features Willow, a polar bear who likes things “just so.” She irons her underwear. She straightens her spaghetti. So when a storm covers her backyard in a clean, smooth blanket of snow, she’s determined to keep it that way—in spite of all her Arctic neighbors sliding, stomping, and creating a lumpy, bumpy mess. The dramatic question at hand: Will Willow stick to her precise ways, or will she join in the messy fun? (I’m guessing you can guess which way the story goes!)

Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?

Definitely long and winding! I wrote my first (terrible) picture book manuscript in 1988. My first published children’s piece – an article in ASK Magazine – came out in 2002, and my first picture book was published in 2006.

People outside of our industry don’t appreciate the learning curve. To write for children, you have to hone your craft as much as you would for an adult audience, but you also need to get into the headspace of a child. It is an awesome responsibility to create stories for such important readers. Hence, it’s imperative to put in the time and get it right.

What projects are you working on now?

I am currently revising two picture books, drafting a new one, and working on the plot of a middle-grade novel. I have one completed middle-grade novel with my agent (fingers crossed!).

What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same you’d give to aspiring authors?

Relax. (Good advice for me now, actually!) 

And yes, this definitely applies to aspiring authors. You don’t have to be perfect out of the gate. You don’t need to publish before you’re 30. Enjoy what you accomplish each day, and soak in the encouragement you receive. In fact, sometimes there are advantages to a slow boil. If I had sold JUST SO WILLOW twenty years ago, I would not have known nearly as much about the industry, nor would I have had as many connections. But now I can take full advantage of all I’ve learned to effectively launch Willow into the world.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

When I was a kid, I liked to drive my younger brother nuts. One of my tricks was to cut my Chef Boyardee Mini Ravioli in half so I’d have twice as many as he did. It was a great ruse until he got older and wised up.

Where can we find you online?

www.sarafshacter.com
Twitter: @SaraShacter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sara.shacter



Sara F. Shacter’s work has appeared in publications such as Highlights for Children, ASK, Click, and World Book's Childcraft Annuals, as well as in several anthologies. Sara has also served as a contributing editor for ASK and World Book. She looks forward to the publication of her second picture book, Just So Willow (Sterling, 2019). A former teacher and active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Sara lives in Chicago with her family. 



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40 comments:

  1. What a great character! This looks fun!

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  2. Love polar bears. Look forward to reading your story.

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  3. Can't wait to see how Willow joins in all the messy fun!

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  4. Awesome book!!

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  5. This character will be fun to get to know. I also liked to tease my younger brother and used to trick him in many ways until he too, got wise to my "evil" ways. Congrats on your book!

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    1. Isn't that what big brothers and sisters are for?? :)

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  6. I look forward to introducing Willow to my grand daughters. Best wishes for continued success, Sara!

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  7. I love the premise of this book. I have a great nephew who's a "just so" kid. This would be perfect for him. Cheers!

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  8. Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the giveaway & congrats!

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  9. Such a cute cover! Sounds fantastic.

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  10. I love nice clean untouched snow! I almost hate to disturb it . Can't wait to read this!

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  11. LOL! Cutting your ravioli in half! That's a good one. :) Love this book! JUST SO...sounds a bit like me. Can't wait to read it. Congrats!

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    1. I told my brother's sister to cut her ravioli in half if she ever wants to bug him. :)

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  12. What a fun character, I can't wait to get to know Willow. Thanks.

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  13. I love your concept and recognize myself as "just so" too, so I can't wait to read your wonderful book! Wishing you all the best.

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    1. I hope all of us "just so" folks enjoy seeing themselves.

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  14. Hello Sterling Sista! What a wonderful looking book! Good luck to you both!

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  15. What a fun main character. Love the summary of this story. Congrats, Sara!

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  16. I would love this book set in winter.

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    1. I hope lots of people are looking for a winter read!

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  17. As a very person who likes everything to stay "in order", I can relate to Willow! Great idea for a picture book!

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  18. Sara, congratulations on "Willow"; it looks like a fun read! I appreciate reading about authors who write in multiple genres. Thanks for sharing your writing journey!

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  19. Can't wait to see it in person!!! Looks adorable.

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  20. What a great story -- and a perfect winter read! I look forward to sharing this with my 7yo.

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