Author Spotlight: Jennifer Frank
We are thrilled to feature author Jennifer Frank and her debut picture book, THE WORM FAMILY HAS ITS PICTURE TAKEN, illustrated by David Ezra Stein (Anne Schwartz Books May 2021) Enter to win a copy!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
I have always LOVED picture books! Growing up my Dad would read to me and make funny voices for the characters and my Mom would make up stories for me each night before bed. I was very lucky. They instilled a love of language, stories and reading in me at a young age. I am someone who would go to the bookstore and read picture books all the way into my 20’s, even before I had children of my own. In fact, one of my favorite parts of becoming a mom was getting to read multiple picture books every day. I have amassed quite a collection!
It wasn’t until I had kids that I started creating stories of my own. I was inspired by my Mom’s stories growing up. I vividly remember the first time I wrote one of my stories down. My sister was over and we were sitting at the table with my girls. I told them a story about a speedy snail and my sister said, “you need to write that down! You need to write all your stories down!”
I had never really thought about it but decided to give it a go because regardless of if they ever got published, I wanted my girls to have a copy of them. Once I had written them down, it lit a fire in me to learn more about the publishing world and hopefully see my books on a bookstore shelf someday!
I wrote this book with my two older daughters in mind. They had recently been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which is an autoimmune condition where they cannot eat anything with gluten. This was a big change for them and it meant that they had to bring their own food to birthday parties and school events where there was food. It also made it harder to be spontaneous and stay at a friends’ house for dinner or a sleepover. This was before the trend of gluten free foods being widely available. Needless to say they were feeling different. I would tell them stories to try to help them realize that our differences are what make life interesting and are what make us each special. The Worm Family was born from those stories.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
I would say it was long and winding. I started writing books when my children, now 21, 19 and 15 were 6, 4, and newborn. I joined SCBWI and submitted my books through the conferences to various agents and editors, receiving rejections. I was busy raising my children and working and did not fully focus on it for a number of years, but still continued to write and edit my stories and attend conferences. More rejections. Finally, in 2018 I met my agent and Anne Schwartz bought The Worm Family Has Its Picture Taken. I feel like the journey continues as I work to get a second book published!
What projects are you working on now?
I am working on a number of different picture books as we speak. I am hopeful that The Worm Family Has its Picture Taken could have a sequel someday so I am writing that. I am also working on taking some of those stories I told my kids when they were younger, like the one about the speedy snail, and editing them so I can submit them. One thing I have learned is that, as hard as it was to get the first book published, the second is equally as hard. But I will not give up!
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same you'd give to aspiring authors?
I would say don’t let being busy or fear of rejection derail you from your dreams. I spent many years “being too busy” to fully pursue my dream of having my stories published. Whether it was working, or taking care of my kids, I think I was afraid to put too much time or energy into trying to get published because in my limited experience it was REALLY hard to do. What I have learned, and what I would tell my younger self, is that anything worth doing, is worth putting your 100% into.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I LOVE to sing! When I was a kid, my dream was to sing the National Anthem for some large sporting event. If you ever see me driving and it looks like I am talking on the phone, I am probably belting out 80’s ballads.
Where can people find you online?
or my website www.jenniferfrankbooks.com. I also love to hear from readers so visit my website to get in touch!
Jennifer Frank lives and works out of her home in a suburb of Boston, MA. She lives with her three daughters, Emma, Abby, and Olivia, her husband Sam, and their Schnoodle Lola. One of her favorite parts about becoming a mom was getting to read more picture books! Her debut picture book, THE WORM FAMILY HAS ITS PICTURE TAKEN was released by Anne Schwartz Books in May 2021. She wrote the book with the hope of inspiring her daughters to celebrate the beauty and differences in themselves and in others. When she’s not writing, Jennifer enjoys curling up on her couch reading, spending time with family, riding her bike, and taking long walks with her husband.
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