Author Spotlight: Stacy McAnulty

©Jef Kaminsky

Oct. 17, 2014

KidLit 411 is thrilled to feature author Stacy McAnulty in the Spotlight this week! She is the author of the picture book, DEAR SANTASAURUS, and has five more picture books coming out in the next two years. Be sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of DEAR SANTASAURUS!   

Welcome, Stacy!

Please tell us how you came to write for children.

My background is in mechanical engineering. (Obviously, I took the long road to becoming an author.) I was one of those kids they always labeled as “good in math.” And I really struggled with independent reading in elementary school. 

I guess I’m a cautionary tale about labeling children; skills are good but passion is better. I started writing after college (There was no room in my college course work for any writing or lit classes. Sadly, I probably never read a book all through college.) At first, I wrote for adults. But when I had my own children I fell in love with kidlit. I hated reading as a child so it was all new to me as an adult. I enjoy reading picture books, middle grade, and young adult. And now I get to write them too.

What projects are you working on now? 

I have a few projects in the works all the time. I just finished writing my first MG. I’m very excited about this book. It needs a major rewrite but that’s part of the process. 

Next, I’ll tackle book 2 of my Dino Files series. (Dino Files Book 1 will hit shelves in 2016.) And I have 2 picture books that I’m editing for publishers. I love being busy. 

And if I get stuck on any project, I can take a break by working on another manuscript.

When is your next project due out?

Currently, I have one book out, DEAR SANTASAURUS, and I’ve got nothing for 2015. 

But 2016 is going to be crazy awesome. EXCELLENT ELVIS (picture book) will be the first out in March 2016. Followed by MR. FUZZ BUSTER KNOWS HE’S THE FAVORITE (PB) in May, 101 REASONS WHY I’M NOT TAKING A BATH (PB) in July, and BEAUTIFUL (PB) in September. Plus, I’ll have the first DINO FILES book somewhere in there too.  

WOW. That's awesome! What is your typical process for writing?

I wish I had a process. It seems to change with each project and as my life evolves. For novels, I’ve tried outlining and I’ve tried the plow-through approach (a la NaNoWriMo). Neither is perfect and I have no idea how I’ll approach my next book. Probably some combination of both. 

For picture books, I may approach an idea like an engineer, checking out the market, doing research, creating requirements. Or I may just madly write it all down. Both ways have worked and both have failed. 

The only for-sure part of the process is I will need to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. That and I will need coffee and coffee and coffee.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Advice for writing picture books:

1. Keep it short. Take at least 10% out of your first draft. Adjectives are your enemy (and they’re easy to kill off).

2. Make a dummy book and read it out loud. (No audience required.)

3. Read picture books. Lots of picture books. Make sure it’s the new stuff.

Advice for longer works (chapter books, middle grade, YA):

1. Don’t take a day off from your WIP (work in progress). You’ve got to keep it going.

2. If you hate revising, this gig isn’t for you.

3. Peanut M&Ms. (If I need to keep my butt in the seat and my fingers on the keyboard, Peanut M&Ms motivate me.)

Where can people find you on the internet?

My website:
My writing services:

What is one thing people don't know about you?

Like I mentioned, I was not a strong reader when I was a kid. When we took family trips to the library I would spend my time reading baby-name books. I always thought I’d name my first son Ace. (Maybe I didn’t read too far into the books if I fell in love with the name Ace.)

Stacy McAnulty is a kid lit author, who used to be a mechanical engineer, who’d also like to be a paleontologist or a Green Bay Packer coach or a writer for The Daily Show. Her first picture book, DEAR SANTASAURUS, was published in 2013. She has 5 additional picture books under contract (due out in 2016-2017) and a chapter book series (also due in 2016-2017).  She also writes middle grade and YA (but has yet to publish in these areas). She likes chocolate and NPR. She dislikes rejections and the grammar police. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, 3 kids, and 2 dogs.

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  1. Stacy is one of the few kidlit writers I know who wasn't neck-deep into reading as a kid. But her story is so inspiring to those who get into reading at an older age...proves that no matter how you come at writing, if you put enough hard work into it, you will find success! I think her "don't take a day off from your WIP" advice, though with about 7 WIPs, I find it hard to spend time on each every day. *sheepish grin*

    Thanks for a terrific interview plus a giveaway, Stacy and Elaine!

  2. Congrats to Stacy for all your upcoming titles! They sound like a ton of fun. Really interesting interview. I just love reading about writers :-)

  3. Thanks for the interview, Stacy! Congratulations on the upcoming titles!

  4. Stacy congratulations on all the upcoming titles. We got a copy of Dear Santasaurus after I met you at the WOW retreat. I still refer to your presentation. Thanks!

  5. Great interview. Thanks so much for joining us and congratulations on your upcoming books. I need to pay attention to the "Don't Take a Day Off" advice!

  6. I like hearing that you don't have a set "process" as I do not follow one either! Depending on the book, my family life, and my relative state of insomnia, things always progress in interesting ways! Thanks Stacy - can't wait for all your 2016-17 book birthdays!

  7. Congrats Stacy on all those books coming out. Adding peanut m&ms to my snack collection ;)


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