Yes! Even as a child, I could always be found writing something. I wrote stories and poems for my teachers. I wrote in my journal every day. In short, it’s always been a part of my life. Growing up, I was a quiet little girl. Writing was my way of communicating with the world.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I sure did! It wasn’t until I took a few courses at the Institute of Children’s Literature that I realized this was something I really could do. I’m grateful that I chose to follow my dream. If I didn’t, I’d be missing out on the greatest career in the world!
Tell us about your children’s books.
My first children’s book, A Star in the Night, will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing sometime this summer. It is a Christmas themed eBook about a boy, Andy, going home on Christmas Eve. Andy, accompanied by a shimmering star, encounters three experiences, which change his view of Christmas forever.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?
Yes. My official website is http://www.jennifergladen.com/.You can also find me on my blogs: http://jgladen.blogspot.com/ andhttp://jengladensmusingswordpress.com/.
How has being a teacher helped you with your writing career?
Teaching helped me with my writing in many ways. It’s the best research a writer could have. I interacted with children every day. I saw what problems they were dealing with, how they reacted to it, what was important to them. Also, I have worked as an after school leader at the Free Library of Philadelphia. There, I helped students with homework and designed a craft once a week. That has helped me get to know children of all age levels. I’ve worked with Kindergartners through eighth graders.
My educational training helps me keep my characters real for fiction. I’m more in tune with what situations would apply to certain ages. I’ve learned how to “make learning fun,” which I hope carries over in my nonfiction pieces.
How do you find time for your writing?
When I get up in the morning, I throw on a pot of coffee. It helps me wake up. After the girls are at school, I begin my day as early as possible. My toddler is still home with me. So I know the earlier I start, the more I’m likely to get done.
Most of the time, I have to demand my writing time. Especially when all three kids are home. It sounds harsh, but it also helps the kids learn boundaries. They’re learning that Mom needs the computer, printer and her whole office at certain times of the day. Of course, there are always interruptions—anything from picking the kids up at school—to having a medical emergency. In fact, the little things that make me leave my desk (making lunches, reading a story to my toddler, letting the dog out) force me to take mini breaks. Otherwise, I know I’d barrel through the day without stopping. However, I try not to waste any moments. Ideas sneak up on me when I’m walking and driving, so I started carrying around a mini notebook.
When my husband has off from work, he knows he has full supervision of the kids. These are my “power writing” days. I try to get as much done as possible because it’s less likely I’ll be interrupted.
What are you working on now?
My current project is a picture book about a little girl, Olivia, who needs a liver transplant and her brave journey to get it. While many children are wondering if they’ll learn to ride a bike, Olivia is wondering when that life-saving transplant will happen. We see the struggles and complex feelings in which she deals with daily.http://jengladensmusingswordpress.com/.
This book was inspired by my own daughter who needed a liver transplant. When I looked for good books to read to her, I saw nothing which could help a child of her age cope with this situation. “There should be a book about this,” I complained to my husband. Voila—Olivia was born.
What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
My advice to aspiring writers is to stick with it. Be persistent in your dream. Don’t give up in the face of rejections. Just pick up your manuscripts, dust it off, revise (yes – for the umpteenth time) and send it out elsewhere.This is your dream and your goal. The only one who can assure your success is you.