Jody Jensen Shaffer is an award-winning poet and the author of more than 30 books of fiction and nonfiction for children, including THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS! and PRUDENCE THE PART-TIME COW, Missouri’s pick for the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. September 2, 2017. PRUDENCE is also a nominee for Missouri’s 2019-2020 Show Me Award! Jody’s poetry has been published in magazines like Highlights, Ladybug, and Clubhouse Jr. Jody lives with her husband and kids in Liberty, Missouri, and is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. When she’s not writing, Jody can be found watching baseball or walking her rescue dog, Sophie. Visit Jody at jodyjensenshaffer.com or on Twitter @jodywrites4kids.
Although I have always like writing and have degrees in English, I haven't always written for children. I fell in love with children's literature when my own children were young. We'd visit the library, lug home our stack of books, and sit on the floor and read and read, lost in the books, the shared experience, and being together. I wanted to write the kinds of books that could provide such a wonderful experience for parents and their children.
I usually begin my day with a walk with my dog, Sophie. Then I sit down at my desk or at the kitchen table and answer emails. After that, I dig into whatever I'm working on--a new story idea, a revision for an editor, a Powerpoint for an upcoming school visit.
I try to keep a normal work schedule, so daytime hours are my favorite to work.
I'm a big reader, both in print and through audiobooks. Books helped me learn how to read when I was a kid, and they continue to teach me and to take me on amazing adventures. I visit my library every week, and my home library is packed with great books. I can't imagine not having a huge stack of books right next to me at all times!
I came to writing from the business world and from academia. But if I'd known I was going to be a children's author, I think I would've gone into teaching, like both of my parents and several of my other relatives. It seems a natural career progression, since both writing and teaching involve children.
Sometimes I sit and stare at the walls. Sometimes I look at funny pictures or read books or magazines. Great ideas are all around me; I just need to be intentional about finding them!
I don't test story ideas out on anyone until I have a working manuscript with a story that seems to have legs. After that, I have some in-person and distance critique partners whose opinions I really value. We share manuscripts back and forth and look for suggestions for improving them.