I follow many wonderful authors on Twitter and Facebook. People that inspire me and motivate me, while they work on their own projects and promotions. I’m curious to know who they are, where did they grow up, and how they handle their writing process and their everyday life. I also want to know how did they get to where they are.
I want you to meet another awesome author/writer whom I’ve invited to share a cup of coffee and a nice chat with me. This time I invited award-winning author Savannah Hendricks. I met Savannah on social media. We follow each other on Twitter, as we both are fans of the movies shown on the Hallmark Channel Network.
Then I discovered so many great things about her and her career as an author. Savannah has been a medical social worker for the past seven years. She has a college degree in early childhood education and a master’s degree in criminal justice/criminology. She writes fiction stories for both children and adults.
She has been a contributor to magazines and short story publications. She is the co-author of “Child Genius 101: The Ultimate Guide to Early Childhood Development” (3 volumes, from Knowonder Publishing, 2014).
Savannah has been awarded as winner of the Arizona-New Mexico 2019 Book Awards – Romance; and winner of the 2019 RWA Colorado Cover contest. She also was awarded 1st Place for Picture Book 5 & Younger in the 2019 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, and selected as Award-Winning Finalist in the Children’s Picture Book: Softcover Fiction category of the 2019 Best Book Awards sponsored by American Book Fest.
Savannah ventured from collaborator to author of her own fiction stories. She published her first children’s fiction book Nonnie and I (Xist Publishing) in 2014. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she also published a Spanish language version “Nonnie y yo“. This is a story about making friends and starting school. The summary describes it as the story of a young girl who is afraid that her first day of school will mean leaving her best friend behind. Nonnie (a giraffe) may not seem like a typical best friend, but to one little girl in Africa, she’s absolutely perfect. This picture book is a great addition to any back to school collection to ease worries and anxiety for young children starting school. (Information retrieved from Goodreads.com)
Her next book published is another children’s fiction story: The Book Who Lost its Title (Big Belly Book Co., 2019), a mystery-adventure about Webster’s missing book title. The description of this book is clever and enticing: “A book without a title? Where could it have gone? Webster and his friends go on a chase to find the missing title for his book. See if you can help Webster find the title to his book. Who knows, it could be just a step away.” (Information retrieved from Goodreads.com)
Her third book, and third children’s fiction story, is Winston Versus the Snow (Brother Mockingbird, 2019). Savannah described it as a book about sensory processing and how one boy works to overcome his fear of the snow. The summary describes it as the story of Winston, a boy doesn’t like touching the snow. While his friends play in the snow, Winston is stuck inside. Until one day when a neighborhood dog, Mac, provides a possible solution. What could it be? (Information retrieved from Goodreads.com)
Her fourth book is her first adult fiction story, a romance titled Grounded in January (Brother Mockingbird, 2019). The summary describes it as follows: “Kate Wilson hates to admit it, but she’s unhappy and can’t figure out why. Fearful of flying yet determined to find a reason for her unhappiness, she boards a flight headed for her Washington hometown. Inn of the Woods owner and pilot, Oxnard Swanson struggles with accepting his multiple sclerosis diagnosis, realizing his dreams of marriage and a family might be over. Determined, he bides his time managing the inn, piloting his Cessna, and training his rescue dog, Bayou. Sparks quickly fly between Oxnard and Kate, when a snow storm forces her to find refuge at the Inn of the Woods. Maggie, a wise guest, suggests the couple step outside, where the magic of the snow offers answers to their search for happiness and a second chance at love.” (Information retrieved from Goodreads.com)
Here’s our conversation:
Welcome to Full of Coffee, Savannah! I know that you like coffee, so I have to ask you how do you prefer it?
- I love coffee. My favorite is straight forward black. Every morning I usually have two cups of freshly brewed coffee from Mariposa Coffee. My favorite blends with them are The 49er and Mountain Man. I’m so grateful they ship it because California is a long way to drive for a cup.
I love black coffee. It reminds me of my mom. She used to drink black coffee all day. Her last cup was the one after dinner. Tell me where did you grow up? Do you have any siblings?
- I grew up in southern California and Washington. I was an only child, raised by my father, but for a little while, I had a step-sister and a few other kids in the house off and on as I grew up. My father and I moved around a bit until I was in high school.
Did your childhood have any influence in your interest in reading or writing?
- My childhood actually shied me away from writing and reading. I was severely behind in reading, repeated 3rd grade and still had not caught up to my peers. My father used to have me read a set number of hours every day between reading lessons outside of school. Technically I didn’t find a love for reading or writing until I entered adulthood and was in my mid-twenties.
When did you decide to give professional writing a try? Did it affect your personal life, your profession as social worker?
- I started to try my hand at writing during my time with the 3rd family I nannied for when I was about twenty-five years old. I started writing children’s stories, which was clearly effected by my eight-year career as a nanny. I continued to write children’s literature and only added other genres and adult stories after about three years. As a social worker for the last seven years, I would say that my writing doesn’t affect my profession, more the other way around. When I was obtaining my master’s degree in Criminal Justice I put off writing because I was overwhelmed with papers for class and a full-time job. While I still work full-time, I manage to get about fifteen to sixteen hours of writing every week, and I DON’T miss those college papers! haha.
Oh I remember those college papers! I completed a master’s degree too, and the assignments requirements included writing papers for each and every class! I like writing, but that was exhausting and stressful. Then, when you finish your degree, you miss writing (at least I did!). Now, let’s talk about your first published book! How was the experience of getting a book published?
- Nonnie and I was my first published book (solo), as I had collaborated on a parent/teacher activity book series that I believe came out a few months before my picture book release. It was published with a small publisher, Xist Publishing, and I didn’t know what to expect since most of my writer friends had not been published or published with a large company. Since Nonnie and I had been rejected over fifty-times (and took seven years to land a contract) it was surreal to have it actually finally be published.
- I will say that I had zero input in Nonnie and I when it came to edits and illustrations, and my experience with my two latest picture books (Winston Versus the Snow and The Book Who Lost its Title) was incredibly different and wonderful with the amount of input I had over them. I did, however, get to work with my friend who speaks Spanish and English and did the translation for the book into bilingual and Spanish editions for the publisher (Nonnie y Yo).
Interesting! As a bilingual person, I have to tell you how much I appreciate you doing this. I started writing my posts for the blog in both English and Spanish language. I wanted to reach out to friends and family that I knew they wouldn’t read in English. As a mom who likes reading, many times I bought books for my kids (who don’t exactly like to read) with colorful pictures and stories they could easily follow and remember. Tell me a bit about your adult romance fiction book:
- Grounded in January (Brother Mockingbird, 2019) is a romance story, very much like what you would see on the Hallmark channels, about a man with multiple sclerosis and a woman who can’t seem to figure out her life or where to put her feet (she is clumsy!). It’s a heartwarming and funny story, even though it deals with a medical diagnosis. A lot of readers have stated they hope it’d be a Hallmark movie someday. The story has a lot of snowy weather and the sweetest therapy dog in the world.
You have published both romance/adult fiction and children’s theme books. How has been your experience writing and promoting both genres?
- Gosh, they’re both similar to write, believe it or not. Even though a picture book only has about four hundred words it takes just as long to fine-tune a completed story as it does a long story of seventy-thousand words. Of course, writing romance or any adult genre is fun because I can add so much more that one can’t do with only a few hundred words.
- As far as promoting, children’s books are insanely difficult to promote over adult books simply because the child is not able to make a purchase, they need their caregiver to do so. Not to mention that picture books are more expensive to make and thus more expensive to sell. I can understand a parent not wanting to spend hard-earned money on something that their child might rip up.
- Overall, promoting books is a challenge, regardless of the age level, the market is flooded with new releases and it’s hard for anyone to keep up and the continuous competition from entertainment (TV, movies, videos) competing for both adult and children’s reading times. At the end of a long day, I know more people who unwind with TV versus a book. However, usually, one book leads a reader to another and when readers of my picture books found out I had an adult novel they were over the moon excited. I’ve been told countless times to stick with one genre because that’s what the industry norm is and it’s how people associate you as an author. But, I decided I didn’t want to be what was expected.
This is one of the reasons that made me curious about your career. I’m glad you followed your instinct and decided to test both markets. It also shows how different everyone is. You get inspiration for a story, and as an author you decide which way the story goes. Your experience with children, through your personal and professional knowledge, has helped you find a way of connecting the words and images in a way to make it attractive for a young audience. Any future project you want to share?
- Most things are still on the fence at this time, but I can confirm I have an adult fiction family saga book releasing on June 24th which I’m beyond words excited about. The story shifts between 1993 and the present and was a great deal of fun to write about all the items and pop-culture from my teenage years. I’ve not mentioned much about it across social media yet, but those who read my newsletter (The Seashells of Life Club) have been enjoying sneak peeks of the book.
Exciting news! I have the pleasure of showing the reveal of the cover of for Savannah’s next book!
I can’t wait for more publications from Savannah. To check more about Savannah, please visit her website http://www.savannahhendricks.com/, follow her on Twitter @AuthorSavannah https://twitter.com/AuthorSavannah, and follow her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/authorsavannahhendricks. Also follow her blog The Seashells of Life to get updates on upcoming events around Arizona, where she’s often signing and selling her books https://theseashellsoflife.wordpress.com/.
If you are in the Arizona area, Savannah will be at the Windmill Winery in Florence, AZ, on February 23rd, 2020, and at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ on March 14, 2020.
I hope you all enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s a great deal for me to get to know all of these amazing writers. Getting to know other writers helps me find my own inspiration and create my own process.
I’ll keep reading, I’ll keep writing, I’ll keep dreaming! Thanks for reading. Until the next one! It’s time for my tacita de café. Salud!
Para versión en español, vea https://fullofcoffee.blog/2020/02/01/una-tacita-de-cafe-con-la-autora-savannah-hendricks.