Questions Answered. Info Offered.

by admin on July 6, 2015

It’s July, and I’m officially the Featured Author of the Month for the Missouri Society of Children’s Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). In my interview with fellow author and Missouri-SCBWI member Peggy Archer, I talk about everything from writer’s block to agents, with a hummingbird somewhere in the middle!

Featured Author of the Month

headshot Jeannie Ransom

PAL Author for the month of July 2015

Jeanie Franz Ransom

Missouri SCBWI welcomes Jeanie Franz Ransom, from O’Fallon, Missouri, as our July PAL Author of the Month. Jeanie sold her first story to Seventeenmagazine when she was a teen, and has been writing ever since. She is an award-winning author of children’s picture books, and her books have received starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly. She is also a former elementary school counselor.

I’m so happy to welcome you here today, Jeanie, and I thank you for sharing some of your writing life with our readers. Until now, your writing has been mainly picture books. Do you have an agent? 

I do. I’d sold my first six books on my own, and I wasn’t sure if I needed an agent. But then someone told me that when the business of writing gets in the way of writing, it’s time to find an agent. I knew I was getting to that point, but it wasn’t until Lori Kilkelly from Rodeen Literary Management spoke at one of the MO-SCBWI Fall Conferences that I actually got serious about it. I sent Lori a query, and three months later, I signed with Rodeen Literary Management. Lori takes care of submitting manuscripts, negotiating contracts, and so much more. She sold three books for me in three months, and the advances were like night and day compared to what I got on my own. I never knew how much I needed an agent until I got an agent. And it’s all thanks to attending a MO-SCBWI conference!

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

I think that everyone experiences writer’s block at one time or another. If you haven’t, I want to know your secret! I’ve had an ongoing battle with a block for years, but I’ve managed to chisel it down far enough to produce three new books.

What books are you reading now?

I just finished working my way through a pile of advance copies from ALA Midwinter this past January. Two of the best new middle-grade novels I read were Good-bye Stranger by Rebecca Stead and Alice Hoffman’s Nightbird. Now I’m ready to dive into Judy Blume’s new novel for adults!

What encouragement helped you along your way? 

My third-grade teacher was the first person to encourage me to write, and I’m forever grateful to her. I’ve had some wonderful mentors, bosses, co-workers, and editors over the years. But when I started writing for children, I found out that children’s writers are some of the nicest people in the world. The encouragement I’ve gotten — and continue to get —keeps me writing. The members of my critique group are some of my biggest cheerleaders, second only to my family!

Is there anything that you find particularly challenging in your writing? 

I tend to be a bit of a hummingbird, flitting from idea to idea rather than just picking one and sticking with it from start to finish. My new writing mantra is “Focus and finish!”

book cover Crown AffairWhere and when do you write? 

When I have a lot to get done and really need to concentrate, I work at the desk I set up in my oldest son’s room after he moved to New York two years ago. My son teases that I’m more successful now because I use his room as my office! I also like to write on my front porch, weather permitting, or at a coffee house. I wish I could say that I write every day, but I don’t. I also don’t exercise every day. I do eat chocolate daily, though. Does that count for something?

I like the ‘daily chocolate’ idea, Jeanie! What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given about writing?

BIC — Butt in Chair!

What projects are you working on now?

I’m working on a couple of new picture books, including one with fellow SCBWI member and critique buddy, Stephanie Bearce. I’ve also started a middle-grade novel, which is exciting as well as terrifying. Exciting, because it’s a totally new genre for me. Terrifying, because I’ve never written a book that’s more than 1200 words. Fortunately, I have writing friends who have completed at least one MG novel, so I have people to turn to if I get stuck.

Do you have any new books coming out? 

I have three new picture books coming out in the next two years: Cowboy Car (Two Lions), Big Red and the Little Bitty Wolf: A Story About Bullying (Magination Press), and There’s a Cat in Our Class! (also Magination Press).

Do you have any advice for beginning children’s writers?

Join SCBWI, attend conferences and workshops, and start building connections. It may seem a little scary, but there’s really no better way to meet editors, agents, and other writers. There are lots of resources available for children’s writers who are just getting started — including the SCBWI website! Be a sponge and soak up as much as you can. Join a critique group! You’ll get feedback and support from fellow children’s writers, and you’ll probably end up with some new friends!

Thank you so much for visiting with us here, Jeanie.  

You can find out more about Jeanie and her books on her website (, or join her on her facebook page (


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