Welcome to the Winners’ Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we are celebrating published author Jennifer Coleman!
What is the name of your book? Who is the publisher?
Come ‘N Git It!
Give us a short summary of your book.
In this colorful tale of the food culture of cattle drives in the 1800s, chuckwagon chef Cookie takes young readers along on a rootin’-tootin’ adventure. The days start at three o’clock in the morning when Cookie makes coffee so thick “you could float a horseshoe on it!” With informational sidebars, a historical note, bibliography, and glossary for cowboy food terms such as “calf slobbers” and “swamp seed,” this spirited picture book brings the tastes and smells of the Old West alive!
Tell us a bit about your path to publishing, from idea to submission to published.
For a few years, I was researching Texas Cattle Baron Charles Goodnight, thinking I might be writing a biography. Yet it was too broad in scope. While searching for an “angle” to sharpen my focus, I was watching the Food Truck Wars on the Food Network , and I realized, Charles Goodnight made the first food truck! He did it to help his cattle drive idea! I decided to write the story of a fictional chuckwagon cook–a day in the life of–and then put some of my cattle drive research in the borders as sidebars. Once I had my focus figured out, it wrote really easily.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing stories since age 3 when I wrote: “The Green Valentine who Wanted to be Red.” I declared myself an active writer in 2002, but, really, writing has been a lifelong thread.
What’s your favorite genre to write and why?
I’ve had success with historical fiction because I love the research side, but lately I’ve been branching out to try humorous picture books and my first ghost story!
Please list the course or courses you’ve taken with us.
How has taking our courses helped your writing and/or career?
In that first course, I learned about the purposeful use of sensory language, which has served me well. I also continue to utilize the ICL newsletters for resources.
Have any of your class assignments been published? If so, where and when?
Yes! Several of the assignments were picked up by online magazines for children.
Do you have a favorite writing tip you’d like to share?
Join a critique group. I found mine through my local SCBWI branch, and we’ve been at it for three years now. Each member has different strengths–their feedback has really helped me over the years, as their friendship has made writing less of a lonely pursuit.
If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of writing advice, how far back would you go, and what would you tell yourself?
It’s supposed to be hard; don’t give up!
Are there any quotes about writing that inspire you?
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Checkhov
(How I understood Show vs. Tell!)
Please tell us the best or most valuable thing you learned from your experience with ICL and IFW.
The course opened me up to my first experience with feedback…I’d send it off thinking it was great, and it would come back with food for thought from the instructor. I used to think once I wrote it was done! I learned more about incorporating feedback to improve a piece.
Author and librarian Jennifer Coleman was born in Scotland and raised in Texas. She studied elementary education at Angelo State University and earned a MLS from the University of North Texas. Coleman is an active member of the Austin chapter of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is the host of her own podcast, Inspo by J.Co. Coleman has fond memories of childhood visits to her grandparent’s dairy farm, which sparked a lifelong affinity for cattle.