Featured Author Jody Jensen Shaffer

Featured Author Jody Jensen Shaffer

Featured Author Jody Jensen Shaffer

Tell us about your latest book, SOMETIMES I AM HOT LAVA, and the inspiration behind it?

SOMETIMES I AM HOT LAVA is about Buddy, a kid who experiences ups and downs in life, just like the rest of us. But sometimes when Buddy gets really upset, he erupts like hot lava, spewing molten rock over everyone and everything in his path. But one day, Buddy sees how his behavior affects his little sister, and he knows he needs to calm down. Fortunately, he knows several techniques that help, and he becomes as cool as igneous rock once again.

This story idea came to me after researching the Beaming Books editors’ wish lists and their already-published books. I knew they valued books about big feelings, so I brainstormed an idea about a child who gets angry. I wanted to add an additional layer to my story, so I compared erupting feelings to a volcano, which gave the story another hook, social-emotional learning (SEL) plus Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM).

I initially wrote this manuscript from Buddy’s sister’s point of view, with Buddy as the younger sibling (SOMETIMES MY BROTHER IS HOT LAVA). But when editor Liz Schleishman indicated an interest in the story, she wondered if I would be open to a revision—one that told the story from Buddy’s perspective. I told her I would and began revising right away. A few weeks later, Liz made an offer.

Do you have a critique group? And if so, how has that group been beneficial to your career?

Over the years, I’ve been in several critique groups, both online and in person (three cheers for Sue Gallion and Ann Ingalls, aka PB3!). I’ve also critiqued one-on-one with friends on a less formal basis. I continue to learn valuable things about writing and our industry from all these people. They cheer me on, point out areas in my stories that could be improved, and share industry information with me. Mostly, they help me feel connected to the kidlit writing community, which is super helpful since I work alone all day.

How have you stayed connected to the writing community?

I stay connected to the writing community in as many ways as I can! I’m a member of SCBWI. I attend our region’s conference. I attend other regions’ conferences. I attend online events hosted by our region and those hosted by publishers or other creators. I participate in the SCBWI Message Board (the BEST online resource for kidlit folks ever). I follow and engage with other creators on Twitter. I attend events where kidlit folks are doing things, like book signings, launches, and conferences. I participate in panels and festivals. I share my journey with school and library audiences. 

What's next for you, or what goals do you have for 2024 and beyond?

I’m super excited 2024 is here! I have two more books coming out this year. THE LAST DAY JULIAN WAS MY BEST FRIEND (Two Lions, June 4) is about best friends Anthony and Julian, who are having the best summer of their lives—riding bikes, going to the beach, having sleepovers. But Anthony is worried; he has a secret that might just ruin their friendship. So he is determined to have the best last day as Julian’s best friend…until he can’t hold it in any longer. Kirkus called it “A touching story of true friendship and the power of forgiveness.” Joanne Lew-Vriethoff’s illustrations are lovely and soft and touching.

And on September 17, PORCUPINE HAD A FUZZY SWEATER releases from Magination Press. This is a story about Porcupine whose favorite sweater is missing, the one his grandma made! He doesn’t want to hurt her feelings by admitting he lost it, so maybe he’ll make a new one, or borrow someone else’s, or maybe…he’ll have no choice but to leave home! Readers help Porcupine decide what he should do throughout the book. Angela Edmonds’ illustrations are perfect for PORCUPINE and are just the cutest things ever! I can’t wait for these books to be in readers’ hands!

Beaming Books

April 2, 2024

ISBN: 978150649459


Website: http://jodyjensenshaffer.com

Twitter: @jodywrites4kids

Jody Jensen Shaffer is the author of more than 80 books for children, including Creep, Leap, Crunch! A Food Chain Story (NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book, Oklahoma's 2025 Donna Norvell masterlist, SLJ starred review), Prudence the Part-Time Cow (Missouri Show Me Award finalist), A Chip Off the Old Block (Iowa Goldfinch Award nominee, Amazon Teachers' Pick), It's Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! (Amazon best seller) and more!