I met Jolene at our regional SCBWI conference several years ago where we bonded over teaching, our own children, writing, and nature. During a lunch break, Jolene was kind enough to walk with me as I went in pursuit of a bird I had never been able to capture with my camera until that day. If you follow this blog, you know how much joy I find in photography. Then we took notes for each other during an intensive critique session, and we’ve stayed friends ever since. When I need fresh eyes on a manuscript, emergency advice on writing or life in general, she’s someone I can rely on. Last February we collaborated with author Beth Anderson on a presentation at the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association. It was a group project dream team working with these two and I hope when in person events resume, we can share the stage again. Jolene is offering a copy of her middle grade book, BIONIC BEASTS or a non-rhyming picture book critique (700 words or less.)
What were you like at the age o your target audience?
Um, well, I was a boy-crazy diva who loved dressing up. I was also a kid who loved being outside and spent hours riding horses and 3-wheelers, looking for rocks, and studying plants. I had a fabulous second grade teacher, Bill Boettcher, who challenged us with difficult spelling words, so he made me feel smart. He encouraged us to read and offered a classroom library, so I read my first chapter book, A Horse Called Dragon, by Lynn Hall and fell in love with reading—especially horse books. And Mr. Boettcher promised us that if we wrote stories, he (or his amazing wife Deb) would type those stories up and give us a published book. I took him up on his offer and illustrated my books once they were “published.” Second grade was a turning point for me. Mr. Boettcher is the reason I love reading and the reason I held on to that dream of publishing books.
What inspires you?
Kids, books, animals, social justice, history, biographies, archaeology, ghost stories, travel, things that make me laugh. . . the list goes on and on, but kids are at the heart of most of the things I do and are my main inspiration. I’m always thinking of my own children and my students. I’m always hoping to support my students as they learn and grow, and I’m constantly rewarded in this. I tell my students all the time how proud I am of them and how much hope they give me for the future. My own children are mostly grown and are pretty darn amazing!
What’s something you hope your readers take away from your books?
I hope that my readers will sense just how much I care about them, and I hope that within my books, they’ll find the spark that drew me to create the story within.
What’s next for you?
In the near future, my agent Kaitlyn Sanchez and I will have an announcement about a book that my daughter and I are working on, so watch for that! It’s going to be amazing! This is also my son’s senior year in high school and he’s been accepted to the Colorado School of Mines and welcomed into their Thorson Honors Program, so we’ll be celebrating a lot this spring!
To connect with Jolene and learn more about her books: