Thursday, June 10, 2010

Interview with author, Rena Jones

Today, my guest is children’s author, Rena Jones. Ms. Jones’ book, A New Job for Dilly, is available through 4RV Publishing and I had the pleasure of reviewing it earlier this week. Rena is here today to share some of her thoughts about writing for children.

1. Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.

I began writing in 2003 after visiting Glacier National Park in Montana. A little mountain goat inspired me to write a story about him, and my love for writing children’s stories began.

2. Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?

I’m a part-time writer. My full-time job is homeschooling my two boys and being a stay-at-home mom to my four kids. I definitely write in spurts as inspiration hits. Once I’m on a roll … look out and be quiet! I have a hard time writing if there’s too much noise. That’s hard living in a house with 6 people.

3. What influences your writing?

I live in the mountains and there are lots of critters near my house. I see things like bears, raccoons, moose, deer, squirrels, all sorts of birds, rabbits, etc. A lot of my stories deal with animals because of what I see running around our yard. My family also loves seeing national parks, which are usually filled with animals. My boys, Nathan and Neil are a big influence on my writing. They’re always coming up with fun ideas for me.

4. Is this your first published work? What other types of writing have you done?

A New Job for Dilly was my first published picture book. I have another book out called Lemur Troops & Critter Groups. My third book, The Marshmallow Man, is due out shortly. All are published by 4RV Publishing, LLC. I am due to have four more out with the same publisher over 2010-2012. I loved picture books as a child and they’re my favorite to write. However, I have completed two middle grade novels and am currently working on a third one.

5. Why did you choose to write a children's story?

Since I homeschool my kids, I’m always doing something that relates to children and/or education. I’ve created a lot of lesson plans for my kids. Writing a children’s story seemed so natural for me. I don’t think I have what it takes to write for adults, but you never know.

6. What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?

It’s funny because with this book, I originally set out to make the story about a rat on a pirate ship. His name was Scabby at first. The story just sort of went off in its own direction and Dilly was born. There are 2 more books coming out in the series – A New Friend for Dilly and A Dinner Date for Dilly.

7. What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?

I think they both work. I see a lot of people doing very well with self-publishing, so I don’t look upon it as a bad thing. With both ways, the author/illustrator still needs to work hard to get their work out there.

8. What is your marketing strategy?

My publisher is a small independent one, so most of my marketing is done online. I’m also working on trying to get my books in local stores where I live. I send out media kits, hang up flyers, mail postcards, make book trailers, and rely on wonderful friends to spread the word about my books. I also use social media sites to help with marketing.

9. What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?

I definitely see the plus in an agent. When I first started submitting stories, I didn’t know anything about agents and whether or not I needed one. I don’t have an agent now, but am currently looking for one for my middle grade novels. Obviously, it is possible to be successful without one, but I think it opens more doors if you have one.

10. Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

I have a website @ I’m on Blogger, Facebook, and JacketFlap. I also have an Author’s Page on Amazon @

11. Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?

Read as much as you can about the business side. A lot of people come to me saying they have an “idea” for a children’s book, but don’t know how to take it to the next step. You have to understand the industry. Read lots of books in the genre you want to write in and study publishing company’s booklists. There are a lot of how-to books on writing for children, so I recommend getting a few of those as well. But whatever you do – write, write, write! The more you write, the better writer you will become.

Rena, thank you for being my guest today. It's always a pleasure learning how other writers approach their work.


  1. Nice interview, Penny. Great questions.

    I enjoyed learning more about you and your writing, Rena. Congratulations on your books and the forthcoming ones too. Best of luck with your writing.

  2. Just so you know, I received my order of Marshmallow Man and am preparing orders to go to others by the beginning of next week.

  3. Beverly, I'm glad you could stop by. Thank you for your comments

  4. Vivian, thanks for the update on Marshmallow Man.

  5. Great interview Penny! I enjoyed learning about Rena and her books. I wish her much success with all of them!

  6. Thanks, Penny! I'm trying to get caught up with blogs and such. I was in Grand Teton for almost a week without an Internet. Thanks, again!

  7. Rena, it was my pleasure. I'm looking forward to seeing your other work.