September 7, 2018
We are very honored to interview children’s book author, Cindy Shirley, about her latest project, “Go-Cart Gertie”, which has garnered a lot of positive reviews on amazon.com.
Check out our fascinating author spotlight interview with author Cindy Shirley.
Please tell us something about yourself.
I live in Woodstock, Ga. USA and have been married for 25 years. We have two adult children and one beautiful granddaughter who we call Doodle Bug. I have been self-employed for 31 years and started my own building services company. In addition, I also have a second business called, Let’s Pretend Spa Parties. I started this company about 12 years ago with a friend. We do in home spa parties for girl’s age 5 to 16 years old. I worked in the public school system for several years as an ASP (After School Teacher) in Cobb County Ga.
How did you start with writing children’s books?
It started when my husband and I decided to build a Christmas Float and participate in our home town parade. We had to borrow a friend’s old trailer and use it for the float. This poor thing was dilapidated and my husband had to practically rebuild it. On parade day, there were over 80 float entries lined up. We spent a lot of time decorating and making sure every tiny detail was taken care of. The float was amazing! Once it was over, we found out that we actually won first place. “The Best Holiday Float” in the city belonged to us. We had a big article in the newspaper about the big win and received a trophy form the mayor in a big ceremony. Once we got home from the parade that day, and all of the decorations were taken down, I almost cried. I told my husband, “this sweet little gut was the start of the town and now he has to go back to pasture.” Viola! A new children’s book, Doodle and the Magic Christmas Float was created
Why did you write Go-Cart Gertie?
It seems like boys are allowed to get away with anything and girls have different expectations of what they can do. My daughter, Cailey wanted desperately to be on the drumline in high school. After being told that she couldn’t try out because she was girl, and girls couldn’t possibly carry the heavy drums. Well, Cailey set out to prove them wrong. She is 4’11” and marched those drums up and down the field! Once the instructor realized how determined she was, she made captain of the line. I couldn’t have been prouder of our little “shorty short.” This is our nickname for her. After graduation, she went on to be one of the only girls to make the drumline at college. The other part of the making of Go-Cart Gertie came from my childhood. I had a purple go-cart growing up and absolutely loved riding that thing in the corn fields at home. We were very poor growing up and it was unbelievable that my mom saved up enough money to surprise me with it one day. I felt rich having my very own Go-Cart. It’s something that stuck with me through the years. We couldn’t afford it, but Mom found a way to buy it.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I love writing and sharing my stories, but hate the constant marketing involved. That part is exhausting.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block? What did you do?
Not yet. It’s been the complete opposite. I keep writing and writing. My mind is full of stories.
Do you try more to be original or do you research and tend to deliver to readers what they want?
My stories are all based from my personal experience and family life
If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
Keep a diary of unexpected moments in my life at that time. This would have made for endless material as an adult.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It has made me evaluate the point of view that I’m trying to get through to my readers.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
I can’t think of anyone.
What are the literary magazines you subscribe to?
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
It would be a Hummingbird. I’m always moving and can’t sit still for very long
What is the marketing technique that has worked for your books?
The best avenue for sales is definitely being a vendor at local elementary school fall festivals. I sell a ton of books at these events and meet my readers.
How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
I still consider myself a part time writer. I would love to write on a full time basis when I am able to retire.
How many hours a day do you write?
It varies. I can sit for an entire day over a weekend and write a story. Weeks can go by before I’m able to take a break from life and pick up where I left off.
What did you edit out of Go-Cart Gertie?
I went back through and made a few changes to Gertie’s relationship with her brother. It started out a little more intense and I chose to go another route with it. I wanted to empower girls to follow their dreams, regardless of any form of discrimination. But, it was also important to bring the story full circle and have the family bond over the same issue.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Most of my characters are my family members and some I just make up. For example in Doodle and the Magic Christmas Float, I am Mimi and my husband is Paw-Paw. Doodle of course is our granddaughter. The Fabulous Life of Minnie the Sassy Chick is my nieces, Carly and Riley. Minnie is their real pet chicken. In Diesel the Body Guard, the character of Delilah is drawn to look like my daughter at that age. The bullies are the kids in school that picked me. This story is based on my personal experience with being bullied for having red hair and freckles. It is the book that I read during author visits at elementary schools. We use the messages in the story to discuss how to handle bullying.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I am self-employed and work full time. Writing is just a hobby for me right now.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes I do enjoy reviewing other children’s books. Some are terrible and truly hard to finish. In this situation, I message the author privately and offer feedback before leaving a bad review. Many times, I don’t leave it on Amazon. Great reviews are easy!
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
A few may see glimpses of my childhood if they knew me growing up.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
My illustrator, Cleoward Sy is amazing and extremely patient with me. We’ll finish the book and once I see the final PDF, I’ll decide to make a couple of changes. I know I make him crazy! I go through every line and see if I can improve the way the story flows with a little tweaking.
What does literary success look like to you?
Having my stories loved by readers and making kids laugh a little. Having a best seller would be amazing but it’s not the most important part to me. I guess this comes from the fact that each of these stories has a tiny part of my life within the pages.
Thanks Cindy for a wonderful interview and for sharing your writing journey with us.
We wish you the best of luck with your writing career.
Click here to buy Cindy Shirley’s book: https://amzn.to/2NRW2Hp