A Bookish Conversation with Kathleen Jae & Giveaway! #interview #win #enter @kathleenjae2

Kathleen Jae has been writing in one form or another for almost twenty-five years. Her greatest success story is her daughter, Katie, whom she refers to as “my hero,” and their journey is chronicled in Kathleen’s first book, From Prompting to Shaping to Letting Go: My Love Affair With ABA and How Being a “Bad Mom” Helped My Daughter With Autism Succeed. In past lives the author has been a proofreader, editor, newspaper reporter and columnist, newsletter writer for a wildlife organization and writer of stage plays and screenplays. She considers her six-year stint as a home-based behavioral program director in the ’90s her most difficult, albeit important, job and is counting the days until all autism-related ABA therapy positions go the way of the dodo. Two of Kathleen’s short stories made it to the finals of the 2017 Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary Award competition.


Website: http://www.kathleenjae.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/kathleenjae2

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorkathleenjae

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kathleenjaeauthor

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Kathleen-Jae/e/B07YQ7JNF9%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?


My family and I have vacationed on Sanibel, an island off the Gulf Coast of Florida, for more than twenty years. Five years ago, we decided to take a kayaking trip in Tarpon Bay. The guide would occasionally call out to our group of twelve to take a break, and we paddlers would huddle together in our kayaks and listen to a mixture of history, fun facts and environmental insights of the bay. On one such break, against a background of red mangroves, he explained the ecological importance of the tangled trees. While I gazed at the trees before me, I listened to the guide talk about the destruction of the mangrove forests by developers and all the ways the trees contribute to a healthy ecosystem. It was then that the idea of a tiny critter who saves the red mangroves popped into my mind. When our vacation ended and we arrived home, I transcribed some notes I had made and started to research the red mangrove habitat. When I discovered that most of the characters I had created for my story did not live in the red mangrove habitat, I researched further and found that salt marshes are usually sandwiched between freshwater marshes and red mangrove forests. I simply moved my characters to a different environment, and their new habitat would provide the proper setting for Elanora, a northern chipmunk who is transported to a salt marsh in southwest Florida.  


Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published? 

My first book, From Prompting to Shaping to Letting Go: My Love Affair With ABA and How Being a “Bad Mom” Helped My Daughter With Autism Succeed, is a combination biography and autobiography. It chronicles my daughter’s early symptoms of what would later become the label of “autism,” my decision to create and implement a home behavioral program, and her many successes as she learned how to learn. While writing the book, I was finally able to reconcile myself to the fact that not only did I make plenty of mistakes in the 1990s when my daughter and I began our journey through the autism maze, but she and I accomplished so much more than I realized. When the book was finished, I was shocked at how many of my recollections had been previously suppressed. And when it was finally published—when I realized that everyone would know what I know: that my daughter is accomplished, smart and a delight—I was surprised at my profound feeling of elation in what she achieved. I held in my hand a summation of most of my daughter’s life, and it was at once satisfying and distressing. Satisfying because I believed I had successfully captured her innate courage and distressing because I asked myself once again whether I could have done more for her. In the end, the book was my catharsis, and I hope that parents of children with autism find our journey enlightening.  


Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process? 

Absolutely! My first attempt to find an illustrator for Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery did not work out as I felt the final product failed to capture the essence of Elanora and the other characters. I was lucky to find Lori Taylor, a talented Michigan illustrator, and her cover and character sketches brought the book to life. 


How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers? 

I think the hardest part about writing the book was the number of drafts needed until I decided it was ready for print. I spent several months on the second draft because I had originally added unnecessary Scottish Gaelic words. I removed most of them, but kept the beautiful Gaelic character names, and in subsequent drafts I added subplots and characters. Before I started writing the book and throughout most of the writing process, I conducted quite a bit of research for both settings of the story: Elanora’s original forest home in the north and her salt marsh home in southwest Florida.  


When I began writing Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery, I created the first page almost immediately, and most of this page stayed the same throughout subsequent drafts. I then devised the pivotal scene at the end. Everything I wrote moved Elanora closer to her goal: to save the inhabitants of the salt marsh. I think this helped me keep my focus. I did not outline the scenes on paper, but as I wrote I left sufficient space to type anything I thought would be useful in subsequent chapters. I suppose this could be viewed as a kind of “seat of your pants” writing, but it worked for me. The only time I have ever outlined scenes is when I created my stage plays, and I wrote each scene on a note card and tacked it to a bulletin board. That system worked well, and I might use it again for my next novel. 


What other books are you working on and when will they be published? 

A few months ago, I finished my second novel, Island Times Three, the first installment of my Raymond Gray detective series. The settings include Manhattan and Sanibel, Florida, and the story takes place in 1952. I hope to publish it by fall 2021. I have begun research for the sequel to Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery, and the new setting will include many of the original characters with a few new ones joining the cast. I am also creating copy for an Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery A-Z picture book. 


What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?


Chipmunks are not normally found in southwest Florida, and I think that would surprise most people. This bit of information both amazed and delighted me for I was now free to write about a northern chipmunk who is transported to a salt marsh in Florida. 


Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book? 

When I started writing the book, the main message I wanted to communicate concerned the devastation caused by the destruction of whole ecosystems. As the book progressed, the characters evolved, and the words and dialogue that conveyed the blatant contempt toward Elanora from the muskrat colony flowed easily. It was not difficult for me to imagine the creatures’ resistance to diversity, and that helped me to show Elanora’s growing maturity and, consequently, her courage and determination. 


Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words? 

I am proud of Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery. Writing the book allowed me to learn and grow as a writer, and I applied that knowledge when I wrote Island Times Three. I am grateful for the encouragement of my family and to illustrator Lori Taylor, Editor and Layout Designer Lisa Gilliam, proofreader Rachel Rowlands, and Graphic Designer Peter Chiappetta. 

Author: Kathleen Jae
Publisher: Twenty Paws Publishing
Pages: 213
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction


After a series of terrifying events, Elanora is transported to a strange neighborhood where the only way to get about is by water and the only food to eat is the grasses of the marsh. When she discovers that the water level in her new home is falling, she suspects humans are the cause and puts together a plan to save the creatures who live there.

Will Elanora persuade the colony and swimmers to overcome their fear of the unknown and embark on a dangerous journey to their new home?


Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery features interesting animal characters with distinctive character traits and personalities who can absorb the middle-grade reader. The salt marsh environment is sufficiently detailed to become a character on its own, with its ebbs and flows. The self-contained world created stands on its own with a microcosm of both conflict and friendship… A child or even an adult reader of this book can identify with and applaud the book’s characters… all in all a very good read.


Amazon → https://amzn.to/3lIQUY6 

Click here to get your FREE DOWNLOADABLE Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery Coloring Page!

Kathleen Jae is giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card


One Printed Canvas Bag

Included in the canvas bag printed with the Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery book cover by Etsy shop owner BAGANDTOTE1: One plushie muskrat (Beathas, Lachi and the rest of the colony); one plushie chipmunk (Elanora); one plushie gray squirrel (Nara); one roseate spoonbill (Moira and Muireall) photo transfer hanging by Etsy shop owner FeelinGroovyPhotos; one framed manatee (sea cow) art print by Etsy shop owner SammWehmanArt; one cormorant (Pelles) printed tea towel by Etsy shop owner HearthandHarrow; one yellow-crowned night heron (Morven) signed printed note card by Etsy shop owner BlueHenCraft; one set of 5 vintage bobcat (bullycat) postage stamps by Etsy shop owner AxmxZ; one red-tailed hawk (defyer) applique iron-on patch by Etsy shop owner PatchParlor; one diamondback terrapin (Ùna) vintage, upcycled and hand-soldered glass pendant with ball-chain necklace by Etsy shop owner ObjectFound; one reusable shopping bag adorned with assorted forest animals including red fox (oppect), white tailed deer (Damhan), rabbit (quidge) and owl (marauder); one bird-watching notebook with blue jay (Jae) on front; two signed copies of Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery and two Elanora bookmarks.

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive $50 Amazon Gift Card & one winner will be chosen to win tote bag with goodies.
  • This giveaway ends midnight April 30.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on May 1.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!


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1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for participating/setting up my Virtual Blog Tour! I enjoyed answering your thoughtful questions! Love your site!


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