Friday, January 10, 2020

Author Spotlight - Shanalee Sharboneau on her award-winning books

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK TITLES - My Mama Loves Me: I’m Her Little Boy, My Mama Loves Me: I’m Her Little Girl, My Daddy Loves Me: I’m His Little Girl, My Daddy Loves Me: I’m His Little Boy? When my son was born, he had severe reflux. We almost lost him twice. For six months, my husband and I stayed awake 24/7 fighting to keep him alive. In my complete desperation, in the middle of the night, I began to hum a tune. Over time, I would begin to put words to this tune, words that begged him to stay alive and all the things I would do with him if he fought too. The books are literally the song, tailored for each parent and child.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY? “My mama loves me, My mama loves me, My mama loves me all life long.” There is nothing stronger than the love for a child. It is completely unconditional. Sometimes, I believe God gives you your children so you can understand how much He loves you. I reflect on this often, particularly when my son is challenging my unconditional love.

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE IS MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? The Mom character of the first book, My Mama Loves Me: I’m Her Little Boy, is actually me with my son traveling the world together. It is a true depiction, I am very adventurous. The places you see in the book are either the places I’ve been or the places I dream to go. In the Egyptian scene, there is a secret that most readers will not catch. It was always my dream to become an archeologist, yet I allowed a professor to challenge this dream. The good news, is I did not listen to my 10th grade English teacher. Out of deserved frustration one day, she said to me “don’t ever earn your living writing, or anything dealing in English.” I wonder often what ever happened to Mrs. Eckvall.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? The one thing that ties us all together, without debate or harsh words, is the love for our children. When discussing our children, the playing field levels and we act with great sportsmanship. It is why I believe the book is accepted and cherished all over the world, it is a commonality that binds us no matter when we began or where we end. If we can start there, agreeing on our mission and love for our children, and stay in that moment, we may actually bring about a better world today.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? After my son became well, I wrote down the song I sang to him over and over in his time of need. After a while, I started to wonder if it would become a good children’s book. One week, my life coach ordered me to start living life to the fullest, that day. Begrudgingly, I called the man who had a connection to my now publisher, all because my life coach demanded it. I can say, once you learn that lesson the hard way, you never forget it. I strive to live life to the fullest every day, with that great example reminding me how different my life would be today without just one phone call.

WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING? Obviously all good credit goes to Mom. When she read my book for the first time, with tears in her eyes, she said “You actually got it”. Of course, she is proud of all of her children, even the middle one. The best thing I can do as a Mom myself, is give the credit to all the parents who came before me and made me the person I am today.

A good friend’s sister had a friend who was struggling with her newborn. The baby was fussy and appearing to deteriorate rapidly. My friend’s sister called me one day and said “send her a book, please”. I sent the book and forgot about the story. Six months later, I was at a book signing in South Padre Island, Texas, and a woman walked in with her young son. She explained that her son was struggling to thrive as a newborn, and had a friend who requested that I send her a book. Upon reading my bio and my son’s reflux, she went directly to a skilled pediatrician and had him properly diagnosed. In her words, my story saved her son. You can’t get any better than this.

Since each book is very focused on the beauty of a parent and child relationship, I watch these relationships out in public. You may catch me staring while at a Chinese restaurant, or a grocery store or ice cream shop. First I attempt to capture or understand a relationship. For example, I am currently working on the book “My Grandma Loves Me: I’m Her Little Girl.” Once I feel like I’ve captured the relationship, I then ask a trusted individual serving in that role. I ask them all one question, “What is the most important thing you would like to teach your granddaughter, and what wisdom would you like to leave with them after they are grown?” Between the sense of the relationship, and the lessons forwarded through that beautiful relationship, I now take on the challenge to show this in my books and illustrations as I work with my talented illustrator, Israel Dilean. Pictures can say 1,000 words . . . and we work diligently to capture and communicate each word carefully.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER? Capturing the relationship of each parent to their child, whether it is a son or a daughter. You see, I am only a mom to a son, and have been a daughter to my parents . . . I have no understanding or comprehension of being a mom to a daughter, a father or a grandparent. When working on these books, it is a task to understand these precious relationships and show the strength of each and everyone, while never having experienced them personally.

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE? Many readers of my work say the same thing, it is very similar to “Love You, Forever” by Robert Munsch. Though I was unaware of this book when the compliments first happened, I was truly honored by the expression when each reader compared the series to this book. This book is a legend and loved by many adults who had their mother read this book to them. It’s quite a compliment.

At a business conference, I met a man whose sister company would eventually become my publisher. I reached out to this gentleman, requesting he put me in contact with the right person within the publishing company. He did so, with the caveat that very few writers ever make it. I understood his valid point and thanked him for the information. I reached out and was contracted with 24 hours. It was a great phone call for me to make a year later when reaching out to my original contact and explaining to him what his information had done for my life. I, of course, thanked him again.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? Know it’s all up to you, and do not rely on anyone else to do it for you. You are the person who knows what to do, how to do it, and how to get it done. Do not leave this in any other hands but your own.

After first publishing my book, whenever I would see a crying baby, and virtually tearful mother, I would run out to my car and get a book, sign it, run back into the store and hand it to the child. The child would stop crying immediately, mom would sigh, and I would walk off quickly. I still enjoy doing this today, although I do not do this as much as when the book first came out. These opportunities have brought me great joy, and I believe excellent promotion, though my intentions were pure.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? For generation after generation to read these books to their children, as they were read to them by their loved ones, long after I am gone.

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY FIND INTERESTING ABOUT YOU: The degree I acquired in college was a Bachelor's in Science in Mathematics and Statistics. As you can tell, I had no plans to become a writer.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? Always know you are multi-talented. You are never only one thing, you are many things, many talents, all wrapped up into one human being. Search for them, enjoy discovering them, and find how you can push yourself into being good in many areas.

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? The Grandma series. “My Grandma Loves Me: I’m Her Little Girl”, and “My Grandma Loves Me: I’m Her Little Boy”.

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval

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