Updated: May 26
Today's author interview is with the multi-talented Stephanie Scott, children's book author, and Child and Youth Counsellor. I connected with Stephanie on Instagram as well and I'm excited to share her interview with you all and introduce her very special book! Her story is truly inspiring!
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview, Stephanie! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
S: Hi! My name is Stephanie Scott. I grew up in a Brady Bunch of a family in Windsor, Ontario. I have 3 brothers, 2 sisters, and 3 step-siblings as well! Growing up, I had a great uncle with Down Syndrome. Having him in my life sparked an interest to eventually go to school to help others in need, help them meet their highest potential, and live life as fully as they can. I was called a ‘baby hog’ and a ‘child whisperer’, from a young age since I carried such a positive, bubbly vibe that others would gravitate to. I always had curiosity, wondering how can I better understand behaviour and what do they need? How can I be of service? From there, I completed my degree in Child and Youth Work and have been a Child and Youth Counsellor for over 10 years, working with children, youth and adults with various complexities and exceptionalities. I remember in grade 9 or 10 I completed a presentation in French class about wanting to be an interior decorator when I grow up. That would have been my second choice to go to school for! Side note, I wish I was able to speak another language fluently.
Wow! I love the story of how you got into Child and Youth counselling. Interior decorating sounds pretty cool too. I remember wanting to be an architect when I was that age. And now we are authors – how drastically dreams change!
So, what inspired and motivated you to write your first book and how long did it take from the initial idea to publishing?
S: After I completed University in 2011, I was a Program Manager for a company that created and facilitated programs for children with Autism and ADHD, anger management issues and self-esteem concerns. I also signed a contract with a company to be an Independent Contractor as a Behaviour Support Specialist that supported clients in many different settings. From my work experience, I was very touched by the unique and eye-opening situation’s clients were in and very inspired by their resiliency. Once the program or contract ended, it inspired me to create a resource that is available whenever anyone is in need, since getting funding or support can be challenging for some families. I remember I was focusing a lot on mindfulness, where I would have to think on the spot of an activity to do to help de-escalate a client. I found myself creating various guided meditations. With a mix of that and a collection of small notes I would journal, it gave me the push I needed over 6 years, to finally hit the publish button.
That's a great motivation to hit publish! Your book is such a great resource for these kids.
What are some of your proudest moments since publishing the book?
S: The proudest moment I had was actually seeing the physical copy of my book, Buckle Up: A Children’s Imaginary Journey about Self-Control in my hands! It was an amazing feeling seeing what I imagined come to life. For any author, seeing the orange band as soon as it hits Amazon would be on-top of the proudest moments. It was a really exciting moment to see both my hardcover and paperback get the orange banner. I am really proud that my book received A Certificate of Excellence in Children’s Literature, Honourable Mention for Picture Books 6 & Older, through the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, and a certificate for Picture Book Fiction and Health and Wellness categories, through Story Monsters Approved Award. In addition, I was also a finalist in the Children’s/Kid’s book category for the Canadian Book Club Awards. It is a wonderful feeling to have your hard work pay off and be recognized by others, making a meaningful impact in the lives of children, families and educators. Seeing the smiles and positive reviews from my readers are absolutely priceless.
That's amazing! Congratulations on your successes, and your hard work has certainly paid off!
What are some of the challenges you have encountered on your author and self-publishing journey? How did you overcome them?
S: Some challenges I have encountered on my author and self-publishing journey is that I knew absolutely no one who published a children’s book before, so I was on my own, trusting my gut to guide me that I was doing the right thing, trying to make sense of all of the self-publishing material given. It was very overwhelming! I had to push my self-doubt aside, kept my head down and continued to make my dreams happen. I was going back and forth wondering if it was the right thing to do financially, since it cost a lot of money, but my fiancé gave me the reassurance that it will all work out and he supported my passion. In addition, just as my book was ready to be launched the pandemic hit and I was unable to promote my book in person, the way I was looking forward to. I had to learn how to be flexible and it pushed me to think outside the box and really learn how to use social media!
How wonderful that you have such a great partner to support your passion and dreams! The pandemic has certainly made things difficult for authors, but it also helped us to get connected with more people worldwide through social media. I think you've been doing an amazing job!
What was it like launching your first book? What did you learn from the experience? If you could do it again, what would you do differently?
S: Launching my book was very exciting and nerve-wracking. In the back of mind, I kept asking myself if I did the right thing, and question if others will see this as a valuable book. My family and fiancé threw me a launch party just in time before the world started to shut down due to the pandemic. I was in complete shock to see how many families and friends attended and the level of support I received. I have learned how important it is to surround yourself with others who support your passion and also push you to take some risks. If I could do it again, I think I would have liked to have found a creative way to do a virtual launch party as well to involve more across the world. I wish I reached out to organizations and potential readers ahead of time to create more awareness about my book. However, at the time, Instagram was new to me, and I was still learning the ropes of what I wanted my brand to stand for.
Wow! That's absolutely amazing that they threw you a launch party and I have never even attempted one. Building more awareness about the book is definitely a good idea though. But I'm glad you also started on Instagram, since that's how I found out about you and your book!
Have you had any negative experiences or disappointing moments throughout your publishing journey?How did you handle them?
S: A disappointing moment I had throughout my publishing journey is that I had a workplace injury and have been going through treatment for a brain injury. I still am managing post-concussive syndrome after 7 months. I was beating myself up, feeling disappointed that now as the world is opening up, I am still not ready mentally to be able to tolerate being able to go into the community to spread the word about my book and connect with the community. Also, I added pressure to myself thinking that I am set further behind now with marketing, and was really upset that it was taking me longer to respond to comments or messages. It’s a work in progress. I have to be kind to myself and remind myself that both the physical health and mental health need to be priority. I have a great medical team, family support team and group of authors I have met, that has been giving me hope and keep reminding me that I am made for this author journey. This author journey will be waiting for me with open arms, for my full return.
I'm so sorry about your brain injury. It must be so tough managing all the symptoms for so long. I hope you can recover fully soon. But definitely take as long as you need to get better, be kind to yourself and keep healthy. All the other stuff can wait.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers or authors?
S: Advice I would give to other aspiring writers or authors is to stay focused on the writing and write some more. Let the creative juices flow, even if it doesn’t make sense in the moment, you can pause, take a break and revisit. You might surprise yourself about what you can create. Don’t force yourself to write if you are not feeling it. It’s okay to have a mental block. Write with purpose and intent because then the readers will be able to sense it through your work in the end. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. You won’t know everything and no one path is the right path. Connect with other authors. Join social media groups. Do research. Attend webinars. Study books in your genre. Always keep finding ways to improve your craft and always be open to learning.
That's all excellent advice! I love the one about allowing yourself to be vulnerable. I never thought that showing my weaknesses and vulnerability would be a good thing, but it has actually helped me to connect on a more personal level with others. We all go through the same struggles and difficulties.
What is something you wish someone had told you about self-publishing before you started?
S: Something I wish someone had told me about self-publishing before I started, was how much work marketing is! I definitely underestimated the endless work and hours that goes into promoting your book. There are so many platforms that you can use. It definitely feels like another full-time job, but a job I gladly will accept!
I agree! Marketing definitely feels like another full-time job, and so much more than the actual writing of the book.
So how do you actually go about marketing? Do you have any tips for first time authors?
S: Marketing is still something that I am continuously learning about! Some tips I can offer for first time authors is to create a brand that will be consistent throughout all of your socials. I find people will get to know you better, your personality and the face behind the content that way. It also helps you to develop and communicate your voice. Know your target audience. Do research. Don’t be afraid to hire someone to assist you. It can be a discouraging and daunting process! Follow like authors or marketing experts to get some inspiration. It’s a lot of trial and error! See what speaks to you. What may work for others may not work for you and vice versa.
Oh that is a helpful tip, even for me! I don't think I have a consistent 'brand'. It's a bit all over the place at the moment. That's definitely something to work on!
Would you consider traditional publishing? Have you tried reaching out to or pitching to agents and publishers?
S: I’d consider traditional publishing, though I do love the level of involvement I have with self-publishing. I love having a bit more creative control. At the time of exploring my publishing path, most of the traditional publishing companies were not accepting any more manuscripts, and were trying to focus more on material by writers from underrepresented communities such as Indigenous writers, writers with disabilities and writers of colour. I am happy how everything unfolded and went with FriesenPress which is a mix of traditional publishing and the creative flexibility of DIY self-publishing.
That sounds like a good option to try! I didn't know about Friesen Press before. But I also like having more creative control over my book.
Anyway, I'm curious to know, what was your favorite book growing up? And why?
S: My favourite book growing up was If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff or anything Mercer Mayer. My favourite novel was The Baby-sitters Club series. In regards to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, I think it was one of my favourite books growing up because I remember my teacher and librarian reading the book during school, and I just loved the level of imagination that was involved but also, the laughter and engagement of all of my peers around me. It was fun seeing how we all enjoyed something together.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is such a fun book! But I only just read it a few years ago. I was a huge fan of The Baby-sitters Club too! It made me sad to give away my whole collection when I moved back to HK from Australia.
And what is a good book you have read recently which you would recommend to others?
S: A good book I have read recently that I would recommend to others is the children’s book The Power of Kindness by Ruth Maille. It demonstrates how each of us can help impact the world around us with simple acts of kindness every day. It helps spread awareness about the power children have to help shape the world into a kind place to live. For adults, a good book I have read recently is Believe It by Jamie Kern Lima. It’s about believing in yourself and your intuition, and helps you go from feeling underestimated to unstoppable!
They both sound wonderful! I'll have to check them out!
Do you have a favorite place to read or write? Where is it?
S: My favourite place to read or write is usually sitting on a rock on a warm day by the lake! Usually, I will be sipping a tea or smoothie. If I am not by the lake, you can find me in my office, that has plants and photos of me in the mountains or a canvas of water that gives me a relaxed feel. I would light a candle, take a glance through my window and start typing! However, I find as soon as my head hits the pillow I start thinking of more ideas, so I either have to get back up to keep typing, or type up notes on my phone. Go figure! Aside from that, I may be in the car and an idea pops up, so I usually leave myself a voice memo.
I wish there was a lake near where I live! It sounds so peaceful and serene! That's a good idea to leave a voice memo too. I might start doing that so I don't lose my ideas and thoughts when I'm not near my computer.
Besides reading or writing, what are some of your other hobbies?
S: Some of my hobbies besides reading or writing are going for hikes, swimming, going to the cottage, vacation planning and currently wedding planning! I bought a home in 2021 and have been enjoying decorating (and shopping).
Wedding planning and new home? That is so exciting! Congratulations, by the way!
So what does ‘a day in the life of an author’ look like for you?
S: ‘A Day in the life of an author’ looks like: Responding back to any messages or comments on my social media in the morning, supporting fellow authors online (which can look like leaving comments or sharing their books), also, getting inspired. I grab a tea, put on a space heater and candle. The warmth makes me feel more focused. During the day I either have treatment or my full-time job (which currently is casual hours as a Recruiter). Once I am done, then I work on my content in the evening, attend webinars or do research. Once I lay down for bed, many ideas start flowing, and I either have to start noting the ideas down in my phone, or rush to the laptop if there is too much!
It's really not easy juggling all the responsibilities of a full-time job and being an author! I love that you make time to attend webinars as well. It's so important to keep on learning and researching.
What was your school life like? What did you like or dislike most about school?
S: I really liked the teachers that I had, and how they made me feel more than just a student. They really got to know me as a person which improved my learning experience. What I disliked the most about school was the bullying that was occurring and also all of the peer pressure students face on a regular basis.
Teachers have such a lasting and deep impact on the students. I'm glad you had good teachers! It's sad that bullying is a universal struggle for all students. I wish we could all just be kinder to everyone.
And speaking of being kind, what’s the nicest or best thing someone has said about your book?
S: The best thing someone has said about my book is when a teacher told me that her students often request Buckle Up in class. They may need to put on a read aloud video on YouTube, read it with their peer during free time while interacting with the book, or read during circle time. They really loved the free activity sheets on my website that compliment the book as well. Also, it has made me happy hearing that so many age groups (including parents) can learn something from the book in order to better manage life’s obstacles.
I love that! And I agree that even adults can learn something from the book–I certainly did!
What are your plans for the next few years?
S: My plans for the next few years involve publishing my second children’s book by 2023. I do want to spend time to better master the art of marketing, which may involve getting further education and also further explore publishing through Amazon KDP. Also, I’d love to make up for lost time, by doing in-person book tours or attending events to promote both of my books, which I was unfortunately unable to do with Buckle Up to the extent I was hoping for.
Oh, hopefully you can start doing in-person events soon. I need to start doing the same thing!
So what are you working on now? What’s your next book about?
S: I am currently in the sketch phase of my second children’s book called Tools to Cool, Finding Ways to Cope. It’s an interactive seek-and-find book, where readers are to find over 20 hidden coping tools and strategies by guessing the clues. Readers will explore and practice coping skills they can use while at school, home or even out in the community. It will inspire readers to communicate their feelings, learn new coping tools and overcome challenges in a fun-filled way!
It sounds amazing! I love the seek-and-find idea. I can't wait to read it!
Ok, let's play a game. Finish the following statement:
If I had never published my book(s)... I would regret it for the rest of my life and not feel as fulfilled.
I feel the same! And it's just the beginning!
And finally, can you tell us a bit more about the book you have published?
S: My first book baby is called Buckle Up: A Children's Imaginary Journey about Self-Control. I would love for you all to come join Nini on this adventure! Life can be challenging at times, and unpredictable, with ups and downs and all sorts of things we can’t control. It’s like driving a car on a bumpy road. We can’t wish the bumps away. We can’t control who travels those roads with us, or make the sun shine on our journey if it’s a rainy day. But we can control how we feel about it. We can let it make us angry or sad or scared, or we can stay calm, accept the challenges, and make good decisions.
That’s what this story is all about. With Nini the bird as your special guide, you will take a driving journey in your imagination, a road trip in your mind, with you in the driver’s seat. You’ll learn how to face life’s obstacles and disappointments with healthy, positive “green thoughts”, and wait patiently for the rainbow that will surely follow the rain.
Check out the trailer for Buckle Up below!
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and book with us, Stephanie! I look forward to your new book!
You can find out more about Stephanie and her books by visiting her website or following her on social media.
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