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Name: Jacqui Shepherd
Superpower: Writer of amazing children’s books
With a mind-blowing imagination and a natural talent for writing, Jacqui Shepherd is now the published author of 40 children’s books. From grasshoppers that learn to take things slower in life to a cow who goes off on her own to make a dis-cow-very, Jacqui’s books are whimsically wonderful. And they keep on coming!
We had an opportunity to chat to this amazing lady about her inspirational story. Today we’d like to share it with you.
So, Jacqui, what led up to the wonderful world of writing for you?
As a child, I loved escaping into a book. For me, it was like entering a private wonderland because the uniqueness of my imagination ensured that nobody else would experience the story exactly the same way I did.
The characters in the books I read became very real to me and the end of each book was like a sad farewell. I often grew so attached to the characters that I would ponder on what became of them after the final page in the book. It was this curiosity that caused me to conjure up all sorts of possibilities, which I believe is how I started tapping into and developing the power of my imagination.
That coupled with the sheer delight of my father’s phenomenal storytelling ability led me to start making up my own stories, to not only entertain but also to teach my children important life lessons. All of this happened very naturally, and I had no idea that one day it would turn into a career or as I like to refer to it, ‘a calling’.
Jacqui reading one of her stories to a class of young children.
How are you using your stories to make your dreams come true?
It’s my dream for the children’s stories I write to reach children of every nation and culture, and that they may not only be entertained by the stories but that they will also learn valuable life skills from them.
I’m a firm believer in stories with morals and find it very sad that, for the most part, these kinds of stories seem to be a thing of the past. It’s my aim to rekindle within children and parents a fondness for stories with morals.
As a mother, I found stories with morals to be an invaluable educational tool.
Jacqui with her four children in 2003.
What finally tipped you into getting published and living your dream?
Having four children within a three-year period (twins in the middle) meant I very rarely had a spare hand to hold a book. The challenge that this presented pushed me into becoming creative by making up my own stories to keep my children entertained. Without meaning to, all my stories had a moral and while being captivatingly entertained, my children were learning valuable life lessons.
Although I made up many stories during my children’s early years, I only took the time to write down the ones that I had specifically created for each of them, individually. They all loved having their own special story inspired by and created just for them.
Jacqui with her children in 2016.
Years later after my children had all left home and I had a very severe case of ‘empty nest’ syndrome, I revisited the four stories that I had written for each of them all those years ago. I started sending them off to publishers. While I waited for replies I wrote some more, and I very quickly signed my first publishing contract.
My life once again had purpose and it was wonderful that this journey not only reminds me of a very special time in my life but also makes me feel very close to my children while I continue to create stories.
Children from all over the world love to read Jacqui’s stories!
My storytelling talent I accredit to my father and my inspiration for each and every story to my children. An added bonus of this line of work is that it connects me to children in general and I’m a firm believer that there is no sound more beautiful than that of a child’s laughter.
Your father was very important to you in this journey. What’s your secret to honoring that relationship?
I choose to publish my stories under my maiden name to honor him. Unfortunately, he passed away before my stories were published but I have no doubt that he is proud and that makes all the difference.
How did you approach publishers?
With no connections in the publishing world, no experience and no idea where to get started I relied solely on Google. I made a very long list of publishers with all their email addresses, wrote a cover letter with some background information about myself and my stories, and then I emailed my submission to every publisher on the list.
In hindsight I should have researched the publishers more thoroughly, as many that were on my list do not publish fiction or children’s books.
For those who are thinking of doing this, I would recommend you look at the kind of books the publisher you are interested in approaching has already produced, that way you can be sure if your work would suit their publishing profile. Most publishers have submission guidelines on their website – be sure to adhere to those guidelines or your work will not be read, let alone considered.
Attending book fairs, where you can meet publishers face to face, is also a good way to get to know the publishing world better.
My advice is: Never give up!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Not every day is a story-writing day. There have been days when I have written two stories in one day and then there are days when nothing flows at all.
Some stories develop slowly and others I struggle to write as fast as the scenes are unfolding in my mind. I often think a story is going to take a certain direction and find it goes in another direction entirely.
Sometimes I feel like I’m reading while I’m writing and by the end of the story, I’m thinking wow, I didn’t see that coming.
Simply put, there’s no typical day for me. What I can say is I consider it a good day when my imagination takes over and a new story is born.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
Having no formal degree or extensive work experience has often made it challenging to get people to take me seriously. Thankfully, a good imagination and a healthy dose of determination have proven that nothing is impossible.
Do you have a funny story to share with us?
I received a telephone call from a mother requesting me to visit her daughter’s class at school. Her daughter had proudly told her teacher that she would be bringing her role model to class. I had been chosen as the young girl’s role model.
Jacqui with Zuhaira, who nominated Jacqui as her role model.
I then found out that the girl had struggled to choose between myself and Roald Dahl. Now, I do believe the fact that Roald Dahl would not have been available to make a class appearance gave me the edge, but nonetheless I found it both entertaining and a huge honor. After all, being grouped with Roald Dahl is not an everyday occurrence. He’s certainly one of my favorite children’s authors!
What’s your personal motto?
Always live with an attitude of gratitude.
What keeps you going when things get tough?
Faith! We all have days when we feel down, but it’s up to you to decide whether you’re going to stay down or pick yourself up and move on. Remember, a setback is an opportunity for a comeback.
So never lose hope. Hope births belief, and if we believe then we can achieve.
How can Tiara Tribers see your work or find you online?
I have a Facebook page they can visit by clicking HERE.
Tiara Tribers can read about me and some reviews of my books via the following links:
And my books are available at many reputable online retailers and directly from the publisher:
Wow, what a wonderful interview and the first one to be featured on Tiara Tribe! Jacqui’s story shows us that her great success comes to down to imagination, teamed with hard work, self-awareness and a kind heart.
Knowing Jacqui personally, I can honestly say that she lives her personal motto. Not only do her written words create the most wonderful worlds in the imaginations of others, but her soft-spoken words calm my soul whenever I have the pleasure of hearing them.
Jacqui, we wish you success in all your future writing projects. I cannot wait to see what you create next. May you go from strength to strength.
And always remember to wear that tiara with pride.