THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Not So Scary Jerry by Shelley Kinder

When I started this new blog post series, I did it with the idea of sharing the WHY I created my stories, but then I thought…why not share OTHER authors STORY BEHIND “THEIR” STORY? I put the call out and soon I had tons of authors who wanted to share their backstories with my readers. This week my friend and children’s book author, Shelley Kinder, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “NOT SO SCARY JERRY”. Take it away, Shelley…

When I was young, I dreamed of having a children’s book published, but my fire for writing didn’t come to life until I started having children. As I sat and read to them, I began to have a deep love for picture books. I knew I had to write one. I dabbled in writing here and there, learned some things online, and took a local writing class. In 2015, I discovered Susanna Hill’s Halloweensie writing contest. I ended up getting first place with a T-Rex rhyming story called A Meaty Trick-or-Treat. I was elated!

I knew I had to keep writing, and I couldn’t get this one idea out of my mind – a monster who wants to be scary, but it’s not in his nature. So, one winter night, while my family slept, I sat on the floor of my boys’ room (because the downstairs was cold, and I didn’t want wake my husband by working in our room) and handwrote the first draft of Not So Scary Jerry. Much editing happened in the months after that, and in 2016, I submitted the story to Clear Fork Publishing. They loved the story, and it was published in September of 2017.

To be honest, I think I didn’t fully realize the depth of my story until after it was written. I was just writing from my heart and trying to create a fun story that kids would enjoy, but in the end, I had created loveable characters and a message of self-acceptance and unconditional friendship. My illustrator, Caryn Schafer, added an adorable pug to the story, which really helped to pull it all together. Caryn and I had connected on Twitter after Clear Fork asked me for illustrator suggestions. I think it was an exciting time for Caryn, as well, since it was also her first picture book. Both of us love the color green, so making Jerry green just felt right. And I absolutely love that she gave him a pink watch!

Here is the book blurb for “Not So Scary Jerry”:

“Monsters don’t hug. Or do they? With a little coaching, can a friendly monster learn to be mean and scary? Through fun and quirky dialogue, Boy and Monster discover a lot about each other, but perhaps even more about oneself. A delicious story of friendship and self-acceptance with hilarious twists and turns along the way.”

Soon after Not So Scary Jerry was released, I submitted a second manuscript to Clear Fork – The Masterpiece. This one was especially exciting because my mom agreed to illustrate it! It was published in the spring of 2018. The original 50-word version was written for Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words contest in 2016. The book is about God painting the sunrise onto his canvas (the sky) while families make their way to school. The illustrations are breathtaking, and there are hidden paintbrushes on each spread.  

My third book, God and Me at the Sea, comes out this May from Kregel Publications. This is the first book deal I’ve gotten while working with an agent, and I’m incredibly grateful to Keely Boeving for negotiating the deal. She has been amazing to work with.


Shelley lives in Indiana with her husband and four kids. Besides writing, she enjoys family time, dabbling in art projects, 70-degree days, and sushi. Shelley has written three picture books: Not So Scary Jerry (Clear Fork, 2017), The Masterpiece (Clear Fork, 2018), and God and Me at the Sea (Kregel, May 2022). Her books can be found at:

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