Children's author Shari Lyle-Soffe lives in the woods in Southern Oregon and
has been writing since 1998. A member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), her work has appeared in publications such as Children's Playmate, Babybug, Ladybug, Highlights for Children, Schooldays, and many others. She's the author of The Misadventures of Rooter and Snuffle, On the Go With Rooter and Snuffle, and Trouble Finds Rooter and Snuffle, all of these picture books published by Guardian Angel Publishing. A lover and supporter of nature and animals, Shari will donate $1.00 for each Rooter and Snuffle book on CD purchased, to Wildlife Images, a wildlife rehabilitation and education center in Grant’s Pass, Oregon.
Do you consider yourself to be a born writer?
That is difficult to answer. I have always used writing to express my deepest feelings, privately. Slowly that private writing developed into writing fiction, puzzles, poems, and craft instructions and trying to get them published. After publication in numerous children’s magazines, I decided to concentrate on my first love, children’s books.
Tell us about your recent release. What was your inspiration for it?
My three books in the Rooter & Snuffle series have just come out in paperback. They are available on CD and in electronic formats so I am thrilled. It is a series inspired by two raccoon visitors to our back porch when I was a child living in the redwoods. Rooter and Snuffle are brothers who are growing up with the same problems children everywhere are experiencing, problems of responsibility, friendship, stealing, sharing and more. They interact with many other forest animals, each with their own special quirks.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If yes, how did you ‘cure’ it?
Definitely! I struggle with self-confidence, and although I can accept rejections and having my work critiqued, I find it difficult to handle negative attacks on my abilities. I’m a Christian, so when this happens I take comfort in scripture and from good writing friends.
I don’t think anyone is immune from writer’s block, but when that happens I have tried moving my desk, writing prompts, talking to others, walking, and even walking away from it all. I also take breaks to read cozy mysteries to take my mind off of children’s writing temporarily. I recommend trying ‘everything’ until something works. And if that doesn’t work, I try doing nothing.
Some writers go on long walks, others keep a journal, write at a café, or listen to music. What do you do for inspiration and unleashing your creativity?
Walking is good if the weather is nice. Generally I am inspired and renewed by nature. I like to sit outside and breathe the fresh air (I live in the country). It doesn’t matter if I’m in the woods or at the beach, it is all inspiring to me. We spend time on the Oregon coast each summer and I always come home newly inspired. Inside in the winter is more difficult. I recently received a laptop and look forward to sitting outside to write in nice weather.
I also think about events in my childhood and in the lives of my grandchildren. I am old enough to have a lot of stored memories. I may not remember what I had for breakfast but I do remember my childhood. Looking at old photo albums may spark an idea.
Describe your working environment.
I have a home office. It is crowded with all sorts of non-writing related junk, including a treadmill. I have many writing related books, lots of computer stuff, and a wall of framed published works. I am not an ego-maniac, I’m just insecure. They are there to remind me that I really can write. Sometimes I forget.
Are you a disciplined writer? What is your working style?
I try to do writing related work everyday, but no, I’m not very disciplined. When I write it just flows. I don’t use outlines or forms to plan my stories, they just happen. Once I have the whole story on paper I rework and rework, and hopefully it gets better and better.
Do you have a Web site/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?
Yes, I do. I have a new character blog with my books, games, ordering information, coloring pages and so much more. I also have a writers page at ShariLyle-Soffe.com with links to other pages. It has interviews, writing tips, my book information, free coloring pages, and news of upcoming events.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a story about a pea vine. I am having trouble deciding if he is a sweet pea vine or an edible pea vine. Yes, I’m serious. The story is about the vines relationship with God. My illustrator is looking at it now. I am waiting for his input before I move forward with it. The title is PEA D. VINE.
Where are your books available?
At Guardian Angel Publishing, and all online and brick & mortar book stores.
What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
Believe in yourself. Learn all you can. Trust your instincts, but don’t be cocky. Never, never give up!
Thanks, Shari, and good luck with your books!