Friday, July 16, 2010

Meet Penny and Rio's Creator - Jennifer Swanson

Connecting with fellow writers early on in their careers makes watching their strides into publication that much more exhilarating. Jennifer Swanson’s road to published author is a wonderful testament to perseverance. Come along for this inspiring interview.

DMc: Please share your road to publication and what you envision for Penny and Rio in the future.

JS: As many writers can relate, my road to publication has had many ups and downs. I have had a myriad of rejections, but it's the one acceptance that we all remember. I actually wrote the first two Penny and Rio books while a student with the Institute of Children's Literature. After a long search, I was lucky enough to find a fantastic new small press, Mirror Publishing, whose editor, Neal Wooten, is very knowledgeable about the business and takes pride in putting out an extremely marketable and professional product.

I anticipate the Penny and Rio series to continue on for several more books. I know I have tons of ideas. They have been well-received in the global markets, as the first two books will be released in Thailand this summer and they are currently being distributed in France with Mariposa Press. In addition, I have recently begun marketing them to the homeschool market and have been pleased to get rave reviews. I hope that Penny and Rio will be around to give joy to children and to stimulate their imaginations for a long time to come.

DMc: What has been your most memorable writing experience to date?

JS: My most memorable experience probably has to be when I won the Mom's Choice Award for each book and then the Dove Foundation's Family-Approved Seal. It was a spectacular day. To be validated as an author is probably the dream of every writer. And to be recognized by organizations that represent the interest of family and children, it was just fantastic. I am truly honored to have received them.

DMc: What are your summer plans?

JS: Well, I will be busy this summer. Naturally, I am extremely involved in marketing the release of the third book in the series. Penny and Rio: The Diamond Collar Adventure will be released in July 2010. I am very excited to offer my first contest in conjunction with this release. I will be giving away 3 $50 gift cards to Barnes and Noble.

Details are available on my website

In addition, I am working hard on writing two non-fiction picture books for Capstone Press. I was thrilled to receive this contract to write about science, since that is my other love. Invisible Creatures in Your House and Invisible Creatures in Your Body will be released under Capstone Press' Edge imprint in Fall 2011.

DMc: What has been your most valuable marketing tool to date?

JS: That's a tough one. I did not have a marketing background when I released my first book, so it was a huge learning experience for me. I guess I would have to say the internet. I have learned to use social networking sites, book review bloggers and Blog talk radio to help get the word out about my books. It is a lot of fun to see how fast and how far information can travel. But it is a lot of work, too, as I'm sure you understand Donna.

DMc: A signature request I like to ask every author, illustrator, editor, etc., I interview is for the individual to share with us a tidbit from their lives that the reader will find either humorous or surprising. Jennifer, can you please share one with us?

JS: I would have to say, that if readers aren't aware, Penny and Rio were my real dogs. They were a lot in real life like they are in the books. They were fantastic dogs with much character and energy. Penny was the more adventurous of the two and constantly got herself into many funny situations. As in book #1, Penny and Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting, Penny loved to dig. One time I went outside and looked at my backyard and she had dug 26 holes! Believe me my husband was not happy to have to fill them all. But the funniest part is that she really did dig out a 3-foot tall flower planter and lie in it -- just like in the book. The picture is on my website if you want to see it. It's hilarious.

I guess it's no surprise that I'm a huge dog lover and I support a great dog rescue organization with my proceeds. It's called GREAT Rescue ( and they were the ones that helped us to find Hannah, the main character in the new book. It makes me happy to know that I am helping to find new and forever homes for our furry friends.

Thanks for having me, Donna. It's been great! Happy Writing!!


  1. Fun interview mate.

    Books for Kids - Manuscript critiques

  2. what a great interview. I think the books are wonderful and I can relate to real dogs doing some of the things the characters do. Thanks for sharing.

    Blessings for many more books in the series.

  3. Hi Jennifer! I loved Penny & Rio. I did a tow book reviews for Penny & Rio at the National Writing for Children's Center for Suzanne L. I really look forward to reading your science books when they are released. Great interview!

  4. I love success stories. Congratulations on your books, Jennifer, and on your awards. Best wishes for your future books.

    Nice interview, Donna.

    Have a good weekend, ladies. :)

  5. All of her experiences sound very familiar, especially the learning while doing. Congratulations on your success.

  6. Thanks everyone! Writing is just a lot of fun, isn't it?

    Kristi, would love for you to review the new book. I'll be in touch!


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