Three Times A Charm with Terry Cook

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love meeting new authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the children’s publishing industry and sharing their careers with my readers.

Today’s guest is author, Terry Cook. Terry can you tell us a little about you, please?

I grew up in Omaha, NE in an Irish Catholic neighborhood where I never had to be afraid someone would try to abduct me or any of my friends. I had a no frills education by today’s standards (graphic design, shop, jazz ensemble) but could read, write and compute admirably well. If I was in trouble at school, I was in trouble at home. So I learned to keep my mouth shut and not complain about my teacher. My mother did not want to hear it. My job was to go to school and learn as much as I could, plain and simple. She had been denied the opportunity to go to college and she made sure everyone of her children went so that we could have real futures.

I was an educator for almost 30 years, which was a bit of a surprise since when I went off to college I hadn’t a clue what to do. I volunteered for mentally challenged adult groups and fell in love with the process of helping others to learn. I guess I was pretty good at it because I was a Teacher of the Year, Middle School teacher of the Year, County teacher of the Year, a Disney Teacheriffic recipient and was recognized by USA-Today, Gannett Publishing as one of the top 25 educators in 2000.

Which brings me to books. Writing picture books for children seems a natural extension of teaching. I know what children like to read and look at and so crafting them, although not easy, is a pleasure and a joy. I thought a lot about what I wanted to do after I was done teaching and started planning for it before I retired. I wanted to prevent what happened to so many of my colleagues after they quit work. They were lost, without purpose and bored to spit. This has been a great 2nd career.

Can you tell us about your books?

Book cover for her upcoming release
So far, I have two picture books, “A Moose at the Bus Stop” and “Emma McKenna’s Ice Cream Dilemma,” both published by Guardian Angel Publishing, out of St. Louis, MO. I am currently illustrating a book for Scholastic, which is due out in 2015.   On the final page of my books I list my website where a teacher, parent, etc can go to download reinforcement materials for the story in order to enhance the child’s skills: alphabetizing, comprehension, inference, word finds, etc. These are all free. I do it because when I was teaching before I could put out a new book I had to create the dittos to go with the book. It was time-consuming. I feel that if someone buys the book then I can provide the materials as a “thank you.”

Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.

         Top 3 skills to hone for people just starting in your business.

1.  Sharpen up your work ethic and be persistent
2.  Believe strongly in yourself and your abilities.  If you do not exude confidence you can’t sell meat to a starving dog.
3.  Be willing to educate yourself on the publishing/illustration industry.  Buy a subscription and read it cover to cover. Understand the trends, styles and names of the people in the market itself.

         Top 3 pieces of advice for kids these days.

1.  Get a truly useful degree or real world skill. A degree in Family and Social Integrative Sciences doesn’t tell me a thing. The first thing I’ll ask you in the interview is, “But what can you do with it?”
2.  Stop whining! and toughen up. It’s true, life is unfair.
3.  Never, ever put anything on a social media site you wouldn’t put on a billboard next to the Santa Monica Freeway in CA.  These things WILL come back to haunt you.

         Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.

1.  Failure means you are about to learn something, keep trying.
2. “ Too many of us are hung up on what we don’t have, or won’t ever have. We spend too much energy being down, when we could use that same energy-if not less of it-doing, or at least trying to do, some of the things we really want to do. “                                                         -Author, Terry McMillan
3. To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.

Now, Readers, Terry wants you to give your top 3 responses to:

1.        Do you feel that cell phones/social media have contributed to the rudeness of   Americans?
2.       I have been told by friends who are college instructors that this current group of young adults does not show much interest in social justice causes, .ie, pollution, poverty, doing volunteer work. Why?
3.       Do you believe that “…everyone can be bought for a price?”

Ooo, those are heavy questions, Terry. I hope we get a good conversation going over those.

Where can our tech savvy readers find you online?

Thanks for charming us on this week’s Three Times A Charm, Terry. Best of luck to you and your books.


GUESTS WELCOME!  I am always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have something related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.


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