Welcome to SCBWI-MI's Book Birthday Blog!
Where we celebrate new books from Michigan's authors, illustrators and translators.
Congratulations to Jackie Freeman on the release of I'm Okay, Momma!
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
My happiest memories from childhood center around my mother, Joy Price, whose spirit lived up to her name. As she played gospel music on her old upright piano, I would sit beside her on the piano bench and sing the lyrics.
I realized at an early age that my mother’s form of communication was through musical notes, and mine was through words. When she died in 2018, I knew I had to share her gifts with a broader audience.
I wrote a devotional for women to discuss the wisdom imparted by my mother’s gospel songs. Keep a Song in Your Heart: Musical Notes for Daily Devotions has a Spotify playlist for the reader to listen to the music as world-renowned performers perform it. I continued the tribute to my mother in my picture book I'm Okay, Momma!, which is based on episodes I recalled from my girlhood. Written in rhyme, this story celebrates the ways a parent teaches the Fruit of the Spirit, often unconsciously, in quick everyday events.
Kevin Fales illustrated the scenes with simple, colorful, multicultural art that reflects a child’s world at various ages.
I'm Okay, Momma! was inspired by a story my mother shared with me shortly before her death.
One day, Jackie’s Grandma fetched her little granddaughter when school ended. When they stopped to visit a neighbor, the minutes ticked by, and Jackie’s mother grew concerned. She set out searching for her mother and daughter. Where was her little girl?
The five-year-old saw her mother approaching and understood the concern on her face. She opened the neighbor’s screen door and shouted, “I’m Okay, Momma! I'm Okay!”
As the years passed, Jackie forgot this episode. But her mother never did. Shortly before Joy Price died, she reminded Jackie of the memory and told her, “I know you will always be okay, Jackie.”
What is something you hope your readers will take away from your book?
I hope my readers will see the significance of ordinary moments becoming extraordinary teaching opportunities that can impact a child’s life in amazing ways.
The back pages have additional information and questions for an interactive experience. We all benefit when we tell, hear, and write about important moments and people in our lives. I ask the reader to give it a try!
What inspires you to write?
My love of words blossomed during my childhood, thanks to my Grandmother Nettie, whose bookcase held a marvelous collection of stories for a young girl – and then a young woman – to enjoy. Books by Louisa Mae Alcott, Margaret Mitchell, Zane Grey, Mary Jane Holmes, Nancy Drew Mysteries, and others inspired my passion for reading and writing. After a career in early childhood education, I joined writers’ groups to hone my writing skills.
What are your marketing plans for the book?
I’m Okay, Momma! had a book launch team within the faith-based community and the national pickleball community (more on that below), creating a growing audience. Excellent reviews on Amazon and other sites are multiplying, various publications have interviewed me, and I frequently speak to teachers, schools, and parent groups. While I faithfully write a weekly blog and monthly newsletter, I’m also planning a podcast.
I learned a great deal about marketing with my first children’s picture book, Bend Your Knees, Louise! A Pickleball Primer, which was published in 2020. It, too, is written in rhyme. Co-author Karen Worthy and I used the same illustrator, Kevin Fales, who captures everyday moments through a child’s eye. This book quickly became an Amazon bestseller and opened school doors for author visits, where we discuss the writing process and demonstrate pickleball. Karen and I bring paddles, nets, and balls and teach the sport. This book has its own website full of teacher resources, media events, coloring pages, pickleball word search puzzles, and pickleball organizations. https://www.bendyourkneeslouise.com/
We also welcome an invitation to speak with students or adults about the writing process and the sport.
What's next for you?
Of course, I continue marketing both children’s books, but with the New Year came new writing plans that will continue weaving my themes of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control into everyday experiences. I have two projects at the head of my must-do list: another devotional based on the Fruit of the Spirit and a children’s book that will tell the story of a very old and significant place in the lives of many children.
Stay tuned for more information!
A little bit about the book . . .
Jackie Freeman wrote I’m Okay, Momma! as a tribute to her mother, Joy Thomas Price. Based on a childhood memory, the book illustrates how small everyday events teach children huge moral lessons, often at times when busy parents are unaware of their importance.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, the Christian Fruit of the Spirit, are among the lessons taught in everyday events as a child goes through her first five years. Beginning with the scene of a pregnant mother sitting in a nursery, this tale reminds parents and shows children how they are showered with love, care, compassion, discipline, and kindness even before birth. The simple illustrations by Kevin Fales are multicultural and reminiscent of the world a child sees.
A little bit about the author . . .
The mother of three sons, Jackie Freeman lives on sixty rolling acres of farmland in rural Michigan, where she gardens, walks, practices pickleball, writes for the Christian and children’s market, plays with her grandchildren, and cares for a somewhat whimsical donkey and a cuddly and opinionated cat, who is featured in I’m Okay, Momma!, as is Jackie’s mother’s piano. You can connect with this author at: