Friday, September 24, 2010

Interview Friday with J. Aday Kennedy

J. Aday Kennedy, the differently-abled writer, is a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic making her dreams come true one story at a time. As a speaker, Aday entertains, instructs, motivates and inspires audiences of all ages. 

By focusing on what she CAN do instead of CAN’T, she sets and pursues her goals diligently. She surrounds herself with family friends and positivity in Texas, the friendly state. Her picture books are humorous, reluctant reader friendly and character building. To learn more about her and her writing, visit her website at     

VS: Aday, I want to thank you for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today. It’s a real treat to have you here because you have just debuted your first book and have another on the way. So to start here is the first question, can you share a little about yourself and your family?

Aday: I have three older sisters. They saved the best for last. Me I have no kids of my own, but my sisters blessed me with thirteen nieces and nephews. I live with my mom & adopted father. I’m on a ventilator and can’t live by myself.

VS: I have had the privilege to watch you grow as a writer with Stories for Children Magazine. However, how long have you been writing?

Aday: I only began writing with publication as a goal since 2006. I have taken sixteen writing courses since then, and write and read every day. I’ve written poetry, in a journal and stories since I was eight.

VS: So writing has been something you’ve done for a long time. What inspired you to start writing for publication?

Aday: Boredom. I had a stroke 12 years ago and became ventilator dependent and a quadriplegic. I started working when I was ten. I hated doing nothing. I took a class online called Write Your Life  Story, and I have not stopped taking classes or writing since.

VS: I love that you call yourself a differently-abled writer. You have challenges many of us don’t face, so what is a typical writing day like for you?

Aday: Every day I wake up at 7:00 am and have my therapies and get ready for the day. About 11:30 am, I write a checklist and begin completing each task. I work until 11:30pm. Due to my disabilities, I can’t clean house, cook and manage a house.
VS: Trust me when I say you’re not missing much when it comes to cleaning. J Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If yes, how did you ‘cure’ it?

Aday: I write. When I can’t think of anything to write, I’ll write about being stuck. Writing never seems to be a problem. Writing a specific book or project can be the problem. I’ll switch gears and write something completely unrelated. The trick for me is to write something and refuse to give up.

VS: I love that. I have to say, I’ve never tried writing about being stuck before. I’ll have to try this trick next time. Aday, what was the first thing you ever had published?

Aday: The first thing I had published was a true story about my adopted father. The title was “The Ribbon from His Hair” in Wild Violet He’s been the subject of a lot of my published work. He adopted me when I was 21.

VS: That is wonderful news and a different story to tell since you were much older when it happened. I’ll have to check our book out. I love true stories. Talking about books, can you share with us a little about your current book?

Aday: Like me, Klutzy Kantor, the riddle-solving, klutzy Pegasus, is not afraid of facing adversity. He flies to a rainbow and challenges a tricky leprechaun to a mental duel.  If he solves Cobbledom Leprechaun’s riddle, the leprechaun will end Kantor’s klutzy ways. Klutzy Kantor uses his mental muscles to seek a solution to his clumsiness problem.

I also have another book, which just came out called, Marta Gargantuan Wings. The book is for reluctant readers who will devour the humorous and thought provoking tale. A Pegasus that resembles a mule, a witty monkey that defends him and a hateful bird teach children looks aren’t important. What makes someone appear strange or different could be what makes them able to save the day.

VS: Both your books sound amazing and very motivating for young readers. I love that they teach a simple truth. We are all special not matter what. Okay, so what is the best writing advice you ever received?

Aday: Write every day and read.

VS: Simple . . . but very true. Aday, do you find it hard to balance your personal writing time with your other job(s)? I know you do public speaking and few other things.

Aday: In a way, I’m lucky, because very few things interrupt my writing. Other than my incredibly monotonous morning routine, nothing inhibits my writing time.

VS: I wish I could say the same thing about my writing. However, I wouldn’t trade my kids for anything. Okay, so I really love your book Klutzy Kantor and so I’m wondering, do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

Aday: I’m working on the final edits of my middle grade reader. Here’s a little snippet: Patty asked her father for gum. The accident that happened when he looked down killed him and paralyzed Patty. Patty wrestles with feelings of guilt and life as a paraplegic.
Then I have three picture books in various stages of development and a memoir about my stroke and rehabilitation. When I’m not writing . . . I’m working on marketing.

VS: Your future books sound interesting. Okay, something totally different. Aday, can you tell us about your writing space?

Aday: I have this desk/table that rolls over my bed and allows me to work no matter if I’m in my wheelchair or bed. My inspirational slogans and goals are attached to the sides of my monitor and keep me positive and focused.

VS: I think I remember you once telling me about how you attach stuff to the sides of your monitor. I think that is a great idea to keep you focused on your goals, which brings me to my next question. The world of children’s book publishing is extremely competitive, with many authors hesitating between trying their luck with a traditional publisher or self publishing. What advice would you offer writers who are oscillating between these two publishing venues?

Aday: If you are not willing or able to market your book and yourself . . . then your book won’t reach the masses. Unless you’re with a traditional publisher, it’s all in your hands.

I’m with a small press and learning the ropes. Marketing is a big job. Your work doesn’t end with the writing and publication of your book not matter if you self publish or go with a traditional publisher.

VS: So true about how you have to market yourself and your book no matter what. I think  a lot of people think a traditional publisher will do all the work and at one time that was the case, but not anymore. Okay, Aday, what would we be surprised to learn about you?

Aday: I’m still self conscious about my appearance. I fight the temptation to hide from the world and become a hermit.

VS: That does surprise me because you always seem so outgoing. You’re a great at marketing then because you push through those feeling and get yourself out there. Another question for you on publishing, how do you see the future of book publishing, both traditional, electronic, and print on demand?

Aday: I think eBooks and POD are the wave of the future. I don’t think printed books will ever disappear, but I think eBooks will be the prevalent form books take.

VS: I think you’re right about that. I love having eBooks to take on trips, but I still like to curl up with my hard cover book at night in bed. J Aday, thank you for taking the time to share with my readers about being a differently-abled writing mama and wonderful author.

To learn more about J. Aday Kenney or to follow her visit her websites at: You can sign up for FREE eBooks.

For marketing tips, book reviews and author interviews

Klutzy Kantor Character Blog


Tomorrow come back for reviews on J. Aday Kenney’s books!


  1. This is a great interview and very inspiring for writers. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jessica is an inspiration to us all, not to mention her talent as a writer. Whenever I feel like grouching about my problems, I think of her, and smile instead. Great interview!!

    Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

  3. Wonderful interview J. Aday. I love your motivation and enthusiasm. The world needs you.

  4. Great interview, thank you!

    I also enjoyed the ribbons story!

  5. J. Aday is a good writer and an inspiring person.