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Jennifer Judd, photo courtesy of Rebecca Horne.

When Jennifer Judd was 5 years old, she would write little rhymes on scraps of paper, with her mom keeping every one of them. You could say Judd was destined to become a writer, as she does have it in her blood.

“I come from a family of storytellers,” Judd said. “I grew up in Kentucky, where my roots are pretty deep. The stories of my ancestors there were always larger than life, much like folktales, and we retold them again and again.  I have two younger brothers who, oddly enough, are both writers as well.”

The first rhymes Judd wrote were ironically about Halloween and trains. She would daydream in class at school, writing in the margins of her papers and notes. These rhymes would often be little couplets, quotes or rambling thoughts.

Judd currently has one children’s book out, “Eyeball in my Garden”, a compilement of 44 poems written by 14 different poets.

“Eyeball came about in an interesting way,” Judd said. “The idea for the book came when I was in an online poetry critique group a few years ago, the Poet's Garage, which is still a vibrant children's poetry community.”

“The founder of the group, Bill Peery, had entertained the idea of all of us doing a collection together before, but it just so happened that several of us posted Halloween poems around the same time frame, and mentioned that it would be fun to do a spooky-themed anthology.”

An anthology is a published collection of poems or other pieces of writing chosen by a compiler, binded together and put in a book.

“The stars aligned, I would say, because we had great energy among all of us and came up with nearly 50 poems covering about any spooky creature or theme you could imagine,” Judd said.

Laura Wynkoop, Judd’s critique partner, and Judd ended up serving as the editors for this project. They gathered the poems, critiqued them and edited them with each individual writer, and then went through the submission process to find a publisher.  

“It was very much a team effort, and a lot of corresponding through email for many hours, as all the contributors lived around the country,” Judd said. “The payoff though was getting the acceptance letter from Marshall Cavendish Books for Children (now Two Lions Publishing).”

“We've all been proud of the book's success, and it has served as a springboard to other authors' future individual publications, including my own.”

Judd has a family of her own, consisting of her husband, two sons and three daughters. They are all very supportive of her writing.

“My kids are great for brainstorming ideas and my husband is a good, unbiased critic of drafts. I know I have something good when he really likes it,” Judd said.

Judd’s children are also writers.

“The most gratifying way that my kids support my writing is by writing themselves,” Judd said. “The best feeling comes when my daughters come to ask me to read one of their poems. They are great writers.”

Judd’s son Ethan, a junior at Coppell High School, has definitely felt an impact on his writing because of his mom.

“Having a mom who’s a writer has its obvious perks,” Ethan said. “I can always rely on her to edit and critique my writing honestly whether it is for school or for fun. I have definitely become a better writer because of her sharing her skills with me.”

Allie Judd, a sophomore at CHS, has also felt inspiration from her mom's writing.

"I grew up writing poetry," Allie said. "My mom has always emphasized the importance of reading, so I will read what she reads. The way my mom writes, is the way that I write."

Some of Judd’s favorite writers include children's poets Joyce Sidman, Karma Wilson, and Douglas Florian.  

“Sidman's poetry is so visual and lyrical, I am in love with her poems each time I read them,” Judd said. “Wilson and Florian both have a gift for rhyme and rhythm, and I love the quirkiness of Florian's poems.

Judd is widely known across the community. She has had the opportunity to give presentations and workshops on poetry to several elementary schools over the past few years.

“Each year Wilson Elementary holds the 3rd Grade Spooky Poetry Slam at Barnes and Noble, where the kids participate in a short workshop with me at the beginning of October, then write and perform their spooky poems at the store during the last week of October,” Judd said. “It is so much fun, I am always impressed by their poems.”

Not only has Judd worked with the children of the community, but also the teens. She has come to CHS to talk to the creative writing classes about the career of a writer.

“The kids really enjoyed hearing from her because they got to talk to someone who is successful at what they do, who has overcome the rejection of publishers and flourished,” creative writing teacher Matthew Bowden said. “As student writers, young writers, growing writers, hearing from her gave them hope for a future career.”

Judd’s impact on the community has in turn impacted her.

“I can say that I personally have been positively impacted by the generosity of educators and the enthusiasm of students through these events,” Judd said. “Coppell's Gifted Association  has made possible an upcoming creative writing workshop for interested 3rd-5th graders.”

Two other local authors, Ellie James and Kim Still Smith, will join Judd in conducting the workshop.

“We are all very excited,” Judd said. “We have some talented, budding writers in Coppell and a wonderful, supportive community that encourages a love of literature and writing.”

One great accomplishment Judd has experienced is seeing children read her poems, sparking an interest in wanting to write their own.  

“Knowing that something you've written is making someone else happy (especially a young someone) or is expanding someone's imagination is by far the greatest gift from publishing,” Judd said.

Judd hopes that children continue to find joy in the magic of rhythm and rhyme as well as producing more publications in the future to be part of that.

“I have a few picture books I have been working on for the past year, and I am focusing on finding an agent for representation in the future,” Judd said. “I still write and sell poems to children's magazines, and hope to have more publications in the future.”

As of March 2015, Judd will have published and produced “Circus Train”, a rhyming picture book geared toward young readers (ages 3-7).

“Circus Train essentially captures the sights and sounds of the day at the circus,” Judd said. “It is full of colorful imagery (the illustrator did an amazing job) and short, lyrical rhymes so it really is a more musical, whimsical, visual book.”

“It has a nostalgic feel to it, as in a day gone by when a traveling circus would pull into town and transform a community into a wonderful fantasy world for a day.”

Judd’s advice to aspiring writers is to read often and a lot, set deadlines for writing and to love writing for writing's sake, rather than publishing's sake.

“The publication part of it can be challenging and discouraging, slow and sometimes filled with rejections (I have had far more rejections than I have had acceptances), but if the love of writing is in your bones, then don't give up,” Judd said. “Write, write, write!”

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