Kerry Sparks

MG & YA Contemporary & Historical

Sunny Sweet series
Bloomsbury, 2013, 14, 15, 16. (MG Contemporary series, humor)

Scar: A Revolutionary War Tale
Calkins Creek, 2016. (MG Historical fiction)

J. Albert Mann is the author of five novels for children and young adults. Jennifer’s short stories have been published by Highlights for Children, where she won the Highlights for Children 2007 Fiction Contest. Her next novel–a biographical historical fiction about Margaret Sanger–will be published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon & Schuster. Jennifer has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Art.

I have one of the long and convoluted paths to publication. Working full-time with young children in an entirely different profession, it took me quite a while to finish my first novel, and then even longer to see anything I’d written published. Even once I was agented, the submission process remained brutal, and my first novel did not sell. Neither did my second. The third time out, I sold. We work in a wonderful industry, but not one for the faint of heart.

I’ve mentored once previously, and remain close with my fabulous mentee (who is an inch away from publication – as she should be because her writing is amazing). I’m a graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults where I also earned the Picture Book Intensive certificate. I’ve published five novels: a middle grade series and a stand-alone work of historical fiction. And I have a two-book deal with Simon & Schuster for my sixth and seventh.

In a nutshell, I want to help. I’m ready to listen, read, edit, or advocate.

The kidlit industry and community is one of my favorite places on earth. I feel challenged, inspired, and a true sense of belonging within it. However, it’s not all cheese doodles and grape juice. There’s a lot of heartache. It took me some time to learn how to balance my joy in writing and in the writing community with the rejection and jealousy which is a natural part of our industry. I’m still learning. And I’d love to be of help to others along this path.

  • Contemporary
  • Historical
  • #ownvoices

I hate nothing!


  • Whatever my mentee wishes

Every writer is in a different location and has different needs. I plan on having a long phone/Skype conversation with my mentee and discussing what they believe their needs are. We will work from there. I can be big-picture editorial, focused on career decisions, or into the weeds with a manuscript. *I was born with a spinal disorder, and love to read novels which feature characters with disabilities.

Someone who’s been beat up a bit but still willing to take another hit.

Vignette, non-linear narratives, novels in verse, alternative structures

I don’t hate anything, but don’t have deep knowledge of science fiction or fantasy.

I’ll also read/watch anything “period,” I don’t care how cruddy the acting or writing (not totally true, but almost totally true). My favorite time period is the 19th century. Although, truly, I read and love widely.

Some of my favorite reads are: YA – Alvarez’s How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Na’s A Step from Heaven, Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Brockenbrough’s The Game of Love and Death, Crowder’s Audacity, and Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street. MG – Appelt’s The Underneath, Atkins’s Finding Wonders, Cumyn’s The Secret Life of Owen Skye. PB – Danticat’s Mama’s Nightingale, Aston’s An Egg is Quiet, Bunting’s Yard Sale, and Bagley’s Boats for Papa.