J Bean Palmer author interview: Cape Cod Witch Series

Hi, all, Sher here. See if the following interview helps you get motivated as much as it did me. I received this last month from an author team whose book, Elsbeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties, I’m going to read  as soon as I get settled into my hew house. I love middle grade, and fantasy or SF are my two personal favorites. I hope you consider choosing this book too once you’ve read these authors’ answers to my questions. So you know who’s answering, it’s Annie Palmer, who writes as J. Bean Palmer.

First, what motivates you to keep writing when life gets tough and in this tough market?

We wrote, printed and sold more than 10,000 hardcopy books on Cape Cod, and did a lot of book signings and library and school readings and events. When someone who’s read your book is in front of you, and obviously dying for your next book, and tells you so, it’s not hard to be motivated to keep writing.

Right off the bat, your answer reminded me of the feeling I got when I visited a middle school to get feedback from students. Maybe if I did that again, I’d regain more of the enthusiasm I lost last year. Note to self: Go back to school!

Next up, who most influenced you to write in this genre (one particular author or many)?

William Shakespeare — the master of all the genres and the setter of all bars. But there are dozens of writers who delight and influence me. I think I was most interested in writing magical adventure because I hoped my granddaughter might enjoy it, as I think most young people do.

You’re already a grandma? I can’t seem to get any grandchildren. Maybe I’d better head to the library to find children to read to or–wait–back to school!

Keeping your young audience in mind, are you an outliner or a pantser?

There is an outline of chapters and major scenes. After that, its a free for all.

Okay, that’s way more than I outline. Maybe too much pantsing is why I got discouraged after so many rewrites. All those pieces seem like putting humpty dumpty back together again. If it takes an organized plan to make real progress, I’d better do that.

Also, what is your editing system, a local critique group, online partners, beta readers, pro, etc.?

My husband and I are co-authors. I outline and write the first draft. He reads and we edit and re-write together. It’s great to be able to read aloud everything we write, and we do, many times. When we are totally done, we send to an outside professional editor. When we get it back we edit and re-write and read aloud again. Then we ask first readers to give feedback, including a middle grade school book club for the last book. The books are illustrated, and we like to get feedback on the illustrations from first readers and the students, too, at least. 

I’m impressed, and I’m not easily impressed. Most indie books I read haven’t been through anywhere near as much scrutiny. I almost jump for joy when I find books like yours! It sounds like you could have gone with a trade publisher, assuming you had the patience to wait that long. So what are the top three reasons you decided to publish as an indie? 
We like the complete creative freedom and choice of the indie world. We can choose the illustrator, the look of the book, the quality of production. OK that’s either two or five reasons. Sorry.

However many, they all make good sense. Those reasons along with time helped me decide to self-publish a poem my mom wrote long ago as a picture book for children. That leads me to the last but not least of my questions: What advice do you have for aspiring writers/authors? 

Go for long walks! It clears your head and usually the ideas just start rolling. An hour or more in the woods is the best.
Thanks so much! I purposely held off showing your book that I’m going to read. I wanted to build the suspense. But I bet half of the readers went right to the bottom to see this first. Just like kids do, LOL!

You’ll find more info about the authors and the rest of the series in the links below:

Or you can contact them by email:

Kid Lit Blog Hop

Last of all, apologies for the late post. I forgot to check this morning in the rush to get out the door. It was also my youngest son’s 21st birthday, so I didn’t remember until after the birthday dinner and festivities were over tonight. Since I don’t get to see all four of my sons on one day very often, I’m not too upset that I didn’t post on time. Family is the core of my life, which makes it all the more interesting to find a husband and wife writing team. 

As always, thanks for visiting and please leave a comment. The Palmers would love to hear what you think about their stories and so would I. Then if you have time, scroll back and read my Foul Fowl Deed story and enter an open giveaway or two.

Share A Heart

Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.


  1. Love the cover of this book! Going to share this with my daughter who teaches 6th grade.

    I agree that indie publishing offers authors lots of great choices! It’s a great time to be an author.

    Like that you have middle graders read before publishing. I’ve done the same for both of my books. You get lots of valuable feedback.

  2. Thank you, Sher, for posting and Cheryl for your comment!

    We have worked with the same illustrator for all three of the ElsBeth Cape Cod Witch books, for the cover and internal illustrations, and it has become more and more fun as a team.

    Your books look fantastic, Cheryl, and congratulations on your awards!!

  3. Love the partnership that went into this book. And i agree, the cover is intriguing.
    thanks for joining us on Kidlit Bloghop!
    -Reshama @ Stackingbooks

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