Today I’m excited to welcome author Tonnye Fletcher to my blog. She’s a fellow writer and we have exchanged manuscripts for critiques in the past. Tonnye is an enthusiastic and very supportive member of the writing community and a dear friend who was actually one of the organizers of Santiago’s Dinosaurios Dino Day in Whiteville, NC last year. That was my first ever author event and it was totally perfect! If you want to read more about the event click here.
So, as you can imagine I’m very happy that now Tonnye has come on the blog to talk about her wonderful project PB Jamz.
About PB Jamz:
PBJamz is a multimedia blog series that highlights picture books with musical connections. It features interviews with content creators (authors, illustrators, musicians, and teachers), and also includes lots of resources for classroom teachers and music teachers, as well as tips and prompts for authors. I include a YouTube playlist and a Pinterest board with additional resources for each installment. Every episode also features a fun PBJ recipe as a nod to the inspiration for the blog series: PB (for peanut butter and picture books) Jamz (for jelly and music).
Now on to our interview:
M. Tonnye, what is your main objective with PB Jamz and what’s your favorite thing about it?
T. PBJamz came to me as a creative brainstorm based on the PBJ idea. I had been thinking of a way to give back to the communities I’m a part of: teaching, music, and writing. It brings together three of the things that I love dearly and gives me a chance to share my unique perspective and sets of resources to benefit those communities. I love hearing that folks are learning from or utilizing the resources that I provide, whether it’s the interview, the resources, or the recipe. It makes my heart very happy.
M. I love how you give back to the community through this project!
Can you tell us a bit about the intro song? It’s so upbeat! (Click here for the song.)
T. I wrote the lyrics and created the tune for the PBJamz song when I was at a writing retreat in the NC mountains. I sent it to my musician friend, Annie Lynn and commissioned her to help me add music, finalize and record the song. Annie sang the vocals, and I do the harmonies and back-up vocals. Annie and her husband, Walt, and their sound engineer friend, Chris Arms did all the music and the tech work to bring the songs to life.
M. That’s a lot of work, but sounds really fun!
What has been the most challenging thing about this project?
T. In the beginning, I was on a huge learning curve. I had never done anything like this. That was really challenging. I’ve made mistakes along the way, and learned a lot, and I’m sure there is more to learn. Beyond that initial learning curve, the hardest thing is fitting it all in amidst everything else that I’m doing. The scheduling, the interviews, the collecting resources, and then putting it all together on the episode is time-consuming. I’m thankful for the grace and forgiveness of those who have been affected when I’ve gotten caught in a time crunch or totally dropped the ball. Even though that’s challenging, it’s always time well-spent!
M. Can you share what has been the most rewarding part of PB Jamz?
T. I had a heavy PBJamz interview week recently, and my dad asked me, “Aren’t you sorry you ever started that?” And my answer is a resounding “No!” I enjoy every bit of what I do with PBJamz! I learn and grow as a teacher, a writer, and a musician from the guests I host and the books I feature. Oftentimes I use the lessons I create in my own classroom. In fact, this year, my whole curriculum is based off my work on PBJamz. I’m using all the PB biographies I’ve featured on the show to do a year of “Musical Superheroes”: Mister Rogers, Dolly Parton, Rosetta Tharpe, Julie Andrews, Favio Chavez, Isaac Stern, and more.
My favorite thing is hearing that something was valuable to someone: a recipe they loved, a lesson they taught, a book they adore that they might not have discovered on their own, a writing tip that inspired them, part of the interview that made them laugh. That is the best! I also really value the people I’ve gotten to know. Some of them have developed into really beautiful friendships that are very precious to me.
M. It really shows that you love what you do. What’s the process if an author wants to participate in PB Jamz?
T. I’m always on the lookout for musical picture books. I keep my eyes open for books that fit the bill. Often, I contact an author when I see they have a suitable book. Sometimes friends put me in touch with someone, and other times, authors contact me about PBJamz. Either way, I send them an email with a link for them to see the end results and make sure they’re interested. Also in the email, I lay out what I will need from them: a zoom interview, a PDF arc of the book, whatever they’d like to offer as a giveaway, and 3-5 writing tips for authors. From there, we set up a time to chat via zoom and a time to post their episode (often correlating with their book’s release, or an anniversary, or a special day. . .). I send a zoom link and we chat for 30 minutes – 1 hour. I take the recorded zoom, and put it into iMovie, add in the extras at the beginning and the end, upload the finalized iMovie to YouTube, create the playlists, pull together resources and ideas, craft the writing prompts and all the teacher tips and topics, and put all of that on my PBJamz page. It’s quite a process, but it’s all very enjoyable.
M. What comes next for you Tonnye?
T. I’m so happy to share that I’m working with my super-agent Joyce Sweeney of Seymour Agency to bring my debut picture book, Green Magic, into the world on 2026. This is a non-fiction story about a symphony orchestra shut down by COVID that gave a special concert to an audience of plants. (Click here to read the official announcement).
I have four more years as a K-2 music teacher, and I’m trying to make every day count as I share my love of literacy and music with my students. I love PBJamz and I’m excited to continue to offer it up to my communities. I realize as my writing schedule becomes more harried, I may have to make some adjustments. It will possibly become a once-a-month blog series, but this is a place where I freely share the things I love, and I look forward to lots more PBJamz in my future!
Tonnye, thanks so much for this wonderful conversation. I loved getting to know more about PB Jamz and to hear about your book deal. That’s so exciting! I wish you the best in your writing career and I’ll be looking forward to your books and more PB Jamz.
Tonnye Fletcher is a K-2 music teacher by day and a kidlit author, freelance writer, and literacy nonprofit president the rest of the time. She enjoys reading, writing, music, board games, hanging with family and helping out on the family farm in the fall.
Twitter/X – https://twitter.com/tonnyef
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/tonnyefletcher67/
Thanks for reading!
Cover photo by Hermanion.