SELLING HOPE won the Crystal Kite Award for the Kansas/Louisiana/
Arkansas/Tennessee/Kentucky/Missouri region. To learn more about today's winning author, visit her website, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.
Please tell my readers a little about your winning book.
It’s May 1910, and Halley’s Comet is due to pass thru the Earth’s atmosphere. And thirteen-year-old Hope McDaniels and her father are due to pass through their hometown of Chicago with their ragtag vaudeville troupe. Hope wants out of vaudeville, and longs for a “normal” life--or as normal as life can be without her mother, who died five years before. Hope sees an opportunity: She invents “anti-comet” pills to sell to the working-class customers desperate for protection. Soon, she’s joined by a fellow troupe member, young Buster Keaton, and the two of them start to make good money. And just when Hope thinks she has all the answers, she has to decide: What is family? Where is home?
How does it feel to receive an award voted on by your peers? What does this award mean to you?
When I tell my husband that my characters are acting impossible and just won't do what I want them to do, darnit, he looks at me like I might need to be medicated. (Sympathetic, yes, but nervously so.) When I call my dentist's office and apologize for missing my appointment because I was on deadline, the woman on the other end of the line says through gritted teeth, "When CAN you make it in?" When I tell my mom that I just wrote 100 good, possibly even keepable words, she nods, but her eyes betray her. (Only 100?!) When I tell a writer any of these things, they hand over the chocolate.
This award is special because writers understand exactly what goes into a story. Not just words, ideas, characters. Dreams and smiles and tears and frustration and hope go in, too. Having friends and peers--people whose work I love and admire--tell you that they liked your story is a compliment like none other.
How long have you been a member of SCBWI? How has your SCBWI membership been helpful to your career?
I’ve been a member of SCBWI since 2002. The Midsouth conference is my home one weekend every September (I haven’t missed one since I joined, knock wood!). I now volunteer by coordinating critique group sessions and by helping organize a book basket drive. (It’s called a “basket,” but it’s more like a carload. Last year, under the guidance of Patricia Wiles, Midsouth members donated over 570 books for Adolescent Day Treatment School and special education classes at West Broadway Elementary School in Madisonville, KY. See a photo here. All those books, now in the hands of readers!). I’ve also coordinated a Novel Revision Workshop with the fantastic Darcy Pattison, have manned the SCBWI booth at the Southern Festival of Books, and have spoken at an Historical Fiction Workshop. I encourage every member of SCBWI to find some way to get involved. It’s fun!
SCBWI has literally changed the course of my life. SELLING HOPE sold to Liz Szabla at Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan after she critiqued it at the 2008 Writer’s Intensive at the New York conference. Too, I contracted with my agent, Josh Adams of Adams Literary, after hearing his wife Tracey speak at that same conference. And my first middle-grade novel, Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different, sold to Wendy Loggia at Delacorte after I had the chance to meet her at an SCBWI conference in Nashville in 2006. I am forever grateful to the staff and volunteers who work so hard at making writer's dreams come true.
I don't mean to gush, but, well--yes I do! SCBWI has been the most meaningful association I've ever had the honor to join, and I've made friends for life through this society.
Do you have an upcoming book you'd like me to mention?
My next book, THE 13th SIGN, will be released from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan in Fall of 2012. A sneak peek is available on my blog.