Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Children's Authors & Illustrators Contribute to the It Gets Better Campaign

An amazing group of authors and illustrators recently contributed to a video for the It Gets Better Campaign. (Thanks to Lisa Yee's blog for telling me about it). Check it out below and share it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

In the News The Week

Fridays on the SCBWI blog, I share snippets of and links to some of the publishing/media-related news I've read during the last week that I found interesting, helpful, and/or fun. Click titles to get to the full articles.

This week's tidbits include an announcement of a new literary agency, stats on the best times to tweet, J.K. Rowling's Pottermore unveiled, a (possibly controversial or maybe just a little annoying) piece on writing YA, e-book price points, new words added to the OED, and a NY Times magazine feature on Amanda Hocking.

Red Fox Literary Opens for Business (PW)
This week agent Karen Grencik and editor Abigail Samoun officially launched their new venture, Red Fox Literary, an agency representing children’s book authors and illustrators and based out of Shell Beach, Calif. The agency currently represents more than 30 authors and illustrators, including Diane Browning, Adam Gustavson, Ginger Rue, Teri Sloat, and Jan Wahl.

Infographic Reveals The Best Times To Post To Twitter & Facebook (Social Times)
What is the best time to share content on social networks for maximum exposure? Should you post first thing in the morning? During lunch? At the end of the workday when people are getting ready to head home? And how do you account for the fact that you may have potential customers living in different time zones? A new infographic from KISSmetrics answers these questions and more with a new infographic called ‘The Science of Social Timing.’

Pottermore: Interesting But Not a Game Changer (PW)
When J.K. Rowling revealed Thursday that her previously announced Pottermore Web site would be a portal to get additional stories and information about the Harry Potter universe, as well as the sole place to buy heretofore unavailable e-book editions of the Potter titles, the media started churning out stories not only about Rowling’s marketing prowess but how her move might have larger ramifications for the publishing business. But many people who work in publishing think that as interesting as Pottermore is, the endeavor says less about the future of book publishing than about the singular status of a very wealthy author who has the inclination and means to build her own brand.

Ten iPad Apps Based On Classic Children’s Book (eBookNewser)
Kids are growing up reading on iPads today. In hopes that they’ll still read classic books, we’ve made a list of ten iPad books apps based on classic children’s books. This list is not comprehensive. Help us expand it by adding your favorite kids book apps in the comments.

Writing Young-Adult Fiction: It's better than going to the prom. (Slate)
Young-adult books are being sold to an audience that can't vote, yet they're being written by people commonly referred to on the Internet as "the olds." We should know. We're two of them. Both of us have made our living writing. One of us in journalism (Grady) and the other in literary fiction (Katie). But then Katie's publisher pitched her on doing a Y.A. series, mostly because she's somewhat immature and teenager-ish anyway, so why not turn that weakness into a strength?

Come Meet the Author, but Open Your Wallet (NY Times)
Independent bookstores, squeezed by competition from Internet retailers like Amazon, have long done something their online brethren cannot emulate: author events. And now many bookstores say they have no choice but to capitalize on this grand tradition. They are charging admission.

 7 eBook Price Points Defended (GalleyCat)
How much should an eBook cost? To give publishers and authors some guidance, we’ve collected spirited defenses of seven different eBook prices–choose the price that works best for your writing. According to a new and unscientific poll, Nathan Bransford found that 51 percent of his readers thought eBooks should be priced between $5 and $9.99. What is your favorite price point?

Oxford English Dictionary Adds Auto-Complete, Brain Candy & Gender Reassignment (GalleyCat)
The Oxford English Dictionary has revealed 1,840 newly revised and updated words in its online edition.In all, the famous dictionary has added 98,000 revised and new entries since building an online edition in March 2000. The update added entries for everything from crystal methamphetamine to network neutrality.

Storyseller (NYT Mag)
Amanda Hocking, the star of self-publishing, was sitting in the front seat of her Ford Escape earlier this spring when she spotted a messenger delivering flowers to her home in Austin, Minn. She watched her best friend and roommate, Eric Goldman, get the door. “They’re probably from, like, my mom,” she said as she walked up to her porch. “Or my dad. He always sends flowers.” Inside, Goldman had set the assortment of gerbera daisies and roses on the coffee table. “Who are they from?” Hocking asked. “St. Martin’s Press,” Goldman said. “That’s your new publisher.” That morning, Hocking’s deal with St. Martin’s was announced: $2 million for her next four books, a series she’s calling “Watersong.”

Thursday, June 23, 2011

SCWBI TEAM BLOG Pre-Conference Interview: First-Time Attendee Patti Gabrielson

I'm a conference veteran--the 40th Anniversary SCBWI Summer Conference will be something like the 17th one I've attended. I know the lay of land at the Century Plaza. I know how things work. Many of my fellow attendees are my friends.

But many, many years ago, as I prepared for my first conference, I was way nervous. I wouldn't know anyone. I didn't know what to expect. I was sure no one would talk to me and I'd get lost in the hotel. (Thankfully only one of those things came to pass).

If this year's summer conference will be your first, newcomer jitters are to be expected. But to help assuage that newbie nervousness, SCBWI TEAM BLOGger Jolie Stekly will be offering a First-Time Attendee Orientation. And Jolie is already checking in with first-time conference goers to hear about their fears and expectations. Her first first-timer interview is with illustrator Patti Gabrielson. Click here to read the post. 

And if this year's conference will be your first, be sure to attend Jolie's orientation session.

There's still time to registers for the sure-to-be-a-sellout event. Click here to register.

Monday, June 20, 2011

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Pre-Conference Interview: Mary Pope Osborne

Mary Pope Osborne
SCBWI TEAM BLOGger Jolie Stekly offers our latest pre-conference interview with Summer Conference faculty. Her blog Cuppa Jolie features a conversation with Magic Tree House author Mary Pope Osborne (who is of no relation to me, and, as far as I know, Ozzy).

Here's a bit from Jolie's interview. Click here to read the full post.

I raised my hand high for the chance to interview the incomparable Mary Pope Osborne as part of our SCBWI Team Blog Exclusive interviews.

Mary Pope Osborne is the author of one of the most successful children's book series EVER: The Magic Tree House series. The first Magic Tree House book, Dinosaurs Before Dark, came out in 1992. Now both #46 and #47 are available for pre-order and are as popular as ever.

I first knew Mary Pope Osborne as a teacher. For my students, reading a Magic Tree House book meant they had reached a huge milestone. Once they had read one they could declare, "I'm a chapter book reader." So exciting. Although, not all young readers may know Mary Pope Osborne's name, they know her beloved characters: Jack and Annie. And they can rattle off title after title of her popular books. 

It's not too late to register for 40th Anniversary Summer conference and hear Mary Pope Osborne and other luminaries in children's publishing, share their wisdom. Click here for the registration page.

Friday, June 17, 2011

In the News This Week

Fridays on the SCBWI blog, I share snippets of and links to some of the publishing/media-related news I've read during the last week that I found interesting, helpful, and/or fun. Click titles to get to the full articles.

This week's tidbits include news J.K.'s mysterious website, tips for staying offline, a YA author (and SCBWI success story) in Entertainment Weekly, James Joyce on Twitter, thoughts on Apple's cloud, advice for creating a good Twitter bio, 6th graders with iPads and more.

J.K. Rowling's latest trick: the mysterious website Pottermore (LA Times)
J.K. Rowling isn't writing another Harry Potter book--is she? The mysterious website Pottermore, launched Thursday, seems to bear her signature. And the words "Pottermore," "coming soon" and two owls. Wait -- owls are messengers from Hogwarts, aren't they?

The Games We (Don’t) Play: How Authors Stay Offline (ShelfTalker)
If you’re reading this, you’re online — and quite possibly procrastinating. No judgment here; I’m the Internet version of the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie mouse, roaming from one tidbit to the next, from email to Google Maps to Google Earth to some new article about a space discovery to an audio clip of sounds from the stratosphere to the new David Cook single to—whoops, have I said too much?
Why teen-suicide novel 'Thirteen Reasons Why' is saving lives: An interview with Jay Asher (EW's Shelf Life)
Jay Asher‘s YA novel Thirteen Reasons Why, which comes out in paperback tomorrow, has grown into a major phenomenon over the last four years. In this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly we caught up with the author and got the story behind the book that some readers credit with changing—and even saving—their lives. You can read the story below.

James Joyce Fans Tweet Entire 700+ Page Ulysses For 24 Hours, 140 Characters At A Time (AllTwitter)
In perhaps one of the most ambitious literary projects Twitter has seen, 71 fans of the classic “Ulysses” are spending today tweeting out this 700+ page tome in an attempt to bridge old and new media and share this literary staple with the tweeting generation.

Reading in the Cloud (NYR Blog)
Last week, when Apple’s Steve Jobs took to the stage during the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference and grandly announced its new iCloud service, he was putting the Apple logo on something most internet users have relied on eclectically for years. Gmail, Dropbox, Netflix, Hotmail, Flickr, Box.net, and Spotify, to name a few popular services, all rely on cloud computing, where data—documents, music, photos, and movies—are stored on shared servers in large data centers, rather than on your puny, personal hard drive. The benefits of cloud computing are obvious: one is not limited by the size of that drive, nor restricted to viewing that material on a single device. Once it is in “the cloud,” the only thing standing between you and your stuff is a (fast) internet connection.

Private School in Massachusetts Issues iPads to its 6th Grade Students (eBookNewser)
The Cambridge Friends School in Massachusetts has given iPads to both its 6th grade teachers and each of its sixth-grade students. This is an expansion of the pilot program that the teachers, Sandra Rojas and Brooke Chandler, had been running since February.

3 Key Items You Can’t Afford To Leave Out Of Your Twitter Bio  (AllTwitter)
When people sign up for Twitter, the first thing on their mind is usually not their bio. They leave it blank, or hammer out a sentence or two about their love of their two dogs, and move on to the good stuff: tweeting, following, discovering what influence means, learning how to retweet. But if you leave your bio only half finished, you’re not optimizing your Twitter presence. Here are three things you can’t afford to leave out of your Twitter bio if you want to target the right audience, grow your follower count, and network with interesting people.

Best & Worst Book Trailers of the Year (GalleyCat)
A crew of book trailer fans gathered at the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn last night for the second annual Moby Awards. This GalleyCat editor helped judge the annual prizes, celebrating the best and worst book trailers of the year. Follow this link to watch all the finalists. We’ve listed all the winners below…

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Pre-Conference Interviews: Pat Cummings, Marla Frazee and Katie Davis. Plus Early Bird Registration Ends Friday

SCBWI TEAM BLOG continues to offer exclusive interviews with the faculty of the upcoming 40th Annual SCBWI Summer Conference.

BLOGger Jaime Temairik has posted some goodies for all the illustrators out there. First she offers some scoop from Pat Cummings on the amazing Post-Conference Intensive for Illustrators. There are still a few spots--you can register by clicking here.

Here's a bit from Jaime's post. Click here to read it in full.

One thing I love about the SCBWI Int'l Illustrator Committee is that they are always having a ball. Always mixing it up—the Intensive this year is a new format. I asked Pat Cummings about the committee's decision to have seven of the world's best illustrators do live demos for attendees. And here's what the committee said:

Jaime also interviewed the awesome Martha Frazee. Below is a snippet from her post. Click here to read the full interview.

Marla Frazee's class at Portland State's Haystack Conference changed my illustrating life. And I know I'm one of a bunch that can say that about her and her classes. Whether at Haystack, Art Center College of Design, or SCBWI shindigs, if you are lucky enough to get a critique from Marla, you should know you are going to get some terrifically good advice. Advice that will stick with you forever, and most likely move your career to a new level.

BLOGger Lee Wind continues with his terrific video interviews, too. He talked with author/illustrators Katie Davis who's offering a conference Pro-Track session on podcasting. Click here to watch the interview and learn about Katie's session.

And if you haven't registered for the Annual Summer Conference, now is a great time because...EARLY REGISTRATION ENDS FRIDAY, JUNE 17th. After that, the conference tuition rate goes up, so do yourself and your career a favor and click here to register. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

In the News This Week

What's new? How about some news!

Starting today, I'm reviving my In the News This Week feature--so on Fridays on the SCBWI blog, I'll share snippets of and links to some of the publishing/media-related news I've read during the last week that I found interesting, helpful, and/or fun. Click titles to get to the full articles.

This week's tidbits include the controversial Wall Street Journal piece on YA fiction and some reactions to it. Plus iPad algebra (which sounds so much better than Miss Dugle's class), more Borders closing news, advice for Twitter addicts, a Glee star-truned-YA-novelist, some Kindle news, and a fond farewell to the creator of Mad Libs.

Darkness Too Visible (WSJ)
Amy Freeman, a 46-year-old mother of three, stood recently in the young-adult section of her local Barnes & Noble, in Bethesda, Md., feeling thwarted and disheartened. She had popped into the bookstore to pick up a welcome-home gift for her 13-year-old, who had been away. Hundreds of lurid and dramatic covers stood on the racks before her, and there was, she felt, "nothing, not a thing, that I could imagine giving my daughter. It was all vampires and suicide and self-mutilation, this dark, dark stuff." She left the store empty-handed.

Young Adult Fiction Is Not All Doom and Gloom (ShelfTalker)
This weekend the Internet, specifically Twitter and Facebook, have been seriously abuzz about an article in the Wall Street Journal Saturday written by Meghan Cox Gurdon. In the article "Darkness Too Visible," the writer has focused on a few admittedly dark novels and classified the whole genre as bleak and fairly unredemptive. As a bookseller, I was struck immediately by the first two paragraphs:

Are Teen Novels Dark and Depraved—or Saving Lives? (PW)
It’s been an interesting week in the teen-lit world. On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal published a story that said modern YA novels were "rife with depravity" and "so dark that kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things." The piece immediately set off an Internet frenzy. That night, 13 Little Blue Envelopes author Maureen Johnson started the #YAsaves hashtag with this tweet: "Did YA help you? Let the world know how! Tell your story with a #YAsaves tag. And copy the @wsj for good measure." Within hours, #YAsaves got 15,000 responses from regular readers and from such big-name writers as Judy Blume and Neil Gaiman. Bloggers
but also writers at major news outlets such as National Public Radio and New York magazine—weighed in. 

Leonard B. Stern, Creator of Mad Libs, Dies at 88 (NYT)
Leonard B. Stern, an Emmy-winning writer, producer and director for television whose frantic search for an adjective one day led him and a colleague to create Mad Libs, the game that asks players to fill in blanks with designated parts of speech to yield comically ________[adj.] stories, died on Tuesday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 88.
Suzanne Collins Becomes First Children’s Author To Sell 1 Million Kindle eBooks (GalleyCat)
Novelists Lee Child and Suzanne Collins joined the "Kindle Million Club" today, the fifth and sixth authors to sell more than one million eBooks through Amazon.

Citi Analyst: Kindle Will Be 10 Percent Of Amazon Sales In 2012 (TechCrunch)
As books goes digital, Amazon is managing the transition nicely with the Kindle. Amazon now sells more Kindle books than print books, and offers nearly a million ebook titles. In a research note that just went out this morning, citi analyst Mark Mahaney estimates that sales of Kindle devices and digital books will account for 10 percent of Amazon’s revenues in 2012.

New Jersey district plans iPad-only algebra course (eSchoolNews)
New Jersey’s Edison Township School District will be the first in the state to implement an entirely iPad-based Algebra 1 curriculum. The program will pilot the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) Fuse: Algebra 1 application with 60 students this fall, said Richard O’Malley, Edison Township School District’s superintendent.

Borders May Close Up to 51 More Stores to Avoid Defaulting On Latest Loans (Lunch)
As potential bidders emerge for more than 200 of Borders' superstores in a deal the company hopes will close in the next two to four weeks, the retailer may need to close an additional 51 stores and liquidate assets to avoid defaulting on their debtor-in-possession loan in the meantime. According to a motion filed in court Thursday morning, the move may result in worse terms for creditors, since the closed stores would not be available for sale to a bidder--and at least some of them are stores that "buyers have indicated that they also wish to purchase." Though Borders hasn't underscored the human cost of their business failure in the past, now that it serves their ends they also declare the additional closings would result in "a significant loss of jobs."

Are You Addicted To Twitter? Here’s How To Fight It (AllTwitter) 
Shea wrote a fantastic piece about the five stages of "getting" Twitter last week, which included denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. But for some of us, there's another stage that hits us after we've accepted and finally "got" Twitter–obsession. 

Chris Colfer of 'Glee' gets a book deal. Fans get your jazz hands ready. (Shelf Life)
Gleeks, rejoice! Glee star Chris Colfer has just signed a two-book deal with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. The first will be an adventure novel that draws elements from the very, very in-vogue world of classic fairy tales.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Pre-Conference Interviews: Jennifer L. Holm, Lisa Yee, Ellen Hopkins and Emma Dryden

Ahh, summer... Flip flops. Popsicles. Lounging poolside. And of course the SCBWI Annual Summer Conference--which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year! I've taken a
Jennifer Holm
break from said lounging (there's a heat emergency here in the Nati--lounging is required) to clue you in on some terrific interviews with Summer Conference faculty brought to you by the also terrific SCBWI TEAM BLOG.

First, TEAM BLOGger Martha Brockenbrough talked with award-winning author Jennifer L. Holm, who will attend the summer conference to collect the Golden Kite Award for fiction as well as offer a session called It Takes a Family: Writing Historical Fiction Using Family History. Here's a snippet from Jenni's interview. To read the entire interview, click here

If you think of excitement as a candy store (which it is), then you can understand instantly the many flavors of excitement. They're not all created equal. Lemon, for example. It's better than nothing. But still.

When I found out I got to do the pre-SCBWI LA conference with Jenni Holm, I was the very best flavor of excited (salted caramel). (Wait, what? You haven't registered? Do it here! August 5-8. Time of your life. Promise.)

Not only am I in awe of her professionally--three Newbery Honors! Bestselling series! Beautiful, hilarious stories--I have been envious of her personally all year.

Lisa Yee
And today, Martha posted an interview with the always delightful Lisa Yee, who, in addition to being a popular author, witty blogger and friend of Peepy, serves on SCBWI's board of advisors. Lisa is presenting a Monday workshop on Creating Compelling Bad Guys and Bullies. Click here for more info. Below is a bit from Lisa's interview. To read the full interview, click here.

Being in a room during a Lisa Yee presentation is a bit like going to a lighting warehouse. The brightness! The heat! It's a thing to behold. But truly. I've attended a number of breakout sessions with her at L.A. conferences, and I always come away feeling inspired, informed, and newly recharged.

I also adore her books: The Millicent Min universe (with inspired companion titles featuring Emily Ebers,  Stanford Wong, most recently Marley Sandesky, about a boy running away from bullies); the pitch-perfect Bobby books, which are illustrated by the unstoppable Dan Santat; and Absolutely Maybe, her first foray into YA. Lisa even has a couple of American Girl titles.

Lisa is seriously funny, but her stories have heart and depth. It's no wonder she was the second recipient of the Sid Fleischman Award (the dearly departed Sid won the inaugural award, which is given to acknowledge the often-overlooked funny books).

TEAM BLOGger Lee Wind has posted a pair of Summer Conference faculty interviews on his blog, too. Click here to check out his video interviews with Ellen Hopkins and Emma Dryden!

SCBWI TEAM BLOG will be offering as-it-happens coverage of the Summer Conference and we'll continue to bring you pre-conference interviews with the awesome faculty. 

In the meantime, don't forget to register. Just click here. There's still room in some of the fantastic intensives, too!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Crystal Kite Winner Interview Week Three: Brian Lies, BATS AT THE BALLGAME

Our three weeks of Crystal Kite winner interview wraps up with (last but not least) author/illustrator Brian Lies, whose book BATS AT THE BALLGAME received the award for the New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island) region. The learn more about our final winner and his work, visit his website.

And one more big HURRAY for all the Crystal Kite winners!

Please tell my readers a little about your winning book.

BATS AT THE BALLGAME is the third book I've written and illustrated about a group of bats experiencing different human activities with their very different point of view. It began with a bad pun rattling around in my head as I worked on the final illustrations for BATS AT THE LIBRARY: baseball bats. Baseball bats. Baseball bats. I thought it'd be fun to take a look at America's favorite pastime through the eyes of my bats. How would they play the game? Right-side-up? Or upside-down? I started messing around with words and drawings, and the story developed.

One big problem was that I wasn't raised as a baseball fan; my only personal experiences as a boy were a single Mets game at Shea Stadium (during which I was bewildered at the Mets fans booing one of their own players, until I was scornfully told that the fans were yelling "MOOO-kie," for their star, Mookie Wilson), and a season in Little League, which for a kid with no baseball skills was a classic primer in elementary school shame. So I had to do a lot of research for the book--reading writers on the game, watching countless games on tv with a note pad, and attending four live games.

One thing I learned was that baseball fans are sticklers for tiny details. Place the toes of the catcher in the wrong position in an illustration, and you're going to get tons of e-mails from eight-year-old readers telling you that you got the baseball wrong. So it was a real challenge--and so far, I've only had one student in schools I've visited raise a hand to tell me I got a detail wrong. But I consulted some experts after I got home, and it turns out the boy had HIS baseball wrong. Whew.

How does it feel to receive an award voted on by your peers? What does this award mean to you?

Having a book awarded the Crystal Kite, in its inaugural year, is a wonderful honor. There's something different about having peers vote for it; they're familiar with how a book goes together, and may have sharper eyes and ears than readers in general. They're attuned to the craft behind a story, and aren't just influenced by glitz or a fancy PR campaign. The New England region of SCBWI is also jam-packed with talented authors and illustrators, and the idea that some of them felt this book worthy of the award is beyond words. Thank you to anyone who voted for it!

How long have you been a member of SCBWI? How has your SCBWI membership been helpful to your career?

I can't even REMEMBER a time when I wasn't a member of SCBWI! It seems like it's been forever. SCBWI was there with me as I worked on my early books, and when I was learning about how the business of children's books worked. I'm certain it saved me from countless missteps and dead-end roads. Shared experiences--what to do, and what has failed miserably for someone—are invaluable in a business which, at its base, is a very solitary thing.

I've also enjoyed the experience of presenting at several SCBWI conferences--keynoting once at our wonderful New England annual conference, and also speaking at Mid-South and Southern Breeze. I've been helped so much by what I've heard at conferences that if my experiences can help other authors/illustrators, it only feels as though I'm working at paying it back. I hope I'll be able to do this more often in the future!

The newsletters have been a great source of information about what is happening at publishing houses, and a valuable window into other members' personal experiences with crafting children's stories and illustrations. And the conferences I've attended have been great. Not only have I had the chance to network with other children's book creators and with editors, but I've heard inspiring speakers whose talks about their professional experiences and techniques have changed how I think or work. And simply spending several days with other people who are all trying to make writing and illustration work is a very inspiring thing. After an SCBWI conference, I just want to go home and create.

What will we see from you next?

I'm finishing up illustrations for a book called MORE (by I.C. Springman, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012), about a magpie with a hoarding problem. I'm trying some new things with the illustrations, and it's been fun to shake my style up a little bit!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Crystal Kite Winner Interview Week Three: Candy Gourlay, TALL STORY

Our penultimate winner interview is with Candy Gourlay, whose book TALL STORY won the Crystal Kite Award for the UK/Europe region. To learn more about this winning author, visit her blog, follow her in Twitter, or like her on Facebook.

Please tell my readers a little about your winning book.

TALL STORY is about a boy named Bernardo who grows to eight feet tall in a small village in the Philippines where giants are believed to be the cause of frequent earthquakes as well as the means to stop them. When Bernardo suddenly gets a visa to join his mother and half sister Andi in London, the village will do anything to stop him from leaving. Meanwhile, tiny Andi thinks she has big problems--a new school and a country where her favourite sport basketball is nonexistent. Then she meets Bernardo...

How does it feel to receive an award voted on by your peers? What does this award mean to you?

I am so grateful to my fellow SCBWI members--especially because of the sheer quality of the shortlist for Europe's Crystal Kite Award included some amazing writers and friends like Ellen Renner (CASTLE OF SHADOWS) Jane Clarke (GILBERT THE HERO), Bridget Strevens (PETITE ESCARGOT), Theresa Breslin (PRISONER OF THE INQUISITION), Andrea Offerman (THE BONESHAKER) and Pat Walsh (THE CROWFIELD CURSE).

SCBWI has held my hand through the years, giving me encouragement, support and opportunity--from when I was a beginner author through to today. This prize truly makes me realize that I am not alone. Thank you.

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, which was about the time I decided to become serious about trying to get published. I was a fledgling web designer at the time and so I volunteered to help with the website. My involvement branched out to include organizing our yearly conference in November, designing logos and the current SCBWI British Isles website, setting up our own social network on the Ning as well as on Facebook, and thinking up initiatives such as online critique groups, our conference's night-before critique meet, our mass book launch which takes place on the first night of the conference, and most recently, conceptualizing and building the soon-to-launch online magazine which will replace our print newsletter.

It sounds like a lot but SCBWI has given me a lot too. I was one of the winners of the first Undiscovered Voices anthology competition which led to my signing with an agent. And when my book was about to launch in the United States, SCBWI's Tribute Prize bought me a plane ticket to the conference in New York, where I met the American crew of my publisher, Random House.

Now that I'm a busy published author, I've had to resign from being our webmaster...but I've got lots of ideas and continue to contribute to our Steering Committee--always looking for ways to open up opportunities for our members whether they be published or unpublished.

What will we see from you next?

I am currently in the throes of finishing my second novel SHINE which will be published in the United Kingdom in early 2012, then in the United States later in the year.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Crystal Kite Winner Interview Week Three: Bonny Becker, A BEDTIME FOR BEAR

As our Crystal Kite-athon nears its end, today we feature Bonny Becker whose book A BEDTIME FOR BEAR won the Crystal Kite Award for the Washington/
Oregon/Alaska/Idaho/Montana/North Dakota/South Dakota region. To learn more about today's winning author, visit her website or find her on Facebook.

Please tell my readers a little about your winning book.

A BEDTIME FOR BEAR is the third in a series featuring the fastidious, grumpy Bear and his friend, the ever-ebullient Mouse. In BEDTIME, Bear needs quiet, absolute quiet to sleep. But, Mouse is unfortunately not quite as a quiet as a … well, you know what.

How does it feel to receive an award voted on by your peers? What does this award mean to you?

It’s a wonderful feeling. I was truly surprised when I won because there were so many other great books and authors nominated from our area. I feel privileged that so many of my peers read the book and went to the trouble to vote for it. So I’d like to say "thank you!"

How long have you been a member of SCBWI? How has your SCBWI membership been helpful to your career?

I’ve been a member for over 20 years. I attend meetings and conferences and have spoken at a number of events.

SCBWI has been incredibly important in my career. When I first started out I was in awe at being in the same room as published authors. I was so jealous when they showed sample art for their books and complained about their editors and agents. I would have given my eye-teeth to complain about my agent! It offered so much information and support as a beginner and, now, as one of those published authors, it’s a place to connect with friends and fellow writers and for continuing support in this phase of my writing. It’s my number one recommendation to people who say they’d like to write for children.

Do you have an upcoming book you'd like me to mention?

My fourth Mouse and Bear book THE SNIFFLES FOR BEAR comes out this September. Bear has a cold and is, of course, the world’s worst patient. No one has ever been as sick as he. And Mouse is the world’s most annoyingly cheerful nurse.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Crystal Kite Winner Interview Week Three: Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, SELLING HOPE

Our third and final week of winner interviews continues with Kristin O'Donnell Tubb, whose novel 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.