|Crystal Kite Winner Lynne Kelly (and a friend)|
I connected with Lynne to find out more...
Lee: Please tell us about your book!
Lynne: Chained is a middle-grade novel about 10-year-old Hastin, who leaves his desert home in Northern India to work at a run-down circus as an elephant keeper to pay off his family's debt. He and the elephant, Nandita, become best friends, and Hastin soon realizes they're not going to be allowed to leave. He protects Nandita from the cruel circus owner and trainer as best he can, while trying to find a way to escape with her and return to their own homes, even though it will mean saying goodbye to one another.
Lee: How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you've gained by being a member?
Lynne: I started going to Houston SCBWI meetings and found a critique group in 2006, shortly after I started writing. I didn't know much about writing or publication, so I couldn't have done this on my own. Without the information I got from the meetings and the feedback from my critique partners, the book would be nothing more than a nice idea for a story on a Word document. I still attend the meetings and conferences and learn new things all the time.
Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children's book writers and illustrators?
Lynne: Yes, read a lot! Reading great books helps us absorb good storytelling skills, and it's good to know what's being published now, too. Also, keep small notebooks with you for when you find that you have a little time during the day to write; you might not be able to carve out huge chunks of time to sit down at the computer, but a few minutes here and there adds up. Find a good critique group and listen to the feedback they give you about your work; you don't have to take every bit of advice they give you, but at least consider it. And if you're hearing the same feedback from multiple people, they're probably on to something. Do your research when it's time to submit to editors and agents--there are plenty of online resources for finding reputable agents and editors appropriate for your work.
I also contacted Vicki Sansum, Regional Advisor for SCBWI Houston, Texas, to learn more about their region and Lynne's win...
There are over 300 members in the Houston chapter. We have monthly meetings with a speaker; topics include writing all types of genres, illustration, how to market a book, social media, etc. We're lucky to have a lot of wonderful volunteers who help organize our events such as our annual conference which has close to 200 attendees. There are also smaller workshops during the year to help our members hone a particular skill such as website-building or novel-revision. Our members range from those who are just starting their writing/illustrating careers to those who are multi-published. Those with years of experience are generous with sharing their knowledge by speaking at our meetings, workshops and through critique groups. We're fortunate to have a vibrant group of talented folks that make up our fabulous chapter.
All of us were thrilled when Lynne Kelly's book, CHAINED, won the Crystal Kite Award for the Texas/Oklahoma region. Lynne is a long-time member of our chapter and is the designated "tweeter" for our group. If you read her blog or follow her on Facebook, you'll immediately get a taste of her wry sense of humor and laugh out loud at her observations of the absurd world around us. She has spoken at our monthly meetings sharing her expertise on social media and inspiring us with her path to publication of her first novel. When not at her day job as a sign language interpreter, Lynne is busy working on her next middle-grade novel which we are eagerly waiting to read!
Find out more about Lynne at her website here.
Learn more about SCBWI Houston, Texas at their site here.
Thanks to Lynne and Vicki, and cheers to Lynne for her Crystal Kite win for "Chained!"
Illustrate and Write On,