Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Crystal Kite Winner Profiles: SCBWI MidSouth's Sharon Cameron (for "The Dark Unwinding")

The winner of the 2013 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for the Mid-South Division (Kansas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri) is Sharon Cameron for "The Dark Unwinding" (Scholastic.)

2013 Crystal Kite Winner Sharon Cameron!

I contacted Sharon to find out more...

Lee:  Please tell us about your book!

Sharon:  The Dark Unwinding is the gothic, steampunk-esque tale of seventeen-year-old Katharine Tulman, sent to her uncle’s remote estate to have him committed to a lunatic asylum. But instead of a lunatic she discovers a childlike, genius inventor, the creator of a fantastical world where science seems like magic and machines have a life of their own. She also finds a brooding apprentice, a dwindling family fortune, and the hundreds of poverty-stricken families it is being used to support. But there is more to Uncle Tulman's bizarre creations than anyone knows, and Katharine has thirty days to choose between his ticking world of clockwork and her one and only chance at freedom. And that’s when Katharine starts seeing things that aren’t really there.

Lee:  Great pitch!  How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you've gained by being a member?

Sharon:  Absolutely! I joined SCBWI in 2005, just a couple of months after I had this crazy idea to write a novel. Through the local and national conferences I found my amazing critique group (together for eight years now), learned the business and the craft, and became a part of “The Tribe.” I've helped coordinate the last six SCBWI Midsouth conferences. In 2009 I won the Sue Alexander Award from SCBWI, and as a result was offered a publishing contract for The Dark Unwinding (2012) and its sequel A Spark Unseen (2013) from Scholastic Press. And now, of course, the Crystal Kite! Joining SCBWI was the single choice that most affected my journey into publishing, not just because of all of the above, but because through SCBWI I learned very early that I wasn’t pursuing a hobby; I was pursuing a career. And that made all the difference, I think.

Lee:  Do you have any advice to share with other children's book writers and illustrators?

Sharon:  One of the things being a published author has taught me is how hard it is to give advice! We are all on such an individual journey. But I think one lesson that is so important to learn (and that I’m still learning!) is how to write from what is uniquely you, while at the same time writing for a market. These things seem like such polar opposites sometimes, but there is always a way to do it. Stretch, experiment with being uncomfortable, and find that narrow road where you can write what you love for the readers who will read it.

Thanks, Sharon!

I also connected with SCBWI Midsouth's Regional Advisor Kristin Tubb to learn more about their region.  Here's what she wrote:
I know I’m biased, but the Midsouth region (which includes TN and KY) of SCBWI is special. We have a fabulous, very affordable fall conference in Nashville every year. We’ve recently started an annual writing/revising retreat in Kentucky in the spring. We have workshops and free schmoozes and PAL events for our many publishing superstars. We are a true tribe. And where we excel? Our volunteers.

Sharon Cameron is one of those volunteers every RA dreams of: she’s organized, thorough, hard-working, and she loves SCBWI. She works year-round on the fall conference as one of the principal committee members, primarily in charge of scheduling logistics. She asks hard questions, provides thoughtful responses, and, well, the girl can WRITE. So when the 2013 Crystal Kite was awarded to Sharon for THE DARK UNWINDING, you might have heard the collective huzzah from the Midsouth!

The Crystal Kite isn’t the first nod that SCBWI has given to Sharon and THE DARK UNWINDING. In 2009, Sharon and her main character Katharine Tulman won the Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award for the story, which was then titled STRANWYNE KEEP. It is a lush, sweeping, mysterious tale, and the Midsouth is delighted that Sharon’s beautiful story has been honored again with the Crystal Kite. We are so thrilled for you, Sharon, and we are your #1 fans!

Find out more about Sharon at her website here.

And you can learn more about SCBWI Midsouth at their website.

Thanks to Sharon and Kristin, and cheers for Sharon winning the 2013 Crystal Kite Award for "The Dark Unwinding!"

Illustrate and Write On,

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