|Author Varsha Bajaj|
Lee: Please tell us about your Crystal-Kite winning book!
Varsha: "Abby Spencer goes to Bollywood" is the story of thirteen year Abby, who discovers that her absent father is a Bollywood star. Her everyday life in Houston, Texas, is turned upside down when she is invited to India by her father. It is a story of adventure, travel, romance and searching for one’s identity.
Lee: How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you’ve gained by being a member?
Varsha: I joined SCBWI Houston in 2000. In 2001, I sold my first picture book manuscript, "How Many Kisses Do You Want Tonight" (Illustrated by Ivan Bates, LB, 2004). Thanks to Editor’s Day, I had the opportunity to submit a manuscript to an editor from a closed house.
I have honed my craft, made invaluable friendships, learned the ropes and found my tribe, thanks to the many SCBWI conferences and workshops I have attended.
Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children’s book writers and illustrators?
Varsha: The Children’s Literature community can be amazingly supportive and welcoming. SCBWI can be your teacher, your friend and guide through the difficult and uncharted journey of becoming a published author.
Read. Read everything and anything you can get your hands on. There is no substitute for reading. No shortcuts without reading.
Dedicate yourself to refining your craft and grab every opportunity possible.
I also contacted SCBWI Texas (Houston)'s Regional Advisor, Vicki Sansum, to find out more about both their region and Varsha's win. Here's what Vicki shared:
We were thrilled when Varsha won this year. This the third year in a row that a member from our chapter has won our region's Crystal Kite Award!
Varsha has been a long-time member and was our conference chairman for several years. Her path to publishing is a true SCBWI success story. It was at one of our events, Editors Day, that she submitted a picture book manuscript. Shortly after that submission Varsha sold her first book, How Many Kisses Do You Want Tonight? to Little Brown. It was published in 2004 and subsequently was published as a board book and is still in print today.
Varsha is generous with her time, knowledge and experience. We're lucky to have her in our chapter and are so happy that she won the Crystal Kite this year for such a delightful book.
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 200 attendees. We also host smaller workshops and along with the other Texas chapters we host webinars that focus on a particular genre, market or skill.
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.
You can find out more at Varsha's website here.
And you can learn more about SCBWI Texas (Houston) at their website here.
Congratulations again to Varsha for "Abby Spencer Goes To Bollywood" winning the 2015 Crystal Kite Award!