Thursday, November 19, 2015

"I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!" – The 2015 Crystal Kite Interview with Jill Esbaum

In the Midwest division, the 2015 Crystal Kite Award goes to "I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!" by SCBWI Iowa member Jill Esbaum!

Author Jill Esbaum

Lee: Please tell us about your Crystal-Kite winning book!

Jill: I AM COW, HEAR ME MOO! is the rhyming story of a not-scared-of-anything cow, Nadine. At least that’s what she brags to her friends. When they call her bluff and ask her to lead an expedition into the nearby scary woods, she has to do the deed or lose face. Turns out, she LOVES the woods and can’t get enough of its wonders … until she and her friends become separated. And it gets dark. And she starts worrying about bears. When an unknown something tickles her rump (her own tail) she panics, galloping headlong through the dark and straight off a cliff. Luckily, she lands in a handy creek, where she is reunited with her lost friends, who are thrilled that Nadine has come to their rescue. She doesn’t exactly correct them, which leads to further (implied) complications. 

I couldn’t be happier with Gus Gordon’s whimsical illustrations, which add exactly the right touch of goofiness to the story. 

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

Jill: I’ve been a member for 18 years, and I’d probably still be spinning my wheels if not for the connections I’ve made through SCBWI. I’ve met editors and agents, stellar authors, and some of my best friends. I knew nothing about writing when I started out, so having the opportunity to learn from industry leaders was invaluable. Winning a Crystal Kite for my work was something I couldn’t even imagine happening. It’s one surprise I’ll treasure forever. 

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

Jill: When writing (or illustrating) for publication, it’s easy to let rejection get you down. But every failure is a stepping stone to success. I know that sounds trite when you’re the one amassing the rejections, but it really is all about attitude and determination. And constantly working to improve. Never give up.

Thanks, Jill!

I also connected with Connie Heckert, the Regional Advisor for SCBWI Iowa, to find out more about Jill's win and their region:

SCBWI-Iowa hosts two regional events per calendar year, usually a conference in April and a retreat or different event in October. Locations are varied between Des Moines, the Quad-Cities and cities in between, most recently the Amana Colonies. Industry speakers--authors, editors, illustrators and art directors, and literary agents--are flown in from all over the United States. PAL events have featured industry business-level speakers, such as Susan Raab and others. This region prides itself on smaller attendance with a high quality for one-on-one contact with industry professionals.

Our network system supports members and guests in the major cities of membership with low-cost, no-cost events such as children's book discussions, manuscript critiques, and network area speakers. Mentorships are offered annually, based on available of mentors. One year we had three; for 2015-2016, we're offering two: Jill Esbaum will focus on picture books, and Connie Heckert is working with an aspiring novelist. Jill is working for the third time as a mentor, and is one PAL member who continues to attend our events and give back to other writers and illustrators.
Thanks, Connie!

Learn more about Jill at her website here.

And you can find out more about SCBWI Iowa here.

Congratulations again to Jill on "I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!" winning the 2015 Crystal Kite Award!