|Author Connie Goldsmith|
Lee: Please tell us about your Crystal Kite-winning book!
Connie: Bombs Over Bikini shows how the U.S. nuclear testing program in the Marshall Islands after World War II affected several once-pristine Pacific atolls, and how the resulting radiation impacted a two-thousand year old island culture. A story in the local newspaper described a reunion of the ‘radiation refugees’ and I knew I had to find out more.
Attorney Jonathan M. Weisgall speaking for the Marshall Islanders before the U.S. House of Representatives said, “In the 12-year period from 1946-1958 . . . the U.S. conducted 67 atomic and hydrogen bomb tests. The total yield of the tests in the Marshall Islands was equivalent to 7,200 Hiroshima bombs. That works out to an average of more than 1.6 Hiroshima bombs per day for the 12-year nuclear testing program in the Marshalls.”
Please take a look at the trailer that a group of 6th grade Sacramento filmmakers made. They found all the archival military film footage and added the special effects to produce an outstanding book trailer—the first they’d ever done.
Lee: It's a great book trailer! How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you’ve gained by being a member?
Connie: I joined SCBWI in 1997 when I first started to write after leaving my full-time day job as an RN. In 1999, SCBWI selected my work in progress as runner-up for the WIP nonfiction grant. That manuscript went on to become my first book, “Lost in Death Valley: the true story of four families in California’s Gold Rush,” published by Millbrook Press (now part of Lerner) in 2001.
SCBWI has been a major contributor to my writing career since the day I first joined. The professional and social contacts are amazing. Many of the writers and illustrators I’ve met over the past few years will be my friends forever. And SCBWI conferences are a good place to get up close and personal with agents and editors and art directors.
Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children’s book writers and illustrators?
Connie: Presumably, people reading this blog are SCBWI members, but if not, join immediately. Once you’ve gotten your feet wet, volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. Then, do a little more volunteering. All the time and effort you invest as a volunteer comes back to you double! It’s like an investment that’s guaranteed to only go up.
Read in your genre—a lot! So many people new to children’s writing say they want to write a picture book (a very tricky task indeed). Broaden your horizons. Look at writing for children’s magazines. Review children’s books for your community newspapers. And especially, consider nonfiction. IMO, juvenile nonfiction is the place to be today. You are an expert at something—or you will be by the time you’ve researched a topic dear to your heart. Write a good book proposal, and turn it into a contract for your first (or fifteenth) book.
You can learn out more about Connie at her website here.
And check out SCBWI North/Central California's events, newsletter and community at their online home here.
Congratulations to Connie for "Bombs Over Bikini" winning the 2015 Crystal Kite Award!