Thursday, July 12, 2012

The 2012 Crystal Kite Winner Profiles: USA MID-SOUTH'S Ruta Sepetys

In the USA Mid-South division (Kansas/Louisiana/Arkansas/Tennessee/Kentucky/Missouri), the 2012 Crystal Kite Member Choice Award winner was BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel Books.)

I had the opportunity to interview Ruta when it was announced that she'd won the Golden Kite award for fiction for BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY (you can read the full interview here) - and I contacted her now to hear her thoughts about winning the Crystal Kite Members Choice Award!  Here's what she shared:

To understand my excitement about The Crystal Kite Award you have to understand a bit about our Midsouth region. To put it simply...we're wild. Midsouth is wild with enthusiasm, wild with talent, wild with creativity, and if you ever have to step into battle, these are the people you want by your side. They are fearless and loyal. They talked me off the ledge when no one wanted BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY and I threatened to sell my soul to rock n' roll instead of writing. Our Midsouth RA, Genetta Adair, has been such an incredible mentor and team captain. She is full of sophistication and grace...and pretends that she doesn't hear us talking about the keg under our table each year at the Golden Kite luncheon. So to be honored by my Midsouth region is to be honored by family. And there is nothing more rewarding, more meaningful, than your family members lifting your chin and saying, "You did good, kid."

Well after that, I had to connect with Regional Advisor Genetta Adair to find out more about SCBWI Midsouth and Ruta.  Here's what Genetta wrote:

The Midsouth region includes Kentucky and Tennessee. In the last three years, our region has grown in both numbers of members and in numbers of events and activities. We currently have 380 members.

We host the Midsouth Fall Conference every September, and it has grown from about 110 attendees in 2008 with six faculty members to 160 attendees in 2011 with eleven faculty members. Since 2009, we have been blogging the Midsouth Fall Conference live.

In addition to the fall conference, we offer a few regional events for writers and illustrators throughout the year. Last year, we coordinated a Picture Book Workshop with four speakers, a Revision Workshop with an editor and author faculty, an Editors' Day with two editors, and numerous schmoozes. This year, we have already offered a Media Training Workshop for PAL members, a Master Class on Plot with editor Cheryl Klein, and many schmoozes. Next month, we will host an Illustrator Workshop with Laurent Linn and a Back-To-School Workshop on school presentations. In addition, the Midsouth hosts an SCBWI booth at the Southern Festival of Books every October in Nashville, Tennessee.

Ruta is a very active SCBWI member. She promotes SCBWI everywhere she goes, which is all over the country and throughout the world with publicity tours for BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, her Crystal Kite winning book (and Golden Kite, as well as numerous other awards). Ruta is a lovely person, always giving of herself and her time. She mentors writers in the Midsouth, offering encouragement and support. She was on faculty at the 2011 Midsouth Fall Conference and received rave reviews on the attendees' evaluation forms.

I first met Ruta at the 2006 SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles, and we hit it off from the start. She's kind, fun, and witty, and she charms everyone she meets. A group of us who met at that conference formed an online critique group for whole novels. Ruta's insights have proven spot-on, time after time. I helped critique BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY before it was acquired by Philomel, and it's always held a soft spot in my heart. I'm thrilled for Ruta's successes!

Ruta is an amazing author, always working to hone her craft, and devoted to writing the best possible manuscripts. I predict that all of her books will be best-sellers.

You can find out more about Ruta at her website here and there's a BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY website as well.

Learn more about SCBWI Midsouth here.

My thanks to Genetta for the info on SCBWI Midsouth and Cheers to Ruta on this latest win for her YA novel, BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY!

Illustrate and Write On,


Stephsco said...

Wonderful! I've recommended this book to so many people in the few months since I read it.

Anonymous said...

I've found the same thing about Ruta—effortlessly charming, always encouraging, and a champion of all us up-and-comers. I'm a huge fan.