Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The 2012 Crystal Kite Winner Profiles: Wisconsin's PAT SCHMATZ

 In the USA Midwest division (Minnesota/Iowa/Nebraska/Wisconsin/Illinois/Michigan/Indiana/Ohio), the 2012 Crystal Kite Member Choice Award Winner was BLUEFISH by Pat Schmatz (Candlewick Press.)

I had the chance to ask Pat more about her book and her win...

Lee: Please tell us about your book!

Pat:  I started off writing a book about a third grader who didn’t like carrots. That gradually morphed into a story about an eighth-grader who hated school. For me, the emotional core of a novel usually happens while I’m looking somewhere else. It wasn’t until eight or nine drafts in that I realized I’d written a love story, about the power of small kindnesses and paying attention.

Lee:  I like how you put that, the emotional core of a novel.  How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you've gained by being a member?

Pat:  I joined SCBWI sometime in the late 90s, and was immediately overwhelmed by the written information I received. In 2000, I attended my first conference in Minnesota. That day was a wonder to me. I’d had no idea all that knowledge and support and community was out there. The conference opened many doors for me in terms of connections, craft, and understanding of the business. I especially appreciate SCBWI’s emphasis on professionalism, and on working in community. I’m now in the Wisconsin chapter, and I can’t begin to say how much I appreciate being part of such a strong and supportive network of writers and illustrators. When people ask me how to become a writer for kids, I tell them the first thing to do is join SCBWI.

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

Pat:  Make sure it’s fun. If the writing is drudgery, then I need to either find a way to make it fun, or do something else. I did eleven full revisions of BLUEFISH, and with each new revision I found the fun. Eleven rewrites made for hours of self-entertainment, and it’s cheaper than plenty of other ways I could occupy myself. Everything that has come since is pure bonus.

Lee:  Thanks, Pat!

I also contacted Wisconsin Regional Advisor JoAnn Macken to find out more about Pat's win and their region...

We're so excited and happy for Pat! She is a dedicated, generous writer, and we're glad to have her in Wisconsin!

Our chapter has about 360 members, mostly in the southeastern (Milwaukee) and southwestern (Madison) parts of the state. We hold two main events each year, a Spring Luncheon and a Fall Conference. Workshops and other smaller gatherings are held throughout the year, many organized by one of our four Area Representatives.

 At Wisconsin’s 2010 Fall Conference, Pat presented an inspiring talk on Fierce Revision. By popular demand, she expanded it into a longer presentation in May 2011 for members in the northeast quarter of the state.

Here is some info from the announcement: ----- In this three-hour workshop led by award-winning author Pat Schmatz, we’ll step away from the mechanical “how to” of revision and look at the process from the emotional ground up. We will consider the essentials: commitment, curiosity, and motivation. Bring your work in progress, your characters, and your fierce writer’s heart. Topics Include: · What is revision and why are we doing it? · Commit to your main character · Cultivate curiosity · Understand your motivations · Treat all publisher feedback as a gift · How do you know when a draft is complete? -----

Pat is tentatively scheduled to present the workshop again in the Milwaukee area in the fall. Pat also helped set up our state’s mentorship program in 2010. She then served as one of our first mentors, working with novelist Sue Berk Koch in 2011. Pat wrote about the process in our chapter’s Summer 2011 newsletter (p. 4)

Best wishes,

To find out more about Pat, visit her website here.  To learn more about SCBWI Wisconsin, check out their regional site.

My thanks to Pat and JoAnn, and Cheers to Pat for winning the Crystal Kite Members Choice Award for BLUEFISH!

Illustrate and Write On,

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