Thursday, September 10, 2015

"Sniffer Dogs" – The 2015 Crystal Kite Interview with Nancy Castaldo

In the New York division, the 2015 Crystal Kite Award goes to "Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World" by SCBWI Eastern Upstate New York member and Regional Advisor Nancy Castaldo!

Author Nancy Castaldo

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

Nancy: I had a blast working on Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World. These dogs are AMAZING and I was able to meet and photograph most of the dogs in the book. It was an honor to witness them working in so many different capacities - from bomb detection to scat location! My goal was to introduce readers to individual working sniffer dogs. They seem to be everywhere these days, continually proving that they are a human’s best friend. It truly became a labor of love to share their stories. And the team at Houghton Mifflin was a joy to work with. I am honored that so many readers have connected with the book.

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

Nancy: I’ve been a member of SCBWI since 1995 — In fact this year is my 20th anniversary! Over the years SCBWI has provided me with an irreplaceable community that has given me support and knowledge. I have met my editors and my agent through the organization, as well as my critique buddies.

As Regional Advisor for the Eastern NY region over the past several years I’ve had the fun of planning some exciting, inspirational retreats. Our Falling Leaves Retreat has become recognized as one of the top writing retreats in the US. Most importantly I find that SCBWI gives me the ability to have office-mates who might be on the other side of the state or the country. I look to the SCBWI team as my advocates in the complex world of publishing.

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

Nancy: Is it too simplistic to advise writers and illustrators to READ? It’s the number 1 rule and the reason our local SCBWI Shoptalk group holds a book discussion every month. Reading is the best way to learn craft. Secondly, surround yourself with other writers and illustrators. That’s where SCBWI comes in. Those networking experiences will provide you with your next critique partner, your next editor, and will undoubdtedly lift your writing and illustrating to a higher level. Always work to improve your craft. Don’t stay stuck. Stretch - try a new genre or new technique. Always keep growing! 

I also took the opportunity, since Nancy is the regional advisor for SCBWI Eastern Upstate New York, to find out more about her region. Here's what Nancy shared: 

I love being a part of the Eastern NY SCBWI Region. Along with hosting our very popular Falling Leaves Master Class Retreat each November in New York’s beautiful Adirondack Mountains, we host a variety of other events. Free monthly ShopTalk meetings can be found throughout our region which provide our members with an instant writing/illustrating community wherever they live in the region. They feature programs as well as a chance to get work critiqued. This spring we offered our first Green Leaves weekend retreat that featured five great faculty members and 35 attendees. We are going to host another spring weekend in 2016 focusing solely on illustration! I know it is going to be an amazing weekend for illustrators. Like our other retreats we will limit attendance to 35 and will host five fabulous faculty members. 

Thanks, Nancy - and again, congratulations! 

You can find out more about Nancy at this website, and learn more about SCBWI Eastern Upstate New York here.

And once again, congratulations to Nancy, for "Sniffer Dogs" winning the 2015 Crystal Kite Award!

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