In June 2012, at the New Jersey SCBWI conference in Princeton, NJ, I had Lionel Bender, cofounder of the U.K. packager Bender Richardson White, and author Sally Isaacs do an intensive workshop on writing. It was there that Lionel approached Isaacs with putting on a Non-fiction conference focused on opportunities for writers in children’s nonfiction publishing.
Lionel Bender, explained his two-fold mission to Publishers Weekly: “There are plenty of conferences that focus on the nuts and bolts of creating your work. That is not the purpose of this conference,” he said. “I want to open people’s eyes to the opportunities nonfiction can provide, and I want attendees to understand the various publishing models that exist.” Since I had promoted this conference on my blog, I thought you would be interested in hearing about the final results.
The conference focus was to attracted a core audience of professionals already working in the field rather than aspiring writers hoping to break in. A major draw was the caliber of the faculty, which included high-ranking staff from Lerner, Pearson, Cobblestone, Highlights, National Geographic Children’s Books, and Time Home Entertainment, as well as highly regarded authors and illustrators.
Jonathan Sprout attended and said, “I had a great time. There were, I’m guessing, about a hundred participants, so we all got to know each other in various degrees. Many of the paid participants are successful already-established writers. I made many new friends, including several people who have each written over a hundred books. Faculty and paid attendees mingled often throughout the weekend.
“I learned a lot. There was a good deal of emphasis on technology – apps, eBooks and web presence, as well as submission tips – which I especially appreciated. Strange to say, I don’t believe I saw anyone at the NF conference who had also attended our NJSCBWI conference the weekend before. There was very little, if any, information overlap between the two weekends. Each conference provided its special lessons and friends/contacts.
“When I performed at the faculty dinner at the 2012 NJSCBWI (at your request), Lionel and I discovered a common love for The Beatles (although it was Steve Meltzer that night who played one of the best versions of “Norwegian Wood” I’ve ever heard!) So I was asked to perform a song from my forthcoming album the first night of the NF conference. I’ve already committed to returning to the June 2014 NF conference (same location: New Paltz, NY). In anticipation, Lionel and I are sketching out a couple of Beatle melodies that I may perform to a new set of “nonfiction lyrics” that promise to be very funny.”
Faculty member Roxie Munro, author-illustrator of more than 35 books said, “There are other conferences that have a lot to offer beginners, but this one was much better for midlist writers; it was more meaty, more sophisticated.”
Lionel said in his opening, “I see the digital revolution as an opportunity to reinvent kids’ illustrated nonfiction. And the icing on the cake is the Common Core standards, which are making nonfiction important, and making nonfiction writers finally feel like fiction’s equals.”
Science writer, Melissa Stewart said,“There is a revolution going on in nonfiction right now. In this climate, the role of nonfiction is to delight as well as to inform.”
One of the weekend’s highlights was Saturday afternoon’s publishers panel, in which seven faculty members discussed The Future of Children’s Nonfiction. Responding in turn to questions posed by Bender in advance, each panelist offered insight into their company’s approach to the challenges of modern publishing today. Andy Boyles, science editor at Highlights magazine, said he foresees Highlights remaining “ink on paper for the foreseeable future.” But, he added, “Ink and digital can play nicely in the same sandbox. The big question is: How can you make digital pay the bills?” Participants echoed this question throughout the weekend.
Robin Terry Brown, senior editor at National Geographic Children’s Books, described her company’s “sneak-attack approach to learning – draw them in with high-interest topics, vibrant photography, and design” - and shared its formula: “photos, facts, and fun—and all things animal.”
Alyssa Mito Pusey, senior editor at Charlesbridge said, “Nonfiction has always been our core, but as far as our digital strategy the goal is to put its books onto as many platforms as possible. Intellectual property will become king as publishers seek to engage their audience through transmedia storytelling. Print will become a single star in this constellation. Digital is fun, but print is not dead.”
Click this link to read about it in Publishers Weekly.
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, Conferences and Workshops
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Tagged: Bender Richarsdon White
, Children's Non Fiction Conference
, Lionel Bender
Thanks to everyone who came out to the appearances in New York (including pal Julianne Moore who read an Elephant & Piggie book with me) to celebrate the Pigeon's 10th Birthday.
It was also great to bump into, play petanque with, then do an appearance with Herve Tullet in the NYC.
The workshop for Elephant and Piggie's WE ARE IN A PLAY! at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC was great
Thanks to the crowds who came out for the GOLDILOCKS & THE THREE DINOSAURS tour last week.
My cousin dropped by in Salt Lake City... Check out the video below:
The Pigeon wants a Tattoo!
Every show was a sell-out and I met some hilarious kids, nice teachers, and passionate booksellers.
The crowds at the wonderful Seattle Public Library
a picture of people taking
Hello. friends! Last week I was able to go to the Girls' Nightmare Out Tour with Kendare Blake
(Girl of Nightmares
), Marta Acosta
) and Lisa Desrochers
) that was hosted by Mrs. Nelson's Books
. I always love going to Mrs. Nelson's because they have a great selection of books and the staff is always super nice. I left pretty early for this event because it's not very close to my house. I made good time and got there about half an hour early. It gave me some time to check out the decor of the store.
Then the authors arrived and the panel started. Each of them started out saying a bit about their books. Marta Acosta wrote Dark Companion as an homage to Jane Eyre. She was inspired by Jane's strength and perseverance. Kednare Blake said that though Anna is the catalyst in her books, the journey is for Cas. Lisa Desrochers said that she had a lot of fun writing a book about an angel and a demon named Lucifer and Gabriel. She wanted to use the obvious names because, if someone named Lucifer told you he was a demon, would you believe him?
|contemplating their answers|
When asked whether any of them had ever had any backlash for their books, all of them answered in the affirmative. Lisa said that she's been criticized for many things in her books. She said that people criticized her for letting her heroine kiss both an angel and a demon. She has also been criticized for giving her a heroine the power over both heaven and hell. Her books have been called cliched, but Lisa doesn't mind and has lots of fun playing with those cliches. Kendare has been called both anti-feminist and racist (whoa!). Marta says that people have told her that her heroine is a terrible role model. But Marta said that Jane isn't meant to be a role model. She's a real teenager who isn't perfect and makes mistakes.
Asked which character they liked writing best:
Marta: Mary Violet
Kendare: She knows Cas best but has the most fun writing Thomas.
Then it was raffle time!
|sadly, i did not win.|
|haha - authors with the raffle winners.|
I had a really fun time. Thank you, Mrs. Nelson's for another wonderful event. If you want to see a few more pics, feel free to visit our Facebook album
for the event.
And since we love you, dear readers, we're going to give you a chance to win and ARC of Dark Companion signed by Marta Acosta. I will also throw in some really cool iPhone decals of each author's books. I am too lazy to take a pic but you can kind of see them in the raffle table pic at the top of this post.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
- No purchase necessary. None of the entries are mandatory, but you have to do at least one to enter.
- Open to people with mailing addresses in the United States and Canada.
- One set of entries per household please.
- If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
- Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget after the end of the day on July 31, 2012.
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We're back with another event recap. It seems like we've been going to a lot of events lately and we love it! Authors, please come to Los Angeles. We love you and will come see you. :)
Last Saturday Children's Book World
hosted Sara Wilson Etienne
's book release party for Harbinger
. Alethea will be able to tell you that I've been waiting for this book to come out. I don't know what it was, but something about it just called to me and I've been waiting for baited breath for its release.
We arrived just in time and the store was packed. Lots of people showed up for the event. There was a good group of YA authors in attendance including Gretchen McNeil
and Jessica Brody
. I saw a few other familiar faces though I couldn't place them. Alethea also ran into Kazu Kibuishi
at the store who was there with his family hanging out and signing Amulet
for the store. This was my first time at Children's Book World and I have to say that it was awesome. I really wish it was closer to my house because I would be going there a whole lot. When we got there the first thing I did was get in line to buy my own copy of Harbinger
! Yay! Then we all filed into the smaller side room to hear Sara talk a bit about her book.
Note from Alethea--you can't see from the photos, but it was *packed* in that room--I couldn't even get inside. I
As those of you who visit my FAQ site know, my schedule no longer allows me to do school visits, with the exception of the occasional chat with kids at Title 1 schools. But when the American School of Dubai contacted my publishers to see if I'd be amenable to drop by, the opportunity was too great to pass up.
Firstly, Jack Gantos had a great time there. Secondly, while much of my favorite
click to enlarge.
I've just returned from a fun holiday. While I was away, Universal Syndicate ran the comics I pinch hit for pal Richard Thompson's Cul De Sac. It was great fun to play around with his characters. You can see the work starting here (then click onto the arrow for the next day).
Thanks again to Stacy Curtis for inking them.
There's still as Sunday strip of mine coming
Hello, everyone! I had a really fun book event the other day at my very own local library. Burbank Public Library
hosted Maggie Stiefvater Wolves of Mercy Falls
series, Scorpio Races
) and Corey Whaley
(Where Things Come Back
) for a talk on April 23, 2012. I've seen Maggie several times before but this was my first time seeing Corey whose book, Where Things Come Back
, I've been dying to read. Both came to talk about their new books, read an excerpt and then answer questions from the audience.
Maggie started the night off with a brief intro and read a passage from The Scorpio Races
. Maggie said that she had always wanted to write a story about the mythical water horses that she had read about when she was a child. The story was of a beautiful but also deadly creature. The original myth was very strange and had all of these weird rules for the horses and it wasn't until she realized that she could get rid of the parts of the story that she didn't like was she able to finally write the story. She also likened her book to Top Gun
but then said her editor didn't like that and switched to say that her book was like My Little Pony/Jurassic Park.
Corey read a bit from his book and then told us about how he had always wanted to write a coming of age story. He had written for awhile but he never felt like he had the right story to tell. One day in college he was driving and listening to NPR when a story came on about musician Sufjan Stevens. The story was about how Stevens wrote a song about an ivory-billed woodpecker after hearing about this rare bird being spotted in a small town. The town was all but dead but, after the sighting, people started to flock there in the hopes of spotting the bird. Corey realized that this town would be a great setting for his book and that's when the seeds of Where Things Come Back came from.
On naming characters:
Corey was actually in his car when he came to a fork in the road leading in two directions to two different towns. The signs were close together and the names of the towns seemed like a fitting name and that name became the first character in his book. Later on, on a trip to his hometown he passed another small town whose name he also appropriated for his book. Then he decided to keep up the pattern and pulled the names of town from all over Arkansas and Louisiana and made names from those towns. One character, who is an outsider, did not get a town name.
Maggie said that she believes that a character's name is a reader's first impression of them. Take any name and, when you hear it, you have an idea of that person. She thinks that people
Guess what finally came out this week? You guessed it - Shadow and Bone! I've been waiting all year for this book to come out and I finally have it in my hands (insert evil laugh here). Alethea and I are lucky enough to live pretty close to Skylight Books
where Leigh had her launch party on Monday night.
We arrived pretty early which was lucky because it got packed. Skylight did a fantastic job of organizing the party. Attendees were greeted at the door by a lovely candy and champagne table. There were all kinds of tasty treats including chocolate kisses, Jordan almonds, gumballs and cake pops. As you can see below, the tablescape was beautiful as well. We didn't get to eat too many snacks since we were staking out seats and later the food area was super crowded. But everyone else seemed to be enjoying their candy and champagne and it looked wonderful.
|all kinds of candy|
|alethea wants to live under this tree|
After some mingling and hanging out the event officially started. Leigh got up and talked about the book. She actually started off with a story about how she found part of a book that she had written when she was in junior high. It was about two fraternal twins, Jareth (sorry I don't know if I am spelling that right) and Blood. Of course, with a name like Blood, the girl could only be an assassin. Leigh talked about how Blood was a badass and how that's what she wanted to be like at that age. She also talked about her writing process and how she had to kind of trick herself into writing the book. She had that nagging inner voice telling her that the book wasn't any good and she agreed with the voice, telling it that she was just writing it for fun
Blog: Read Now Sleep Later
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Hello again! I hope everyone is having a great week. Today I am going to recap that awesome event that was the first tour stop of the Fierce Reads Tour. We were lucky enough to be able to attend the kickoff at Mrs. Nelson's over in La Verne. The store is quite a bit of a trek but it's so worth it. The store is seriously stocked with all kinds of children's, MG, and YA magic. I wanted to buy at least half the store and only managed to refrain slightly.
So we showed up and the store had a whole wall dedicated to the tour. Books from all 6 authors (Anna Banks, Emmy Laybourne. Jessica Brody, Marissa Meyer, Leigh Bardugo and Jennifer Bosworth) filled the walls.
We sat way in the back like the troublemakers that we are. :) The picture above was early on and it filled up considerably before the panel started. Let me just say right now that this is probably going to be mainly a recap told with pictures because, bad blogger, I didn't take any notes and I can't remember too much of what was said. Needless to say though, it was highly entertaining and fun.
Yes, yet another recap. Promise it's the last one for this week. Last week just happened to be an insane week for author events. Right after the Fierce Reads Tour, Marissa Meyer had a date at one of our fave indies, Once Upon A Time
. Even though I had just seen Marissa at Fierce Reads (I'm not stalking her, I swear!) I was excited that she was getting her own date the OUAT.
Marissa started the event off by talking about how she got into writing. She wrote fan fiction for Sailor Moon for a long time (maybe 10 years) before she decided to tackle a full blown novel. Someone asked Marissa if she would ever take one of her old fan fics and re-write it into something new and she said no, but that they were still available on the internet for anyone who wanted to read them.
Marissa let slip a few details about book 2 of The Lunar Chronicles. It's going to be the story of Red Riding Hood (yay!) and Cinder will appear in all four books. Also, the character of Wolf sounds super dark and sexy. Swoon. I really, really can't wait to read Scarlet.
I can't remember what Marissa was talking about here but it's pretty cute. After more questions Marissa got down to business and started signing books. I had my copy of Cinder signed the last time Marissa was in town so I just said hi and fangirled a bit. Marissa is so cool and nice. I had a great time at the event.
It's been a crazy month of pals, work, appearances, family, & holiday.
ALA was great fun. I always enjoy seeing old pals, authors, editors, librarians, and their ilk on the floor. This years Caldecott & Newbery speeches were excellent and this years Geisel Medalist, Josh Schneider, knocked it out of the park. I was honored to receive my honor for Elephant & Piggie's I BROKE MY TRUNK! and to be
Ben McConnell of Church of the Customer, Creating Customer Evangelists and now Citizen Marketers fame came and spoke to OCLC staff and area marketers on Thursday, Feb. 22. I've been slow to post my notes from his talk--but here we are, finally:
There are 48 million content creators out on the Web. (That is like the population of all of South Korea.) Most of these are amateur content creators. Meaning--they are not being paid to create this content. So when this creative group of people connects with products, they become "Citizen Marketers." It's the idea that your brand reputation is in the hands of a customer, for good or ill. Anyone who interacts with you has the power to praise you or to vilify.
- 55% of kids aged 12-17 use social networks.
- 84 million households have broadband.
- There are 1 million new broadband subscribers per week, worldwide.
The democratization of access to information is spreading like wildfire.
An example: my.Barackobama.com
is the Barack Obama for President community. The tagline--"This campaign is about You
." You can join in, find other supporters, create a blog, learn more about the senator's stance on issues and more. In the first week it was launched, it gained 700,000 members. Those members in turn created 40,000 blogs and 2,400 groups. (Alice editorial note: Who says youth don't want to be engaged in the political process? They just want it on their terms!)
The Control of the Message (previously the realm of marketers and strategists) is now totally Out of Control
. And if you give people a voice, a vote and a vocation--they can influence your brand in today's culture.
What are the top 5 most influential media?
4. Newspaper inserts
1. Word of Mouth
Ben and Jackie have separated the Citizen marketers into four broad categories: Firecrackers, Filters, Fanatics and Facilitators. They've got great examples for each type--and each type is someone to encourage, be ready for and respond to--immediately.
One ominous note: You are your Google results!!
Ignore natural search engine rankings at your peril, because for many people that's the only way they see you.
Ben and Jackie also brought up something they call the 1% rule
. And it's that a whole multitude of people may READ or WATCH stuff--but only 1% of people will be motivated enough to create something. So how do you work with those Citizen Marketer 1%ers?
- Enable co-creation: Ben's example is Shakira's fan-only "Hips Don't Lie" video--Shakira used all the home video segments on her real video. It was co-created by her and all her fans.
- Enable community: The Discovery channel formalized their evangelist network of 1%er educators to help train one another. (And sure enough, usage skyrocketed...)
In marketing traditionally there are 4 Ps
: Product, Price, Placement and Promotion. Ben posits that in today's world, there is a 5th: Participation.
So how do we integrate the 5th P into our libraries?
- Reaching out to your 1%ers: your advisory boards/teen panels/Friends of the library groups and empowering them even more to take the message out
- Lay the foundation for social networks. (Alice editorial: Alane and I are part of the last week next week of Five Weeks to a Social Library!)
has lots and lots of examples and stories. It's a quick read with lots of YouTube clips mentioned.
One parting question: How recommendable is your product?
Here is recap of last week's poetry in the classroom posts.
- April 14 - Reaching for the Moon, including the titles Blast Off! Poems About Space, compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars, written and illustrated by Douglas Florian, and Space Songs, written by Myra Cohn Livingston and illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher.
- April 15 - Through the Year, including the titles A Child's Calendar, written by John Updike and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, Turtle in July, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, Thirteen Moons on Turtle's Back: A Native American Year of Moons, written by Joseph Bruchac and Jonathan London and illustrated by Thomas Locker, and Calendar, written by Myra Cohn Livingston and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand.
- April 16 - Poetry Aloud, including the titles Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, written by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Eric Beddows, Big Talk: Poems for Four Voices, written by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Beppe Giacobbe, and Math Talk: Mathematical Ideas in Poems for Two Voice by Theoni Pappas.
- April 17 - Mud, Stone and Fossil Bones, including the titles Earthshake: Poems From the Ground Up, written by Lisa Westberg Peters and illustrated by Cathie Felstead and Footprints on the Roof: Poems About the Earth, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Meilo So.
- April 18 - School Daze, including the titles I Thought I'd Take My Rat to School: Poems for September to June, selected by Dorothy Kennedy and Illustrated by Abby Carter, School Supplies: A Book of Poems, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Renée Flower, and Do Buses Eat Kids?: Poems About School, by Laura Purdie Salas.
- April 19 - Animals Abound, including the titles Eric Carle's Animals, Animals, illustrated by Eric Carle, Animal Poems, written by Valerie Worth and illustrated by Steve Jenkins, and Just Us Two: Poems About Animal Dads, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Susan Swan.
- April 20 - Books and Reading, including the titles Please Bury Me in the Library, written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Kyle M. Stone, Good Books, Good Times, written by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Harvey Stevenson, and Wonderful Words: Poems About Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening, written by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Karen Barbour.
My last week in NYC was a blast. Besides readings (thanks for showing up, Brooklyn!) and work, I was able to reconnect with a bunch of pals, neighbors, and a good chunk of the crew of Codename: Kids Next Door, where I served as head writer for 4 seasons. Everyone is scattered to the cartoon winds, making cool shows or books and stuff. It was fun to see.
I even got to get a game of pentanque