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1. Off to New York

Watercolor illustration of a carrier pigeon wearing a red vest on a rooftop in New York, by Jessica Lanan

Well, the bags are packed, the portfolio is printed, and soon I’ll be on my way to the Big Apple to schmooze with a bunch of introverted, book-loving nerds. At this time tomorrow I’ll probably be hurtling through the streets on an ill-advised taxi ride or something. I’ll let you know how it all goes (if I survive.)

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2. SCBWI Bologna 2016 Author-Illustrator Interview: Doug Cushman

Doug Cushman
By Elisabeth Norton
for SCBWI Bologna 2016
and Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Since 1978, Doug Cushman has illustrated over 130 children's books, 30 or so of which he wrote as well. 

Among his many honors, he has gained a place on the New York Times Children’s Best Sellers list and on the 2003 Children’s Literature Choice list.

The first book of his popular beginning reader series featuring Aunt Eater (HarperCollins, 1987) was a Reading Rainbow Book. 

He has received a National Cartoonist’s Society Reuben Award for Book Illustration, the 2004 Christopher Award for his book illustrations, a 2007 and 2010 Maryland Blue Crab Award and the 2009 California Young Readers Medal.

He illustrated the best-selling “Can’t Do” series, including What Dads Can’t Do (2000) and What Moms Can’t Do (2001) for Simon and Schuster. 


His recent titles include Pumpkin Time! by Erzsi Deak (Sourcebooks, 2014), Halloween Good Night (Square Fish, 2015) and Christmas Eve Good Night (Henry Holt, 2011), which received a starred review from Kirkus. His first book of original poems, Pigmares (Charlesbridge, 2012), was published in 2012. 

He has displayed his original art in France, Romania and the USA, including the prestigious Original Art, the annual children’s book art show at the Society of Illustrators in New York City. 

He is fan of mystery novels and plays slide guitar horribly. He enjoys cooking, traveling, eating and absorbing French culture and good wine—even designing wine labels for a Burgundy wine maker—in his new home in St. Malo on the Brittany coast in France.

Welcome Doug! Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about illustration and the SCBWI Bologna Illustration Gallery (BIG) at the Bologna Children's Book Fair.

You have had a long career in the children's publishing industry, illustrating both your own stories, as well as the stories of other writers. Do you have a favorite medium for illustrating children's books?

I love watercolor with pen and ink. There is so much expression one can have using ink line with the occasional “happy accidents” in watercolor. Pretty much all my books have been rendered in those two mediums.

It was more controlled in the beginning, but I’m trying to loosen up now. For a couple books I did everything: writing, watercolor illustration and hand-lettering the display type and entire text including the copyright. I even simulated aged, yellowing, lined notepad paper with watercolor, hand drawing each blue line on every page of the book.

My philosophy is: do whatever it takes to make the book work.

Has that changed over the years?

Moving to Paris loosened me up a bit. A few years ago, I rendered three books in acrylic, something I’d wanted to do. I love the bright colors and thick brushstrokes. I even added some collaged elements as well.

But, for me, the medium I use depends on the story. The technique I use to illustrate a book must complement the heart and soul of the story. An illustrator should never force his style on a text.

I’ve discovered digital painting recently. There’s a lot one can do with it. I’m having a grand time playing with my Wacom tablet, but I believe my training as a traditional artist has held me in good stead. Knowing the craft of drawing and painting has always helped me out with a multitude of problems! Yet, the story always dictates how I approach the way I draw my pictures.

So it varies from project to project. What influences your choice of style and medium for a given project?

Rackham
Shepard
The story is always the first thing that defines my approach to a project, even when I’m the author. An illustrator must read what’s between the lines as well as what’s on the page. The author is telling a certain story, the illustrations must work in harmony with the text.

A good example is The Wind In the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908). The master draftsman Arthur Rackham illustrated one (1940) edition.

He's a brilliant illustrator, one of my favorites. But his style was so wrong for the atmospheric and slightly goofy story (Toad driving a car!). He was perfect for Grimm but not for the animal denizens living along side an easy, flowing river. E.H. Shepard’s illustrations are spot on.

What qualities do you think are important for an artist to have in order to be successful as children's book illustrator?

Patience! Flexibility and a thick skin are paramount as well. This is a tough business. So many books are being published every year. But there’s always room for someone with a different voice, a unique way to look at the world.

Be aware of the trends but never be a slave to them. Follow what interests you. It may take longer but in the long run your work will be more sincere and that will catch the attention of editors and art directors. Honesty always shines through.

As writers, we talk a lot about voice, both the voice of the character, as well as our own authorial voice. Do illustrators have a voice as well? What about individual projects, or even characters?

Absolutely, illustrators have a voice. Like writers, it’s the way we see life.

In my case, I see the silliness, the zaniness in the world and through my characters, both human and animal. I’ve been told that one of the qualities people like about my work is the expression on my characters.

That’s part of my voice, my way of interpreting a text and the world in general, that internal struggle, waiting to get out. It’s like being an actor; artists must get inside the skin of the characters they’re illustrating, feeling what they feel. But, as I said earlier, the voice of the illustrator shouldn’t interfere with the voice of the author. They need to play off of each other, work in tandem together.

As a judge for the BIG, what makes an illustration stand out to you?

The BIG is a show of illustration, not just an exhibition of pretty pictures. I’m looking for art that is not only drawn and painted well, wonderfully composed and executed, but also tells a story.

I confess that much of what I see in the grand Bologna Book Fair judged art shows are marvelous paintings but they don’t tell any stories. We’re talking about book illustration here, art that serves a purpose. In many ways it’s harder and a much higher calling than easel painting.

I want to see something that dives deep into a story and tells me something in a way I haven’t seen or thought of before.

Why do you think participation in illustration showcases such as BIG is important for illustrators?

Exposure is one factor. Getting noticed. Working for a specific purpose is important as well. I’ve submitted illustrations to many judged shows with very specific criteria; size restrictions, medium, subject matter, etc. I haven’t always been accepted, but in the process of working on these pieces, I’ve learned something and expanded my working methods.

In almost every, case these pieces have always been the most popular and the most “Wow!” paintings in my portfolio. Picasso said a studio should be a laboratory.

I think shows like BIG can be a way to experiment with new ideas and techniques. Who knows? You may stumble across a way of working that may change your artistic career.

You have been to the Bologna fair on several occasions. How has your experience of the fair changed over the years?

I’m not sure that my experience has changed that much. But that’s not to say I’m bored!

It’s always exciting to see what’s being published around the world. I expect to see new things and I’m rarely disappointed. Of course digital publishing has grown since I started going to the book fair so it’s much more influential.

Through the years I’ve met more editors, art directors and illustrators so I know more people and it’s always fun to renew old friendships. And, of course there are the restaurants that I go to on a regular basis.

Over the years I’ve become friends with one of the owners. Now, that's really exciting!

What are your "must-do's" when you are there?

It can be overwhelming for a first timer. My suggestion is to wander around and “absorb” what you see, not seeking out anything specific. Take notes, jot down what strikes you.

If you open yourself to everything, you’re guaranteed to see something you would have missed if you were focused on a certain goal. I love wandering the “foreign” stands (foreign to this American, at least). There is so much creativity happening all over the world. I confess, working mainly in the American market, it’s easy to become too provincial in my thinking.

Any first time fair attendee should see as many books in as many stands that are not her market. It’s a real inspiration.

Also, as a “must-do”, I try to make a trip to Florence, only 40 minutes away by train. It’s every artist’s heritage, birthplace of who we are. It’s a lovely town chockablock with history and art (with some nice markets and restaurants!) It’s well worth a day off from the fair or staying the extra day.

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary!
Will you be in Bologna in April?

Definitely plan to go. I missed it last year and feel the need to return.

Will you be participating in the ever-popular Dueling Illustrators event at the SCBWI booth?

Yes and it’s always great fun. In past years I was teamed up with Paul O. Zelinsky, which is always a great thrill, and honor.

Thank you Doug! I look forward to seeing you in Bologna in April.

Cynsational Notes

Elisabeth Norton grew up in Alaska, lived for many years and Texas, and after a brief sojourn in England, now lives with her family between the Alps and the Jura in Switzerland.

She writes for middle grade readers and serves as the Regional Advisor for the Swiss chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

When not writing, she can be found walking the dogs, playing board games, and spending time with family and friends. Twitter: @fictionforge

The Bologna 2016 Interview series is coordinated by Angela Cerrito, SCBWI’s Assistant International Advisor and a Cynsational Reporter in Europe and beyond.

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3. The Introvert’s Guide to Surviving a Conference

The truth is, I’m kind of a fake introvert. On those ubiquitous personality tests I hover right on the line between the two extremes. Nonetheless, a big social event like a SCBWI national conference can be overwhelming, and all the networking can push a pseudo-introvert like me to the point of social burnout. I’ve collected some tips below that have helped me have the best possible experience at one of these events. (If you want to learn more about what a SCBWI conference is, click here.)

Photograph of promotional postcards and portfolio for use at SCBWI NY Conference

Promo postcards and portfolio page, ready to go.

1. Homework

The seeds of a great experience are sown long before you get to the conference.

  • Try to read at least one book by every speaker. It makes their keynote more illuminating.
  • To be a real overachiever, come up with a question or two you’d want to ask each faculty member. If you ever end up sharing a table with them or in a Q&A session, you’ll be ready to participate.
  • If you’ve been to prior conferences, go through the contacts you made back then and refresh your memory. For extra credit, check out their websites to see what new stuff they’ve been up to. There’s nothing worse than introducing yourself to someone only to hear “um, we met last year.” (Sorry about that, Rodolfo.)
  • If you’re attending sessions with assignments, make sure to do your homework ahead of time.

2. Stuff you should probably bring with you

In addition to your underwear and toothbrush and so forth, don’t forget the following:

  • Your portfolio/dummy books/whatever.
  • Postcards and/or business cards.
  • A sketchbook/notebook and something to write with.
  • A copy of any of your recently published books that you want to show to your friends.
  • Copies of other people’s books that you want to get signed.
  • Warm things (it’s ALWAYS cold in the hotel. Plus it’s New York in February.)
  • Earplugs for sleeping if you’re sharing a room with friends.
  • Sleep mask (ditto to above.)

3. Networking tips for introverts, or something

I probably shouldn’t be giving advice at all in this area.

  • Try to avoid looking at your feet while talking to people.
  • Resist the urge to apologize for your work.
  • Be genuinely interested in other people.
  • Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself.
  • Don’t be one of those annoying, pushy people who stalk the faculty members.
  • Sit in the front. You can see so much better. Actually, never mind. DON’T sit in the front, because I want to sit there.

4. Chilling Out

For an introvert, a big conference in New York City is remarkably taxing. While the whole point of the conference is to network and go to keynotes blah blah blah, it’s okay to take some time to get away from it all in order to survive.

  • Use the gym or pool if there is one to get away from people for a little while.
  • Have your own room if you can afford it. This helps a ton, but it’s like $400 a night so I get it.
  • Skip a keynote if you have to. Or two.
  • Leave the hotel and go somewhere else. Cafes are good.

Have you been a national conference or book fair? What tips would you suggest? Feel free to share in the comments!

 

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4. 2016 SCBWI Bologna Author-Illustrator Interview: Susan Eaddy

Photo by Peter Nash
By Patti Buff
for SCBWI Bologna 2016
and Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Susan Eaddy works in her attic studio writing picture books and playing with clay. She was an art director for fifteen years, during which time she won international 3D illustration awards and a Grammy nomination. 

She lives in Nashville, Tenn.; and is the regional advisor for the Midsouth chapter of SCBWI and a co-organizer of the SCBWI Bologna Book Fair

Her illustrated books include Papa Fish’s Lullaby by Patricia Hubbell (Cooper Square, 2007) and My Love for You is the Sun by Julie Hedlund (Little Bahalia, 2014). Her latest picture book, Poppy’s Best Paper, was released by Charlesbridge in July 2015.

She loves to travel and has used the opportunity to do school visits anywhere in the world from Taiwan to Alabama to Hong Kong and Brazil.

Hi Susan! Thanks for participating in the 2016 SCBWI Bologna Book Fair interview series.

With much more focus on diversity in children's books than has been in the past, how important of a role do you think book fairs like Bologna play in introducing young readers to children from other countries and cultures?

I think that book fairs like Bologna offer hope and understanding for our future. It creates the opportunity to come together from all over the world and find common ground in stories.

Children can only benefit from books translated into their native language to both learn about new cultures or to find that other cultures are very much like their own. With this experience, they see that kids from all over have similar feelings and experiences.

Any tips for new visitors to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair?

First of all, the SCBWI booth is your hub, and home away from home. You’ll be surrounded by friends you’ve never met before. To maximize your opportunities:

  • Apply for a personal or regional showcase with Chris Cheng.
  • Schedule portfolio reviews.
  • Bring promo materials.
  • Read the program.
  • Attend the talks.
  • Network!

Getting Around: Being the worrier that I am…I like to figure out where I am going via Google Maps the day before I need to be somewhere.

Since wi-fi is not always available on the streets, I take a screen shot of the map I need when I am connected, and can then access it through my phone or iPad photos whether I am connected or not.

Get city and bus maps at Tourist Info in the Neptune Fountain Piazza. Buy bus tickets there or at the Tabachi (the little kiosk).

Budget Tips: Have breakfast bars with you at all times. There are food stands at the Fair, but they are pricey and packed, and often a breakfast bar will get you though the day. Then you can splurge a bit on the dinner meal.

Some lodging comes with a modest breakfast, but if you have the option of declining breakfast for a price break, do so. You can generally get a cappuccino for much less and chomp on your breakfast bar.

If you have an apartment, buy groceries and make lunches, even some dinners.

But do eat out when you can. This is Italy! Home of spectacular food. Share a room, a taxi, a bottle of wine.

Do keep all receipts, again, remember this is a business trip.

Those are some great tips. You really are a pro. You’ve done a lot of traveling over the years, China, Italy, and Brazil. As an illustrator, how does seeing different cultures influence you?

I love getting a peek at different cultures when I travel, and specifically I love visiting the schools. One of the things that strikes me most, is how universal kids reactions and questions are.

I have had the same questions from kids in Hong Kong as I've had in Brazil. ("How long does it take you? Why clay? How much money do you make?")

Kids' artwork and enthusiasm are so similar in every culture I have seen. And since so much of my presentations are visual, language does not impose a huge barrier.

In 2015, you officially stepped onto the writing side of picture books with the release of Poppy’s Best Paper. First off, congratulations! And secondly, what particular challenge surprised you when you took off your illustrator’s hat and switched it for an author’s hat?

Thank you! I have lots of memories and ideas from my childhood.

I began writing because most art directors told me that my clay artwork was a tough fit for other people's manuscripts and that I should come up with my own stories.

As I began to write, the stories that unfolded were more complex than suited my illustration style, and the irony is that my own manuscript of Poppy's Best Paper was not a good fit for the clay!

I tried to illustrate Poppy in clay many times, until finally my agent intervened with the suggestion of using another illustrator.

Brilliant! Rosalinde Bonnet's illustrations made all the difference in the world.


Sometimes a fresh perspective is exactly what the project needs. So glad that worked out. 

I’m just fascinated by your illustration method of first drawing an outline then filling it in with clay. Do you see the image with color before you begin or is that something that changes as the page progresses?

I start with a color palette that interests me, then I explore it further in the computer or with colored pencil, working on top of copies of my original sketch. Often colors are changed a bit in the clay stage, but I try to have the colors worked out before I mix them in clay.




I can imagine mistakes can be costly. After your artwork has been published in a book, how do you preserve it and are you allowed to sell it?
 
I save my artwork in pizza boxes and other flat boxes and have my studio knee wall space filled with them. The sad thing is that if I am using plasticine, it is not a permanent medium and they can never displayed in any way but on a tabletop under glass.

I do have some framed and saved that way, but I don't sell them. I also use some polymer clay which is more permanent, but I don't sell those either. Since the end product is ultimately a photograph of my clay, I do sell large prints of the work.



Pizza boxes. I love it! What question have you never been asked on an interview or school visit, but wish to be?

Hmmmm.... How old do you feel, or rather, what is your mental age?

I think ten years old is the age I identify with most. I still think like a ten year old. I'm forever trying to figure the world out and gain experiences by feeling my way through while keeping that sense of wonder. I rarely feel like an expert, but in a way that feeds the creativity.

That's actually why I enjoy clay so much, because I don't know how to do it! Every illustration becomes a discovery process. With lots of skills, ten year olds are still trying to do things in their own way with exuberance and angst, and most are not yet jaded.

Ten is my favorite age, too. And finally, what are you working on now? Any surprises you can share with us?

I am thrilled to say that my editor and I are working on a new Poppy book! In this second book, Poppy faces sibling rivalry with not one but two adorable additions to the family.

We'll see if Poppy can learn to share the limelight!

Congratulations! Can’t wait to find out. Thank you so much for stopping by, Susan. I wish you a lovely time at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Cynsational Notes

Patti Buff
The tenth out of eleven children in a family that took in hundreds of foster kids, Patti Buff found solitude in reading at a young age and hasn’t stopped. She later turned to writing because none of her other siblings had and she needed to stand out in the crowd somehow.

Originally from Minnesota, Patti now lives in Germany with her husband and two teenagers where she’s also the regional advisor of SCBWI Germany & Austria. She is currently putting the finishing touches on her YA novel Requiem, featured in the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices 2016 anthology.

The Bologna 2016 Interview series is coordinated by Angela Cerrito, SCBWI’s Assistant International Advisor and a Cynsational Reporter in Europe and beyond.

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5. 2016 SCBWI Bologna Author Interview: Kathleen Ahrens

By Patti Buff
for SCBWI Bologna 2016
and Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Kathleen Ahrens was born in the suburbs of New York City and aspired to be an astronaut and to live in a skyscraper. Poor eyesight led her to forgo the first dream, but her move to Hong Kong allowed her to finally fulfill the second.

As a child, she read constantly — often in very dim lighting — leading to her poor eyesight, and she could often be found with a book in one hand and a dictionary in another, now clear precursors of her love of both literature and language.

Her favorite subject in high school was Latin, but her aptitude in math led her to enter the University of Massachusetts Amherst as a computer science major, later switching to a degree in Oriental Languages after she grew bored writing computer programs that mimicked war scenarios.

Currently a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, where she is the director of the International Writers’ Workshop, she is also a fellow in the Hong Kong Academy of Humanities, and the international regional advisor chairperson for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

Hi Kathleen! Thanks for stopping by the blog to discuss the upcoming Bologna Book Fair

With much more focus on diversity in children's books than has been in the past, how important of a role do you think book fairs like Bologna play in introducing young readers to children from other countries and cultures?

The fact that buyers can walk from one hall to another and see and acquire books from all over the world is very important — without Bologna it would be much harder to know of and gain rights for books from outside one’s own geo-political boundaries.

In addition, while most everything is available on the internet nowadays, it’s still people who connect their friends to books they find at the fair and introduce people who buy and sell rights to each other. These connections happen quite naturally in Bologna, which make it that much more likely that the books from one country may make it to the shelves of another country.

One thing that I’ve noticed as I’ve traveled is that so many publishers in countries outside of the U.S. bring in (and translate) books from all over the world. I’ve yet to see that kind of cross-cultural diversity in U.S. bookstores, even in independent ones, mainly because the U.S. publishers are simply not buying (and translating) that many books from other countries.

Part of that has to do with the fact that US has its own rich publishing environment, but part of it seems to stem from the assumption that U.S. children will not read translated books. This assumption needs to be tested by regularly putting the very best of literature translated from other languages into the hands of readers in the U.S.

Any tips for new Bologna visitors?

I highly recommend the museums in Bologna, including the Archaeological Museum of Bologna and Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna (Mambo). My favorite is the Museo Civico Medievale because it contains artifacts that show medieval life in Bologna, including funerary monuments and tombs for professors, some of which have engravings that show teachers lecturing to students. Perhaps because I am a university professor myself, I find these representations fascinating, especially as the scene is still a familiar one in universities today.

One tip if you visit the museums: there are audio recordings are very well done and worth the cost of renting if available.

Great tips. I’ll be sure to check them out. Your picture books (Ears Hear and Numbers Do, both co-authored by Chu-Ren Huang, illustrated by Marjorie Van Heerden) are bilingual in English and Chinese and feature an Asian setting. How hard was it to cross both cultures in one project?

The challenges for these two picture books was in the language. I like to say I “co-argued” these books with my co-author, who also happens to be my husband.

We were adamant about having the text read naturally in both languages and yet still be clear translations of the other language. So sometimes my husband would come up with a line that sounded great in Chinese, but awkward in English, and vice versa.

Another challenge was that the editor wanted the text and illustrations explained, as she was afraid that the minimal text and illustrations with fantastical elements might be confusing.

This is not something that is usually done in picture books published in the United States, as the reader is free to interpret the text and illustrations as he or she wishes.

We compromised by providing commentary and questions in the back of the books to assist the adult reader in interpreting the text and illustrations. I think it worked out well in the end because it helps parents see that it’s okay to stop and discuss a text during a reading, and that there is no single correct interpretation. For parents who are unfamiliar with reading to young children, or who feel that a book should have a particular overt message, it’s important to let them know that multiple interpretations are fine.

‘Multiple interpretations’, which in themselves are another form of diversity. Very cool. Your other writing projects, including the one that won the Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award are more western based. What are some of the challenges of writing for children in your adopted country and writing for your homeland audience? And how do you keep up to date with teens from the other side of the world?

The biggest challenge is the same for any audience — namely, getting what is in my head down on paper. I can sit at the computer and see the scene perfectly in my head. I can hear the dialogue and smell the freshly-shampooed hair of a character. But all that needs to be translated to the page and that’s part of the challenge and excitement of writing.

In terms of keeping up with teens in the U.S, I know enough to know that I could never keep up. But I also know that, as Doreathea Brande said, “If a situation has caught your attention…[if] it has meaning for you, and if you can find what that meaning is, you have the basis for a story.”

That’s what I’m doing when I write — I’m finding that meaning. And when someone reads what I’ve written, they’re creating their own meaning based on what is going on in their lives at that particular point in time. So to my mind, it’s not so much keeping up-to-date as being curious and open to meanings in everyday situations and figuring out how they might intersect with universal themes and current issues that are of interest to readers.

You are extensively published in the academic world, which requires a fair amount of research. Do you apply the same research techniques to your fiction? If not, how do they differ?

Hong Kong at night
In my linguistic research, I set up a hypothesis and then test my hypothesis by gathering linguistic data through experiments or through analysis of linguistic patterns in that corpus.

When I write creatively, I utilize the internet, the public and university library, newspapers, published diaries, etc. in order to get background information for my story — the details that make a scene come alive for reader.

In the former, I’m testing hypotheses; in the latter, I’m gathering information. However, they share a similarity in that I also need to gather information before I test a hypothesis — I need to see what other conclusions researchers have before I start my own research. So I’m pretty good at locating and sifting through information — I used to do this on 3 x 5 inch note cards. Now I use Scrivener and Mendeley to stay organized.

And finally, what are you working on now? Any surprises you can share with us?

I’m working on a YA novel about two sixteen-year old half-sisters meeting up at a summer camp for the first time in ten years — one has been waiting for this summer for ages, while the other has been doing everything possible to avoid it.

What’s at stake is not only the relationship between the two of them, but also the main character’s relationship to her mother, who left her at an early age and later died while serving in Iraq.

That sounds amazing – and powerful. Hope to be able to read it soon. Thank you so much for stopping by, Kathleen. I wish you a lovely time in Bologna.

Cynsational Notes

Patti Buff
The tenth out of eleven children in a family that took in hundreds of foster kids, Patti Buff found solitude in reading at a young age and hasn’t stopped. She later turned to writing because none of her other siblings had and she needed to stand out in the crowd somehow.

Originally from Minnesota, Patti now lives in Germany with her husband and two teenagers where she’s also the regional advisor of SCBWI Germany & Austria. She is currently putting the finishing touches on her YA novel Requiem, featured in the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices 2016 anthology.

The Bologna 2016 Interview series is coordinated by Angela Cerrito, SCBWI’s Assistant International Advisor and a Cynsational Reporter in Europe and beyond.

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6. SCBWI Bologna Book Fair

I just got the exciting news that my piece "Rainy Day Friends" has been chosen for the SCBWI Bologna Book Fair 2016 Illustrator Showcase!  Thank you so much to the SCBWI judges!  This is an incredible honor! 


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7. Picture Book Study: Meg Goldberg on Parade by Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum and Christopher Lyles

This is a children’s picture book structure break down for Meg Goldberg on Parade by Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum and Christopher Lyles. This breakdown will contain…

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8. Little Red Riding Hood

Baird_Roberta_tomie72 little red roberta_72Every year I seem to do several versions  of my entry for the SCBWI Tomie Depaola award Contest. this year was no exception. I did two completely different settings for Little Red Riding Hood prompt. The passage I used was “Her grandmother lived in the woods, about half an hour’s walk away. When Little Red Riding Hood had only been walking a few minutes, a wolf came up to her. She didn’t know what a wicked animal he was, so she wasn’t afraid of him.”

In the end I sent the Central Park Little Red Riding Hood, but I always wonder if I should’ve sent the other one/ones. Which one?

 

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9. SCBWI Tomie dePaolo entry

A Big Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 SCBWI Tomie dePaolo contest.....Now I can show you my submission, which I had a great time working on, even if it did not make the list!
Check out the winners!
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Check out the winners of the SCBWI Tomie dePaolo Contest



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10. Kid Lit Interview – Lee Wind

I first met Lee at in August 2011 at the poolside LGBTQ meeting during the annual SCBWI summer conference in Los Angeles. If my memory is correct, this is also where I fist met Emma Dryden, Jane Yolen and Judy … Continue reading

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11. Eliza Wheeler – Illustrator Interview

I am committed to being open with my readers so let me just say that I picked up a copy of Miss Maple’s Seeds in 2012 solely because of the title! I was so glad I did. It is a … Continue reading

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12. Fav Poetry Book 2015!

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Howdy, Campers, and Happy Poetry Friday!  Buffy hosts today--her link is at the bottom.

The topic we TeachingAuthors are tossing around now? A favorite children's book we've read this year. Esther's weighed in with a touching picture book; I'm up to bat.

I almost went with the audio book of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time (read by the author!). This classic celebrated it's 50th anniversary three years ago, but it was in September, as I zoomed up the 405 freeway to pack up family memories, that I was transported by L'Engle's words...and her worlds.

But the book which electrified the poetry particles in my brain is Deborah Ruddell's inventive collection, The Popcorn Astronauts--And Other Biteable Rhymeswhimsically illustrated by Joan Rankin.


As soon as I read it, I searched for Ms. Ruddell on Facebook and (blush) sent her this fan mail:

Hi, Deborah! I just read The Popcorn Astronauts and I'm blown away by your oh-my-gosh-REALLY?? metaphors that are so out-of-the-box they leave me gasping. And inspired.  

Here's just a taste of how Ruddell sees at the world: fresh-popped kernels of corn are astronauts, a strawberry is royalty in a beaded suit, and raisins are wrinkled rocks with "the bold, enchanting taste of well-worn pirate socks." 

Raise your hand if you've ever struggled to describe peach skin. In fact, stop reading this and close your eyes. Try to imagine peach skin with fresh eyes. Can you describe it in a completely original way?


Okay--open your eyes..  Now, raise your hand if you came close to this"flannelpajamaty skin."

Here's a snippet of Jama Rattigan's fabulous book review and interview of Deborah Ruddell this spring:
Jama: Which poem was the most fun to write and why? Which poem was the hardest? Do you have a favorite?
Deborah: NO poem is ever easy for me to write. I am a slow and tormented poet! The hardest part is when I think I’ve almost got something, but it’s just out of reach. That happened with “Welcome to Watermelon Lake.” I had the image of the pink lake and the pale green shore, but making that image work as a poem was a struggle. Just when I thought I finally had it made, my editor suggested a third stanza in which I introduce the seeds! Argh!
Deborah's answer makes me feel better--I'm not alone!  And yet, look how effortlessly that poem seem to flow (click to enlarge):
In the same interview, Deborah said that the poet who most inspires her is Alice Shertle.  Me, too, me, too! 
So check out Poetry Friday at Buffy's today...then find this book and feast on it!
P.S: Check out the brand-new SCBWI Book Launch Parties!  Here's mineand here are 400+ more! 

posted joyously by April Halprin Wayland, with help from her elves, Monkey and Eli

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13. KidLit Author Events Dec.1-7

A BEAR'S YEAR: Kathy Duval; Illustrated by Gerry Turley

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving, and now it’s time to get ready for more holiday parties. The party I am looking forward to the most this season is our SCBWI Houston holiday pot luck dinner on Monday, December 7 at 7:00 at the Tracy Gee Community Center. Along with book and art sales and great food, we’re doing something special this year; we’re celebrating the launch of Kathy Duval’s newest picture book, A BEAR’S YEAR. Everyone who pre-ordered it from Blue Willow bookshop will get a little gift from Kathy. Please join us!

In addition to our SCBWI party, a lot of other events are keeping Kathy quite busy. The next morning, Wednesday, December 2, she’s doing storytime at Katy Budget Books from 10:00 to 11:00. Next week she’s visiting two schools:
December 8 at James Randolph School in Katy, and another on December 11 at Patterson Literature Magnet School. In between, she’ll be Skyping with St. John Vianney School in Brookfield Wisconsin on December 7. Go Kathy!

In this morning’s Publisher’s Lunch I read some good news for Mary Lindsey, the local author of SHATTERED SOULS. Mary’s first three books in the HAVEN series, following a community of shifters and spell weavers whose ancestors fled persecution during the Wurzburg and Bamberg witch trials of the 1600s, sold to Liz Pelletier at Entangled Teen.

In other news for local authors, Russell Sanders has a new YA novel, COLORS, releasing this winter. Mark your calendars for his launch at River Oaks Bookstore on February 6.

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14. scbwi conference 2015

Here's my favourite photo from this year's conference of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators in Winchester: debut author Kathryn Evans modeling her Seawig in front of seafaring costume judges Philip Reeve and Jonny Duddle.


Photo by Teri Terry

And check out the party costumes of organisers Dom Conlon (fish bones in the beard!) and George Kirk (giant squid, with Seawig!).


Photos by Philip Reeve, George Kirk & Candy Gourlay

The SCBWI Conference is a great chance for long-time friends and total newbies to meet up, celebrate their books, learn how to make and pitch new ones and generally muck about.



Photos by Candy Gourlay</a>

I've been to the conference before, but this was the first time I had a few hours to wander around Winchester, which looks sparkly and gorgeous in the run up to Christmas. Philip and I bought mulled wine at the Christmas market and I bought earmuffs; it was all very cosy.



Obligatory lovely Winchester Cathedral pics:



Actually, this was the view of the cathedral from my hotel room!



The cool thing about Winchester is that anyone who sleeps within a stone's throw of the cathedral gets two little elf-priests to sit at their feet all night. (Well, perhaps historically.)



SCBWI treated us to a nice dinner on the first night (and I wore my new Esther Marfo dress, love it love it).


Photo by George Kirk

We found out it was illustrator Clare Tovey's birthday so a bunch of us rallied to make her a cake.


Photo on left by George Kirk

Philip and I gave the opening keynote speech and George Kirk did an amazing job introducing us by playing a song she'd written for us on the ukulele. Wow!


Direct YouTube link

Thanks, George! Philip and I led everyone through a few of the activities we do with kids, to engage them in our books, including drawing, singing and creating and playing a giant board game.


Tweet (and pug) by @JoolsAWilson, photo by George Kirk


Then we got to listen to a talk by illustrator-write Jonny Duddle, who has a background in designing characters for computer games and who designed the pirates for the recent Aardman animated film. I loved hearing about his year at sea, when he got to crew an actual old-style pirate ship, which is sort of my dream; and how photos he took from that year became such valuable reference images for his later pirate picture books.



Despite posting those costume photos, I didn't actually get to go to the evening's fancy dress party. Philip was the Reeve & McIntyre ambassador while I kept a long-standing date with my husband Stuart back in London to go see the play Farinelli and the King. (Here's a picture of the glowing candle-lit Duke of York's Theatre.)



But it was great to see people being so creative! Well done on those costumes, guys, and it was fun popping in to see the conference illustrator exhibition!


Tweet by @SwapnaHaddow

One more photos of Nicky's Seawig; isn't she glorious? :D


Photos by Candy Gourlay

Huge thanks to George Kirk (here's her blog, Jan Carr, Dom Conlon, Candy Gourlay, Mo O'Hara, Suzie Wilde, Natascha Biebow, local P&G Wells booksellers and everyone on the team who helped to make the conference run so smoothly!

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15. The Fellowship of Writing

by Addy Farmer

Friends celebrate at the SCBWI conference!
A friend is a comrade, chum, compatriot, crony, advocate, ally, a confrere ( I like that word). The bond of friendship is forged by many and varied things - common opinions and values, humour, food, shared experience, even disagreement can bring us together as friends. Friendship can be lifelong or fleeting. We remember friends from when we were little - when everything was supposed to be a great deal less complicated but often was not. Then there's the primary playground where we fell in and out of love with our friends as quickly as the cloud moves across the sun. Then, in a teenage time of change we longed for or adored or hated our friends and most probably all at once.



And now? Well, I'll return to now at the end of this blog.

friend - noun
a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. orig. present participle of frēogan, cognate with Gothic frijōn to love
See how dark and gloomy the world looks when you're friendless.
Harry - in a place of isolation
The world can seem big and cold ...
Croc is looking for a friend at Christmas
 You might be lost and sad ...



I loved the brother sister friendship in I'll Give you the Sun, how it broke down, how each made new friends, before finding each other again. I also loved, as a child, the sibling friendship in Linnets and Valerians. Perhaps it has something to do with not having silblings that this type of friendship always catches me. Nicky Schmidt

Nobody understands you like a friends does ...
“Without friends, no one would want to live, even if he had all other good.' Aristotle
Wise words, Aristotle. In other words, you don't need stuff to make you happy. One of my favourite picture books about friendship is this one ...

Crispin has everything or does he?
Crispin has every expensive present he could possibly wish for at Christmas but he finds no joy in them until he has friends to play with as well. At the simplest level friendship makes us happy and the lack of it makes us sad. Friendship can be profound and it can be frivolous. It can make us laugh, it can make us cry, it can make us really cross, it can support us in our hour of need, it can save our lives. It is the stuff of stories.
I would not wish
Any companion in the world but you.
(The Tempest 3.1.60-1), Miranda to Ferdinand

For me, friends are the thrumming heart of stories. On her own, our hero is alone in the woods with only the wolves for company. She spends her time scrabbling for berries to eat and scurrying to the makeshift hut to escape being eaten. By the light of the makeshift fire, she knows that this is quite a boring and dodgy way to live. Eventually hunger drives her out of the woods (hers and the wolves) and she meets a small boy who gives her a three course meal. She discovers the joy of having a proper chat with someone who is not a tree and who also has the power to hypnotise wolves. Plus, he tells the best jokes. And we're off.

There are as many different types of friends as there are characters
I love the way Oliver Jeffers explores friendship in his boy and penguin books (Lost and Found, Up and Down etc). The misunderstandings and problem solving are handled beautifully .Katherine Lynas

A short-lived but bright-burning friendship between a pig and a spider

Max is called stupid and Freak is called Dwarf but together they are unstoppable
Pippa Wilson Flora And Ulysses is an absolutely brilliant one to look at.
A friend is somebody to understand you when nobody else seems to

In Juliet Clare Bell and Dave Gray's, 'The Unstoppable Maggie Magee', the friendship between Maggie and Sol is unusual in that Sol cannot speak and has limited communication but Maggie is his friend and they find their own way to communicate because it's important to them. Their friendship takes them to the places that they dream of. 

An important story of an unstoppable friendship
In Jeanne Willis', 'Dumb Creatures', Tom's got plenty to say but it's all caged up inside him. Then he meets Zanzi the gorilla who changes everything. Like Tom, she too can sign and it makes for an unusual and touching friendship.
Not so dumb creatures
In 'Siddharth and Rinki' when Siddharth moves to England he feels that the only friend who understands him is his toy elephant, Rinki. But slowly Siddharth understands that friendship can come through gestures and smiles and adventure.  

You don't have to speak the same language to make friends
School Friends - The first rule of children's books is Kill The Parents/Adults, that leaves your character only one option - make friends. It's a brilliant story arc that works everytime. New school, everyone hates me, make friends. I'm all alone with no one to help me, turn to another child for solidarity. I use this theme again and again. Oh! My secret is out! Jo Franklin 
Friendship can go beyond boundaries.

Wonderful, quirky friendships in a wonderful quirky world suggested by Pippa Wilson
Friendship does not recognise fences
Huckleberry Finn chose to be with friends with Tom Sawyer, "the best fighter and the smartest kid in town".He thought himself lucky to have such a friend and in 1884 America, such a friendship was also brave.

Stephanie Cuthbertson pointed out the friendship in Huck Finn as unconditional with no agenda and no prejudice.
Friendship can be stronger than death
Keith Gray has written a brilliantly unsentimental odyssey, Ostrich Boys. Three friends steal the ashes of their dead friend and set out to give him one last adventure.

"You know, yesterday and today have been amazing. All the stuff we've been through? And it's all been because of him. I'm telling you: we've got the best story ever. But he missed out. He's never gonna be able to tell it." His shoulders shook as he wept.

But they did it - Kenny, Sim and Blake. They braved authority and defied common sense for the sake of friendship. 

It's as good as picking up a sword. Remember Neville in Harry Potter?


Friends will go to the ends of the world to save you

Someone can overcome incredible odds to rescue their friend. In The Snow Queen, small, young, Gerda risks her life and soul to recover her friend, Kay from the Snow Queen.

A wonderful illustration by the illustrator Amy Chipping
"I can give her no greater power than she has already, said the woman; don't you see how strong that is? How men and animals are obliged to serve her, and how well she has got through the world, barefooted as she is. She cannot receive any power from me greater than she now has ... If she cannot herself obtain access to the Snow Queen, and remove the glass fragments from little Kay, we can do nothing to help her.”
Hans Christian Andersen, The Snow Queen

In the end, friends will not give up on you

"To find out where Jonah had gone, he would have to go there too. One day it would come. He would hear something or see something, and he would know that this was the day. It might be only hours from now, it might be years. But he would know it when it came ... And then, he knew, he would find him."

When everyone else despairs of finding him, Joe never gives up on his best friend, Jonah

Story or real-life
A friend will fight for us
Rescue us
Stick up for us
Find us when we are lost
Support us when we are unsure
Tell us the truth
Or close their eyes to our faults ...
Pooh will keep you safe, Piglet!


Thanks to all our SCBWI friends who contributed to this blog. Catherine Friess also wrote a lovely post in Story Snug about fictional best friends - take a look for more ideas!

So back to the beginning and friend now; here are a few photos of friends or confrere at the conference!


Pirate Pals

Ah-ha!

Ahhhhhhh!

Aye, aye, Cap'n!

Pirates have seldom looked better

Pirate lovelies

Pals

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16. Linda Boyden – Illustrator Interview

Linda Boyden was the second (and since there have been many more) person that I had gotten to know in the online kid lit community who invited me to stay before meeting me. It was in October of 2012 and … Continue reading

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17. Amy Huntingdon – Illustrator Interview

I came to Amy’s art through a recommendation, which isn’t rare for me as friends know of my love for picture book illustration despite ‘only’ being a writer. My friend, Emma Dryden suggested I check out Amy’s work earlier in … Continue reading

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18. While the Sun Shines

If you’re anywhere near Sheboygan, Wisconsin, look for me this weekend at the Sheboygan Children’s Book Festival. The celebration, October 9-11, features free programming for children, teens, and adults with 16 authors and illustrators presenting at three venues.


I’ll be presenting a program for children on Saturday at 11:30 at Bookworm Gardens. I’ll read Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move, and we’ll do a milkweed seed activity and talk about monarch butterflies.  I can hardly wait!


On Sunday at 1:30 at the Mead Public Library, I’ll present a workshop for adults about writing lively nonfiction and share examples from exciting nonfiction books for kids. I found such wonderful resources!

The following weekend is our SCBWI-Wisconsin Fall Conference, where I’ll present a breakout session on Activating Passive Language. I’m also doing critiques. Here, Im interviewed on the new SCBWI-Wisconsin Blog. You can read interviews with some of the other presenters here

Just in time for my conference planning, I finished revising a test passage for an educational publisher. Sometime before I take off for Sheboygan, I intend to send out a letter about a school visit. All this preparation can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s all fun stuff. After a pretty quiet summer, I’m happy to be busy! So when work is available, I always say "Yes!" if I can.

This week’s To-Do list demonstrates our current Teaching Authors topic: the variety of ways we try to make a living in addition to writing and marketing our books for children. Marti started us off with a post about her two articles in the 2016 Childrens Writers and Illustrator’s Market, including "Make a Living as a Writer." Last week Monday, Esther mentioned teaching, writing book reviews, and educational writing. On Wednesday, Laura Purdie Salas shared an exercise about writing on assignment. On Friday, April gave us three tips and a story. Mary Ann started this week with another story and her take on school visits and teaching. We all wear multiple hats!

When I’m busybusybusy, I have to remember to take breaks. Yesterday, I walked to the lake and saw this brief, tiny rainbow overhead.


Here’s a cloud-watching poem to go with the view:
Summer Job 
My favorite occupation
is to lie back and look at the sky.
If you find the right spot,
you can see quite a lot
in the shapes of the clouds rolling by. 
You can study the habits of insects.
You can see how they flutter and fly.
You’ll see birds on the wing.
You can hear how they sing
as they swoop and they soar through the sky. 
All in all, it’s a fabulous habit.
You really should give it a try.
There’s nothing to do
but consider the view.
As the day drifts away, so do I.
JoAnn Early Macken 
I hope to see some of you out and about! In the meantime, be sure to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the 2016 Childrens Writers and Illustrator’s Market (courtesy of Writer’s Digest Books)! Saturday, October 10, is the last day to enter.

Laura Purdie Salas is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Writing the World for Kids. Enjoy!

JoAnn Early Macken

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19. KidLit Author Events & Happy Book Birthday

Happy September! This is the month that always makes me want to buy boots and sweaters, even though in my part of Texas neither of those things is really necessary more than one or two weeks out of the year, and then not until January. Being the first of the month, I’ve added a slew of September book babies to the slider on my conference pages. Check it out to get a peek at all the delicious new reads!

Happy book Birthday!

Happy book Birthday!

Happy Book Birthday

this week to

Linda Joy Singelton’s Cinderella-inspired YA, NEVER BEEN TEXTED,

to Dax Varley’s YA horror novel, BLEED,

and to Josh Funk’s LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST, illustrated by Brendan Kearney.

 

NEVER BEEN TEXTED by Linda Joy SingletonNEVER BEEN TEXTED: When Ashlee’s stepdad completely forgets her birthday she takes matters into her own hands to get the one thing she really wants: her own cell phone. But text messages start rolling in from a broken-hearted boy, and though Ashlee knows not all stories end happily, she’s determined to make hers the best it can be. Balancing a bit of magic, the love of a pet dog, the support of a well-meaning and meddling friend, and the dream of a sweet romance, Ashlee must decide whether or not to pursue a boy who’s been recently entangled with her high school’s most vicious girl.

BLEED by Dax VarleyBLEED: Life is a nightmare for Miranda Murphy. Without knowing when or why, blood oozes from her palms—an anomaly that makes her feel like a freak. But her abnormality is now the least of her worries. She’s just enrolled at “Suicide High.” Three deaths in three months—one occurring just days before her arrival. When she bumps into a cute boy named Jake, things don’t appear so glum. Especially since Jake’s a psychic who can predict the immediate future. But his gift of sight can’t prepare her for the horrors that await. Through Jake, Miranda meets three other extraordinary students: Topher, who can heal by touch; Sam, who eats the sins of the dead; and Xyan, who speaks and understands all languages. It’s then that Miranda learns the secret behind why she bleeds. When it becomes evident that supernatural forces are at play, the five determined friends team up. Now it’s up to them to destroy the evil infecting their school. Head over to Dax’s website to read an excerpt!

LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST: A thoroughly delicious picture book about the funniest “food fight!” ever! Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast have a beautiful friendship—until they discover that there’s ONLY ONE DROP of maple syrup left. Off they go, racing past the Orange Juice Fountain, skiing through Sauerkraut Peak, and reeling down the linguini. But who will enjoy the sweet taste of victory? And could working together be better than tearing each other apart? The action-packed rhyme makes for an adrenaline-filled breakfast . . . even without a drop of coffee!

Now for this week’s Greater Houston Area events:

WritespaceSEPTEMBER 5, SATURDAY, 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Writespace
Writers’ Workshop with K.J. Russell
COST: $30 Members, $45 Non-members

Dialogue: Let Your Characters’ Words Bring Your Story to Life! Tell your exposition to take a break and let your characters do some of the talking for you! There’s no better tool to give your fiction and nonfiction a unique new voice and grounded perspective than well-crafted dialogue. Cut back on static narration and character description by letting the characters demonstrate themselves and the world around them. In this workshop, K.J. Russell will discuss the many uses of dialogue, what craft problems dialogue can solve, and how to execute it with a confidence that will lend your story the kind of life that readers are looking for.

SEPTEMBER 8, MONDAY, 7:00-9:00 PMSCBWI
SCBWI Houston
Tracy Gee Community Center, 3599 Westcenter Drive
Cost: FREE

A panel of local SCBWI members will discuss the topics covered in the recent annual SCBWI International Conference in Los Angeles.

 

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20. KidLit Events & Happy Book Birthday!

SERPENTINE by Cindy PonHappy Birthday

today to

Cindy Pon

for her new YA novel

SERPENTINE

 

This book is getting awesome reviews from from the big reviewers and has been selected as a Junior Library Guild selection for Fall 2015. See what other YA fantasy authors have to say about it:

“Vivid worldbuilding, incendiary romance, heart-pounding action, and characters that will win you over–I highly recommend Serpentine.” Cinda Williams Chima, bestselling author of the Seven Realms and Heir Chronicles fantasy novels

Serpentine is unique and surprising, with a beautifully-drawn fantasy world that sucked me right in! I love Skybright’s transformative power, and how she learns to take charge of it.” ~Kristin Cashore, New York Times bestselling of the Graceling Realm Series

Serpentine’s world oozes with lush details and rich lore, and the characters crackle with life. This is one story that you’ll want to lose yourself in.” ~ Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of Legend and The Young Elites

Hop over to Cindy’s website to find out more about it and get an eyeful of Cindy’s beautiful artwork!

 

The Essential Workshop for Fiction Writers

If you haven’t signed up for this workshop with Kimberly Morris yet, I think there are still a few spots available. This is a one-day workshop on Saturday, September 26. Join us for 25 years of Kimberly’s professional writing experience distilled into 4 hours of intuitive, entertaining, and easy-to-digest instruction that you can immediately apply to a new or stalled manuscript. This workshop is for writers of any genre of fiction; chapter books, middle grade, young adult and adult. Go here for more information and to register!

 

Here’s this week’s Houston area events:

 

SEPTEMBER 8, TUESDAY, 7:00-9:00 PM ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD by Varsha Bajaj
SCBWI Houston
Tracy Gee Community Center, 3599 Westcenter Drive
Cost: FREE

A panel of local SCBWI members will discuss the topics covered in the recent annual SCBWI International Conference in Los Angeles. Also, this is the night local author Varsha Bajaj is presented with SCBWI’s Texas/Oklahoma Region Crystal Kite Award for her 2014 debut MG novel, ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD. The Crystal Kite is a peer-given award to recognize great books from 15 SCBWI regional divisions around the world.

 

SEPTEMBER 10, THURSDAY, 5:00 PMTUCKY JO AND LITTLE HEART by Patricia Polacco
Blue Willow Bookshop
Patricia Polacco, PB Author/Illustrator
Cost: FREE! In order to go through the signing line and meet Patricia Polacco, please purchase TUCKY JO AND LITTLE HEART from Blue Willow Bookshop. Please see Blue Willow’s event page for more information.

Patricia Polacco will share her new picture book for children, TUCKY JO AND LITTLE HEART. Tucky Jo was known as the “kid from Kentucky” when he enlisted in the army at age fifteen. Being the youngest recruit in the Pacific during World War II was tough. But he finds a friend in a little girl who helps him soothe his bug bites, and he gets to know her family and gives them some of his rations. Although the little girl doesn’t speak English, Tucky Jo and Little Heart share the language of kindness. Many years later, Tucky Jo and Little Heart meet again, and an act of kindness is returned when it’s needed the most in this touching picture book based on a true story.

 

SEPTEMBER 12, SATURDAY, 9:30 AM-5:00 PMChris Rogers, Author, Instructor
Writespace
Novel Workshop with Chris Rogers
Cost: $75 Members, $95 Non-members

This workshop will take you quickly through the basics of novel structure and will equip you to create an intriguing plot, wonderful characters and page-turning suspense. Topics we will cover include: The 12-Step Story Plan; Dramatic & Reflective Structure; Plot, Point of View & Characterization; Suspense, Tension & Conflict; Subplot & Pacing; Emotional Connections

This workshop will meet you wherever you are in your novel writing process, so feel free to come with a completed novel draft, with a completed first chapter, or without a particular plan in mind, but open to new possibilities.

 

SEPTEMBER 13, SUNDAY, 2:00 PMFANCY NANCY SOCCER MANIA, Illustrator: Robin Preiss Glasser; Author: Jane O Connor
Blue Willow Bookshop
Robin Preiss Glasser, Illustrator
Cost: FREE! In order to go through the signing line and meet Robin Preiss Glasser for book personalization, please purchase NANCY CLANCY: SOCCER MANIA from Blue Willow Bookshop. See Blue Willow’s event page for more information.

Robin Preiss Glasser, illustrator of the wildly popular FANCY NACY series, will share her new book, NANCY CLANCY: SOCCER MANIA. Normally Nancy doesn t like dressing like everyone else. But wearing a soccer team uniform well, that’s different. Nancy adores being on the Green Goblins she loves cheering for her teammates, sharing refreshments, and painting her fingernails bright green before every game. If only she wasn t cursed with slow legs All Nancy wants is to be mediocre or maybe even a little better than average. Will she reach her goal? Here’s a brand-new chapter book with plenty of humor and sports action, written expressly for kids like Nancy who aren’t the star of their team.

 

 

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21. KidLit Author Events Sept. 14-21

Lanier Library; Image copywrite held by A.E. ParkerTime is running out to sign up for The Essential Workshop for Fiction Writers with the Houston chapter of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators! This one-day workshop with Kimberly Morris, author of over 60 novels for teen and middle grade audiences as well as screen writing credits for several television shows, will be held September 26 at the beautiful Lanier Theological Library. This workshop is for writers of any genre of fiction; chapter books, middle grade, young adult and adult. Using over 25 years of professional writing experience, Kimberly will teach us the architecture and engineering of plot, a methodical and organized technique for sequencing events, and much, much more! Go here for more information and to register!

I hope to see you there!

Here’s this week’s events:

SEPTEMBER 15, TUESDAY, 7:30 PMRWA-Logo-200
Bay Area RWA
Kirkmont MUD Building, 10102 Blackhawk Road
With author Christie Craig

SEPTEMBER 18, FRIDAY, 5:00THE FOREVER MAN by Eoin Colfer
Blue Willow Bookshop
Eoin Colfer & Jonathan Stroud, MG Authors

Blue Willow Bookshop welcomes two NYT bestselling authors of books for kids, Eoin Colfer and Jonathan Stroud, as they present their newest books. Please visit Blue Willow’s website for important information about this event!

Eoin Colfer: WARP 3: THE FOREVER MAN: Riley, an orphan boy living in Victorian London, has achieved his dream of becoming a renowned magician, the Great Savano. He owes much of his success to Chevie, a seventeen-year-old FBI agent who traveled from the future in a time pod and helped him defeat his murderous master, Albert Garrick. But it is difficult for Riley to enjoy his new life, for he has always believed that Garrick will someday, somehow, return to seek vengeance.

Chevie has assured Riley that Garrick was sucked into a temporal wormhole, never to emerge. The full nature of the wormhole has never been understood, however, and just as a human body will reject an unsuitable transplant, the wormhole eventually spat him out. By the time Garrick makes it back to Victorian London, he has been planning his revenge on Riley for centuries. But even the best-laid plans can go awry, and when the three are tossed once more into the wormhole, they end up in a highly paranoid Puritan village where everything is turned upside down. Chevie is accused of being a witch, Garrick is lauded as the town’s protector, and . . . is that a talking dog? Riley will need to rely on his reserve of magic tricks to save Chevie and destroy his former master once and for all.

THE HOLLOW BOY by Jonathan StroudJonathan Stroud: LOCKWOOD & CO., BOOK 3: THE HOLLOW BOY : As a massive outbreak of supernatural Visitors baffles Scotland Yard and causes protests throughout London, Lockwood & Co. continue to demonstrate their effectiveness in exterminating spirits. Anthony Lockwood is dashing, George insightful, and Lucy dynamic, while the skull in the jar utters sardonic advice from the sidelines. There is a new spirit of openness in the team now that Lockwood has shared some of his childhood secrets, and Lucy is feeling more and more as if her true home is at Portland Row. It comes as a great shock, then, when Lockwood and George introduce her to an annoyingly perky and hyper-efficient new assistant, Holly Munro.

Meanwhile, there are reports of many new hauntings, including a house where bloody footprints are appearing, and a department store full of strange sounds and shadowy figures. But ghosts seem to be the least of Lockwood & Co.’s concerns when assassins attack during a carnival in the center of the city. Can the team get past their personal issues to save the day on all fronts, or will bad feelings attract yet more trouble?

SEPTEMBER 19, SATURDAY, 9:00 AM-4:00 PMRWA-Logo-200
Bay Area RWA
South Shore Harbour Resort, League City
Starfish Writers Conference Featuring Sarah MacLean
Cost: Members $30, Nonmembers $50

Mastering the Art of Great Conflict. We know that the wallflower makes the perfect heroine for the rake; that the vampire makes the perfect hero for the vampire hunter; that the thief makes the perfect match for the detective. These matches work because of their innate initial conflict, but how do we keep conflict alive for an entire book?
Dialogue. Effective dialogue keeps your readers reading by keeping your characters talking.
Conquering High Concept. Sarah MacLean will be joined by bestselling author Sophie Jordan as they demystify the term “high concept” and provide concrete techniques, tips, and tricks to keep your stories big, your writing sharp, and your manuscripts selling.

SEPTEMBER 19, SATURDAY, 10:00 AM-NOONHouston YA/MG
Houston YA MG Writers
Cafe Express, Town & Country Village
COST: FREE

YA/MG Write-In! Join other Houston area writers of children’s and young adult literature. Grab some breakfast to nourish your muse, then the silent writing sessions will start at 10:15. Come early, come late, but come ready to make words!

SEPTEMBER 19, Saturday, 11:00 AM FULL MOON AT THE NAPPING HOUSE by Audrey Wood, Illustrated by Don Wood
Blue Willow Bookshop
Audrey Wood, PB Author, Don Wood, Illustrator

Please visit Blue Willow’s website for important information about his event!
Also appearing SEPTEMBER 20, Sunday,2:00 PM
Barnes & Noble, The Woodlands

Audrey and Don Wood will discuss and sign their new picture book, FULL MOON AT THE NAPPING HOUSE. In the wide-awake bed in the full-moon house, everyone is restless. The moonlight is pouring in and no one can get to sleep: not Granny, her grandchild, the dog, the cat, or even a mouse. It’s not until a tiny musical visitor offers up a soothing song does the menagerie settle down, and finally everyone is off to dreamland.

SEPTEMBER 19, SATURDAY, 1:00-4:00 PMWritespace
Writespace
Writing Workshop with Cassandra Rose Clarke

COST: $75 Members, $95 Non-members

Nothing keeps a reader turning pages like tension! In this three-hour workshop, we’ll consider how writers can effectively build tension in their writing. Together, we’ll discuss the elements of tension, from cliff hangers to pacing, from character motivations to story stakes. We’ll dissect some high-tension examples from published stories and participate in several writing exercises in order to put these elements to work. Bring a laptop or pen and paper and be prepared to write, share, and try new things!

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22. KidLit Author/Illustrator Events Sept. 22-27

Autumn Equinox in Houston

Tomorrow may the the autumn equinox, but it still looks (and feels) very much like summer here! This will be a fun writing week. I’ve got critique tomorrow, lunch with writer friends on Friday and on Saturday, (drum roll please….) 

The Essential Workshop for Fiction Writers!

There may still be places left in this workshop, so scroll down to see more information!

Here’s more of what’s happening this week in Houston:

SEPTEMBER 23, WEDNESDAY, 7:00 PM WALK THE EARTH A STRANGER by Rae Carson
Barnes & Noble, The Woodlands
Two YA Authors, Rae Carson & Sophie Jordan

Join two popular teen authors, Rae Carson and her book WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER, and Sophie Jordan and her second book in the Uninvited Series, UNLEASHED. Signing will be upstairs in the seating area.

Rae Carson’s WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER is the first in a new an epic saga in which a young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a sweeping and dangerous journey across Gold Rush–era America. Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man UNLEASHED by Sophie Jordanwho wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?

In Sophie Jordan’s UNLEASHED, the romantic, high-stakes sequel to UNINVITED, Davy has spent the last few months trying to come to terms with the fact that she tested positive for the kill gene HTS. She swore she would not let it change her, and that her DNA did not define her . . . but then she killed a man. Now on the run, Davy must decide whether she’ll be ruled by the kill gene or if she’ll follow her heart and fight for her right to live free. But with her own potential for violence lying right beneath the surface, Davy doesn’t even know if she can trust herself.

SEPTEMBER 24, THURSDAY, 7:00 PM
Blue Willow Bookshop
Carolyn Mackler, YA Author INFINITE IN BETWEEN by Carolyn Mackler

Join Printz Honor author Carolyn Mackler as she discusses her new novel, INFINITE IN BETWEEN, which chronicles the lives of five teenagers through the thrills, heartbreaks, and joys of their four years in high school.

Zoe, Jake, Mia, Gregor, and Whitney meet at freshman orientation. At the end of that first day, they make a promise to reunite after graduation. So much can happen in those in-between years .

Zoe feels like she will live forever in her famous mother’s shadow. Jake struggles to find the right connections in friendship and in love. Mia keeps trying on new identities, looking for one that actually fits. Gregor thought he wanted to be more than just a band geek. And Whitney seems to have it all, until it’s all falling apart around her.

SEPTEMBER 25-26, FRIDAY & SATURDAY Houston Writers Guild
The Houston Writers’ Guild
Crowne Plaza Hotel, 7611 Katy Fwy
Indiepalooza Conference
Cost:
Kathy Murphy Mingle =  Members: $35, Nonmembers $45
Saturday Main Event = Members: $75, Nonmembers $85, Students $65
Two Day Pass for Only = Members: $100, Nonmembers: $125
Please see costing details on their website!

Join the Writers Guild for their first annual Indiepalooza conference.  The Guild will host great sessions on marketing and tools for the Indie author, as well as discussion panels on industry jargon and what it all means. Some of the topics include: Legal Issues for Indie Authors by entertainment attorney Andre Evans;  Adding Art to Your Work by Monica Shaughnessy; Secrets your Editor Won’t Tell you by Tina Winograd; E-books Made Simple by D.L. Young; Where to Sell Your Book Besides Bookstores by Rita Mills; Marketing Renegade Style by Alan Bourgeois of Texas Authors Association; Social Media for People Who Don’t Like Social Media by Rebecca Nolen; Using Poetic Elements to Improve All Writing by Deborah Frontiera; 50 Shades of Publishing by agent April Eberhardt and many more sessions.

Some of the panel breakout sessions are: The Small Press—Different Strokes for Different Folks with Fern Brady of Inklings Publishing, Pamela Fegan Hutchins of Skipjack Publishing, Jeff Hastings of Chart House Press, and Patricia Flaherty Pagan of Spider Road Press; Bringing Your Book to Readers with publicist Caitlin Hamilton and agent April Eberhardt; and Going Indie—Issues & Opportunities with Deborah Frontiera, RT Book Review Founder Kathryn Falk, Rita Mills, Enos Russell, Shawna Stringer of Barnes and Noble Pasedena, and other industry professionals.

SEPTEMBER 26, SATURDAY, 10:00 AM-3:00 PMSCBWI
Lanier Theological Library,  14130 Hargrave, Houston 

The Essential Workshop for Fiction Writers, with Kimberly Morris
COST: SCBWI members $40. Non-members $60
NOTE: To receive the SCBWI fee, please make sure to sign in as a member!

Is your manuscript sagging in the middle? Has it been rejected because of too much back story, slow pacing or one-dimensional characters? Is POV or story arc the problem? Kimberly Morris will present a workshop to help with common problems all writers face with every manuscript.

Kimberly Morris is the author of 60 books for children and young adults, many of them for popular series including Disney Fairies, That’s So Raven, Mary-Kate and Ashley, Animorphs, Sweet Valley, and Generation Girl. Her credits include read-aloud stories for the Muppets, Muppet Babies, and Fraggle Rock, and animated television scripts for the classic ThunderCats. She will distill 25 years of professional writing experience into 4 hours of intuitive, entertaining, and easy-to-digest instruction that you can immediately apply to a new or stalled manuscript. This workshop is for writers of any genre of fiction; chapter books, middle grade, young adult and adult.

SEPTEMBER 26, SATURDAY 2:00 PMHOUND DAWG by Patricia Vermillion, Illustrated by Cheryl Pilgrim
Barnes & Noble, The Woodlands
Cheryl Pilgrim, Illustrator

Join children’s book Illustrator Cheryl Pilgrim as she signs her book HOUND DAWG at the front of the store! Cheryl will be in store from 2:00 to 4:00PM.

HOUND DAWG is a retelling of The Little Red Hen, southern style. Bessie, Calico, and Penny work their fingers to the bone down on the cotton farm. But Hound Dawg, he’s a couch potato… lazy, lazy, lazy. Hold on now… something has caught Hound Dawg’s eye… something that changes his life forever.

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23. Fusenews: Saving the Second Penny

The problem with this Fusenews feature is that if I don’t do them regularly then the news out there builds up, builds up, builds up, until there’s so much of it out there that I’m almost embarrassed to do anything with it.  Such is the case today!  And, as per usual, I’ll say that I’m just going to type these pieces up very fast, when in truth it’s pretty much going to be the same kind of thing I always do.  Truth!  Let’s do it.

  • I highly recommend that each and every last one of you guys move to Illinois.  The people here are so freakishly nice it’s amazing!  Case in point, SCBWI-IL and The Center of Teaching Through Children’s Books are pairing up to have me talk to a whole bunch o’ folks on the evening of October 7th.  Isn’t that kind of them?  If you live in the area, please come by.  I like to blather and while doing it in my own head is fine, it’s much nicer when there’s a healthy number of other people out there to absorb the blow.

 

  • SoulOctopusIn case you missed it the National Book Awards Longlist for Young People’s Literature was released last week.  A very YA-centric list indeed with only two clear cut books for kids.  Yet look in other categories and you’ll find that children’s authors do not relegate themselves solely to the children’s category.  For example, in the adult nonfiction section you’ll see that our beloved Sy Montgomery has been nominated for The Soul of an Octopus.

 

  • New Blog Alert: Reading While White.  You might argue that that is the unspoken title of most children’s literature blogs, but in this case they’re acknowledging the fact freely and commenting on what that means all the while.  There are some fascinating pieces on there already, so if you’re anything like me you’re checking it daily.  Ooo, I just love folks that aren’t afraid to touch on potentially controversial topics for the sake of making the conversation at large a richer experience.

 

  • In a particularly unfunny move, The Roald Dahl Estate has closed down the beloved Roald Dahl Funny Prize that was the brainchild of Michael Rosen.  Why?  There are hems and haws to sort through here but I think the key lies in the part where they say that in conjunction with next year’s centenary celebration, “the estate would be focusing on a new children’s book prize to be launched in the US.”  So clearly they didn’t want two Roald Dahl prizes out there.  One wonders if this mysterious prize in the US will also be for humor.  I suspect not, but I’d be awfully interested if any of you have further details on the mater.

 

  • If you were once again faithfully checking your Iowa Review this season (ho ho) you might have seen three interesting things.  #1 – It contains a “portfolio” all about children’s books this month.  #2 – The cover is by Shaun Tan.  #3 – Phil Nel’s piece A Manifesto of Children’s Literature; or Reading Harold as a Teenager is free for viewing online.  I should note that the actual issue also has pieces by Jeanne Birdsall (yay!), Mr. Tan, and Kevin Brockmeier, so get thee to an academic library!  Stat!

 

  • I don’t do much in the way of Instagram myself, but even without knowing it I can acknowledge that this Buzzfeed piece on what would happen if Hogwarts characters had it was rather inspired.  Thanks to Travis Jonker for the link.

 

  • my-friend-rabbit-tattooYou ever hear the one about the bookseller who would get artists to draw their best beloved picture book characters on her arms and then she’d tattoo them there?  Yes?  Well, I hadn’t heard about her for a couple of years so I decided to check in.  And lo and behold, one of my new neighbors here in the Chicago area, Eric Rohmann, was the creator of her latest tat.

 

  • If someone asked you to suggest a children’s book that they hadn’t read but should, what would you choose?  It helps if the person asking is British and wasn’t practically required by law, like those of us here in the States, to read certain books in the U.S. kidlit cannon.  My suggestion was actually Half Magic by Edward Eager.  See some of the others here.

 

  • Wowzer. Children’s authors have power. Don’t believe me?  See what Marc Tyler Nobleman pulled off with DC Entertainment. Well done, sir!

 

  • Speaking of superheroes, two years ago Ingrid Sundberg drew a whole host of children’s and YA authors as spandex-wearing, high-flying, incredibles.  It’s still fun to look at today here.

 

  • Me Stuff (Part Deux): It’s a little old but I was interviewed by Joanna Marple not too long ago.  There’s some good stuff there, like shots of the dream office I aspire towards (hat tip to Junko Yokota, though).

 

  • I feel a bit sad that I never read Lois Lowry’s Anastasia books when I was a kid.  I think I would have related to them (or at least to her glasses which originally rivaled mine in terms of width and girth).  How I missed these books I’ll never know.  Now I’m reading all about the changes being made to the newly re-released series.  Some make sense but others (changing Anastasia, Ask Your Analyst to Anastasia Off Her Rocker) don’t make a lick of sense.  I get that “analyst” is not a common term these days. I care not.  The term “off your rocker” is, after all, no less dated.

 

  • Daily Image:

There are fans and then there are fans.  And best beloved is the author or illustrator who meets a fan who knows, really knows, how to quilt.  Ms. Sibby Elizabeth Falk showed this to Jane Yolen recently.  It’s Owl Moon like you’ve never seen it before:

SibbyElizabethFalk

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9 Comments on Fusenews: Saving the Second Penny, last added: 9/30/2015
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24. KidLit Author Events Sept. 29-Oct.6

My apologies for being late with this post, but it’s in time to catch all the events happening this week. I want to send a big THANK YOU to Kimberly Morris and SCBWI Houston for the wonderful workshop we had Saturday, and to Mary Wade for taking us on a tour of the beautiful Lanier Theological Library. What a gorgeous, inspiring place!

THE MAGNIFICENT MYA TIBBS BY CRYSTAL ALLENI want to remind everyone to sign up for the Connections and Craft: Novel Workshop at SCBWI Brazos Valley on October 10 in College Station. Featured speakers will be award-winning author, Kimberly Willis Holt; the Book Doctor, Robyn Conley; and Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins) editor, Kelsey Murphy (By the way, Kelsey Murphy is editing Crystal Allen’s upcoming series, THE MAGNIFICENT MYA TIBBS!). Workshop topics include:

  • “Develop Your Character”
  • “After the First Draft”
  • “Self-editing without Self-destructing”
  • “Cross Marketing Story Elements for Cross Selling”

 

 

TWEENSREADThe big KidLit event happening this week is TWEENS READ! This one-day event is this Saturday, October 3, from 9:30–5:00 at South Houston High School, 3820 Shaver Street, South Houston, TX 77587. There are SO MANY AMAZING AUTHORS coming this year including SCBWI Houston’s own Crystal Allen, and SCBWI Austin’s Nikki Loftin! Grab a tween and get there!

 

Now for the rest of this week’s events:

OCTOBER 1, THURSDAY, 7:00-9:00 PMWritespace
Writespace
Social Media Workshop for Writers with Rebecca Nolan

COST: $20-$30; See website for details

Social Media for People Who Don’t Like Social Media: A Hands-On Workshop
There are many reasons you might not like social media. Have you put off creating social media accounts because it all seems too overwhelming? Do you have a couple of social media accounts but they use a language and method foreign to you and you don’t have time to mess with it? Are you worried about strangers seeing what you’re up to? Bring your laptop and learn how to creatively make social media your own workhorse. Learn how to deal with time constraints and pick up tips and tricks that make social media less time-consuming. In this workshop we will discover how to make Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+ work to your advantage.

OCTOBER 3, SATURDAY
Central Library, 500 McKinney
LibroFEST

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Houston Public Library’s (HPL) 4th Annual Houston LibroFEST on Saturday, October 3, 2015. Featured presenters include author, activist, and television director Jesús Salvador Treviño, Viola Canles, and children’s author and illustrator Xavier Garza; as well as programs and activities connected to the Houston Metropolitan Research Center exhibit on display, Remembering World War II: Houston’s Latino Veterans. Also taking part in the festival: musicians, artists, and local literary organizations and vendors including Arte Público Press, Gulf Coast Literary Journal, Inprint, Writers in the Schools (WITS), and more.

The theme of this year’s LibroFEST is “heros.” LibroFEST coordinators are looking for Hispanic and Latino children’s and young adult book authors to read, sell their books, or participate on panels. Those interested should contact Carmen Abrego at Carmen.Abrego@houstontx.gov .”

OCTOBER 3, SATURDAYRWA-Logo-200
Northwest Houston Romance Writers of America
2015 Lone Star Writers’ Conference
COST: $130 Members, $140 Non-members

“The Power of Subtext: Body Language, Dialogue Cues, and Visceral Responses” Master Class with Margie Lawson. Visceral responses can be more than roiling stomachs and pounding hearts. Dialogue cues can be more than predictable, carry-no-power, pin-the-cliched-tag-on-the-dialogue. Body language can be more than cookie-cutter expressions. More than one-descriptor smiles. More than over-used phrases that many readers skim. This power-packed workshop will teach writers how to how to add psychological power to body language, dialogue cues, and visceral responses. Participants are requested to bring five chapters (or more), printed, double-spaced, in a binder. They’ll have opportunities to review their chapters and rewrite or add the right amount of subtext in the right places. Also attending is Linda Scalissi, an agent with 3 Seas Literary Agency.

OCTOBER 3, SATURDAY, 2:00-5:00 PMWritespace
Writespace
Writers’ Workshop: Easy E-book Creation with Scrivener, with D.L.Young

COST: $20-$30; See website for details

Does the idea of e-book formatting fill you with dread? Have you tried to create an e-book, but can’t get the darned thing to come out right? Are you new to e-book creation and looking for tips and shortcuts? When you are equipped with the right tools and techniques, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to create a professional-grade e-book. In this hands-on workshop, we’ll create our own e-books and learn how to set up an e-book friendly template for our novels and short stories—and even learn to create e-books with our signature on them! Please bring your laptop, and D.L. Young will take you through the process step-by-step.

OCTOBER 5, MONDAY, 7:00-9:00 PM SCBWI
SCBWI Houston
Tracy Gee Community Center
Elizabeth White-Olsen: How to Empower Your Prose by Stealing the Super Power of Poets
Cost: FREE; All are welcome!

This monthly meeting of the Houston Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators features Elizabeth White-Olsen, Director of Writespace.

DUMPLIN' by Julie MurphyOCTOBER 6, TUESDAY, 7:00 PM
Blue Willow Bookshop
Julie Murphy and Cammie McGovern, YA Authors

Julie Murphy and Cammie McGovern will discuss and sign DUMPLIN’ and A STEP TOWARD FALLING, their new books for teens.

IN Julie Murphy’s DUMPLIN’, Willowdean, Dubbed Dumplin by her former beauty queen mom, has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . untilWill takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But sheissurprised when he seems to like her back.

A STEP TOWARD FALLING by Cammie McGovernInstead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself.So she sets out to take back her confidence by doingthe most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant along with several other unlikely candidates to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she ll shock the hell out of Clover City and maybe herself most of all.

Cammie McGovern’s A STEP TOWARD FALLING is about learning from your mistakes, and learning to forgive. Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.

Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a center for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they’re starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?

OCTOBER 6-NOVEMBER 10, TUESDAYS, 7:00-9:00 PMRice University
Glasscock School of Continuing Studies
Co-sponsors: Blue Willow Bookshop, Writespace
Writing Children’s and Young Adult Literature, with Elizabeth White-Olsen
COST: $265, For Rice alumni: $239

Children’s books have a power that resonates across time and generations. They connect us to our younger selves, to the children in our lives today and to the rich imaginative capacities that characterize childhood. This lively workshop invites aspiring and practicing writers to explore the craft of writing for children and young adults. The course will share guidelines specific to the main genres of children’s literature: picture books, middle-grade novels and young adult novels. Participants will also explore applications of fundamental writing topics to children’s literature such as characterization, plot, point-of-view, metaphor and voice. Engaging in-class writing exercises will provide multiple starting points to develop stories based on your imagination and life experiences.

OCTOBER 6, TUESDAY, 6:00-9:00 PM Writespace
Writespace
Workshop: The First Six Months: Creating Your Own Book Launch Marketing Plan, with Pamela Fagan Hutchins
COST: $20-$30; See website for details

Whether you publish indie or traditional, the marketing and promotion of your book is up to you, and the launch is critical. Bestselling (Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iTunes), nationally-distributed indie author Pamela Fagan Hutchins will lead a hands-on workshop as you create a launch timeline, budget, and marketing plan for “your” book. Pamela will pull from her experience as president of the Houston Writers Guild, her many indie workshop presentations, and the launch of her own six romantic mysteries and six nonfiction books, as captured in her USA Best Book award-winning how-to, What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too?  Bring your funny bone and a sharp #2 pencil (or laptop), as well as a book/manuscript (yours or someone else’s), with the blurb/description, genre, market, sales formats, a general budget, and price in mind.

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25. KidLit Author Events Oct. 7-12

We only have one kidlit author/illustrator event this week (that isn’t sold out) but lots of workshop opportunities. Mark your calendars for next week, Wednesday, October 14. Lincoln Pierce, author/illustrator of BIG NATE will be at Blue Willow! The last time he was here, the place was packed with kids and they had a blast! When you purchase BIG NATE: WELCOME TO MY WORLD from Blue Willow Bookshop, you will get your place in the signing line. Don’t delay! Blue Willow Bookshop’s event with Rick Riordan is sold out!

NYT Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, who has authored many fantasy books for kids and teens, will be in town tonight at Murder By the Book discussing his newest fantasy for adults, SHADOWS OF SELF. He is always asked about AFTER THE ASHES by Sara K. Joinerhis writing process at these events, so go prepared for a fascinating and exhausting discussion. If you want to hear/see his lectures on writing fantasy, check out his videos on Write About Dragons.

Also, please mark your calendars for local author Sara Joiner’s launch for her debut MG novel, AFTER THE ASHES. Sara will be celebrating her book birthday at Blue Willow Bookshop on October 17. I had originally thought I wouldn’t be able to make it to this event, but happily, plans have changed! I love this book and I’m excited about joining Sara’s party.

My critique partner, Kathy Duval, has a new picture book out later this month from Random House, A BEAR’S YEAR. Look for it at bookstores everywhere. If you see it out there in the wild, please post a pic on twitter or facebook. Kathy’s twitter handle is @duval_kathy.

Here’s what’s going on this week:

OCTOBER 8, THURSDAY, 6:00-9:00 PM Writespace
Writespace
How to Edit Your Own Story: An IndieFest Hands-on Workshop, with Elizabeth White-Olsen
COST: $20-$30; See website for details

Self-editing is a crucial skill for any and every writer, because self-editing can significantly decrease the cost of hiring an editor and significantly increase the likelihood that readers will pick up our stories. In this hands-on workshop, we will learn important editing techniques and apply them to our own work. Please bring a digital or hard-copy version of your work-in-progress and come prepared to edit and rewrite. The first three writers to send in the first three pages of their manuscripts will get to have their work critiqued and incorporated into the workshop’s discussions.

OCTOBER 9-10, FRIDAY & SATURDAY
Houston Writing Mastery Workshop with David Farland
Hilton Houston NASA Clear Lake
COST: $229

Learn to take your writing from “okay” to “powerful” and “mesmerizing.” Dave will identify some of the most common writing weaknesses that keep new authors from publishing successfully, then help you overcome them. This workshop is a sample of his Writing Mastery 1 and Writing Mastery 2 workshops and allows access to select videos of those courses. You will come to the class with finished assignments from those videos and get feedback from Dave.

OCTOBER 9-11, FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAYRTRoundUp
RTRoundUp
South Shore Harbor Resort, League City, TX
Cost: Event prices vary from $10 to $250; Please see their website!

The First Houston Readers & Writers Roundup will take place at the South Shore Harbor Resort, a beautiful resort in League City, located between Houston and Galveston Island. Friday, October 9 will be a full day of seminars focused on how to get started in self-publishing and how to promote yourself and work. Join our featured authors and industry specialists to discuss everything from legal and business considerations to street teams and social media marketing. The Saturday agenda will feature an all day author signing and author showcases with over 80 traditional, hybrid and indie bestsellers. The evening will end with a Masquerade Ball. Sunday events include “Breakfast with Bloggers, Booksellers, and Librarians” plus “The Business of Self Publishing” seminar. Guest speakers include publishers, editors, literary agents, formatters, free-lance editors, proof readers, beta readers, street team leaders, cover designers, cover models/photographers, personal assistants (PA), marketing/PR professionals, reviewers, and bloggers.

OCTOBER 10: SATURDAY, 8:30 AM-4:30 PMSCBWI
SCBWI Brazos Valley
Connections and Craft: Novel Workshop
La Quinta Inn, College Station, TX
COST: Members $115, Non-members $155 (Extra’s not included)

Join us for a day-long workshop focused on the craft of novel writing. Featured speakers will be award-winning author, Kimberly Willis Holt; the Book Doctor, Robyn Conley; and Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins) editor, Kelsey Murphy. See website for critique submission guidelines.Topics include:

  • “Develop Your Character”
  • “After the First Draft”
  • “Self-editing without Self-destructing”
  • “Cross Marketing Story Elements for Cross Selling”

OCTOBER 10, SATURDAY, 8:00 AM-3:15 PM
Writers In the Schools
Houston Baptist University
Tuition: $125

Fall Writing Festival for Educators: a conference specifically for educators, grades K-12, who want to: Improve their own writing skills, explore creative brainstorming methods, support their students’ writing, and experience the WITS method of teaching. Participants will attend two workshops with professional writers, gain hands-on writing experiences, discuss classroom applications AND receive 6 hours of TAGT-approved G/T credit and 6 TEA approved CPE credit hours!

OCTOBER 10, SATURDAY, 1:00 PM PETE THE CAT AND THE BEDTIME BLUES by James and Kimberly Dean
Barnes & Noble, The Woodlands
James Dean, PB Author/Illustrator

Join author James Dean in the seating area upstairs as he discusses his newest book PETE THE CAT AND THE BEDTIME BLUES! Pete the Cat and his friends are having so much fun playing and surfing in the sun, they don’t want the day to end. Pete has an idea—how about a sleepover? Groovy! As the night gets later, it’s time for bed. This cool cat needs to catch some ZZZs, but Pete’s friends aren’t ready to go to sleep just yet. Then Pete has another idea. . . . Will it work?

 

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