Saturday, October 09, 2004

Whale Snow

A translation of Debbie Dahl Edwards' picture book Whale Snow, illustrated by Annie Patterson, (Charlesbridge, 2003) is available online in Iñupiaq. (It takes a while to download; 10 minutes on my computer; so be patient).

Check it out: Jane Yolen has a blog.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Scribe, La Lorna's New Dress, Southeast Asia, and Karen Hesse

The October issue of "Scribe," the newsletter of the Writers' League of Texas, features a profile, "Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, A Fairy Tale Come True" by Dianna Hutts Aston.

I'm also the league's star instructor this month.

Cinco Puntos has released a new edition of its best-selling title, La Llorona's New Dress by Joe Hayes, in celebration of the book's twentieth anniversary. This title has sold more than 100,000 copies and was the second book ever published by the house.

Children of the Dragon, Children of the Tiger: Great Reads About Southeast Asia by Michael Levy from

How A Children's Writer Survives The Newbery Award with Karen Hesse from the Institute of Children's Literature.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Call For Donations: Michael Lacapa

Children's book author/illustrator Michael Lacapa (Apache-Hopi) was seriously hurt in a five-car accident in New Mexico last Thursday.

Michael's books include one of my favorites, Less Than Half, More Than Whole (Northland, 1994), which was co-written with his wife Kathleen (Mohawk).

Medical and related expenses are an ongoing concern.

Please pray for the Lacapa family and/or make out a check to Kathleen Lacapa, indicating it's for "Mike's fund." The address is: The Lacapa Family, P.O. Box 587, Taylor, AZ 85939.

Thank you for considering this request.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Highlights Writers' Conference

Press release:

"Writing for Children" sponsored by the Highlights Foundation

July 16, 2005 – July 23, 2005

Our mission is to enhance the personal and professional development of the writers and illustrators of literature for children by providing support and guidance through our workshops and educational programs.

This intensive, week-long retreat at the famed resort in western New York State is designed for individuals interested in writing for children. Conferees at the Children's Writers Workshop at Chautauqua have the opportunity to work in individual and small-group sessions with some of the most accomplished and prominent authors, illustrators, editors, and publishers in the world of children's literature.

The conference is limited to 100 writers and both full and partial scholarships are offered to qualified applicants. Available spaces fill quickly, so applicants are encouraged to register as soon as possible for the 2005 workshop.

Conferees have the opportunity to work in individual and small group sessions with some of the most accomplished and prominent authors, illustrators, editors, and publishers in the world of children’s literature. Participants attend workshop sessions, lectures, and panel discussions on a variety of topics ranging from plot development and characterization to submitting a manuscript for publication and finding children’s markets. Through the manuscript reader and mentoring program, attendees are able to meet with individual members of the Chautauqua Workshop faculty in one-on-one sessions to review and critique their work. {Manuscripts are requested ahead of time for the program}."

Past Workshops:

Point of View, Writing Dialogue, Conflict/Tension, Characterization, Beginnings and Endings, Developing a Plot, Editing Your Own Writing, Crank Up the Creativity, Motivation and Inspiration: A Writer's Life, Getting Started: Writing First Sentences, Writing for Beginning Readers, Creating a Rebus, Think Pictures, From Manuscript to Picture Book, Writing for the Upper Grades, Action and Adventure Stories, Memoirs: Mining Your Memories, Humor, Writing Biography, Research to the Printed Page, Photo Research, How to Write a Nonfiction Children's Book, Writing Illustrated Nonfiction, Electronics and New Media, Designing a Book, Writing for Teacher Publications, Belief and Bylines: Writing for the Inspirational Market, Writing Poetry for Children, Fantasy, Puzzles and Games, Getting Out of the Slush Pile, Rights, Contracts, Copyrights, From Publishers to Booksellers: Into the Hands of the Reader, Writing for the Magazine Market, Cut It Out: Trimming the Fat From Your Prose, From Acceptance to Publication, From Submission to Acceptance

The faculty of the 2005 Writers Workshop at Chautauqua, New York will include the following distinguished names: Larry Dane Brimner; Joy Cowley; Patricia Lee Gauch; David Harrison; Juanita Havill; Fred McKissack; Pat McKissack; Pam Muňoz Ryan.

Accommodations: We coordinate ground transportation to and from airports, trains and bus stations in Erie, PA and Jamestown/Buffalo, NY area. We also coordinate accommodations for conference attendees.


The Highlights Foundation was established in 1985 as a means of providing support and guidance to writers and illustrators for children. Our goal is to improve, over time, the quality of literature for children by educating future generations of children's authors.

For twenty years, the renowned Highlights Foundation Writing for Children Workshop at Chautauqua has stood at the cornerstone of our mission. More than 1,700 individuals have attended this extraordinary workshop, an experience that has had a significant impact on their professional lives and on the world of children's literature. Many of our workshop alumni have gone on to become published authors as well as ambassadors of the importance of mentoring children's writers.

Going North

Going North by Janice N. Harrington, illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue* (FSG, 2004). A family leaves Alabama for a better life in Lincoln, Nebraska. They must brave the dangers that faced African Americans in the 1960s as they travel across the south. Emotion-packed art, outstanding voice. Inspired by the author's own family story. Highly recommended. Ages 5-up.

*slow-loading but absolutely worth the wait; don't miss this illustrator site.

FSG's lists have been particularly strong lately. It's definitely one of the top sources for quality multicultural books (among others). More globally, the publication of multicultural picture books seems to be on the upswing again. However, sales among children's authors are at an estimated 50-75% of what they were at this same time last year. Remember picture books coming out now sold at least two years ago; this is the tightest market we've seen in years. That said, the market for literary trade novels is much better than for picture books.

I'd like to mention another wonderful picture book, Crossing by Phillip Booth, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (Candlewick, 2004/paperback). This gorgeous look at a train crossing has already been much heralded. It was an ALA Notable and PW Best Book; it also received stars from Kirkus and PW. However, I'd like to emphasize that it's available now from Candlewick in a sturdy paperback at a suggested publisher price of $6.99 U.S. and $9.99 Canada. Lovely! Ages 5-9.

Buzz on the new S&S catalog is good; lots of literary trade, more diversity of voices. Look for upcoming books by three Austinites:

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story by Anne Bustard, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus;

The Secret Prince by D. Anne Love;

Broken China by Lori Aurelia Williams.

Novel to look for: Hunger Moon by Sarah Lamstein (Front Street, 2004). Because I'm working so hard on my own novel right now I'm having a hard time getting the new ones read. But this one is on the top of my stack.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

How Many Submitted Books Does CLSCLR Recommend?

A site visitor wrote asking me this question last night, and I did my version of a statistical analysis AKA guesstimate:

The answer is that CLSCLR recommends about ten percent of the books submitted for consideration. We do brief, positive recommendations. It's not a traditional review source with a full analysis.

In addition, we do like many of the books passed over. However, one of my goals is to highlight quality midlisters, new voices, and voices from underrepresented communities. The latest title by, say, a three time Newbery winner doesn't need the help like a promising first timer who wasn't tapped for publisher push.

However, just because a title isn't added to the site doesn't mean that I won't put it on a bibliography for a particular speaking event or emphasize it in a media interview.

Another site visitor asked: "what did you think of 'Desperate Housewives'?"

It's like "Melrose Place" in the suburbs. In fact, the main cast even includes "Melrose" alum Marcia Cross, who played Kimberly.

By the way, even though I've claimed to have sworn off lawyer/doctor shows, I also watched the premier of "Boston Legal," which is like "L.A. Law" without the moral center. It stars James Spader (must be a robot; he doesn't blink) and William Schatner (Greg has been a fan since the original "Star Trek" and I have since "Third Rock From The Sun").

In sum: it's a guilty pleasure night on ABC. Not sure how long I'll keep watching, but so far, yikes!

Reminder the Texas Book Festival is the last weekend in October. Go hear the children's and young adult authors!

Congratulations to the darling and talented Kelly Bennett! Kathi Appelt tells me that Kelly was admitted to the MFA program in writing for children and young adults at Vermont College!

Kelly's next title will be Not Norman (Candlewick, spring 2005).

Monday, October 04, 2004

Children's Illustrator in "Desperate Housewives"

One of the characters, Susan Mayer, on "Desperate Housewives" (new this fall at 8 central on ABC) is a children's book illustrator. She's played by Teri Hatcher, best known for her role as "Lois" in "Lois & Clark." I adore TH and so far the character is likable, sympathetic.

One writing nitpick: the character minimizes herself as "big with the under five set." Generally speaking, people in the business don't think less of themselves because their audience is younger. Also picture book illustrators are usually big with the under seven set.

The book I'm reading now: The Old Willis Place by Mary Downing Hahn (Houghton, 2004).

Haemi Balgassi's friendship garden refers to me as "beautiful" (she's too kind and beautiful herself) and Greg as... Well, go see for yourself.

Really Boring Books for Children by Melissa Bell.

Jazzy Miz Mozetta

Jazzy Miz Mozetta by Brenda C. Roberts, illustrated by Frank Morrison (FSG, 2004). Miz Mozetta is dressed to dance, but who will be her partner? Jazzy, snazzy, and that's sayin' somethin'. Ages 4-up.

Note: of dance, urban, African American, and elder interest; FSG is doing many of the best multicultural books these days, including picture books.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Children's Writer

Outgoing Austin SCBWI RA Debbie Dunn was kind enough to send me an article "Connecting The World: Creating Ethnic Fiction for Today's Young Readers" by Judy Bradley from the October 2004 issue of Children's Writer: Newsletter of Writing And Publishing Trends.

In a gray box titled "Reading The World," the author recommends the works of Walter Dean Myers, Allen Say, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Jacqueline Woodson. Talk about good company! I'm honored.

Congratulations, Stephanie

Big congrats to Stephanie Marshall, who just found out she was accepted as a student in the MFA program in writing for children and young adults at Vermont College.

I first met Stephanie when she was a student at Kathi Appelt and Debbie Leland's summer program in College Station, and she's a tremendously promising new voice.

Lots of keying in this weekend while Greg is going over the galleys for Tofu and T.Rex (Little Brown, spring 2005). It's exciting to see it typeset.
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