Saturday, March 05, 2005

Author Lisa Wheeler

My friend, author Lisa Wheeler, spoke this week in Austin to a number of audiences, including Austin SCBWI. I was lucky enough to attend her signing at BookPeople on Friday and a dinner thrown in her honor last night by Austin SCBWI RA/author Julie Lake (whose debut novel was Galveston: Summer of the Storm).

At BookPeople, Lisa spoke about Seadogs: An Epic Ocean Operetta, working with illustrator Mark Siegel and editor Dick Jackson, and the auction of her first book, One Dark Night, illustrated by Ivan Bates. It was a good crowd, including authors Julie Lake, Jane Peddicord (author of Night Wonders), and Lila Guzman (author of Lorenzo's Secret Mission).

Greg and I--along with author Anne Bustard, author of Buddy: The Story Of Buddy Holly--picked up Lisa for the party at her hotel and brought her to and from Julie's house. They share an illustrator in Kurt Cyrus and discussed him in glowing terms as Greg and I tried to decipher the yahoomap.

It was quite the star-studded event, including such literary luminaries as: Frances Hill, author of The Bug Cemetery; Liz Garton Scanlon, author of A Sock Is A Pocket For Your Toes; Brian Yansky, author of My Road Trip to the Pretty Girl Capital of the World; and uber librarian/author Jeanette Larson.

Lisa is the author of numerous (lots and lots) picture books, most recently, Farmer Dale's Pick-Up Truck, illustrated by Ivan Bates (Harcourt, 2004), Seadogs: An Epic Ocean Operetta, illustrated by Mark Siegel (who's heading up the new graphic novels imprint at Roaring Brook)(Simon & Schuster, 2004), and Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum, illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith (Little Brown, 2004).

Cynsational Links

An Interview With Lisa Wheeler from Debbi Michiko Florence.

Counting Sheep With Lisa Wheeler by Julia Durango from By The Book.

Humor Me: Articles, Essays, and Poems for Children's Writers from Lisa Wheeler.

Linda Joy Singleton Sponsors Writing Contest For Kids

FIRST PLACE $100! SECOND PLACE $50! FREE BOOKS FOR 5 THIRD PLACE WINNERS.

From March 6, 2005 to June 5, 2005, young writers (ages 8 to 12) are challenged to "Describe an alien pet in 200 words or less."

This contest is sponsored by author Linda Joy Singleton in celebration of her new series, Strange Encounters, where 6th grader Cassie Strange encounters a fuzzy, dancing alien pet named Jennifer while solving magical mysteries on family trips. Young writers can let their imaginations go wild and create an alien pet of their own. Winning entries will be chosen by a panel of published authors including Linda Joy Singleton and Verla Kay, and judged on creativity and presentation.

The contest will ONLY run for three months. No essays will be accepted after June 5th, and the winners will be announced online by June 10th.

As a bonus, the first place winner's classroom or library will be awarded a set of autographed books.

The goal of this contest is to promote literacy and writing skills. For complete details go to www.LindaJoySingleton.com where entrants can print out the entry form and read a list of ten writing tips for young writers. There is no entry fee.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Author Kathi Appelt and Illustrator Joy Hein on Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers: How A First Lady Changed America

Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein (Harper, 2005). A picture book biography of Lady Bird Johnson. She loved wildflowers from her days as a young girl. Then, as First Lady, she found her own way to beautify the United States. Via Kathi Appelt's poetic voice and Joy Fisher Hein's vivid illustrations, Lady Bird's life springs from the page. Ages 4-up.

What was your inspiration for creating this book?

Kathi's answer

KA: When I was a little girl, growing up in Houston, my grandmother, Marge Crawford, was a very active member of the Democratic Party, and on Saturdays, she would take my sisters and I downtown to party headquarters. As soon as we could write in cursive, she had us addressing envelopes, sticking stamps on them and any number of odds and ends for the cause. She even took us block-walking. (Now you know why my affiliation with the party is so apt--it's genetic).

KA (con't): Anyway, the first presidential campaign that I remember participating in in a big way was the Johnson campaign in 1964. I was in the fourth grade. One evening, my whole family went to a big rally in Houston, and that was the first time I ever saw Mrs. Johnson in person. I was so impressed. First of all, LBJ himself was a very tall man. But Lady Bird was tiny. She came up to his shoulders I think. But to me, she was larger than life. I've been a fan of hers ever since.

KA (con't) So, a few years ago, I read an article about her in The Christian Science Monitor. It was just a small piece with a lovely photo of her standing in a field of bluebonnets. Those flowers reminded me of Joy, who was studying wildlife habitats at the Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, and suddenly it occurred to me that there should be a book about Mrs. Johnson for young readers, and that Joy and I could do it together. I rolled it over in my mind, and despite all the warnings about never teaming up with an illustrator, we entered the project together and began working on it.

Joy's answer

JFH: My work was inspired by Lady Bird’s vision for our environment and nature’s amazing biodiversity. I have admired Lady Bird since I was a teenager. As an artist, gardener and Master Naturalist, I was thrilled with the possibility of creating and sharing images of our First Lady’s life and our glorious wildflowers.

JFH (con't): Kathi Appelt is always an inspiration; she is the First Lady of writing in my book. She is my dear friend and mentor. Kathi is an amazing writer and a wise teacher. I have had the delightful opportunity to study writing with her several times over the years. I have celebrated and collected all of her wonderful books. Kathi’s words of wisdom have seen me through some very difficult times.

JFH (con't): To top off my list of inspirations was the opportunity to work with Kathi’s long-time editor and friend, Meredith Charpentier. Meredith had taken an interest in my work a year before our Lady Bird book proposal. After viewing my portfolio, Meredith invited me to submit projects to her at HarperCollins. The three of us worked toward our goal of forming our Lady Bird book for three years. Sadly, Meredith retired due to ill health and the stress of September 11th. Tragically, she died not too long after retiring. Meredith was so generous with me. I will always be grateful to her.

JFH (con't): In stepped Rosemary Brosnan, Executive Editor, HarperCollins Children’s Books and dear friend to Meredith, to rescue our book. I had hoped to work with Rosemary for years. In 1997, I had the opportunity to go to New York and drop off my portfolio at several of my favorite publishers. Rosemary, was an editor with Lodestar. She kept my art samples and wrote me a lovely, encouraging note. So when I traveled back to Texas, I hoped I might work with her in the future, but Lodestar closed and I didn’t know where to reach her. Then I met and started working with Meredith. I had no idea they knew one another, much less that their offices were next to each other!

JFH (con't): Working with these women, who I so admired--Kathi, Meredith and Rosemary--with the goal of sharing Lady Bird’s life had me pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I was finally fulfilling my lifelong dream of illustrating a book for children.

What was the timeline between spark and publication, and what were the major events along the way?

Kathi's answer

KA: For the full low-down, you can read Joy's answer to this question. Suffice it to say that we had multiple bumps along the way, especially during the period when the publisher decided that they did not want to use Joy's art. That was very painful because it had been a collaboration all along.

KA (con't): Altogether, it was a six-year journey. During that time, both of us lost our fathers, I lost a grandmother, our kids left home, Joy's son and daughter got married, a grand baby arrived. There were also a number of events in the world that affected us. September 11th changed so much. For me personally, it meant that my longtime editor and friend, Meredith Charpentier, who had championed this book from the start, got so sick. Her apartment was not far from the Trade Center, and her health took a serious downturn. At the same time, my agent, Marilyn Marlow became very sick too. Within a month of each other, they both passed away. For at least a year afterwards, I couldn't seem to write, it was as if nothing I had to say had any relevance.

KA (con't): Thankfully, that feeling passed, but it has taken me all this time to really get back to my desk in a fruitful and honest way. And just when we needed her most, Rosemary Brosnan, Meredith's associate and friend, stepped in and held our hands and led this book through its final stages.

Joy's answer

JFH: Our Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers began with an early morning phone call from Kathi Appelt in 1999. Both proud Texans and friends since the 1980’s, we were excited about creating a book that would celebrate Lady Bird and her legacy of wildflowers that turned our once neglected roadsides into pallets of brilliant living color. As we laid plans for this book, Kathi continued to write amazing, award winning books for children and share her knowledge with classes all over the country. Meanwhile, I became certified as a Texas Master Naturalist and became certified to create School yard Habitats with The National Wildlife Federation.

JFH (con't): Well, that is the short sweet version of the six years from spark to publication, but life happened. Kathi and I lost our dear fathers. Meredith’s mother died and then we lost her. Kathi’s loving grandmother passed away. Lady Bird had a stroke. We were so very sad.

JFH (con't): We shared joyous times too. In our family, my son Christopher married Karen and two years later their sweet Willow joined our growing family. We celebrated with a five generation photograph, with my soon-to-be ninety-nine year old grandmother, my mother and grandson Seth. My youngest daughter, Holly, graduated from the University of Texas, in three and a half years, with honors and a wonderful fiancés, fellow artist, Bryson. They started a mural business and married too.

JFH (con't): There was one very difficult period of several months that caused me to give up my dream of illustrating this book or any other. When Kathi and I started this project I knew there were no guarantees. It’s a big "no, no" for a writer and illustrator to collaborate. But we were at a place where everything seemed so positive. I had received e-mails from Meredith stating that she was enthusiastic about our new venture at HC and my style was "just right." I even heard from her assistant, saying she looked forward to working with me and she likes my work! But no contract was offered. Meredith reassured us with "everything looks good."

JFH (con't): In the meantime, friends of my dear late mother-in-law and mutual friends of Lady Bird, decided this project was not moving fast enough. So they graciously organized a brunch for Kathi and me to show and explain our book goals. They planned to hand deliver the project to Lady Bird and she would get the ball rolling! I tried to explain that this isn’t the way children’s publishing works. They insisted.

JFH (con't): The day before the brunch I was offered a wonderful illustration contract with the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department. I turned it down due to my desire to finish our Lady Bird project and thinking my contract with HarperCollins was imminent.

JFH (con't): Kathi called late that night to try and gently tell me about her conversation with Meredith. Meredith told Kathi that the sales department at HarperCollins wanted a well-known artist, not me! Kathi was upset. I was devastated! I canceled brunch and crawled under a rock. How I wished I hadn’t shared my excitement for this project with friends and family. My life-long dream was shattered.

JFH (con't): A few weeks later my husband, Frank, experienced health problems. We decided he should retire after being an art professor for thirty-five years and we would move back to our lake home. We had agreed three years before not to move in the middle of my Lady Bird project, because of the volumes of research organized in my San Antonio studio.

JFH (con't): I was invited to have my first one-woman painting show in years. As I helped hang my paintings, I developed an awful earache and my scalp felt like it was on fire. It hurt to touch my hair! At the same time, Frank was out in the country, alone, organizing things for our move back to Medina Lake. Frank had heart attack.

JFH (con't): While Frank’s new cardiologist was explaining angioplasty, our family doctor was telling me that my facial paralysis is Bell’s Palsy.

JFH (con't): Frank has an angioplastic procedure and a week later he has another angioplasty placing a stent in his blocked artery. Before his surgery, he held my hand and told me if the procedure didn’t work; he had no regrets, his life, our life had been full and happy. His bittersweet words rang in my ear; our life together was my very best dream come true…but I had a regret--not being able to illustrate our Lady Bird book!

JFH (con't): The phone was ringing as I opened the door, the day I brought Frank home from ICU. It was Meredith, telling me she and HarperCollins would like me to illustrate the Lady Bird book, and apologized for the past. My contract should be drawn up soon. Months passed.

JFH (con't): Oct. 1, 2001, Meredith wanted changes in Kathi’s manuscript! My contract states my dummy was due Oct. 30th! Five months later Meredith called to tell me she is retiring and how she wished we could have worked together in her glory days.

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, logistical) in bringing it to life?

Kathi's answer

KA: Just as we were embarking upon this project, one of our biggest desires was to actually get to interview Mrs. Johnson, but almost as soon as we began, she became quite ill and quit granting interviews. That was a major setback for us. Fortunately, we were able to contact some of the people who work closely with her, including her daughter Mrs. Robb. She guided us to folks who helped us, gave us answers, steered us in the direction we needed to go at the moment.

KA (con't): One of the biggest challenges for me was focusing the manuscript. Lady Bird's life is so full and rich and there is so much to say about her that I found it amazingly hard to find the heart of this particular story.

KA (con't): From the outset, I knew we would center this book upon Mrs. Johnson's environmental activism and her own personal love for nature. But she has led such an interesting life, and there are so many anecdotes and details and moments that I loved reading about, that I wanted to include ALL of it. Like Joy said, I think I rewrote the story no fewer than fifty times, and bless her heart, Joy probably started this book that many times, just based on the current rewrite. There was a point when Meredith called and said, "Kathi, it's not quite there yet," when I thought, okay, I'm never going to get it.

KA (con't): But I think maybe that's the point all of us have to reach as writers and artists--the point where we have to take a deep breath and jump. At that moment, I began cutting away everything that was not pertinent to Mrs. Johnson's dedication to the environment. And trust me when I say that was a LOT. And it was heartbreaking in a way. Because I admire Mrs. Johnson so much, I wanted to tell everything I knew. And something that I had to do too, was to step outside of my admiration for her and to try to get as objective a look as I could.

KA (con't): It's important for an author to love their subject. But it's also important not to love it so much that you can't see it. When I finally stepped back, I was able to see the true heart of what I wanted to say. And I was so lucky that I had this amazing quote from Lady Bird in which she stated, "wildflowers are the stuff of my heart." That's what I had to find--the stuff of my heart, and in the end, that was what Joy and I wrapped our story and art around--wildflowers.

KA (con't): For years, in my teaching, when it came to this genre--picture book biographies--I have always said that one of the roles of this particular animal is to give the reader a "glimmer" of the person, not so much that you're telling an entire life, but just enough that anyone who reads the book will close the last page and say, "I want to know more." That's the task of a picture book biography--to offer a glimpse of a life well-lived in such a way that the reader is encouraged to look further. It's both a constraint and a wonder, all at the same time.

KA (con't): So my huge hope for this book is that it will not only bring Mrs. Johnson some much deserved recognition, but also to bring the work she has done back into our national consciousness, to inspire readers young and old alike, to take a look at a small girl from deep East Texas and realize that one person can make a huge difference.

Joy's answer

JFH: In the early planning stages, Kathi and I made several research trips to the L.B.J. Library Archives and The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center, in Austin, Texas. It was important to me to know everything I could about Lady Bird’s life. In the Spring of 2000, I traveled from San Antonio, to Karnack, Texas--Lady Bird's home town. Staying in the nearby town of Uncertain, I explored Karnack, Caddo Lake, and Jefferson, I interviewed everyone I could find who knew Lady Bird and her family. I returned to my studio with over 400 photographs of the architecture and native flora and fauna in the region of Lady Bird's childhood.

JFH (con't): During the five years before my paintings were shipped to New York, I accumulated boxes and boxes of research. Kathi worked diligently on over fifty drafts of Lady Bird's story. I fell in love with every shared rendition, each inspiring me to create story boards and countless drawings that would lead up to the final paintings of our book. From April of 2002 to November of 2003, I enjoyed devoting myself to bringing Kathi’s eloquent Lady Bird story to life for young readers.

Cynsational News & Links

Kathi and Joy will be signing at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on April 10 from noon to 3 p.m. (go to Wild Ideas: The Store).

A First Lady Who Made A Difference by Alice Cary from BookPage; an interview with Kathi Appelt.

Secrets of Success: An Interview With Sudipta Bardhan (who has recently sold picture books to Chronicle, Charlesbridge, and Sterling) from author Ellen Jackson's Web site. Includes excellent insights into picture book writing; particularly timely in this tight market. If you haven't read them already, scroll for interviews with authors D.L. Garfinkle and Tanya Lee Stone.

Edith Tarbescu's Home Page: from the author of Annushka's Voyage (Clarion, 1998). Her recent releases include: The Crow (Franklin Watts, 2000); The Boy Who Stuck Out His Tongue: A Yiddish Folktale (Barefoot, 2000)(review and related interview from Julia Durango); and Bring Back My Gerbil (Cartwheel, 2002)(read chapter one). See also The Magic of Writing Children's Books by Edith Tarbescu from Author's Venue; and a photo of Edith with her pup, Winnie.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

"Riding With Rosa"

I'm thrilled to announce the publication of my YA short story, "Riding With Rosa" by Cynthia Leitich Smith, in the March/April 2005 issue of Cicada, a YA literary magazine, (p. 69, Vol. 7, No., 4). I hope y'all will look for it.

Author Sue Corbett

Just surfed over to Sue Corbett's site, and I wanted to highlight her as an author to know. (She also reviews children's books for the Miami Herald).

Sue's debut novel, 12 Again (Dutton, 2002) is the story of mother Bernadette and son Patrick, who are separated when Bernadette becomes 12 again, leaving Patrick to help manage a bustling household. Via email exchanges and mutual efforts, they must work to bring her (the 40-year-old her) home. Infused with Irish lore and magic, 12 Again is the rare hip, funny, suspenseful, affecting, perfect middle grade novel. Ages 8-up. Highly recommended.

When you visit Sue's site, be sure to sign the guest book to enter her monthly drawing for a free copy of 12 Again. Then peek in on Sue's visit at William Lehman Elementary.

Things Sue and I have in common: Irish heritage; passion for great books; reporting; novel-writing; a dislike of people who drive too fast on residential streets; a desire to be Lois Lane. Plus, her favorite quote is attributed to one of my heroes. Learn more about her.

Cynsational News

Author Susan Taylor Brown (susan@susantaylorbrown.com) is building an online database of lesson plans/activities for books.

If you are interested in her featuring a particular title and related lesson/activity, email her with the following information:

1. Your name;

2. Title of book(s);

3. Direct link to the guide/lesson (not just global Web site address);

4. Topics covered in book (one word topics only separated by commas; i.e., divorce, geography, dogs);

5. Type of book: picture book (PB), easy reader (ER), chapter book (CB), middle grade (MG), young adult (YA); poetry (P).

Notes: (1) it doesn't matter if the curriculum materials were created by the author, illustrator, publisher, or some other source; (2) please feel free to forward this message.

Cynsational Links

Author Coleen Murtagh Paratore: new official site features biography, bibliography, photo gallery, and speaking events. Her titles include: How Prudence Proovit Proved The Truth About Fairy Tales and The Wedding Planner's Daughter. Note: I was struck by Coleen's mention that she went to the public library on Saturday mornings with her mama because I did, too.

The Imagination Library from the Dollywood Foundation. Note: I have loved Dolly since I heard her sing at the American Royal Rodeo in Kansas City on an elementary school field trip. I thought she looked like a fairy princess and sounded like an angel. In fact, "Rhinestone," co-starring Sylvester Stallone (1984) is one of my favorite movies. Yes, really!

Twisted Tales & Windy Writings: Author Kathryn Lay's Web site: official site from the author of Crown Me (Holiday House, 2004) and The Organized Writer Is A Selling Writer. She teaches an online class on writing for magazines and is the regional advisor for the NE/NC Texas Chapter of SCBWI.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A Room On Lorelei Street by Mary E. Pearson

A Room On Lorelei Street by Mary E. Pearson (Henry Holt, 2005). Zoe, 17, has had it with her alcoholic mother and manipulative grandmother. She moves out of the house and rents a room on Lorelei Street in hopes of a new start. But ghosts, living and dead, swirl around Zoe, trying to tug her back, and it's hard making ends meet as a diner waitress. Zoe's new landlady, Opal, has a fresh, hopeful perspective, but ultimately, Zoe's uncertain future rests in her own hands. Ages 12-up. Highly recommended.

My Thoughts

A Room On Lorelei Street spoke so powerfully that I could only handle it in small doses. I had to leave it sometimes, to gather strength, before returning again. But I also had to return. I had to know what happened.

I've been trying to pinpoint exactly what it is that caught me so completely. The depiction of lower socio-eco class rang true. Zoe's determination made me respect her and appreciate the depth of her struggle. I believed in the characters--the ones I liked and the ones I didn't. Reading this novel, thinking hard about its themes, will save at least one teen's life and inspire others to make better choices. That's important. But ultimately, the story and hero just swept me away.

Notes: (1) the cover on the ARC is not the final cover for the book; (2) the novel is set in Texas.

Mary's other YA novels are David v. God (Harcourt, 2000) and Scribbler of Dreams (Harcourt, 2001). Read her online journal.

Cynsational Links

Don't Take A Ride In Darnell Dixon's Rivy Dog of Love: Christopher Paul Curtis Talks About His New Book, Bucking The Sarge by Kay Smith from the fall 2004 ALAN review.

Get Back On That Horse And Write! by Bunny Miner from the Institute of Children's Literature. An article on making through a writing slump.

Julie's Blah Blah Blog from author Julie Anne Peters. Preview her new YA novel, Far From Xanadu (Megan Tingley, 2005)(beautiful cover art; I want that hair). Julie's previous novel, Luna (Megan Tingley, 2004)(read an excerpt), was a National Book Award finalist, and the one before that Keeping You A Secret (Megan Tingley, 2003) is one of my all-time faves.

Twenty Tips For Writing Picture Books by Pat Mora from Lee & Low Books. Read An Interview With Pat Mora from Melus.

Kid Magazine Writers with the caveat that content is kept up only a month. If you see something you like, print it for future reference. Bookmarking won't work long!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Read On Wisconsin!

I'm honored to report that Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Harper, 2002) has been chosen as this month's featured book for intermediate (grades 3-5) readers participating in Read On Wisconsin!

It's "a statewide book club for everyone who enjoys reading and talking about new books," sponsored by Jessica Doyle, the First Lady of Wisconsin. Read the flap copy and a special letter from me to Wisconsin young readers.

The other March 2005 books are: Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes (for infants, ages 0-2); Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On by Lois Ehlert (for preschool, ages 3-5); Tomas And The Library Lady by Pat Mora (for primary, grades K-2); Miracle's Boys by Jacqueline Woodson (for middle school, grades 6-8); and A Step From Heaven by An Na (for High School, grades 9-12).

Cynsational Links

Go back to the week when I first heard Indian Shoes was chosen for this honor.

Learn more about Lois Ehler from Getting Personal with Lois Ehlert (an interview) by Edie Boatman from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Lois Ehlert Teacher Resource File from the Internet School Library Media Center. Includes links to biographies and lesson plans.

Interviews with Jacqueline Woodson are available from: Downhome Books and Penguin Putnam. See also Meet The Brothers of "Miracle's Boys" (a miniseries based on the book) by Marie Morreale from Scholastic News.

Read a review of A Step From Heaven by An Na from Teenreads.com.

For more information about Indian Shoes and an interview with author An Na, visit my Web site and use the search engine provided. See also my blog post about writing Indian Shoes.

Me, Cool?

I was called "Queen Kong" in fourth grade. I wore clothes with glitter threads into the 1980s. I read graphic novels back when they were still called "comic books." Watched "Star Wars: A New Hope" more than 300 times in the theater (before "A New Hope" was tagged onto the title). Listened to Barry Manilow as a teenager. Live to shop for office supplies! And yet...

According to Smartwriters.com, my blog and my honey's qualify as "cool writer blogs" (scroll to view the whole list). If they say so, it must be true! Thank you, smartwriters! I'm honored.

Book I'm reading right now: A Room On Lorelei Street by Mary E. Pearson (Henry Holt, June 2005); more on that soon!

Cynsational Links

Creating Successful Critique Groups with author Jill Rubalcaba: an ICL chat transcript.

An Interview With Jennifer Donnelly, author of A Northern Light, from Downhome Books. Teenreads.com is sponsoring a contest wherein you can win 10 copies of this book for you and your friends/reading group; the deadline is March 18.

My Life In Books from author Heidi E.Y. Stemple. Does it surprise anyone that the little girl from Owl Moon grew up to be a children's author herself? Her titles include: Mirror, Mirror (Viking, 2000) and The Salem Witch Trials (Simon & Schuster, 2003), both written with Jane Yolen. Read An Interview With Jane Yolen from Downhome Books.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Congratulations

To writer Catherine Page Koehlert, whose screenplay is a quarter-finalist in the American Screenwriters Association competition. I know Page through the Austin area children's writing community. She recently moved to San Francisco, and I miss her!

To librarian/educator Dr. Loriene Roy for being named winner of a 2005 Texas Exes Teaching Award. I know Loriene through the Austin children's/YA book community, the Native American literature community, and her work for If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything: Promoting Reading At Schools Near Or On Reservations. This program is officially endorsed by the American Indian Library Association and has my full support. Please consider donating books or money.

Some great people who've donated to If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything: Candlewick Press; author Shutta Crum; HarperCollins Children's Books; author Rukhsana Khan; author Jackie French Koller; author Pat Mora; the University of Michigan University Library (go Wolverines!); Random House; author Nancy Werlin; author Jane Yolen. See the whole list.

Poetry Books

I used to write poetry. When I was in elementary school, I even put together a collection of my poems in a little handmade book with a calico cover. I entered it in my district fair and received a white participation ribbon.

Since I've grown up, reviewers will sometimes describe my language as poetic. I heard that a lot about Jingle Dancer, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (Morrow/Harper, 2000). But I'm more of a reader than writer of poetry these days.

Books I love include: Kathi Appelt's memoir, My Father's Summers: A Daughter's Memoir (Holt, 2004), which is written in palm poems; as well as Pieces: A Year In Poems And Quilt by Anna Grossnickle Hines (Harper, 2001) ; Wonderful Words: Poems About Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Karen Barbour (Simon & Schuster, 2004); and Is This Forever, Or What? Poems And Paintings of Texas by Naomi Shihab Nye (Harper, 2004).

I want to highlight an upcoming book I'm really excited about: Sketches From A Spy Tree with poems by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer and art by Andrew Glass (Clarion, 2005). Tracie's site features interviews with children's poets such as Lisa Wheeler, Ralph Fletcher, Kristine O'Connell George, Nikki Grimes, Heidi Roemer, and Rebecca Kai Dotlich. It also offers lesson plans for poetry, poetry quotes, and more.

Cynsational Links

Author Nancy Garden debuts the first book in a new series, The Case of the Stolen Scarab (Candlestone Inn Mystery #1) (Two Lives, 2004). It's about siblings Nicky and Travis, whose two moms have recently bought and are ready to open a New England inn. But then they hear police are on the look-out for a thief who swiped a scarab from a Boston museum. When a mysterious guest arrives under dire circumstances, they're left to wonder if he's the thief...or a victim.

"I'm published. What now?" from author Verla Kay's Web site. "A Web page devoted to the business end of being a published author." An extensive author/writing resource site.

Submit Your Thoughts About Reading for possible inclusion in the book: Page By Page: The Book Of Reading In Words And Pictures by Susan Taylor Brown.

Who Wrote That? Featuring Jennifer Holm published in California Kids (September 2003) from Patricia M. Newman. Read excerpts from two of Jenni's books, Our Only May Amelia and Boston Jane: An Adventure. Peek in on one of her author visits at Bowling Green Public Library in Kentucky.

Words Across Pictures & Picturing Words

Words Across Pictures & Picturing Words: a craft-based, full-day conference in English sponsored by SCBWI & the Bologna International Children's Book Fair at the Bologna Children's Book Fair Grounds on April 12, 2005. (See sidebar on SCBWI events page).

“Why I Love This Book and Published It” with guest publishers: Anne Schwartz (Random House US); Barry Cunningham (Chicken House UK); Deirdre McDermott (Walker Books Ltd UK) ; Isabelle Bézard (Bayard Editions France); Jennifer Wingertzahn (Clarion Books US); Neal Porter (Roaring Brook US).

Workshops include: “Picture the Book: From Text to Dummy” with artist/author G. Brian Karas (Atlantic); “The Craft of Revision: Examining Motifs, Compression, Structure, & Character”with author Franny Billingsley (The Folk Keeper); and “Book Reviewing: Where Pictures and Words Intersect” with author/reviewer Leonard Marcus (Dear Genius, Parenting magazine).

Cost is: 85 Euros for SCBWI members; 100€ non-members.

Registration fee includes conference, lunch, and closing cocktail. Manuscript and portfolio reviews available upon request for additional fee. First come, first-served. Please note: no refunds. Program subject to change without notice. This event is organized by SCBWI volunteers and is hosted by the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair. Separate registration for the Day-Before Conference and the Book Fair. The Fair is open from April 13 to April 16, 2005. Questions? daniellecaponi@tiscali.it Register today at: www.scbwi.org

See photos from the 2004 conference on Erzsi Deak's Web site.

Cynsational Links

Conversation With Leonard S. Marcus, author of Dear Genius, by Etta Wilson from BookPage.

On the Bloomsbury site, you can send a Folk Keeper e-card or download a Folk Keeper screen saver.

My pal, author Tanya Lee Stone blogged about me yesterday (February 27, 2005). She calls me "sparkly," but hey now, she's pretty sparkly herself. Tanya is the author of more than 75 children's books (really!). Her upcoming titles include Elizabeth Leads The Way ("a picture book biography about Elizabeth Candy Stanton, who spearheaded the women's suffrage movement")(Holt, 2006) and A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl (Wendy Lamb, 2006), a YA which will rock your world.

Margery Cuyler's Web site: official author/editor site. Margery's recent titles include: Achoo! illustrated by Bruce McNalley (Scholastic, 2002); That's Good! That's Bad! In The Grand Canyon, illustrated by David Catrow (Henry Holt, 2002); and Skeleton Hiccups, illustrated by S.D. Schindler (McElderry, 2002), among others. For 21 years, she was Editor-In-Chief at Holiday House and has also worked at Henry Holt, Golden Books, and Winslow Press. She's been directing the trade program at Marshall Cavendish since June 1.

Editorial Staff Changes At Children's Publishers and News of Publishers Opening Or Closing from The Purple Crayon. A lot seems to be going on this month. Check it out.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Promotional Postcards

I spent some of the weekend helping Greg send his promotional postcards for Tofu And T.Rex (Little Brown, July 2005) to booksellers, both those on our own list, compiled over the years, and to members of the Association of Booksellers for Children.

As authors we're eligible for associate memberships and have joined along with some other lovely people like: Franny Billingsley; Toni Buzzeo; Erzi Deak; Jennifer Holm; Kristine O'Connell George; and Kay Winters.

By the way, I actually asked a bookseller-turned-author and a librarian-turned-author when to best send said cards.

The bookseller-turned-author said to send them when the catalogs were at the stores, in other words, now for summer. For the most part, bookstores put in their original orders before reviews and what not.

The librarian-turned-author said to send to public libraries about a month before the book is released and to school libraries during the school year, but not during the first month of school. So, since Tofu And T.Rex is coming out in July, we'll wait until October to send to those contacts.

Cynsational Links

Booktalks: Quick And Simple Blog from Nancy Keane. "See some of the booktalkers booktalks before they are published on the Web site. Make comments and give suggestions, too."

Cinderella: Variations and Multicultural Versions from the de Gummond Children's Literature Collection of the University of Southern Mississippi Libraries. Note: readers may remember I have some Cinderella issues, but I just have to marvel at the depth and breadth of the number of related published books.

A Cool Bit With Francesca Lia Block from Favorite Teenage Angst Books. "A never-before-published conversation from 1998."

Sterling Printing and Copying: my main source for promotional postcards and bookmarks. I've also used Web Cards.

Unlikely Arithmetic: Thirteen Ways To Raise A Non-Reader from The Horn Book. A "tongue-in-cheek directive" (a PDF file).
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