SCBWI

Picture Books? Picture Books!

Wow, I’m so happy to announce I was selected for the 2020 #PBChat Mentorship program! My amazing mentor is Christian Trimmer, Children’s Author, Editorial Director of Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, and all-around kind human being. It has been an incredible experience so far. If you don’t know, #PBChat is an online community created by Justin Colón, a Latinx children’s author, active SCBWI member, and founder of PBChat, the twitter chat and annual mentorship program for picture book creators. He’s also now my hero!

I would have never had a picture book manuscript to pitch were it not for my participation in Julie Hedlund‘s vibrant community of picture book creators, the 12 X 12 Challenge, and the resources I’ve found through my membership in SCBWI. In January of this year, I was feeling stuck with my middle grade manuscript and writing in general. I decided to stretch my imagination a little bit with picture books and joined the 12 x 12 Challenge. Let me tell you, deadlines and peer pressure work. Thanks to these communities of writers and to my awesome critique partner for her honest and helpful feedback. Keep making art, friends.

I have a thing for murals.

LIVING IN 2020.

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My family is tucked away in the woods on a rural hillside, riding out all that the world is experiencing and surviving right now. It’s a contemplative time. I have a lot of privilege at the moment – a day job that continues through work at home, a healthy family, supportive – if physically distant – friends, food on the table, safe places to be outside, and a roof over our heads. We wish for everyone to stay healthy and safe. Stay creative if you can. Plan to vote on November 3rd, and take three friends with you when you go.

I started this year with a nice nod from the 2020 We Need Diverse Books Mentorship Program when I was named a finalist. I also made the 2021 wait list for the Lambda Literary Writer’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices – YA category. I continue to explore my writing interests with picture books, a couple of middle grade manuscripts, and even YA speculative fiction and the occasional flash nonfiction. I meet most weeks online for a craft talk with the Lost River Writers’ Retreat which always surprises me.  I’ve attended  a whole bunch of amazing digital craft workshops through SCBWI. Keep going, you. Here’s to dreaming big, especially now.

 

CABIN READS 2018 IS HERE.

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Join me as I host CABIN READS again this year. I’ll introduce some of my favorite people to the tiny Appalachian town of Wardensville in the eastern panhandle of WV when the authors of the LOST RIVER WRITERS’ RETREAT read from their works in progress at the LOST RIVER TRADING POST on AUGUST 2nd at 6pm. UPDATED with photos of this event.

 

38780708_220616755463858_5340291138173534208_nCreatorsCampInstaThen, on OCTOBER 6th, join us at the WARDENSVILLE GARDEN MARKET in partnership with the MD/DE/WV Regional Chapter of the SOCIETY OF CHILDREN’S BOOK WRITERS + ILLUSTRATORS for a free WV CREATORS’ CAMP on the farm,  a writing and sketching event for SCBWI members or for those interested in learning more.

 

Making art in 2018.

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I’m so excited to be the recipient of a 2018 Individual Artist professional development grant from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, approved by the WV Commission on the Arts. Getting tangible help and positive feedback on my writing and community-building efforts is just amazing. Thank you to all the arts organizations who are still pushing ahead with a mission to give resources and support to artists and writers of all kinds.

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Some 2017 Favorites

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THE BOOK OF DUST, by Philip Pullman,  is another amazing journey from one of my all-time favorite authors, this time with baby Lyra and new and old characters to  protect her. I love this series, forever and ever.

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THE RIVER, by Gary Paulsen, a fast-paced survival story that follows his amazing story, HATCHET. I read it in one sitting!

 

 

 

1973 Newbury winner JULIE OF THE WOLVES, by naturalist Jean Craighead George. “‘Change your ways when fear seizes,’ he said, ‘for it usually means you are doing something wrong.’” I now feel I can survive the tundra. I already know how to live with wolves.

22089715_10159363988995641_8577156223246128293_nI vividly recall my kindergarten teacher handing us a form to indicate what we wanted to be when we grow up. There were different careers listed in the boy column vs. the girl column. (It was 1970.) The closest thing I could find that matched me was in the boy column, so I nervously picked it: Cowboy. I have definitely been fighting stereotypes ever since. Because no child should feel uncomfortable being who they are, my Read #3 is FLYING LESSONS & OTHER STORIES, fullof diverse authors and protagonists, just as it should be. My favorite so far is Tim Federle’s Secret Samantha, with a protagonist I would have loved as a kid. #weneeddiversebooks #representationmatters

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Origami, More-igami

 

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CABIN READS episode 2!  It all went down with the arrival yesterday of debut picture book author and all around great human being, Dori Kleber. She visited our little WV town to read her much-lauded book MORE-IGAMI, followed by a craft session where she taught about twenty little ones and their parents how to make a hopping origami frog. Dori happens to be the perfect person for this  because she’s an amazing teacher and instructor, and she has more patience than about 125 of me put together. Thanks for the visit, Dori!

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CABIN READS

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Last night I launched CABIN READS, a recurring WV literary event here in my new hometown of Wardensville. Situated between North Mountain and the Cacapon River, our region is a stunning example of West Virginia’s best. Our first event was hosting a reading by the six authors of the LOST RIVER WRITER’S RETREAT. We heard heartfelt poetry, hilarious middle grade, compelling nonfiction, historical crime fiction, and riveting adult fiction. I love writers. I love how clever they are when they’re reading their work or when they’re choosing their stories over dinner. Thank you Retreat Founder John Copenhaver,  DeMisty D. BellingerJessica Hendry NelsonNoah StetzerKara Waite and pictured, Kate Hattemer. Our next CABIN READS event will be with my SCBWI friend and critique partner and debut PB author Dori Kleber. The schedule can be found right here.

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November Schmooze

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I get so much from my membership to SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), that I decided it was time to give back. I’m now serving as the Southern Breeze Chapter ‘s Local Liaison for Decatur, GA. To kick things off, I’ll be hosting a meet and greet schmooze event for Decatur, GA area children’s writers and illustrators on November 9, 2014! If you are a member of SCBWI or interested in learning more about joining, please stop by and have dinner with your neighbors. Details and RSVP to the event—-> here.

Congratulations to the Winner of the 2014 Sue Alexander Award!

Recently I posted about being nominated for the 2014 Sue Alexander Award for Most Promising New Work at the SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles. It was my complete honor to have that experience, and I still can’t believe it. I didn’t win but I feel so encouraged as a writer to keep my head down and keep writing!

This can be a lonely, frustrating business, and it takes more perseverance and patience than most folks can muster on their own. A reward like this nomination was a tremendous boost to my spirit, and helps me to keep going.

But now, huge congratulations to the winner:  LINDA KAO for THE TREASURE OF THE FOGGY ISLES!

Big props to the runners up, as well: Lori Snyder for THE HEART AT THE END OF THE WORLD and Natalie Hyde for GOLD RUSH!

Thanks again to the Sue Alexander Award Committee for the time and effort you put into this process. Thank you, SCBWI, for providing so many different ways for writers to grow and learn and be recognized along this journey.