The best thing about the SCBWI is the people in the organization. I have been lucky enough to be part of the Midsouth listserve for years, even though I live in Southern California. The Southern Belles and Gents welcomed me on board and have been lovingly supported throughout my publishing journey. At the Winter conference I ran into one of my favorite Southern Belles, Genetta Adair. Former RA for her region, Genetta is kind, generous and a talented writer. I asked her to give us a Writing Tip of the Day.
I have known Chris Eboch through the SCBWI for many years. She is kind, funny and one of those blessed RA's. A prolific writer, she recently wrote a book on plotting. I asked her to give us the Writing Tip of the Day.
In October, I was informed that Hanging Off Jefferson's Nose: Growing Up On Mount Rushmore was awarded the Silver Medal Honor Eureka Award, given by the California Reading Association for outstanding nonfiction in Children's literature. What an honor.
Then I was informed in November that my book is also a nominee for the 2014 Grand Canyon Readers Award for Nonfiction in Children's Books. School kids in Arizona will now have to read the book and vote for their favorite out of ten nonfiction nominees. I think I already won by having those kids read my book!
Children's publishing is a long waiting game. I was tempted to go the self-published route, but I am so glad I took the traditional publishing way. Not only has Penguin done so much for me by submitting my book for reviews (raves in SLJ, Booklist and Children's Book Council), they have distributed it nationwide. One of the thrilling events for me this year was selling my book at the Summer Conference PAL event, something I could not have done if I had published my book myself. It was so satisfying and fun to be congratulated by all the authors and illustrators who have been with me on this journey for many years.
Here's a picture of me signing in the tent!
I have been attending the SCBWI Summer Conference off and on for 15 years. This year, as usual, turned out to be a blast. The only difference was that for the first time I was attending as a published author!
I decided to take the Nonfiction track and follow the different authors and editors as they gave workshops and tips on nonfiction. Author Mellisa Stewart, editor Bonnie Bader, author Candace Fleming and editor Laura Goodwin gave informative, uplifting workshops on what the markets want and what their houses were looking for. The good news is that nonfiction is the hottest picture book seller due to the common core standards ready to hit 46 states in 2014. I adored being part of the PAL event and of course the big fun for me is always the costume contest. This year the theme was the Hippie Hop. Yuki Yoshino and Greg Trine have been part of my entourage for 7 years. This year we didn't win, but we had so much fun dancing the night away. The Sunday Golden Kite Luncheon was exceptionally uplifting and I was sad to say good bye to many of my friends until next year.
Twelve local children's authors will attend and sign books.
Registration deadline September 24th
For additional details contact Rose Koller at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 964-4711 x 5222.
On my summer trip back to Rushmore, I wanted to pay homage to the subject of my Hanging Off Jefferson's Nose, Lincoln Borglum. On the mountain he is always present; the museum is named after Lincoln. But I found a more fitting homage. A wood-planked walkway surrounds the mountain and leads down into Gutzon Borglum's old studio. On the way back up to the Visitor Center, there is a small stone patio with a bust of Gutzon. The bust was carved by Lincoln. This is where I decided to place my book for both father and son. Theirs is an amazing American story and I feel honored to have been the one to tell it.
I made a promise to myself when my manuscript for Hanging Off Jefferson's Nose was acquired in 2005 that I wouldn't go to Rushmore again without the book in my hand. Here I am this summer on Mount Rushmore, promise kept!
I was in South Dakota doing book signings at and near the memorial. It was a magical, fun time and a thrill to see the mountain again. All the years of wanting to tell this story has finally come true. This picture might look like I photoshopped the presidents in, but I am thrilled to say I didn't--they are the real thing. I plan to go back for signings at least once every year!
COURY, Tina Nichols. Hanging off Jefferson’s Nose. illus. by Sally Wern Comport. 40p. bibliog. CIP. Dial. 2012. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3731-0. LC 2011029968.
What would it be like to be the son of the man who was the sculptor of Mount Rushmore? Lincoln Borglum was only 12 when his father took the commission. As he grew up, he learned about every aspect of the project, and eventually, at age 26, became the superintendent under his father. When Ghutzon Borglum died suddenly from complications of surgery, Lincoln was ready to step in and bring the project to a satisfying conclusion. This slightly fictionalized narrative of Borglum’s life is engaging and informative.
What I love most about the SCBWI are the people. I LOVE the Southern Breezers. I'm on their listserve and get to visit with them every summer at the Summer Conference. I wish I could attend Springmingle. If you are anywhere near Atlanta, go! With agents, editors, writers--even a Newbery Honor Winner--it sounds like a blast....
If you’re serious about the children’s book market, you need to attend Springmingle 2012, Feb. 24-26, 2012 at the Atlanta Marriott Century Center.
Springmingle is presented by the Southern Breeze Region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the world’s largest professional organization for authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults.
This is one story I LOVE to tell, about Jill Corcoran, a fellow blogger and buddy of mine for years. It was a hoot to see her at many SCBWI events, always curious, always learning her craft and always a blast to hang out with. A few years back Jill decided to become a Children's Literary agent for the Herman Agency in New York. This girl was born to do this job. Jill has sky rocketed to success with multi-book deals for many authors. We who "knew her when" are bursting with pride. I'm happy that my good friend and buddy Jill Corcoran agreed to give us a Writing Tip of the Day.
I have known Jay Asher for many years. He is in my SCBWI region and I watched him go from winning writing contests to publishing his wildly successful first novel Thirteen Reasons Why. Jay collaborated with Carolynn Mackler for his second book, The Future of Us, and it's getting rave reviews. I asked Jay to talk about the collaboration process.
I am thrilled to announce the addition of a regular Friday column for Tales From the Rushmore Kid, "Panning for Gold with Barbara Jean Hicks." Barbara Jean has been my friend and writing partner for many years. She has years of experience in writing, editing, teaching and marketing, and I look forward to her contribution to the blog. Please help me welcome her!
Panning for Gold
Like many of you, I’ve read lots of books about writing and been to lots of conferences and writing workshops. And, like you, I’ve taken lots of notes. Once in a while I take them out to see what I can use in classes, presentations and workshops of my own, but too often the books sit unopened on my shelves and the notes stay buried in my files. (Does anyone relate?)
Janet Buell is another author I met this year at the SCBWI Santa Barbara Mission Retreat. Janet gives us a quick Writing Tip of the Day.
For the past seven years I have fed my inner ham by dressing up for my one performance art act of the year, at the SCBWI Summer Conference. The theme this year was vague: "40 Winks." Most people will probably show up in their pj's, but I wanted to do something from children's literature. And who doesn't love the Tooth Fairy, who exchanges teeth for coins in the dark of night when kids are catching their forty winks? I look forward to the conference and all its opportunities for networking, workshops and revisiting old friendships. In these distressing times, a writing conference is solice for my creative soul.
I met Vicki Leon at a Writer's Retreat in Santa Barbara a few years ago and have seen her give workshops on Writing Nonfiction. Not only is she prolific and funny, she is also very knowledgeable about research.
Here is a past interview that I was lucky enough to get. I heard Neil Gaiman speak at the BEA authors' breakfast in 2008. He was paneled with Jon Scieszka, Judy Blume, Sherman Alexie and Eoin Colfer. Anyone who was there will tell you that it was one of the most hilarious mornings of BEA. It is also where I picked up an advance copy of The Graveyard Book. I adore this book and I was so happy that the Newbery committee thought it was worthy of their award. I contacted Mr. Gaiman soon after The Graveyard Book won the Newbery, and he was gracious enough to grant me an interview. I am thrilled to have this year's Newbery winner, author and screenwriter Neil Gaiman, give us his insights for the blog.
When and why did you start writing for children?
My first book was for children. I was 21, and when it was finished I sent it to a publisher and it came back with an encouraging rejection slip. 23 years later, after CORALINE and WOLVES IN THE WALLS, I found the ms. in a tub in the attic, and read it, at bedtime, to my daughter Maddy.
I have known prolific author Sherry Shahan for many years. Sherry is funny and generous! She is represented by my good buddy, agent Jill Corcoran. Sherry's new novel, Purple Daze, is getting rave reviews. I was so pleased when she agreed to give us an interview.
When and why did you start writing for children?
I began writing as a hobby when my two daughters were quite young. Back then, it was something to do to keep my brain from turning into strained carrots.
This is one of those books I had heard of for years and meant to read. When I downloaded it on my Kindle, I thought it was about a group of monks. I was surprised and delighted to find it was a boarding school fantasy about four orphans that was full of action and adventure. Of course their assignment was no less than saving the world. The entire series--I had to read the other two in the trilogy immediately--is masterfully written and full of creative twists, secrets and heartfelt realizations. I LOVED these books and I was sad when the character's adventures ended.
"Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" When the ad appears in a local paper, orphan Reynie Muldoon takes and passes mind-bending tests to gain a place at what he thinks is a school. As it turns out, only four children, all orphans, pass the test--and the school is not about getting an education but pursuing a secret mission.
I knew of prolific author Chris Eboch before I met her. Another RA champion of the SCBWI, Chris has worked hard for SCBWI. She is also a masterful storyteller. We also share the same agent, the wonderful Mark McVeigh. I was delighted to track down Chris to give us a the Writing Tip of the Day.
I'm always surfing for new kid-friendly sites and was delighted to find that kidlit author Donna Guthrie has created a really cool one. Meet Me At the Corner - Virtual Field Trips for Kids is one impressive site. It is loaded with interesting subjects and interviews. I asked Donna if she'd give us an interview for the blog.
How did you come up with the concept of virtual field trips for kids?
I was in the process of getting my MFA in Children's and Young Adult Writing from the Vermont College Program, when it came to me that there might be a new way to write nonfiction for the 21st Century Learner.
I have known Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton for many years and she is such a kick. Laurie is a prolific writer, illustrator and champion of the SCBWI. It has been a pleasure to hear her speak on the writer's life. Today she gives us a great Writing Tip of the Day.
When I go to the Summer SCBWI Conference I always make it a point to pick up the latest winner of the Sid Fleischman Humor Award. These award winning books are always filled with belly laughs and a good time.
I was not disappointed this past year with Allen Zadoff's Food, Girls and Other Things I Can't Have. This is the hilarious story of a fat teenage boy whose dreams come true when he gets on the football team and starts dating a cheerleader. Then the dream turns into a nightmare as he questions his so-called success. As soon as I finished the book, I immediately contacted the author, Allen Zadoff, for an interview. I give you Allen Zadoff.
When and why did you start writing for children?
I never intended to write for teens. In the year I was waiting for my first book, a memoir called HUNGRY, to come out, I sat down and wrote a novel. I'd written many other things before that--screenplays, sitcoms, personal essays--but none of them had the voice that emerged when I started writing fiction. It was the story of a twelve-year-old boy competing with his brother to win his father's love.
I have known the beautiful Thalia Chaltas for many years.She's a great buddy and always game for dressing up at the summer costume party. I saw Thalia work hard, learn her craft and eventually publish her stunning YA novel in poems, BECAUSE I AM FURNITURE. I asked Miss Thalia to give us a Writing Tip of the Day.
Gretchen Woelfle has been around the SCBWI for years, receiving awards and accolades for many of her fiction and non-ficiton books. At the January retreat, Gretchen gave us a research tip of the day.
When Mark McVeigh, then an editor at Dutton, aquired HANGING OFF JEFFERSON'S NOSE: GROWING UP ON MOUNT RUSHMORE at my regional SCBWI Writer's Day in 2005, little did I know the journey I'd begun! The last six years have been amazing.
Between now and then I've become a kidlit blogger, acquired a new editor (the wonderful Steve Meltzer), written an article on Blog Tours and Book Trailers for CWIM 2010, been a faculty member at the SCBWI summer conference and acquired an agent, the inspiring Mark McVeigh. Yes, the same Mark McVeigh who first saw the promise in my manuscript and bought it!
My nonfiction picture book about Lincoln Borglum, the son of Mount Rushmore sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, started at Dutton but is now at Dial after a reorganization of the two houses. Dutton handles YA and middle grade novels and all picture books go to Dial. Here's a sketch of the cover by illustrator Sally Wern Comport. And after six long years I finally have a release date! I can't wait to find out where else this journey will take me by the time May 2012 rolls around.
For many years, the RA for our local SCBWI chapter, Alexis O'Neill, has put together fabulous weekend retreats at the old Santa Barbara Mission. In the past I have attended retreats that featured cyber promotion, novels, picture books and social media. Being immersed in the intense workshops offered always leaves me feeling refreshed and energized. This year was no exception.
In four core editor groups, we critiqued our manuscripts all day Saturday with Andrew Karre (Lerner Publishing Group), Melanie Kroupa (Marshall Cavedish), Grace Maccarone (Holiday House) and Brenda Murray (Scholastic Nonfiction). For the remainder of the weekend, we rotated out of our core groups to present first pages with the other three editors.
This annual retreat attracted many published writers from across the country and offered the unpublished writers a chance to submit to editors whose doors would normaly be closed. A big thank you to all the editors and hats off to Alexis O'Neill, who always puts on a bang-up event!
I have known Kathleen Duey for many years. She is a great speaker, a wonderful critiquer and a hard core supporter of the SCBWI. The first book in her Skin Hunger Trilogy was a National Book Award Finalist. She is immensely talented and generous. At the SCBWI summer conference Kathleen agreed to give us a very helpful Writing Tip of the Day.
Books to review come to me in different ways: sometimes from the author, sometimes from a librarian and sometimes from the publishing house. That is what happened here when Calkin Creek sent me this book. I was tickled when I opened the envelope and found not only a great picture book, but saw that it was written by one of my SCBWI buddies, Jo S. Kittinger. Just when I thought there was no way to give the story of Rosa Parks a fresh new twist, Jo came up with one.
Rosa's Bus tells the tale of bus number 2857: how it rolled off the assembly line in 1948 and made it down to Montgomery, Alabama around the time the civil rights movement started. The bus had a moveable sign on the seats that indicated where colored people could sit; f they did not obey the bus rules, they could be arrested.
I have sent in proposals for workshops over the last couple of years without results, so I was surprised and pleased when I received the email in April that my latest proposal had been accepted and I would be teaching a workshop at this year's summer conference.
On Thursday night before the conference I was delighted to attend the faculty dinner at the Plaza. Nervous, but knowing a few faculty members, I mingled with the crowd. We all introduced ourselves and said a few words before dinner. (I talked about my workshop and mentioned that I love the costume contest.) I ended up at a table with M.T. Anderson. I was glad I had read his National Book Award winner, Octavian Nothing. It was fascinating to discuss the ending of the book with him. Arthur Levine, Lisa Yee, Kathleen Duey, and various other editors, art directors and illustrators were also at my table. I felt as if I had arrived! Everyone was charming and interested in my opinions, making me feel as though I wasn’t just a minion; I was one of the club.
The SCBWI Costume Contest has turned into my one performance piece of the year. I usually try to incorporate children's literature into the theme, but this year was difficult. The Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland was the obvious choice for Heart and Soul, but that wasn't creative enough for me.
What really struck me for this theme is that the Heart and Soul of the fabulous SCBWI are Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser. I have attended 12+ summer conferences, and I am always touched by the generosity and kindness of Lin and Steve. I decided that one very small way I could thank them was to make them part of my costume.
With a $15 bridesmaid dress, a hot glue gun, and a bunch of sparkly do-dads, this is what I came up with.
Well, it's red again this year. I always wait to hear the theme
before I start working on my costume for the SCBWI National Conference's
big Saturday night party. This year the theme is Heart & Soul. I love this contest, whether I win or lose. It
gives me and my buddies, Greg Trine and Yuki Yoshino, a chance to dress
up and feed our inner hams. I look at the event as my performance art piece of the year. I've been working on our
costumes since April. This is one of the many bags of red stuff that
I've purchased. I thought maybe I would tone it down this year due to me being on the faculty, but after a quick poll on Face Book I decided to be my usual goofy self.
Today I mourn a legend. I met Sid Fleischman several times over the years and attended many of his workshops at the Summer Conferences. He was warm, funny, generous and kind, and also immensely talented. In his honor I am rerunning this post from August 2007. Good-Bye Sid, we'll all miss you.
Talk about inspirations...you're looking at them. Three Newberys. Three!
Newbery winners Susan Patron, Sid Fleischman and Linda Sue Park have written some of my favorite children's stories, The Higher Power of Lucky, The Whipping Boy and A Single Shard. So pushy little me saw them talking at the SCBWI National and asked for a photo. They were so gracious. Susan and Linda Sue agreed to be interviewed for the blog later. I didn't have the nerve to ask Sid, but I will. I printed out this photo and stuck it next to my computer with the phrase, "Dream Big!"
I'm sorry to say that I never got that interview with Sid, but my buddy Barbara Bietz did interview him last year. Check it out today at her blog, (http://www.barbarabbookblog.blogspot.com/
I've been to about 12 Summer Conferences but this was my first Winter Conference in New York City and it was great fun. I passed on the Friday optional round table critique with an agent or editor since I already have both, but I heard great things about it from several authors who not only got great suggestions but a few notes saying "Send this to me" from editors. Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser MC'd much of the procedings with touching and hilarious speeches from Libba Bray, Jacqueline Woodson, Peter Sis and Jim Benton. Susan Raab gave the low down of what's selling, Sheldon Fogelman talked career choices and Jane Yolen gave a detail twenty writer/illustrator tips.
The break out session with editors were not only helpful but several allowed limited time submissions for queries and manuscripts if you attended the conference. I hung out with some of my buddies from the Southern Regions and had a few Blog fans approach me. One of the biggest thrills for me was seeing CWIM 2010, that I have an article in, sold in the bookshop. All and all a great time for a cold weekend in the city.
The weekend of January 8th I had the opportunity to attend an SCBWI Cyber Promotion Retreat with other published kidlit authors. The weekend was full of information on social media, networking and putting together a formidable cyber arsenal. On the last day, before we said our good-byes, I asked participants to tell me what they had learned. You might learn something, too, from this short vlog.
I love this party--the Saturday Night SCBWI Ball at the National Conference. Not only do I get the privilege of creating performance art, I get to act goofy with my friends. For the past few years, Greg Trine (Melvin Beederman Series), illustrator Yuki Yoshino and I dress up, dance and try to win the costume contest. We always give everyone else stiff competition. This year we came in 2nd place with our Mother Goose and the Goosettes costumes. Here we are pictured with Lin Oliver, executive director of the SCBWI.