Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sing along with Delaware

One of the wow-some speakers in Los Angeles this year is M.T. Anderson. Some of us lucky WWA-ers got to meet him a year or so ago when he came to Seattle on a book tour, but it was great to hear him again. (Check out the Team Blog entry for a brief on his talk, and don't miss this post, either.)

Better yet, go to his website and learn things you really never knew about Delaware. And toy with the idea of what that means about, and to, writing, creativity, and world-building (even if you don't write fantasy).

WWAers in LA

Last night, some 20 or so SCBWI Western Washington writers and illustrators (of the 40 known to be here) took a break from the SCBWI Summer Conference to gather for a couple of hours between the bar and the pool. We met fellows from the Oregon and Inland Empire regions and chatted about the conference's great kick-offs by Jon Sczieska and M.T. Anderson and all sorts of other things, too. Among other good stuff, we gave so-good-to-see-you-again hugs to Kjersten Anna Hayes and tried to lure mystic members to our summer picnic on August 11.

Couldn't make it? Follow the hot stuff with Team Blog. We'll try to put a few more highlights here over the next few days, too!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Good News for Helen Landalf

A big yahoo for Helen Landalf! Her debut novel, BROKEN WINGS, had made Goodreads list of YA/MG novels debuting in 2011. The list is a reference for those participating in the 2011 Debut Author Challenge. You can add 2011 debut novels, vote for the titles that have made your list, or ones that you are looking forward to reading the most! Go to this link for more information. If you'd like to learn more about Helen, you can check out her blog.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

SCBWI Summer Conference Mixer Fun

Going to the 39th Annual SCBWI Summer Conference? Lois Brandt passed along this information for those attending.
Two mixers for nonfiction writers will take place during the conference. The first is Friday, July 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the Olympic 2 Room. The second, Sunday night, same time, same location. Please join us. Last year, we had a great turnout, and a fun time talking Nonfiction Stuff!

More information about the conference can be found here on the SCBWI webpage.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Northern Network Ice Cream Social

The SCBWI WWA Northern Network extends an invitation to its first annual Ice Cream Social, a fun gathering for getting acquainted, sharing good news, and planning the Network's fall program. The ice cream will be dished up on Friday, August 6th at 4 p.m. at Bloedel Donovan Park on Lake Whatcom in Bellingham. Feel free to bring your favorite topping, kids, any a sample of any tasty writing or illustrations you’ve been working on and would like to share. You might also think about themes you’d like to see discussed in this season's round of network schmoozes. We'll meet new friends and eat ice cream until about 6 p.m.

No RSVP required, but one will help make sure the right amount of ice cream is on site. To let us know you're coming, or if you need directions to the park, email Northern Network Coordinator Angelina Hansen, yascribe (AT)

Blog Love

Great ideas from Fiction Notes, a great blog by Author Darcy Pattison. Check out these eight ways to enrich your character here. Darcy's first idea:
1. Change the name. The apocryphal story is that Gone with the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara was named Pansy in the first draft. Sometimes a simple name change will resonate throughout a text.
Another post, Show-Dont-Tell, gives good advice on this writing 101 topic for beginning fiction writers.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Good News for Ann Leda Shapiro

Congratulations to Ann Leda Shapiro! Her book, MY ISLAND has been selected by the State Librarian for the Summer 2010 Washington Reads. Come celebrate with Ann at the Vashon Island Library next Wednesday, July 28, from 4 to 6 p.m.

You can find more about Ann on her website, and more on the Washington Read here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More From The Mixed-Up Files

From the Mixed-Up Files, a collaborative blog, is worth checking out. For those of you starting out, check out the recent post on things writers wished they knew before they started (includes feedback from other authors too).

Another great post (thank Liz Mills!) was about what reluctant readers want to read. It starts out with this question:
So what will make a kid who’d rather be playing videogames, drawing, or skateboarding snuggle up with a book?
Want to know? Check out the post here.

Do you have a writing blog you love to follow? I love finding posts, like these, to share with others! Send the link to

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Good News for Liz Mills

Liz has just released her book, THe SPOOKY WHEELS ON THE BUS. It's now on sale at Santoro’s Books, which will host a book launch party September 11, 2010. This is Liz's thirtieth book! The link for this is found on the website.

Liz also puts together our SCBWI Chinook, and sends me wonderful links to post for the Update! You can find more information about Liz on her blog. Congratulations Liz!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Race in the Industry

Publisher's Weekly recently had a post about race in the children's literature industry. The author, Elizabeth Bluemle, writes:
It is our responsibility—as people who create, produce, and distribute the lion’s share of books that reach and teach and entertain children—it is our highest calling to provide written, illustrated worlds that embrace and prioritize all children, books that resemble the playgrounds and classrooms and homes of this country and the rest of the world.

A great post to read, which features artwork from our own Kevan Atteberry, and other illustrator friends.

Another post addressing race is on She Writes. The article talks about how there is segregation among authors in bookstores. The author, The Salonniere, writes:
What's needed, of course, is a more conscious and intentional approach to diversity, not for diversity's sake, but for quality's sake.

Check out both of these posts for more on this timely issue.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

WLA Brown Bag Seminar on Gaming Law

Are you an artist or musician who contributes material for video games and other interactive media? Join attorney and software developer Michael Schneider for a discussion of important legal issues in the development and commercialization of interactive media products. Michael will discuss a variety of issues, including what intellectual property rights are involved in the creation and marketing of video games, and why it’s important for artists and developers to understand these rights and how to protect them. Also learn crucial steps that both the creators of video games and those who contribute to them need to take to protect themselves in the process of marketing and distributing games.

Thursday, July 22, from 12-1:30 p.m. (with registration beginning at 11:30 a.m.). There is a fee for this seminar. Visit the WLA website or call 206.328.7053 for more information.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Book Birthday Bash for Holly Cupala

Holly Cupala's debut YA novel, TELL ME A SECRET, is now available! Ellen Hopkins, New York Times bestselling author of CRANK, says “A powerful story of self-discovery, and a brilliant debut novel.” Check out more information on Holly, and her book on her website.

She's having a big huge book birthday bash to celebrate on Saturday, July 24. Secret Garden will be there with books, and will donate 10% of the night’s proceeds to World Vision’s Hope for Sexually Exploited Girls (Holly will be matching 100%). It’s at a private venue, so you can contact her through her website for details.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

SCBWI LA faculty: an interview with Linda Sue Park

When I think about writers I really love, Linda Sue Park's name always flies to the top of the list. It's not just because she's written some of the most beautiful, carefully observed novels around, the covers of which festoon this interview.

It's also that she's incredibly generous. The classes she teaches can be life-changing for writers who take them at the right time. She's on the SCBWI Board of Advisors. What's more, she blogs thoughtfully and enthusiastically about books she's reading and enjoying. So if you're looking for your next read, be sure to bookmark her blog and learn from a truly brilliant writer what makes a book great.

Linda Sue, who won a Newbery in 2002 for A Single Shard, is teaching a workshop at the conference this year. Read on for a sneak preview of what she'll talk about, and for updates of what she's reading and writing herself.

I was lucky enough to take your class on scenes last year and it felt like a revelation—the right information at the right time, and it made a lot of stuff click into place for me. Have you ever had that kind of experience with your writing that launched you where you are today?

My biggest 'revelation' occurred while I was reading a collection of essays by Katherine Paterson, in which she stated that she writes two pages a day. Major light-bulb moment! I didn't know if I could ever write a novel—novels are long and complicated and have lots of characters and threads and scenes—but I did know that I could write two pages in a day.

When I sit down to write, I NEVER use the word 'novel' in my head. I don't say, "Better get to work on the novel..." That's terrifying to me. I say, "I have this story I'm working on, and today I have to write two pages." I've written every single one of my novels this way.

Your master class on growing the middle grade novel is sold out. (Alas!) For people who can only dream of attending, can you share an insight or two from your syllabus?

Moment of panic: I'm supposed to have a syllabus?! *g*

Just kidding...mostly. OK, here's one point I'll be making. For me, character and setting are NOT separate elements. Example: If I say "a twelve-year-old girl who loves music", I might be able to picture her face, but nothing else about her is real. Her clothes, her hair, how she moves in space—she has NO substance for me unless I know *when* and *where* she lives. Before I can begin to write about a character, I have to have a specific setting in mind.

I believe we are all products of our time and place. My character's emotions might be universally human, but her actions, dialogue, thoughts—they're going to be determined by her personality AND by the time/place she lives in. So it's impossible for me to think of character and setting as two different entities.

Likewise, character and plot are hopelessly intertwined. In my master class, we'll be exploring how setting shapes character; how character determines plot; and how plot is affected by other words, how all three elements should work together seamlessly in a good novel.

What well-grown MG novels have you read lately that we all should pick up?

New titles: AS EASY AS FALLING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH, by Lynne Rae Perkins. THE DREAMER, by Pam Munoz Ryan. ALCHEMY AND MEGGY SWANN, by Karen Cushman. Less new: THE MOSTLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF HOMER P. FIGG, by Rodman Philbrick. PRINCESS BEN, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

One thing I love about your blog and your class is that you tell us what you really think of books. That kind of honesty is rare. When you’re reading and evaluating a book, what’s running through your head? How do you articulate what’s working and what isn’t? How do you apply that to your own writing as you’re revising?

When I read, I'm a reader, not a writer. I read purely for pleasure. A good book means I'm turning the pages, compelled, immersed in the world of the story. I am definitely NOT 'evaluating' or 'analyzing'—until I hit a snag.

Poor editing, a continuity problem, a plot inconsistency...or worst of all, a 'believability' issue: Those moments take me abruptly out of the story world, and in that instant, I become a writer. I immediately try to identify what brought me out of the story and think about how I might have done things differently. I read so much that I get a ton of practice at this skill, which hopefully serves me well when it comes to reading my own work.

If the story I'm reading is good enough—and this is what usually happens, because there are so many good books out there that I have zillions to choose from—I get over the bump quickly, and get back into the story within a few seconds. But if the bumps occur too frequently, I get first annoyed, then dismayed, and then I put the book down and don't finish it.

One thing I wish folks would understand about my blog: I don't blog any title unless I like it. That's the reader part of me: I found the story compelling and I finished it, and I liked it enough to want to let other people know about it. But on occasion, I do comment on the 'bumps'. That's the writer part of me. No book is perfect, but each one is an attempt to make sense of a tiny corner of the world. Taking note of the bumps in otherwise very good books is for me a huge part of respecting the role Story plays in our lives. I know that this kind of honesty sometimes hurts people's feelings. I wish it didn't, but for me, Story as the paramount way we learn and communicate deserves nothing less than honesty, and is more important than any individual.

You’ve done some innovative projects lately: a 39 Clues book and The Exquisite Corpse. What’s it like to work on something like that? And how does it bode for the future?

It was a nice change of pace for me. Part of the reason I took on those two projects was because I wasn't working on anything at the time (see last answer, below). It turned out to be very exciting to be part of The 39 Clues team. I loved series books when I was a child and I've thought about writing a series. But I had doubts about my ability to write about the same characters in book after book. Writing STORM WARNING, Book #9 of the series, was the perfect fit for me: My book would be part of a beloved series, but I'd only have to write one title!

How do you decide what book you’re going to tackle next?

This one's easy: I am a one-idea-at-a-time writer. I usually don't have any ideas. No, scratch that--I get a lot of BAD ideas, but hardly ever any good ones. So when I get a good idea, I have to work on it because it's the only one I have. Natural corollary: I always think every book I write is the last one I'll ever write.

And that's something to consider: that all writers, no matter how well-published or well-known, suffer from self-doubt. The trick is to make it your friend—to use it to push you toward writing and revising better!

There's still time to sign up for the SCBWI summer conference in L.A., July 30-Aug. 2. Click here for registration and more information.

Watch Jim Averbeck interview Linda on the red carpet (or bathmat) at an ALA awards ceremony:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Not Your Usual Sidewalk Sale

Straight from Secret Garden Books:

This year during all the wild shenanigans that make up the 30th Annual Ballard SeafoodFest, we're doing something a little different. We've unearthed the voluminous trove of children's book posters we've been assiduously collecting since 1995 . . . and we're offering them up for sale on a pay-what-you-like basis as a benefit for our friends at Page Ahead.

Come take home your favorite kid-lit art, and support a great cause.

It starts this Friday, July 9, at 4 p.m. For full details check out their website

Looking for Tipsters for the Chinook

The Chinook is looking for tips about writing query letters. Can you help?

How many query letters have you written in your writing career? What helpful tips have you learned from those that were successful and those that weren’t so successful? Would you contribute those tips to an article in an upcoming issue of the Chinook? We’d love to learn from you!

Email your tips to Elizabeth Mills at

Eagle Harbor Celebrates Summer Reading

Join Eagle Harbor Book Company as they present eight weeks of summer events for kids in July and August, with special visitors, a birthday party, and a summer reading program for children from age three to twelve. Also scheduled is a special storytime with Bainbridge children's author George Shannon. All events are free, and open to the public. For the calendar of events, and more information, go to Eagle Harbor's website.