Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympics open with a nod to kid lit

So...did anyone else sit up during their personal parade of Opening Ceremony emotions and say, "Hey, this whole 'Second Star from the Right, then Straight On 'Til Morning' section, is all about kids' books!"

Bloody brilliant, I say! Hurrah!

I almost spilled my rose all over my lap with excitement, and even my sleepy daughter sat up, ramrod straight, when J.K. Rowling appeared in that very public setting. What other Olympics, I ask you, would celebrate J.M. Barrie, Lewis Carroll, P.L. Travers and Voldemort under the guise of the National Health Service? It was stunning, and I swear I had to raise my glass at the set. (And yes, I understand the connection between Barrie the philanthropist and the children's hospital.)

I almost expected the flag-staked Glastonbury Tour in the center of the stadium to sprout hobbits. Or Oompa Loompas. Or both. It all begs the question, perhaps best posed to Opening Ceremony director Danny Boyle, "What other books written for children by British authors could you have shown?" Captain Hook and the Queen of Hearts notwithstanding, what if Enid Blyton characters had run amok through the dormitory beds? Or Arthur Ransome's gangs of Swallows and Amazons? Charlie and Lola texting each other from opposite sides of the floor? Could the whole Tour itself have been replaced by a re-imagined Seven Acre Wood?

I, for one, would have loved to have seen Alex Rider, Anthony Horowitz's clever Bond-boy creation, accompany 007 and Her Majesty to the waiting helicopter. Or Mr. and Mrs. Twit, trapped in the looming factory towers. Or Oliver Twist, begging for food at the doors of the house party mayhem. And wouldn't there be room for Beatrix Potter's rabbits or hedgehogs or puddle-ducks? What if a giant peach floated overhead and sailed out over the fountains of fireworks? What if Paddington Bear was sitting on top of it, as a much-needed antidote to that potty-mouthed movie star, Ted?

The Telegraph published their list of the twenty greatest children's books of all time. Do you agree? Here's a list of the ten best British children's authors. Anyone else you'd like to add? Do tell!

Cheers, Danny Boyle. Your appreciation for, and mastery of, the spirit of storytelling is steeped in such a rich, wonderful British tradition. I think I might have to do some serious rereading sooner than later....

Advice from a fledgling writer to her future self

Laurie Thompson passed this gem along, from YA author Ally Carter's personal blog site. It pertains to the daily work of writing, of thinking of yourself as a writer, and what the heck it all means. It's a breath of fresh air, and a well-needed dose of reality, from the Gallagher Academy author who seems to keep the Big Picture in sight.

To read this entry, titled "Letter to Baby Author Me," click here. And just be glad she's around to teach herself some lessons from the future!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

More from the Summer Reading files....

Well, you have been reading. Thank you so much for your recent compilations and lists of books you're whooshing through, which I hope to keep posting for further summer-reading inspiration. Check out last week's post for other books mentioned by SCBWI-ers under the "Comments" link.

Herewith, some further shout-outs. Keep them coming, everyone!

From Katherine Schlick Noe:
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
Never Fall Down, by Patricia McCormick
Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World, by Sy Montgomery
Angry Management, by Chris Crutcher
The Gathering, by Kelly Armstrong
Torn, by Stephanie Guerra
The Pregnancy Project, by Gaby Rodriguez
Bliss, by Kathryn Littlewood
The Flight of Gemma Hardy, by Margot Livesy
Wonder, by R. J Palacio

From Samantha Vamos:
The Year The Swallows Came Early, by Kathryn Fitzmaurice 
Wonder, by R.J. Palacio 
From Dana Arnim:
Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld
also just picked up One Cool Friend, by Toni Buzzeo & David Small 

 Last but not least, yours truly just polished off Admission, by Jean Hanff Korelitz, and just picked up Entwined, by Heather Dixon and Princess of the Midnight Ball, by Jessica Day George. (I seem to have a "Twelve Dancing Princesses" fixation at the moment, so we'll see what comes of it....)

Thanks for your lists. I promise to keep recording them if you keep sending me updates. It's always nice to know what people are reading. Have a great week. May your nightstands buckle under the weight of their many tomes....

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vote for the best teen novels. Ever.

Hooray for public radio! Sometimes they actually have their finger on the pulse.

NPR has initiated a Vote for the Best Teen Novels Ever contest, and I for one just voted. Pick your top 10 favorites from what I deem a very complete list of classics, recent critical darlings, and contemporary bestsellers, and be heard!

Vote by clicking here. NPR will crunch the numbers and we'll get the grand list from everyone who participates.

No, not everyone we'd like is represented, but still. Add your knowledgeable voices to the fray! Just an observation: Does John Green really rule the universe? Thought I'd ask, though I already know that answer.

Happy clicking,


P.S. This also makes for a pretty good prerequisite summer reading list, hint hint! Though I'd give a public accolade on this blog if anyone has read more than, say, 75 of the books listed. Heck, I'd drive over and give you a high-five!

P.P.S. Personal plea here, but does anyone in Seattle own the second Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book who would like to lend it to a poor blogger, as in moi? I can't seem to locate it through the library.....sigh.

Founders Workshops: Worth the flight

Guest blogger alert!

Fresh from the laptop of Joni Sensel, our fantastic Regional Advisor emeritus, currently our Published Member Liaison, and a YA fantasy author:

 Since we have a post just below about opportunities at the Highlights Founders' Workshops, and I just came home from one, I thought I'd do a little raving in case any of you are on the brink.

I've been aware of these workshops for years, but they sounded so far away -- that airfare thing -- that I always figured the many educational ops on the West Coast were just as good and much closer.


Having been now to a couple Founders' Workshops this summer, one as a participant and one as a sort of assistant, I'm here to tell you that if you can afford them (they're not cheap, even if you have frequent flier miles or the like, but see bullet #4, below), the two I've been to, at least, are probably the best writing workshops I've been to in something like 15 years. I'm sure there are variety and quality differences based on the topic and the faculty, but what at least some of them offer that's unusual includes:

  • A more intimate, focused opportunity to work with a mentor on your own work than any you'll get short of an MFA program. I can especially recommend the "Heart of..." and Whole Novel workshops.
  • More focus on craft and intent and less on marketing than most other opportunities I'm aware of or have tried (or, uh, planned, as part of the SCBWI WWA team). Both have their place, but creative nurturing (minus sales concerns) can be a very good thing at different places in your creative career.
  • As a result, a bigger leap in participant skill in a few days or a week than I think is typical.
  • A lot of scholarship money that they don't talk about much but that could help you afford it, even if you think you can't.
  • A really terrific venue and housing in a beautiful location. Oh, and food to die for; it's famous.
  • A leg up later if you're interested in submitting to either Boyds Mills Press or Highlights.

I won't blather on, but I'd be happy to talk about more details and specifics if anyone wants to leave questions in comments or email me; most of you know where to find me. :) So if you've been drooling on their course list for this fall or next year, consider taking the plunge!

Children's writing retreat featuring Katherine Grace Bond

TEEN/Write founder, Summer of No Regrets author, and all-around local writing Renaissance woman Katherine Grace Bond will be teaching in the Teen division of the amazing-sounding, upcoming Pacific Coast Children's Writers Novel Workshop and Retreat. Go, Katherine!

The other good news? There are still a few openings for this conference, which is being held in inspiring Santa Cruz, California on October 5-7, and which only accepts 16 writers.

Special guests also include Senior VP and Publisher of three Macmillan imprints, Simon Boughton; agent and owner of the Prospect Agency, Emily Sylvan Kim; agent Joe Monti, from Barry Goldblatt Literary, and more.

Okay, hang on while I catch my breath....


For more details on the conference, click here.

For those of you who end up going, please let me know what you think. I'm happy to compile a list of retreats and workshops and conferences that you all find yourselves in. It could help a lot of other folks locally find the right place to hone their craft. Aside from our own wonderful conferences, that is!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mazama's first annual book fest

Here's a winning formula: Take some seriously gorgeous scenery, add some great watering holes that happen to come with great victuals, stir in authors, their books, a whole lotta bibliophiles and––presto!––you have yourself a fabulous summer book event in the Pacific Northwest!

The lovely Methow Valley hamlet of Mazama is set to host its first annual Festival of Books, the weekend of August 18-19, 2012.

Sunday, August 19th will be of particular interest to SCBWI-ers, as it's focused on Children's and Young Adult authors, in particular 2011 WA State Book Award winner and Methow Valley resident Erik Brooks (Polar Opposites and The Practically Perfect Pajamas, an IRA/CBC Children's Choices selection), who will be interviewed by public radio host Katherine Lanphere.

Erik Brooks

Danbert Nobacon

 Later that day, author/founder of punk group Chumbawamba Danbert Nobacon (Three Dead Princes) will share the stage with Los Angeles-based YA novelist Blake Nelson (Paranoid Park, Girl, Dream School).

Blake Nelson

For a complete schedule of events and times and all that other good stuff, click here.

Come one, come all––it promises to be well worth the drive.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Goddess Girls giveaway

Dorine White (The Write Path) announced that she's hosting a review and giveaway of fellow SCBWI-WWA-er Suzanne Williams' newest Goddess Girls novel, The Girls' Games.

Act now, as this prize can be yours only through this week. May Athena smite you if you're late to the action.... Click here.

Advanced illustrators workshop

This just in!

The good folks at Highlights have some remaining openings for its Advanced Illustrators Workshop, which runs from August 30-September 3. Please click here to find out more about their faculty and special guests.

But wait, there's more!
Highlights Foundation Program Assistant Jo Lloyd also reveals that there is also room in a couple of their fall picture-book classes. For more information, click here.

Upcoming: Kid Lit Drink Night

You, yes You, SCBWI people,

are cordially invited to

Kid Lit Drink Night

Sunday, July 22

La Isla

2320 Northwest Market Street, Ballard  

5 o'clock until 7 o'clock in the evening
Two Thousand and Twelve

Hosted by: Brenda Winter Hansen

Monday, July 16, 2012

Whatcha readin'?

I asked, and some of you answered.

In my very first post for the Chinook Update, I wanted to know what you were reading this summer. I got some immediate responses, and figured the rest of the crowd was too busy writing to bother. However, I did get the chance to read six (count 'em!) books since June, and I will put myself out there and share.

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor
2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
3. Amandine, by Adele Griffin
4. Secrets of My Hollywood Life, Jen Calonita
5. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Ann Brashares
6. Naming Maya, Uma Krishnaswami

Here's what some of you wrote in:

Devine Intervention, Martha Brockenbrough (Helen Landalf)

Deception, Patricia Finney (Faith Pray)

The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls, Julie Schumacher (Linda Johns)

Okay, let's hear from more of you! What book(s) are getting you through your summer? Keep those pages turning, and keep churning out those pages of your own. Happy summer, and happy bookin'.

And the Will Rogers Medalllion goes to...

Carole Estby Dagg!

Carole's 2011 book, The Year We Were Famous, won the coveted prize for children's fiction about the Old West. Her great-aunt Clara and great-grandmother Helga, whose story the book is based upon, would be so pleased.

For more information on Carole, her writing, and her book, please visit her website.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Couldn't have said it better myself....

Okay, so I didn't say it myself.

Thanks for passing this valuable tidbit on, Laurie Thompson, a sane and savvy post by L.B. Schulman on EMU's Debuts: The Path to Publication, about the Stages of a Writing Career. Even though not all of us are published authors/illustrators YET, it's nice to have some perspective.

So. Now that the weekend is upon us, what better time to reinforce the knowledge that, hey, we're all together in this long slog, honing and refining and (ahem) finishing our work?

Have a safe/fun/productive weekend, everyone! Emoticons to all!

YA author Stephanie Guerra featured on Amazon

More good news!

 This week only (July 9 -15) debut YA author Stephanie Guerra (Torn) is featured on Amazon's Author Adventures, which means she's the focus of a Q&A and a short video that offers reading recommendations for teens. For more information about Stephanie and her work, check out her website.

 For the complete Amazon video, click here

Congratulations, Stephanie!

Novel revision class with Ann Gonzalez

Greetings from Jet Lag Land.

I appeal to your sense of compassion as I took a bit of a sanity break this week after a fun but long family vacay to the East Coast. Family's great, but sometimes you just have to clear your head and catch up on all the episodes of Bunheads and Real Housewives of New York City that you TiVoed.

I hope summer is treating each and every one of you well, now that it seems to have finally landed in our fair area (well, except for the thunder and semi-darkness of this morning, perhaps an aberration? Okay, it's pouring rain now. Scratch that.).

In member news, Ann Gonzalez, author of Running for My Life and a recent graduate of Argosy University's Master's in Counseling program with a newly opened practice in Shoreline, is offering a summer session her novel revision class. (Read: Can you imagine a better time to hunker down and do this dratted thing called Revision? Summer, people, that's what it's made for!)

WHAT: Novel Revision Workshop, which included detailed feedback on 100 pages of your manuscript. Attendees receive 8 lessons on the craft of writing.
WHEN: starts Sunday, July 22
REGISTRATION/INFORMATION: Email Ann Gonzalez for details.
COST: $125.00

CONTACT: Ann Gonzalez directly, by calling 206-817-4794. She also specializes in working with artists and writers, dealing with rejection issues and other obstacles to pursuing one's craft.