I'm so excited to share the news of this upcoming picture book that I am authoring. Expected to launch in late 2022, the book is an anthology of princesses living in our current times who are accomplishing surprising and important things. They are deploying their positions and communities to make new laws, help the environment, further women's causes, change the status of women in their countries, advocate for children, engineer solutions for systemic problems and much, much more.
The book has been a journey -- they all are, in my experience -- and I will share more about this in coming weeks.
Today, let's be excited that before long 14 new role models will be available for children to emulate and the princess narrative will be turned on its crown.
Democracy is on all of our minds. And well it should be; this is a pivotal year for our country and our people.
Educator and author Donalyn Miller presents the case that because literacy is so important, it has been and is currently used as a weapon of discrimination and a strategy to maintain power.
Creators, our books for children are the perfect instruments to combat this.
I invite you to read Donalyn's essay in SLJ and reflect on the ways your efforts and projects are positively impacting literacy development in children.
She offers a list of books as resources for educators. I've added a Michigan SCBWI member's book, Equality's Call authored by Deborah Diesen (yes, that Deborah Diesen author of the NYTimes bestselling Pout-Pout Fish series). Do you have books to add? Put them in the comments and I'll expand the list.
Literacy = the ability to participate in democracy. That's big, folks.
Books About Voting, Elections, and US Government
Drawing the Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Voting in America by Tommy Jenkins, illustrated by Kati Lacker (Abrams ComicArts)
Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Graphic Novel by Cynthia and Sanford Levinson, illustrated by Ally Shwed (First Second, September 2020)
Finish the Fight!: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote by Veronica Chambers and the Staff of the New York Times (Versify, August 2020)
History Smashers!: Women’s Right to Vote by Kate Messner, illustrated by Dylan Meconis (Random House, July 2020)
How Women Won the Right to Vote: Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Their Big Idea by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustrated by Ziyue Chen (HarperCollins)
I Voted! Making a Choice Means Making a Difference by Mark Shulman, illustrated by Serge Bloch (Neal Porter Books)
Lifting As We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box by Evette Dionne (Viking Books for Young Readers)
One Person, No Vote: How Not All Voters Are Treated Equally (YA Edition) by Carol Anderson and Tonya Bolden (Bloomsbury YA)
Sbe Was the First! The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm by Katheryn Russell-Brown, illustrated by Eric Velasquez (Lee & Low, August 2020)
Stolen Justice: The Struggle for African-American Voting Rights by Lawrence Goldstone (Scholastic)
The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert (Disney-Hyperion, July 2020)
V Is for Voting by Kate Farrell, illustrated by Caitlin Kuhwald (Henry Holt & Co., July 2020)
Vote for Our Future! (Schwartz & Wade)
Added by Carrie:
Equality's Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America By Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Magdalena Mora (Beach Lane Books, February 18, 2020)
As a creator, are you surprised how much time you spend revising?
In fact, its one piece of being a full-time author that has surprised me the most. Oh, I knew I would be drafting and redrafting, but I didn't imagine how many times each manuscript would need revising before I could send it to my crit groups, then again before sending to my agent, then before she could send it out on submission, then again before an editor could take it to acquisition, then AGAIN before it would be a real live book on a shelf.
This short post called HOW TO BLEND STORY FEEDBACK INTO YOUR MANUSCRIPT by editor, then agent, now freelance editor, Mary Kole is a super helpful slice of the revision process. While she's mostly talking about novel revision, it also works for picture books. And since I'm in the stage of revising after my agent has reviewed and before it goes on submission, I'm actively trying Mary's approach.
I especially like that she distinguishes between an edit and a revision but you'll have to read the post to learn why that's important. #cliffhanger
What stage of revision are you in right this very minute? Do tell. And then get back to it.
Yesterday, I posted this visual on my author Instagram feed.
[Feel free to check it out but come right back!]
It speaks to the need we all have to try to maintain a sense of control in difficult times.
I imagine most of us have had to adjust our courses because our pre-pandemic methods and strategies don't seem to be working right now.
For instance, normally, I'm a half-full person and wake with an excitement for whatever project I'm invested in. Now, I wake with my typical excitement but the feeling is quickly tempered by the realization that yes, we are still in the midst of a huge, unknown, scary storm and we can't see the back edge of it.
Instead of feeling half-full and positive, I feel impending dread. But DREAD IS NOT CONDUCIVE TO HAPPINESS! DREAD IS NOT CONDUCIVE TO PRODUCTIVITY! DREAD IS NOT CONDUCIVE TO BEING ABLE TO SUPPORT OTHERS!
So, I allow myself the feeling and then picture it as a fluffy white swan feather floating away on the breeze -- a spring breeze that is ruffling new leaves outside my window. I see the feather-feeling and then I gently ask it to get the fork out of my house. Sorry if that's offensive but being real is one of my adjustment strategies. Here are ten more. I hope something here helps you.
Carrie's Ten Ways to Adjust Course and Still Keep Sailing
10. Two cups of caffeine a day is A-okay. Normally one does it for me but I find myself wanting another and I'm saying yes for now. The corollary to #10 is...
9. Two glasses of cold Chardonnay a day is A-okay. Normally one does it for me but I find myself wanting another and I'm saying yes for now.
8. Spend more outside time. Nature heals; it's a scientific fact and I feel it. My afternoon outside time is now two or three hours -- or more if it is a decent weather day.
7. Set smaller daily goals so I can literally cross more off my list. Those cross-offs are my brain's whacked way of feeling productive so I'm giving it more opportunities to feel good about itself because why not? Pardon me while I cross off "have second cup of coffee."
6. Stop what I'm doing and watch the neighbors as they go by. Really look at them. Try to imagine some extra contentment and happy feelings raining down on them like glittery confetti that doesn't hurt the environment. Normally I'll see two or three people in a work day. Now, many are walking, biking, running, strollering...it's great for them and also great for voyeur-clean confetti-tossing me.
5, Take a break and pretend to be my dog. She's happy most of the time and when I see her tail wag just because she looked at me, I remember that simple things like love for the person who feeds you really do matter.
4. Take deep breaths in and release them a few times while working. Shallow breaths increase feelings of anxiety. Fresh air fuels the brain.
3. Call people who have less ability to connect. Many older folks are scared in a different way, often live alone, and may not have as much technology available for connection. Just pick up the phone and call them. Make their day and feel good about it.
2. Recognize that I still need to create because that's my jam. Think of this time like creating potential energy. We are skiing/walking/running/biking uphill, creating potential energy with the knowledge that we will release that energy on the downhill. When it is extra hard, use headphones and turn on music that is meaningful and is a signal to create. For me, it is nature sounds on YouTube.
1. Give grace. Toss it around freely to those who may not act like you want or say things you'd rather not hear. I seem to be giving a lot of grace to myself. Oops.
Please add your own adjustments in the comments. I'd love to hear how you are managing.
And remember when I said we are still in the midst of a huge, unknown, scary storm and we can't see the back edge of it? I should have added the word "yet" to the end of the sentence. Although "yet" is a tiny word, it portends a big bright future.
Take care of yourself.
This Nerdy Book Club blog post, The Power of Listening, by staff development expert Clare Landrigan stopped me in my reading tracks. More accurately, the third to last line is what did it -- "Our conversations with them [students] are what spark the love of reading and help them develop a reading identity."
Say what? A reading identity? Merriam-Webster says a personal identity is "the distinguishing character or personality of an individual." So a reading identity could be defined as the distinguishing character or personality of a person's choice in reading material.
This set off a flurry of inquiry in my brain. What is my reading identity? It must change over time, right? Today, I'd describe mine as 1) heavily nonfiction and 2) focused on children's literature. This is very different from my early mom years which would be best described as 1) cereal boxes and 2) children's literature. (Hmm. Maybe there's a correlation there?) Right now, my 6 year old nephew's reading identity is 1) How To books and 2) Magic Treehouse.
What is your reading identity? How has it changed? Would you like to make a shift in it?
If you are an educator, can you zero in on each of your students' reading identities? Can you help them describe and develop their own?
If you are an author or illustrator, how does your identity (reading and personal) inform your work? Your voice? Your choice of next project? The way you share your books?
Lots of questions with no right answers. Just a bit of introspection on a beautiful winter day.
Even though I'm no longer in the classroom as a hands-on educator and I spend my days (and nights) writing instead of teaching, I still read educator blogs and books. I want to know how you, amazing teachers and librarians, are thinking about literacy development and the challenges you face. Hopefully, my books will help you!
The Great Lakes Great Reads award bestowed by the Michigan Reading Association is an annual program to recognize excellence in writing for books about or written by authors with ties to the Great Lakes region. The awards given annually are for Adult and Children's Books. Children vote for their favorite book and winners are announced in March of that year.
STRETCH TO THE SUN: FROM A TINY SPROUT TO THE TALLEST TREE ON EARTH has been nominated for 2019-2020.
Color me proud to be in such great company!
If your class is voting, be sure to complete your ballots and submit by January 19, 2020. Instructions are shown below.
SCBWI-Iowa is hosting my presentation, Finding Your Agent Match, via webinar on February 10, 2020. This is a topic near and dear to me because I know that the right agent partner is invaluable. Yes, it took me many years and two tries before I found the right match for me. But I can help you shorten that process. This isn't meant to be braggy, but the hour you devote to this webinar and the resulting WORK you do, just might change the trajectory of your career.
Hopefully, your agent will be a long term business partner, creative collaborator, negotiations champion, and possibly the go-between for difficult conversations with your publisher. But finding an agent, especially the right agent for you, can be overwhelming. Where do you start? This breakout focuses on preparing for — did you know querying most effectively does NOT begin with your query letter? — and finding the best agent fit for you and your work. It’s not enough to find an agent; the better goal is to find your agent match. Carrie Pearson’s experience spans 12 years in the children’s book industry as an author, SCBWI Regional Advisor and consultant. She’ll share why she’s had three agents (the third one’s the charm!), help you think differently about your agent match, and give you tools to find him/her.
When: Monday February 10th at 7:30pm (CST) through Zoom
Cost: $10 SCBWI members, $20 nonmembers
Registration open now! Sign-up for your spot here.
Webinar will be available 2 weeks after the presentation to attendees.
Questions can be sent to: email@example.com
Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years.
Her 2016 title THE STORY OF SEEDS: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less To Eat Around The World (now in paperback, too) introduces older readers to the importance of seeds, farming, and the crisis we currently face. It received the Green Earth Book Award and many other accolades.
Her latest is BACK FROM THE BRINK: Saving Animals from Extinction. Other books include SCBWI Crystal Kite recipients BEASTLY BRAINS: Exploring How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel and SNIFFER DOGS: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World.
Her research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia and she loves sharing her adventures with her readers. She has conducted programs at the Boston Children’s Museum, Atlanta Zoo, Tennessee Aquarium, among others and has spoken at the Science Teachers Association of New York State, NCTE, Texas Library Association, and New England Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.
HONORS:Many of Nancy’s books have received recognition, including an American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, a Smithsonian Notable Book For Children, a NSTA Outstanding Science Trade title, Crystal Kite Awards, Green Earth Book Award, and Junior Library Guild Selections.
In addition to these accolades, she was honored to be the recipient of the 2007 New York State Outdoor Education Association’s Art and Literature Award for the body of her work. As a long-time environmental educator, she treasures this honor and hopes to empower more children with her books about the Earth.
I hope you'll consider Nancy's books as gifts for yourself and for young people who are learning about the fragile and wonderful world we call home.
Author Andrea Bartz schools us on why it is important to pre-order books -- and especially to pre-order from independent bookstores. This information appeared as a series of tweets on the Twitter. The individual tweets were threaded together by an app called Threader. Very cool, eh?
After reading, please consider pre-ordering a book!
Andrea Bartz@andibartzAuthor of THE LOST NIGHT (@People calls it an "impressive debut with a nerve-racking finish" & Mila Kunis is developing it for TV) & THE HERD (out March 2020)Nov. 05, 2019
You have probably heard me stating that preordering a book from an independent bookseller is the most impactful thing you can do if you're going to buy an author's book. Lately some of you wonderful people have asked for more detail, so I thought I'd explain!
WHAT COUNTS AS AN INDIE BOOKSTORE? Click-to-buy (ahem), B&N, and other huge chains aren't independent bookstores. No hate, but I'm talking about locally owned, community booksellers.
When you preorder from one of those, an actual human sees the sale and thinks, "There's local interest in this book! I should look into it." Maybe they'll be inspired to devote some table space to it when it comes out, or even to read it themselves and make it a staff pick.
Your preorder from an indie bookstore also makes a book more likely to hit the NYT bestseller list (#dreamingbig), since the Times system heavily weights purchases at small, privately owned book shops.
HOW CAN I FIND ONE? Go to http://Indiebound.org and enter your zip code on the right, where it says "locate an independent, local bookstore." (cc @indiebound)
BUT WILL THEY STOCK IT? That's where your preorder makes a huge difference: It puts it on the bookseller's radar and makes them more likely to stock it! But even if they decide not to put it on shelves, they will order it just for you and let you know when it's in.
BUT NOTHING'S NEAR ME! That's okay. You can still preorder from an indie bookstore and they'll ship it to you for a few bucks more; if you preorder from @booksaremagicbk in Brooklyn, I'll sign it for you at my launch party!
You can also preorder a book directly from http://Indiebound.org , and they'll split the profit between their member bookstores.
BUT I REALLY JUST WANT TO USE AMZN...That's okay, too! Every single preorder matters and lets a publisher know there's early interest. I just wanted to share more info. Buying books is an amazing act, no matter where or how you do it! Thx, friends. 💕
You can follow @andibartz.
Have you heard about #KidsNeedMentors? It's a grassroots program started by a group of passionate people (teachers and a children's book author/illustrator) who want to move the needle on literacy through real connections between children's book creators and students.
I'd heard about the inaugural program last year and was bummed that I missed the window to apply. However, this year I was Janie on the Spot with my app and in late August, I received my pairing!
Ms. Stewart and I began to correspond (excitedly! with lots of !!!) and are developing a plan for connecting using the underpinnings of her literacy goals for the year.
We've started with a google sheet organized by month and our first interaction will be a video chat with her students to share Top 5's: 5 things about ourselves and 5 books we want to read this year. A little package is headed their way (shhhh!) and I'm looking forward to all the ways we connect about books, reading, writing, and exploring this big, wide world through literacy.
Jarrett Lerner, author-illustrator (@JarrettLerner)
Kristen Picone, 5th Grade Educator (@Kpteach5)
Kristen Crouch, 5th Grade Educator (@KCreadsALOT)
To learn more about the program, visit Jarrett Lerner's blog HERE and HERE. Follow #KidsNeedMentors on Twitter and Instagram to see all the ways that creators and students are connecting. It's truly inspiring.
I hope you'll follow Patricia's blog and find her on Twitter. She's working hard to support teachers and now we can support her!
Recently I had the opportunity to be a special guest as part of the Picture Books and All That Jazz Workshop (PB & J) at the Highlights Foundation Retreat Center. You can see I was jazzed about being part of this workshop. And a Highlights experience has been on my bucket list for years, so...CHECK!
Darcy is the author of many award-winning fiction and nonfiction children's books and writing instruction books so she understands story making. She lead us through an exercise in which we we TALKED TO a partner about our work in progress picture book story. We took turns telling our story quickly, then in more depth, and finally in enough depth that we had to really think about details and layers.
All of this happened without one letter of the story being written (or typed). Because we weren't committed to something on paper or screen, we could morph it based on reactions from our partners and our own reaction when hearing it.
When it came time to write, we began with a story that had been tested and thought through.
Guess what? The benefit of the oral storytelling approach surprised me! It shifted my view and my future approach to works-in-progress. Darcy mentioned she uses this exercise with students in workshops, too, and they also make great strides.
Innovative first grade teacher, Mrs. Sarchet in BC, Canada, takes the idea one step further and provides 'loose parts' for her students to build their stories before "capturing" them on paper or screen. Check out her blogs for more info.
So if you are looking for a way to build your next story, find a partner, or a pet or even a microphone, and tell it before you write it.
Tell me how it goes!
"Here lies one doubly blessed. She was happy and she knew it."
-- Gwen Frostic's epitaph written by herself
On March 9th, 2019, during the Michigan Reading Association's (MRA) annual literacy conference, I was honored with their 2019 Gwen Frostic Award.
I hadn't a speck of an inkling this was in the works. So imagine my confusion when I was packing up my belongings after a presentation and was commanded to the late afternoon general assembly by a dear friend, author, and MRA board member, Deb Gonzalez. I think her exact text read, "Get here. Now." She immediately ushered me to a seat in the front row of a 1700-person packed room. Call me perplexed but I didn't have to wonder long because about a second later, the Award was described and I was announced as this year's recipient.
From the MRA website: Gwen Frostic Award
"In 2006 the Michigan Reading Association established a Board Award that would honor a Michigan author and/or illustrator. The candidate must have strongly influenced literacy in Michigan in any dimension of literacy: which may include but is not limited to: children's fiction/nonfiction, young adult fiction/nonfiction, adult fiction/nonfiction, drama, song, poetry, newspaper, magazine or multimedia."
Her nature-inspired art themes resonate deeply with me as does her willingness to pursue her passion for creativity. Her art is breathtaking in its simplicity, the way it engages the eye, and in its respect for subject. Through Gwen's art, we learn about the subject in its environment and like her printmaking technique, that subject is indelibly imprinted in our hearts.
"The candidate must have strongly influenced literacy in Michigan in any dimension of literacy..." Although the Award language is past-tense, this moment has stoked my commitment to positively influence literacy in the days, weeks, and months ahead. I also challenge you -- writer, illustrator, storyteller, teacher, librarian, parent, and/or guardian of our most special people on Earth -- to positively influence literacy in any dimension that YOU can.
Thank you to the Michigan Reading Association Board for this surprise, this honor, and this challenge.
To Gwen! To children! To books!
This blog shares insights on the craft of writing children's books and the publishing industry, and supports creators and educators on their journeys.
25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing
A Cool Summer Tail
Arthur A. Levine
Avante Garde Mentorship Program
A Warm Winter Tail
A Writing Life
Benefits Of Books
Blog Tour - Cool Summer
Blog Touring - How To
Bologna Children's Book Fair 2018
Books Help Brains
Boxing For Cuba
Bulver-Lytton Fiction Contest
Children In Exile
Children's Choice Book Awards 2012
Coast Redwood Trees
Conference Success Stories
Crits For Water
Cuban Children Exile
Dos And Don'ts
Eggstra Crazy Day
Emerging Voices Award
Endorsements And Reviews
Escape From Havana: An American Story
Fall Scbwimi Conference
For Book Crafters
Gelett Burgess Award
Great Lakes Great Reads
Guillermo Vincente Vidal
Holy Family Orphanage Marquette Mi
Holy Family Orphans Home
Jessica Lee Anderson
Kristin Wolden Nitz
Linda Sue Park
Mentors For Rent
Michigan History Magazine
Middle Grade Historical Novel
National Mentor Month
Notes From The Road
On A Beam Of Light
Operation Pedro Pan
Personal Mission Statement
Phrase Frequency Check
Ruth Mcnally Barshaw
Save The Bookstores Day June 16 2012
SCBWI-MI Mentorship Contest
SCBWI-MI Revision Retreat
Scbwi Wisconsin Mentorship Program
Show Vs Tell
Sitting Poses Cancer Risk
Stretch To The Sun Book
Sylvan Dell Publishing
Wild Midwest Scbwi Conference
Writing In Rhyme