Saturday, January 28, 2012

Do book awards matter?

In my previous post, I mentioned some of the 2012 award-winning books and offered a link, ALA Press Release, for the entire list of awards. If you wish to read more about why these awards matter, visit Harold Underdown’s blog (The Purple Crayon). He breaks this topic into three sections: (1) Why awards matter, and what you'll find here. (2) More sources of information and places to buy award-winning books. (3) Articles about children's book awards. 

 And don’t miss Publisher’s Weekly interviews with the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and William C. Morris Debut YA award in the article: “Gantos, Raschka, Whaley: Where They Were When the Award Call Came.” It is an interesting read.

“No matter what your writing life brings, believe in yourself and keep moving forward. Most writers cycle between periods of self-doubt and periods of confidence.” – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Monday, January 23, 2012

Newbery, Caldecott and More

The book awards list is out. Congratulations to all those on the winner and honor lists. I am especially excited because I know three of those on the Pura Belpré list: Monica Brown, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, and Xavier Garza. What an honor.

The 2012 Newbery medal (most outstanding contribution to children’s literature) went to Jack Gantos for his book, Dead End in Norvelt, published by Farrar Straus Giroux.

The Caldecott Medal (most distinguished American picture book for children) went to author/illustrator Chris Raschka for the book, A Ball for Daisy, published by Schwartz &
Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.

The Pura Belpré Author Award (honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience) went to Guadalupe Garcia McCall for her YA book, Under the Mesquite, published by Lee and Low. The Illustrator Award went to author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh for the book, Diego Rivera: His World and Ours, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers.

For a complete look at all the winners and awards, link to ALA Press Release blog.

"Surprise is what keeps readers turning the pages and writers filling them up." -- James Howe

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kids' Book Club Pick

Here’s an interesting article, “January Kids' Book Club Pick: 'The Watsons Go To Birmingham’ – 1963published on the National Public Radio (NPR) blog by Michele Norris. The book, written by Newbery Medal winner, Christopher Paul Curtis, is what is becoming what NPR calls a modern classic. I was privileged to meet Mr. Curtis at one of the SCBWI-LA conferences. His book, Bud, Not Buddy, is one of my favorites. Enjoy the article.
Christopher Paul Curtis autographing his book!
If you’re writing a chapter book, Little Pickle Press is accepting submissions. For more details, visit their website. Best of luck with your queries and submissions for the new year.

I attended our first local SCBWI chapter meeting of the new year yesterday. The session, “Goals: Set, Track, and Meet Them in 2012 (and Beyond!),” was a great way to start the year. I came home and set up a spreadsheet defining my writer’s goals for the year. I hope to stay true to those goals. Have you set up yours for the year?

"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." -- Chinese Proverb

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Writer Contest

If you’re in the middle of writing or have finished a YA novel, perhaps you’d be interested in entering the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. According to their website: “…the award brings together talented writers, reviewers, and publishing experts to find and develop new voices in fiction. The 2012 international contest will award two grand prizes: one for General Fiction and one for Young Adult Fiction. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance. Open submissions for manuscripts will begin on January 23, 2012 and run through February 5, 2012. If you're an author with an unpublished or previously self-published novel waiting to be discovered, visit CreateSpace to sign up for regular contest updates. See the official contest rules, or read details on how to enter.”

Great news! The talented author/illustrator, Laura Lacamara, who is illustrating my next book, Alicia’s Fruity Drinks/Las Aguas Frescas de Alicia, is on the 2012 Top Ten "New" Latino Authors to Watch (and Read) posted on the LatinoStories blog. I am thrilled for her and wish her much success.
"Sing like no one's listening; love like you've never been hurt; dance like nobody's watching; live like it's heaven on earth." -- Mark Twain

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Creative Writing Prompts

I enjoy going to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I love the wide open skies and the Sandia mountains looming over the city, changing color as the day goes by. Tumbleweeds roll across the road as the winds help them along. Historic Old Town in downtown Albuquerque is vibrant and colorful. I can see why some artists and writers find inspiration there and are attracted to that city.

But as a writer, you don't have to wait for inspiration or visit another city. All you need to do is sit down in front of that computer and write! Easy to say, right? I know it's hard staring at a blank screen sometimes. If you're like me, you try to find excuses to get out of that chair. But it takes discipline to stay put. Try some writing prompts to get you started. Or pick one word and write around it. Sometimes what I do is start this way: I remember when ..... Or I would really like to write about ....(something you don't know anything about but wish you did). I know it sounds simple but I’ve heard the expression of keeping “butt in chair.” Try it. You might just find out it really works.

 But if you’re still having trouble getting those creative juices started, try some simple prompts.  The following website has tons of writing prompts to choose from: CreativeWritingPrompts.

“A room without books is like a body without soul.” -- Cicero

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Milestone

A milestone for me today: It is my birthday!!!  A great one too, I might add. But I refuse to divulge how many. Birthday wishes came from all over. My children, friends and family called or sent snail mail cards and e-cards as well. I am blessed and fortunate to have such people in my life. Take a peek at my birthday cake that a friend brought over. Only about 1,000 calories. Heh-Heh. But I enjoyed it. 

My Low-Calorie Birthday Cake!
To help you get a head start on the new year, check out the The BookShelf Muse blog. It’s got tons of helpful information and offers “writing tools and musing on reading, writing, and other randomness.” I especially like their “emotions’ thesaurus.” 

“If we had to say what writing is, we would define it essentially as an act of courage.” – Cynthia Ozick (Writer’s Quotation Book)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pictures for your book

Is everything on the Internet free? What if you see a magnificent picture/photo that is just right for that story you’re sending to a magazine? What if you’ve written a story and the publisher asks for pictures? Can you just cut and paste from the Internet? In Jan Fields’ article,"I Found This Picture Online -- Can I Use It?" posted on the Institute of Children’s Literature blog, she addresses this topic and whether you are violating copyright laws or not. To find out what is public domain and what isn’t, read her excellent article on how to deal with this issue.  

Your book is coming out and you’re thinking of building an online presence but don’t quite know how to start? Visit Chuck Sambuchino’s article, “7 Best Practices for Building an Online Presence,” on The Writers’ Digest blog, which shows how to start building your platform.  

"A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever." -- Martin Farquhar Tupper