Sunday, March 23, 2014

2014 Reading Rock Stars in the Rio Grande Valley

(L to R) Cynthia Weill, Rene Saldana, Jr., Carmen Tafolla,
Diana Lopez, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Duncan Tonatiuh,
and Diane Gonzales Bertrand
What fun it was doing school visits with six other authors as part of Reading Rock Stars down in the Rio Grande Valley. In the schools I visited, Emiliano Zapata Elementary in Mission, Texas, and Robert E. Lee Elementary in Edinburg, the students were ready to welcome me and two other authors as soon as we walked through the door. Banners, posters, drawings, and signs greeted us upon our arrival. 
Lupe Ruiz-Flores "Hall" at Zapata Elementary
Some students even went so far as to practice doing and signing petitions just like my character, Estela, in the book, Let’s Salsa. They put these up on a huge bulletin board in my “Lupe Ruiz-Flores Hall.” I autographed all
the posters on the walls as the librarians  walked me through. 
I enjoyed doing the reading/presentation and interacting with the students. The big surprise came at the end when I told them that each and every one of them would get an autographed book of the story I had just read. Cheers went up. Smiles spread across their faces. It was heartwarming to see student after student come up and receive a book.
Librarian Ms. Carrillo at Robert E. Lee
School and Author - Books! Books!
They were extremely polite and all said thank you or gracias. I hope I inspired the students to read and write more and hopefully to become lifelong readers. Thank you Texas Book Festival and Reading Rock Stars. Thank you Target for providing the books. And thank you faculty and librarians for all that you do for your students. We really appreciate you!

Teachers at Zapata Elementary


Author "signs" petition! - Robert E. Lee Elementary

Thank you, Target!

"The best books come from someplace deep inside.... Become emotionally involved. If you don't care about your characters, your readers won't either.” – Judy Blume

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Is it middle grade or chapter book?

Mexican Pottery
Are you sometimes confused about the difference between chapter books and middle-grade books? I must admit many of us often wonder. Here is an interesting article written by Marty Banks on the Chapter Book Chat blog that addresses this topic.  In it, Banks quotes Emma D. Dryden, founder of drydenbks, a children’s book editorial and publishing consultancy firm, who says: “Even though many books for middle grade readership have chapters, they’re not normally referred to as ‘chapter books’ by publishers; they are, however, often referred to as ‘chapter books’ by booksellers and librarians, and others, which is why I believe there’s confusion about this.” There’s more.
If you’re thinking of writing in this genre, read the entire post to get a better understanding of chapter books vs middle-grade ones. 
And if you’ve polished up your manuscript and are ready to submit, Albert Whiteman & Company is accepting unsolicited submissions right now. So take that leap of faith and send your story out. Best of luck!

"Most new writers think it's easy to write for children, but it's not. You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending--all in a few pages."  -- Andrea Brown

Monday, March 10, 2014

Book Auctions

Have you ever wondered how the process of a book “auction” works? Well, wonder no more. This post on the DearEditor blog, appeared on the Cynsations blog the other day. It is titled, “How Manuscript Auctions Work,” by editor Deborah Halverson. Although very brief, the article details the process your manuscript might go through if several publishers wish to acquire it. We should all be so lucky, right? It can happen. 
And here is another interesting link where five top agents reveal what they are looking for in your manuscript before making an offer. Five Agents Share What Makes Them Stop Reading Sample Pages appears in the Adventures in YA Publishing blog. Again this link appeared on the sensational Cynsations blog. 
If you’re planning to attend the San Antonio Book Festival on April 5, here is a lineup of the authors presenting that day. Hope to see you there!

“A book is a wonderful present. Though it may grow worn, it will never grow old.” – Jane Yolen

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Reading Rock Stars

This month I will be participating in Reading Rock Stars in the Rio Grande Valley. Not only is it a great opportunity to present to the students there, but each child is gifted with one of my books after the reading. It’s exciting and fun and a pleasure to be involved in such a great event! It is sponsored by the Texas Book Festival with local support from H-E-B, the Wright Family Foundation, the Tapestry Foundation, the ECG Foundation, Target, and other generous individuals. 
The article in Publishers Weekly is titled, “Fall 2013 Flying Starts: Sustaining Flight.” It features twelve children’s book writers and illustrators and brief interviews with each one on their books and the journey leading to publication. Included in the list are Christopher Paul Curtis, Karen Cushman, Kate DiCamillo, and Brian Selznick among many others. How they got their start is an inspiration in itself. 
If you’re interested in submitting to the educational market, here is a great link with dozens of publishers that take such submissions. Click on the EvelynChristensen blog for further details. 

“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.” – Jane Yolen