My Maine Writer’s and Publishers Workshop, Desire in Middle Grade and young Adult Novels, has a new date and time. Instead of two three hour sessions we are compacting it into a single five hour session on March first at the Patten Free Library in Bath, Maine. Click the picture or text link above for more information and registration. I can promise you a kick-ass lecture with examples from wonderful books, and one on one attention. If you know a someone in or around Maine who might be interested, please send them the link to this blogpost. Retweets and Facebook postings are encouraged!
Our mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.
Children’s reading and play advocates Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom have teamed up to create an ambitious (and much needed) national event. On January 27th, Jump into a Book and Pragmatic Mom will be presenting the first ever Multicultural Children’s Book Day as a way of celebrating diversity in children’s books.
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia and Valarie are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.
Meet your hosts and co-creators of Multicultural Children’s Book Day.
Valarie Budayr of Jump Into a Book is a best-selling children’s author of The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Gardenand The Ultimate Guide To Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. She is passionate about making kid’s books come alive and is proud to be a play and reading advocate. Valarie’s mission is to inspire children,families, and communities, to experience and create our world together while having fun.
Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom is a Harvard grad with a love of children’s books (picture books through YA) and sneaking in teachable moments in art, science, math, foreign language and language arts. Mia is passionate about getting kids excited about reading and helping parents ensure that their child is successful at school.
Here are some ways you can help us celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day
Have children bring in their favorite multicultural book to school on this day and share it with the class.
Have a special Multicultural Children’s Book Day book read aloud time.
Create a Multicultural Children’s Book Day display around the classroom or library.
I mention my MFA alma mater Vermont College of Fine Arts a lot. My time at VCFA was a life-changing experience. By 2009, I had already spent a good eight or so years on writing for children. I had a few dollars in my pocket from selling my poetry to wonderful magazines such as Ladybug, Babybug, and Highlights High Five. I was steeped in New England SCBWI and had attended numerous conferences asking many questions of fine faculty. In fact, that year I was the Director for the annual spring conference. (more on that later) But the letters I got from agents and editors were maddeningly similar. Basically they all said… there’s good writing here but you don’t quite have the craft down yet.
VCFA was all about craft and nothing about business. Coming from SCBWI this was frustrating, but eventually it was freeing. After the first residency at VCFA I realized that I hadn’t had enough knowledge to even know what questions to ask. The community, the award-winning faculty, and the program helped me to climb away from my plateau and make my work better. After VCFA, I read differently, I wrote differently, I taught differently, I was supported differently, and I supported others differently.
What is to be done? Many people think that the answer is in enrolling more people of color at great MFA programs like VCFA. To that end, the agent Barry Goldblatt established a scholarship in honor of Angela Johnson, the critically acclaimed African American poet and author of more than 40 books for children and young adults. She has won the Coretta Scott King Award three times, the Michael L. Printz Award, and received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003. Her work explores the lives of characters of color of all ages, in historical and contemporary settings and celebrates a myriad of experiences growing up in America.
In addition to honoring Ms. Johnson, this scholarship will help to fill the void of multi-cultural voices in the world of children’s and young adult literature by providing scholarship assistance to minority students attending VCFA.
The recipient of the scholarship is in no way obligated to submit works to, or seek representation by Barry Goldblatt Literary, LLC.
Here are the details of the scholarship directly from the VCFA press release. If you fit the eligibility criteria, please apply. You have nothing to lose and the world and its children have so much to gain by hearing your voice!
One or two scholarships of up to $5,000 will be awarded annually and will be applied to the student’s tuition costs. The maximum scholarship awarded will not exceed $5,000.
Qualified applicants will meet the following criteria:
A minority, defined as a person of color or a person of ethnic minority in the VCFA community
Demonstrates talent, promise, and commitment to a career as a writer in the children and/or young adults field of literature.
Has strong financial need.
Priority will be given to incoming students.
Eligible applicants must submit an essay (see below) by April 30. Essays are to be emailed to: Melissa Fisher, Director, Writing for Children & Young Adults at firstname.lastname@example.org with the words “Application for Angela Johnson Scholarship” in the subject line. Essays emailed after April 30 will not be considered.
Essay are not to exceed 350 words and should describe the applicant’s:
Commitment and or passion for the literary field of children’s and young adult literature;
Extenuating or financial challenges.
A Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form must be filed by April 30.
You’ve heard it from critique partners, agents, and editors: “What does your character want?” The adult world is full of desire but what about the world of children and young adults?
Children and Teens often want passionately. Some are passionate because they are untouched by failure and disappointment; others are passionate because people who are supposed to love and protect them from failure and disappointment– have let them down.
I’m going to be leading a two part workshop for Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance where we will discuss the importance of a clear desire line in fiction for young readers. This workshop takes place over two Saturdays: February 1 and March 1. We’ll use ancillary writing activities to discover our character’s deepest desires, and explore the differences between positive and negative desires. We’ll have a guided critique of each other’s first chapters and look for ways to make desire more opaque. Before the second session, you’ll get to revise your first chapter then we’ll process what we’ve learned and I’ll share my own revision process and techniques. Take a look at the full workshop description.
By the end of our 6 hours together I hope to persuade you that one of the most important things you can do for your story is to clearly define your character’s desire in the first few chapters of your MG or YA novel. Depending on the audience, it is even better if that desire is clearly stated or hinted at in the very first chapter.
When the reader can clearly access the character’s desire:
The reader roots for that character from the onset.
The reader sympathizes with the character. (Even in the case of an unsympathetic character, the reader will connect with the act of longing.)
It is this longing that keeps the reader reading.
If this kind of inquiry into the craft of writing for children and young adults interests you, sign up!
More about me:
Anna J. Boll, author/illustrator and educator, earned an MFA and Picture Book Certificate at Vermont College of Fine Arts and a MSEd at the University of Southern Maine. A winner of the 2013 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award, she is represented by Alexandra Penfold. Her poetry is published in Highlights High Five, Babybug, and Ladybug magazines.
On Friday I posted about the new YA collaboration from Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando, ROOMIES. The giveaway from LB Kids and Creative Chaos gets one lucky reader a signed-by-the-authors copy of the book and the chance at a prize packed shower caddy. I let my dog Lucy do the honors of choosing the winner from the three commenters: bn100, Shelby, and Courtney. Here are the results!
Turns out bn100 won ROOMIES on another blog (go buy a power ball ticket lucky one) so according to Lucy, Shelby is our new winner!
When I enrolled at Vermont College of Fine Arts for my MFA I had already had my share of roommates. I had a freshman roommate that was driven, neat, and not interested in staying up past 9pm; I had a “study abroad” roommate at Gallaudet University who was super patient with me as I learned American Sign Language; I had a Three Is Company (one guy, one other girl) experience in my senior apartment and I’m still friends with them today. But at VCFA, well, the roommate gods were looking out for me. That’s where I met talented, amazing author Melanie Crowder.
Melanie and I hit it off immediately. We had similar hopes and fears. We leaned on each other to get through the demanding writing program and now, almost three years after our degree, we still vid chat regularly, share life events, and are each other’s biggest fans.
In ROOMIES, by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando, Elizabeth (EB) and Lauren are about as different as two roommates could be. Elizabeth is an only child raised by a single mom looking forward to a roommate and a new friend. Lauren fantasizes about having a single where she can leave the chaos of her five brothers and sisters (one set of twins). The two authors give Elizabeth and Lauren completely unique voices and shift seamlessly from one to the other through back and forth emails. Like rolling out a new poster for a dorm wall where you only see a bit of the picture at one time, they keep the reader engaged by slowly revealing backstory.
“The main characters’ back stories are engaging, and the large supporting cast of friends and family members are well-developed and integral to the girls’ growth….The novel’s deeply embedded theme of transition will have tremendous appeal for any teenager coping with change.” (Kirkus ). – See more at LB Teen.
AND NOW…THE MOMENT YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR,
LB Teen is hosting a ROOMIES “Win One for You and Your Reader” campaign/sweepstakes. Sara and Tara’s first store appearance is on Sunday, January 12th (see below), to celebrate, they are giving away a Roomie survival kit/gift pack including earplugs, home spa essentials, a signed copy of the book, a special note from the authors, and other fun things—all packed in a shower caddy. One for me and one for you! (Edited to add: US Address only please)
Here’s the scoop:
LB Kids is giving me, a copy of ROOMIES to give to one Creative Chaos reader.
You can earn two entries:
1. Share this blog post on Twitter or Facebook. Make sure you tag me @annawritedraw or Anna Boll (Facebook) so I know you’ve done it.
2. Show me some cyber-love by leaving a comment. I’d love to know about a crazy roommate adventure or your roomie pet peeve.
On Monday the 13th, I’ll put your names in a hat and draw a winner with the help of Lucy (the best dog roomie ever!) That person wins the book.
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!!!
LB KIDS is going to put my name in a sweepstakes and if I win, I’ll put all the original entries (including the person who won the book) into the hat again and we both have a chance at the Roomie survival kit (including earplugs, home spa essentials, a signed copy of the book, a special note from the authors, and other fun things—all packed in a shower caddy.) One for me and one of you. LOVE.
Here are Sara and Tara’s confirmed tour dates. Go see them. I’ve met Sara and she’s awesome. I look forward to meeting Tara one day and totally wish I was closer to one of these places!
January 12, 2014 – New York, NY: McNally Jackson [venue link]
January 15, 2014 – Salt Lake City, UT: The King’s English [venue link]
January 16, 2014 – Provo, UT: Provo Library [venue link]
February 4, 2014 – San Francisco, CA: Books Inc, Opera Plaza [venue link]
February 5, 2015 – Petaluma, CA: Copperfield’s Books [venue link]