Member Monday: Old news or news to you?

I’m just back from a two-week research/family trip to Italy where I visited Florence and small red-roofed, hill topped towns in Tuscany. I’ll be posting more about that later this week, but first I’m passing on some of the news, blogs and articles that I missed while I was away. Perhaps these are just old news, but perhaps you missed some of these too. Hope they are helpful.

Most important on my list is this announcement from SCBWI. The On-the-verge Emerging Voices Award. I’ve been sitting on this since before my trip, itching to tell you all about this news and then they go and announce it at the LA SCBWI National Conference. Follow the link above for the full press release but here is a quick snippet.

The annual award, established by SCBWI and funded by Martin and Sue Schmitt, will be given to two writers or illustrators who are from ethnic and/or cultural backgrounds that are traditionally under-represented in children’s literature in America and who have a ready-to-submit completed work for children. The purpose of the grant is to inspire and further the emergence of diverse writers and illustrators of children’s books.

Here is the link for the grant eligibility, process, and deadline. 

This issue is close to my heart. I hope that writing programs across the country, most notably VCFA, my alma mater,  and Hamlin College– and publishing programs, NYU and others will stand up and take notice. Action can be taken to increase diversity in publishing. Here are some thoughts from the CBC Diversty blog from those in the industry.

Here is a wonderful post from Laurie Halse Anderson that discusses the lack of diversity on the recently released NPR YA list.  Happy & Sad about the NPR Top 100 YA List In her post she also posts the following links which are important enough for me to list them again here:

On NPR’s Very White Best Young Adult Books List, by Shaker Laurie.
Reading in Color’s Booklists

And… one of my favorite sites The Brown Bookshelf.

(The link for the NPR Top 100 YA List is here if you haven’t seen it.)

In other old news:

Women On The Rise Among The World’s Top-Earning Authors This is an interesting article on celebrity authors but I’m not exactly sure what it says for the rest of us. The article celebrates that there are now six women on the list at all. Perhaps I’m a glass half empty person, (No, I’m not.) but what I see here is a continuation of women earning 78% of what men earn. Even if you go from the Stephen King’s $39 million (instead of James Patterson’s $94 million) 78% of that is about $30 mill. That- and below- is where we find the women.Of course, once you get into the millions of dollars, this may matter less but it is still true. For more on gender and writing see my post here or take a look at VIDA- Women in the Literary Art’s annual count for 2012. 

Publishing Is Broken, We’re Drowning In Indie Books – And That’s A Good Thing Okay. I need a while to both read and process something like this but if you are interested in the economics of the publishing industry and are concerned/interested in the changes in traditional vs. digital, this is the article for you.

That’s it for today, friends. Read, write, draw and do at least one of those outside. Two weeks and counting until kids go back to school in the home of Creative Chaos.

ALA National Library Week

This is ALA National Library Week and today is National Library Worker Appreciation Day. I owe a special debt of gratitude to the Curtis Memorial Library’s children’s librarians. It all started about 14 years ago when we moved to Brunswick, Maine. Then, the library was small and cozy and the children’s section was headed by the spirited Phyllis Fuchs. Phyllis was pleased as punch when I said that I’d like to volunteer. She let me join her as she read picture books to toddlers both in the library and those watching community cable at home. When I had my own children, Phyllis was there every week at Finger Fun for Babies. Thank goodness for those weekly sessions where I could speak with other adults and beat the isolation of early mothering.

The newly renovated Curtis Memorial Library opened and Phyllis decided to retire, but a group of amazing librarians took her place.  Pam, Robin, and Melissa in particular have been especially helpful on my journey to become an author/illustrator. They are quick to jump on-line on my behalf when I ask, "Have you got a list of books that use the This is the House that Jack Built, construction," or "I’m looking for ballet books for boys," or "What do you love that’s new?," or "Which of these books do 5th grade boys really love?" The always know where to find the answers.

Moreover, they know me. They know my kids. They often know about my work in progress, or research and will save things on my behalf. They know how long this journey has been, how hard I work, (or don’t- I loved the day that I walked in to get a book and Melissa, after reading my Facebook update said, "Aren’t you supposed to be working on your illustrations?") Some people long for a place where everybody knows your name. For me, that place is my community library.

I hope that the next time you elect your community officials you’ll communicate to them how important the library is for your community. Perhaps when you hear that your taxes are going up, you’ll consider the library collection, physical requirements, and library workers who do so much to help so many by providing access to information through books, computers, and other media. Perhaps you’ll think about the women I listed above, about how as women, last year they earned 77% of men’s median earnings, the same as the wage gap in 2002. Perhaps you’ll agree that when we all chip in, our communities prosper economically, and educationally.

To Melissa, and Pam, and Robin, I hope you enjoy the flowers I sent. It was a small symbol of my endless appreciation for all you do.

For more information on how you can help save libraries go here.
For more about ALA National Libary Week go here.
For more about National Library Worker Appreciation Week and info on pay equity go here.
For links to other authors and their essays and lists about loving libraries go here.