As I was driving home from Hamline's MFAC Alumni Weekend Writer's Conference, I got a call with very exciting news. It was Lin Oliver, Executive Director of SCBWI, informing me that I was chosen to receive the Karen and Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award. This is a work-in-progress grant in which I had submitted "Octopus Capers" back in March. My first award! Lin told me to go ahead and post the news on my Facebook account to create some buzz, which I did, so for the remainder of my drive home I heard the happy "pings" from my phone as the news made the rounds. Prior to the call, I was listening to an audiobook, which I assumed would be my next blog post. After the call, I couldn't concentrate on the story and had to put it away. I can live with that. As part of my award, my registration at the SCBWI Annual Conference in Los Angeles will be paid for. See you there!
The middle of July each year brings a favorite event for me, Alumni Weekend at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, where in 2009 I received my MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults. I look forward to it for a variety of reasons. Writing can be a very lonely activity and this is a chance for some camaraderie with a group of people who have gone through the same program, and understand the same struggles I am experiencing now that we are out on our own.
Writing is an odd thing. When you graduate, finding a job isn't necessarily the next natural progression. For many of us, it's trying to complete a manuscript and finding either an agent or publisher. During our intense time together we bonded and learned to trust each other with our writings. We learned to give comments, advice, and suggestions in a nurturing way. We learned to be each other's biggest supporters. There are days, still, when an alum will send me a message and say, "Hey, did you see this article on octopuses?" or "Did you see that this agent is interested in giant squids?" remembering a workshopping session where I submitted my octopus manuscript.
Printz Awards Ceremony
I started my conference Friday evening at the Michael L. Printz Awards presentation where I had the opportunity to meet an author I have followed since 2006, when I happened to pick up "The Book of Dead Days" while on vacation in Hawaii. I enjoyed his plots, pacing, and sense of humor. Marcus Sedgwick traveled from England with his family to accept the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature for his book, "Midwinter Blood", and his sense of humor was in abundance. His acceptance speech told in same format as the book, in seven short chapters, and was insightful and entertaining. I hope his speech will be printed somewhere eventually because there were some comments he made I would like to revisit. For example, he said that this particular book was a risk, alluding to the fact that it will offend some readers. But, he said that you need to write a story that you like yourself so that you are ensured that at least one person likes the story. Again, this demonstrates his sense of humor, but he also makes a good point. What if he hadn't taken that risk?
To read an interview with the author click on the first link. To read more about the event check out American Libraries' "The Scoop" with the second link.
I am a writer of Children's and Young Adult books. I received my MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, and am an active member of SCBWI. I also have my MLS in Library Science with an emphasis on children and happily worked as a Children's Librarian for nearly 20 years. One of my favorite activities was reading books aloud to kids, especially to school-aged kids. Like the kids, I enjoy having stories read to me, so I listen to many of my books on audio and serve on audio judging committees.
Another favorite activity is creating fun snacks for library programs, friends, and family. I do that a lot and continually search for more ideas.
I have a tiny brown tabby cat named Gypsy, who originally belonged to my brother and sister-in-law, a very large Russian Blue mix named Bosley from the shelter who has quickly made himself at home, and a new puppy named Prince Albert. He's a Cavapoo, which means he's part Cavalier King Charles and part poodle, and adorable. I am married and live in Dayton, Ohio with my husband Rod.
You can find more detailed information about me by clicking the link below: