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NCTE in Boston – Amazing Weekend!

Last weekend, I attended NCTE (National Council for Teachers of English). What an amazing weekend. And, no…I’m not just throwing that word, amazing, around. It really did amaze me.

It amazed me to see so many kid & book loving people all in one place. It amazed me to see the sea of publishers’ booths. It amazed me to meet authors whose work I’ve admired for years. It amazed me to meet friends “for real” from my online community and The Nerdy Book Club. It amazed me to attend workshops given by these people for their teaching colleagues – and it amazed me how much it all made me miss being in the classroom. Inspiration everywhere!

And I left feeling just so, so grateful. Grateful that I have been blessed with this career. And grateful that there are teachers in the world like the ones I met at NCTE. I had many teachers and librarians thank me for writing, which I so appreciated and was humbled by. But, let’s face it–without the teachers like the ones below (and tons of others!) most kids wouldn’t pick up books, discover how opening the cover of a book can open up things inside of them that they never would have dreamed. Books do change lives. I’m proof of that.

So here’s to teachers and librarians! There are so many gifted, big-hearted people in the trenches with our kids every day. Thank goodness.

Here is my picture wrap-up of the most excellent NCTE, 2013. 🙂

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Hanging out in the Penguin Booth with the phenomenal Judy Blume. WOW! Also, there with Eileen Bishop Kreit from Puffin. Always so happy to see Eileen. :-)

Hanging out in the Penguin Booth with the phenomenal Judy Blume. WOW! Also, there with Eileen Bishop Kreit from Puffin. Always so happy to see Eileen. She’s a rock star in my book. 🙂

Happy to visit with lit agency friends! (Front:) Susan Meyer, Erin Murphy (my agent), Joan Paquette, Elly Swartz  (Back:) Jennifer Nielsen, Audrey Vernick, Nancy Tupper Ling, moi

Happy to visit with lit agency friends! (Front:) Susan Meyer, Erin Murphy (my agent), Joan Paquette, Elly Swartz (Back:) Jennifer Nielsen, Audrey Vernick, Nancy Tupper Ling, moi

My fabulous agent, Erin Murphy. Doesn't she have the best name ever? :-)

My fabulous agent, Erin Murphy. Doesn’t she have the best name ever? 🙂

Editor and Publisher, Nancy Paulsen, with "her girls" at NCTE. Beck McDowell, Nancy Paulsen, moi, Jacqueline Woodson

Editor and Publisher, Nancy Paulsen, with “her girls” at NCTE. Beck McDowell, Nancy Paulsen, moi, Jacqueline Woodson

Love these ladies!  Alyson Beecher and Cynthia Alaniz . SO fortunate to attend their panel :-)

Love these ladies! Alyson Beecher and Cynthia Alaniz . SO fortunate to attend their panel 🙂

Alyson Beecher who has been so very sweet throughout my debut journey. Loved meeting her for real!

Alyson Beecher who has been so very sweet throughout my debut journey. Loved meeting her for real!

Who doesn't love Jennifer Nielsen? Finally got to talk with each other in person!

Who doesn’t love Jennifer Nielsen? Finally got to talk with each other in person!

Dessert with some of my favorite Maine ladies: Susan Dee, Mary , Gigi McAllister, and Mary Lou Shuster

Dessert with some of my favorite Maine ladies: Susan Dee, Mary Bellavance, Gigi McAllister, and Mary Lou Shuster

Chatting with these great ladies about books. Thanks, Heather Jensen :-)

Chatting with these great ladies about books. Thanks, Heather Jensen and Amy Romanowski 🙂

Here I am with Gigi McAllister!! Yeah :-)

Here I am with Gigi McAllister!! Yeah 🙂

Here, I am with my editor and publisher, Nancy Paulsen. I could write something very long about how phenomenal she is, but then she'd have to edit it. :-)  So, let's just say that I'm blessed.

Here, I am with my editor and publisher, Nancy Paulsen. I could write something very long about how phenomenal she is, but then she’d have to edit it. 🙂 So, let’s just say that I’m blessed.

An amazing panel on multi-cultural literature with authors, Mitali Perkins, Christina Gonzalez, and Matt de la Pena. Also, teachers, Cynthia Alaniz, Teresa Bunner (standing) and Alyson Beecher

An amazing panel on multi-cultural literature with authors, Mitali Perkins, Christina Gonzalez, and Matt de la Pena. Also, teachers, Cynthia Alaniz, Teresa Bunner (standing) and Alyson Beecher

At a fun Tweet-up with Marianne Knowles, Ann Haywood Leal, and Emily Mitchell

At a fun Tweet-up with Marianne Knowles, Ann Haywood Leal, and Emily Mitchell

Ellen Hopkins and Erin Dionne. :-)

Ellen Hopkins and Erin Dionne. 🙂

I got to meet Melissa Guerrette! Yeah! :-)

I got to meet Melissa Guerrette! Yeah! 🙂

Such fun to meet Colby Sharp in person!

Such fun and an honor to meet Colby Sharp in person! Nerdy Book Ambassador Extraordinaire.

Meeting the great Donalyn Miller, co-founder of The Nerdy Book Club and renowned author, was such a pleasure. A sweet author moment for me.

Meeting the great Donalyn Miller, Co-founder of the Nerdy Book Club phenomenon and acclaimed author/literacy expert, was such a pleasure. Such a sweet author moment for me.

Nerdy presenter, Teri Lesesne (AKA Professor Nana!) WOW! :-)

Nerdy presenter, Teri Lesesne (AKA Professor Nana!) 🙂 Teri shared a bunch of cool online stuff to help teachers turn kids onto reading and help teachers organize including vine videos and livebinder.com

Nerdy Co-Founder, Colby Sharp presents with Author, Jenni Holm :-)

Nerdy Co-Founder, Colby Sharp presents with uber-talented author, Jenni Holm 🙂 “We want to give kids experiences that change lives.” ~Colby “Help your students make connections to authors via Skype, Twitter, and fan mail.” ~Jenni

Nerdy presenter, Kellee Moye  :-)

Nerdy presenter, Kellee Moye 🙂 “Set high expectations and hold the kids to them.” “You might as well be *that* teacher that talks books.” “Give the kids choices re: books.” “Don’t just hand out books. You must book talk them!”

A Nerdy workshop!

The Nerdy audience! 🙂

Nerdy presenter, Katherine Sokolowski :-)

Nerdy presenter, Katherine Sokolowski 🙂 Conferences with kids should be like talking around a table.” “Going forward–it’s all about relationships. I’m not talking about me–I’m talking about *them* ” “Slow down. Talk less.”

Donalyn Miller! :-) "Every reader has value and their own voice."

Donalyn Miller! 🙂 “Every reader has value and their own voice.”

Nerdy presenter, Cindy Minnich, and YA author, Beck McDowell

Nerdy presenter, Cindy Minnich, and YA author, Beck McDowell

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Cindy Minnich presents at Nerdy Workshop! 🙂 “Our lives are constantly changing and we need to change with them.” “Have kids keep log of their lives.” “If we know where we are and where we want to be, we can plan.”

jackie woodson

Me with Jackie Woodson. Amazing writer. Phenomenal person.

This was actually at AASL the weekend before, but I SO loved being on a panel with these ladies. We spoke on using books to teach resilience and compassion: (1st row:) Jo Knowles, Kimberly Newton Fusco, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Karen Day, (2nd row:) Leslie Connor, Erin Moulton, Me, Cynthia Lord  (not pictured: Moderator, Susannah Richards)

This was actually at AASL the weekend before, but I SO loved being on a panel with these ladies. We spoke on using books to teach resilience and compassion: (1st row:) Jo Knowles, Kimberly Newton Fusco, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Karen Day, (2nd row:) Leslie Connor, Erin Moulton, Me, Cynthia Lord (not pictured: Moderator, Susannah Richards)

Categories: agent, author, editor, friends, inspiring, writing | Tags: | 4 Comments

Mentor Monday ~ Erin Murphy

**DRUM ROLL**

I am thrilled to announce the launch of my new series, MENTOR MONDAYS! Every Monday, I will post a piece by a professional in the wonderful world of kid lit (editors, agents, and authors) who have been kind enough to share their stories with me. I have been humbled by the generosity of these folks and am in awe of the list itself! Such incredibly accomplished, talented, and giving people. Without people like this—who share their talent and expertise, who advocate for children and good literature in a world that seems more and more about “screen time,” (She says, checking her Facebook! 😉 where would we be?

And, where would we be without mentors? The people who take us aboard and show us the ropes. Often, however, a mentor is dear friend as well. Someone who lights something inside you that you didn’t know was there. Gives you the road map to where you’re headed.

I had planned to start this series with an author, but decided that I should begin with the person that launched my career—officially, anyway!

My first post is from literary agent, Erin Murphy of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. I’ve had a few people tell me they’ve heard that she’s a “dream agent.” As her client, I’m here to tell you that the rumors are true.

I did a ridiculous amount of research on agents and, when I was done with my ranked list, she was at the top. I drove five hours one way to meet her at a big book signing by several of her clients. The first time I set my eyes on her, she was scooping ice cream for a bunch of kids. She had an easy smile and, as the day progressed, I could tell that her clients adored her. We chatted (I had to stop mid-sentence to apologize for stumbling over my words) and left that day with an ache in my gut, thinking that it probably wouldn’t work out. I mean who signs with their first choice anyway?

Although Erin and I are of similar age, I consider her to be one of my mentors. I have learned a ton from her about the business of children’s lit and the craft of writing. I’ve learned that you can know someone for two years and feel like you’ve known them forever. I’ve learned what I’m truly capable of. I’ve learned that dreams come true.

~~So, . Here is Erin’s Mentor Story:

When I was a very newbie editor, back in (mmphmm), I was so fortunate to know Marlene Blessing through a regional publishing association. My boss, the person who had hired me into publishing in the first place, had passed away quite suddenly, and boy, was I in need of a mentor!
Marlene took me under her wing from afar, and we’d see each other now and then at conferences. She is really the one who empowered me as an editor: She demonstrated to me that the editor’s vision for shaping a list and the individual projects on it is critical, and that without vision, a list just doesn’t coalesce. She also helped me talk through author relationships and navigating the politics within a publishing house, and encouraged me to follow my instincts and to honor and value my authors as partners in the creative process and as friends–all lessons that served me well as both editor and as a literary agent.
I’m so glad you asked me this question, Lynda; I’d lost touch with Marlene over the years and this prompted me to look her up, to reach out anew, and to find that she is now editorial director at Interweave Books, and before that was overseeing some of Interweave’s craft magazines–so I’m certain she’s been instrumental in bringing together some things that I have loved in my off-time as a knitter and crafter!=
Thanks so much, Erin!
Categories: agent, author, Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency, Mentor Monday, publisher

Heaven in Boston—ALA, 2010

Hello ALL!

Last weekend, I went to Boston to ALA and it was incredible! Seriously, it was heaven for anyone who loves books!
Imagine having every publisher represented in one room! (I have a serious crush on Random House. I’m just sayin…) And, as you walk by their booths, these angelic people call out to you, “Excuse me! Would you like a complimentary copy of this ARC (Advanced Readers Copy)?” WAY better than a kid in a candy store! Way better!
I connected with old friends, too. So, I have to say that it doesn’t get better than this for a weekend away! Books, friends, books, talented authors, friends, books. This is how the day went!

On Friday, I had dinner at Emmet’s Pub with my agent, Erin Murphy, and her partner in crime, Joan Paquette. An absolutely perfect way to start out the whole adventure! I ordered the chicken pot pie to be a traditional Irishwoman but ate very little. I think I talked a lot. Nothing “Irish” about that, now is there?!

On Saturday, I attended ALA. If you EVER have the opportunity to go, DON’T pass it up! I met/reconnected with SO many great people and their work!

Andrew Clements, author of FRINDLE among other greats in children’s lit.

Barbara Johansen-Newman, author/illustrator of the adorable, kid-friendly TEX AND SUGAR. She’s a blast to talk with, too!

Thrilled to reconnect with Newbery winner, Cynthia Lord, and Printz winner, Ellen Wittlinger. Terrific authors! Even better people!!!

Incredibly talented writers/illustrators, Brian Lies (BATS ON THE BEACH and others in series) and Barbara Johansen Newman.

New friend and debut author, Jame Richards. I scored her ARC, THREE RIVERS RISING, A NOVEL OF THE JOHNSTOWN FLOOD. Can’t wait to dive in! Well, you know what I mean…

Was so happy to reconnect with Alisa Libby, author of BLOOD CONFESSIONS. If you ever wnat to know about writing historical fiction, she’s your girl! Amazing wealth of info. And fun to talk with, too!

Here I am at the Tweet/Greet with fab author, Ann Hayward Leal. We met in a writers’ class a few months back and became instant friends! She’s a blast AND she wears Converse!!
Her debut novel, ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER is fantastic! Seriously.

I met Caldecott author/illustrator, Christopher Bing, for the first time. It is rare to be so blown away by someone’s artwork! I spent my lunch money on his books! An excellent trade off!
Not only is his talent stunning, but you’ll rarley meet such a good guy. He writes a paragraph in his books when he signs them. A Paragraph!!! And he chats with people because he thinks (and he’s right!) it makes a better memory.

And…he loves the Red Sox. Need I say more?
So, after I get my YA done, I’ll be working my way through my ARCs! Here are the ones I am most excited about:

KYLE’S ISLAND by Sally Derby (Charlesbridge)

BAMBOO PEOPLE By Mitali Perkins (Charlesbridge)
THREE RIVERS RISING by Jame Richards (Knopf)
THE WONDER OF CHARLIE ANNE by Kimberly Newton Fusco (Knopf)
THIS MEANS WAR by Ellen Wittlinger (S&S)
STAR IN THE FOREST by Laura Resau (Delacorte)
SPLIT by Swati Avasthi (Knopf)
HOW TO GROW UP AND RULE THE WORLD by Vordak the Incomprehensible (Egmont) (My 12 year old son already read this in one sitting. LOVES it!)
I will be posting reviews here as soon as humanly possible. SO excited!!!
THANKS to ALA for putting on such an incredible event. THANKS to my agent, Erin Murphy, for being SO awesome! THANKS to Mitali Perkins who organized the Meet/Tweet event on Saturday night; this was a big high point of ALA for me! And THANKS to all of the authors and editors and publishers who…sigh…make such great books…
Categories: agent, ALA, Erin Murphy | 7 Comments

SCBWI Whispering Pines Retreat, 2009

Photo L to R:

Jennifer Rees, Senior Editor, Scholastic Books

Maryann Cocca-Leffler, Author/Illustrator

Anna Webman, Agent, Curtis Brown

Sarah Shumway, Senior Editor, Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)

Printz Award winning author, Ellen Wittlinger


Hey, All!

Well, as director of the SCBWI Whispering Pines Retreat, I’m gearing up for another year…And apparently, many others are as well!

The retreat’s weekend slots were filled in about two days and the “day slots” are going quickly! Overall, I’m pretty excited! As always, it’s lookin’ like a nice group of people–some old friends with some new people folded in (Ouch! Sounds painful!)

As I head into another year, I always think back on past ones… Last year was a blast! Above is a pic of our 5 mentors and they were terrific! Such talent and professionalism and tons of laughs!

I’m always nervous going into the weekend. Those of you who’ve organized events such as this know that you plan for months and months and then pray it goes off well. True—I have to have my ducks in a row, but in the end, a retreat like this is only as good as its mentors–so this retreat was pretty great! Pretty great…

Ahhhh, though…It’s time to look to the future! With the lineup we have this year, the future is looking pretty dazzling! The future’s so bright I gotta pull shades…

Forgive me for I know exactly what I do….

Categories: agent, editor, friends, SCBWI, Whispering Pines, writing | 1 Comment

Gango Retreat. Portland, OR, 2009

Gangos: (FR) Joan, Tam, Colin (BR) Kathy, Laura, Cynthia, Susan, Dawn, Zu, Erin, Lynda (Ruth and Conrad are missing 😦

It is a rare thing when such a happening comes along. When you connect with people in a matter of days….And leave as close friends…

As Erin’s newest client, I decided to be brave and fly out to Portland, Oregon, to the 3rd annual Gango Retreat that Erin holds for her children’s writers every year. Even though I am the greenest Gango, it seemed important to make an appearance. And I wanted to meet Erin in person. You know, to see if she was as amazing as my intuition told me she was. And I wanted to meet some of her other clients as well.

WOW! Erin, Joan (EMLA’s new and fabulous associate agent) and the “Gang of Erin” (as they…uh…we…call ourselves 🙂 are not only more than I expected, but more than I could have imagined. As the “newbie,” I was folded in immediately. There were no lines between published/unpublished, newbies/veterans. I found the group to be not only kind, welcoming, and hysterically funny…but also supremely talented! Oh…my…God! The writing talent of these people…And their generosity in helping some of us who aren’t quite so experienced…yet!

And Erin is a perfect match for my work. Not only a perfect match for my characters…but a perfect match for me, as a writer. Erin’s level of respect for her clients–and theirs for her–is obvious. And, along with some healthy doses of friendly ribbing, there’s plenty of affection there as well.

I just feel…so blessed. So blessed indeed….

Categories: agent | 2 Comments

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