SOKY Book Fest 2019

I have a confession. I’m terrible at keeping secrets. So do you want to know a secret? SOKY Book Fest is one of my all-time favorite book festivals.

On April 26 and 27th, I attended my second SOKY Book Fest in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Needless to say, it was AWESOME! Day 1 was Teen and Children’s Day with author presentations throughout the day ranging the gamut from picture books to YA, with a focus on getting kids excited about craft—both written and illustration. Day 2 included more author presentations and three dynamite keynotes by Angie Thomas, Rita Mae Brown, and Silas House. I participated in a picture book panel with Sherry Howard, Shutta Crum, Eddie Price, and Susan Eaddy, where much of the discussion seemed to focus on traditional versus nontraditional publishing.

IMG_0175 copy

I also had the opportunity to interview with the amazing Barbara Deeb from WKU-PBS/WKU-NPR for her show Outside the Book. Stay tuned for the interview.

Here are a few photographic highlights:

Pre-conference: While I was at LaGuardia Airport grabbing a quick breakfast, I spied with my little eye Skyhorse Publishing on the kiosk. How cool is that?!!!

IMG_0192

Diana Murray and Greg Howard at the pre-conference author dinner, with Debbie Dadey in the background at the Preservation Tasting Room and Bottle Shop.

IMG_0193.jpg

Artie Bennett et moi 

IMG_0199.jpg

Diana Murray being interviewed by students. 

Wendy BooydeGraaff

IMG_0202.jpg

Me and the crew: Phil, Jim, Harry, Wilcox & Griswold, and Hildie Bitterpickles

IMG_0210.jpg

Sherry Howard 

IMG_0212.jpg

2016 Picture Book Debuts (left to right):

Mary Reaves Uhles, Diana Murray, moi, and Wendy BooydeGraaff

Jessica Young and two adorable fans

IMG_0220.jpg

Check out those author signatures! 

IMG_0222.jpg

IMG_0227.jpg

Group shot

IMG_0242.jpg

Sara Volpi, SOKY Book Fair Coordinator extraordinaire

Meet the Authors Reception at Knicely Center 

Left photo: Stephen Messer, Wendy BooydeGraaff, Shutta Crum, and Diana Murray 

IMG_0245.jpg

Creston Books in the house! Me and Ingrid Palmer 

IMG_0249.jpg

Barbara Deeb during an interview for Outside the Book. 

IMG_0252.jpg

Susan Eaddy

58933406_2311936055494723_370142858549657600_n.jpg

Wendy BooydeGraaff, moi, Susan Eaddy, and Jessica Young (photo by Susan Eaddy)

IMG_0269.jpg

Adorable! 

I’d like to shout out a huge THANK YOU to Sara Volpi, SOKY Book Fest Coordinator extraordinaire, Barnes & Noble, Warren County Public Library, WKU Libraries, and to all the volunteers for making the conference so very special.

 

 

 

 

 

The Bookshop at the End of the Internet with Stacey Horan

tbateoti-podcast-lr_orig

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of stopping by Stacey Horan’s podcast, The Bookshop at the End of the Internet, to talk about books, writing, revision, and more. It’s been a lifelong goal to master the use of “um” and I think I’ve finally done it. So, please click here to give a listen and enjoy!

image.png

Stacey Horan is the award-winning YA author of Inland, The Elixir Vitae Adventures: ORTUS (Book 1), The Elixir Vitae Adventures: JUVENIS (Book 2), and Sycamore Lane. To learn more about Stacey, her awesome books, and The Bookshop at the End of the Internet, please visit her website.

 

 

 

 

My Interview with Fellow Creston Books Author, the Incredible Stephanie Bucklin

It was such a thrill to finally meet fellow Creston Books author, Stephanie Bucklin, at the SOKY Book Fest. Aside from our Creston Books connection, we have also had the privilege of having the amazingly talented Chris Ewald do the illustrations for our books. Chris illustrated the cover for Stephanie’s debut middle grade novel, Jack Death.

41e3S6f2ETL._SX352_BO1,204,203,200_

Briefly, from Amazon:

Jack is an ordinary boy except that his father happens to be Death. Nadine is a perfectly normal girl except that her Mother is – oh well, that’s a Secret and not to be carelessly revealed on the back cover of a book. The important thing is that together, these two incredibly average children discover the lemon-headed villain behind the destruction of the Magical Creature Reserve and piece together his plot to divide the Golden and Black Bloods. They may even save a few lives.

With story elements reminiscent of Percy Jackson and Lemony Snicket, flavored with a smattering of Harry Potter and Terry Pratchett and recounted in an arch, tongue-firmly-in-cheek style, this story will find an eager audience in upper elementary through middle school.

The intrusive and mysterious narrator provides know-it-all asides and rich vocabulary as background to the abundant action. There is plenty of comic violence and slapstick to keep the most reluctant reader engaged, but enough interesting language and subtlety that a more bookish reader won’t feel underestimated. Stock characters — the school bully, the absent-minded professor, the damsel in distress — often turn out to have more to them that first meets the eye.

To learn more about Stephanie and her work, please visit her website. And while you’re in the neighborhood, please also check out my interview with Stephanie. Thanks!

Thank you Chicago, ALA, and The American Writers Museum!

alalogo-1.png

Chicago was anything but the windy city this weekend. It was warm and welcoming as it greeted thousands of librarians, publishers, editors, writers, illustrators, and literary aficionados for ALA’s 2017 Annual Conference and Exhibition.

It’s hard not to feel like a kid in a candy store when attending ALA. And like a well-prepared kid ready to take home a treasure trove of loot, I came prepared with my empty bags. In my years of attending ALA, I have also learned that the extremely patient Fed Ex worker, who is silently laughing at my creatively wrapped packages, has become my new best friend. (At this time, I would like to shout out a very big thank you to my Grandpa Harry for teaching me how to defy the laws of physics with masking tape.)

Here are a few photographic highlights from #alaac17:

 

Creston Books

IMG_4667.JPG

Detectives Wilcox & Griswold, me, and Marissa Moss

IMG_4654.JPG

Nancy Churnin

IMG_4635.JPG

Marcia Goldman and Princess Lola

IMG_4664.JPG

Laurie Wallmark and Sue Conolly

IMG_4659.JPG

Marissa Moss and Kathryn Otoshi

IMG_4652.JPG

Carol Weston

IMG_4668.JPG

Monica Edinger and Donalyn Miller

IMG_4674.JPG

Tracey Baptiste

IMG_4675

Me and Emma Otheguy

IMG_4613

The AWESOME Mr. Schu!

IMG_4678.JPG

Laurie Wallmark, Mr. Schu, and me

IMG_4680.JPG

 

Panel discussion, “Women Aren’t Funny (And Other Essential Untruths for Middle Grade Readers) with Sharyn November, Erica Perl, Betsy Bird, Cece Bell, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Andrea Beaty

During this literary palooza of a weekend, I also had the privilege of being invited to do a reading at the The American Writers Museum. With the mission of “celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture, and our daily lives[,]”[1] The American Writers Museum opened its doors on May 15, 2017.

AWM_PrimaryLogo_195x195.jpg

While walking around and gazing at the words and portraits of many of my writing superheroes, it was impossible not to reflect upon the impact each of these authors have had on all of us—how they’ve stirred our imagination; comforted us in times of grief; given us a serious case of the giggles; and put us to bed night after night.

IMG_4772.JPG

IMG_4787.JPG

IMG_4785.JPG

As a writer, I also couldn’t help but think about the number of rewrites each of these authors had to do. How many authors were on the brink of giving up when they finally got their lucky break? What’s the tally on the number of rejections vs. successes?

IMG_4790.JPG

Untitled Mural by Paul O. Zelinsky

Next time you’re in Chicago be sure to stop by this inspiring magical place. I promise. You won’t be disappointed.

[1] Source: http://americanwritersmuseum.org/history/

American Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute #WI12 ROCKS!

img_2957

We’re all familiar with that “online bookseller who shall be nameless,” who’s been huffing and puffing and trying to gobble up the independent-bookstore market. Well, let me tell you a little secret. It’s not working. Indie bookstores are here to stay. And best of all, they are thriving!

img_2931

Lesley Stahl and Ann Patchett

I had the privilege of attending my second American Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute. In a nutshell, it was AWESOME!

I attended some terrific sessions about:

  • Starting a children’s book festival (I have this fantasy that the North Fork of Long Island will some day have a children’s book festival of its own); and
  • Working with small and university presses.

img_2959

Left to right: Wendy Morton Hudson, Nantucket Book Partners (Nantucket, MA); Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop (Houston, TX); Todd Dickinson, Aaron’s Books (Lititz, PA); Tom Roberts, Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe (Warwick, NY).

I also sat in on two wonderful lunches. The first was an education lunch for authors conducting events at independent bookstores. Some takeaways from the lunch were:

  • It’s never too early to contact a bookstore. Contact the store 5-6 months before a book releases.
  • Be sure to be honest with the bookstore regarding the number of people you believe will be in attendance.
  • People expect to be entertained at a bookstore event.
  • Do not read the entire book at an event (unless it’s a picture book). If you read the entire book, there’s no incentive to purchase the book.
  • Some bookstores like PowerPoint presentations. Others, not so much.
  • Presentations for kids generally follow this formula: 15 minutes to read a story; 15 minutes of Q & A; and 20 minutes to sign.
  • Be sure to engage kids and their parents during a presentation.
  • Multiple author events need cohesion. E.g., An evening of alligator stories, etc.
  • And always be sure to work social media. Make sure you put links to the bookstore on your website.

The second was the small and university presses lunch. The highlight for me was listening to Marissa Moss, publisher and editor extraordinaire of Creston Books, present the spring titles.

Below are a few photographic highlights:

img_3079

Marissa Moss, Editor and Publisher of Creston Books, discussing the spring releases. 

img_3056

Kate Warne, Pinkerton Detective by Marissa Moss and illustrated by April Chu (Creston Books 2017). 

img_3060

img_3070

Rumors by Denys Cazet (Creston Books 2017).

img_3081

The Case of the Poached Egg, A Wilcox & Griswold Mystery by Robin Newman and illustrated by Deborah Zemke (Creston Books 2017).

img_3084

img_2963

Marissa Moss with her first adult novel, Last Things: A Graphic Memoir of Loss and Love (Conari Press 2017). 

img_2970

The Galley Room 

img_2985

Emma Donoghue signing, The Lotterys Plus One (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic 2017).

img_2987

William Joyce signing, Ollie’s Odyssey (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books 2017).

img_2966

Josh Funk with his latest book, The Case of the Stinky Stench (Sterling 2017), and me (naturally holding a carton of eggs to celebrate the upcoming release of The Case of the Poached Egg).

img_3004

Ann Patchett signing, Commonwealth (Harper 2016). 

img_3169

Detectives Wilcox and Griswold are in the house! 

img_3196

Thrilled to be signing the latest Wilcox & Griswold Mystery, The Case of the Poached Egg (Creston Books 2017). 

Please support your local independent bookstores. Not to preach (because I would never, ever do that) BUT . . . independent bookstores are anchors in our communities. They bring us together. They keep our kids off electronic devices and get them excited about the written word. Independent bookstores give us opportunities to know and understand worlds beyond our own. They support us in so many ways. Please be sure to support them.

img_3013

For comprehensive coverage of #WI12, be sure to check out these wonderful articles from Publishers Weekly.

 

 

 

 

 

International Literacy Association Conference & Exhibits #ILA16

ila-logo-yellow-1

Gray skies couldn’t dampen the excitement at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts, where educators, librarians, writers, illustrators, editors, and publishers came out in droves to support and promote worldwide literacy.

Here are a few photographic highlights:

IMG_1882

IMG_1853

IMG_1855

IMG_1874

Creston Book authors and illustrators are in the house! 

Me, JoAnn Adinolfi, and Darlene Beck-Jacobson

IMG_1903

JoAnn Adinolfi and Darlene Beck-Jacobson

Darlene Beck-Jacobson

IMG_1875

JoAnn Adinolfi, me, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, and John Schumacher, a/k/a the great Mr. Schu, Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic

IMG_1881

IMG_1878

Josh Funk 

IMG_1898

Peter Reynolds 

IMG_1840

And a trip to Boston wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Robert McCloskey’s wonderful ducklings at the Boston Public Garden.

IMG_1838

make-way-for-ducklings

IMG_1843 copy

If you’re interested in getting involved with the fight to advance literacy, please visit ILA’s website by clicking here.

“The ability to read, write, and communicate connects people to one another and empowers them to achieve things they never thought possible. Communication and connection are the basis of who we are and how we live together and interact with the world.”

Source: ILA website

 

 

ABA’s Winter Institute 11

 

IMG_0573

It’s “ABA” week in my house. Ironically, as I return from the awesome American Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute 11 in Denver, Colorado, my husband is off tomorrow to that other ABA, American Bar Association, in Los Angeles, California.

Not to judge (because I would NEVER, EVER do that), but I have a feeling my ABA conference is (oh, how shall I put this delicately?) way more fun than his. Let’s face it, Kwame Alexander, Newberry Medalist for The Crossover was the breakfast keynote speaker. I think that pretty much sums up my point.

IMG_0602

IMG_0598

Booked by Kwame Alexander (releases April 5, 2016)

Alexander gave an inspirational speech to a standing ovation of booksellers.

IMG_0587

“I believe literature can empower young people . . . Children’s book authors, like teachers, have a responsibility to imagine a better and brighter world. It’s important for each of us to say yes to ideas and thinking out of the box. You all are the way we can continue this legacy of creating beautiful people.” (Quoted from Judith Rosen’s article, Winter Institute 11: Kwame Alexander Becomes the ‘Say Yes Guy’ at the Show, Publishers Weekly (Web.) Jan. 26, 2016.)

IMG_0596

Me and Kwame Alexander

For me, a highlight of the conference was attending the small and university presses luncheon where I had the chance to listen to Marissa Moss, editor and publisher extraordinaire, describe Creston Books’ spring list. And I have to say, I may have been a tad giddy (that’s probably the understatement of the year!) when Marissa started talking about Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was incredible to finally share Hildie Bitterpickles with so many wonderful booksellers. For this very special occasion, I wore my witchiest Hildie pajamas.

IMG_0704

And of course, no witch outfit is complete without a hat.

Look What Arrived in the Mail!

 

BOOKS! SPELLBINDINGLY BEAUTIFUL BOOKS!

IMG_0560

I would like to shout out a very big THANK YOU to Marissa Moss, publisher and editor extraordinaire. THANK YOU for taking a chance on my quirky little witch; to my very special agents, Liza Fleissig and Ginger Harris-Dontzin, whose magic touch heralded Hildie Bitterpickles to Creston Books; to Chris Ewald for making Hildie Bitterpickles more adorable than anything I could have ever imagined; to Simon Stahl, whose design magic never ceases to amaze me; and to my amazing critique group for helping me persevere during those really awful rough drafts. THANK YOU!!!

2016 ALA Midwinter Conference & Exhibits

 

I spent an incredible weekend at ALA’s Midwinter Conference and Exhibits in Boston. Where else in the world can you find this many people who eat, breathe and sleep books? In a nutshell, it was AWESOME!

I had a wonderful time meeting and catching up with so many dedicated librarians, teachers, editors, writers, and illustrators. One highlight for me was meeting Lisa Von Drasek, curator of the Children’s Literature Research Collections at the University of Minnesota. She included The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake on her “best children’s books to give this year” list and in her discussion on MPR. Here’s the link.

It was also a thrill to see so many of my friend’s books on display and to listen to everyone’s predictions on who might be getting some pretty stickers for their books. (HINT FOR UPCOMING BIRTHDAY PRESENT: Wilcox, Griswold, Hildie, and I LOVE stickers! 🙂 )

Here are a few photographic highlights:

IMG_0439

Creston Books

IMG_0465

Me and Laurie Wallmark at the Creston table 

10561816_10153775167019299_4986818020003127532_n-1

Mary Skiver, me, and Laura Simeon (Bryn Mawr Classmates, ’89 Anassa Kata!) 

IMG_0507

Laurie Wallmark and Andrea Beaty

IMG_0520

Andrea Beaty’s latest book

IMG_0449

Carolyn Yoder and Laurie Wallmark 

IMG_0420

Lisa Yoskowitz

IMG_0422

City Shapes by Diana Murray and illustrated Bryan Collier (In bookstores June 21, 2016)

IMG_0457

Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks by Coren Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez and illustrated by Dan Santat (In bookstores May 24, 2016)

IMG_0484

IMG_0485

Normal Norman by Tara Lazar and illustrated by S. Britt a/k/a Stephan Britt (In bookstores March 1, 2016) 

IMG_0492

Just hanging with Norman

IMG_0416

Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel 

IMG_0442

Cori McCarthy signing You Were Here

IMG_0460

Be a Friend by Salina Yoon

IMG_0512

Laurie Wallmark and her new friend, Oscar

Congratulations to all the ALA Youth Medal Award winners! It’s been an incredible year for children’s literature. And it’s so exciting to be a small part of it. I’m looking forward to another amazing year of kid-lit. Happy reading, writing, and illustrating!