The Haunted States of America

Whoo hoo! A short story I wrote will represent Wisconsin in a middle grade horror anthology!

THE HAUNTED STATES OF AMERICA will be published by Henry Holt/Macmillan. HH joined forces with the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators to feature 52 spooky short stories, one from each state plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. All stories are inspired by local events or myths and written by SCBWI members with a connection to the place. I created a spooky tale of South Milwaukee’s Seven Bridges, a beautiful but supposedly haunted place  where I spent so, so many hours in my childhood. The pictures of it below show how lovely — and at times secluded — it is.

I’m guessing the book will come out in one to two years, which is the usual pace for book publishers. When it does come out, I’m hoping you’ll buy a copy and read all the creepy tales.

And isn’t life funny that I learned this news the same week that I left my job at Scholastic? haha. But book news is great, and I can’t wait to read about our Haunted States.

The entrance to South Milwaukee's Seven Bridges

The entrance to South Milwaukee’s Seven Bridges

Sign at the entrance to South Milwaukee's Seven Bridges, which reads, "Enter this wild wood and view the haunts of nature"

“Enter this wild wood and view the haunts of nature”

The Seven Bridges opening bridge, overlooking a deep gorge

The Seven Bridges’s opening bridge, overlooking a deep gorge

The opening bridge's drop

The drop, which is much steeper than this photo makes it appear

One adventure ends and another begins

What an adventure!

New York City has so much energy, excitement, and cultural relevance. Every bit of it seems famous, the food and social scene are incredible, and there’s goodness all around. I love New York, and I’ve loved my time here, but the adventure is coming to a close.After seven months at Scholastic, I realized the job wasn’t working out, which isn’t the end of the world. I’m proud of myself for recognizing it. Plus, I have forces pulling me back home, in a good way.

Experiencing the publishing world in its global heart was amazing. I learned so much, made great friends, and might continue in another capacity, just not in NYC and not in this moment. Here are a few final pics before I head back to a Great Place Near a Great Lake (aka, Milwaukee —- who remembers that jingle?)

Jeff Miracola and Silvia Acevedo outside NYC's main library

Jeff and me outside NYC’s main library

Main-library-rose-room

The library’s famed Rose Reading Room

Main-library-rose-room

And from the other side

My daughter Antonia and Silvia Acevedo at Central Park

My daughter Antonia and me at Central Park

Family on the ferry

And on the ferry

Silvia-Acevedo-at-the-John-Wick-Continental-Hotel

At John Wick’s famed Continental Hotel. Sanctuary!

Silvia Acevedo with her yoga group

My yoga group as we wish each other well 🙂

Manhattan-skyline-at-night

The endlessly gorgeous Manhattan skyline, this time at night. Goodbye for now, my dear NYC.

A diamond award?! For me? *gasps and nearly faints*

Every once in a while someone does something for you that melts your heart. That happened today, when I received this stunning keepsake from Lin Oliver and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. I’ve been a member of SCBWI since 2007 and was so honored to eventually lead my home state of SCBWI-Wisconsin as regional advisor. This big and beautiful desk ornament will get a special place in my home, and I will treasure it always.

Lin officially retired yesterday from running SCBWI full-time. She has touched so many lives that it’s hard to quantify how she’s influenced the world. What a life she’s led and what an amazing organization she’s built, one that’s still changing and growing and learning. And what a legacy she passes to her successors. She’s the gem here. I just got to be in her light. Thanks, Lin and SCBWI. I’m touched and amazed by this.

Silvia Acevedo receives an outstanding service award - a glass diamond paperweight - from the Society of Children's Book Writer and Illustrators

Silvia Acevedo receives an outstanding service award - a glass diamond paperweight - from the Society of Children's Book Writer and Illustrators

Silvia Acevedo receives an outstanding service award - a glass diamond paperweight - from the Society of Children's Book Writer and Illustrators

Silvia Acevedo receives an outstanding service award - a glass diamond paperweight - from the Society of Children's Book Writer and Illustrators

The holidays in New York City

I’ve been at Scholastic four and a half months now, and there’s a lot I can’t talk about because the projects aren’t yet announced or the work is propriety and/or confidential, but here’s the good news: children and teens are reading, and Scholastic provides great stuff for them to lay their eyes on.

I’ve taken (no surprise) hundreds of photos, having seen great friends, enjoyed fabulous sites, and just gotten to know this amazing city. I mean, Rockefeller Center, Fifth Ave, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, Little Italy, SoHo, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Theater District, on and on. Family coming to visit. Snowstorms and nor’easters. Seeing cousins. Making new friends. The fantastic, oh-so-welcome diversity. And, and, and. This has been a cool thing.

I’ll post just a few pictures here because, honestly, a single post can’t encompass it all. But trust me. Visit New York City sometime in your life. Stay awhile if you can make it.

Scholastic!

The year 2021 is proving to be so transforming.

My previous post in July was about how this year has thrown unexpected things my way. Good things, for sure, like my job at Inkluded (which was temporary and remote), a furry addition to the family (Sketch, the kitten), and a new ride (my awesome orange Scooter).

A week later I was referred for a job at Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books.

You may be able to guess where this is going.

Another week later I was asked to interview for that fantastic job based in New York City. And as I’m typing this, I’m looking at the Statue of Liberty out my new apartment window. Also, the Manhattan skyline is gorgeous from my rooftop.

Say what?! you might be asking. I think I’m still asking that myself to myself, to be honest. Haha. But life is fun when it’s changing things up, isn’t it? This excellent opportunity is one that I certainly didn’t want to pass up and my family encouraged me to pursue. I’m so grateful for that as I’m loving it so far. It was remote for the five weeks it took us to move to the New York area. Now I’m going in once a week on an easy commute to the spectacular offices that are Scholastic Inc.

One more thing happened during all this. The week before we moved here, we adopted a kitten from the Humane Society! Yep, we did it both to give Sketch a playmate and to add some complication to the move because of course we would — haha! Meet Pixel, the once-fearful but becoming-more-confident-by-the-day addition to our family. I love this sweet little guy. Enjoy the cuteness.

So, I’ll leave you with some random pictures of a little bit of this and a little bit of that from the past few weeks. Here’s to new adventures!

Pixel the kitten

 

Pixel posing

 

World Trade Center transportation hub – Milwaukeeans will recognize the architecture!

 

Inspiring

 

Scholastic!

 

The Harry Potter themed stained glass above the Scholastic front desk

 

The Manhattan skyline from across the Hudson River

 

Photo shows Manhattan skyline from beautiful Liberty State Park adjacent to the Statute of Liberty

Manhattan skyline from beautiful Liberty State Park adjacent to the Statute of Liberty

 

Panoramic photo from Liberty State Park showing the Manhattan skyline at left, Ellis Island at center, and the Statue of Liberty at right. It's simply gorgeous.

Panoramic photo from Liberty State Park showing the Manhattan skyline at left, Ellis Island at center, and the Statue of Liberty at right. It’s simply gorgeous.

Mightier than the Sword

Okay, you know me. I love books and respect the heck out of transformative works. So imagine my delight when I was asked to give an endorsement for a book about revolutionaries who changed the world through writing! Um, yes, please! And even better that the book was written by fellow SCBWI-Wisconsin member Rochelle Melander, who’s a friend and incredible cheerleader for fellow writers.

I just got my advanced copy of Mightier than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers & Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing. It releases July 27th and is sure to be a favorite of teachers and parents alike. I’m so happy for Rochelle and proud of this grand achievement. Mightier is compelling and a testament to the power of writing. I’m honored that it’s the first book for which I’ve given a blurb (an accolade quotation). This book is right up my alley.

Enjoy this glance at some inside pages, and remember, writing is revolutionary.

Image shows cover of book "Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers & Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing"

Image shows back cover of book "Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers & Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing"

Sample pages from book "Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers & Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing"

Sample pages from book "Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers & Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing"

Sample pages from book "Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers & Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing"

(Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers & Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing is available for pre-order at your local independent bookstore.)

A brainchild grows up!

In my last blog post, I mentioned how helpful it was during the pandemic to connect with people online. In mid-2020, when socially-distanced people were badly missing each other, I decided the SCBWI-Wisconsin region could benefit from connecting online just to hang out and chat, like we do at conference socials. It seemed to me that a lot of online meetups at the time revolved around some sort of educational programming, and I thought our members might want an unstructured way to hang out. We also had newly published members who were releasing books during a pandemic, not the ideal time to release, to be sure.

So I came up with the idea of “PAL New Release” meetups that, for a host of reasons, our PAL coordinators couldn’t implement until 2021, but, hey, they’ve been a HUGE success! And they’re something we’ll continue doing well after the pandemic has past.

The PAL New Release meetups allow our members to hear directly from PAL  (Published and Listed) authors about their new books — and they can talk about anything! Like: How did the book come to be? How did you get your original idea? How did the manuscript change over drafts? How did your editor’s editorial advice fit in with your vision? What’s the word count? How did the publisher choose the illustrator for the book? Are you getting a say in your marketing plan? Anything they want to chat about!

The authors aren’t required to answer anything they don’t want to, and they can ask questions too. Maybe an author they admire is in the audience, and they can compare notes, with the rest of the participants gleaning from the talk. Oh, and the whole talk is preceded by a half hour of simple catch-up time. People can dip in whenever they want. It’s all very easy-going, very fun, and a great way to connect with fellow members who may live too far to ever meet outside of a conference. What a great way to connect us all!

For all the fatigue Zoom has given us, there are great ways to connect, and I’m happy this little brainchild has caught on. I hope it lives on forever.

Photo shows a computer screen with 21 participants during the SCBWI-WI PAL New Release Meetup of February 24, 2021

SCBWI-WI PAL New Release meetup of February 24, 2021

Writers House Wrap-up

 

This week was my last as an intern at New York literary agency Writers House. I have so many wonderful things to say about this experience, but first, the logistics.

The internship is meant to teach a select few, lucky people the ins and outs of the publishing industry. But, more than that, it’s a program with the heart and purpose of increasing the number of BIPOC members within the industry. Publishing is overwhelmingly white, and that homogeny has historically been detrimental to creators from marginalized groups. As demographics shift, the need to diversify the industry has never been greater. Writers House and, specifically, program director Michael Mejias have been fighting the good fight for more than 20 years, working to ensure that those entering the industry better reflect the American people.

I’m told my class of 13 interns had more than two thousand applicants. I’m blown away that I was chosen to take part. What’s equally astounding is how amazing the program is structured and executed. You do not walk away from a Writers House internship without learning the skills needed to successfully enter the publishing industry.

I learned so much about assessing manuscripts, providing editorial feedback, and assisting agents. We interns also got to dive deeply into other aspects of publishing, including sales, marketing, publicity, foreign and subsidiary rights, scouting, contracts, production, and more. Michael has honed this program to be one of the most well organized programs I’ve ever seen. 

And while the internship is about education — and stellar it is — it’s also about community. Our supervisors work hard to help us succeed, both during and after our time there, seeing to it that we were challenged and grew. And then there were the other intern themselves. They are some of the brightest, most intellectually curious, and fun people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. They are actively on the job hunt and will take the industry by storm. I know someday their names will be spoken with awe and admiration. And rightly so.

In a year full of difficulties, my internship was an unexpected joy and a highlight of my life. I’m grateful to everyone involved. And I love getting to say I got my start in publishing at Writers House. 

Reading, finishing, starting another. Repeat.

One of my 2020 new year’s resolutions was to read daily – from an actual book, not just news headlines. Authors should of course read voraciously, but we all know how it goes. Life can interfere with even the best laid plans.

Then came the actual 2020, featuring a badly managed public health crisis, its subsequent economic collapse, long-simmering civil and social unrest, and the beginnings of a thinly veiled fascist coup. All has converged, grinding under heel our collective well-being.

So, yes, I’ve been reading, not just to keep my resolution but to stave off constant unease. Also, like many other creators, I’ve found it terribly difficult to get into the headspace to write cheerful fiction.

Thankfully, reading is part of the writing process. So what have I been enjoying lately?

 

Image shows book entitled "Roll with it" by Jamie Sumner

Roll with It by Jamie Sumner is about middle-schooler Ellie, who isn’t letting her wheelchair interfere with her big dreams to be a professional baker. But when she and her mom move to care for her ailing grandpa, Ellie has to start anew in a new town and school. Ellie is fun, straight-forward, and has you rooting for her from the very first page. I’m looking forward to reading Ms. Sumner’s newest book, Tune It Out, about a girl with a sensory processing disorder who has to find her own voice.

 

Image shows book entitled "The Assignment" by Liza Wiemer

The Assignment by Liza Wiemer is about standing up and speaking out. High school seniors Logan and Cade are horrified when a favorite teacher instructs students to argue in favor of the Final Solution, a euphemism for the Nazi plan of genocide of the Jewish people. This book is written by a dear friend and fellow SCBWI-Wisconsin member. Her works are deeply moving and heartfelt. Highly recommended.

It’s a great time to read. Those of us still respecting safer-at-home orders and employing social distancing are spending more time at home. Colder weather’s on the way. And we can all stand to occasionally see the world from someone else’s viewpoint.

Hope you’re enjoying some good reads, too. Share your recommendations in the comments!

 

 

(Comments may take up to 24 hours for approval. Post contains Bookshop affiliate links. Bookshop supports local, independent bookstores.)

 

Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month starts Tuesday.

It’s always been a special time to acknowledge the history and contributions of the many people who make up the Hispanic/Latinx  community. With this year’s racial reckoning and social upheaval, I thought I’d share some data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Hispanics make up nearly 19% of the U.S. population. That’s almost 1 in 5. The demographics for children are already “majority minority,” meaning minorities make up the majority of people under the age of 18. To be tolerant of other groups now is to be tolerant toward America’s future leaders.

Especially in 2020, I feel it’s best to face facts.

Source: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2020/hispanic-heritage-month.html