Talking to college students about artists’ collaboration

Taking to students is such an amazing honor, and it’s especially awesome to do it in the classroom of a friend. I met Professor Kristin Gjerdset (bottom left in first photo) when she signed up for my speedskating class. When I learned she taught art at Wisconsin Lutheran College,  a gem of a school, I told her about my illustrator husband, Jeff. She soon asked him to speak her students. He had the best time.

This year, Kristin invited both of us to speak to her class, specifically about creative collaborations. Jeff and I have collaborated on so much, even more than I realized before preparing for this talk. We support each another in our respective fields in a ton of ways, like brainstorming projects, reference modeling, critiquing, story ideation, copyediting each others’ writing, publishing together, and, our biggest collaboration by far, creating Fantasy Art Workshop, our week-long illustration retreat.

The students seemed to enjoy seeing how much our creative endeavors have intertwined, and we loved their enthusiasm and their superb conversation. These are special kids with clear talent. We were lucky to get to meet them. 🙂

 

 

Cover image of the book THE HAUNTED STATES OF AMERICA

THE HAUNTED STATES OF AMERICA is available for PREORDER!

In February, I told you I’m representing Wisconsin in the upcoming spooky anthology THE HAUNTED STATES OF AMERICA. I’m thrilled to tell you that the book is now AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER! Here’s a look at the cover, illustrated by by Solomon Hughes.

Cover image of the book THE HAUNTED STATES OF AMERICA

Releasing from Macmillan Publishers on July 9, 2024
ISBN 9781250819413

Friends, there is simply no better way to support an author and their work than to preorder their books. Even if you think you won’t read the book for months or years, preorders count in the crucial first week of publication and can determine a book’s entire trajectory. So please do order a copy, either here or through your favorite bookstore. And trust me, by the time you get the book in July, you’ll be facing spooky season again and you’ll be ready to embrace some spine-tingling tales.

To remind you, this creepy collection features 52 twisted short stories, one from each state plus D.C. and Puerto Rico. My Wisconsin tale is personal and oh-sooooo-haunting. I spent countless hours at the Seven Bridges in my youth, so when I learned about this upcoming anthology, I knew I had to set a story there. My terrifying tale includes scenes from the archway, bridge, and trail shown below.

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

It reads, “Enter this wild wood and view the haunts of nature.”

The Seven Bridges opening bridge, overlooking a deep gorge

The Seven Bridges opening bridge, overlooking a deep gorge

Image shows Seven Bridges trail

A trail dappled in light.

Thank you so much for your preorder and overall support. May Halloween 2024 be frightening fun,

 

 

 

 

L.A., baby!

Haha, no, don’t worry. I’m not jetting off to L.A. But I did have something awesome tie me in to Los Angeles, and it’s so exciting I just have to share.

SCBWI holds two international conferences annually, one in New York City and one in L.A. I’ve attended both, and they are simply amazing. The New York one is smaller, which might be surprising as NYC is the global publishing hub, but the NYC conference is focused on craft. The L.A. conference is huge, typically bringing in several thousand attendees and is thus a networking extravaganza.

The past few years these events have been held virtually, of course. They’re still excellent events, well organized, chock full of practical  and inspirational tidbits. The speakers are stars in the kidlit field or up-and-comers or people with an expertise in their niche. I walk away from each speaker better for having listened.

This year, they invited me to speak. Me! Little ol’ me. I was stunned at the invitation and remain so even after having finished the presentation. Speaking at their international conference is a big moment for me, and I worked hard to make my session worthwhile. I hope it was. Importantly, I continue to be grateful for this wonderful organization.

All the presentations were recorded and available for 30 days, so you could still register to see everything. I too will watch as many of these recordings as I can. It will make for some pleasant upcoming days. 🙂

Graphic of author Silvia Acevedo ahead of her live presentation at SCBWI-LA

The slate posted ahead of my live presentation

Photo of Silvia Acevedo speaking at SCBWI's LA conference

Zoom-zoom-zooming to SCBWI LA.

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

Focusing on what I can control

One of the many ways I’ve dealt with the past year’s uncertainty is to focus on what I can control. A lot of people practice this all the time. It’s not revelatory because, let’s face it, there’s a lot outside our control, and to rage against that reality is a great way to drive yourself into the ground. But I think it’s safe to say that some people are better at settling themselves this way than others.

Don’t get me wrong. The “focusing on what I can control” mantra can be twisted into a kind of privilege that allows you to ignore anything that requires effort. Or it can allow you to wash your hands of responsibility. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about things like, oh, say, not festering over how the pandemic has upended our lives and canceled events and such.

First, we must acknowledge that inconveniences are nothing compared to what many have had to bear. The losses have been heartbreaking. And with that understanding, inconveniences are nothing. Nothing.

And yet, change stings. Life has been so different. Since March 2020, I’ve had to cancel five conferences or retreats that I’d planned for more than a year. But you know what? It was doable. We’ve all pivoted.

Earlier this month, I co-hosted a day-long, virtual SCBWI-Wisconsin conference that was originally planned to be in person at a favorite retreat center on 90 acres of beautiful woods and water. Couldn’t happen. But you know what I could control? Deciding early to pivot. Becoming proficient at Zoom. Guiding people on how to join us. Connecting with others, which is what so many people say they missed most over the past year.

I’m grateful to see friends in squares on my screen, as that was once science fiction. And I’m grateful for the vaccines, which have allowed us to see friends and family in person. Long past this pandemic, though, I’ll stick with the notion of focusing on what I can control. It’s a better use of my energies and helps me see what’s important.

I hope you enjoy these photos of the event. Be well.

 

Photo shows hosts and speakers of SCBWI-Wisconsin's Spring Studio virtual conference. Shown are webinar coordinator Joyce Uglow, co-regional advisors Silvia Acevedo and Deb Buschman, literary agent Christa Heschke, and author Stef Wade.

The start of SCBWI-Wisconsin’s Spring Studio virtual conference. Shown are webinar coordinator Joyce Uglow, co-regional advisors Silvia Acevedo and Deb Buschman, literary agent Christa Heschke, and author Stef Wade.

 

Photo shows co-host and speakers of SCBWI-Wisconsin's Spring Studio virtual conference. Shown are author and literary agent Zabé Ellor, host Silvia Acevedo, and editor Tiffany Shelton.

Literary agent Zabé Ellor, host Silvia Acevedo, and editor Tiffany Shelton.

 

Photo shows hosts of SCBWI-Wisconsin's Spring Studio virtual conference. Shown are co-regional advisors Silvia Acevedo and Deb Buschman.

Cohorts.

 

Photo shows host and speakers of SCBWI-Wisconsin's Spring Studio virtual conference. Shown are co-host Deb Buschman, author Stef Wade, and literary agent Christa Heschke.

Look at that great swag! A solar system poster that kids love.

 

Photo shows co-host Silvia Acevedo at the SCBWI-Wisconsin's Spring Studio virtual conference.

My computer really needs maaaany more stickers. 😉

Learning Scrivener

I bought Scrivener last year and am really enjoying it. It seems like a really robust program, but that means there’s a lot to learn. So here I am trying to learn. Well, no, not really. Here I am posing with some SCBWI gals who helped put together a meetup about Scrivener, but I was too busy learning to take more pictures. And now I got Scriv skills. 😉

Thanks to Kerry, Deb, and Becki for setting this up.

Left to right: Silvia Acevedo, Kerry Hansen, Deb Buschman, Scrivener presenter Erica Dinka, and Becki Kidd, at Pewaukee Public Library.

Left to right: Silvia Acevedo, Kerry Hansen, Deb Buschman, Scrivener presenter Erica Dinka, and Becki Kidd, at Pewaukee Public Library.

Deadline Looming for 2018 SCBWI-WI Mentorship

2018 SCBWI-WI Mentorships Flyer

Hurry, aspiring writers and illustrators! You have just 18 days to apply to SCBWI-Wisconsin’s 2018 mentorships.  The deadline is November 30, 2017, and this is an opportunity not to be missed. I am deeply honored to be among the six authors/illustrators who’ll be mentoring up-and-coming creators in 2018, along with Jamie Swenson, Jane Kelly, Pat Schmatz, Deb Gross, and Jeanne Styczinski. I’ll work with an author of middle grade or young adult work who’s interested in self-publishing.

First, here are the mentorship basics:

The 2018 SCBWI-Wisconsin Mentorship runs approximately six months, January to June. The amount of interaction between mentor and mentee will be decided between the pair.

Next, the rules:

You must be a current member of SCBWI and have attended at least one member event in the past year, unless applying for the Diversity Mentorship with Pat Schmatz.

You can only apply for one category of mentorship unless you qualify for the Diversity Mentorship, in which case you could apply to more but only win one.

You must yet to be traditionally published in your category.

Finally, the application details:

Follow the guidelines on this online application form and email the requested documents to wisconsin-ra@scbwi.org by November 30th.

 

I’m really looking forward to this adventure. Please apply if you’re interested and spread the word to the creative people in your life who you feel might benefit. Thanks! 🙂

 

Playing at the SCBWI-WI Fall Retreat

Silvia Acevedo Presenting at Wisconsin's Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

How often, do you suppose, have you fallen into a rut? Even when trying to be creative, do you find yourself slipping into familiar routines and say, meh, the writing or artwork is good enough?

Whoa boy, let me tell you. If you were feeling that way before the SCBWI-WI Fall Retreat, you left feeling like a new person. Superhero-ish even. There’s no way any uninspired, humdrum, or worse, corrosive thoughts could creep into your creative sphere that weekend. And if you haven’t yet made it a part of your creative journey to connect with others at a conference, I’d highly suggest you do.

Wisconsin’s Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Fall Retreat was meant to be an antidote to stifling routine. This years theme was “experiment and play,” and what a great thing to  do to help us create.  I was incredibly honored to give three presentations: how to slant the truth through an unreliable narrator; how to bring back the thrill of creating (in case the joy’s become a grind); and using art as inspiration.

Anyone who knows my writing knows that I love a good unreliable narrator. I could talk about that all day. I didn’t, though, to allow attendees time to work on their writing prompts. See? Proof.

Writing at SCBWI-WI

Writing…writing…writing…

And we had an open, dynamic talk on how to banish the blahs. Author Melissa Gorzelanczek not only inspired everyone during her talks, but she came up with the idea of Journey Stones weeks ahead of our workshop. I designed a hundred.

YES to your journey! YES to challenges! YES to bravery! I think the attendees liked them. 🙂

Journey Stones - Silvia Acevedo

Journey Stones

My final presentation really revved my engines. Author Valerie Biel and I talked about the gazillion ways we creative types use other art for our inspiration. I’m talking literature, visual arts, music, theater, or dance. I’m big into the visual arts, and there’s no shortage of it referencing mythology, so I was absolutely in my element. Here are a few pictures I shared: me hanging out with Cupid at the Milwaukee Art Museum and then imitating Bacchus, the god of theatre and wine, at the Louvre. We’re buds, ya know.

Silvia Acevedo with Cupid at the Milwaukee Art Museum and Bacchus at the Louvre Museum

Silvia with Cupid and Bacchus

And again I made a little memento: crocheted bookworms. I hope they crawled their way into someone’s heart. 🙂

Silvia Acevedo's Bookworms

Silvia’s Bookworm Bookmarks

Others got artistic, too. Check out these handmade bags for the faculty, made by the “Freakin’ Happiness Fairy,” Author M.J. Diem. And can she rawk a tutu or what?

Freakin' Happiness Fairy M.J. Diem and her fabulous bookbag

M.J. Diem and that *gasp* gorgeous bookbag

Oh, and the talks. And the amazing guest faculty (Lin Oliver, Mary Amato, Carol Hinz, I’m looking at you!). The cruise. The book title contest. Yes, yes, yes, and yes!

Keith Pitsch, Silvia Acevedo, and Valerie Biel

Keith Pitsch, me, and Valerie Biel

Ten Years Blogging

http://www.silviaacevedo.com

Milestones trigger emotions, and this one is no exception. Today marks ten years blogging. My website and blog is mostly about the creative life (writing, publishing, media in general) and occasionally sports. I’ve experienced growth in all those areas, and I hope something I wrote added to your insight on a subject.

My very first post was about inspiration, specifically about shooing the Muse. You can read it here:  http://www.silviaacevedo.com/a-writer-writes/muse-schmuse/ I feel pretty much the same way today. If I waited until I felt inspired, who knows when I’d ever get around to it? The funny thing is, once I start, it’s the writing itself that inspires me to write more. What inspires you?  And what topics should I hit in the next ten years? 🙂

Play Date! at the SCBWI Retreat

YesMy engines are really revving for the SCBWI-WI fall retreat. You should come. Really! You have just three short weeks to sign up, and I’ll tell you why you should (and then how to maybe get in for free!).

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is the premier association for creators of children’s lit (and one of the largest organizations for writers and illustrators in the world). If you want to learn more about writing or illustrating for kidlit, these are your people.

Wisconsin’s fall retreat is three days of amazing networking, creating, and communing. This year’s lineup is impressive as always: the society director, three editors/directors, an art director, an agent, two leading authors/illustrators/creators, along with 11 local presenters, myself included. My involvement isn’t why I write today; I’ve been praising the association for more than ten years. This is the place to go to build your craft.

I am proud, though, of the two presentations I’m doing. Both are collaborative.

Friday’s Intensive with Melissa Gorzelanczyk is four-fold: Honing in on images; Focusing on plot; Unreliable Narrators in your writing and illustrating; and Bringing Back the Thrill. Plus we’ll have a memento for attendees. The picture gives a hint. 🙂

My second presentation, with Valerie Biel, highlights how music, dance, theater, literature, and the visual arts can inspire your creations. And attendees get another memento.

So you’re convinced. I can tell! Sign up by August 31st here.

Aaaaand if you want a chance to get your registration fee reimbursed, apply for the DIVERSITY SCHOLARSHIP BY AUGUST 14. SCBWI is inclusive in what constitutes diversity, so you may well qualify. Find out and apply here.

If you’ve been dreaming about creating for children, this may be your moment. Hope to see you there! 🙂