The Sheboygan Children’s Book Festival has enjoyed a great reputation as one of the premier book fests in the state. It’s free to the public, organized to the finest detail, and wildly entertaining for the kids who’ve gone since its 2010 start. New this year, the fest launched its TEEN book festival, and what a great event it was!
Turnout was great – and no wonder. The middle schoolers and high schoolers got to investigate books and meet authors who focus on them. Presenting authors talked about everything from depicting teenage life on paper to what inspires their particular bent. Author Valerie Biel and I talked about our love of mythology and how the genre is experiencing a popular renaissance. The teens were engaged and asked such insightful questions! All we authors were deeply impressed – and we made it onto trading cards. We felt like superheroes.
Here are some photos of this fantastic event. If you read Young Adult books or have a teenager in your life who does, seriously consider setting your calendar for next year’s festival. Both the Children’s and Teen’s Book Festivals run annually on the second weekend in October.
Authors and Illustrators of the Sheboygan Children’s & Teen Book Festivals 2016
Wrastling’ up five midwestern chapters of the The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is huge — big enough that the gathering only happens every four years. And I’m proud to say that I got myself wrangled up in it this go-’round and gave a panel talk with three other cowhands.
Indie Panel with (l-r) authors W. Nikola-Lisa, Silvia Acevedo, Andrea Skyberg, and Trina Sotira
Okay, so the Wild, Wild Midwest theme isn’t strongly enforced. No real cowhands, but it’s still a great chance for midwestern writers (and those from lots of other places, too) to meet.
SCBWI has taught me a lot about the craft of writing for children and teens, which is a whole different thing than writing for news. I’ve been to plenty of their conferences, but this weekend I actually got to present and share what I’ve learned, and that’s the way these things are supposed to work. You learn from others. Then you share what you’ve learned. Full circle. Nice.
And we had fun with a Roaring 20s social. I played flapper to the gangster, and she let me live to see another day.
I hope you’re excited to read more of Cupid’s adventures. And as a reminder, if you liked God Awful Loser, please do the kindest thing you can do for a writer: leave a review at Amazon, Goodreads, or your favorite website.
I am throwing a party, and YOU’RE invited! Whoo hoo!!!
GOD AWFUL THIEF launches into the world May 4th, 7 p.m., at Boswell Books in Milwaukee. I am thrilled with how THIEF turned out, and I’m extra thrilled to get it to those who’ve emailed, anxiously awaiting it. It’s great to hear from you!
GOD AWFUL THIEF is the second book in the God Awful Series of Books for teens and adults. It’s also the sequel of the very well received GOD AWFUL LOSER. Read on for a sneak peak at THIEF’s jacket copy.
Cupid’s back and at the top of his game.
The always adored – and now restored – God of Love has a new look, a new attitude, and even a steady girlfriend. With his humiliating dethronement and harrowing banishment behind him, Cupid wants nothing more than to settle in to a comfortable immortality.
But someone has dreamed up a different plan.
With a sea god setting the oceans against him, a drama-loving hanger-on refusing to go away, and the king of the gods ordering Cupid to steal the most powerful relic ever made by the most cunning god ever angered, Cupid and his leading lady, Tamara, must join a new cast and crew to face their most challenging mission yet. The stage is set for an epic performance, but just who is writing this script? And will Cupid and his troupe figure it out before they lose their minds – and quite possibly their lives?
God Awful Thief brings new hilarity and an ever-expanding cast of fickle gods to Cupid’s misadventures, potential tragedies, and everlasting comedies. God Awful Thief is the second act in the God Awful Series of Books.
I’ll have my cover reveal within the next few weeks and pre-order info soon after that.
So, friends, mark your calendars for GOD AWFUL THIEF’s May 4th launch. We’ll celebrate the book, have fun, and support our local bookstore all at once. See you there!
It’s amazing how certain events in your life harbor so much meaning.
I remember as a child spending many, many, MANY enchanted hours reading on the bean bags at the kids’ corner of the South Milwaukee Public Library. I used to ride my bike the half hour to get there to happily satisfy my demanding reading habit, delighting in Peanuts and Moby Dick alike.
This Wednesday, December 2nd, I will cherish the immense honor of presenting there, my hometown library. Starting at 6:30, I’ll present an excerpt and talk with readers about my fantasy novel, God Awful Loser, a signed copy of which is on the library shelves.
I will admit that my childhood self never imagined presenting as an author in the building in which I traipsed so often. I loved reading; books were, to me, worldly educators, understanding friends, and foolhardy daredevils. As a child, I never imagined writing books. As an adult writing a part of my novel at the SM library, I had to smile at going full circle from reader to writer.
I am incredibly honored to be the very first author featured on the newly created WISCONSIN WRITES AUTHOR VIDEO SERIES. This interview chat was created by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for students to hear directly from authors about how they do what they do, providing a glimpse into both their current works and their creative minds.
I have two segments, which you can see above or at the WI DPI website. The first segment is on my writing process, and the second covers many topics, including my approach to subject matter, the role of research, editing, feedback from other writers, and advice to students.
Many thanks go the educators behind this series! I hope you enjoy it, too, and please feel free to share it widely with the writers (young and old) in your life!
I had the honor and pleasure of talking on a panel about kid lit at the Wisconsin Writers Association‘s Annual Convention yesterday. Beside me were some of the most talented writers of the day, their works spanning from picture book to young adult novel.
A few of the questions had to do with taboo topics and whether we censor our writing for the sake of our audience. The answer was a universal no to censorship but that, of course, a writer’s presentation is tweaked depending on age range and relevancy to the story. We all agreed that stories are a safe place to explore new worlds and perspectives. Besides, those readers who don’t enjoy a book will self-censor, that is, decide a particular book isn’t for them and put it down. It comes down to choices, which is an integral part of growing up.
Not every book covers deep, heavy topics, but most offer a window to emotional growth. My God Awful Loser is a light read and yet doesn’t gloss over the protagonist’s womanizing. He and other characters eventually learn, with the readers riding their wave, to value those around them.
Do kids need books to teach them such lessons? Perhaps another question is in order: Who remembers reading a book at just the right time and having it profoundly affected their worldview?
Soon Wisconsin students engaged in writing will have video proof that, yeah, sometimes you just have to scrap what doesn’t work. And who got to teach them that? Why, yes, you guessed right. It was me.
It was part of an interesting video project being put on by the Wisconsin Department of Public Schools, the state agency that runs public schools. The “Wisconsin Writes” project aims to catch Wisconsin authors wherever they happen to be in their work-in-progress to talk to students about how they’re advancing their work and to answer a few tough questions. My work-in-progress is the sequel to God Awful Loser.
It so happens that I was at a point in which I’d explored a certain path only to find it didn’t work, and so I was on the cusp of scrapping a full chapter. That turned into a talk about how sometimes you just have to try something out, see how it goes, get messy, be willing to change it or let it go if it’s not your vision, and embrace picking it up again where you left off. I hope hearing that is helpful to students.
Here I am signing God Awful Loser for the program’s host. Thanks, Marci, for inviting me.
A Confederacy of Dunces is a comedic marvel. It has pretty mixed reviews, many of the negatives focusing on the “likability” of the protagonist, who is a snobby, idealistic, physically grotesque bum who still lives with his mother. She induces him to find work, and hilarity ensues. I tend to not dismiss books on the likability of the protagonist. I focus more on whether he or she experiences emotional growth and on the quality of the writing. Whether you love Ignatius Reilly as a character or not, no one could deny there’s a lot of great humor there. Thanks, Tim!
My next read was Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall in which an intersexed teen (having both male and female sexual organs) leaves his bullying high school across the country to start fresh as a girl in a Wisconsin high school. Her lifelong interest in basketball helps her make friends and eventually keeps her sane when her past inevitably roars into the present.
This is not normally the sort of thing I’d read, and maybe that’s exactly why it’s good to change habits once in a while. It’s good to expand your world. Double Exposure‘s story was engaging, the characters sympathetic, and the conflict real for our times. I’d recommend it to anyone who might benefit seeing the grey between the lines. In the interest of full disclosure, I acknowledge that I have met the author through events at SCBWI, but that doesn’t matter. It’s an enlightening read.
What an honor it is to be interviewed about your work, but it’s especially wonderful when the interviewer is Tim Knox, author, entrepreneur, and host of the hugely popular “Interviewing Authors” podcast.
Tim Knox has interviewed many fascinating and talented publishing professionals. His podcasts are endlessly entertaining and a treasure trove of insight. I’ve enjoyed them, each and every one, for a long time now.