A Thrilling Announcement

Monster Isle     When you venture into something new, it’s usually pretty exciting, especially when you have some success. We here are pretty excited to announce that my husband’s first children’s book has been announced and is available for pre-order. Yeah for him!

     Although he’s been designing and creating art for many years and has already been published in many different publications and media, Jeff’s always had a desire to illustrate children’s books. I’m so happy to see his dream fulfilled. Great job, Hon!

     Here’s a look at Welcome to Monster Isle. If you’re feeling generous and want to get a fun book for a child in your life, please go ahead and pre-order. You’ll get it just in time for Halloween.

Making Changes

Silvia Acevedo Caricature      An understanding friend recently quoted Vincent Van Gogh to me, saying, “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”

     After five great years of working at WTMJ, I’ve stepped down. Sunday, March 9th, was my final day, and what a send-off it’s been. Friday, many of my colleagues gathered at Bar Louie to wish me well, and, Sunday, the weekenders had a sneaky little party planned. I should have expected it because they’re uncommonly generous. Many people signed around the superb caricature that station artist Nick created of me, at right, and Shelley Walcott was her usual sweet self, writing about the day:

Goodbye Silvia Acevedo

     Leaving such a group of caring and awesomely talented people was a very difficult decision. At heart, I’m a writer and journalist, and have been immersed in that world for so long, that I find it difficult to say that I wouldn’t ever return to it in one form or another. For now, though, I have a unique opportunity in my life to focus on other things which also mean a great deal to me.

     Thanks, everyone, for everything.

Writers’ Retreat to Feature an Old Friend

The Spiderwick Chronicles     The fall retreat of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators’ Wisconsin Chapter will feature some exciting people, including a very well-known author that I haven’t seen in many years, Holly Black. You will undoubtedly recognize the name as the co-author of the wildly popular fantasy series, The Spiderwick Chronicles, which has just been made into a major motion picture.

     I had the pleasure of getting to know Holly, as well as artist Tony DiTerlizzi, who would illustrate the series, in New York, back in 1998. My hubby was a featured artist, along with Tony, at the Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour there. He and Tony couldn’t pass up the chance to catch up with each other now that they were in the same city, and I tagged along and greatly enjoyed my time with those very talented people and their funny and also talented significant others.

     I’m really looking forward to seeing her again after so many years, and I’m sure everyone at the retreat will benefit from what she has to say about writing for children.

     SCBWI-WI’s Annual Fall Retreat will be held in Racine on October 17 – 19, 2008.

In Memory of Louvenia Johnson

Louvenia Johnson     Ms. Louvenia Johnson looked peaceful today. As well she should, as she heads to her eternal rest. The 96-year-old founder of the Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper has blessed countless people, including me. Years ago, I was one of many college-bound students who received money through the scholarship that bears Ms. Johnson’s name, and, this week, I was shocked and humbled to see my name in the advisory announcing her passing. It is perhaps the highest honor ever bestowed me.

     Ms. Johnson was an extraordinary person. She believed in the power of journalism to improve people’s lives. In 1981, as a retiree, she and three others founded the Christian Times, which grew to become the Milwaukee Times. Seven years later, she established, with her Social Security retirement funds, The Louvenia Johnson Journalism Scholarship Fund, which is reported to have awarded more than $350,000 to date.

     I am grateful for the financial help she gave me then and the esteem at which she held me since. I hope someday to make such a difference as she.

A Year of Purpose

     For me, a new year brings the hope of new possibilities. I ponder new goals and feel renewed ambition.

     I’ve found that some people dislike the idea of New Year’s resolutions, seeing them as contrived and unattainable. I suppose some resolutions are. I tend to devise smaller, more attainable goals for myself and take tiny steps each day to achieve them.

     It was in this way, last year, that I got so much writing done. This year, I will work on finishing the manuscript for my picture book, and, by year’s end, I expect to have made substantial progress on my next novel.

     I’m very grateful to my family and friends, who’ve encouraged my fiction writing this past year. I hope to enjoy as much encouragement in 2008, even as I hope to encourage others.

     Many blessings to you all in 2008.

Author Janet Halfmann Talks Shop

Little Skink’s Tail     This past weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting children’s book author Janet Halfmann, at a signing for her new picture book, Little Skink’s Tail, which just came out in August of 2007. You’ve likely seen some of Janet’s books; she’s written nearly 30, mostly non-fiction picture books of an animal or nature theme, some of which she’s generously donated to the Milwaukee Public Library system for the enjoyment of generations of children.

     Janet was willing to share her time to talk of her career and experience, for which I am truly grateful. She was also a former newspaper reporter and currently lives in South Milwaukee (my old stomping grounds), so we had lots to talk about.

     Janet meets the public again — this time, her target audience — for story time at the Racine Art Museum on December 15th, from 1 to 3 p.m. You can check out Little Skink’s Tail at http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/SkinksTail.php.