Please contact me if you would like me to speak at your school, or autograph books at your Scholastic Book Fair.
South Central Elementary School, Kinmundy, IL April 14, 2016
ICD School visit March 1, 2016
With Nancy Polette, Writing for Children instructor, October 1, 2015
Picture Book Intensive, SCBWI conference September 2015, Soaring to New Heights
Author visit, with Author and Instructor (Writing for Children), Nancy Polette May 2015
Author visit at Troy Buchannan HS March 2015
Scholastic Book Fair, St. Charles, Missouri December 2014
Scholastic Book Fair, Fenton, Missouri December 2014
Scholastic Book Fair, Columbia, Missouri December 2014
Saturday Writers presentation on writing and marketing a picture book, June 2014, St. Peters MO
Lakeview Elementary School, O'Fallon, MO in April 2014
With Kim Piddington, Missouri SCBWI Regional Advisor, at the Missouri Association of School Librarians convention in St. Louis, April
Indiana SCBWI Spring conference April 2014
Chesterfield, MO children's writers group at Christmas 2013
scholastic Warehouse Book Signing December 7, 2013
At Main Street Books with owner, Vickie Erwin November 30th
B&N with authors Mike Force, Chris DiGiuseppi, and Valerie Battle Kienzle November 22nd
Local Author Open House at MK Library in O'Fallon, November 21st
Carlin Park Elementary School Angola, IN
Sherwood School Scholastic Book Fair in Arnold, MO
ICD Scholastic Book Fair with students--Immaculate Conception Dardenne Prairie, MO
Peggy with children's author Karen Guccione-Englert at the MK Library Local Authors Open House in O'Fallon, MO
Book signing at Indianapolis Fairgrounds, with Mary Igras
Author Visit to Immaculate Conception School (ICD) April 2012
ICD library staff
Edison Elementary School Hammond IN
Lincoln Elementary School Hammond IN
Beta Delta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, Hammond IN
Heather Alexander, editor at Dial Books for Young Readers
Quinlan Lee, agent, Adams Literary Agency
Suzanne Morgan Williams, author of BULL RIDER
Kids Ink Independent Children's Bookstore, downtown Indianapolis
Shirley Mullin, bookstore owner, with children's authors Janna Mathies, Peggy, and Nathan Clement
Thank You cards from Holy Family School in South Bend
Fieler Elementary students
Ms Hanneman's class at Northview Elementary
In the classroom at Northview Elementary School
Talking to students at Northview Elementary
Working together to create a poem in Starke County
Talking with students at Starke County
Author Judy Roth and students at the Starke County Young Artists Day
Booksigning at B&N Bookfair
Anderson's Children's Literature Breakfast, with author and keynote speaker Tim Green
friendly staff at The Bookstore
Author Book Signing
Butler University Chorus entertains with Christmas Carols
Turkey for Thanksgiving?
Stuffee and the author
November: Picture Book Idea Month
Author Panel: the Road to Publishing--Kathryn Page Camp moderating
Kate Collins: adult trade publishing, mysteries
Peggy Archer: children's trade publishing, picture books
Katherine Flotz: self-publishing, memoir
Michael Poore: adult trade publishing, fiction
Cynthia Echterling: e-publishing & small press, science fiction
Author visit to Portage Public Library, October 23rd
Esther Hershenhorn talks about the Reader's story and the Writer's story
Esther shares resources, experience, and opportunities
Trish Batey, Indiana RA
Yellow paper on your back gave a hint of 'What author are you?' for the day
Peggy Archer gives an overview of the 2010 SCBWI conference in LA
Karen Kulinski gives an update on Indiana's HoosierLinks
Janna Mathies at the piano sings "Why It Matters" by Sara Groves
IN SCBWI steering committee with Trish: (L to R) Karen Kulinski, HoosierLinks, Kristi Valiant, Website Coordinator, Alina Klein, Listserv Coordinator, Peggy, ARA (not pictured: Sharon Vargo, Illustrator Coordinator)
New Regional Advisor, Kristi Valiant, talks about plans for 2011
Indiana SCBWI: Outgoing RA Trish Batey, ARA Peggy Archer, Incoming RA Kristi Valiant
Visiting with author/illustrator Nathan Clement and son Theo at the ROAR author event
Autographing for a young reader
Story Time at ROAR's (Reach Out and Read) Evening With the Authors Event in Indianapolis
Reading to young bankers at Citizens Financial Bank in Valparaiso
Some of the crowd at the SCBWI conference in LA
Ashley Bryan, Golden Kite winner for Nonfiction
with Keynote speaker and Golden Kite winner, Marion Dane Bauer
Illustrator and Keynote speaker, Loren Long
E.B. Lewis, Keynote speaker
with Keynote speaker, Gennifer Choldenke
Keynote speaker, Gordon Korman
Chris Cheng, Australia RA and SCBWI Member of the Year
Kris Vreeland, Independent Bookstore manager, Vroman's Bookstore
Eva Mitnick, LA librarian and reviewer for SLJ
Greg Pinkus and Alice Pope on networking
with Lin Oliver, co-founder of SCBWI
Steve Mooser, co-founder of SCBWI, with Sally Crock RAE
Indiana SCBWI members Mary Jo, Shannon, and Peggy celebrate in LA with Heart and Soul.
East and Midwest members celebrate at the Golden Kite Luncheon in LA--Peggy, Courtney, Julia and Mary Jo.
Peggy with Alice and Lisa, co-RAs from IL--friends and roommates
Linda V., formerly of Indiana, with her 'dog-in-training,' Dusty.
Anyone for Literary Bingo?
This is the cornfield just down the street from my house on July 13th. That's me with the boot on my foot again!
Local Authors Day, Valparaiso B&N
Welcome to the Young Artists Fair in Plainfield, IN
Signing books at Van Buren Elementary School in Plainfield, IN
Happy Birthday, Name That Dog!
Little reader loving that dog book!
Celebrating the Book Launch!
Doggy treats at the book launch party
With Jocelyn at the Porter County Expo Center for the Be Kind to Animals Celebration
Speaking to readers and writers at the LaPorte County Public Library in April
Our new grandpuppy, Dudley!
The new Mr. and Mrs. Biggs!
Trish Batey, Indiana SCBWI RA, Stephen Roxburg, Lisa Graff, Helen Frost, Peggy Archer, Indiana SCBWI ARA
Stephen Roxburg, Publisher of namelos, talked about writing the YA novel, the current state of publishing, and his new company, namelos
Lisa Graff, Middle Grade author, talks about writing the middle grade novel and the Slush Pile
Lisa autographs books with a smile
Introducing Helen Frost, YA author and poet
Question and Answer panel--Lisa, Stephen, and Helen
Registration, getting to know you
Schmoozing with other writers
Trish with author, Valiska Gregory
Books for sale--writers can never have too many!
Taking it all in.
Afternoon Tea with the author in Mitchell
Alexis talks about storytime for the very young
My little corner--I love when students come up to talk.
HOW many dogs do you have?!
Authors of the day
Keynote address: Growing an Author with Peggy Archer
Making a book with Katie Mitschelen
Research--detective work, with Peggy Miller
Crafting a poem with Mary Ann Moore
Becoming an artist with Edwin Shelton
Music with the Band
One small hand holding onto another
Name That Dog! Sharing F&G's and write-up in Dial's catalog with group.
Writers Christmas lunch and meeting in Michigan City
Meeting up with Esther and Karen in Chicago
Name That Dog! ISBN: 978-0-8037-3322-0
Writing friends from the beginning!
Drawing a turkey at Hussey-Mayfield Public Library-- Zionsville, IN
Autographs at Hussey-Mayfield Library, Zionsville
"Who likes to eat turkey at Thanksgiving?" --Morton Elementary School, Hammond, IN
Thank you cards from Morton Elementary students
Reading to my grandson's pre-school class at Zion Lutheran School-- Bethalto, IL
Family Book Basket
Courtney Bongiolatti, Editor S&S
Laurent Linn, Art Director S&S
Terry Harshman, Editor CBHI
Author-Illustrators, Kristi Valiant and Sharon Vargo
Kristi Valiant, IN-SCBWI logo winner
Our volunteer crew (minus a few)
author Katie Mitschelen and Peggy enjoying the conference
Janine Harrison, opening remarks
Sharon Palmeri, President IWC and speaker
Kathryn Page Camp speaks on Taxes for Writers
Kate Collins, mystery book author and Keynote speaker
Gordon Stamper, secretary IWC
Peggy, Sally, and Karen--writing friends enjoying the dinner event together
Autographs with a smile :)
Smokies in the morning
Smile and say 'author'!
Ready to start!
Sara Grant, Editor, Working Partners
One on one with Sara
Author and Editor...
Getting to know you...
Sharing thoughts... connecting
Our Kentucky friends...
Trish, RA, Peggy, ARA, Christi and Alina, steering committee members
Picture book author, April Pulley Sayre, speaking in South Bend.
Esther and Heidi
Esther with Steve and Sally from National SCBWI
Heidi and Peggy, friends and poets
We came from Indiana...
...from California and Iowa
and enjoyed the friendships.
Peggy, Karen & Esther--connecting once again.
Critique group gathering at Peggy Miller's house. Karen, Fred, Mary Ann, Katie, Judy, & the two Peggy's in front.
Our daughter, Sarah & our son, Dan both sang original songs at the Porter County Fair in the Colgate Country Showdown.
From Fort Wayne to Whiting, we gathered to talk & gain some bit of insight into the world of creating children's books.
Enjoying the company of other children's writers & illustrators.
Meeting other children's writers.
Smiles were free.
Peggy Archer talks about trade publishers.
Judy Roth talks about working with a small publisher.
Karen Kulinski talks about working with an agent.
Karen fielding questions.
Peggy with the Cat in the Hat
Katie and the Cat in the Hat
I won a collection of autographed books from the IL SCBWI (Society of Children's Writers & llustrators) booth at ALA for the Valparaiso Public Library. An awesome prize! Thank you IL SCBWI!
Peggy, presenting books won at ALA to Connie Sullivan, Branch Manager and Leslie Cefali, Youth Services Assistant, Valparaiso Public Library.
March 16, 2016
Spring is on the way—the signs are all around us! The grass is getting green again, daffodils and hyacinths are blooming. Birds are singing! You can’t miss the signs.
But sometimes the signs are not quite as visible. A late winter snow storm or some cold winds might hide them.
Like looking for spring in March, as writers we sometimes look for a sign to let us know that we’re on the right track. A sign to show us that we should keep going! Or a sign that tells us where to go next. The signs are there, but sometimes we have to look a little harder, and believe a little more, to see them.
As a new writer I wondered if I was wasting my time writing stories for children. Was I really any good? Or was I just kidding myself. So far I had kept my writing life a secret between myself and my husband. One day I picked up a copy of the Writers Market Book at the library. As soon as I took it to the check-out desk, my secret was out! The librarian happened to be a writer, and invited me to a writers' critique meeting—sign #1
As uncomfortable as I was sharing my writing with strangers, I went to the meeting. I made lifelong friends and got lots of encouragement there—sign #2
. I started to submit my work to children’s magazines and had a poem and a short story accepted.
Sometimes even rejection can be a sign! A sign to get out of my comfort zone and move ahead. I had written a short story that I loved. I sent it to every children’s magazine I could find, and they all
rejected it! But I still believed in it—sign #3
. I sent it to Little Golden Books—and they liked it. One of the Family was my first published picture book.
Do you need a sign?
Like Peter Pan or Winnie the Pooh, sometimes you just have to believe in yourself a little more to see it.
2016 is Leap Year—is this your sign?
Is this the year for you to take that ‘leap’ and really sit down to write your poem, short story, picture book or novel for young readers? Do you have stories already written? Maybe you’ll leap forward and join a critique group to get feedback from other children’s writers! Check your local library, or your local chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators)
for critique groups for children’s writers.
‘Spring Ahead’—is this your sign?
Spring is just around the corner. Last week-end those of us on daylight savings time had to set our clocks forward one hour. It was time to ‘Spring Ahead!’
Have you revised until you’re satisfied that your manuscript is the best that it can be, and are you waiting for a sign that says ‘This manuscript is ready! Send it in!’? Check out the publishers online, both magazine and book publishers, and get it out there. If you’re a member of SCBWI, check out the SCBWI Work-in-Progress awards
and submit your manuscript. You’ve nothing to lose! Just make sure that you get it in before March 31st.
Are you a poet? Lucky you, April is National Poetry Month!
Is this your sign?
For lots of information, inspiration, and writing challenges check out Angie Karcher’s blog for RhyPiBoMO, Rhyming Picture Book Month
. Read the daily blog posts by authors, editors and agents about rhyme and rhyming picture books. Follow the links to even more poetry fun.
Next check out the Reading Rockets website
for video interviews with children’s poets, booklists, books on poetry, activities and more.
In June SCBWI Missouri celebrates ‘Critique Across Missouri.’
Members will be hosting critique groups at different locations across the state. Non-members are welcome, too! Keep your eye on the SCBWI Missouri website
for upcoming information and locations.
So Here’s Your Sign!
Wherever you are in your writing, just take a leap and spring forward!
November 25, 2015
This year, as always, I’m most thankful for my family—my husband, my kids and extended family, too. I’m also thankful for friends—friends through the years of growing up (past and present), friends I’ve met through writing and through church. Some years I have other special things to be thankful for, and this is one of them.
Here are some special moments in my writing journey
to be thankful for this year.
I’m very excited today to share my news that my picture book TOAD IN THE ROAD
will be published by Schwartz & Wade
(a division of Random House)! I’ve been sitting on this news for awhile, just waiting to be sure that it wasn’t going to ‘go away!’ You won’t see the book in bookstores for a couple of years yet, but it’s definitely coming! So I’m thankful for Anne Schwartz and for Anne Kelly at Schwartz & Wade who share my excitement and my vision for TOAD.
Last month I signed with agent Kirsten Hall
of Catbird Agency
! Kirsten is a children’s author, former editor of children’s books, as well as a picture book agent. We met at the Missouri SCBWI Fall conference
at the end of September. After talking with her at the conference and later on the phone, I knew she would be a great agent for me, and we’re off to a good start! So I’m thankful for SCBWI, and for Kirsten, who has already been a blessing.
In October I talked about the SCBWI
Work-in-Progress awards, and how TOAD IN THE ROAD won the award for picture book text—another thankful moment this year for my writing!
This year I have two board books that were published by Highlights for Children’s Let’s Grow book club
for toddlers age 0 to 2 years. They are WHEELS GO ‘ROUND and A DAY AT THE ZOO. I’m thankful for editor Susan Hood
who worked with me, and for Highlights for publishing my books—my first board books for children.
I’m also thankful for the author visits
that I’ve had this year, visiting schools and events for children’s writers.
I want to add that these things did not happen without quite a bit of work and study
over many years. In this year, I attended two small writing events and one major conference for children’s writers, one online conference and four webinars, and five local author events. I chose events that were for or by children’s writers, some where I would be able to submit my work to editors or agents following the event.
I participate in two critique groups every month with other children’s writers (unless I’m out of town). At these meetings we read each other’s manuscripts and give and receive valuable input on our writing and story. I also keep in touch with a group of writing friends from Indiana, and we sometimes critique each other’s manuscripts—and receive more valuable input. I also do volunteer work for Missouri SCBWI. So it’s very exciting when things come together and we have those great moments in writing!
And I’m thankful for those of you here, who read and share my thoughts on writing for children, and who share my good news. Thank you for visiting, and coming back! I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving Day
, but mostly I hope you have lots to be thankful for.
October 11, 2015
A teeny-tiny toad in my 8-year old grandson's hand
The Work-in-Progress awards
are given by the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) to assist children’s book writers and illustrators in the publication of a specific project currently not under contract, and they are awarded in several categories. SCBWI recently announced this year’s winners. They are—
Young Adult Fiction
by Erin Stewart
: Tomboy: The Daring Life of Blanche Stuart Scott
by Donna Janell Bowman
Multicultural Fiction or Nonfiction
: Walking on a Tightrope
by Suma Subramaniam
Picture Book Text
: Toad in the Road
by Peggy Archer
Middle Grade Fiction
: Chasing Gold
by Beth Cahn
Chapter Books/Early Fiction
: Haunted Key Mystery: Help! I’m Haunted
by Lorrie-Ann Melnick
The Don Freeman Illustration Grant
: Jacob Grant
: Corinna Luyken
I’m on top of the world because my picture book, TOAD IN THE ROAD, won the award for picture book text. I’m more used to rejections and close calls, than winning, and I was completely caught off guard! So I’m super excited.
The award helps by putting the winning manuscripts in front of editors, thus eliminating the agony of submissions and finding that so many publishers of children’s books are closed to unsolicited manuscripts. No guarantees of acceptance, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
My journey with TOAD began when my husband and I were walking one morning at Quail Ridge Park. It was a quiet morning, and it had rained the night before. As we walked past a wooded area, a little toad sat in the middle of our path. Like many writers, my mind goes off on tangents sometimes, and I started thinking, ‘in the middle of a puddle in the middle of the path….’
As the day went on I started playing with the words in my head until I had to stop and write it down. It came to me in rhyme, and the verse wasn’t coming together very well yet. I was also working on something else at the time. So I put my ‘toad story’ aside. For about a year...
That’s when were walking again at Quail Ridge Park, this time with our 8 year old grandson. He wanted to go off the paved path onto a dirt trail and, of course, we did. It wasn’t long before we discovered hundreds of tiny toads on the trail! My story of the ‘toad in the road’ came rushing back to me, and later that day I got it out from my files and worked with renewed inspiration.
I enjoy writing poetry, and I have two poetry collections published, but TOAD IN THE ROAD is the first picture book that I’ve written in verse. I had lots of fun with the words and toad’s journey, but writing really good verse with really good rhythm is not easy! It took lots of revision, and writing some of the verses over and over. Then making sure it flowed—from beginning and middle to the end. My critique groups liked it, and they offered some very helpful comments.
Finally I finished writing the story, and topped it off with some ‘toad facts’ at the end. Researching the facts about small toads was interesting and fun. I hope that somewhere an editor will connect with my story and want to publish it.
You Can’t Win if You Don’t Try!
Just so you know, this wasn’t the first time that I submitted a manuscript for the WIP grants. I’ve sent a manuscript in several times, and didn’t win. But it was good practice. And I found that there are other perks of submitting besides winning.
The year that I submitted “The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving Day Feast,” I received an email from one of the judges following the contest, who just happened to be an editor. She invited me to submit my manuscript to her at her publishing house! That editor eventually rejected it, but it boosted my confidence, and TURKEY SURPRISE was later accepted by an editor at Dial.
I submitted FROM DAWN TO DREAMS another year. It didn’t win, but it received a Letter of Merit from SCBWI, and my poetry collection was later published by Candlewick.
So if you’re a member of SCBWI and working on a manuscript that you’re passionate about, start getting it ready to submit in 2016! Write your story, take it to your critique group for their input, and revise your heart away until it’s as good as you can make it! Submissions for 2016 will be accepted starting March 1st. Check the SCBWI website
for more information.
You can read more about the awards and the winning entries by clicking here
or below the SCBWI logo on the left.
September 23, 2014
What’s Your Post Conference Plan?
2014 Seeds of Success Missouri Fall Conference
You attended that conference for children’s writers and now you’re really pumped! Your head is spinning with ways to revise that work-in-progress so it’s the award-winning picture book you’ve dreamed of. Attending the conference has opened doors to new places to submit your finished manuscripts, and sparked new ideas. And you’ve connected with some wonderful writers who were also at the conference.
Don’t let that drive get away! Here are some things to do to keep the ball rolling long after the conference is over.
Hopefully you’ve taken good notes from the sessions that you attended. Now
is the time to type them up, before the thought gets away from you, before you can’t remember what you meant by that scribble that you wrote down.
As you’re typing, you’re also going over all the great tips and advice that you received from the speakers. You’re thinking about how to use what you’ve learned in your own writing.
Don’t forget about those handouts that were passed out! Read or re-read them to keep them fresh in your mind.
Check out the websites or other links that are listed in the handouts. They may be market listings, great blogs to read about the craft of writing, or other helpful writing links.
Were there handouts about any upcoming events for writers that you’d like to attend? Check out the registration deadline and register on time, or before the event fills up.
If you received a manuscript critique at the conference, what suggestions did you get for improving your manuscript? Think about what was said, then revise while it’s still fresh in your mind.
Were there editors at the conference who are open to receiving manuscripts? Read their handout, and check out their website. What genres are they interested in receiving? If your manuscript fits what they’re looking for, is it ready for submission? If not, take the time to work on it now in order to submit it before that window of opportunity closes. Revise your manuscript, then take it to your critique group for their input before sending it out. Be sure to follow the guidelines given by the editor, and send it before the deadline!
If you’re looking for an agent and there was an agent at the conference, follow the same guide as for editors. Read their handout and check their website. Do they represent the type of manuscript that you write? Make your manuscript as perfect as possible before sending it to them. Follow their guidelines, and send it before the deadline.
Did you make a personal connection with an editor or agent at the conference? Was there an author who spoke or another speaker who offered advice that made a special connection to you in your writing? If so, think about sending a personal note to thank them.
Other conference attendees—
Part of the fun, and the benefit, of going to a conference is mingling and meeting other writers. There may be ‘old’ friends who you only see at writers’ events, but there are sure to be new people that you met as well. In this age of social media, it’s easy to follow up or keep in touch with other writers. Visit their websites or blogs. Check out who’s on facebook, twitter, or other social media sites.
Finally, did something spark a new idea in your mind? I always come away with new ideas-- it could be an idea for a new story, or a different way to revise something I've already started, or maybe it's something about marketing or author visits. If you’re like me, you need to write those ideas down, now
! Before you forget them!
I attended the SCBWI conference in Missouri a week and a half ago. I’ve gotten some of my post-conference goals accomplished, and I’m working on the rest of them now. I hope to have some tips from the speakers ready to post soon!
August 6, 2014
Missouri Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators has something for everyone! Whether you're new to writing or illustrating children's books or a published author or illustrator, if you write picture books, middle grade novels, or young adult novels, or if your interest is in illustrating children's books, this is the place for you on September 6th and 7th!
Missouri SCBWI Fall Conference: Seeds of Success
Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators conference
Saturday, September 6th—8:00 am to 9:30 pm
Sunday, September 7th—8:30 am to 11:30 am
Lindenwood University, Spellman Center
209 N. Kingshighway Street - St. Charles, Missouri 63302
Last Day to register: August 20, 2014!
Krista Marino—Editor at Delacorte (YA and MG)
Deborah Halverson—freelance editor, author, writing instructor
Guiseppe Castellano—Art director at Penguin group
Steve Sheinkin—NF Author
Nancy Polette—Author (on writing biographies for children)
Debbie Gonzales—Curriculum Specialist
for authors—First 5 Lines
for illustrators—postcard evaluations
1—Deborah Halverson: How to Build Your Own Teenager: Techniques for Writing Believable MG/YA Characters
2— Debbie Gonzales: The Anatomy of a Teacher’s guide: A Hands On Approach to CCSS Project Creation
3— Jodell Sadler: Ten Tips Workshop for Writing Your Heart into Picture Books
4— Guiseppe Castallano: A Conversation with an Art Director
July 7, 2014
My special guest this week is Kim Piddington
, author of middle grade (MG) fiction, and the current Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI)
in Missouri. Kim is a great promoter of reading, writing, and children’s literature. She has served on the executive board of the Missouri Center for the Book
, is a National Writing Project Teacher consultant, and is on the executive board of the Language Arts Department of Southwest Missouri (LAD)
which holds one of the largest and longest running writing contests for children.
Welcome, Kim! You are such an active participant in promoting reading and writing for both children and adults, and I appreciate that. Can you tell us what made you want to write for children?
I always wanted to write. I started emulating the authors I was reading when I was in elementary school. I took tons of creative writing courses in college. But no one ever counseled me how to make a living at it. After college, I packed my pencil and notebook away until my inner writer was reawakened by the bNational Writing Project/b (NWP) in 1997.
You have a teaching background. Did teaching influence you to go back to writing?
I think after teaching MG children for 20 years- the MG voice is what is firmly entrenched in my head! I write MG exclusively. I’ve written one historical fiction, one fantasy, and am working on a contemporary fiction.
In California, I taught 7th grade English for 5 years, then I moved to a self-contained 6th grade class (teaching all subjects) for 10. I moved to Missouri and finished off by teaching 5th grade English for 5 years. I was writing my first book at that time, and my students would come in at lunch to read my chapters as I finished them. It was very eye opening for me to see what words and concepts they stumbled over.
Do you work on one project at a time or more than one?
More than one.
What are you working on now?
My agent suggested some revisions to my fantasy, so I’m working on those. I also started a contemporary MG to keep me going when I hit the revision wall.
How did you meet your agent, and what do you think helped you to ‘connect’ with her?
I met my agent, Lori Kilkelly
of Rodeen Literary
, at the 2013 SCBWI MO Fall Conference. I had sent in a query, synopsis and the first 5 pages of my fantasy to be critiqued. She really liked it, but I told her it was a work in progress and it wouldn’t be finished for several months. Then she told me she’d checked my webpage and saw that I had a historical fiction manuscript finished. She wanted to read that while I worked on the fantasy. I was actually afraid to send it to her! But thank goodness I did, because she loved it and signed me based on that book.
Moral of the story: personal connections really help and make sure you have a webpage!
How do you feel having an agent benefits you, personally?
I love Lori! She makes me feel like she is my biggest fan. She is positive, a great person to bounce ideas off of, and thanks to her, my manuscript is sitting on the desks of editors at places like Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, etc—places I had no access to without her. She really looks out for her clients—sending us links to writing advice, sending us news tidbits that pertain to the industry, and she even checks on and likes my facebook posts. Did I mention I love her? I feel very lucky!
When, and why, did you join SCBWI?
I used to take my students to a conference that featured great children’s authors every year. In 2010, my historical fiction manuscript had just won first place in the Pike’s Peak Writing Contest, Children’s Category—and I had no idea what to do next. One of the authors there suggested I join SCBWI—so I did. About six months later, Joyce Ragland asked me to be ARA (Assistant Regional Advisor) for SCBWI in Missouri. When she stepped down in 2013, I took over as RA (Regional Advisor).
SCBWI has opened so many doors for me—I’ve traveled to both Los Angeles & New York to attend the national conferences, learned a ton about the craft of writing by attending SCBWI workshops, and met the most fantastic people. And I met my agent at an SCBWI event. I think it’s safe to say I wouldn’t be where I am today as a writer without SCBWI.
I’m a long-time member and great supporter of the Society of Children’s Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). Can you share some reasons why you would recommend membership in SCBWI to other children’s writers and illustrators?
Writing can be lonely—SCBWI offers you an opportunity to meet up with others who have the same goals/dreams as you. They provide top-notch “training” for writers & illustrators via their conferences and workshops. You get the opportunity to have your work critiqued by the best in the business, which could eventually lead to representation. And you meet fantastic, interesting, caring people.
Is SCBWI a good fit for self-published writers as well as traditionally published writers?
SCBWI recently created an annual award specifically for self-published authors. And ANY author can benefit from the craft lessons that are such a big part of every SCBWI event. SCBWI also offers opportunities to network—which is invaluable when you have a book to market.
What are you working on now for Missouri children’s authors and illustrators?
Currently, we are working on the SCBWI Fall Conference
. I’m so excited about our lineup—I really feel we have something for everyone.
In addition, we are working on choosing the finalists for the PB mentorship program with David Harrison, as well as running a scholarship contest for both writers & illustrators that is tied to the fall Conference.
I’m looking forward to the fall conference myself, which features three agents, two editors, several published authors, an art director, two author/illustrators, and a curriculum specialist! There is something for everyone, from picture books to middle grade and young adult. Critique spots are filling up fast, but there is still a chance to snag a critique with an agent, an editor, and a portfolio critique with an art director or author/illustrator!
Kim, you are also a National Writing Project (NWP) Teacher Consultant. What can you tell us about that?
The NWP focuses the knowledge, expertise, and leadership of our nation's educators on sustained efforts to improve writing and learning for all learners. The NWP is a network of sites anchored at colleges and universities and serving teachers across disciplines and at all levels, early childhood through university. We provide professional development, develop resources, generate research, and act on knowledge to improve the teaching of writing and learning in schools and communities.
The National Writing Project
believes that access to high-quality educational experiences is a basic right of all learners and a cornerstone of equity. We work in partnership with institutions, organizations, and communities to develop and sustain leadership for educational improvement. Throughout our work, we value and seek diversity—our own as well as that of our students and their communities—and recognize that practice is strengthened when we incorporate multiple ways of knowing that are informed by culture and experience.
I have been a NWP member for 13 years. It shaped me as teacher, reminded me I was a writer, and gave me the skills (after serving as the Ozark Writing project Youth Coordinator and hosting an annual MG conference for over 500 students for several years) to plan and organize events for SCBWI. I’m still active in this organization and think the work they do is important and inspiring.
You are a member of ALAN (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents) and several local writing groups including the Springfield Writers’ Guild and the Ozarks Writers League. How are these professional organizations important to you as a writer?
All of these organizations help me stay connected to other writers, as well as provide opportunities to get work critiqued, and learn more about the craft of writing. ALAN holds a conference each year at the end of NCTE, which is amazing! Dozens of successful and up & coming YA (young adult) authors in every genre speak either individually or on panels AND you walk away with an amazing box of books that would retail for 5 times what you paid for the conference. One of my “author dreams” is to be invited to speak there some day!
What can you tell us about the other projects/organizations that you are involved in that have to do with writing, children, education, etc.?
I served on the executive board of the Missouri Center for the Book for a brief time. They have a GREAT program- letters about literature- for school children. They also chose which Missouri book will represent the state at the National Book Festival
In addition, I am also on the executive board of LAD which holds one of the largest and longest running writing contests for children. There are over 70 categories, k-12, and they receive over 5,000 entries each year. I love judging- it’s amazing to see the work these students produce.
Outside of writing, what other interests do you have?
I’m married and have two beautiful daughters. One is getting married in the fall and the other is heading off to college—so I’m spending as much time as I can with them now.
I love gardening (weeds sprout overnight in this weather), baking, and traveling. I also have several horses and a passel of dogs & cats—so I spend a lot of time scooping poop!
Thank you so much for sharing some of your writing life with us here, Kim!
Kim lives with her family in Ozark, Missouri. Readers can find out more about Kim on her website
September 6, 2011
Greetings from O’Fallon! It’s been a summer of emptying boxes, finding things and re-discovering other things, and everything else that it takes to move from one state to another. We’re finally settling in, and I’m beginning to make a few connections to the world of children’s books here in Missouri.
My first stop, shortly after moving in, was to the Middendorf-Kredell Library in O’Fallon, where I visited the children’s department and met the librarian and staff there. I’m lucky to be just ten minutes away from this beautiful new branch of the St. Charles Library District.
The O’Fallon children’s librarian gave me the name of the owner of Main Street Books, an independent bookstore in near-by St. Charles. I made a visit to Main Street Books a couple of weeks later, and met Vicki Erwin, bookstore owner and fellow SCBWI member. The warm, cozy atmosphere, like most independent bookstores, feels like family, and I have it on my list to return soon and browse through the stacks. (www.mainstreetbooks.net)
Wherever there’s an SCBWI member, there’s a smiling, friendly person ready to share children’s book-related information. Vicki gave me the link to the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance. I was amazed at the number of independent bookstore in the St. Louis area. Checking their schedule of events, I found that several children‘s authors were on the books doing author appearances at various stores, including Jarrett Krosoczka (the LUNCH LADY graphic novel series), author/illustrator Peter Brown (CHILDREN MAKE TERRIBLE PETS and YOU WILL BE MY FRIEND!), and Jack Gantos (JOEY PIGZA and ROTTEN RALPH). My calendar is filling up quickly! (www.stlindiebook.com)
I enjoy doing author visits to schools and libraries, as well as visits to bookstores. I stopped at the Mid Rivers Barnes & Noble bookstore in St. Peters, where my son’s family lives, and met Shelly, who schedules the activities there. I just added an author story time and a book signing to my calendar during Educators Week on October 22nd. My daughter’s family recently moved from north of St. Louis to Fenton. I contacted the South Roxana Library where they visited before they moved, and offered to sign copies of my books. I'm looking forward to doing an author visit there sometime in the next several months.
Of course, the one place that I KNOW will connect me to other children’s writers no matter what state I’m in is SCBWI (http://www.scbwi.org ). I’ve registered for the Missouri SCBWI fall conference (http://moscbwi.org/Home_Page.html) on November 5th in St. Charles, which is just a hop over from O’Fallon. I’m looking forward to meeting an editor, an agent, and of course other children’s authors and illustrators.
I’m beginning to warm up to this new home state of Missouri. No pun intended (or maybe so), since except for the past few days, the temps have been in the 90’s and 100’s ever since we moved here!
May 19, 2011
Book sale volunteers, from right: Peggy and Katie, with children's book browsers
Getting published in the children’s field is often a long, hard journey. So it’s good to have a plan. While you wait for that acceptance, here are some things that you can do to help move you closer to your goal.
1—Read children’s books
Read to find out what children are reading. Read to see what publishers are buying. Read to learn how to write. Read the type of books that you want to write, but read other genres, too. And don’t forget children’s magazines. Get to know your children’s librarian and the children’s book coordinator at your local bookstore. They can tell you what they like. They can tell you what kinds of books they want more of. And they’ll be rooting for you when you get your first book published!
2—Read about writing for children
There are books on craft, books on marketing, and books about the children’s publishing business. There are books about how to write for children, from picture books to YA and everything else in between. Gather tips from authors and editors by reading magazines and newsletters for children’s writers. The Children’s Writer and Children’s Book Insider, are excellent examples. Writers’ Digest magazine occasionally prints a special issue about writing for children, and Publishers’ Weekly has two issues per year about children’s books.
3—Check out websites for children’s writers
Many good websites offer articles about the children’s publishing business and writing for children, as well as current marketing news. Be sure to check when the site was last updated, and the credibility of the website’s author. Check out authors’ websites and blogs, and discussion boards for children’s writers.
4—Research the market
Read children’s books to see what’s being published. Check out the current Children’s Writers & Illustrators Market Book, which is updated every year. Keep up with the trends and markets by reading magazines and newsletters, specifically those for children’s writers.
5—Submit to magazines
A good way to feel instant gratification is to get something out in the mail. Stories, puzzles, or jokes for magazines are shorter, and take less time to write. Children’s magazines are usually quicker to respond. Rejections may pile up, but they also show that you’re writing. And acceptances help your writing credits, validate your writing, and boost your enthusiasm.
6—Join a critique group
Writing is a lonely profession. Critique groups keep you in touch with other children’s writers. In a critique group you can get feedback on your writing, get a push to get something finished, and share marketing news, writing experiences, and good news. If possible, join a group of children’s writers. The process of writing for children is different than writing for adults, and feedback from writers who write only for adults can sometimes be off the mark.
7—Join the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI)
SCBWI is the only international organization for children’s writers and illustrators. It opens up many excellent opportunities, such as grants, and conferences. SCBWI provides more information than you can get from any other source, and includes the bi-monthly SCBWI Bulletin, the yearly updated market survey, and many other publications. It offers opportunities to connect with children’s authors and editors from around the globe.
8—Attend conferences and events related to writing for children
Choose your conferences carefully. Attend those that are specifically geared for children’s writers. Networking with other children’s writers, both published and to-be-published, meeting editors of children’s books and magazines, and opening up markets for your manuscript that are otherwise closed to submissions are benefits in addition to the information gained from speakers’ presentations and handouts.
9—Find opportunities to attend other local events related to children’s books and writing
In addition to conferences, find out when children’s authors will be speaking at libraries and schools in your area, and plan to attend. If you speak to a school librarian ahead of time and explain that you are a children’s writer, they are usually happy to let you sit in on an author’s presentation. If a national event such as Book Expo or an ALA event is planned in your area, don’t miss the opportunity to attend.
10—Enter contests and apply for grants
You won’t get published if you don’t submit, and you won’t win if you don’t try! Besides the possibility of winning a contest or being awarded a grant, there are some hidden benefits. Getting something completed within a deadline, gathering tips on what editors and judges are looking for and tips on ways to promote your work are obvious. But earning a letter of merit, or placing in a contest is something you can put in a cover letter. And you never know when one of the judges, perhaps an editor, might take an interest in your manuscript and ask for your submission!
11—Set realistic goals
Begin with a goal that you can accomplish. Once you’ve reached that goal, re-evaluate and set higher goals. Starting with small, attainable goals will give you a sense of accomplishment rather than a feeling of failure. Re-evaluating and setting higher goals along the way will give you a push to keep moving forward. When you reach a goal, reward yourself with a small treat—a piece of candy, an outing, time to yourself or with friends.
Check with your library, your child’s school, and in your community to find opportunities to help with events where you will be surrounded by children and children’s books. Go a step further and volunteer to help with events planned by your local SCBWI. Besides the good feeling you get from helping others, and the vast writing material you get from working with children, you never know who you might meet that will help you along the way in your career as a children’s author or illustrator.
The following puzzle describes all of us who write for children:
No matter what stage we’re at in our quest to be a part of the children’s book world, we are always a Work in Progress!
January 6, 2011
Is it 2011 already?! I'm still catching up with 2010!
It seems like my New Year's resolutions never change. At least not very much. I fall short of my goals. But each new year I start over. Some recurring resolutions include:
Read all of my newsletters as soon as I get them
Read more blogs, author sites, etc.
Update my wesite more often and more fully
But maybe I should look a little closer at what I DID accomplish last year. Some things were:
Read a few books.
Wrote a few first drafts and revisions.
Submitted and had a poem published in Humpty Dumpty magazine.
Eventually read all of my newsletters.
Kept up with my weekly blog, most of the year.
And things accomplished, not on my list of new year's resolutions:
Joined Verla Kay's message board
Signed up for google analytics
Joined the speakers directory on SCBWI
Made a speakers video for the SCBWI directory (still waiting for that to be added)
Joined twitter (I don't know if I'll ever post there, but I'm on!)
Had my first Book Launch Party!
Did numerous author visits since NAME THAT DOG! was released in April
Attended the National SCBWI conference in LA (WOW!)
Signed up on GoodReads and posted my first book reviews.
Had my first online author interview on Janet Fox's website (http://bit.ly/9h0zPI), and again on the IWC website (http://www.indianawritersconsortium.org/).
Changed email service (a big job)
Our 6th grandchild came along!
Our daughter's wedding!
Branson with my sister and her husband
Las Vegas for the first time
Looking back over all that I DID acomplish is inspiring! So look out 2011! I'll be seeing you there.
October 13, 2010
On Saturday Indiana SCBWI hosted Esther Hershenhorn, who talked to us about ‘Getting Your Stories (plural) Right.’ The Character was Esther herself, former Regional Advisor for Illinois SCBWI and current board member for SCBWI, award-winning author, speaker, and writing coach. The setting was the beautiful Benton House in Indianapolis, IN. The Plot…
Esther talked about the two stories you tell as an author: the story you have to tell your readers, and the story you’re living as a writer. These stories need to intersect meaningfully.
There are 3 elements of story: character, setting and plot. Of these, Character is everything!
Get to know your character. Ask yourself ‘What’s on his iPod?’
You need to know two things that about your characters (yourself and your story character): what your character wants (the physical plotline), and why he wants it (the emotional plotline).
Ask yourself: Why do you write for children? What do you want out of it?
II Setting—When and Where?
You live in the character’s book world, but you also need to stay current in the children’s publishing world. Learn from others, through libraries, book sellers, teachers, editors and others. Read children’s literature. Keep a reader’s journal. Write down the books you read.
Plot is characters in action, overcoming obstacles, by cunning and craft. Events are linked by causation. Things happen for a reason. Every scene, every character, etc., matters.
Esther’s description of plot, put simply, is:
Oh—Oh, my!—Oh, dear!—Oh, no!—Oh, yes!
In story, there must be action. The character must act against an obstacle. Then he re-acts with accompanying emotion. This is the emotional plot line.
Your plot as a writer asks three questions:
What do you want?
Why do you want it?
How do you get it?
In conclusion: Write from who you are. Write true to yourself.
Finally: Never throw out the beginning pages of your writing—it’s where the heart of your story is.
More on the ‘rest of the day’ later!
September 3, 2010
Attending a conference for children’s writers and illustrators has more perks than you might imagine. It’s about talking to people who you know and also to those you don’t know. Here are some of the extra perks that I got when I attended the SCBWI conference in LA that didn’t come from the conference itself.
--was able to put faces to names from the listservs I belong to for children's writers
--re-connected with old friends
--met new friends
--met new and re-connected with other SCBWI members from Indiana
--met the manager of the children’s department of the largest independent bookstore who knew my books without my showing them to her
--met some great people from Japan and Australia and other countries
--shared the flight out to LA with another author/conference attendee who I’d just met, and shared websites to look at and books to read, and made a new friend
--shared a room with two of the best roommates at the conference
--met lots of dog-loving, book-loving people
--met a librarian who also does reviews for SLJ
--met Verla Kay of the Verla Kay message board for children’s writers, and got an informal personal guide to working my way around the message board from her
--met Alice Pope of the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market book, and now the head of the SCBWI Team Blog
--sat next to an editor who gave me his card after looking at my picture book
--talked with Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser, founders of SCBWI
--got to tour the SCBWI offices
--shared some birthday cake for another author
--got tips on networking and school visits from other authors
--got to see the ocean, the beach, the big city buildings, and the mountains all in one view
--got a head shot, video shoot, and a website consultation
--got more websites to look at
--got tips on holding conferences and events
--got tips on promoting my book from other authors
--was able to purchase books personally autographed by the author or illustrator
--was able to sell and autograph my books along with other PAL published authors on Friday evening
--got a special gift for someone special
--sat in a whirlpool tub and talked about writing
--attended the Heart and Soul celebration with the best costumes ever
--shared illustrations for our books with another author at the airport
--had some great meals that I didn’t have to cook
--met a man from Hawaii at the airport whose wife is a teacher
--enjoyed meeting a woman from Texas and her granddaughter at the hotel when my flight was delayed another day, and shared e-mail information
--met a young lady who was traveling to Ireland on her birthday
--laughed a lot and had fun
--was totally inspired by everyone that I met and saw there
The next time you are trying to decide whether to attend a conference for children's authors and illustrators, keep in mind the perks that are waiting for you along with the information that you'll get from the conference itself.
August 13, 2010
I returned from the SCBWI National conference in LA last week and am beginning to get my mind back. What a conference! With over 1,100 attendees, it was a wonderful meeting of other children's writers, editors, booksellers, librarians and others in children's publishing. It was also an update on the business of children's books, inspirational, and as always, a place to learn and improve your craft. I especially enjoyed meeting new people, seeing old friends, and sharing ideas and friendship with other Regional Advisors and Assistant Regional Advisors.
Read on-going highlights posted during the conference on the SCBWI Team Blog, led by Alice Pope at: http://scbwiconference.blogspot.com/
One of the highlights of the week was attending the Golden Kite Awards Luncheon on Sunday. The acceptance speeches were humbling and inspiring.
It began with Paul Fleishman presenting the award for humor, named for his father, children's author Sid Fleishman, who passed away early this year. The recipient was Alan Zadoff for his book, "Food, Girls and Other Things I Can't Have." Qualities that merit the award besides humor are depth, substance, and heart.
If you ever have the opportunity to hear Ashley Bryan speak, you will never again read poetry the same way. He ended his acceptance of the award for non-fiction by reciting a poem by Eloise Greenfield.
Accepting the award for picture book text, Marion Dane Bauer talked about the poetic language of a picture book. After which John Parra spoke about the illustration half of the book when he received the award for picture book illustration.
Julia Durango, our neighbor from the wonderful SCBWI group in Illinois, received the award for fiction and gave a heart-warming speech during which she said that she puts secret messages to her sons into her books.
Although honor recipients were not presented at the conference, it's worth noting here that our own Indiana SCBWI author, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, received the Golden Kite Honor award for fiction for her wonderful picture book, Bella and Bean.
Christopher Cheng, from the Australia chapter of SCBWI, was named SCBWI Member of the Year, and it couldn't have gone to a more deserving person.
Golden Kite Recipients:
Fiction: Julia Durango for "Sea of the Dead," S&S
Non-Fiction: Ashley Bryan for "Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song," Atheneum
Picture Book Text: Marion Dane Bauer for "The Longest Night," Holiday House
Picture Book Illustration: John Parra for "Gracias Thanks," Lee & Low Books
Link to award recipients: http://www.scbwi.org/Pages.aspx/Golden-Kite-Award-Recipients
Congratulations to all!
More conference notes to come!
July 27, 2010
It's been a hot summer here in northwest Indiana, but the weather was perfect for sitting outside under the shelter at the Indiana Writers' Consortium picnic two Saturdays ago.
There was a Children's Corner for the kids, with activities planned by Janine Harrison, Karen Kulinski, and myself, ending with a game of Find That Dog!
For the adults there were games of Literary Bingo, a scavenger hunt, and a white elephant auction. I was intrigued by the package with the clue "Poetry in Motion," and was the highest bidder, netting me a pedometer! Other packages revealed an autographed picture book, markers, pens, notepads, a jar of inspiration, more books, and other things writers appreciate.
It's always a great time when writers get together.
I'll be on my way to LA tomorrow morning to attend the national SCBWI conference for children's writers and illustrators. I can't wait! It will be my first time to LA as well as my first SCBWI conference in LA. I will report about it here next week!
My 'boot' is off and I'm walking with two feet again! I've been trying to balance getting things squared away here at home before I leave, and keeping up with blogs and writing. Hence the combined blog posts for this week and last. Next week's blog post will likely be at the end of the week.
Have a wonderful end of July, and I'll see you here in August!
July 8, 2010
It's hot. Everywhere! Is anyone getting anything done?!
The Fourth of July holiday made me think about the word 'United' as in 'United States' or 'United under God.' And as my mind trailed off, I thought of how children's writers and illustrators unite and connect with each other. What we have in common brings us together. Our love of good books. Our connectivity with children. One of the best places for children's writers or illustrators to be united is through SCBWI,the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. It's a place to find each other. That perfect critique group, the author who says just the right thing to motivate or send us in the right direction, or that editor who is looking for just the story we've written.
Children's writers are very generous people. They share information, marketing tips and updates, opportunities for children's writers. They want the rest of us to succeed, too!
Maybe on this holiday we might stop and think about what our own part is here. So in honor of Independence Day, let's each share one bit of helpful information with another children's writer or illustrator this week. It's sure to come back to us many times over.
May 21, 2010
Focus on the Novel, the Indiana SCBWI Spring Conference for children's writers, took place at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond this past Friday evening and Saturday. An inspiring week-end was spent with speakers Stephen Roxburg, founder and publisher of namelos, and Lisa Graff, middle grade author and former editor at FSG. (more…)
February 25, 2010
On my list of things to do is 'apply for the SCBWI Work-in-Progress grant.' Heaven knows that I have enough works-in-progress in my file cabinet! The manuscript that I've chosen to submit is something that I was working on before my life went crazy around the holidays. Now that I've pulled it out again, I'm pretty excited about it and about getting it finished.
That's one of the perks of entering contests and applying for grants. It gets you excited about (more…)
September 23, 2009
This past Saturday Indiana SCBWI hosted an event for children's writers on Ghostwriting with Sara Grant, Editor at Working Partners in London. Sara talked about their projects and gave tips on sending an application, but she also offered a wealth of knowledge on writing the novel and (more…)
September 16, 2009
Last week I had the opportunity to meet April Pulley Sayre when she gave a talk about writing and her picture books in South Bend. I love the simplicity of her picture books, and the way that she presents facts in such an interesting & fun way. She makes it seem so easy, but (more…)
September 2, 2009
For the past 17 years we been blessed with Esther Hershenhorn, Illinois SCBWI RA, whose catchy enthusiasm, positive thinking, and insight into the world of children's books has helped many children's writers and illustrators move forward. She encouraged us to tell our stories, pointed us in the right direction, and helped us to connect. Lucky me, that her generosity spilled over into Indiana. (more…)
July 28, 2009
The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) is an international organization, and the best organization, for anyone interested in writing or illustrating children's books. I am the Assistant Regional Advisor for the Indiana Chapter of SCBWI, and help plan and implement events in Indiana.
On Saturday, July 18th, Indiana SCBWI hosted our 1st Summer Schmooze at the Michigan City Public Library. Twenty-six children's writers & illustrators gathered together for an afternoon of schmoozing and snacks. (more…)