Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays from the Texas Sweethearts!

We're out for the year! Here's wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday. See you in 2010!

Thank you!

Jessica Lee Anderson
PJ Hoover
Jo Whittemore

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Friday Roundup—Texas Sweethearts Style

It seems things in the publishing world are winding down for the holidays. And hopefully everyone has kidlit flavored plans, whether reading kidlit, writing kidlit, or buying kidlit. Or even just thinking kidlit.

If you're curious what books Texas Sweethearts recommend for holiday giving, you can check out this post featuring Jessica Lee Anderson over on the BookPeople BookKids blog.


In the Featured Sweetheart Nomination category, we have:

Casey McCormick, a blogger who is doing tons to help writers looking for agents. Check out her blog when you get a chance (Literary Rambles). (Casey was nominated by Natalie Aguirre.)

Liz Burns, librarian, blogger, and book reviewer (A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy)

Look for another full featured sweetheart after the holidays!

Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts!


Possible kidlit goals for the holidays:

1) Give at least one book to a kid

2) Send two emails to authors telling them you enjoyed their books

3) Read three kidlit books

4) Paint four pictures inspired by kidlit

5) List five books to recommend to your local library to buy


On the review front:

The Book Muncher reviews THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD by P. J. Hoover

Kim at YA Books Central reviews BORDER CROSSING by Jessica Lee Anderson

Thank you, reviewers!


Have a great weekend!

*Note: If there is something you'd like us to include in our Friday roundup, please email us. We're happy to include news and information about the awesomeness of the kidlit world!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS had the enormous pleasure of meeting our newest FEATURED SWEETHEART, Felice Feldman, at THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD and BORDER CROSSING book release party. We were all taken with this San Antonio Librarian's generous spirit, plus her warm and welcoming nature.

Felice Feldman and author Jody Feldman (who are not related, btw)

You stay quite busy as a librarian and volunteer, Felice. Could you tell us about some of your most recent rewarding experiences?

My most rewarding experiences actually are librarian/book-related. I am monitoring the Readers’ Theatre/Storytelling Club at my school—Castle Hills. We will perform Book! Book! Book! for an event at Barnes and Noble Friday night. I will also tell a few holiday stories to fill out the program. I love storytelling and was the Chairman of the Storytelling Roundtable of the Texas Library Association. I am completing my third and final year on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Program Committee. I am the chair of the Video Committee which produces the video to introduce the 2010-2011 Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List. Last year I produced Camp Bluebonnet. Now when I watch a TV program or go to the movies I appreciate all the work the Producer does to make the product.

What influenced you to become a librarian and what advice do you have for folks wishing to become librarians?

I graduated mid-year and while I was looking for a job teaching French I began my Master’s degree in Library Science. My husband’s favorite Aunt Goldie suggested that I become a librarian like her daughter. She is from New York. My husband was a journalist at the time and she used to say that when he went to work for the New York Times, my Oklahoma Twang would laugh me out of the classroom. I loved books and it seemed a logical career choice. I am now mentoring a Kindergarten teacher who is working on a degree from Sam Houston State University.

What are some ways to get your kids excited about reading?

I think the Texas Bluebonnet Award program is a great way to introduce kids to fantastic literature. I am always casually talking about books I have read and letting them know how I enjoyed them. I have read the books for the next video and the kids are going to have some great books to read. I think that if you are enthusiastic, the kids will try them. Not all books are for everyone and so I never am offended if I suggest a book and they don’t want to read it. I also love it when the kids read books and recommend them to me. Incentives also work. I offer the Six Flags Six Hour Reading Club and if they read the required amount they get a free ticket. Also teachers get tickets if they have participants.

What books have kids been asking for?

My kids like the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I am sure that is in preparation for the movie which comes out in February. I can’t keep the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books on the shelves. Those who like the two series I have mentioned will like books with Ellie McDoodle by Ruth Barshaw and Pandora by Carolyn Hennesy. These titles are the girl counterparts to Percy and Wimpy Kid. They want the Twilight books but we are only an elementary library. Let them read their older sister’s copy. The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman is really cool and popular.

You are proactive about bringing authors to your school. What do you think makes a successful school visit?

Make sure you know about your author and check with other schools who have hosted them to see if they interact well with the students. This is my sixth year at Castle Hills and I have had many great authors’ visits. I have had Robert J. Blake (Bluebonnet winner for Togo), author/illustrator E.B. Lewis, Grace Lin, Jody Feldman, Betty Birney and several more local storytellers and authors. Provide a nice space for them to appear. Have books for sale. And be excited about their visit and prepared to have their books be in demand. My district now handles the paperwork for the visit which is a big help. Kids come back to me years later saying they remember when an author came to our school.

Felice's Bio:

I was born and raised in Oklahoma City, OK. I attended the University of Oklahoma and received degrees in Foreign Language Education and Library Science. I taught French and have been a librarian in elementary, middle and high school. I have taught Children’s Literature at UTSA as an adjunct professor. My husband Peter is retired from ATT and is currently a “gentleman” entrepreneur. Our daughter Jackie Smilack is a design editor for the Denver Post and is a teaching assistant at the University of Colorado Denver. I am active in the Texas Library Association where I serve on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Program Committee. My hobbies include reading and indulging in movies on the Hallmark network. I love to sample new restaurants.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Beauty is...

How would you fill in those blanks?
How would kids fill in those blanks?
Think they're the same?

A couple weeks ago, Texas Sweethearts PJ Hoover and Jessica Lee Anderson were given the chance to find out. Students from Kindergarten through 12th grade participated in the annual program run through the PTA called Reflections. PJ and Jessica volunteered to judge the literature entries, trying to decide which would go on to state and which would receive an honorable mention at the district level (a really hard choice, let me tell you).

The entries ranged from short poems to 2000 word essays! Some were heartfelt and brought tears to the eyes; some were funny and witty.
All were creative.
And all gave a priceless glimpse into the mind of a kid, somewhere as writers, we'd all love to peek (but not live) from time to time.

Fellow judges and authors Donna Bowman Bratton, Carmen Oliver, PJ Hoover, Debbie Gonzales , and Jessica Lee Anderson.

We were treated to dinner, an adorable goodie "cup" complete with gummi frogs and caramel popcorn. And the best part was that it was an honor to judge the competition. At the end of the night, we were left with a warm feeling in our hearts and a readiness to come back again next year.

And, of course, we wanted to go home and write our own entries on what beauty really is.

Beauty is reaching out and helping others and ending up helping yourself a little, too.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Friday Roundup—Texas Sweethearts Style

So what are The Texas Sweethearts up to this week?


Haven't you heard? Everyone is doing it!


In the Featured Sweetheart Nomination category, we have:

Trudy Marshall, an elementary librarian who started the Libraries of Love outreach program. Each year Trudy gathers thousands of new books and builds bookshelves to create libraries in Uganda.

Look for another full featured sweetheart next week!

Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts!


Wondering what you can do to leave your mark in the kidlit world?
Here are a few suggestions:

1) Recommend books to your school and public library. And if you feel so inclined, donate books, too!

2) Show support! Attend author signings. Volunteer in your child's school library. Memorize the Dewey Decimal System for fun.

3) Buy books for the holidays! Celebrate a love of reading by giving the gift of words.

4) Word of mouth. When you read a great book, tell someone. Tell everyone. Make it a habit and spread the word!


From the target audience, teen Lauren reviewed PJ Hoover's THE EMERALD TABLET at Library Ninja.

There's another excellent review for Sweetheart Jessica Lee Anderson and her YA novel BORDER CROSSING at Book Wind.

Thank you, reviewers!


And on a final note, Texas Sweethearts Jessica and PJ got together with about twenty other kidlit authors in Austin this last weekend at the home of Liz Garton Scanlon (author of ALL THE WORLD) to talk writing, blogging, agents, and editors. And to top it all off, author Carmen Oliver collected food for the Austin Food Bank. Thank you, everyone, for all your effort!

Texas Sweethearts PJ Hoover and Jessica Lee Anderson

Have a great weekend!

*Note: If there is something you'd like us to include in our Friday roundup, please email us. We're happy to include news and information about the awesomeness of the kidlit world!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Five Reasons to bid on something in the Bridget Zinn Auction Today!

go to
Auction ID: bridget
Password: rules
(as in: Bridget rules!!)



Okay, so in case you've been living under a rock, there's an awesome auction going on right now to help someone who could really use it. So we TEXAS SWEETHEARTS would like to give you five reasons why you should go bid on an auction item TODAY!

1) Bridget is 32. She is a librarian. She is a YA author. And she has stage 4 colon cancer. Wow, just typing that brings tears to my eyes. Seriously.

2) You really haven't had your manuscript critiqued yet? Wait no longer! There are tons of awesome critiques from agents and editors and authors. We TEXAS SWEETHEARTS have put a critique up for auction. You get three sets of eyes looking at 30 of your pages. Objectivity? Subjectivity? Whatever you want to call it, it's three different opinions.

3) Holiday shopping is here. Now. There are some awesome things on the list that I'd love to have. Have you seen the elephant notecards up for auction? And the signed books? And the Curious George Barbie? I think Barbie would like to come be a part of my doll collection.

4) When you bid in an auction like this, you're putting nothing but good out into the universe. And the more good out there, the better.

5) Do you really need a fifth reason?

Please bid today!
Auction ID: bridget
Password: rules

The auction ends December 11, 2009 09:00 PM CST.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Friday Roundup—Texas Sweethearts Style

Huge thank you for all the support this past week! We Sweethearts are really excited for our new adventure!


In the Featured Sweetheart Nomination category, we have:

Michelle Wright, a librarian in Virgina who is single-handedly building a library in her local community book center (see on blog posts by Kami Garcia, Vania at Reverie Book Reviews, and Kristi Diehm at The Story Siren.)
*Note - If you are interested in donating a book, read their blog entries for more info.

Felice Feldman, elementary librarian from San Antonio

Verla Kay who runs the online children's writers and illustrators message board

David Macinnis Gill, young adult literature advocate

Cailin O'Connor who is running the latest Bridget Zinn Kicks Cancer auction

Caroline Starr Rose for her inspiring blog and her work leading a fourth and fifth grade book club, nominated by Kristi Faith

Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts!


Huge thank you to Cynthia Leitich Smith for featuring The Texas Sweethearts on her fabulous blog earlier this week.


The Texas Sweetheart were thrilled to donate books to Royce and Cara Buckingham who are organizing a book drive for Whatcom Middle School in Bellingham, WA which burned down recently.


Sweetheart Jessica Lee Anderson has received some awesome reviews for her YA novel BORDER CROSSING:

Galley Cat

Carrie's YA Bookshelf

The Reading Junky

The Texas Observer


And on a final note, The Texas Sweethearts enjoyed lunch together at The Cheesecake Factory this week. Sadly, we got so caught up in conversation, we forgot to get a picture taken, so please just imagine the three of us sitting in a nice big booth enjoying hot tea, lettuce wraps, and dessert.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

FEATURED SWEETHEART - Cynthia Leitich Smith

THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS are proud to announce that Cynthia Leitich Smith is the first FEATURED SWEETHEART. Cynthia is a busy, talented writer who always makes time to reach out to others, and she generously offers advice and encouragement. We’re so honored to know Cynthia and to call her friend!

Cynthia’s blog

Cynthia’s website

Cynthia, you've been a mentor to so many! Who would you consider your mentor?

When I first started writing seriously for publication, authors Kathi Appelt and Jane Kurtz both provided me with a great deal of advice and encouragement. I also took a couple of multi-day classes from her at her husband's family ranch. It’s in large part because of Kathi and Jane's professional models that I write in such a wide range of age markets and formats. Today, I consider them both dear friends.

With all the time you spend writing, revising, promoting, teaching, traveling, and breathing, how do you STILL find time to be the advocate for so many authors?

There are four of me, and one is an insomniac. No, seriously, I’m just doing what comes naturally. With so much talent in writing for youth, how could I possibly resist cheering it?

What keeps you motivated to keep serving the children's literature community?

I like the company, and I’m blessed to be based in Austin, Texas—a boisterous and booming youth writing community with amazing voices and many fine leaders.

What's the best way writers can reach out to one another in such an (often) isolated career?

Show up! The children’s-YA writing community is very welcoming, but you have to extend a hand in turn, whether it be online in the kidlitosphere or in person at community events. Blog, comment, take a class, offer to speak, volunteer, throw a get-together, offer lunch.

What piece of advice can you give to a writer who's chomping at the bit to get published?

Focus first, last, and always on craft. When in doubt, take a well-recommended class, read a terrific book, stretch yourself in a new direction.

Thank you so much, Cynthia, for taking the time to be our Featured Sweetheart!

The Official bio:
Cynthia Leitich Smith is the award-winning author of JINGLE DANCER, INDIAN SHOES and RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME (all HarperCollins). Her more recent titles are a picture book, SANTA KNOWS (Scholastic Book Club), and two young adult fantasy novels, TANTALIZE and ETERNAL (both Candlewick). She is a member of faculty at the Vermont College M.F.A. program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Her website at was named one of the top 10 Writer Sites on the Internet by Writer's Digest and an ALA Great Website for Kids. Her Cynsations blog at was listed as among the top two read by the children's/YA publishing community in the SCBWI "To Market" column.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Hello, World!

The time has come for our official introduction!
So if you've been curious what The Texas Sweethearts are all about, then read on.
If you've never heard of The Texas Sweethearts, then read on.
If you've heard but haven't been curious, still read on. You never know what may spark your interest.
We're looking for kids, teachers, writers, readers, parents, librarians, or anyone who loves books and reading.

The Texas Sweethearts is a group of three authors from Austin, Texas who write for kids and teens. We love reading, writing, talking to kids or adults, and stretching the boundaries of our creativity. We're:
Together we've published nine books with three more coming soon. Check out our books page for all our titles.

And look, we even have a video. So either turn up or down your volume, depending on where you are, and enjoy!

The Texas Sweethearts want to make a difference. We live here in Austin, Texas, but we plan to reach the world. We speak at conferences and festivals nationwide, and are up for panels and school visits, both in person and via Skype. We lead workshops for kids or adults and present on a wide variety of topics such as how diverse backgrounds can lead to a career in writing.
Check out our calendar to see where we'll be. Or better yet, contact us to schedule a visit. We'd love to come speak at your event.

Every other week or so we'll be featuring someone we feel makes a difference in the world of children's literature. Whether it's another author, a librarian who helps less fortunate kids, or a teacher who leads a diverse book club, we want to know. So if you know someone you'd like to nominate as a "Featured Sweetheart", please email us and let us know. We'll round up our entries (along with your name and link, unless you want to stay anonymous) each Friday and select from the nominations to interview and feature here on our blog.

Email us, drop us a comment, become a fan of our Facebook group. We want to hear from you!

And thank you for your support!