Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Featured Sweetheart-Elaine Scott

I am honored to announce that our latest sweetheart is Houston writer Elaine Scott. I first met this very talented writer almost twenty-five (gulp!) years ago when she presented at the Mesquite Young Writers Workshop. I have to say she is a sweetheart in so many ways! We became fast friends and she has been an inspiration to me as a writer. Her newest book, Space, Stars, and the Beginning of Time, will be released in just a few days. It explains for us non-scientific types exactly what the Hubble telescope is seeing out in the vast universe. Elaine is also delighted to announce that Clarion will also be the publisher of Buried Alive, her book about the Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days that will be released next year. Learn more about Elaine Scott on her website, --Jeanette Larson

JL: You've been writing for a long time. How did you get your start as a writer and having books published?

ES: It's kind of a long story, and it has a fairy tale quality to it. I was actually asked to be published the first time--and I was terrified. Back in the mid-70's, during the time of great emphasis on zero population growth, a friend, Guida Jackson asked me to write an article for her literary journal, and she wanted me to call it "The Myth of Motherhood." One of our daughters was adopted, and the other arrived in the more traditional way, and Guida thought I could write about the fact that one could become a parent without reproducing biologically. I was simply stunned at the invitation, but I took the challenge, and my essay was published. It just so happens that the publisher of the now-defunct In Houston magazine saw that essay and asked me if I had anything else. I gulped and said "yes" but I had no idea what I had. After scrambling around, I decided to write a light piece about learning how to ski downhill at the ripe old age of 35. She liked it, and I was on my way. I didn't have my first book published until 1980, and interestingly, it was a children's book about adoption, published by Franklin Watts. I've rarely written for adults since.

JL: How did you get the idea for Space, Stars, and the Beginning of Time , and what process did you use for writing the book?

ES: I have been a passionate fan of the Hubble Space Telescope ever since I followed the astronauts of STS61, as they prepared for the first servicing mission. I wrote about that experience in Adventure in Space. When I realized that Hubble was approaching its 20th "birthday" and the final servicing mission was headed to the telescope, the time seemed right to take a look at all the amazing science this fantastic instrument has facilitated through the years. I used my contacts at NASA and at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore to gain access to the latest information, and I am humbled that Dr. Mario Livio of STScI agreed to vet the manuscript for accuracy.

JL: You also wrote two fiction books. Share a bit about how the process of writing fiction differs or is similar to writing non-fiction.
ES: I like to write narrative nonfiction, so in that way my nonfiction is similar to fiction. The writing process, however, is vastly different. I outline ahead of time with my nonfiction, but I let my characters tell me their story in fiction. My first novel, Choices, was set in contemporary times, so I didn't have too much research to do on setting, etc. The second, Secrets of the Cirque Medrano, was set in 1904 Paris and Pablo Picasso figured into the story, though he wasn't the main character. Blending completely fictional characters with the well-documented Picasso, created quite a challenge. My imagination could run free with Brigitte, Henri, but Picasso and his "bande" of friends had to be accurate to the nth degree. And since I don't believe in putting words in a historical character's mouth, unless they have been uttered by the subject, it was a challenge to render the real Picasso through the eyes of others.

JL: What has been the biggest surprise to you about writing?

ES: The fact that, 30 some years into this career, it still feels fresh, it still brings me joy, and it's still scary to type the first words of the newest book!

JL: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

ES: Despite what I said at the beginning of this interview, getting published isn't easy, and I've had my share of rejections. I think the one piece of advice I would give to any aspiring author is to be persistent and to believe in yourself. Writing is hard work. The late Meredith Charpentier was my first editor, and I will pass on the advice that she offered to writers, as they struggled to get published. They often asked her, "Do you think I should quit?" Her answer was always, "If you can, you should." It's the perfect answer, for if you can't quit, then you will persist.

Monday, December 27, 2010

First Signing: My New Book

I am so excited that I'll be signing my first children's book, Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas, at the American Library Association conference in San Diego. It's coming up soon and I hope some of our blog friends will be there to meet me. I'll be at the Charlesbridge booth (#1808) on Sunday, January 9 at 2:00 p.m.

As a librarian I've been on the fan side of the table many times but as an author I have to admit to some trepidations. I've been trying out different pens to find one that I can consistenly write "nicely" with. Also what do I say? The book is about hummingbirds and includes a lot of pourquoi (a hard word to spell!) stories. I'd love to hear some thoughts on what to write so speak up! I promise to share some photos and my thoughts after the fact. Now, if I can just keep my knees from knocking long enough to pack.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Signing…Texas Hill Country Style

On Sunday evening, December 19, 2010, I had the privilege of signing at the 41st Annual LBJ Tree Lighting.

singing at the park store

This special Hill Country tradition was started 41 years ago by President and Mrs. Johnson. The evening was full of holiday cheer including a festive band, carolers, a live nativity, plus an opportunity to enjoy the Sauer-Beckman Living History Farm.

live nativity

Once the sun had set, members of the Johnson family arrived. I had the honor of sitting close to Luci Baines Johnson and her extended family. When Luci addressed the community, I admit to tearing up as she thanked her family members for being there for her when she was critically ill in April. She mentioned how especially grateful she felt this holiday season, and recited a few words from her father. ("Are we thankful? Yes, we are!")

cedar tree before the lighting ceremony

After the program and the lighting of the tree, Luci shook my hand and thanked the other participants including the lovely Cathie Gail and Donna Albus of Keep Texas Beautiful.
Keep Texas Beautiful ornament dedicated to Lady Bird Johnson

Before joining Santa for photos, Luci thanked us all again, saying her mother would want her to.

I'm so very thankful that I was invited to such a memorable event, and I truly appreciate the kindness of the staff and the volunteers.

I hope your holidays are rich in tradition and memories!


Friday, December 17, 2010

AUSTIN SCBWI Huge Critique Contest

Guess what.

If you haven't already registered for the Austin SCBWI Conference, then you've missed the critique deadline. Missing an opportunity for a critique or a portfolio review can be a real bummer because these are one of the best things about attending conferences no matter what level you are.

So The Texas Sweethearts, along with some of the Austin SCBWI conference faculty, have put together a small contest for you.

Okay, it's a great big contest with author critiques and illustrator portfolio reviews.

Here's the deal...

1) You're not registered yet for the conference
No problem. Register for the conference and then email The Texas Sweethearts and let us know you've registered. You'll then be entered in the contest to win a free critique.
*This is the perfect opportunity to remind your loved ones what a great gift the conference registration would be.

2) You are registered for the conference but you still want a chance to win
No problem. Refer someone to the conference, and email The Texas Sweethearts to let us know. When they register, you will then be entered to win the critique. Make sure to let them know to email us, too.

  • Our email address is texas_sweethearts /(at)/ yahoo /(do)/ com (minus all the funny characters of course)
  • In your email let us know what you'd like to submit if you win a critique (MG/YA/Picture book/Non-fiction/Portfolio)
  • The contest will run through Friday, January 21st, 2011.

Portfolio reviews and critiques are up for grabs from the following awesome faculty:

David Diaz – Illustrator:
David Diaz has illustrated numerous award-winning books for children, including Eve Bunting’s Going Home; as well as Newbery Honor winner, The Wanderer, by Sharon Creech. Mr. Diaz was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1995 for his work in Smoky Night by Eve Bunting, and his colorful illustrations in Margaret Wise Brown’s The Little Scarecrow Boy lead to the book being named the New York Times Best Illustrated Book for 1998. Most recently, Mr. Diaz has teamed up with renowned author Joyce Carol Thomas, creating vibrant illustrations for The Gospel Cinderella, a soulful retelling of the classic Cinderella story.

Julian Hector – Illustrator:
Julian Hector was born in Los Angeles, raised in rural Texas, and received a BFA from Parsons the New School for Design, in New York City. His clients include Disney-Hyperion, Scholastic, Harper Collins, and Simon and Schuster Julian Hector is represented by Rebecca Sherman of Writers House and plans to make Austin, Texas his home!

Jessica Anderson:
Jessica Lee Anderson is the author of Trudy, which won the 2005 Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature, as well as Border Crossing. She’s published two nonfiction readers, as well as fiction and nonfiction for a variety of magazines including Highlights for Children. While her experiences have ranged from teaching to selling computers to coordinating a vision therapy clinic, her lifelong passion is writing literature for children. She lives near Austin, Texas, with her husband, Michael. Jessica is willing to critique fiction and non-fiction manuscripts.

Bethany Hegedus:
Bethany Hegedus has spent time above and below the Mason-Dixon Line. She cares deeply about kids, having once been a high school teacher and also a youth advocate. She serves as a mentor in the PEN Prison Writing Program and holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Bethany is Co- Editor of the Young Adult’s and Children’s section of the literary magazine, Hunger Mountain and is Austin Host of the popular website Her second novel, Truth, With a Capital T. releases Oct. 12, 2010. Between Us Baxters is her first young adult novel. Bethany is willing to critique picture books, middle-grade, and YA fiction and non-fiction.

Kari Ann Holt:
K.A. Holt is a writer, a terrible cook, and a mother of three (not necessarily in that order). When she’s not busy imagining how she would survive a trip to Mars or a zombie apocalypse, she’s busy imagining how she will survive the day. Kirkus and Publishers Weekly praised both her first book, Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel, as well as her most recent Brains for Lunch. Kari Ann is willing to critique middle-grade sci-fi.

P J Hoover:
PJ grew up visiting museums and dreaming of finding Atlantis. She eventually married, had two children, shifted her dreams to reality, and began a writing career. PJ’s novels The Emerald Tablet, That Navel of the World, and The Necropolis are evidence of her talent, tenacity, and devotion to craft. PJ is willing to critique middle grade and YA novels.

Jeanette Larson:
Jeanette has been a librarian for more than 30 years. She is a frequent reviewer for Booklist and Book Links and has served on a number of state and national award committees, including the Newbery Award, the Texas Bluebonnet Award, Best Books for Young Adults, the Morris Award (for debut YA authors), the Writers’ League of Texas Teddy Awards, and the Audio Book Publishers Award. She is currently serving on the YALSA Excellence in Non-fiction Awards committee. Retired from Austin Public Library, Jeanette now teaches the Children’s and Young Literature course for Texas Woman’s University and is a freelance trainer and consultant. Moving to the other side of the book shelf, Jeanette’s first children’s book, Hummingbirds: Facts and Folkore from the Americas, will be coming out in February 2011. Jeanette is willing to critique non-fiction and fiction of any genre.

Brian Yansky:
Brian has a BA from The University of Texas and an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. He’s an Assistant Professor at Austin Community College where he teaches writing. He writes both young adult and adult fiction. His adult stories have appeared in the Crescent Review, Nebraska Review, Chiron Review and other literary journals. My Road Trip to the Pretty Girl Capital of the World was his first published novel. Wonders of the World, his second novel, came out in June, 2007. Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences, a YA novel, will be published by Candlewick Press on October 12, 2010. Brian is willing to critique YA novels.

Frances Yansky:
An author/illustrator, Frances is the author of The Bug Cemetery, published under Frances Hill, her maiden name. Frances has a keen eye for detail, intrigue, and the whimsical. Though Frances is currently working on a sensational middle-grade fantasy, she is willing to critique picture books.

GOOD LUCK, and we'll see you in Austin!

Kathi Appelt KEEPER Winner!

A huge thank you to everyone who entered to win Kathi Appelt's latest novel KEEPER (Atheneum, May 2010).

The winner is...

Thank you all again!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Critter is Finally up for Auction!

The big moment has finally come.
The darling Critter who has traveled the world and been signed by authors and illustrators aplenty is finally up for auction!
And the best part?

100% of the final sale price will support St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

So bid now, bid often, and let that competitive spirit of support take over!

From ebay:

For over 14 months Critter has traveled the world visiting talented writers, artists, and authors: while exploring their world. Christy Evers sent out Critter after an interactive art project, directed by the cutting edge artist, Ian Sands.

Critter has visited (and was signed) by PJ Hoover (author of the Forgotten Worlds trilogy) and the Texas Sweethearts, in Texas. Beth Revis in North Carolina (whose debut novel, Across the Universe, coming out in January 2011, is expected to be a HUGE success!). Christina Farley in Korea, New England with Nandini Bajpai, Illinois with Kelly Polark, (who is frequented in Highlights magazine), MG Higgins in California, Rena Jones (author of multiple picture books) in Montana, Cynthia Leitich Smith (NY Times best-selling author) in Texas, Bish Denham in the Virgin Islands, Jacqui Robbins (author of “The New Kid and Me”, and “Two of a Kind”) in Michigan, Tina Ferraro, (author of “How to Hook a Hottie, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, and The ABC’s of Kissing Boys) in California, Cynthia Chapman Willis, (Picture book author of “Dog Gone” and “Buck Fever”) in New Jersey, Jill S. Alexander, (YA author of “The Sweetheart of Prosper County”) in Texas, Ellen Oh in Virginia, Alberta, Canada with Angela Ackerman (the blog-genius behind the “Writing Thesaurus”. The World-famous artist, Robert Bateman, also signed Critter (on his backside) as an honorary host.

Critter’s Travels have caused him to be beaten around the edges and cracked just a bit, but I think that adds to his charm . . . scarred like a foam-board Indian Jones (for St. Jude) or something like that. It hasn’t taken away from the integrity of the signatures, though. He has traveled the globe in 14 months. He looks pretty good (for being handled by the U.S. post office) The signatures of fabulous people (in addition to his worthy cause) well makes up for his worn edges. Upon his return trip to me he was cracked a bit, but it was easily repaired with super glue.

The winning bidder will receive THE autographed (by the notable people mentioned above) Critter as well as a 20-page scrapbook documenting his travels.

He will be shipped in the flag-case, as shown in the picture, along with the 20 page scrapbook (designed by Snapfish).

You can view Critter's travels on the sidebar of my blog at

Monday, December 6, 2010


We're honored to announce that Kathi Appelt is our newest FEATURED SWEETHEART. She's a gifted writer, talented teacher, and is about as generous and lovely as you could imagine.

The Fabulous Kathi Appelt

Stick around! There is a book giveaway at the end of the interview!


TXS&S: You’ve served as a mentor to so many people, Kathi! Who would you consider your mentor?

KA: I’ve had a number of wonderful guides along the way, but three stand out for me. The first is Elizabeth Harper Neeld. Dr. Neeld was my advisor when I was in graduate school at Texas A&M University. We’ve known each other for many years, and now she’s one of my very best friends. I’ve learned more about writing and life in general from her than just about anyone else. She’s my soul sister, my heartmate.

Elizabeth Harper Neeld

Another important teacher for me is Dennis Foley. A few years ago, I took an online course with him, and I felt like a rank beginner, but I also felt safe and encouraged with his guidance. I learned so much from Dennis about writing and also about teaching. I learned to be honest for one thing, and by that, I mean that I learned how to look between lines and underneath bridges to find things in my work, and in my students’ work, that was there but needed some sunlight, needed for someone to admit that it was there. Dennis taught me that.

Dennis Foley

And finally, I studied for many years in the Rice Continuing Education Department with Venkatesh Kulkarni. Nobody challenged me more than the Good Professor. He passed away several years ago, but I still hear him whispering in my ear whenever I’m working on a story. It’s not always a friendly whisper. Sometimes I want him to be quiet, but he’s persistent even from the other side. So, while I may not want to hear what he’s whispering, I listen anyways.

Venkatesh Kulkarni

There have been others too. I studied poetry with Paul Christensen at Texas A&M and Andrew Hudgins at Univ. of Iowa; Bruce Coville will always be a mentor to me. And I consider Jane Yolen a guide of the truest kind.

TXS&S: What has been the biggest surprise in your career thus far?

KA: I feel constantly surprised, especially by what I don’t know. Just when I think I know something, I discover that there is more to know. And I confess that I’m surprised by how much I enjoy teaching. I learn so much from my students and I love celebrating their successes with them. I think I’m better writer for being a teacher.

TXS&S: Congratulations on the release of KEEPER! Could you tell us how you got the idea for this novel?

KA: For a long time, I’ve wanted to write a story that was set along the coast of Texas. My grandmother lived in Galveston and I spent many happy days there as a child. She would take me and my two younger sisters and two cousins, all five of us, to the beach and we would camp there for several weeks during the summer. I’ve never had so much freedom than those beach campouts. We virtually roamed up and down the water’s edge, rather like a pack of puppies. It was exhilarating to be out like that, just us kids and the sand and the salt water. We slept out at night on old army cots, right under the stars, the sounds of the waves in our ears. It was a world unto itself.

Kathi in Galveston

So, Keeper started out for me as a place.
And then, one of my favorite plays is Ondine, by Jean Giraudoux, a classic mermaid tale that involves a romance between a sea sprite and a handsome knight.
And maybe because of that play, and also because of my experience at the beach, I wanted to write a story that included a mermaid.
At the same time that I spent the summers at the beach, my mother remarried, so we had all these changes in our family going on, and the beach was a sweet haven for my sisters and I, a place to be with our grandmother and with our cousins and the seagulls.

But we also had this new stepfather right along the margins. So there was that to consider too. And it was clear that my mother was very much in love.
And yet, the sea is not always friendly, is it. As idyllic as those days were, there was also danger and the prospect of danger, and we all knew it. The notion that one of us could be lost in those waves was always in the corners of our eyes. I remember thinking that if a rogue wave were to wash over one of us, maybe a merman would slip underneath us and carry us back to shore. And maybe he wouldn’t.
Which brings me to Jacques de Mer.
Many, many years later, after I married and had my own kids, they learned that one of their favorite relatives was gay. But no matter how many books I read to them, no matter how many they read in school, that relative never showed up in their stories.
My characters Jack and Henri are for boys like my own, whose beloved relative was always absent from the pages of their stories. I wanted to correct that, but I also didn’t want my book to be about having a gay relative. In Keeper, there’s nothing at all graphic, nothing at all sexual, just two boys holding hands. I wanted to offer up a sweet, very matter of fact relationship… for all those kids who have gay people in their lives, but who never see them in books for middle graders.
I do have to give a nod here to Cynthia Rylant who led the way in her ground-breaking, but underrated book The Van Gogh Café in which she did the same thing. But beyond that book, there’s just not much out there.

Cynthia Rylant

Like hers, I didn’t want my story to be a “gay story.” That wasn’t the point. And there are a growing number of gay stories being published, especially for the young adult crowd. Thank goodness. I just wanted there to be a gay couple who were part of my young hero’s life in an integral and innocent way, just as they are in millions of kids lives.

TXS&S: What is it like writing for a variety of ages?

KA: I started out writing for the very young, which I think is still my first love. But as my boys got older, I found myself wanting to write for older kids. I think this is fairly common with our crew, to see our writing grow older as our kids do. But then I sort of lost track of little ones. Fortunately for me, I now have a whole pack of great nieces and nephews and so I’ve found myself returning to picture books and that has been wonderful. I took a long break from them, but it feels sweet to be writing them again. The one age that has eluded me has been that early chapter book age—first and second graders. I’d love to write one of those compact, short novels, ala Barbara O’Connor. I don’t know how she does it, but her novels are perfect in their wonder and brevity. I’d love to write a Barbara O’Connor book.

TXS&S: How do you balance your time?

KA: I’m not sure I do, but I will admit to being a copious list maker. Whenever I find myself drifting, I make a list. Plus, I’ve learned how to work on the road. For years I had a hard time getting any writing done when I was away from home, but then it just got ridiculous because I travel quite a bit. So now I can get some writing done in a hotel room or on an airplane. I basically work all the time, and when I’m not working on a story or working with one of my students, I feel a little lost. And I also get a little lazy. If I have too much time on my hands, I resort to schlepping around in my jammies and eating bon bons. It’s not pretty.

TXS&S: Any writing tips you could share with us?

KA: My motto is to “write like your fingers are on fire.” By that, I mean to write a lot and write quickly. And I would also add . . . write what matters.

TEXAS SWEETHEART Jessica Lee Anderson and Kathi Appelt at the ALA Newbery Reception

TXS&S: You rock, Kathi! Thank you!

Kathi Appelt will be signing in Austin on December 11th at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center from 6-9 p.m.

To win a copy of KEEPER, here is what you need to do:
1) Follow this blog
2) Comment on this blog post

For extra entries:
1) Blog about this contest and leave a comment telling us
2) Tweet about this contest and leave a comment telling us

Source of book: Blue Slip Media

The giveaway will run through the end of the day Sunday, December 12th.


Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Austin Kidlit Community Rocks!

In case you missed it, Austin had some amazing book goodness it put out in 2010. And the very cool Greg Leitich Smith has taken the time to round up all the awesome books that came out of our Austin Kidlit community this year, four of which are TEXAS SWEETHEARTS books!
2010 rocked here in the Lone Star State!

Thanks, Greg! And if you didn't know it, Greg's next book, THE CHRONAL ENGINE: AHEAD OF TIME (Clarion) is forthcoming. So look for it!

Stealing the covers from his blog...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels are pleased to announce that our newest Featured Sweetheart is the wonderful and energetic Teen Services Librarian, Alison O'Reilly!


TXS&S: How did you get your career started and how has it evolved?

AO: When I was 16-years-old, I was offered a job at the Gap and a job at the Library. I chose the job at the library because a boy I liked worked there. I'm very glad I made that choice (I mean no offense to the people who work for Gap!) The boy is now a librarian and I am, too. He is my facebook friend and one day I hope to meet up at a library conference and swap stories from the stacks.

TXS&S: What have been some of the biggest surprises since becoming a teen librarian?

AO: The biggest surprise is how rarely I get to work with teens! Where are they?! Seriously, teens in Austin are very busy doing their thing, and I see a lot more 8-12 year olds who are eager to become teens and excited to participate in all the activities we develop for older youth. The teens I do work with are spectacular, and many of them volunteer for the library. One young woman job-shadowed with me when she was 11-years-old, and she is still a volunteer. I just had the pleasure of attending her Bat Mitzvah. Another teen has been volunteering every Saturday for the last two years. She knows when I ask her to volunteer at an event for teens I am really just begging her to come and bring her friends because they are so cool.

Alison with some of her favorite books: Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye.

TXS&S: What are some ways that you get teens excited about reading?

AO: Many teens who walk into the downtown branch of the Austin Public Library are already jazzed about reading. Some of my co-workers, like Michelle Beebower, can always be relied upon to dream up fabulous programs that allow teens to indulge their passion for books (check out Fangs vs. Fur, which takes place later this month). As for the other young people out there: I believe that many teens who say they don’t like reading are either struggling with their image or need glasses. During my visits to Gardner Betts Juvenile Detention Center in Austin, I encountered teens who claimed they didn't like to read but had suddenly found themselves with little else to turn to for entertainment. Being away from their family and friends provided an escape from the stigma associated with reading in their neighborhood. I knew another teen on Long Island (where I hail from) who insisted she hated reading, and one day she finally admitted that reading gave her a headache. I asked if she’d ever had her eyes checked and she said no. She came into the library about a year later, wearing glasses. She said, “Ms. O’Reilly, you were right. I needed glasses and now I love reading.” (That's a true story, I swear.) Now, if you're following this closely, you may have noticed that I still haven't told you what I do to get teens excited about reading. That's because I actually can't make a teen get excited about reading. When it does happen - by some fortuitous interaction between a person and the printed word - I am ready to recommend some great books.

Alison singing at the grand opening of the Twin Oaks Branch of the Austin Public Library in August, 2010.

TXS&S: What is your hope for reading and libraries in the future?

I have so many. One is that libraries become - or continue to become - part of a community wide effort to meet the needs of the people we serve. The library cannot offer much to a person who is in crisis. It can only serve its purpose as a part of the variety of services a healthy community provides. For instance, if you've been inside the main branch of the Austin Public Library, you know that many adults use the library as a safe and warm (or cool) place to spend their time. Meals are delivered to anyone who is hungry in the park just north of the library, but what's missing is a place where adults can shower and get medical care. To my knowledge, those facilities are on the other side of downtown. If all of those services were in the same area, the adults who come into the library would be healthier, physically and mentally. People need to have their basic needs met before they can fully take advantage of the library's offerings, and a library isn't designed to provide that kind of care. This is a complex problem, but I believe the library, through partnerships with other organizations in the community, can be part of a solution.

TXS&S: What do you do when you're not being a librarian?

Lately, almost all my free time is spent listening to audio books, as I am serving on the joint ALSC-YALSA Odyssey Award Committee (part of the American Library Association.) This honor is awarded to the publisher of the best audio book for children and/or young adults. I especially enjoy listening to read-alongs: those picture books that are performed by reader, often with sound effects and original music. I am also a jazz singer. I study with a remarkable teacher here in Austin on Tuesday nights. There are nights when I literally drag myself to Mady's studio after a full day at the library, but I always leave refreshed and excited about the tune I'm learning. That same song will have me jumping out of bed in the middle of the night to try a different way to phrase a string of words.

32 pages or 32 bars: I love a good story.

TXS&S: Thank you so very much, Alison!


Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

NCTE Texas Sweethearts Style!

I'm pretty sure NCTE couldn't have been held at a better place. The conference area was gorgeous and all, but we're talking Disney World here! Love that place. I did manage to remember to take some pictures while there, and here they are for your enjoyment.

Our Texas Sweethearts panel was a blast. I solved the Rubik's Cube, Jessica Lee Anderson hula hooped Katniss style, and Jo Whittemore ate a cricket. (I think it was bacon flavored or something equally appetizing like that.) And we also talked about writing: our paths to writing, where we get ideas, and some exercises for the classroom. Thank you to everyone who came out to listen!

Aside from our panel, there were tons of fun conference things going on.

We seem to run into David Macinnis Gill at every conference we go to. He's always around. After seeing this photo, David complained about his head looking too flat and shiny. So I modified it. Which do you like better?



We also ran into Kirby Larson signing right across from our Texas Sweethearts reception. She's such a doll, and it was great to see her!

Me, Kirby, and Jessica

And we saw Sara Lewis Holmes who asked us to take a picture for her current philanthropic endeavor.

Jessica, Jo, and Me

I scored some fabulous ARCS, including these from my Texas Peeps!

*ARC love*

And others like these.

*More ARC love*

So look for some awesome reviews and giveaways in the future!

And finally, we saw fellow Texas Sweetheart Jeanette Larson's upcoming book, Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas, in the wild!

Charlesbridge editor Randi Rivers and Jessica Lee Anderson

Hope you all enjoyed the holidays!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NCTE, Here we Come!

Texas Sweethearts PJ Hoover, Jessica Lee Anderson, and Jo Whittemore are off to DisneyWorld for NCTE! Hope to see you there!

Kidlit Critterpalooza!

For over a year now, CRITTER, the creation of artist Ian Sands, has been traveling the world, meeting many talented writers and authors and exploring where they live. At each stop he learns more and more about KIDLIT and the importance of literacy and creativity. This journey was the brainchild of Christy Evers, who got her hands on Critter after an interactive art project of Ian’s, where 500 Critters were hidden all over her city for people to find.

Critter with his best friend in Austin (who misses him so much)

Critter has visited PJ Hoover (and the Texas Sweethearts!) in Texas, Beth Revis in North Carolina, Christina Farley in Korea, New England with Nandini Bajpai, Illinois with Kelly Polark, MG Higgins in California, Rena Jones in Montana, Cynthia Leitich Smith in Texas, Bish Denham in the Virgin Islands, Jacqui Robbins in Michigan, Tina Ferraro in California, Cynthia Chapman Willis in New Jersey, Jill S. Alexander in Texas, Ellen Oh in Virginia and finally, Alberta Canada with Angela Ackerman.

Critter relaxing with a favorite beverage

Critter has been to college, rock concerts, national landmarks, a palace, attended his first SCBWI conference, walked among giant redwoods, and met the world famous artist, Robert Bateman.

Critter with tortoise pal Nefertorti

Now that his journey is coming to a close, it’s CRITTER’S hope that you will help him celebrate over at The Bookshelf Muse. His new hosts, together with old hosts, have teamed up to create the Kidlit-inspired event, Critterpalooza! and you’re invited!

There are many AMAZING prizes to be won, all in the spirit of helping Critter celebrate the wonderful creativity & support within out KIDLIT community, and to also raise awareness for his charity, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

If you would like to donate a few dollars to Critter’s charity, just click on the I Love St. Jude button. Children’s lives are saved every day thanks to the support of people like you!

Critter toilet shopping

So what are you waiting for? Head over to The Bookshelf Muse right now to check out all the fun to be had!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's ok to draw on the walls at the Bull Street Library in Savannah

This weekend I had the honor of being featured in the Savannah Children’s Book Festival. I had a ball! What a fantastic, well organized and attended festival,
clearly one of the best. On Friday evening, there was an author’s dinner held at the Bull Street Library, and I was asked to draw something -- anything -- on the wall of the children’s room. My brain froze. I had no
idea what to draw. I needed an assignment, a story, a purpose.

I explained my dilemma to author Elizabeth Dulemba (a longtime blog buddy), who gave me that Mr. Stupid look, and then gave me an assignment: Draw your new puppy, The Animal that I so lovingly tweet about almost daily (Grrrr!). So that’s what I did.

And here's what others have done:

Elizabeth gets all elaborate.

Lane Smith add a bit of detail to a horse wall hanging.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Jeanette Larson is a Día Dynamo!

To see why, check out her fabulous interview:

Also, check out Jeanette's review of BORDER CROSSING in PARENTWISE (page 12):
On the same page, see the fab review of HOLLER LOUDLY by Featured Sweetheart Cynthia Leitich Smith.


Kudos, Jeanette!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

TEXAS SWEETHEARTS & SCOUNDRELS Book Signing this weekend!

Hey! If you live in or around Austin, and you happen to be not caught up in kid's sports or church or whatever else you do on Sunday afternoons, then please come by BookPeople. Here are the details:

WHAT: Writers' League of Texas sponsored Book Signing featuring a couple TEXAS SWEETHEARTS!

  • Jacqueline Kelly signing Newbery Honor book THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE

WHERE: BookPeople, Austin, TX

WHEN: Sunday, November 7, 2010, 2:00-4:00PM

See you there!