Sunday, January 31, 2010

Texas Sweethearts Love Austin SCBWI!

We hope your weekend was as nice as ours! Here is Austin, our weekend was filled with the Austin SCBWI Conference. And the main thing that shone through even over talent this weekend was the generosity of the Austin SCBWI group.

PJ Hoover, Jessica Lee Anderson, and Jo Whittemore

We can't even begin to start naming names on who all helped in the conference planning. Our group was led by RA Tim Crow who enlisted the help of an army of volunteers to pull of a top notch conference.

Tim is handing the Austin SCBWI reins to Debbie Gonzales effective immediately. In response, Debbie arranged for $800 to be collected to send Tim on a writing weekend retreat. Um, wow!

Jessica Lee Anderson, PJ Hoover, and new Austin SCBWI RA Debbie Gonzales

From planning rides for the faculty, sorting and timing critiques, getting food set up, arranging the portfolio displays, the silent auction, the bookstore, the booking of the facility, the doorprizes. From Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith and Meredith and Clay Davis hosting parties at their homes. The outpouring of community was overwhelming.

Amber Hamilton and Julie Lake. Julie arranged rides for all nine out-of-town faculty.

Bethany Hegedus was behind the doorprizes table the entire day. She hardly took a break for lunch.

Some years ago, Meredith Davis founded the Austin SCBWI chapter, and for the second year running, Tim Crow has called for votes to award a Meredith Davis Award for the most-deserving volunteer of the year. We are so pleased to see that Carmen Oliver was given the award this year. Carmen is a perfect selection. She works so hard, always has a smile on her face, and never gives up. She's an inspiration to all of us.

Yay for Carmen (here with Jo Whittemore)!

Erin Edwards, PJ Hoover, Nathan Bransford, and Meredith Davis (smiling at the legacy she started)

Consider volunteering. Volunteering not only helps those who you volunteer for, but it hugely helps you too. There is no better way to throw yourself into the mix and get to know people and become involved. Figure out what you like doing or what you want to do, and go for it!

And have a great week!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Friday Roundup—Texas Sweethearts Style

The Texas Sweethearts have been patiently waiting for this weekend! To say we're excited for the Austin SCBWI Conference is an understatement. In short, the SOLD-OUT conference is:
Look for a wrap-up of the conference next week!

GO AUSTIN!

*****

In the Featured Sweetheart Nomination category, we have:

  • Alice Pope, Writer's Digest Blogger Extrordinaire

Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts!

*****

On the review front, huge thank you to Fresh Dawg's Book Blog for the awesome review of BORDER CROSSING by Jessica Lee Anderson!

In addition, BORDER CROSSING and TRUDY were both named in the top 12 obscure unsung YA titles! Thank you!

*****

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!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

FEATURED SWEETHEART - David Macinnis Gill

THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS are thrilled to introduce our newest FEATURED SWEETHEART, David Macinnis Gill. Not only is David the awesome author of SOUL ENCHILADA and BLACK HOLE SUN (August 2010), he is the Past-President of ALAN (The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents) and an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
(We are very impressed with his time management skills.)

You can check out David's website here.

*****

TXSH: You’ve had a variety of different jobs (a painter, cafeteria manager, bookseller, teacher, and professor)—what led you to become a young adult author?

DMG: In fifth grade, I decided to become a writer—a comic book writer. A friend and I both collected comics, and we tried our hand at creating stories. In college, I was an English major with a creative writing emphasis, and I went from being a comic books to literary fiction. I also became a high school English teacher. After teaching for several years and publishing stories in small literary magazines, I decided to pursue a doctorate. The dissertation, followed by a few years of hard-core academic scholarship, made me forego fiction. When I got back to the kind of writing I love, I chose to write for young adults because it combined my need to tell stories with the need for teens to have something of their own to read.



TXSH: How has writing for teens impacted your life and the lives of your readers?

DMG: Well, I’m not writing many of those scholarly articles anymore! The best thing—the very best thing—about writing for teens is the letters and emails I’ve received. Some have been funny, some have been challenging, and some have been heart-rending, but the common denominator is that my writing has touched their lives in some way. There is nothing more satisfying or humbling.



TXSH: Could you tell us about your involvement in ALAN? How has this influenced your writing career?

DMG: When I was at the University of Tennessee, my doctoral advisor was Ted Hipple, one of the giants in the field of young adult literature and the Executive Secretary of ALAN. Ted was generous with his time and connections, and he made it a point to draw new people into the field and into ALAN. My first academic article was published by Patricia Kelly in The ALAN Review, and a couple of years ago, I was elected ALAN President. I started attending the ALAN Workshop in the mid-90’s, where I learned a tremendous amount about adolescent literature, editors, and authors. When I began writing fiction again, it made sense to write for a readership that I knew so well.



TXSH: What advice would you give someone who is interested in studying young adult literature? What about advice for writers wishing to become young adult authors?

DMG: For both the scholar and the write, my advice is simple: Read. Read all of the literature. Read the current ARCs. Read last year’s books. Read the books that were published ten years ago. Read the books that started it all in the late 60’s and 70’s. Know your field of literature and know the audience that it serves. There are reasons that the books published today are being published, and to understand those reasons—and how you work fits into a growing canon of work—you need to read. Specifically for writers, once you know your field, then look for other like minded writers. SCBWI is a great place to start, especially at the regional or local level.



TXSH: You have a large online presence—what do you think is most effective when it comes to online outreach?


DMG: I think the most effective way to reach out to readers is to create a visually attractive website that provides both timely updates about your current activities and as a source of information for readers, teachers, and media contacts who have discovered your work and are looking for more information. Luckily, because of content management software like WordPress, it’s easy and inexpensive for authors to create a strong site and to integrate social media into it. If you can do that, then anything else you do with social media—Facebook, Twitter, etc—is gravy.


TXSH: Thank you so much, David!

*****

Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts!

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Texas Sweethearts ALA Midwinter Wrapup

ALA Mid-Winter was fabulous, if for the socializing and bonding opportunities alone.
Four of us were representing Austin: Varian Johnson, Bethany Hegedus, Jessica and Jo. The girls took the evening flight to Boston on Thursday in a plane filled with dozens of fantastic crying babies. Thanks goodness for audio books!

[Left to Right: Jo Whittemore, Jessica Lee Anderson, Bethany Hegedus]

Friday during the day Jessica and Jo toured Boston, visiting Faneuil Hall, the Holocaust Memorial, Chinatown, Newbury Street and the Boston Public Library. If you’re ever in Boston, stop by the library, if only to marvel at the stone monoliths inside. It was exciting to see that we were in the Boston Public Library’s catalog system.

[Jessica and Jo inside the Boston Public Library]


Friday night, we met up with Bethany at the convention center and walked the floor for about an hour, checking out our publisher’s booths. Then we met Varian and Kekla Magoon for dinner at McCormick & Schmick’s and talked industry talk. We love getting together with other writers! And we love food! Afterwards, we headed over to Cheers where, oddly, nobody knew our names.

[Left to Right: Varian Johnson, Jo Whittemore, Jessica Lee Anderson, Bethany Hegedus]


[Left to Right: Varian Johnson, Bethany Hegedus, Kekla Magoon]

Saturday morning, Jessica signed at the Milkweed booth, and had the wonderful opportunity to visit with her writing professor, Lisa Rowe Fraustino, from Hollins who has a book coming out with Milkweed Editions fall 2010.


[Lisa Rowe Fraustino and Jessica Lee Anderson]

T hen at 1:00, we joined a crowd of other LiveJournal authors (Jo Knowles, Cynthia Lord, Shana Silver, Valerie Giogas, etc) for a brief “OMG! It’s so nice to meet you in person!”

After lunch, we headed to Bethany’s signing at WestSide books and walked the showroom in our Texas Sweethearts gear. It was fun running chatting with several librarians and running into friends, including Kate Messner.

[Jessica and Bethany]

[Jo and Kate Messner]

At 4:00 that afternoon, the Austin posse headed to the Westin across the street and schmoozed it up with editors, agents, educators, librarians and writers at the ALA Midwinter Tweet-up. WOW, that was a HUGE crowd. We had a lovely conversation with a mixture of people, including Alvina Ling, Barry Goldblatt, and Dawn Metcalf.

[Jo, Jessica, Dawn Metcalf]

And, because, we love food, afterwards we joined up with Bethany, as well as VCF alum friends Kekla Magoon and Rebecca Kinney for dinner at scrumptious Marliave.

[Clockwise: Kekla Magoon, Jo Whittemore, Rebecca Kinney, Jessica Lee Anderson, Bethany Hegedus]

The next morning, Jo flew home, while Jessica traveled to New Hampshire to visit with extended family. The highlight was a snow storm that brought in over 6 inches in a matter of hours.


The ride to the airport on Monday was exciting as was the delayed, icy plane, but nothing was exciting as hearing the news about the ALA award winners and honorees!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Friday Roundup—Texas Sweethearts Style

Ever wonder what goes on during a normal week for The Texas Sweethearts (strictly writing speaking that is). This week alone there have been delayed flights back from Boston, postcards being designed, revisions being worked on, and friendships being strengthened.

If you ever get frustrated in the writing business, one of the best things to do is reach out to other writers you trust. As Texas Sweethearts, we've found that to be the most wonderful benefit thus far.

Aren't sure where to find other writers you trust? Here are five possible ways to make lasting connections in the writing business:

1) Attend local SCBWI meetings. Introduce yourself.
2) Go to author signings. Introduce yourself.
3) Hop on the Internet. Yes, you guessed it: introduce yourself. Comment on blogs. Post on someone's Facebook page. Don't be shy (or at least work not to be).
4) Travel to conferences. Introduce yourself.

(is anyone seeing a pattern here?)

5) Could be any number of things. The most important point here is that in order to get to know others, you have to let others know who you are.

*****

In the Featured Sweetheart Nomination category, we have:

Nancy Gruver
, Founder and CEO of NEW MOON
Laura Warren-Gross
, Librarian, Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts
J. Alison James
, Author, Translator, and founder of Kindling Words
Jos Holman
, Librarian, Tippecanoe County Public Library
Ayo Dayo
, Manager, Prince William Public Library System

Look for another featured sweetheart interview coming soon.

Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts!

*****

The Texas Sweethearts are looking forward to a spring filled with writing events. In addition to Jo Whittemore's release party for FRONT PAGE FACE-OFF in March, we have author visits, the Austin SCBWI conference, and book festivals ahead. For a complete list of our events, please check our schedule. And if you're ever interested in seeing if the Texas Sweethearts can visit you, please contact us.

This Saturday, Jessica Lee Anderson will be visiting the Cedar Park Teen Book Club to talk about her latest release BORDER CROSSING.

*****

The Texas Sweethearts were psyched to have two out of three authors present at ALA Midwinter in Boston. Look for a complete roundup next week, but just as a teaser, check out Jo and Jessica in their darling Texas Sweethearts t-shirts.

Jo and Jessica. Are those the cutest shirts or what?

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, January 18, 2010

Critique Contest Winner!

A huge Texas thank you to everyone who commented to win a critique from the Texas Sweethearts! We're thrilled to announce the winner (using a total random number generator via the Internet).
The winner is:


Mike, please email The Texas Sweethearts your first ten pages and a query letter. If your synopsis is short enough, send it along, too!

And we hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Friday Roundup—Texas Sweethearts Style

The Texas Sweethearts hope everyone had a fantastic week!

In case you didn't catch Monday's post, we're running a critique contest. All you have to do to enter is comment on the Monday post and follow our blog. We're taking entries through this Sunday night and will announce a winner on Monday.

Good luck and thank you tons to everyone who's already entered!

*****

In the Featured Sweetheart Nomination category, we have:

Mitali Perkins, an amazing author who is always reaching out and helping new authors and writers in the field. You may also recognize her as the organizer of the Twitter Book Birthday Party.

Jen Robinson, a blogger/reviewer who goes above and beyond the call of duty to bring notice to kids' books. Jen truly wants to help kids find great books to read.

Look for another featured sweetheart interview coming soon.

Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts!

*****

On the review front, Lori Calabrese reviewed both THE EMERALD TABLET and THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD by PJ Hoover. Thank you, Lori!
(review of EMERALD here)
(review of NAVEL here)

Jessica and Jo are off for ALA Midwinter in Boston. So if you're at the conference and you happen to see them, please stop and say "hi".

We're getting psyched for the release of Jo Whittemore's fourth book, FRONT PAGE FACE-OFF! She'll be having a book release party at BookPeople here in Austin in mid-March! We'll let you know the details as they get solidified! Yay, Jo!

*****

Here we are last Friday at The Steeping Room in Austin. There is nothing quite like camaraderie and a nice hot pot of tea.

camaraderie (Jessica, Jo, and PJ)

a nice hot pot of tea (or three)

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!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

FEATURED SWEETHEART - Casey McCormick

THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS are thrilled to introduce our newest FEATURED SWEETHEART, Casey McCormick. Not only is Casey a dedicated writer, mom, and reader for a literary agent, she also runs an amazing blog, Literary Rambles, especially for writers seeking agents. Her Agent Spotlight feature reaches out to hundreds of followers and includes a vast collection of all sorts of agents in the kidlit field. If you haven't checked out her blog, we can't recommend it more.

Casey looking very artsy

TXSH: You provide such helpful information on your blog, Agent Spotlight. Could you tell us about how you got the blog started and why did you decided to spotlight agents?

CLM: I started Literary Rambles based on the simple desire to connect with other writers of children’s books, and to have an outlet for my oft random thoughts about writing and life.

After a while, in reading other writer’s blogs, I noticed that my favorite blogs were those that offered a unique, recurring feature or were just plain funny. Natural funny I just don’t really have, so I started wondering what I could do in the realm of helpful, something that does come natural to me. Sometime later, the idea for Agent Spotlight came to me like story ideas often do—out of nowhere—and I decided to run with it. I’m so happy I did!

TXSH: What is something that you've gained unexpectedly after starting your blog?

CLM: I’ve gained a lot of unexpected things since starting my blog!

For one, I didn’t expect so many people to love and encourage Agent Spotlight, especially agents. To be honest, I was terrified what the agents I was profiling would think, so I was pleasantly surprised when I started receiving e-mails from some of them praising the feature.

Then there’s the huge amount of knowledge I’ve gained. Not only am I vastly more educated on agents than I was in general, but in digging so deep into what makes one agent different from another, I’ve been able to get a better feel for the type of agent I’d want for myself.

But best of all, I’ve also gained a lot of new friends and acquaintances that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve never felt such a strong sense of community and I love it!

TXSH: Do you have any advice you'd like to share with other aspiring writers?

CLM: Stop and consider your current writing approach. Do you need to slow down? Being so closely connected to other writers via internet can have a huge affect on one’s writing. There’s the writer that can write five books a year, the other that sets lofty goals every week and meets them, the author that wrote a book in six months and managed to get an agent and a book deal in the next six. These things can create a rush, an unhealthy momentum in our goals. I recently realized I had fallen prey to the get-agented, get-published rush and it was hurting my writing more than it was helping it. I’ve promised myself to slow down this year and get back to focusing on the approach that works best for me and my writing. I’ll be shooting for quality over speed and quantity, and I’m positive that’s the way it should be.

TXSH: What about advice for writers looking for an agent?

CLM: Respect yourself and your writing enough to make informed decisions and don’t settle! You can’t know how you and an agent will work together until you’ve tried, but there are certainly things you can do to lay a strong foundation for success.

Try not to view it as the agent choosing you, but as a partnership. You’re choosing whom you query, interested agents are in turn choosing to offer representation, and then it’s YOUR call on whether you accept or not, whether you feel confident in making that partnership. You don’t have to take whatever agent will have you, even if it’s just one. Querying an agent does not obligate you to accept their offer. I know it’s hard not to jump at the opportunity to accept right away, especially if there is only one offer, but having the wrong agent can be worse than having no agent. It really can be.

Take the time to ask lots and lots of questions, all of the things that matter to you that you couldn’t find in your preliminary research, and then get a hold of a couple of their clients as well. Ask if you can e-mail a client they’ve sold projects for and then another they’ve yet to sell for. This will give you two different perspectives, valuable input that’s not directly from the agent.

TXSH: As a busy mother of two, blogger, writer, reader for a literary agent, and student among other things, how do you balance your time and stay sane?

CLM: Am I sane? Sometimes I don’t know. I’m also not sure how I balance it all sometimes. I think working at home enables me to do a lot more than those that work outside the home, but I also think it has a lot to do with priorities. I prioritize my blog and my writing over things like television (don’t even have cable) and cleaning (did I just say that publicly?). Seriously though, I recommend just focusing on the things in your control and trying to make the most of your unique situation.

Okay, here’s a secret before I go. I like to think of my life like the game Jenga. Everything’s stacked up like blocks, some of them creating a required foundation while newer priorities stack up precariously at the top. When I add one of those new priorities, I usually have to pull the time and energy from something that’s been around a lot longer (a lower block). I don’t know if my stack can handle that until I try, right? So I just have to give it a go, knowing that, even if I topple, I can try again and maybe I’ll pull from the right places the next time around, allowing my stack to get that much taller.

*****

And now a brief bio for Casey:

Casey McCormick is an aspiring author as well as a reader for a literary agent. She lives in California where she neglects her day job as a medical transcriptionist to write young adult fiction and chase her kids around. To find out more, visit her blog, Literary Rambles, where she yaps about writing, literary agents, and a myriad of other desultory thoughts.

*****

CLM: Thank you so much Jo, P.J. and Jessica! I'm honored to be featured by such Sweethearts!

TXSH: We are truly the honored ones! Thank you, Casey!

*****

Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Critique Contest from The Texas Sweethearts

We Texas Sweethearts just recently finished doing an awesome critique for the Bridget Zinn auction, and we got to thinking:

Wouldn't it be fun to do a contest for a critique on our blog?

Of course, the overwhelming answer was yes, so that's exactly what we're doing. We're giving away a critique!

Here are the details. It's really very, very easy, we promise you.

1) Follow our blog—you know, the cute little pictures of faces over on the right. So the deal is you have to be a follower to enter.

2) Comment on this post before the end of the day Sunday, January 17, 2010. We're guessing not all followers will want to enter, but for those interested, leave a comment here telling us so.

3) Win!

Okay, so there will only be one winner this time around, but you never know what the future will hold.

Critique specifics include 10 pages of a manuscript and a query letter. If your synopsis is short enough (say three pages or less), you can throw that in for good measure. One member of the Texas Sweethearts will critique your pages and get back to you.

So that's all there is to it. Remember to follow us and leave your comment before the end of the day on Sunday, January 17, 2010.
And good luck!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Friday Roundup—Texas Sweethearts Style

The Texas Sweethearts are back from the holidays and recharged for the new year!

We're starting off 2010 with some nice 2009 news:

First, Cynthia Leitich Smith picked BORDER CROSSING by Jessica Lee Anderson as a Cynsational Book Pick of 2009. Check her blog for the entire list.

And second, Becky Laney at Becky's Book Reviews picked THE EMERALD TABLET by P. J. Hoover as one of her favorite books of 2009. Check her blog for the entire list.

Given how many book Cynthia and Becky read each year, Jessica and P. J. are truly honored. Thank you!

*****

In the Featured Sweetheart Nomination category, we have:

Chuck Sambuchino, a editor/blogger who runs the amazing Guide to Literary Agents blog.

Look for another featured sweetheart interview next week!

Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts!

*****

The Texas Sweethearts are pleased to show off their very first fan art! Isn't it adorable?


*****

On the review front, Coffee for the Brain gave BORDER CROSSING by Jessica Lee Anderson a great review. Thank you, Coffee for the Brain!

Thank you to Janet Fox for picking Jessica for her first "Voices You Should Hear" feature on her blog, Through the Wardrobe. You can read the interview here.

We're just two short months away from the release of Jo Whittemore's fourth book, FRONT PAGE FACE-OFF! She'll be having a book release party at BookPeople here in Austin in mid-March! We'll let you know the details as they get solidified! Yay, Jo!

Both Jo and Jessica will be off to ALA-Midwinter next week in Boston! The weather's dipping in the teens here in Austin to prepare them for the northerly trek. Look for them in their Texas Sweethearts t-shirts :)

And finally, PJ and Jessica will be participating in the Young Author's Conference at Baranoff Elementary School next Thursday. PJ will be giving a plotting workshop using the Hero's Journey, and Jessica will be giving a writing workshop encouraging kids to fuel stories from their life experiences.

***

Jessica, PJ, and Jo are looking forward to lunch at The Steeping Room here in Austin. We're thinking cold weather and hot tea will go together wonderfully.

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, January 5, 2010

FEATURED SWEETHEART - Cailin O'Connor

THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS are thrilled to introduce our newest FEATURED SWEETHEART, Cailin O'Connor. You may recognize Cailin as the genius behind the Bridget Zinn auction in the past year. As far as we're concerned, Cailin is pure gold. It's hard to get much more deserving than that.

Cailin with her adorable daughter!

TXSH: You have such a fascinating background, Cailin, could you tell us a little bit about what you do, and how writing plays a role?

CO: I have a master's degree in human development and family studies and I work as a consultant, primarily focusing on parenting education and child abuse prevention. I do a lot of translating research into practical terms for people who work with parents and children, and I also work on program evaluations for child and family programs. I've always enjoyed writing and editing, and I'm glad to have found a professional niche for myself where I get to use those skills, along with my academic training, to work on an issue that I really care about.


TXSH: How did you get involved in the auction to raise funds for Bridget Zinn?

CO: I've known Bridget for years - I actually became friends with her husband, Barrett, when we were in high school, and met Bridget though him when we were all in college. Bridget and Barrett are such good people and so much fun to be around. When Bridget was diagnosed with colon cancer, my husband Nicolai and I wanted to find a way to help. Since Bridget & Barrett had moved to Portland, it was hard to know how we could help - we couldn't bring them dinner, or take care of their cats while they were at the hospital, or anything like that. Then we heard that Bridget's health insurance wasn't going to cover a lot of the treatment she needed, so we decided to put that energy into fundraising. We got some mutual friends together in Madison to work on fundraising. That little group (including Kristin Esselstrom, Amanda Moss, and Jess Main) actually did three fundraisers in 2009 - a huge garage sale, a "film and food" event at a local restaurant where we showed some of Bridget & Barrett's short films, and the online auction. A different person has taken the lead for each event, and we've had help from other friends of Bridget & Barrett for each event too. I took the lead for the auction. We also started a Facebook group called "I want to help Bridget & Barrett!" to let their friends and family know about opportunities to help. That group now has 130 members!


TXSH: What were some things you did to stay organized and on top of things?

CO: As soon as the donations started coming in, I created an Excel sheet listing all the auction items, donors, starting bids, and so on. That allowed me to keep track of all the donations and whether they had been listed on the auction website yet. That was also how I realized when I needed to ask for help - when I could see I had dozens of items on the Excel sheet that weren't listed on the website yet! I asked Jess Main to help me add some listings, and with her help I got all caught up in time for the auction to start. Another friend, Janet Piehl, looked over the items that were listed and caught several errors and inconsistencies before the auction went live. When the auction ended, I went back to the Excel sheet and added in the winning bid, the winner's contact information, and whether the payment had been received and the donor had been notified. So it was a bit of a process, but it pretty much worked. Using the website http://32auctions.com was also a huge help. I thought it had a very professional look, and it was easy to set up the auction and add items.


TXSH: What was the biggest pleasant surprise of coordinating the auction?

CO: People were so generous, from those who donated items - many of whom have never even met Bridget or Barrett - to those who bid and won items. I think the biggest surprise was the generosity of the young-adult literature community. Authors and editors from around the country donated signed books, manuscript critiques, and other items to help out a fellow author. I had hoped to have 50 items in the auction, and we ended up with 112! And when the payments came in, many people "rounded up" from their winning bids - some incredibly generously. With just a couple checks yet to arrive, it looks like the auction will bring in a little over $7,500 to help with Bridget's medical expenses.


TXSH: What advice would you offer to those who are considering coordinating a fundraiser?

CO: I guess for anyone who is considering doing an auction, I would highly recommend they use 32auctions. It's free to use for an auction of up to 32 items, and very reasonably priced to upgrade to have a larger auction. (There are other upgrades available as well.) I would also just recommend that you spread the word about what you're doing as far and as wide as you can. We used Facebook a lot to promote the auction, as well as list-servs and flyers posted in coffeeshops and libraries. You never know who will see it and spread the word even further. For example, Bridget's agent, Michael Stearns at Upstart Crow Literary, blogged about Bridget's story and the auction, and Cicily Janus saw that and blogged about it on the Huffington Post. I don't know how many people came to the auction site because of that, but it certainly didn't hurt!

****

And now a brief bio for Cailin:

Cailin O'Connor works as a consultant on a variety of projects related to children, youth, families, and prevention. She holds a master's degree in human development and family studies from the University of Wisconsin, with a graduate certificate in Prevention and Intervention Science, and a bachelor's degree in philosophy and religious studies from Macalester College. Cailin is one of the co-authors of the report What Works, Wisconsin: What science tells us about cost-effective programs for juvenile delinquency prevention. (This and other related publications can be accessed at What Works Wisconsin.) Cailin lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband, Nicolai Bech Mortensen, and their almost-2-year-old daughter, Amalia.

*****

Cailin, thank you so much for being our featured sweetheart this week!

Monday, January 4, 2010

So long 2009 - Our Highlights of the Year

So here we are in 2010 already. We've passed Palindrome Day, and we're ready to set goals and resolutions for the new year. But what about 2009? I don't know about you guys, but for us Texas Sweethearts, we have a ton to cheer about. 2009 rocked, and we're looking forward to more in the future.

But before we jump to the future, we're going to take a minute to look back on the past. We've rounded up our highlights for the year:

*****
Jessica Lee Anderson:

So many wonderful things happened this last year, including the publication of BORDER CROSSING and selling CALLI, but the highlight was building and strengthening connections with writing friends, locally with the Awesome Austin Writers and afar. Here are some events that will stay with me for as long as my memory is healthy:

*Texas Library Association annual conference in Houston. Cynthia Leitich Smith posted some wonderful pictures

*American Library Association annual conference in Chicago

*SCBWI annual conference in Los Angeles

*Dual book release party

*Encyclomedia

*South Dakota Festival of Books

*Texas Book Festival

I'm blessed to have such an amazing, talented network. I'm also blessed to have found the companionship of my fellow Sweethearts!


*****
PJ Hoover:

My highlights for 2009 include:

* Rediscovering my love of reading

* Finding my writing buddies both online and locally. Support of other writers you can really count on matters so much in this business.

* Remembering I need to have fun also. This is where Mario Kart and Rock Band come into the picture.

* The formation of the Texas Sweethearts. Jo and Jessica are amazing gals, and I am so fortunate to be part of this group.

* Publication of my second novel, THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD. Having kids read it. Having kids enjoy it! Having kids tell me they enjoyed it :)

* Realizing I LOVE to talk to groups of people. And not just kids but people of all ages. This used to scare me to death, but now I relish the thought of it.

* And finally, as for the actual writing, I've pushed myself out of my comfort zone and tried new things. I am excited to be improving and love every bit of this writing career!

*****
Jo Whittemore:

I was lucky to have several writing-related highlights last year! But I'll pick my top five.

* Receiving the ARC for FRONT PAGE FACE-OFF, proof in my hands that I'm capable of reaching outside my comfort zone to a new genre.

* Attending the SCBWI LA Conference. It was the greatest fortune to hang out with old friends, make new ones, get inspired and be a girly girl for one evening (at the gala)!

* The countless other times this year I was blessed with writer world company, from my abfab agent Jenn to my genius critique partner Cheryl to the Awesome Austin Writers.

* Forming the Texas Sweethearts with Tricia (PJ) and Jessica, my Southern Sistahs! Their camaraderie and support is a blessing.

* Selling a new project to Simon & Schuster (Aladdin Mix) on proposal and then seeing it through until the words The End. Such a great feeling.

*****

And what was your highlight for 2009?

So long, 2009!