Thursday, December 27, 2012

Publication Day: Hope's Gift

Today Texas Scoundrel Don Tate celebrates the publication of his new book, Hope's Gift (Putnam Juvenile, December 27, 2012). It is written by his pal, Kelly Starling Lyons. Kelly writes a poignant story that celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, while Don illustrates this significant moment in American history.

Kirkus Kirkus describes: “A warm story about the love of a family and the jubilation of freedom.”

What are some of your other favorite stories that celebrate freedom?

Monday, December 3, 2012

FEATURED SWEETHEART: Lucy Kubo

Howdy!  It's Jessica Lee Anderson here, and I'm beyond excited to announce that LUCY KUBO is our newest Featured Sweetheart! When I first met Lucy at TLA's annual convention, I knew I'd discovered a kindred spirit.  She's a Sweetheart to the core, and I can't wait for you to get to know her, too!




 Bio:  Lucy Kubo practically grew up in libraries, and one of her very early childhood memories is of wetting her pants in the picture book section because she was too shy to ask for a restroom. Fortunately, she outgrew that shyness by the time she reached Southwestern University, where she was bold enough to ask the hot Japanese karate teacher if she could attend his class. A year later they were married and have enjoyed seeing the world together, from Europe to Japan to New Zealand. This past summer Lucy spent ten days volunteering at the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica. Lucy and her husband share their home with two fluffy dogs and love having visits from their daughter, a professional cook.
 




TxS&S: Can you tell us about what you do and how you got started?   
LK:  During my high school years, I had a part-time job at the public library.  At Southwestern University, I worked in the university library.  Then I explored some alternate paths for some long years before returning to my first love, libraries, in 1998. I’m in my ninth year as Library Media Technology Specialist at Keller High School.  While I do spend much of my time assisting with research and technology needs, my personal  focus is on the benefits of reading for pleasure. 

TxS&S:  The amazing Young Adult Keller Book Festival will be here before we know it!  Can you share some information on the origins of the festival and what attendees have to look forward to? 
 
 
LK:  I’m glad you asked!  The seeds of YAK Fest were planted many years ago and took a very long time to come to fruition. After attending an ALA session presented by the brains behind the Rochester (N.Y.) Teen Book Festival, I realized that we could have a YA book festival in north Texas.  Thanks to a generous grant from the Hudson Foundation, we had a baker’s dozen authors attend our inaugural YAK Fest last January.  For YAK13, we have 23 authors coming, including quite a few wonderful home-grown Texas authors. The fabulous and funny  Simone Elkeles will give the keynote speech at 10 o’clock.  After that, attendees will have four opportunities to choose from seven different panels.  The Book Carriage of Roanoke Texas will be there to sell books for the autograph session, and there will be yummy food on sale for lunch.  There’ll be music and door prizes and who knows what all surprises!  One thing teens really enjoyed last year was the photo op with our yak!
 
TxS&S: To what do you attribute your passion for young adult literature?
LK:  My wonderful mother instilled a love for reading in me at a very early age.  When I was a teen, we didn’t have many books written specially for that age, and the ones we did have were very out-of-touch.   I love that so much YA lit written today covers situations that young people actually deal with, in the language that they speak.   Even fantasies and dystopias involve personal growth and challenges to which today’s teens can relate.  And so many YA books are VERY well-written.



TxS&S: If you could make a wish for teens and reading in the future, what would it be?
LK:  Would it be wrong of me to wish John Green could be cloned?  Yes?  Dang.  Then my wish is that more teens read extensively and think deeply, so they can become the next generation of amazing authors for the young people coming up after them, to share what they have experienced and learned and thought in ways that will have an impact on others.

TxS&S: Would you consider yourself a Sweetheart or a Scoundrel?
LK:   I would like to think of myself as a Scoundrel in the vein of maybe a female Han Solo.  Alas.  While I do confess to some scoundrel-ish tendencies, I am a Sweetheart. 



TxS&S: Thanks for hanging out with us, Lucy, and for being such a Sweetheart!

 ***

If you know of someone who would make a great Featured Sweetheart, please let us know! The best part? If you nominate someone, we'll send you a $5 Starbucks gift card :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

November News!

Happy Thanksgiving from
THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS  & SCOUNDRELS!
  
seven authors & illustrators who write for kids and teens

November means the Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels are prepping for the holidays just like everyone else! We look forward to seeing old and new friends at our upcoming events, and we're excited to offer a group signing event at the Book Spot in Round Rock, Texas.


(Don't forget, many of us are still scheduling school and library visits, as well as festival and event appearances, and hope to see you soon!)


Meet the Sweethearts & Scoundrels!
  
On Saturday, December 8th, the Sweethearts & Scoundrels will be taking over The Book Spot in Round Rock from Noon - 2pm. We'll have a meet and greet, book signings, refreshments, and arts and crafts for the kids. The Sweethearts & Scoundrels are so excited to be able to partner with a local indie bookstore for this event, and would love to be able to help you knock out a big chunk of your holiday shopping all in one swoop. Please come by and say hello! 

NEWS & UPDATES

ACCOLADES
Jeanette's Hummingbirds was named a 2012 Editor's Choice book by Library Media Connections. 

Don Tate's It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw has made it onto Kirkus' Best of 2012 list, as well as Booklist's Top 10 Arts Books for Youth  in the November issue.  

AUSTIN COMIC CON
P. J. Hoover and Jessica Lee Anderson had a great time at Austin Comic Con last month as part of the Writing Ninjas of Texas booth. Both dressed as Alice in Wonderland from the Tim Burton movie, and a highlight was definitely getting their picture taken on the bridge of the USS Enterprise.

 
(P.J. Hoover and Jessica Lee Anderson at Austin Comic Con)
 
TEXAS BOOK FESTIVAL
(
Duncan Tonatiuh, Greg Christie, Don Tate discuss their books at the Texas Book Festival, 2012)
 
 
(K.A. Holt, Jarrett Krosoczka, Dav Pilkey, Lisa McMann, and Mac Barnett at the Captain Underpants panel, Texas Book Festival, 2012)
  
DEAR TEEN ME RELEASE WEEK 
P. J. Hoover and Jessica Lee Anderson visited Round Rock High School in Round Rock, TX last week as part of the lead-up to the DEAR TEEN ME release party. Along with a few other Texas authors, P. J. and Jessica shared what inspired them to contribute to the DEAR TEEN ME anthology. Thank you, Round Rock HS, for the great hospitality! And thank you to The Book Spot bookstore for organizing the event!
 
Don Tate, K.A. Holt, Jo Whittemore, P.J. Hoover, and Jessica Lee Anderson attended the launch party for DEAR TEEN ME on Saturday, November 11th at The Book Spot in Round Rock. The theme of the party was "retro prom" and everyone had a great time celebrating the book and getting decked out in formal (or not so formal) wear for the party. 
 
 
(Jo Whittemore, Don Tate, P.J. Hoover, Jessica Lee Anderson, K.A. Holt pose at the Dear Teen Me launch party. Photo by Dave Wilson Photography.)

SCHOOL VISIT UPDATES
Don Tate is currently working with educator Debbie Gonzales, who will help him to align his school library visits with the 
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), state standards.
 
P. J. Hoover had a lovely time visiting Canyon Pointe Elementary in Tomball, TX. She talked about her path to writing and about how developing characters is a lot like creating monsters. The kids were so enthusiastic! If you'd like to schedule P. J. for an author visit, please contact her via her
K.A. Holt had a great visit with the Writers' Den students in October. Kari and the students discussed the revision process and how it doesn't have to make you crazy. They also talked about zombie haiku, which can sometimes make you crazy. 

UPCOMING EVENTS    

BOOKMANIA
Don is looking forward to being featured at Bookmania, Chicago, on November 17. Two days of school visits will precede the event. 

WRITERS' DEN
In December, Jeanette will visit with members of The Writers' Den at Westview Middle School in Pflugerville, TX.  


HYATT LOST PINES 
ANNUAL CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT
Jeanette will be presenting at the Hyatt Lost Pine Annual Christmas Bird Count in Bastrop on December 28. You do not have to stay at the resort to participate in the free (or small fee for some) birding programs held in cooperation with the Bastrop County Audubon Society. For more information on this event, click here.
SCHOOL VISITS!   
   
Interested in an author visit? The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels would love to visit your school. We understand that library budgets are tight, so our honorariums are flexible and reasonable, and visits can often be combined with other trips to your area.  

DON TATE
  
Don looks forward to sharing with students his story about how he became a published author. And he draws! Lots of drawing! Contact him soon as his schedule is filling up.  http://dontate.com/contact/     

JEANETTE LARSON
Jeanette recently added to her experience for school presentations by watching bird banders (have you ever been up close to the south end of a north bound bird?). Contact Jeanette about speaking at your school or library event at jeanette@jeanettelarson.com.
 
K. A. HOLT
Kari enjoys letting students in on a few of her writing secrets - authors are just regular people, and just because you write about zombies and chupacabras doesn't mean you can't write poetry. Contact karianne@gmail.com to bring Kari to your school!

P. J. HOOVER
Creating new worlds, mythology, and monsters is what P. J. Hoover loves to talk about the most. As a former Electrical Engineer, P. J. will share with students her transition to writing, inspirations for her books, and tips that will help even the most reluctant kids believe being a writer is possible. P. J. also partners with Jessica Lee Anderson for school visits. Contact P. J. at www.pjhoover.com/contact.php
   
JESSICA LEE ANDERSON
Jessica Lee Andersonis a certified teacher and loves sharing her journey from struggling writer to published author. She is happy to customize any presentation. Jessica also pairs with P. J. Hoover to provide exciting, interactive programs. Contact her at jessicaleeanderson.com/contact.php.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

FEATURED SWEETHEART: Sherry McElhannon

Hi! It's Jessica Lee Anderson posting to share that Sherry McElhannon is our fab new Featured Sweetheart! PJ Hoover, KA Holt, Jeanette Larson, and I had a wonderful time at the 2012 Waco Library Jubilee, and I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Sherry more.  The theme of the Library Jubiliee, "The Quest for Imagination," was both inspiring and fun.  These exact words describe Sherry McElhannon, plus the word Sweetheart!

Bio: Sherry McElhannon has spent the last three and a half years as the Library/Instructional Technology Specialist at the Education Service Center, Region 12 in Waco, TX. Sherry holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Baylor University, where she majored in English (emphasis on British Literature) and minored in history. Since she didn't want to teach (what else do you do with a B.A. in English?), Sherry then moved to the frigid north, where she completed her Masters Degree in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
When not in the office, Sherry and her husband enjoy adventure. They love to travel and are always looking for the next destination. Sherry has her motorcycle license and her scuba diving certification, and she is quite proud of her most recent accomplishment - finishing a half-marathon and living to tell the tale. Two furry kiddos round out the McElhannon crew and make sure nothing scary gets into the back yard.



TxS&S: Can you share with us what you do, how you got started, and who or what inspires you?

SM: The short answer is "I provide professional development to educators in central Texas in the area of Library Services and Instructional Technology." The reality is that it varies from day to day, and that's what I love about this job! I get to read the latest in children's and YA lit, I get to talk to librarians and teachers about how to work together and get kids hooked on reading, I get to play with iPads and interactive whiteboards, I get to show up to work in costume - there's never a dull moment!

It's definitely not what I would have expected when I declared my intention to be a librarian in 4th grade. My early inspiration for my career choice was the librarian at our small-town branch library, June. She knew every patron by name, and she always knew what I needed to read next. For a kid that couldn't devour books fast enough, June was my hero and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. The library was in a double-wide trailer and probably didn't have more than 10 sets of shelves in the children's section, but I couldn't WAIT to volunteer there as soon as I turned 12, and I've worked in libraries ever since.

When I got to library school and realized that being a librarian was about more than just reading books, I fell more in love with this profession. It allows me to share my love for reading, but it also allows me to connect people with information, which is an incredibly exciting thing to do!



TxS&S: What has been one of your most rewarding surprises you’ve experienced since you got your start in the field?

SM: One of the most rewarding things about being in my field is being able to help shatter the librarian stereotypes. It seems like everyone has been shhh-ed by a grumpy old librarian with a bun and glasses. The looks I get when I tell people that I'm a librarian are priceless! Yes, I do knit, and I have owned a cat in the past, but I'm excited and full of ideas and only shh when absolutely necessary.

The most rewarding surprise, though, has been how normal authors are. Before I started library school, I'd never really met an author before but they always seemed so inaccessible, so aloof. Since I started in my current position, I've really enjoyed building relationships with local authors and discovering that they're a lot like me - they love to read and write and want to share that passion with others. (There is still a part of me that gets a little giddy when I meet the brilliant minds behind my favorite books, and I'm pretty sure that will never go away!)

TxS&S: As someone who has planned a successful conference, what words of wisdom would you offer?

SM: Start early and network like crazy! After the conference last week, I took a day off, and then started thinking about next year's conference. It takes time to come up with a clear picture of what I want the day to look like based on feedback from the previous year, things I've read in journals and on blogs, and other conferences I attend.

Even before I have the clear picture, I take every opportunity to ask people if they're interested in participating. At conferences, out in districts, even through comments on blogs - I'm shameless! The worst they can do is say no, right? And how many people say no to spending the day with a group of excited librarians and teachers. The first year was really hard, but I've gotten much better at networking and my connections have led to some really cool people coming to the Library Jubilee!

Last but not least, I would say to have fun! Yes, it can be stressful. You're not going to make everybody happy. But if you're having fun and are enthusiastic as the organizer of the conference, that will infuse the overall atmosphere of the conference with the same enthusiasm! Besides, if something is going to consume your life for the better part of a year, you might as well enjoy it!



TxS&S: What do you think libraries in the future will be like?

SM: The future of the library as a center for information is digital, and the future is not far off. I love being able to check out a book to read on my Kindle app at any time, and I LOVE that it will return itself when my two weeks are up (no late fees!). I love Google and online databases and I can't wait to see how technology is going to enhance the information experience even in the next few years!

The library as a physical space will never go away, but I think it will evolve to be more of a social or community center. We will always need a place to go and study, a place to meet friends, a place to borrow some free wifi. As digital information explodes, we’ll always need someone to guide us through the information overload!



I don't think physical books will ever go away as long as there are people like me that still enjoy that new book smell and the feeling of curling up with a paperback.

TxS&S: Would you consider yourself a Sweetheart or Scoundrel?

SM:  The word "scoundrel" is one that doesn't get used often enough these days - it conjures up images of the great literary heroes and heroines challenging the status quo, questioning corrupt authority. As much as I would love be one, I think being a sweetheart comes with the profession. It's my job to make people happy and I love doing it! I'll go the extra mile to get you what you need and I'll love every minute of it.


TxS&S:  Thank you for your time, dedication, and awesomeness, Sherry!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

FEATURED SWEETHEART: Angela Hall

Howdy! Jessica Lee Anderson checking in here to announce that our newest Featured Sweetheart is the lovely Angela Hall! What a joy to visit her amazing library at Westwood High School and to spend time getting to know her! I can't wait for you to get to know her, too! Please welcome Angela Hall!!!


TxS&S: You're such an energetic and innovate teen librarian! Can you tell us how you got your start about what keeps you motivated?

AH: I've been a librarian for 18 years. I've worked in all types of libraries: university, public, special, and school libraries. I used to be a bank auditor and I had become so disenchanted with the profession. I sought a more challenging opportunity and since I didn't know what I really wanted to do, I took a career aptitude test. The results pointed towards librarianship. Even though I am native North Carolinian, I opted to go to grad school at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA. When I began my program, I had not intentions of ever working with kids simply because I didn't think I had a knack for it. After spending the first 10 years of my career seeking my niche, I finally decided I had had enough of corporate libraries and was determined that if my passion for libraries was not re-ignited, I would leave librarianship all together. Before I left a research library position at Bank of American, I prayed. I asked God for a career in which there were threee things: variety; an opportunity to interact with amazing people; and sufficient time off! So, I applied for (and got) a librarian position at a high school in Charlotte, NC and have not had any regrets! It is such a joy for me to LOVE my job! I really do! I say that to my mother and she says, "I've never heard you say that," and I say, "I've never loved my job before!" That in itself is my motivation: my love for my work. There are days when it is really challenging and hard. I go home feeling beat down, but in spite of that, I still love it and look forward to another day!



TxS&S: What has been one of your most rewarding surprises?

AH: It was a few years ago while I was working at an elmentary school. One of the kindergarten classes came in and gave me letters/notes of appreciation for being their librarian. It was so unexpected and I was so moved that it brought me to tears. When they saw me crying, they all circled me and embraced me. I don't do my job for that reason. I just do it because I love it and I want all my students and faculty to have the best of me.


TxS&S: To what do you attribute your passion for young adult literature?

AH: I don't read much adult literature any more. When friends ask me for adult title recommendations, I am a complete blank . On the other hand, I can certainly provide many options in young adult literature. I love young adult literature because its purity, rawness of feelings, and mere transparency. YA Lit, as we know it now, did not exist when I was a teen. This writing allows me to relive my youth and work through issues that I didn't even know I had. So often, as I'm reading, I have my "ahah" moment. It is during those moments when I'm so impacted by a piece of work, I record my feelings in my journal. YA Lit helps me grow up in a way that I was not able to as a teen.


TxS&S: If you could make a wish for teens and reading in the future, what would it be?

AH: I wish that, in the wake of standardized state testing and always changing curriculums, reading 30 to 45 minutes per day were a requirement. I don't mean required reading, but reading for enjoyment. I read before work, during lunch, as soon as I get home in the evenings, and before bed. I'd be lost without what I consider a necessity.


TxS&S: Would you consider yourself a Sweetheart or a Scoundrel?

AH: I consider myself a sweetheart!

TxS&S: You are an absolute sweetheart, Angela! We appreciate you hanging out with us thank you for all you do!


***

Bio: Angela Hall is a librarian at Westwood High School in Austin, Texas. She has been a librarian for about 18 years, but absolutely loves being a school librarian. She is from Charlotte, NC and has been in the Austin area for 6 years. Angela loves Austin because it’s an “outdoorsy” town with great weather. She loves to travel, and while she has not traveled abroad, yet, she does like to drive across country and makes a pilgrimage to NC at least once per year, by car. Angela is terrified of bridges, but loves them at the same time. When driving, she likes to stop and snap pictures of the bridges. In addition, she is an avid reader and likes to explore different genres, and has recently become a fan of the steam punk subgenre. While Angela owns an eReader (and actually uses it), her first love continues to be books. For her there is nothing more comforting than the feel of a book in her hands.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Featured Sweetheart: KAREN JENSEN

Hi! P. J. Hoover here, and today I'm thrilled to feature an amazing librarian who has contributed so much time and energy to the teen librarian community! Please help me welcome

Karen Jensen!


***

TxSandS: You run an amazing teen book blog! Thank you for helping spread the word about books for kids! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, and who or what inspires you? What were your goals when you started blogging, and how has that vision changed now that some time has gone by?

Karen: I was working at my dream job in Ohio (nice library that I felt was my family, teens I loved), but my husband was not. He got a job in Texas and I knew that when I left that it would be hard to find a library position given the current state of the economy and continual cutbacks in libraries (my Ohio library had lay-offs twice in the past 4 years). I also knew that every ounce of my being is a ya librarian and I wanted to continue to be involved in my profession and serve teens - so I started my blog. I never realized how much I would love doing the website. It gives me the opportunity to be creative, express myself, and now instead of serving local teens, I serve even more teens by (hopefully) equipping other librarians. I have been very honored and blessed to be blogging now with a group of other dedicated ya librarians that include Stephanie Wilkes, Christie Gibrich and Heather Booth. We often get great post series and discussions going and it is very invigorating and rewarding. I have also been lucky to meet and talk with a lot of authors and learn more about the other side of what I do: the writing and publishing side. All in all, I feel like my vision has grown and I personally am just encouraged to be a part of such an amazing group of people that care about and works with book and teens and our future.


 
TxSandS: What has been the biggest surprise since you've started?

Karen: How much work it is! Reading, writing, organizaing, responding to e-mails, contacting authors and publishers. Honestly, it could be a full-time job if you let it (and could figure out a way to make money from it). But the flip side is: it is so rewarding and encouraging and invigorating. And it really makes you think about why you do what you do as a librarian and as a reader. Honestly, it has been the most rewarding experience of my professional life. And I love getting to talk with other readers about books, why we like the ones we do and why we don't like the others. Being a part of this community is so very rewarding.

Hands down awesome: this past year I have gotten to meet some of my favorite authors and librarians and it has rocked! And yes, I do have some librarian superheroes of my own. And a couple of times someone has told me I am their librarian superhero and that does not suck.





TxSandS: How do you see reading changing for teens in the next couple years? What challenges do you see? And what can we do to help?

Karen: Yesterday my tween's teacher sent me an email (well, the whole class) saying that we had to sign off each night that our child had read 10 pages a night. 10 pages! I was thinking in my head, way to underachieve there. And these past 2 years I have really seen how AR has negatively affected her as a reader. She read Fudge but was told she couldn't read Superfudge because it was outside her level, too hard. I have a better idea now why when these teens get to me they are starting to hate reading. I think we undermine the value of reading as a culture, in our schools, and we really set up obstacles. We're already competing with video games and million dollar budget movies with amazing special effects, do we really want to create more barriers through our policies and procedures? You see it in the libraries, too: Teens often travel without parents so they can't get library cards and check books out right away - how do you solve that problem?

Challenges facing teens reading and libraries:
  • Increasingly overscheduled teens
  • A cultural devaluing of reading for enjoyment
  • AR testing and other systems that take the "fun" out of reading
  • Shrinking library budgets which mean we have less titles and less multiple copies of titles and makes teens have to wait longer for popular titles. At one point you had to wait over 2 months to get a copy of The Hunger Games in my library. Less money also means less staff and less access via hours open, trained staff, etc.

Of course we can't ignore the way that technology is changing reading with e-readers and e-books. This is a topic I think we are all still trying to work out. Libraries are definitely behind the curve on this one.

And I think we need to see more diversity in books still, and more books written for boys. Truthfully, a lot of really popular titles - like Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi - I think would have appeal for both genders but are marketed to girls, which is unfortunate. I think we - writers, publishers, whoever - are forgetting parts of our audience and alienating them. It's really hard to get someone back once you have sent the implied message that you have nothing to offer them. We need to change the message because we do have something to offer them. In fact, reading and information literacy is very, very important. And ther is a lot of learning that takes place in fiction reading. I personally feel that empathy, compassion and the understanding of others is one of the most important things we can give our kids and teens and fiction is one of the best tools to do it.

But I would love to see writers bust out of some of the current trends and send a different message:
Empower girls and de-emphasize looks. Same for boys. I worry about how we are affecting self-esteem and development in the way our teen characters are presented in teen lit. Seriously, all the guys are always hot swoony guys. That is not the way I remember high school. That has to be just as hard on guys as it is on girls to see all the really thin girls on book and magazine covers.

Send a different message regarding relationships: creepy, stalker, controlling dudes are not hot and sexy and don't usually turn out to be the misunderstood hero in real life. In fact, they usually turn out to be creepy, stalker, controlling dudes who hit and control with psychological abuse.

I would love to see more natural, slow building (simmering) romance in teen novels. Sometimes you do fall in love with your childhood best friend.

I would also like to see more classic science fiction, in outer space with aliens. That's just a personal preference.

Spend time with teens. They are living lives that can break your heart. They need to know they are not alone and there is hope.

All in all, this is a rich time in teen literature and I am thankful every day to be a part of it. That's what we need, is to get these books into the hands of teen readers. They need to be real, relatable and accessible. And everyone who can should make sure and contact their local school and public libraries and ask how they can work with them. Some libraries have Friends groups which provide supplemental funding, very necessary in today's age, so see if you can work with them. Definitely get to know your local teen librarians and be in dialogue with them; I am sure you have information that can help them be better at their jobs. I am a firm believer that everyone is better the more they know...





TxSandS: Would you consider yourself a Sweetheart or a Scoundrel?

Karen: I am going to go with a Sweetheart who has Scoundrel tendencies. I am passionate about books, libraries and serving teens - which are Sweetheart goals. But I can be a Scoundrel when it comes to standing up against censorship, being radical in my ideals or outspoken in my beliefs. Some people may consider that Scoundrel like behavior. I personally call that super hero behavior :)


TxSandS: Thank you so much, Karen, for being here with us and for all you do!


***

Bio:

Karen Jensen has been a Young Adult/Teen Services Librarian for 19 years and loves working with teens, teen fiction, and graphic design (free RA posters here). She reads, she doesn't cook. Karen has an undergraduate degree from Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Youth Ministry with a minor in Psychology and received her MLS from Kent State University in 2002. Karen has been a reviewer for VOYA magazine since 2001. For the past 2 years she has been a part of the Wild Child Conference board.  Karen believes in the power of the 40 Developmental Assets and that the right book in the right hand can make all the difference.

TLT is her attempt to share her passion with her fellow teen services librarians - and you.  You can read her articles, Mpact: Building and Asset Builder's Coalition (VOYA, October 2011) and If You Feed Them, or Not, Will They Come?, (VOYA, February 2012) in VOYA, the Voice of Youth Advocates.

She is currently the Youth Services Librarian, focusing on tweens and teens, at the Betty Warmack Branch Library in Grand Prairie, Texas.  This year she is also honored to serve as the Publicity Coordinator for the North Louisiana Teen Book Festival (mark your calendars for April 6th, 2013) with the amazing Stephanie Wilkes who is working hard to put this thing together.

Her favorite reads include Chris Crutcher, Sarah Dessen, Scott Westerfeld, fantasy, science fiction and zombies (Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry is her absolute fave zombie book series thank you for asking). She is not so secretly in love with Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver.

***

If you know of someone who would make a great Featured Sweetheart, please let us know! The best part? If you nominate someone, we'll send you a $5 Starbucks gift card :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Happy Halloween from THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS & SCOUNDRELS

Happy Halloween from
THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS  & SCOUNDRELS!
  
seven authors & illustrators who write for kids and teens

October means the Texas Book Festival and Halloween and many other activities for the Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels! We love seeing so many old and new friends at the festivals and other events that proliferate in the fall. Many of us are still scheduling school and library visits, as well as festival and event appearances, and hope to see you soon!


TEXAS BOOK FESTIVAL
We love the Texas Book Festival and next to Halloween it is the biggest celebration in Austin every year. Several of the Sweethearts will be featured presenters and you are likely to spot a few of the rest of us around the Capitol grounds. Come to Austin during the weekend of October 27th-28th for a feast of literature.
  
Kari Ann Holt will be moderating two panels this year: Lunch Ladies, Mummies and Class Clowns with Jarrett J. Krosoczka, James Luna, and Kirk Scroggs, Saturday Oct. 27th at 10 am. And then Captain Underpants! with Dav Pilket, Lisa McMann, Jarrett J. Krosoczka and Mac Barnett on Saturday Oct. 27th at 2:15pm.   

We knew it but now it's official. Don Tate is a Reading Rockstar! On Friday, October 26, he and R. Gregory Christie will participate in the Texas Book Festival's Reading Rockstars program, where they'll present to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders at Ortega Elementary School.

On Saturday, October 27
at noon, Don Tate, R. Gregory Christie will present at the children's Read Me a Story tent (13th and Colorado Streets). Then from 2 to 3 p.m., Don will participate in the panel discussion Drawing on the Lives of Artists, in the Capitol Extension, Room E2.010. Don Tate, R. Gregory Christie and Duncan Tonatiuh will discuss their nonfiction picture books.

Jo Whittemore will introduce Elaine Scott on Saturday,  October 27 at 3:30 p.m. in the Capitol Extension, Room E2.012.

NEWS & UPDATES 

NEW BOOKS
 
Several of the Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels are featured in the Dear Teen Me anthology coming October 30th, 2012 from Zest Books! There are some amazing letters from some amazing people that are going to be perfect for sharing with your teens! We highly recommend this as a book to read along with your teens to help with those difficult conversation starters. Those of us who are not in the book are probably in the blog that started it all so check us out.  

For those who live in or around the Austin area, there will be a book launch party for Dear Teen Me. Come for the fun!  

When: Saturday, November 10, 2012, 2:00 
Where: The Book Spot, 1205 Round Rock Ave #119,
 Round Rock, TX 78681  
What: Book Release Party for Dear Teen Me
    
AUSTIN TEEN BOOK FESTIVAL

This now-annual festival was a big hit. Jessica Lee Anderson was thrilled to have participated !  Here she is pictured with fellow Sweethearts PJ Hoover and Jo Whittemore. If you have a chance, be sure to attend next year's Austin Teen Book Festival.

KA Holt is taking her vitamins to prep for an extra busy late October. In addition to a lot of school visits (see below), she just returned from a week at a Highlights Foundation workshop on verse novels in Honesdale, PA, studying under Sonya Sones, Linda Oatman High, and National Book Award-winning Virginia Euwer Wolff. What a productive week of intensive study and writing!

Jeanette Larson has been teaching an online class for librarians on collection development. Of course she has recommended that every library should have copies of every book by a Sweetheart!
BOOK SIGNINGS & EVENTS    
     
 
HOLIDAY BOOK SIGNING 

We love the Book Spot, an independent book store in Round Rock, TX. Why? Because in addition to being a great store, the Book Spot always carries our books! And you can order our books by mail and we can sign them for you.

They also host a range of author
events. If you are in the area, plan now for December 8. We expect that all of the Sweethearts (and a Scoundrel or two) will be there from noon-2:00 p.m. We'll be reading, doing some crafts with the kids, and signing our books. We don't have to tell you that books make great holiday gifts!

Check out the calendar for other events at the Book Spot at  http://www.facebook.com/events/402625873135039/
.



REGIONAL LIBRARIAN EVENTS!

Look for the Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels at your regional librarian event! And if we are not coming to an event near you, invite us. In addition to programs about our books, some of us do teacher in-service training and workshops.

Jeanette, Jessica, P.J. and Kari are scheduled to be at the ESC Region XII (Waco) Library Jubilee on November 6, 2012. We'll be talking about our writing and how to use our books with your students and presenting some of our books as reader's theater. It will be fun to watch us being dramatic!


SCHOOL VISITS!   
   
Interested in an author visit? The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels would love to visit your school. We understand that library budgets are tight, so our honorariums are flexible and reasonable, and visits can often be combined with other trips to your area.  
 
DON TATE  
Don kicked off the new school year with his first visit at Rutledge Elementary in Leander, Texas. He looks forward to sharing with students his story about how he became a published author. And he draws! Lots of drawing! Contact him soon as his schedule is filling up.  http://dontate.com/contact/     

JEANETTE LARSON
Jeanette recently spoke to (gulp) adult birders at the Rockport Hummer Bird Celebration. She added to her experience for school presentations by watching bird banders (have you ever been up close to the south end of a north bound bird?) and taking some great photographs. She also spoke to students at Sacred Heart School in Rockport. Contact Jeanette about speaking at your school or library event at jeanette@jeanettelarson.com.
 
K. A. HOLT
Later this month, Kari is thrilled to be joining Westview Middle School in Pflugerville, Texas as the first visiting author in their new Writers' Den program. Kari will be spending lunchtime with several groups of middle schoolers, sharing work, answering questions about writing and revisions, and helping students gain confidence in their writing abilities. And rounding out the month will be an impromptu visit (shh!) to the 5th graders at Zilker Elementary in Austin to talk about horror books, zombie haiku - and maybe, just maybe - to give a quick lesson on the proper way to apply zombie make-up.Kari enjoys letting students in on a few of her secrets - authors are just regular people, and just because you write about zombies and chupacabras doesn't mean you can't write poetry. Contact karianne@gmail.com to bring Kari to your school!

P. J. HOOVER
Creating new worlds, mythology, and monsters is what P. J. Hoover loves to talk about the most. As a former Electrical Engineer, P. J. will share with students her transition to writing, inspirations for her books, and tips that will help even the most reluctant kids believe being a writer is possible. P. J. also partners with Jessica Lee Anderson for school visits. Contact P. J. at www.pjhoover.com/contact.php
   
JESSICA LEE ANDERSON
Jessica Lee Anderson looking forward to an upcoming school visit at Westwood High School, Austin (TX). She is a certified teacher and loves sharing her journey from struggling writer to published author. She is happy to customize any presentation. Jessica also pairs with P. J. Hoover to provide exciting, interactive programs. Contact her at jessicaleeanderson.com/contact.php.


      
SKYPE A SWEETHEART 

Can't afford to bring a Sweetheart to your school? Skype provides a great way to introduce us to your students for a fraction of the cost.   
  
Not sure how Skype visits work? Win a free 10-15 minute Skype  visit with a Sweetheart (well, it's possible that you might get a Scoundrel). Click here to send us your name, school, and contact email. We'll draw one name on October 31 for a free Skype visit (time and date to be arranged) with Sweetheart Jeanette Larson.   Forward our newsletter to your friends and colleagues and encourage them to join our mailing list so they can also enter to win a free Skype visit. We'll be offering them throughout the year. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

FEATURED SWEETHEART: Valerie Burleigh

Hi, there! It's Jessica Lee Anderson here and I'm so thrilled to announce our newest Featured Sweetheart--Valerie Burleigh! When I first met Valerie IRL, she was wearing a shirt that said,

"AUTHORS ARE MY ROCK STARS." 

Well, I totally want a shirt that says "Teachers and librarians are my rock stars!" And let me just say that Valerie Burleigh falls in this category.

We met through our beloved Round Rock indie book store, The Book Spot, and immediately, I was amazed by her zeal for her students and for young adult literature! Valerie Burleigh grew up in Louisiana and recently moved to Texas. She's been teaching for thirteen years, and I have to add that she's made quite an impression on the community!




TxS&S: You're such a rocking teacher and an enthusiastic supporter of young adult literature! Can you tell us how you got your start about what keeps you motivated?  

VB: From the very first year I started teaching, I shared my passion and love of reading with my students. Whenever I find a new author, a new book in a genre that we love, or come across a book trailer or cover reveal, I am so excited to share it with them. They are the most enthusiastic readers I know and keep me motivated.


 TxS&S: What has been one of your most rewarding surprises? VB: One of my most rewarding surprises as a teacher has been encouraging my students to reach out to authors that they have been influenced by or inspired by and sharing the excitement of a response from that author with them. It is powerful and wonderful to experience.



TxS&S: To what do you attribute your passion for young adult literature?  

VB: My passion for young adult literature comes from a love of the genre. The stories are so rich and the characters so memorable and I remember the difficulties I faced as a teen and can relate to the characters. I also have a fondness for young adult literature because it wasn't around when I was growing up. I went right from Judy Blume to Stephen King.  


TxS&S: If you could make a wish for teens and reading in the future, what would it be?  

VB: If I could make a wish for teens and reading in the future, it would be that each student I teach and teens everywhere get connected with a book they can identify with and feel that powerful connection created by words. If they can make that one real connection, they will be hooked on finding more books they like and be on the path to becoming a lifelong reader.




TxS&S: Would you consider yourself a Sweetheart or a Scoundrel?  

VB: I am so a Sweetheart. I love a good story with a happy ending and the bigger the book is the happier I am! Thanks for featuring me this month and a special thanks to Jessica for reaching out to my students and making a difference! TxS&S: Thank YOU, Valerie! You are definitely a ROCK STAR SWEETHEART!

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If you know of someone who would make a great Featured Sweetheart, please let us know! The best part? If you nominate someone, we'll send you a $5 Starbucks gift card :)