Friday, November 16, 2012

November News!

Happy Thanksgiving from
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! 


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.  

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)
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)
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.)

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. 


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

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

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.
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 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.     

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
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 to bring Kari to your school!

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
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

Thursday, November 15, 2012


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


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.