Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Featured Sweetheart: KAY HONEYMAN

Hi, P. J. Hoover here, and today on The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels blog we're thrilled to feature Kay Honeyman, an educator and a brand new author!

Thank you so much for being here today with us, Kay!


TxSandS: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, and who or what inspires you?

KayH: I am an eighth-grade English teacher at Highland Park Middle School and an author. My debut novel The Fire Horse Girl came out this January. I have two children, a five-year-old boy and a twenty-two month old girl. Both of them are adopted from China and their culture and immigration experience inspired me to write The Fire Horse Girl.

I am also inspired by the readers and writers in my room. They energize me and make me want to read more so that I can share great books with them and write characters and stories that hopefully resonate with them.

TxSandS: What were your goals when you first started working with kids and books, and how has that vision changed now that some time has gone by?

KayH: I have always loved reading, and but I wasn’t always smart about how I shared that that love of reading with kids. Early in my career I thought that I was the expert on quality books. As the expert, I expected kids to follow my lead. At some point it dawned on me that I love reading because I found stories that I loved, not stories my teachers loved or my parents loved or even my friends loved. Now I know my job is not to make them read the books I love but to help them find their own stories to fall in love with.

THE FIRE HORSE GIRL (Arthur A. Levine Books, January 1, 2013)

TxSandS: You’ve run into an old classmate from high school and you tell them THE FIRE HORSE GIRL just came out. They ask what it’s about. What do you say?

KayH: It is about Jade Moon, a girl born under the sign of the Fire Horse — the worst sign in the Chinese zodiac for girls. She leaves China and travels through Angel Island (the so-called Ellis Island of the West) and onto the streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1923. Jade Moon is trying to find freedom, but instead she finds disappointment, danger and deception. Eventually that helps her find her own strength and herself.

I also might make-up some cool-sounding award (“And it just won a Stackholm”) in case they weren’t impressed enough yet.

TxSandS: I love hearing happy publication stories. Can you tell us the path to publication for THE FIRE HORSE GIRL?

KayH: I wrote a draft of The Fire Horse Girl while I was waiting to adopt our first child from China. I wanted to understand the emotions of leaving a home and coming to America. By the time we were matched with a beautiful three-year-old boy, I was beginning to submit to agents. Rosemary Stimola (a far better agent than I deserve, but I try not to mention that to her too often for fear she’ll find out it’s true) wrote back and said that the book had promise but it was unfinished. I realized she was right, so I got back to work. The first draft ended as Jade Moon left Angel Island, but her story and struggled would not end there. I finished the story, continuing it into her time in San Francisco.

When it came time to finding a publisher, all I ever wanted was someone who would bring this book to its full potential. I don’t always get what I wish for, but I’m glad I did this time. Cheryl Klein (again, way out of my league), executive editor at Arthur A. Levine, picked it up. Cheryl is a meticulous editor with a strong sense of story and character. Readers can thank her for helping me take everything bad out and made everything good shine. Seriously…they should send flowers.

Kay and her son Jack at a signing

TxSandS: What has been the biggest surprise since you've entered the world of books for kids and teens?

KayH: I was surprised by how much kids dive into the world of stories for escape. It is such a healthy way to take a break from their hectic lives. I often focus on the aesthetics of reading – a beautiful line or phrase. But I don’t think I can overestimate how much my kids value slipping out of their life and into a fictional one for an hour or two.

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?

KayH: I am optimistic about reading for teens. As long as great authors keep producing great books, teens will read them.

I am very concerned about an increasing willingness to cut school library budgets or even (and this one keeps me up at night) close them completely to save money. Libraries are the very heart and soul of a school. It would be like removing a building’s foundation because there is sometimes an upkeep cost and ignoring that fact that you will lose the structural integrity of the rest of the building. Schools need libraries and those libraries need books and staff.

I’m not sure what to do about it. I should probably go ask my school librarians. They have a gift for finding solutions.

TxSandS: Finish this sentence, and tell us why. Writing is a lot like…

KayH: …a rugby game. You feel bruised and battered and like you might have a minor concussion, but you also feel like you are on top of the world, and you’ll be back for more at the next game.

TxSandS: What is next? WIPs? Future publications? Please tell all!

KayH: I am working on my second book. It is set in West Texas so it’s full of politics, power plays, and Friday Night Football.

TxSandS: What has been your favorite experience as an author thus far?

KayH: One of my students was reading my book in class one Friday. She chose it on her own, and I know how carefully my students choose their books, so that was an honor already. I was nervously watching her face like I have watched students reading their book in my class for years. You can always tell who has a book they love and who is slogging through a story. Her face would ripple with emotion as she held the book close. That was the best feeling.

TxSandS: Please share your favorite inspirational thought!

KayH: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” (Marianne Williamson). So true!

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

KayH: Like most Texas women I am a sweetheart who will charm a scoundrel when she needs to.

TxSandS: Thank you so much for being here!



Kay Honeyman grew up in Fort Worth, Texas and attended Baylor University, graduating with a Bachelors and Masters in English Language and Literature. Her first novel, The Fire Horse Girl, comes out in January 2013. It is being published by Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic. She currently teaches middle school and lives in Dallas, Texas.


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 :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Featured Event! YAK Fest!

***Special note: The Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels very own Jessica Lee Anderson will be featured at YAK Fest!***

If you haven’t heard of YAK Fest, then listen up. It’s the newest (and hippest) YA book festival in Texas. And we want YOU to come.  Here’s the deal, it’s free fun entertainment and you just might make a new friend or two. Maybe even get your picture taken with your favorite author. So, check out the 411 below and COME.

WHEN: Saturday, January 19, 9am – 5pm
COST: Dude, it’s FREE.
OPEN DOOR: Come when you can and stay for as long as you like, of course we want you there all day!
WHERE: Keller High School, 601 N. Pate Orr Rd. Keller, TX 76248
SOCIAL MEDIA: twitter / facebook / blog
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Simone Elkeles, BAM. That’s what we’re talking about.

Panels of AWESOME Breakdown:

Keeping It RealJessica Lee Anderson, Charles Benoit, Chris Crutcher (afternoon only), Simone Elkeles, Guadalupe Garica McCall, Jessica Warman, Lori Aurelia Williams and Shannon Greenland

This is Not Normal – Rosemary Clement Moore, Cory Oakes, Victoria Scott, Mary Lindsey and Jeff Hirsch

This is Not Normal Either – Krissi Dallas, Tracy Deebs, Greg Leitich Smith and Andrea White

Vampire Smack Down - Cynthia Leitich Smith, Rachel Caine and Jason Henderson

Poetry Workshop – Colin Gilbert

A Walk on the Weird Side – Kelley Milner Halls

Choctaw Tales – Tim Tingle

Here’s the schedule of AWESOME 

Because we know you’ll have questions, here are some things that CAN and WILL HAPPEN:
There will be books available for purchase from The Book Carriage, and they will be selling books all day.
The Book Carriage will accept cash and credit cards.
You may bring some books from home for authors to sign.
Food and drinks will be available for purchase at lunch.
Why, yes there is a twitter hashtag. It’s  #YAKFest13 – thanks for asking. We WANT you to tweet.
Of course you can talk and have your picture taken with your favorite author(s) during the signing.  We insist upon it.

Other stuff that is just as important:

Want to VOLUNTEER? It’ll be fun. We promise.  If interested please contact Janet at Janet.Adams@kellerisd.net
MEDIA INQUIRIES? Please contact Stacy at stacy@girlsinthestacks.com

Friday, January 11, 2013

January News!

****Happy New Year****
seven authors & illustrators who write for kids and teens

Out with the old, and in with the new! The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels have big plans for 2013, and we want you to be a part of them! Our one resolution for the year...to represent children's publishing as best we can!
Such a Sweetheart!  
Our first featured Sweetheart of the new year is CHRISTIE GIBRICH! You can read all about why we adore her here. And to nominate future Sweethearts, check out the bottom of the newsletter!


Nothing starts the year off quite like good news.
 K.A. Holt is excited to announce the sale of her latest manuscript- tentatively scheduled for release in Fall of 2014! 
From Publisher's Marketplace: 
"BRAINS FOR LUNCH author K.A. Holt's POETRY BANDIT, a novel in verse about a seventh-grader's journey from bully to victim and out the other side, as he learns about friendship, family, and the ways that words can work themselves into a life, to Tamra Tuller at Chronicle Children's, by Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary Agency (World)." 
Congrats, K.A.!
Not to be outdone, in December Don Tate celebrated the release of his latest illustrated project, Hope's Gift, a story that celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Kirkus says Hope's Gift is "[a] warm story about the love of a family and the jubilation of freedom."
Don is also pleased to announce that his first authored book, It Jes' Happened, has been honored on several end-of-year Best-Of lists. It Jes' Happened is a Booklist (ALA) Editor's Choice, a Book Links' Lasting Connection selection, and a Booklist Top 10 Black History Book for 2013. It is also a Kirkus Best Children's Book of 2012. 
Congrats, Don!  

One of the best ways to represent children's publishing is by spending time with the children themselves.  
Jessica Lee Anderson is thrilled to take part in the Young Adult Keller Book Festival on January 19, 2013! 
More information can be found here.

P. J. Hoover is looking forward to a two-day author visit at Taylor Middle School on January 23rd and 24th. Then, at the end of the month, P. J. will be doing a two-day visit to Curtis Middle School in Allen, TX. 
P. J. (Tricia) is happy to talk to kids of all ages on a wide variety of topics. If you are interested in an author visit, please contact her.

Jeanette Larson will be speaking at the Hays County Master Naturalists monthly meeting, January 24, 6:30 p.m. in San Marcos. 

Jo Whittemore will be returning to the city where she first got her book learnin' when she attends the Montgomery County Book Festival on February 2 (9:00am-5:00pm). Further details on attending authors and their schedules can be found here.

Don Tate still has openings for school visits in the months of March and May. He will present to students at Groveton Elementary (north of Houston), on March 27th, and would welcome the opportunity to speak at another school on the day before or after. In May, Don will be at Polser Elementary (near Dallas) on the 2nd, and at Eiland Elementary (near Houston) on the 10th. Again, he welcomes opportunities to visit other schools in the area near those dates. Don's presentations meet the Texas core curriculum standards.
Nominate a Featured Sweetheart  

Do you know someone who would make a great featured sweetheart for our blog? We're looking for librarians, teachers, authors, editors, anyone who has an impact on books, libraries, and/or getting kids to read.

If we choose the person you nominate, we'll give you a $5 Starbucks giftcard as a thank-you! Give us a holler today!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Featured Sweetheart: CHRISTIE GIBRICH

Hi! P. J. Hoover here, and back in October we featured KAREN JENSEN of the Teen Librarian's Toolbox. Today, we are lucky enough to feature another fabulous member of the team, CHRISTIE GIBRICH!

Thank you so much, Christie, for being here with us today!


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?

ChristieG: I've pretty much grown up in and around libraries- my mom was a library aide in my hometown library, and I grew up volunteering there since I was about 8. My husband (That Guy) and I found each other our second semester of college, but it took me a while longer to really find myself- from elementary school through most of undergraduate school I was concentrated on working on Mission Control for NASA! After I lost my way in college (I had wanted to be an aerospace and aeronautics engineer until I hit junior year), I got a job in one of the smaller niche university libraries on campus and rediscovered my "happy". I focused my MLS and career into a path that focuses on youth services, especially teens, and am very fortunate that my current job allows me to be manager (in spirit if not in official title) as well as teen services in a highly popular library for youth. I am also blessed in that every job that I've worked at has let me stay working with youth- not everyone who climbs up the ranks in the library world is that lucky. I am extremely lucky in that I fell in with Karen Jensen, who started Teen Librarian Toolbox, and when I started to express a desire to share what I was doing on a broader scale (outside of listservs and ALA Connect), she and the others at TLT welcomed me with open arms.

I'm inspired by a lot of different things, but mainly the kids and teens that I work with, and my own nieces and nephews. They keep the energy up, and the positivity flowing, and can just make my day when things seem down.

In 8th grade, reading

TxSandS: What were your goals when you started blogging, and how has that vision changed now that some time has gone by?

ChristieG: When I started, I originally just wanted to share what programs I was doing on a larger scale. I work in a unique library and have license to do some things that you might not do in a typical library setting- we're part of a community building, so we have my library, a separate computer lab, two community programming rooms, a game room (with a pool table, ping pong table, and a big screen TV, as well as smaller TVs for gaming equipment), and a recreation center with a gym on the bottom floor and exercise equipment and track running on the top. Because of that, our demographics are extremely different from a traditional library- approximately 90% of our patron base are youth 17 and under, so we do a lot of programming. I do lock-ins twice a year as reading incentives, and those that do the lock-ins have had their reading scores go up at the schools. We (the library staff) help with homework after school, and become part of these kids' family- we're invited to birthday parties and family events, and I've been invited to high school graduations every year for the past 4 years. So I thought that I'd share what I was doing, and see if it would help someone else.

Now on TLT, we're sharing viewpoints and having discussions about how to keep sane, and what real life is like, engaging readers and trying to encourage others to do the same within their workplace and within the blogsphere- as well as sharing programs and book reviews. I think that we're doing good work, and I hope that we're making good points.

When Christie started dating That Guy, her husband

TxSandS: What has been the biggest surprise since you've entered the world of books for kids and teens?

ChristieG: The changing landscape and how much it seems that publishers are letting adults influence everything. There seems to be a huge push for adults reading YA books as a good marketing trend, and for that to influence what's being published and how to market and influence young adult materials- so much that now we're hearing that New Adult sections should be ages 14-36 instead of 18-25, and that ebook publishers are saying that we may not need ebook YA designations or that YA doesn't need genres. It seems that teens are being pushed out of their own section of books because adults have discovered that hey, there's good stuff here- and that's what we need teen advocates for.

From the Mustacheyoutoread display and post

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?

ChristieG: I can see there being a larger digital divide, with more and more books being published only digitally, those that don't have access to ereaders not being able to read those materials. I know that the kids that I work with would never think to have an ereader unless the schools had won a grant, and even then, the tablets have to be back at the end of the year.

We're also having increasing scheduled teens, which means librarians are balancing trying to have programs and services that fit into the majority of the best scheduling times while balancing against the needs of the rest of the system. We're also balancing still more system and funding cuts, and teens seem to get the short end of all the sticks.

I think that publishing in general needs to work on diversity within YA, not only gender diversity and racial diversity but GLBTQ diversity as well. Boys do read (come to my library if you doubt), but a majority of books that could be marketed to boys and girls have girlie covers which will turn off boy readers. Or the covers don't match the character's diversity. Or the teens can't find themselves inside the books, so they feel more out-of-place.

During Space Academy when Christie was going to be an aeronautical engineer

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

ChristieG: Can I call myself a hybrid? LOL I would consider myself a Sweetheart because I LOVE working with youth and teens, am passionate about teen literature and rights, and sharing books and programs and ideas with teen librarians, but I have definitely a scoundrel sense of humor. I keep NERF guns in my office, will run a Quidditch match or a lock-in or any other type of off beat program in a heart beat, and have been known to do midnight showings of teen shows at the drop of a hat.

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



Christie Gibrich has been in and out of libraries since she was 8, and was volunteering at the town library where her mom worked. Since then, she's worked her way through library world as a volunteer, student assistant, page, clerk, youth services librarian, and assistant manager- all the while keeping her snark and sense of humor intact, if not her sanity. Christie holds an Bachelor's of Arts from the University of Illinois-Urbana, and received her MLS from Texas Woman's University, where she tailored her studies around youth and teen services. She's served on a number of committees through the American Library Association, including YALSA's 2011 Midwinter Institute The Whole Library Experience, as well as The Amelia Bloomer Project (Social Responsibilities Round Table) and The Rainbow Project (Social Responsibilities Round Table & Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Round Table). She is the incoming chair (2013-2014 Chair) for The Rainbow Project.

Christie is overjoyed to be working with Karen Jensen and the others at Teen Librarian Toolbox (TLT) to share their passion of working with teens with other teen services specialists. From programs to book reviews to current ideas floating around the blogsphere, Christie definitely seems to have an opinion.

Christie is currently the Senior Librarian at the Bowles Life Center Branch Library in Grand Prairie, Texas. A jack-of-all-trades position, she works with patrons of all ages in collection development and programming, and has the unique opportunity to work in a combined community building that serves as a neighborhood focal point. She is currently serving on the The Rainbow Project, and will be running the meetings this Midwinter in Seattle (be sure to stop by and see how they work- meetings are open to all registrants!)

Her favorite reads change from day to day and week to week, but her favorite authors include Laini Taylor, Rae Carson, Chris Crutcher, Scott Westerfeld, and Cory Doctorow, while her genres run towards science fiction and fantasy with a bit of mystery worked in. You can also usually find her at midnight premiers of any graphic novel/comic book based or science fiction movie, so come May, haunt the movie theater for her.


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 :)