SCBWI Oklahoma July Twitter Chat Guest – Janee Trasler

 

As the Social Media Coordinator for the SCBWI Oklahoma Region, I host a monthly Twitter Chat for our members (and anyone else who’d like to participate) where we talk for an hour with someone from the children’s publishing world, be it agent, editor, author, illustrator, etc. The conversations are always lively and enlightening.

We meet from 7-8pm CST using the hashtag #okscbwichat. If you’ve ever been curious about a Twitter Chat, stop on by! We love meeting new people.

This month’s chat session was Tuesday, July 28th.

CLICK HERE to view our full #okscbwichat 2020 schedule.


This was the second visit to our Twitter chat for Janee Trasler. We’re always happy to have repeat guests! Janee has been quite busy since we spoke with her last, and she now has an adorable series of early chapter books that just released in May she was happy to tell us all about.

Here’s an introduction to Janee:

July 28th – Janee Trasler – Author/Illustrator

Janee Trasler writes and illustrates funny books for kids. Including the popular CHICKIES board book series and other great picture books like I AM NOT A CHAIR, CAVEMAN A.B.C. STORY, and the newly published titles FROG MEETS DOG and GOAT ON A BOAT.

Janee loves to make kids laugh. Whether she is writing books, drawing pictures, singing songs, or performing with her puppets, she is going for the giggle. Janee lives in Texas with her hubby, her doggies, and one squeaky guinea pig.

Learn more about Janee by visting her website: http://trasler.com

Her Twitter handle is @janeetrasler

We had a wonderful conversation with Janee. She discussed her newly published early chapter books and how they gave her the confidence to break out of her Picture Book comfort zone. We talked about her work on graphic novels for the very young, which led to a deeper discussion about the different approaches one takes when creating a story in graphic novel form versus picture book form.

She also championed mentor texts as something that helped her understand and learn about young graphic novels before she dove in herself. “Before I started, I took a TON of existing graphic novels for young readers and broke them all down by page number, number of panels, trim size, etc. It really helped. I have Word files full of mentor text notes now.”

Janee also spilled some juicy secrets about her fellow critique partner – and SCBWI Oklahoma author – Tammi Sauer that you won’t want to miss.

***Interested in the rest of our conversation with Janee?

View the full chat recap HERE.


You can read the recaps for all of our chats, from this year and from those in years past, HERE.

SCBWI Oklahoma June Twitter Chat Guest – Kelly Starling Lyons

 

As the Social Media Coordinator for the SCBWI Oklahoma Region, I host a monthly Twitter Chat for our members (and anyone else who’d like to participate) where we talk for an hour with someone from the children’s publishing world, be it agent, editor, author, illustrator, etc. The conversations are always lively and enlightening.

We meet from 7-8pm CST using the hashtag #okscbwichat. If you’ve ever been curious about a Twitter Chat, stop on by! We love meeting new people.

Our next Twitter chat session is Tuesday, June 23rd. I hope you’ll join us!

CLICK HERE to view our full #okscbwichat 2020 schedule.


Kelly Starling Lyons is the children’s author of several books, including this year’s Caldecott Honor Book GOING HOME WITH DADDY and the ever-popular Jada Jones series.

She also a founding member of The Brown Bookshelf, which hosted the phenomenal Facebook Live event #Kidlit4BlackLives which brought members of the kidlit community together for an online Rally for Black Lives earlier this month. If you missed this wonderful event, you can now view it on YouTube HERE.

Here’s an introduction to Kelly:

June 23rd – Kelly Starling Lyons – Children’s Author

Kelly Starling Lyons is a children’s book author whose mission is to transform moments, memories and history into stories of discovery. She is a founding member of The Brown Bookshelf and an advocate for kidlit diversity.

Her books include CCBC Choices-honored picture book, ONE MILLION MEN AND ME; ELLEN’s BROOM, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book, Junior Library Guild and Bank Street Best selection; TEA CAKES FOR TOSH, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People and winner of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Award for Juvenile Literature (sponsored by the AAUW of North Carolina); HOPE’S GIFT, a Storytelling World Award winner, IRA/CBC Children’s Choices selection and SIBA Okra Pick; and the popular JADA JONES chapter book series.

Learn more about Kelly by visiting her website: http://www.kellystarlinglyons.com

Her Twitter handle is @kelstarly

I hope you’ll join us for a fascinating conversation with Kelly this Tuesday!

***Missed our chat with Kelly? View the recap HERE.


You can read the recaps for all of our chats, from this year and from those in years past, HERE.

SCBWI Oklahoma May Twitter Chat Guest – Brad McLelland

 

As the Social Media Coordinator for the SCBWI Oklahoma Region, I host a monthly Twitter Chat for our members (and anyone else who’d like to participate) where we talk for an hour with someone from the children’s publishing world, be it agent, editor, author, illustrator, etc. The conversations are always lively and enlightening.

We meet from 7-8pm CST using the hashtag #okscbwichat. If you’ve ever been curious about a Twitter Chat, stop on by! We love meeting new people.

This month’s chat session was Tuesday, May 26th.

CLICK HERE to view our full #okscbwichat 2020 schedule.


Brad McLelland is an Oklahoma author who joined us this week for our latest monthly Twitter chat. He has co-written an award-winning Middle Grade series with long-time friend Louis Sylvester.

Here’s an introduction to Brad:

May 26th – Brad McLelland – Children’s Author

Brad McLelland was born and raised in Arkansas. He spent several years working as a crime journalist in the South before earning his MFA in creative writing from Oklahoma State University. A part-time drummer and singer, Brad lives in Oklahoma with his wife, stepdaughter, a mini-Aussie who gives hugs, and a chubby cat who begs for ham.

Brad co-wrote his Middle Grade debut, LEGENDS OF THE LOST CAUSES, with Louis Sylvester. This book won the 2019 Oklahoma Book Award and is a Junior Library Guild Selection book. The pair teamed up to write the sequel, THE FANG OF THE BONFIRE CROSSING, which was published in Feb 2019. Book three THE KEY OF SKELETON PEAK was just released in Feb 2020.

Learn more about Brad by visiting his website: http://www.bradmcbooks.com

Brad’s Twitter handle is @bradmcbooks

We had a fascinating conversation with Brad. He talked about his writing journey beginning at the age of 8 when he wrote his first story, the ambitious ideas he and his writing partner had for their series in the beginning, and how they work as a team to write their series.

 

***Interested in the rest of our conversation with Brad?

View the full chat recap HERE.


You can read the recaps for all of our chats, from this year and from those in years past, HERE.

SCBWI Oklahoma April Twitter Chat Guest – Barbara Lowell

 

As the Social Media Coordinator for the SCBWI Oklahoma Region, I host a monthly Twitter Chat for our members (and anyone else who’d like to participate) where we talk for an hour with someone from the children’s publishing world, be it agent, editor, author, illustrator, etc. The conversations are always lively and enlightening.

We meet from 7-8pm CST using the hashtag #okscbwichat. If you’ve ever been curious about a Twitter Chat, stop on by! We love meeting new people.

Our next Twitter chat session is Tuesday, April 28th. I hope you’ll join us!

CLICK HERE to view our full #okscbwichat 2020 schedule.


Barbara Lowell is an Oklahoma author and an active member of SCBWI OK. She has several published picture books. Barbara finds interesting characters from history, researches them until she finds just the right way to tell their stories and, lucky us, we get to read them.

And she also happens to be one of my most beloved critique partners. I’m so excited we get to have a conversation about her books!

Here’s an introduction to Barbara:

April 28th – Barbara Lowell – Children’s Author

Barbara Lowell is the author of nonfiction and historical fiction picture books, nonfiction early readers, and nonfiction educational market books. Her books include GEORGE FARRIS WHAT A WHEEL, DARING AMELIA, ALEXANDER HAMILTON AMERICAN HERO, and more books for children.

Her book SPARKY & SPIKE: CHARLES SCHULZ AND THE WILDEST, SMARTEST DOG EVER, is a Junior Guild Library Selection.

Her newest book released this February,  MY MASTADON, received a starred review from Kirkus.

Her upcoming title, BEHIND THE BOOKCASE: MIEP GIES, ANNE FRANK, AND THE HIDING PLACE is scheduled for release this fall.

Learn more about Barbara by visiting her website: https://www.barbaralowell.com

Her Twitter handle is @barbara_lowell

I hope you’ll join us for a fascinating conversation with Barbara this Tuesday!

***Missed our chat with Barbara? View the recap HERE.


You can read the recaps for all of our chats, from this year and from those in years past, HERE.

SCBWI Oklahoma March Twitter Chat Guest – Stephanie Stein

 

As the Social Media Coordinator for the SCBWI Oklahoma Region, I host a monthly Twitter Chat for our members (and anyone else who’d like to participate) where we talk for an hour with someone from the children’s publishing world, be it agent, editor, author, illustrator, etc. The conversations are always lively and enlightening.

We meet from 7-8pm CST using the hashtag #okscbwichat. If you’ve ever been curious about a Twitter Chat, stop on by! We love meeting new people.

Our next Twitter chat session is Tuesday, March 24th. I hope you’ll join us!

CLICK HERE to view our full #okscbwichat 2020 schedule.


Stephanie Stein is the last of our guests who will also be a faculty member at this year’s SCBWI Oklahoma spring conference, which has been rescheduled for the fall. Stephanie has confirmed that she will be part of the rescheduled conference. It will now be held on October 2nd-3rd in Oklahoma City. For details on the conference and how to register, stay tuned to the SCBWI OK website. Registration should open this summer.

Here’s an introduction to Stephanie:

MARCH 24th – Stephanie Stein – Editor with HarperCollins Children’s Books

Stephanie Stein is an Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, where she acquires middle grade and YA fiction for the Harper and HarperTeen imprints. In her eight years at Harper, she has worked with authors including Anna Bright, Rena Barron, Misa Sugiura, Rin Chupeco, Kiera Cass, Cynthia Hand, and Temre Beltz. She also edits the #1 bestselling Warriors series by Erin Hunter.

Stephanie is always looking for genre-savvy fiction with a fresh premise, a clever sense of humor, or an irresistibly immersive world, and loves books that break your heart–and then put it back together again.

You can learn more about what Stephanie is specifically looking for by visiting her manuscript wishlist HERE.

Her Twitter handle is @stephlystein

This is a great opportunity to get to know the conference speakers before the conference. I hope you’ll join us for our conversation with Stephanie!

***Missed our chat with Stephanie? View the recap HERE.


You can read the recaps for all of our chats, from this year and from those in years past, HERE.

Book Review – MY MASTODON by Barbara Lowell

 

I have to admit that I am a little partial to this story as I had a very small part in shaping it from its very beginnings when my wonderful critique partner, Barbara Lowell, first brought this adorable story to the attention of our critique group years ago.

I immediately fell in love with Sybilla, the young girl whose family lives in a natural history museum and whose best friend is a mastodon skeleton. I really wanted to see this story become a book…and now it is finally here!

Barbara at Magic City Books in Tulsa at the Launch of MY MASTODON
Barbara signing my copy of MY MASTODON, a dream come true!

Although it’s been a long road to get Sybilla’s story from beginning concept to reality, and it has seen many, many revisions, it’s even better than I could have imagined. The gorgeous illustrations by Italian illustrator Antonio Marinoni are a perfect fit.

MY MASTODON by Barbara Lowell

Published by: Creative Editions

Release Date: February 25, 2020

Genres: Picture Book, Nonfiction, Biography

indieboundbn-24h-80

 

Plot Summary:

Inspired by the 19th-century lives of artist and scientist Charles Willson Peale’s family, this is a tale of a girl and her favorite companion—a fossilized mastodon!

(Plot summary from author’s website.)

Isn’t that a fascinating place to grow up? In a museum? And that story is based on a real family!

I love Sybilla and how she thinks of herself as an explorer, just like her father. I also love how she helps out around the museum.

 

Sybilla has strong feelings about what should and should not be done with her mastodon. When she hears her friend will be sent away, she campaigns to have him stay.

And even creates flyers advertising her opinion.

 

 

She also has a pretty great older brother, Rembrandt, who doesn’t like seeing her so sad. I don’t want to spoil the ending, so you should read this wonderful book yourself!

But don’t just take my word for it, this book received a starred Kirkus review!

“Accomplished illustrations further elevate this engaging introduction to America’s first family of science.”

Here are what other reviewers had to say:

“It’s a sweet and remarkable story, with Marinoni’s exquisite illustrations inviting the reader directly into the Peale’s museum home, a world of taxidermic animals and towering skeletons” – Booklist Review 

“Nurtured by intelligent eccentric family members and permitted familiarity with priceless scientific curiosities, Sybilla has an ideal Enlightenment-era childhood” – Publishers Weekly

I know you will love this story as much I as do!

Happy reading!

Learn more about Barbara Lowell here.

 

Special Edition SCBWI Twitter Chat Guest – Amy Brewer

 

As the Social Media Coordinator for the SCBWI Oklahoma Region, I host a monthly Twitter Chat for our members (and anyone else who’d like to participate) where we talk for an hour with someone from the children’s publishing world, be it agent, editor, author, illustrator, etc. The conversations are always lively and enlightening.

We meet from 7-8pm CST using the hashtag #okscbwichat. If you’ve ever been curious about a Twitter Chat, stop on by! We love meeting new people.

We are having a Special Twitter chat session this Tuesday, March 3rd with another one of our Spring Conference faculty to get to know them before the conference this April. I hope you’ll join us!

CLICK HERE to view our full #okscbwichat 2020 schedule.


Amy Brewer is the second guest who will also be a faculty member at this year’s SCBWI Oklahoma spring conference April 3rd-4th in Oklahoma City. For details on the conference and how to register CLICK HERE.

Here’s an introduction to Amy:

March 3rd – Amy Brewer – Literary Agent

Amy Brewer  is a Senior Literary Agent with the Metamorphosis Literary Agency based in Oklahoma City. Amy wears many hats everyday, from literary agent to co-author of the Texting Prince Charming series to social media manager to yoga teacher.

She graduated from Culver-Stockton College with a theater degree because drama, romance, and angst are lifelong passions. Her intuitive human understanding can help other writers bridge the communication gap and jump into the publishing world.

For the last few years, she has been learning all she can about social media optimization and platform building in the publishing industry. Amy’s experience in the mental health field and yoga training help her guide and assist clients with stress and anxiety in this highly competitive industry. She pulls all of this together with a multi-tasking, hyper-organized brain, so that at the end of every day, she feels accomplished and grateful.

She is seeking captivating stories of human experience and books that touch her heart.

Learn more about what Amy is specifically looking for by visiting her manuscript wish list here: https://mswishlist.com/agent/42amer

Her Twitter handle is @42amer

This is a great opportunity to get to know the conference speakers before the conference. I hope you’ll join us for our conversation with Amy!

***Missed our chat with Amy? View the recap HERE.


You can read the recaps for all of our chats, from this year and from those in years past, HERE.

SCBWI Oklahoma February Twitter Chat Guest – Megan Beatie

 

As the Social Media Coordinator for the SCBWI Oklahoma Region, I host a monthly Twitter Chat for our members (and anyone else who’d like to participate) where we talk for an hour with someone from the children’s publishing world, be it agent, editor, author, illustrator, etc. The conversations are always lively and enlightening.

We meet from 7-8pm CST using the hashtag #okscbwichat. If you’ve ever been curious about a Twitter Chat, stop on by! We love meeting new people.

Our next Twitter chat session is Tuesday, February 25th. I hope you’ll join us!

CLICK HERE to view our full #okscbwichat 2020 schedule.


Megan Beatie is one of the first guests who will also be a faculty member at this year’s SCBWI Oklahoma spring conference April 3rd-4th in Oklahoma City. For details on the conference and how to register CLICK HERE.

Here’s an introduction to Megan:

FEBRUARY 25th – Megan Beatie – Book Publicity and Marketing Agent

Megan Beatie is a veteran book publicist with more than two decades of experience. She has designed and executed publicity campaigns for a wide range of books, including literary and commercial fiction, mysteries & thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, and graphic novels, as well as nonfiction covering the topics of pop culture, film, entertainment, health, lifestyle, parenting, and relationships.

 

Some of the esteemed writers she has represented over the course of her career include Marcia Clark, Nicholas Meyer, Maria Goodavage, Dr. Nina Shapiro, John Lahr, Barry Eisler, Lee Goldberg, Leslie S. Klinger, Aimee Liu, Tembi Locke, and Attica Locke, among others.  She has a specialty in children’s book publicity and has worked on picture books, middle grade books and young adult books by authors including Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera, Ibi Zoboi, Elana K. Arnold, Maureen Johnson, Melissa de la Cruz, Amber Smith, and Alexandra Monir.

The fifth generation of a farming family from Southern California’s Ventura County, Megan lives and works in Los Angeles.

Learn more about Megan by visiting her website: www.meganbeatie.com

Her Twitter handle is @MBeatie

This is a great opportunity to get to know the conference speakers before the conference. I hope you’ll join us for our conversation with Megan!

***Missed our chat with Megan? View the recap HERE.


You can read the recaps for all of our chats, from this year and from those in years past, HERE.

Tulsa Library Day of YA Coming!

 

This coming week, the Tulsa Library is hosting a wonderful event called Tulsa Day of YA. This FREE event “celebrates young adult literature and those who love it by bringing together authors, fans, and aspiring writers through workshops, panel sessions, and academic discussion.”

Doesn’t that sound fantastic? I can hardly wait!

The event begins with a special opening keynote on Friday night, February 21, with Justina Ireland, author of DREAD NATION, in conversation with Tulsa Artist Fellow Juliana Goodman.

I just finished reading DREAD NATION and it is so good! I can hardly wait for the sequel coming out soon!

On Saturday, February 22nd, the day begins with a Women in YA panel featuring Cindy Pon, Justina Ireland, Sonia Gensler, M. Molly Backes, and Juliana Goodman with Ally Carter moderating.

How awesome to have two fabulous Oklahoma SCBWI writers on this panel! Am I right?

The rest of the day continues with great break out sessions and a FREE lunch. The day concludes with a book signing! What more could a lover of YA want?

All events will be held at Central Library, 400 Civic Center, Tulsa, OK 74103.

To attend this free conference, you must register in advance. Lunch will be provided on site. If specific accommodations/assistance are required or would improve your experience at Tulsa Day of YA events, please reach out to Teen Services Coordinator Leah Weyand at leah.weyand@tulsalibrary.org or 918-549-7490.

For details on the speakers, the schedule, or answers to your most pressing FAQs, visit the event website here.

#TBT Post – Hemingway Revisited

I wrote this #ThrowBackThursday post for a group blog I was once a part of and it was originally published on that site on January 29, 2014. 

Of all the books I was forced to read back in high school, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA was one of the most painfully dull tomes I had to suffer through. The plot? An old fisherman cursed with a long dry spell has the worst experience of his life when he tries to break his losing streak by pursuing the catch of a lifetime, struggling for days to catch it only to see it slowly stripped away as he tries to bring it to shore. (Sorry, Spoilers!)

An entire book about fishing? BLECH! DEPRESSING! (Yes, I know it was deeper than that, but I was sixteen, give me a break.) 

I can see why it was his last book. I only hoped it was my last Hemingway book. 

Then I watched the HBO movie, Hemingway & Gellhorn, and really enjoyed it. It may have had more to do with Hemingway being presented in the lovely Clive Owen packaging, but whatever worked. (Now I can only picture Hemingway as Clive portrayed him – not a bad thing, if you ask me.) It got me thinking that maybe I should give the old sea dog another try. 

A few months after viewing the show, I was discussing it with my father and he had mentioned recently reading the book A MOVEABLE FEAST. He said it had a lot to do with his early life as a writer and was an excellent read. That kind of sold me on it more than anything else. (Sorry, Clive.)

If all else failed, I could imagine the gorgeous Clive Owen reading it to me. Right?

Clive Owen Reads

(Read me another story, Clive.)

Plot Summary:

Begun in the autumn of 1957 and published posthumously in 1964, Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast captures what it meant to be young and poor and writing in Paris during the 1920s. A correspondent for the Toronto Star, Hemingway arrived in Paris in 1921, three years after the trauma of the Great War and at the beginning of the transformation of Europe’s cultural landscape: Braque and Picasso were experimenting with cubist form; James Joyce, long living in self-imposed exile from his native Dublin, had just completed Ulysses; Gertrude Stein held court at 27 Rue de Fleurus, and deemed young Ernest a member of une generation perdue; and T.S. Eliot was a bank clerk in London. It was during these years that the as-of-yet unpublished young writer gathered the material for his first novel The Sun Also Rises, and the subsequent masterpieces that followed.

Among these small, reflective sketches are unforgettable encounters with the members of Hemingway’s slightly rag-tag circle of artists and writers, some also fated to achieve fame and glory, others to fall into obscurity. Here, too, is an evocation of the Paris that Hemingway knew as a young man – a map drawn in his distinct prose of the streets and cafes and bookshops that comprised the city in which he, as a young writer, sometimes struggling against the cold and hunger of near poverty, honed the skills of his craft.

A Moveable Feast is at once an elegy to the remarkable group for expatriates that gathered in Paris during the twenties and a testament to the risks and rewards of the writerly life. (Plot summary from Goodreads.)

Although this was an unusual piece to reintroduce myself to Hemingway since it was his last work and it was unfinished when he died, it made me curious enough to want to read some of his other works. I still have no desire to reread THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, but I would like to try THE SUN ALSO RISES, as it was the book he was writing during the time period of this book.

I did find the order of the chapters and the skipping around a little jarring at times, but when taken chapter by chapter as brief essays, they were really quite enjoyable. Overall I relished getting a feel for the period and for the writers living in Paris. I did have a strong desire to snag a time machine and zip back to Paris to surround myself with the intoxicating sights he described so well. What a fantastic time and place to be a writer! His insights on his own feelings about writing and his fellow expatriates were honest and touching and sometimes quite scathing, but above all always interesting.

Here is one my favorite sections on writing that I think every author should take to heart:

I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day. But sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of the blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence, and go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that you knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.

Whenever you find yourself embellishing from your true writing, gut it back to the studs; your foundation of truth. Nicely put.

And that’s just one of the little gems about the craft I stumbled upon. I loved discovering them and I’m sure most other writers will as well.

One other thing Hemingway allows you to experience, to crawl into and feel deep down in your bones, was the hunger of the starving artist. The smells wafting from the open cafés made my stomach grumble as he talked of skipping meals to stretch his income and instead fed himself on viewing Cézanne paintings at the Luxembourg museum, feeding his artist’s soul. His hunger was almost a necessity to his creative process. He describes it as “good discipline”.

He talks about when he had an entire novel lost, when a bag was stolen at the Gare de Lyon. Every writer’s nightmare!

I knew it was probably a good thing that it was lost, but I knew too that I must write a novel. I would put it off though until I could not help doing it. I was damned if I would write one because it was what I should do if we were to eat regularly. When I had to write, then it would be no choice. Let the pressure build. In the meantime I would write a long story about whatever I knew best.

How many of us just on the cusp of publishing can relate to the struggles he describes?

If I had never given Hemingway another try, I wouldn’t have discovered these insights about his writing. I look back now at his deliberately terse sentences, where he’s culled away all ornamentation, and I see the beauty in them. Of course I am looking at them through very different eyes, as a writer myself. I still don’t like THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA and nothing you say can change my mind! But maybe there is something to learn from this old sea dog after all.

Have you ever given a writer a second chance? Were you surprised when you did?