Friday, December 5, 2014

104th Annual NCTE Convention

The NCTE conference was held at the Gaylord Resort and Conference Center. I snapped this picture in the Atrium.

I was on a panel called, "Linking Young Adult Literature and Non-Fiction," with authors Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Lisa Luedeke, and Jacqueline Woodson. After each author spoke, educators Barry Gilmore, ReLeah Cossett Lent, Jennifer Buehler, and Joan Kaywell presented ways to use our books in the classroom. Here's a description of our session:

Join popular YA authors and literacy experts for this session that links YA literature to nonfiction texts. Hook students through storytelling, and they will become motivated to discover more. Participants will learn how fiction can lead students into deeper reading and expanded study through inquiry, research, writing, and speaking.

Susan Campbell Bartoletti spoke about her non-fiction titles. Her newest book is TERRIBLE TYPHOID MARY.

My topic was how I research historical fiction. I talked about how my process for THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL differed from the process for my forthcoming novel, CAROLINA GIRLS. It's all a matter of how much knowledge you have beforehand, as to whether research or writing comes first.

Lisa Luedeke shared how contemporary fiction can be used to broaden classroom discussions about hot topics like bullying, underage drinking, and parental neglect. 

And coming off her National Book Award win from the night before, Jacqueline Woodson wowed the crowd by reading from her book, BROWN GIRL DREAMING.

Jacqueline's poetry and rich reading voice were the perfect way to end our session. 

I spent the rest of my time at NCTE learning. I attended as many sessions as I could fit in watching authors like Kate Messner, Varian Johnson, Linda Mullally Hunt, Augusta Scattergood, Erin Dionne, Linda Urban, Christopher Paul Curtis, and many more. NCTE is truly a "writers' bucket list" experience.

Happy Holidays to all, and I hope you'll add lots of books to your shopping lists!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Putting the Personal In History - Augusta Scattergood and Shannon Hitchcock

A photo with Augusta Scattergood following our presentation, Putting the Personal in History, at the Bloomingdale Public Library in Valrico, Florida.

Here's the official description:


Augusta Scattergood and
Shannon Hitchcock

Saturday, November 1, 2014
2:00-4:00 p.m.
Bloomingdale Public Library
1906 Bloomingdale Ave.
Valrico, FL 33596-6204

In this session, Augusta Scattergood and Shannon Hitchcock will reveal how they used events that were up close and personal to write their Crystal Kite Award-winning novels GLORY BE and THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL, as well as their current works-in-progress. Augusta and Shannon will interview each other to reveal how writing what you love, finding the hook, and careful research can benefit any manuscript, not just historical fiction. I like to think of this session as dueling banjos, but with books.

Augusta and Shannon will also dialog about how to find your story's heart. And will share the best writing advice they ever received, as an extra added treat. Plus there will be some fantastic door prizes, including a book bag full of brand new books!

Bring your writing notebooks, pens, and ideas for your own stories and we'll brainstorm together in this interactive session.

Augusta Scattergood's next book, THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY, will be released by Scholastic in January 2015. Learn more about Augusta at her website. Shannon Hitchcock's next book is entitled CAROLINA GIRLS and will also be released by Scholastic. Learn more about Shannon at her website.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

I recently heard Deborah Wiles speak at the SCBWI Orlando Conference, and was thrilled to get an autographed copy of her latest novel.  This is from the book jacket:

It's 1964, and Sunny's town is being invaded. Or at least that's what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi, are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote. They're calling it Freedom Summer.

REVOLUTION has an unusual format. It's part novel and part scrapbook. In my opinion, that's the book's greatest strength and greatest weakness. I can absolutely see that the black and white photos make a great tool for classrooms. On the other hand, stopping to read a nine-page essay about Cassius Clay, (Muhammed Ali), took me out of the story at hand.

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely. But with this caveat: Skip all of the photos and essays and read the novel straight through. Then go back and study all of the extra material. It really is fascinating and worth the time, just not when you're trying to become engrossed in a novel.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Ballad of Jessie Pearl Featured on SCBWI Blog

Lee Wind posted a very nice interview with me about winning the Crystal Kite Award for the southeast region. You can read it on the Official SCBWI Blog:

And in case you missed it, I wrote an article for Writers Digest called Writing Historical Fiction Based on a Family Story. You can read it here:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Remembering Cynthia Chapman Willis

Cynthia Chapman Willis

I worried when Cindy died about what would happen to her stories. Over the past couple of years, I had critiqued two novels that she had been working on, but never got the chance to finish. I shouldn't have worried. Cindy took care of her manuscripts by leaving them to her dear friend and  colleague, Wiley Blevins. Wiley got right to work using Cindy's notes and his long history of collaborating with her. When Wiley finished, he gave me the privilege of being the final person to critique Cindy's manuscript. I had such a good time doing so. It was like being given the opportunity to spend one more day with her. Cindy's voice spoke to me on every page. I remembered our many conversations about her love for animals and wanting to write a high concept book. I truly believe that A Fighting Chance has evolved into the manuscript that Cindy envisioned. Wiley shared with me that Cindy said, "One of the things I mind most about dying is that I have so many stories yet to tell." I hope she has the opportunity to tell at least one more.

In addition to working on Cindy's manuscript, Wiley himself has a new novel out called, The Healing of Harold Lily. He describes it as a "hillbilly Romeo and Juliet." I recently purchased a copy and can't wait to read it.

Best of luck to Wiley on selling Cindy's manuscript and in garnering sales for his new book!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Interview With Author and Musician Joni Klein-Higger

Joni Klein-Higger is a children's book author, songwriter, and musical theater playwright. Her children's musical Recycle was just released by Guardian Angel Publishing.

Joni, How did you first get into writing musicals?

I grew up in a musical home. Between my parents, my three brothers and me there was always someone singing, whistling, playing the piano, strumming a guitar or squeezing an accordion. Even my bedtime routine as a young child was based around music. Instead of reading me a picture book, my father serenaded me with Irving Berlin songs and Broadway show tunes, only to be followed by a Broadway show album to help me go to sleep. It’s no wonder my brain to this day is constantly filled with music.

After graduating with a BA in Speech Communications from Ithaca College, I attended a variety of songwriting workshops in New York City. My love for songwriting and theater eventually came together when I enrolled in a musical theater workshop, and next thing you know, I was hooked!

Give us your "elevator pitch" for Recycle – The Musical

In this fun, educational musical about recycling, a “nutty professor” transports four modern day kids back to the 1950’s. Together they compare the lifestyles of today’s “disposable generation” to kids living in a time before plastic bags, aluminum cans and water bottles became a part of our every day life.

Before listening to your musical, I'd never thought about the amount of disposable products we use today as compared to the 1950's. What inspired your concept?

I’ve been writing children’s musicals for over thirteen years now. Several years ago, one of the elementary school teachers I worked with requested I write a musical about recycling for her classroom. I jumped at the opportunity to create a musical for kids involving a subject matter near and dear to my heart. The only catch was this teacher requested that we re-use the “50’s-style” costumes from a show I wrote for her that previous year. In the words of Professor Rosco, “What better way to help our future than by revisiting the past.” And so, Recycle – The Musical was born.

My favorite song from your musical is "Rock N Roll With Me." It has a real 50's vibe. What were your musical influences for writing it?

This song was written to introduce the time traveling kids to the 50’s kids while capturing the essence of the 50’s decade. The way I see it, you can’t have a “50’s musical” without a fun, hopping, 50’s dance number. My goal when creating “Rock ‘N Roll With Me” was to combine the high energy of  “Rock Around The Clock” with a song that had motions the kids could easily perform, like “The Locomotion," written by my favorite songwriter, Carole King. I loved watching the kids perform this production number—they were so into it!

How does marketing children’s musicals differ from marketing children’s books?

With children’s books, the world is our oyster for marketing our products—school visits, online promotions, book readings, etc., but for musicals I mostly target educators, summer camps and theater programs. My publisher, Guardian Angel Publishing, also markets to home schoolers, religious schools and children oriented organizations.This particular musical, however, is different in that I can market it as a book as well as a musical due to its story and subject matter.

What can fans of your work look forward to seeing next?

I currently have three more works that will soon be released by Guardian Angel Publishing. 

First is A Rainbow of Friendship, which is a rhyming picture book about a girl who moves from the comforts of her “little red town” to Rainbow Row City. On her journey she discovers that friendship comes in many colors, shapes and sizes.

Next is I Have A Voice, a children’s picture book I co-wrote with Dr. Flora Zaken-Greenberg, a licensed PhD.  It is the story of a five-year-old girl who is afraid to speak and learns to overcome her problem with the help of a “Feelings doctor.”

And finally, another musical, RED, which I co-wrote with Jane Tesh.  In this musical Red Writing Hood, with the help of her magic pencil, changes fairytales and turns Fairy Tale Land upside down.

You can learn more about Joni Klein-Higger at her website, and copies of Recycle - The Musical can be purchased at Guardian Angel Publishing.

Friday, August 1, 2014

What Is A Text Set And How Can Having One Benefit An Author?

A text set is a collection of materials to supplement the study of a topic, a picture book, or a novel. A good overview can be found here.

Emily Roderique, M.Ed. English III Teacher, recently developed a text set to be used in conjunction with my book, THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL. A text set gives a book an advantage with educators because some of the prep work for using it has already been done.

My text set is divided into four categories: I. Tuberculosis, II. North Carolina Sanatoriums, III. Famous People Affected by TB, and IV. NC History, Culture, and Geography. Under each of these categories, Emily listed nonfiction books, websites, articles, documentaries, even blog interviews, and Pinterest boards. All of these resources supplement understanding the world in which my protagonist lived.

My favorite nonfiction book included in my text set is Jim Murphy's INVINCIBLE MICROBE.

And perhaps the most famous authors to die from tuberculosis are the Bronte sisters. Catherine Reef's wonderful biography is also included.

THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL'S text set is available for free download. Leave any questions you might have in the comments. Both Emily and I are available to answer them.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summertime's Calling Me!

My writing life has been derailed this week by a visit from the Crown Prince, aka my son, Alex.

Alex came home to get his wisdom teeth extracted, and I've been his chauffeur, nurse, cook, and maid. As you can see, I haven't been doing a stellar job on the maid part.

My blogging will be pretty spotty for the rest of July. I am planning to do some of this:

And this:


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Orlando SCBWI Conference Review

The Orlando conference was held on Disney property at The Dolphin. I snapped the above picture just outside my bedroom window.

I took a Middle Grade Novel Workshop with author Deborah Wiles and Candlewick editor Carter Hasegawa. Deborah's presentation was about excavating your life for stories. She shared how her life has influenced her books. Deborah asked us lots of questions to start us mining our pasts for stories. For example:
  1. When you think of home: what does it smell like, sound like, taste like?
  2. When was your life derailed?
  3. What scares you?
  4. What breaks your heart?
  5. Who are your heroes?
Answering those questions often provides ideas to enrich your stories.

Carter told us that he's read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card about fifty times. So if you write that type of book, I'd say Carter would be a great editor to send it to.

Carter also led a discussion about writing diverse characters. The thing he said that made me think the most is, "What gives you the right to write the other?" We have to earn the right to write stories about people that aren't like us. That reminded me of my friend Nancy Bo Flood and her book Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo. Though Nancy isn't Navajo, (at least I don't think she's Navajo), she does live and work on a Navajo Indian Reservation. Her life experience has earned her the right to tell this story.

One last tip from the workshop is to check out Deborah's Pinterest boards. The way she collects historical images and videos would help any writer, but especially those of us who write historical fiction.

Rumor has it, we'll be back at The Dolphin in June of 2015. You can't beat the setting, or SCBWI Florida. You're invited...come on down!

Monday, May 19, 2014

My Debut Year In Review!

THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL recently won the Crystal Kite Award for the Southeast Region. That was the perfect way to end my debut year. Looking back, here are some of the highlights:

Pre-publication: My cover art was revealed on September 15, 2012. Shortly thereafter, I worked with my publisher on flap copy. With the help of Linda Kaufman, my website designer, I overhauled my blog and website. Wendy Hostetter Davis designed my book trailer. You can watch it here:

Publishers Weekly gave The Ballad of Jessie Pearl its first professional review. Kirkus, Booklist, SLJ, and several others soon followed. My publisher collected all my reviews and posted them on the namelos website.

The Ballad of Jessie Pearl's official book birthday was February 1, 2013. JESSIE and I were featured on the front page of my hometown newspaper, The Yadkin Ripple. My friend Regine Gordon threw a launch party for all my Tampa friends. I had a book signing at my hometown library in East Bend, North Carolina. This picture is at the library with Brad Matthews, one of my friends from elementary school.

Since the initial launch, I have spoken at the 2013 ALAN Conference on a panel of Southern writers, cheered when Booklist Online named JESSIE'S cover art as one of the year's best, led a workshop at the North Carolina Reading Association Conference, and been interviewed in the ALAN Review.

My debut author journey has been a satisfying experience and winning a Crystal Kite Award was like getting an extra cherry on my nut sundae. The only thing more exciting is that I get to do it all again! My second novel, Carolina Girls will be edited by Andrea Pinkney and published by Scholastic. Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 8, 2014


I am thrilled and amazed that my book won the Crystal Kite for the southeast region, (Florida, Georgia, SC, NC, and Alabama). That means my book earned a sticker. And though I'm much too old for kindergarten, I am still excited about that!

I was in the bathtub when I got "the call" from Linda Bernfeld, my Regional Advisor. Luckily, I had the phone close by. Who am I kidding? I'm a mom...the phone is always close by. Linda asked if I'd looked at my email. And then I knew. I just knew deep down that JESSIE had won! Forget relaxing in the bathtub. I had enough adrenaline pumping to launch a rocket ship!

It will be a week tomorrow since Linda called, and all I can say is thank you. JESSIE and I feel truly blessed.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Crystal Kite Finalist!

The Ballad of Jessie Pearl is a finalist for the Southeast Region's Crystal Kite Award. 

Other finalists include:
  1. Anubis Speaks by Vicky Alvear Shecter
  2. Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes
  3. Wild Discoveries: Wacky New Animals by Heather Montgomery and
  4. The Culling by Steven dos Santos
I am proud JESSIE is a finalist and send hearty congratulations to the other authors and their wonderful books!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Looking for the History in Historical Fiction

When presenting to students and teachers about my book, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, I always mention Jim Murphy's non-fiction title, Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never Ending Search for a Cure. So it was with great interest that I read a blog post by Lisa Storm Fink called Looking for the History in Historical Fiction: An Epidemic for Reading.

Lisa shares ways teachers can use historical fiction and nonfiction titles about communicable diseases in the classroom. I particularly like that she offers two attachments:

  1. Questions to Consider While Reading Historical Fiction and
  2. A List of Applicable Titles.
Several more books about infectious diseases have been written since the list in number two was compiled. I would suggest teachers also consider the following:

1. Winnie's War by Jennie Moss, (Spanish Influenza).

2. Blue and its sequel Comfort by Joyce Moyer Hostetter, (Polio).

3. The Ballad of Jessie Pearl by Shannon Hitchcock, (Tuberculosis).

4. Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure by Jim Murphy.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The ALAN Review: A New Voice In Historical Fiction

Here's a selfie of me holding the Winter 2014 issue of The ALAN Review:

On pages 62-65 is an article about me called, "Shannon Hitchcock: A New Voice in Historical Fiction." The article was written by KaaVonia Hinton, a professor at Old Dominion University. KaaVonia had blogged about THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL shortly after it was published and that led to a subsequent interview.

It's very exciting for me when teachers recognize the history in my book and find ways to use it in the classroom. A big thank you to KaaVonia for introducing JESSIE to the ALAN community!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

North Carolina Reading Association Conference 2014

On March 18th, I led a workshop at NCRA called, "A Writer's Toolbox and How to Apply It In the Classroom." Here's the official description:

See inside author Shannon Hitchcock's Writer's Toolbox. Learn how to use an idea folder, writing prompts, and even an egg timer to engage your students. Shannon will touch on all parts of the writing process: idea generation, first drafts, revision, fact checking, proofreading, and how to be a successful critique partner. She will share how professional writers approach these tasks and how those strategies can be adapted for the classroom.

I also used NCRA as a learning and networking opportunity. I attended a workshop taught by Tammy Powell, an educational/historical consultant, titled "Brown Bagging History: Not Your Typical Lunch." Tammy gave each participant a brown lunch bag. Inside were items linked to NC history: a picture of the Shackleford wild horses, carrots, representing Carrot Island, seashells etc. Tammy shared how these brown bags pique students curiosity and get them interested in researching and writing about history. I have since corresponded with Tammy and sent her a copy of The Ballad of Jessie Pearl. Maybe there is some synergy between my historical fiction set in North Carolina and Tammy's work. Only time will tell.

Another favorite workshop was "Exploring Untold Stories of WWII through Text Sets," taught by grad student, Emily Roderique and Dr. Jeanne Swafford both from UNC Wilmington. A text set is a collection of resources, (articles, photographs, brochures, websites etc), focused on a common topic, theme, or anchor text. Emily says text sets have some great advantages:
  1. They give reluctant readers access to a variety of interesting texts and texts of varying levels of difficulty.
  2. Text sets foster collaboration among teachers, (cross-disciplinary projects).
Emily has developed text sets using Between Shades of Gray and Bomb as anchor texts. I introduced myself to Emily afterward and she agreed to help me develop a text set for The Ballad of Jessie Pearl. That should be a great learning experience for me and hopefully a marketing tool to use with teachers as well.

I had a wonderful time at NCRA: presenting, learning, and networking. An author can glean lots of useful information hanging out with teachers and librarians. I hope to participate again next year. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

RIP Cynthia Chapman Willis

My dear friend and critique partner, Cynthia Chapman Willis died on March 3rd. I am heartbroken. For those of you who didn't know Cindy, it's not too late to get to know her. She left behind two wonderful novels, Dog Gone and Buck Fever. Both showcase Cindy's love of animals and her big heart. The following video shows Cindy during happier days, just after the release of her first novel:

Cindy worked with me every step of the way on my debut novel, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl. That novel is about a young woman wasting away from tuberculosis. She grows weak and has difficulty breathing. It's ironic that lung cancer caused many of those same symptoms in Cindy herself.

The morning after Cindy died, I went to the gym. I was pushing myself hard, but all I could think about was that Cindy would never move again. It was much like this passage from The Ballad of Jessie Pearl:

I grab an old coat that Tom outgrew and let myself out the back door. The wind makes a moaning sound like it's grieving too. I whistle for Patches and race down the dirt road. Carrie will never move again, and knowing that pushes me to run for both of us.

I have corresponded with Cindy almost daily for the past ten years. I keep expecting an email to pop up in my inbox. It doesn't seem real that she's gone. Jessie Pearl experienced those same emotions when her sister died:

I've seen Carrie every day of my life, but after tomorrow I'll never see her again. Poof--she'll be gone. I can't even conceive of it.

And like Jessie I'm struggling to believe Cindy is in a better place.When Jessie's other sister tells her that she'll see Carrie again some day in heaven, Jessie expresses her doubts:

I wish there was a guarantee of that. Do you really believe it?

Here's how Anna answers her:

I think everybody lives with doubt, Jessie, but I'm trying hard to believe. Faith brings me comfort.

In the end, faith is all we're left with. Rest in peace, dear friend. I hope we'll meet again.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An Interview With Carol Matas, (Sydney Taylor Award Blog Tour)

Carol Matas is an internationally acclaimed author of over 40 books for children and young adults. Her novel Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz is a 2014 Sydney Taylor Honor Book Selection for Older Readers.

Carol, What led you to set a Holocaust book in Canada?

Scholastic Canada has a series called “Dear Canada," Canadian history books aimed at girls in Grade 4-8, similar to the US series, “Dear America.” Scholastic approached me and asked me to write a Holocaust book for the series since there was not one yet and they felt that would be an important addition. I had already written two books for the series, one dealing with the Holocaust as part of the story – “Turned Away” is set in Winnipeg in 1941 and is about a young Jewish girl and her first cousin in France. Devorah corresponds with her cousin and we see what happens to the French Jews through Devorah’s eyes. In “Behind Enemy Lines," an “I Am Canada” novel, another historical series by Scholastic, this one for boys, I write about a young gunner whose plane is shot down over France and who ends up in Buchenwald. However, the big question for this new book was- ‘How can you set a Holocaust book in Canada when the Holocaust did not happen there?’ That was my first and biggest challenge, and until and unless I could solve it, there would be no book.

Why did you choose a diary format over prose?

This was another part of the project imposed by the constraints of the series – they are all written in dairy format. That proved to be a huge challenge and forced me to become very creative in figuring out a way to make that format work.

What were your greatest challenges in researching and writing this story?

I began my research in a broad sense looking at all kinds of countries, stories and time periods. But I had other constraints to consider: the girl needed to be 12 or 13 to fit the parameters of the series, and therefore that would impact what country to set the book in, and what time in history the book should begin. I considered Hungary, for instance, since the Jews there were rounded up later in the war and my character could conceivably have survived. The truth is that most children did not survive the Holocaust and it was important to research and to discover who did and what helped them to survive. During this research phase I came across the story of the Jewish orphans who were allowed to come to Canada after the war. I saw that some had come from Poland, some from Warsaw. I had always wanted to write about the Jewish Resistance and the Warsaw Uprising because I think it is important for children to realize that Jews did fight back. But this also allowed for me to show the gradual insidious way Hitler “managed” the Final Solution so that right up until the end many Jews still did not and could not believe they would be murdered. I was also able to write about the hidden children. Most who survived were in fact part of this group or they would have ended up in the death camps. So in the end I decided my character would live in Warsaw and that she would be one of the hidden children who did survive. Because she was going to come to Canada as part of the orphan project that would mean that all her family would perish. Readers would know that from the start so the challenge was to make them want to discover how that happened and what Rose’s story was.

Another important aspect of the book for me was the spiritual and religious questions raised by the Holocaust itself and for my character Rose in particular. Since the story was set in Warsaw, the site of a large and vibrant Reform Synagogue, I chose to make Rose’s father a rabbi. This allowed for her to be both knowledgeable and questioning in her spiritual journey through darkness.

What is the most gratifying thing that has happened to you because of this book?

When I was in tenth grade I went to see a play in Winnipeg called “Andora” staged by the then artistic director of The Manitoba Theatre Company, John Hirsch. That play, and one I saw afterwards, “Mother Courage,” changed my life. It made me see that art could teach and could even change the way a person saw the world. I chose a life in the arts, first as an actor, then as a writer, and have tried to be a force for change. John Hirsch was one of the war orphans that came to Canada in 1947/48. I hope I have in some small way paid tribute to him and the others like him who survived and then made new lives for themselves and enriched all of us.

What can young readers expect next from Carol Matas?

I have two new books, one just published and one coming out this spring. The newly published book is a first for me- a picture book and a non-fiction book about death and dying for young readers and their families. Called “When I Die” it is a short meditation on death that I hope will make the subject less scary for parents as they discuss death with their young children.  

On a trip to Los Angeles I visited The Autry Museum of Western Heritage and saw an exhibit called “Jews in the Wild West.” One of the pictures in the exhibit was of Mayor Charles Strauss, Tucson 1882, and his son, dressed up as cowboys. I knew I had to write about it from the second I saw that picture. The new novel, entitled “Tucson Jo” is inspired by the Strauss story but centers on the daughter of the first Jewish Mayor of Tucson in 1882 – her hopes and dreams, her fight for independence as a young woman, and the anti-Semitism Charles Strauss encountered when he ran for mayor. (I say in the book inspired by Charles Strauss because the family name is Fiedler in my book and I have created my own characters, a choice that gave me more freedom with the fictional  part of the story.) Tucson Jo will be launched at the AJL convention in Vegas this summer and I am very excited about presenting it to librarians and readers from across North America.

Both these books are published by a new digital publisher, The editor is tough and demanding, which has made my books all the better, but she is not worried, as some of the big publishers are, that my work might be “too Jewish”. This has given me a freedom in my writing that I often do not have. And a little farther into the future, Scholastic Canada will be publishing my new science fiction book!  I am already researching that one.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Sydney Taylor Book Awards Blog Tour!

On February 18th, I'll have the pleasure of interviewing Carol Matas, author of Dear Canada: Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1948, (published by Scholastic Canada), as part of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards Blog Tour.

I just finished this book, and if I were in the same room as the author, I'd give her a hug for writing such a beautiful and brave story.

You can see the full list of Sydney Taylor Award winners here:

Friday, January 24, 2014

SCBWI Miami Conference - 2014

On our first day in Miami, our RA gave to us:

Five acquiring editors,
Four writers speaking,
Three agents signing,
Two moderated panels,

And a clockwork costume ball!

All kidding aside, some great things happened at the conference. On Saturday, the Rising Kite Awards were announced. One of my picture book biographies won third place in the non-fiction category. Standing beside me in pink is my critique group mate, Joni Klein-Higger. Joni took second prize in the picture book category, and a third critique group mate, Eileen Goldenberg, received an honorable mention. 

I was excited to meet my agent, (Deborah Warren at East West Literary), face-to-face for the first time. While we've worked well via phone and email, it's nice to make a more personal connection.

The halls were buzzing in Miami with good news and potential good news. It was exciting to be a part of it!

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Best YA And MG Book Jackets of 2013

Booklist Online named THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL'S book jacket as one of their favorites for 2013!

The cover artist is Timothy Decker and the book was designed by Helen Robinson.