Latina writer of books for kids of all ages.

nbf-home-animated-banner-2016So much is going on in DC for book lovers next week that my head is spinning in that good way of little kids doing the helicopter for no reason.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 7.21.04 AMChildren’s book icon Katherine Patterson is speaking at the Washington Children’s Book guild on Thursday, September 22, after which I will zoom over to the Library of Congress to be in the audience for the the Americas Awards at the Library of Congress that will honor Pam Muñoz Ryan (Echo) and Ashely Hope Perez (Out of Darkness) – two authors who published exceptional books last year. If you’re a teacher, you might want to register for the workshops with the fantastic Alma Flor Ada to be held that night. Co-sponsored by Teaching for Change, it’s inexpensive, and you’ll be in excellent hands.

BurnBabyBurn_cvrSktch-7 copy 2Then, of course, comes the big one: The National Book Festival  on Sat., Sept 24. I’m honored to be on the roster of authors this year, where I’ll bring a little disco inferno to the capital with a talk about Burn Baby Burn. 

That ought to be enough, but this year, I’m staying into the night because (DRUMROLL) I’m a judge for the teen poetry slam, a standing room only event. (Here’s info and video from last year.) Aaahhh! I can’t tell you how much I love spoken performance (and how much I secretly long to do this myself.) In this case, teens from around the country will come to compete in this event. There’s a special guest judge, too – that I’m not allowed to name (and it’s killing me.)

I hope you’ll put the festival on your calendar, especially if you’ve never attended.  You can visit the capital, and regardless of your reading preferences, you’ll find plenty to suit your taste. Me? I plan to be in the audience for as many panels as I can. The scheduling gods have been good to me, so I’ll be free to catch Stephen King on the main stage.  It’s true that I’m squeamish about being terrified by what I’m reading, but his memoir about the writing process, On Writingremains one of the books I return to for comfort. Anything he has to say about writing and maintaining a career in writing is gold as far as I’m concerned.

IMG_2074Meanwhile, here’s the podcast to whet your appetite. I spoke with  Karen Jaffe, Executive Director at the Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress, about research, feminism, and why anyone who’s 16 today would care about 1977. Enjoy.

Cariños de,

Meg

 

 

 

 

Book Award LOGO & Image rgb copyYou might have seen that the International Book Awards were announced on Friday. I’m a little late to the game because I was in Pennsylvania, But behold the (seriously long) list of amazing titles that have won and take note, mi gente, of the new voices coming to the table. If you’re unfamiliar with the work of these authors, please take the chance now to gather their books and enjoy. All the winners – some of them my heroes and dear friends (…looking at you Isabel Campoy, Pam Muñoz, Sonia Manzano, Margarita Engle, Daniel José Older, and more…) have my deepest respect and congratulations.

So, I am excited to say that Mango Abuela and Me earned second place as best picture book in English, and Burn Baby Burn earned an honorable mention in Young Adult.

But I am hugely proud to announce that Teresa Mlawer won first place in translation for both Mango Abuela y Yo and Yaqui Delgado Quiere Darte Una Paliza

51o4V725fOL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_9780763684532_zoom

An industry veteran, Teresa has translated the likes of Where the Wild Things Are and Harold and the Purple Crayon. I had the pleasure of meeting her on the faculty of the 2014 Latino National Children’s Literature Conference at the University of Alabama. (Proof positive of the value of going to conferences…) So, when Candlewick hired her as my translator a couple of years later, I knew I was in good hands.

Having the work of Latino authors available in translation matters. It’s a statement of respect for multiple literacies, first of all. But it also opens a way for sharing literature within families (including school “families”) where multiple languages are spoken.

The nuances of translation are beastly, though. Getting the language right and ensuring that the word choice and pace are on target, are what make something feel true and accurate. In Latino literature, that’s a big job. Each country has its own vocabulary, its own slang and rhythm, its own set of rules about what is profane.What is innocent in one place is utterly vulgar in another.

At the National Latino Children's Literature Conference in 2014

At the National Latino Children’s Literature Conference in 2014

Teresa captured the sound of the Cuban dialect that my family speaks, and so what she did was tell the story the way I heard it emotionally. It helps, of course, that she is a Cuban immigrant herself. But what really matters is how diligently she went at the task. More than once as she translated Yaqui, she’d call me to say, “I have never worked so hard on a translation. I am trying to get your voice exactly right.”

She did.

I feel so lucky to have benefitted from that kind of respect and dedication. And so the joy I feel about her success is so personal.

img_1766Congratulations, mi estimada Teresa. These recognitions are so deserved.

Cariños siempre de,

Meg

 

IMG_4267

Nice press in Richmond Family Magazine

I’m taking to the road with Hannah Barnaby and Kristen Paige Madonia, two fellow Virginia YA authors next week.

If you’re close to Richmond, stop in at Fountain Bookstore on Tuesday, Sept 13, 6:30 PM. We’ll be talking about what’s happening in YA lit these days, from our own perspectives. [FountainBooks Flyer Sept2016] After, we’ll be driving up the I-95 corridor to Politics & Prose on Thursday, September 15, 7 pm for our Washington friends.

Lovely KP

Lovely KP

I love both these authors for the top-notch work they’re producing. (Both are previous Girls of Summer guest authors, with Wonder Show and Fingerprints of You, respectively.) Their newer works:  Some of the Parts and Invisible Fault Lines are fantastic follow-ups.

But these women also bring a sensitivity that I like when we talk about YA. Hannah is a former editor, and KP teaches Creative Writing at JMU and UVA.  So, I always feel like the conversation they bring about Young Adult lit is deeper than just a review of storyline or  process, etc. In fact, I feel like I learn something new from them every time we’re together.

Hannah signing books at Girls of Summer 2015

Hannah signing books at Girls of Summer 2015

Anyway, I know the fall is a busy time, but if you can squeeze in some book and author love, come on out!

BurnBabyBurn_cvrSktch-7 copy 2

CqJemGWWIAAg-ppI’ll be in the woods of Pennsylvania tonight, but not even tall trees, ticks, and lousy internet can stop me from slipping  on my disco ball earrings and sitting in on a twitter chat at 2jennsbookclub. It’s all about Burn Baby Burn there.

Do you know these librarian superheroes? Here’s a link on their website as an intro. Basically, they’re two fierce YA librarians on a mission to, well,  quench their envy of Mr.Schu while there showing teen fiction some love.

I actually met one of the Jennifers ( Jennifer LaGarde) a few years ago, when I heard her speak at the Virginia School Libraries conference in Williamsburg. She was so wise and funny as she described her role as “librarian at large” for North Carolina. I especially remember her urgency around the idea of making the library the heart of a school. That idea has stayed with me in the years since, and I’m always impressed when I find librarians doing exactly that. Here’s  Jennifer Northrup‘s site for you, too. I love that they collaborate and that they have harnessed social media as a way to connect bookish ones and keep their spaces relevant.

OK,  the hashtag is #2jennsbookclub. Tonight, Sept 8, 2017, at 8 PM. Spread the word and let’s boogie.

header

 

Big news for me today: Burn Baby Burn has been chosen by the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association as their book of the year in the Young Adult category.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 6.45.15 PMI’m in some good company here. But the fact that this honor comes from independent bookstores is what’s cool.  These are the people who truly know and love books and authors. And they’re the people who have refused to lie down in the face of Amazon and (before that) other large chains. How are they doing? Take a look.

I wish I could be in Baltimore for their conference in October to accept the award in person. But I’ll be traveling back from the Oregon School Library Association conference and won’t make it back in time.

So, all I can say is thank you so much NAIBA for choosing Burn Baby Burn. Party on in my absence and please know how much I appreciate every one of you for loving books and authors as you do.

 

Layout 1Richmond Public Library has stepped forward to promote young adult books in Virginia – and I mean in a big way. Actually, in two thousand big ways. If you’re a writer for teens in the Commonwealth, you may be eligible to win the $2,000 literature prize. (WOWZA!)

YAVA (Young Adult Virginia) is an annual teen book event, now in its fourth year. It features the works of Virginia authors who have had an upper middle grade or  young adult novel published that year. It’s free and open to the public for teachers, librarians, and book fans who want to meet and hear from our state’s fine stable of authors, whether new to publishing or seasoned.

 The event is scheduled for October 12, 2017, 6- 8:30 PM at the Main branch of the Richmond Public Library. Here’s the Facebook page.

The award is selected in a combination of public voting and judges, who pick the winner from among the finalists. Last year, Anne Holton was the honorary judge. (Yep, Tim Kaine’s spouse and our Secretary of Education.) She selected Gigi Amateau’s Come August, Come Freedom as the winner.

Important rules to note: Winners are selected from the previous year’s publications. Plus the author has to have been present at the live YAVA event at the library to be eligible.

PLEASE take the time to vote on the 2015 title you think is most deserving. Then, do your YA authors a favor and circulate the survey widely. (Nobody’s allowed to launch vote-for-me campaigns, though. You know, we like to be dignified around here.)  The survey is here. The deadline for public voting is September 15, 2017. 

Good luck to the 2015 candidates – and see you all at the library on October 12!

 

 

img_campus1For a few days after Labor Day, I’ll make the trek back up to rural Pennsylvania to the campus of the Highlights Foundation, where they’ve begun an artist-in-residence program. The inaugural writers are Jerry and Eileen Spinnelli, Suzanne Bloom, and me.

Spanish language cover of Highlights

Check out High Five Spanish edition!

You know Highlights, of course, from their magazine and the years you probably spent doing the hidden picture search at the dentist office. (It has been the favorite magazine feature since 1946.)

But, what I learned a few years ago is that they have a beautiful campus where writers come to workshop and compose away from all the distractions of their daily lives. I’ve been there twice:  once as a guest author with Kathy Erskine and Rich Wallace. The second time (sort of) last spring as part of the faculty for SCBWI Pennsylvania, which rented the space for its annual meeting.

When I was approached in June, it took all of five seconds to say sí, como no, even though I’d already closed my calendar to anything new until 2017. Who could resist? The idea is that I hide away in the beautiful mountains, where my biggest personal worries will be reduced to ticks and which ice cream to choose as a snack. Other people will cook to feed me. I will not walk a dog, throw in laundry or respond to email. At night, I will look at the stars through a telescope in the Lodge and listen to bullfrogs.

The rest is a blissful four days of writing and then helping other authors wrestle with their manuscripts every evening. What we’ll put on the table has to do with who has signed up to come. We can talk about authentic characters, about false starts and what to do with all that stuff we cut, about biases, about plots that won’t move, characters that fall flat, fear of failure, self-loathing – really the whole enchilada of what it takes to make a book in this world.  And, as if that isn’t enough, I hear that Don Tate is leading a workshop on picture books at the same time, so we can look forward to running into his crew, too.

Meg's puppy

Don’t let that cute face fool you.

Sure, I could close my office door right here in Richmond, let our new puppy eat the sofa, and work on my middle grade novel, which is due to my editor in December. (Yes. In fact I AM sweating that deadline.)

But I’ll tell you straight. I am so happy to have this to look forward to in September. It has been a horrendous summer, starting with the Pulse shootings, unspeakable violence by and against police, painful book controversies, and the election from hell. (The only break has been the Olympics. Thank you, gymnastics and swim teams!))

So I plan to make my time at Highlights the perfect way to bid this season goodbye and good riddance. While everyone marches back to school, I will instead march back into my happiness. I want to refocus on what matters to me deeply and what has always healed me when I’m most in need: writing.

So, friends, consider this an invitation for the last two spots available. ¡Vengan! Let’s go into the woods together.

Dates: Tuesday, September 6 – 10, 2016

Cost: $129 per night (no minimum stay etc.)

Register here or contact Jo Lloyd for info: jo.lloyd@highlightsfoundation.org

Cariños de,

Meg