August. This should be a slow and sleepy time in publishing, right?
But no. An awful lot is happening during what should be my sleepy summer. Maybe that’s a good thing, though. It will keep me from missing pool days or fun beach trips.
OK, the huge NEWSFLASH: the SCBWI Summer Spectacular is living up to its name. Full disclosure, I sit on the board of advisors for SCBWI, but that doesn’t influence the fact that I think the digital conference has offered us an incredible silver lining of access. A lot of folks who can’t plunk down the big bucks for airfare and hotel of a live conference, can pay $100 and click a zoom link to learn from people like the legendary Phillip Pullman. That’s a huge bonus for people early in their careers when the cash flow from writing is a trickle. Check out the lineup yourself. And please, if you are registered or plan to register, join my conversation with the fabulous Laurie Halse Anderson on Tuesday morning. We’ve decided to ask each other all the stuff nobody else does. We’ll talk a little bit of craft, but also what career blips we’ve had, what we wish we could do over, things that scare us now, and new voices we’re excited about.
There’s a lot of bookstore and educator love happening in my world this month, too. I’ll be at Belmont Books, virtually of course, in support of a program called Read it Forward, which is providing new, donated books to kids through free lunch programs in the Boston area. My host will be debut author Sarah Marie Jette, who wrote What the Wind Can Tell You.
More locally, I’m over the moon to be part of Educator Night at bbgb books in Richmond on August 25, 5 – 7 PM EST, where I’ll be in conversation with Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Agh! She won the Newbery Honor for The War That Saved My Life in 2018, but her new book, Fighting Words, which just came out in
August, is even more wonderful. It tackles sisterhood, sex abuse and life in the foster care system. I loved this book in every way, especially in the skilled handling of those topics for middle grade readers. I can’t wait to dig in and talk with her. Anyway, if you’re a teacher or librarian in the public or private sector in Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield, VA, register here.
Podcasts have suddenly become more of a thing in my appearances, with several scheduled in the coming months. My sentimental favorite was the inaugural episode this week of Reach Out and Read’s new podcast. It’s hosted by Dr. Diesh Navsaria, a pediatrician, a bow-tie lover, and children’s book aficionado who believes that books improve the lives and health outcomes for kids. The organization has so many incredible initiatives, many of which I wish had been around when my own kids were little. It almost made me want to go back and raise my kids all over again. (Almost, people. I haven’t lost my senses.)
If you want to see how well I do podcasting on my feet, I’ll be priming the pump for the JRW conference in October by appearing on JRW Talks podcast hosted by Sharvette Mitchell. That one will be live streamed at 12:30 pm EST on August 19 on James River Writers home page. What could go wrong?
Finally, I think you’ve seen the roll-out of the We Persisted chapter book series, based on Chelsea Clinton’s mega-best-selling picture book of the same name. Friends, do you have any idea how hard it was not to discuss that for a whole year? Not only was Sonia Sotomayor irresistible as a subject, but I felt so honored to be working in a publishing sisterhood with some of my absolute favorite children’s lit authors working today. It was a challenge to figure out how to tell an adult’s life, with all the complexities and legal feats, in a work intended for an average 8-year-old girl.
OK, that’s most of the news from me. I mean, I could tell you about the new windows I got on my house and how I dropped my ear buds into a can of house paint as I was freshening up the front door, or how everything in my yard is dead from the heat, but where’s the glamour in that? Where? Let’s stick to book life for now.
Stay safe, everyone. Be good to each other.