Latina writer of books for kids of all ages.

Archive for the ‘Appearances’ Category

Read Brave Write Brave: My upcoming visit to St. Paul

This week, I’m heading back to St. Paul, Minnesota (average temperature in February is 23.7 degrees F). This time I’ll be there for a community visit that has some unexpected ties right here to Virginia, where I live.

Last year, St. Paul reached out to me with the big news that my 2016 YA novel, Burn Baby Burnhad been adopted as part of its community-wide read through a program called Read Brave.

Burn will be read as a companion novel with the Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Evicted: Poverty and Profit in The American City by Matthew Desmond. The book follows the harrowing experiences of eight families caught in the vicious cycle of evictions in Milwaukee, WI between 2007 and 2008. It’s a stark book, a heartbreaking one for all it tells us about people and the systemic pressures against them. It’s a must-read if you’re interested in seeing the true face of life at the very edge of housing despair.

At first I was confused. St. Paul’s tagline is “the most livable city in America,” after all. What was up? Turns out, they’re in a housing crisis like so many other American cities. With about 2.4 percent vacancy rate, it’s not really “livable” unless you have a good income.

What was especially appealing to me about the invitation to St. Paul was that the organizers of the Read Brave program were inclusive of young people as they considered this challenging topic. To make sure readers of all ages were tuned into the conversation, they’ve selected a range of titles spanning all age groups. These include: Shelter by Céline Claire; Rich by Nikki Grimes; Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate; and Yard Sale by Eve Bunting.

That, to me, seemed like one of the most respectful approaches I’ve heard. A community is made up of citizens of every age, and its problems – including housing insecurity – hurts them all. Having nowhere to live, or being a sick day away or a car repair away from being put out on the street, puts stress on families and kids, and it’s the kind of slow-burn stress that changes kids in lasting ways. It impacts their learning, their coping skills, their mental and physical health. It becomes an all-consuming problem as Nora Lopez in my novel certainly knew.

The unfortunate irony of this trip is that it also coincides with my own city’s reckoning with housing issues. I make my home to the south, in Richmond, Virginia, where we have a considerably warmer climate. Sure, you could say that things have been looking fairly rosy. The US News and World Report listed us among the top 25 places to live in this country in 2017. It’s a small city, filled with good restaurants, strong arts, and lots of beautiful natural resources.

But the truth is that we’re also a city struggling not only with the national embarrassment of our leaders’ racist and possibly criminal past behaviors, but one that is struggling with housing demons of our own.

The Richmond Times Dispatch reported last June that half of the large cities with the highest eviction rates in the nation are right here in Virginia.

Richmond has an eviction rate that is three times the national average – and one that is factually and undeniably tied to race. Our lousy tenant protection laws coupled with a lack of affordable units being built for renters only fuel the problem. For all the work of heroes like our recently deceased Lillie Estes, who labored for years on behalf of her neighbors in Gilpin Court, the work is not done.

It’s all well and good to enjoy trendy neighborhoods, fine restaurants, and notations in travel guides. I won’t begrudge anyone that. But it can’t happen by ignoring the needs of families that have been systemically afflicted. It can’t happen by leaving children in simmering trauma.

I’m eager to hear what the citizens of St. Paul have to say. A YA novel can’t solve housing problems, for sure, but it certainly can name them honestly.  I hope Burn Baby Burn gave them a place to feel seen and understood.

I’ll let you know when I’m back…

SCBWI winter conference time

I’m rushing to type this and then head to the airport for the SCBWI winter conference, where I’ll have the privilege of introducing some winners of this year’s Golden Kite and Sid Fleischman Awards.  

I’m thinking back on my own career as I get ready to take this trip. I’m considering all the ways that I learned the ropes of the publishing business and how this organization was part of that journey. No organization can provide you with everything, but my membership with SCBWI was a first important step for me. It was my declaration, I think, that I was a writer.

My first SCBWI meeting was held in a church in Arlington, VA, which boasted the most uncomfortable folding chairs in the universe. Sore back notwithstanding,  I remember looking around and feeling so excited that there were actually this many people in my region who actively had the same dreams about telling stories for kids. It felt safe to ask beginner questions: What’s a query? What does an agent do? I didn’t feel guilty or ashamed about the things I didn’t know or about the aspirations I had for the future.

Over the years, I’ve come to think of my SCBWI MidAtlantic friends as a literary family. Whenever I come to our conference, I feel as though it’s a reunion. It’s a place to learn and celebrate what’s happening for each of us and a place to give encouragement when this business has stomped us flat.

These days I sit on the national board of advisors for the organization. And, of course, I now have to keep my ear close to the ground on the many thorny issues, large and small that have rocked our community and SCBWI. I’m thinking in particular about how we serve authors from marginalized communities and how that might look going forward. Our conversations on the board are frank, sometimes difficult, but always in the spirit of trying to serve writers and our young readers better.

Keep us in your hearts, please, as we convene to celebrate this year’s winners and then as we sit down to learn with and from one another. The way forward is together, I think. It always is.

Cariños de,

Meg

Residencies, YA Cons, and pictures of cute dogs: 2019 begins

Hello again!

I’ve been away from social media since November so that I could make some headway on my next novel. Every now and then I’d peek, but I have to admit that it was restful to go quiet for a while and focus on work and home.

With Eliot Schrefer and the students we met in workshop during residency at Hamline

So, what’s 2019 been so far?  I’m just back from my residency at Hamline University in Minnesota, where I’ve been teaching as part of the MFA in Children’s Writing program with some of my favorite people. It’s 11 days of very cold temps; yes, it was minus 2 one morning. But it was also a really beautiful experience of coming together with talented new voices and with star colleagues whose work has been shaping the kidlit landscape in ways that I love and admire. If you’ve ever thought about an MFA, especially you Latinx writers, please consider us. I promise you that a warm coat will do the trick. If you want to know more, you can message me or – if you’re going to be at SCBWI in NYC next month, I’m happy to chat with you there during one of our breaks and tell you what I know. 

To warm my bones after the big Minnesota chill, I’ve headed to the YANovCom at the Millbrae Library in San Mateo County. What can I say? California is so beautiful.  I’m not here often because I’m way on the east coast, and six hours on a plane always stinks. But it’s gorgeous here. I’ll be at three schools today, Jan 25, with my wonderful librarian escort, Armando Ramirez. (Hi Summit Everest, Hoover Middle, and Sequioa HS!) Then it’s off to the conference tomorrow to meet readers and old friends. If you’re local, I hope you’ll come.

OK – I have to dash. Here is a sweet picture of my dog and me with my daughters enjoying some time together. No reason. Just things I love. I’ll check in soon!

Hugo in his favorite spot.

 

 

#NCTE2018 Houston: Let the Brainy Parranda Begin

It’s here! NCTE! 

We’re in Houston, where the hispanic or Latinx population is around 43%. So I’m thrilled that most of the panels and round tables where I’ll be speaking are centered squarely on the Latinx experience. From nerds to bad-ass girls – here they are:

Thursday, Nov 16, 2018

1:00-2:15 Latinx Experiences in Classrooms and Communities: Knowing Our Students through Text-Based Conversations across Picture Books, Middle Grade, and YA Book Clubs (Organized by Dr. Carla España) with Luz Herrera, NoNieqa Ramos,  Lilliam Rivera, Meg Medina,  R. Joseph Rodríguez Room 362 DEF

Friday, Nov 17, 2018

The Nerdtalk Speakers Summer 2018

9:30-10:45 a.m. Nerdy Book Club: Building Strong, Inclusive Reading Communities Chairs: Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp. Room 340 AB 

11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m. “Más Fuerte Together: A Roundtable on the state of Latinx Publishing & Readers.” Roundtable 5: Girl Power, “Latinidad, and the Contemporary YA Novel: Where it All Meets, with Meg Medina and Lilliam Rivera.” Room 352 DEF

2:00-3:15 p.m. “Policy and Governance: Teachers as Advocates, Creating Change from the Ground Up” Speaking on “Using Latinx Literature to Connect Students to Their History, Power, and Voice,” with Meg Medina, Juana Martinez-Neal and Cindy L. Rodriguez  Room 352 DEF 

4:30 – 5:30 pm. Signing at Candlewick booth #223

Saturday, Nov 18

12:30-1:45 p.m. “Fierce: A Conversation with Five Authors Writing Strong Latinas”  Organized by Lilliam Rivera (includes Lilliam Rivera, Meg Medina, Elizabeth Acevedo, Isabel Quintero) Room 361 EF

2:45-4:00 p.m. “Beyond Baseball, Basketball, and Día de los Muertos: Depicting the Everyday Lived Realities of Diverse Families in Children’s Picture Books” Chair: Angie Zapata (CLA), with Meg Medina, Matt de la Peña, Derrick Barnes, Karla Möller, Dan Santat  Room 362 ABC

7- 9 pm. Latinx in Publishing free social. (See info below)*

Sunday, Nov 19

10:00 – 11:15 am “Community and Collective Action through Recent Latinx Children’s Literature” With Noni Ramos,   Margarita Engle, Emma Otheguy, Meg Medina, David Bowles Room 361 EF

*Kick back and join us for a free social on Saturday night. The night is going to be emceed by Pablo Cartaya, so ya saben, it’s going to to be great. Snacks, authors, readings, chisme. ¿Para que decirles?  But please RSVP here so we know what to expect.  

 

And finally, please don’t forget to say hello to authors at their signings. Here is Candlewick’s line up below. Mine is Friday, 4:30 – 5:30, but check out the other action at the booth (#223) all weekend, too.

 

 

See you there! Safe travels!

 

 

 

 

A podcast and a catchup as I start to wrap up 2018!

Ah, November. The utter hell of elections is behind us – Can you say “swing state?” – so now we can turn our thoughts to Turkey Day, apple pie and stretchy pants.

That’s my plan, just as soon as I wrap up the last appearance for the 2018 Merci Suarez Changes Gears book tour at NCTE next week. (Post coming Monday with the nitty gritty details.)

 

But for now, here are a couple of things I’ve been meaning to post.

First, a podcast:  Don’t sweat it if Merci still on your TBR pile, friends. Mine is sky high, too. One option is to click over to Candlewick Press Presents on i-tunes, where they have a terrific library of their authors talking. (It’s a teacher’s dream spot!) We covered a lot of ground in 43 minutes – Merci and everything else you might want to know about my writing. I hope you’ll enjoy. 

Second, just a random collection of photographs from the road. There are so many moments that slipped by without an image, which seems impossible considering how we’re all attached to our phones. But here are a few. I’m so grateful for all the kids, teachers, families, and fellow writers that I meet along the way.  Are some of your favorites here?

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Want an early copy of Merci Suárez Changes Gears? Get to the National Book Festival

Cooler weather, pansies, and pumpkin-everything are on my mind as we head into Labor Day weekend, but this year, I also have a new book. And while it has felt like a long year of nail biting, here we are. How do I handle all that pre-publication angst? Here’s a little clip. Say what you will, though, bookmarks are useful. And I didn’t lose my mind, just the pads on my fingertips!

 

But the big news this week is the National Book Festival in Washington, DC

Merci Suarez Changes Gears officially hits shelves on September 11, but if you drop by the festival this weekend, you’ll be able to get your hands on early release copies. (Thanks, Candlewick!) 

The festival  is free and easy to get to via Metro (Mount Vernon Square stop on the Yellow/Green lines.) Wander around all day and listen to authors deliver bite-sized presentations (about 25 minutes) on their new books. I’ll be taking the stage at 3:55 pm to talk unwieldy families, bikes, and books. 

Which reminds me:  We’re getting close to doing the drawing for the bike raffle in honor of Merci Suarez’s pub date. Remember, I’m raffling off a brand new mountain bike and helmet in a sweepstakes that’s open to kids 8 – 12. So if you’re in Virginia or are willing to drive to Richmond to pick it up, make sure kids you know enter through bbgb’s site by September 10. (It’s a gorgeous blue set of wheels and it’s completely free to enter!)   

820 TREK mountain bike

And for those of you who still want to pre-order, we have bike bells and other swag here once your pre-order at the venue of your choice. 

 

 

Where to catch Meg in September:

Sat, September 1, 2018,  National Book Festival, Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC, Children’s Green Stage, 3:55 pm – 4:20 PM, signing at 5 pm.

September 15, 2018, Brooklyn Book Festival, Children’s Day, MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, New YorkFriday September 21 – 23, 2018, SCBWI Wisconsin Conference, Green Lake, WI.

Monday, September 24 – 25, 2018 Wisconsin Book Festival via Madison Public Library and Friends of the CCBC

September 30 – October 1, 2018 Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures.

 

 

Juune is Bustin’ Out All O-O-ver…

I woke up this morning with that song in my head, which is horrible, but June is, in fact, looking exciting on my end. Here’s the news.  

BEA AND BOOK CON

I’ll be at Book Expo America and BookCon to introduce MERCI SUÁREZ CHANGES GEARS. Here are the highlights so we can cross paths:

Children’s Breakfast, Friday, June 1, 2018 8 am, Javitz Special Events Hall

I’ll share some of what went into crafting that novel at the fancy children’s breakfast with fellow panelists Jacqueline Woodson, Dave Eggers, Yuyi Morales, and Viola Davis. (Gulp.)

Latinx BookExpo Party, Friday June 1, 6 – 8 PM, at La Biblioteca (622 3rd Avenue, between 40 and 41 St)

If you want to decompress and surround yourself with friends and love, please join us for drinks, micro-readings, a raffle, and fun. It’s an event sponsored by Latinx in Publishing and Duende District books. Free, but you should register. ¡Vengan!

Wonder Women panel (Saturday, June 2, Javits, Room 1E16; 3:45 PM.) Woot! Where are my tights? With Kate DiCamillo, Shannon Hale, T.R. Simon, and Jessica Spotswood

The scoop on signings:

Friday, June 1, 2018

Signing galleys of Merci Suárez Changes Gears  

  • 10 am – 11 am, Immediately following the breakfast (ABA member lounge)
  • 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm, Candlewick booth # 2021

Saturday, June 2, 2018

  • 10:15 am – 11:15 am (Autograph Area tables 7 & 8) with Shannon Hale, Kate DiCamillo, T.R. Simon and Jessica Spotswood. This is where you can get paperbacks of Burn Baby Burn (new this year) and more important, where you can pre-order Merci Suárez Changes Gears and get a signed bookplate.
  • 12:30 pm  – 1:30 pm (Candlewick booth 2021) The first 50 people get a free copy of Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. All my paperback titles will be on hand, too.
Social media:

There’s an app to download, fyi.

Please use @TheBookCon/#BookCon @BookExpoAmerica/#BookExpo/@Meg_Medina/MegMedinaBooks on instagram


On the horizon:

Meg’s next appearances:

Girls of Summer:  The book party of the year for book lovin’ girls!  Wednesday, June 20, 2018, Richmond Public Library. Special guest, Selina Alko!

 

American Library Association Conference, New Orleans, June 22 – 24, 2018. Beignets, coffee and Michelle Obama, here I come! So excited to be in the audience for the Newbery and the Pura Belpré ceremonies! I’ll post the schedule soon.

Shenandoah University Children’s Literature Conference:  Thursday, June 27, 2018. So many incredible authors coming that week! Check it.