Latina writer of books for kids of all ages.

Posts tagged ‘Madelyn Rosenberg’

Helping new voices get heard: VAASL Conference 2017

IMG_0908Back in 2011,  I was invited to attend the VEMA conference, an annual gathering of school librarians in my state. The event was held in Richmond that year. I had one book out, Milagros, Girl from Away, and so, like a lot of new authors, I sat at a table by myself for most of the evening while other more seasoned authors signed copies and chatted up fans.

Here’s what I most remember of that night: one school librarian came to talk to me. Her name was Schenell Agee, and she listened patiently as I stumbled through my conversation about my work and diverse voices and Latino themes. She told me that she organized an end-of-year author event at her middle school. An author visit on the last day of school? I thought. Nuts. Still, we exchanged cards, and she told me that she’d keep me in mind for the future.

I expected exactly nothing. I was just grateful that someone had stopped by to ask me anything at all. Eventually, I did go to her school (Metz Middle) – alongside the amazing Floyd Cooper, as I recall. It was a fabulous school visit – not only for how well-organized it was, but also for all it taught me about why it matters to take risks on new writers.

A lot has happened since then. VEMA has changed its name to VAASL (Virginia Association of School Librarians). I’ve got a few more titles under my belt. And Schenell Agee is now the supervisor of professional development and library services for Prince William County. But as I drive to Northern Virginia this Friday to take part in the VAASL conference,  I’ll be taking with me what I learned from her and all the librarians I’ve worked with since then.

With Lamar Giles at the Highlights Foundation where we served as mentors last summer

Here’s what I mean. If we’re serious about changing the landscape of children’s lit by building collections that represent a wide range of experiences, then encouraging new authors – especially diverse ones – is vital.  These are largely new voices, just entering now, who might be sitting at tables by themselves somewhere. There’s no time to waste in getting these authors up and connected. Kids need and deserve to hear from them. The best way to do it is through librarians.

I’m using my workshop time on Friday afternoon to book talk 20 titles by a few favorites but also many up-and-coming Latino authors who had work published in 2017. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s as much as I could read in a couple of months. Book talking isn’t necessarily my best skill, but I’m going to give it a shot. And if I’m lousy at it, as least there’s a giveaway of much of the list. (Many thanks to the publishers who sent me freebies for this purpose.) Librarians are crazy busy, and it’s hard for them to keep up with the huge number of titles competing for shelf space. If I can introduce them to fresh names and faces, I’ll be satisfied. Don’t get me wrong; I definitely want librarians to stock my stuff on their shelves, too. But the truth is that the body of my work represents one voice – and only one. There are parts of the so-called Latino experience that I can’t tell, parts that someone else should.

Mutual fans – with Ruta in Tucson

On Saturday, I’ll be moderating and participating in How Books Connect: Views and Ideas from Five Favorite Multicultural Authors. Joining me will be people who need no introduction: Ruta Sepetys, fresh from adding the Carnegie medal to the list of accolades for her exceptional historical fiction, Salt to the Sea; Wendy Wan-Long Shang and Madelyn Rosenberg, long time buds and now co-authors of the well-received, This is Just a Test, and one of my dearest friends in this business, Edgar Award nominee Lamar Giles (Overturned.) Our plan is to talk the way five friends would over breakfast (except not criticizing runny eggs.) Our focus will be the way we use our books to tell stories of varied people in a way that combats erasure or stereotype.

Wendy and Madelyn about to take the stage at this year’s National Book Festival in Washington, DC

So, if you’re a school librarian heading to Chantilly, I hope to see you this coming weekend. You can check out the full roster of events here.  Some amazing speakers are coming, and I’ll be sitting in on as much as I can!

 

Virginia Book Lovers: This is the week for you!

This is the week to be proud to be a Virginian, especially if you’re a book geek like me. The Literary Festival of Virginia is back. It has been  gaining national attention over the years, thanks to the impressive list of  bookish events you can find in this state.

IMG_1546One event that I hope is on your radar is right here in Richmond. If you’re a fan of books for young readers,  we want to see you at Teen ’13  at the Richmond Public Library on October 17, 6 – 8:30 PM. Food, music, authors, books, free stuff, all in one place. The fifteen Virginia authors who are coming offer a mind-blowing range of styles and topics. The books – all 2013 releases — are about psychic powers, romance, religious zealots, racism, canaries in coal mines, circus freaks, the KKK, bullies, military families, Darfur, dementia, horses, angels, courtiers, girls in juvie hall – you name it. See for yourself on the final schedule and the author list here. Teen ’13 program_proof2 (2)

Oh, and to sweeten the deal even more, there’s free stuff: six $25 gift cards to Fountain Bookstore (which will be on hand that night); three winners of 30-minute video chats with an author of their choice; and an autographed collection of the entire list of books. Huge smooches to the Hanover High School Jazz band for their talents and to the Friends of the Library who funded the food, the space and all the prizes. (And buttons. Did I mention the nifty buttons?) #TRW and #teen13valit

Librarian Patty Parks sporting just a few of the book buttons

Librarian Patty Parks sporting just a few of the book buttons

Other highlights:  On Wednesday, I’ll be at St. Margaret’s in Tappahannock VA to talk about YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS. (A whole school dedicated to amazing girls, located in as beautiful a place as there can be in the world!)54001952

The James River Writer’s Conference, an annual family reunion of sorts for writers all over the mid-Atlantic. Here’s the conference schedule. You can get your feet wet with a one-day pass or come both days. Maybe it’s all that creativity in one place, but I always leave the event feeling excited to get back to the page.

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Read Local: You’re invited to Teen ’13

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Like this lapel button? Yours for a buck fifty at Fountain Bookstore, RVA

Mark your fall calendars, teen book lovers. You’re invited to Teen ’13, a literary party that will celebrate Virginia’s homegrown talents. 

If you’ve had the chance to sink your teeth into a local Virginia peach this summer, you already know why it makes sense to buy local.  But you shouldn’t limit yourself to buying local food. You can feel  good about “reading local,” too – especially if you’re a fan of teen fiction. That’s because Virginia has an impressive bench when it comes to authors. We’re home to New York Times bestsellers and to authors who have won the Newbery Award, the Hans Christian Anderson Award, the National Book Award, and other top literary prizes. And that’s to say nothing of the hefty number of Virginia authors whose works regularly grace the annual “Best of” lists  that recognize the top books for kids each year.

ImageFree and open to the public, Teen ’13 will give book fans of all ages a chance to gather at the Richmond Public library to enjoy food and drinks, buy books, meet their favorite authors in person and win everything from indi bookstore gift certificates and free Skype visits to autographed copies of books and more. Fourteen Virginia authors will attend – all of whom have new releases in 2013. (Teen 13 authors and book blurbs.)

It’s exciting enough to have all those creative types in one place. But what’s most satisfying to me is that teen fiction – or YA, if you prefer –  will be part of a few precious days every October when bookish Virginians reign supreme.

VLFOctober is the month when the Library of Virginia’s Literary Festival partners and promotes statewide author events, lectures, writers conferences — even an awards  gala – in an effort to honor people who devote their lives to writing. By including Teen ’13 in their event lineup, our state library is acknowledging  two important things:  More adults are reading YA than ever before — and all of them were once kids who loved books..

YALSA's celebration of Teen books October 13 - 19

YALSA’s celebration of Teen books October 13 – 19

The Richmond Public Library’s main branch will host the event and will include Teen ’13 in their own celebration of TeenRead week, the American Library Association’s annual push to promote teen books. (How’s that for good timing?)

Anyway, we’re giving you plenty of notice and we hope you can come. (Special note to English teachers and/ or professors: Would you consider giving your students some extra credit points for attending?)

Will this be the beginning of an annual celebration? I sure hope so. The signs are certainly there. When my friend and fellow author AB Westrick and I started planning Teen ’13,  we discovered that hosting all the amazing Virginia children’s authors in one place was too large an undertaking. That is a great problem to have. Our hope is that the event will take hold and that there will be a Teen ’14, a Teen ’15 — and lots more after that. Nothing would make us happier.

Teen ’13

Celebrating Virginia Authors and Young Readers 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Richmond Public Library

101 East Franklin Street

Richmond, VA

6 pm- 8:30 pm

Free and open to the public