Tag Archives: aspiring authors

Dealing With Rejection: Keeping Your Dream Going

Thelma Lynne GodinThelma Lynne Godin is the debut author of The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen, which received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Shelf Awareness. She lives with her husband in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In this post, we asked her to share advice on believing in your dreams for those submitting to the New Voices Award and other aspiring authors.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”― Eleanor Roosevelt

As a child I was an avid dreamer and reader. I lived in the world of books. Sometimes I was the little girl in the Cat in the Hat enjoying the fun, but worrying about the mother coming home and finding out about the chaos. Other times I was Laura Ingalls Wilder, sleeping in a covered wagon with Pa, Ma, and Mary out on the prairie. As I grew older I dreamt of being a writer and creating worlds for kids to lose themselves in. But I let that dream drift as grown-up life became a reality. My careers as a mother, a librarian, and a social worker took up much of my time and energy, even though I continued to read and enjoy books for children. I was working as a school librarian and struggling with both my kids leaving for college when I noticed a picture book writing class being offered at a local art college. And suddenly, I was back in that drifting dream. Taking that class and being with people who shared the same dream was a giant step forward in my twisty road to publication. Sometimes I could glide on effortlessly, and other times I would round a curve to find a huge hill that I had to toil up.

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Submitting to our New Voices Award: Tips from an Editor

In this blog post, our editorial assistant Samantha shares her thoughts on the New Voices Award and what she’s looking for from this year’s submissions.

The beginning of summer is my favorite time of year. School’s out, the weather brightens up—although this year in New York, it’s been a bit shaky—and New Voices season begins. This year marks our 15th annual New Voices Award contest, and I can’t wait to watch the submissions come rolling in!

Over the last fourteen years, LEE & LOW BOOKS has published more than ten books that have come to us through It Jes' Happened coverthe New Voices contest, including Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds by Paula Yoo (2003 Winner) and Seaside Dream by Janet Costa Bates (2006 Honor). It Jes’ Happened (2005 Honor) received three starred reviews, and author Don Tate won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award Honor. And we’re very excited about several New Voices winners and honors that will be published in upcoming seasons. We just love reading the amazing stories that have been submitted to the contest, and it’s inspiring to us to work with first-time picture book authors.

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Is My Character “Black Enough”? Advice on Writing Cross-Culturally

Stacy Whitman photoStacy Whitman is Editorial Director and Publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS that publishes diverse science fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers. This blog post was originally posted at her blog, Stacy Whitman’s Grimoire

I recently got this question from a writer, who agreed that answering it on the blog would be useful:

My hero is a fifteen-year-old African American boy [in a science fiction story]. A few of my alpha readers (not all) have said that he doesn’t sound “black enough.” I purposely made him an Air Force brat who has lived in several different countries to avoid having to use cliche hood-terminology. I want him to be universal.

Do you have thoughts on this either way?

Is there a possibility that my potential readers could really be offended that a) I am “a white girl writing a book about black people” and b) that my character doesn’t sound black enough? I’ve looked through your blog and website and haven’t found anything specific to my needs on this particular question. Perhaps I missed it?

…should I use Ebonics or not use Ebonics?

First of all, black people—just as white people or Latino people—are a very diverse group of people. There are people who speak in Ebonics (which I believe would be more accurately referred to as BVE–Black Vernacular English) and people who speak plain old suburban English, people who speak with any of a variety of Southern accents and people who have Chicago accents, people who speak with French or Spanish accents (or who speak French or Spanish or an African language). So the question of whether a particular character in a particular situation sounds “black enough” is a complicated question, one that even the African American community can’t necessarily agree on. Within the community (and I say this because I asked a coworker who is African American, who can speak with more authority on the subject than I can) it’s often a question that draws on complicated factors, such as money, privilege, “selling out,” skin tone (relative darkness or lightness—literally, being “black enough”), and hair texture, which all relate to how much a part of which community a person might be.

The question, then, is fraught with loaded meaning not only to do with stereotypes, but also socioeconomic meanings. The question can also tend to be offensive because of that diversity and the loaded meaning the question carries.

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Advice on Getting Published from a YA Editor and Author, Part I

Stacy Whitman photoJoseph BruchacEarlier this week our Tu Books publisher, Stacy Whitman, and author Joseph Bruchac (Killer of Enemies, Wolf Mark), took to Reddit for an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) session answering questions about writing, publishing, science fiction and fantasy, and everything in between. In case you missed it (or, like me, you find Reddit overwhelming and scary) here’s some of the best advice that came out of that thread:

Q: What advice can you give for any starting writer? What is the most important thing for a writer to consider?

Stacy Whitman: 

If you want to be a writer, you MUST read in the genre in which you want to write. And read a LOT!

Too many beginning writers who try to pitch books to me at conferences respond poorly when I ask them what they’ve read in the genre (because their manuscript or pitch makes it clear they have no idea what’s going on in the genre right now): they either only name books from 30 or even 50 years ago (“I love Heinlein!”) or they actually, when it comes to YA, say things like, “Oh, I don’t read that stuff.” If you wouldn’t read it, don’t write it.

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Announcing our 2013 New Voices Award Winner

New Voices Award sealNow in its fourteenth year, our New Voices Award is given to an unpublished author of color for a picture book manuscript. We’re excited to announce the winner of this year’s New Voices Award: Sylvia Liu of Virginia Beach, Virginia for her story, A Morning with Gong Gong. Congratulations, Sylvia!

Liu’s charming and humorous story, A Morning with Gong Gong, portrays an energetic young girl named Mei Mei, as she spends time with her grandfather. When Mei Mei sees her grandfather, Gong Gong, practicing t’ai chi in the garden, she is eager to join in. He tries to teach her the slow and graceful moves, and Mei Mei, in turn, tries to teach Gong Gong some of the yoga poses she has learned in school. Although they both struggle with these new activities, Mei Mei and Gong Gong realize that it’s the time they spend together that is important.

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Lee & Low’s New Voices Award Writing Contest Deadline is September 30

New Voices Award sealThe 2013 New Voices Award deadline is rapidly approaching! Manuscripts must be postmarked by September 30, 2013 to be eligible for this year’s award.

Established in 2000, the New Voices Award encourages writers of color to submit their work to a publisher that takes pride in nurturing new talent. Past New Voices submissions that we have published include award-winning titles, such as It Jes’ HappenedSixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, and Bird

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How to Write Humor for Young Readers

Kimberly Pauley In this guest post, Cat Girl’s Day Off and Sucks to Be Me author Kimberly Pauley offers some advice for authors who want to write Guest Blogger humor. Her books have been called “entertaining, hilarious, and exceptionally creative,” (School Library Journal) and been praised for their “pitch-perfect humor” (Booklist).

My son is five and he’s (obviously) a boy. That means he finds slapstick humor absolutely jaw-droppingly hilarious. Tom and Jerry make him laugh so hard that he will literally fall out of his chair. My husband has (mostly) outgrown that style of humor, however, and tends to laugh at more intellectual Eddie Izzard-style jokes. That’s the great thing about humor-it’s not all one-size-fits all. Different things make different people laugh. So how do you write a funny story to appeal to more than just yourself?

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8 Helpful Links for Aspiring Picture Book Authors

National Picture Book Writing Week

Happy Friday, friends! Perhaps some of you have seen that this week (May 1-7) began NaPiBoWriWee, or National Picture Book Writing Week. Author Paula Yoo started NaPiBoWriWee back in 2009 to celebrate the release of her picture book Shining Star:

I thought it would be fun to challenge myself to write 7 picture books in 7 days. I had been procrastinating writing another new picture book draft for the longest time. So I thought, “What if I force myself to try and write 7 different picture book manuscripts in one week?” Sure, the drafts would be sloppy rough drafts. But at least I’d have 7 FINISHED drafts to choose from when it came to serious revisions and possible submission to my book agent.

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Tu Books Announces Winner of First Annual New Visions Contest for Writers of Color

[from the press release]

New Visions Award sealNew York, NY—April 11, 2013—Tu Books, the science fiction, fantasy, and mystery imprint of respected multicultural children’s publisher LEE & LOW BOOKS, is thrilled to announce that author Valynne Maetani has won its first annual New Visions Award for her young adult mystery novel, Remnants of the Rising Sun.

The New Visions writing contest was established to encourage new talent and to offer authors of color a chance to break into a tough and predominantly white market. The award honors a fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel for young readers by an author of color who has not previously published a novel for that age group.

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