By Debra Bartsch
Author, CROW SPIRIT
Hello Book Blastoff Launchers! This topic is one I am thrilled to chat about, joining professional organizations. Joining SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) for me was the beginning of acknowledging the fact that, yes, I was serious about writing and illustrating books for children, and yes, I was committed to learning absolutely everything I could to become a published author. An author who is actively participating in conferences, workshops, first reads, art director assignments, critique groups, even local coffee chats.
I received a partial scholarship towards my first conference back in 2012 when I first joined SCBWI. Instantly I felt at home! A room full of creatives actively growing and learning like me! Meeting and making friends at the conference who have become so important to my journey, contacts, publishers, editors, art director, agents, and being brave enough to stand up and read my manuscripts in front of them, and show my portfolio! Not for the faint of heart, but, with each read you can gain a bit more confidence and realize, this is your story, you wrote it and no one can tell it like you can.
Currently I am Book Sales and Write Direction Coordinator for team SCBWI Oregon which is my way to give back to our group. Attending all the local events (where we sell our authors and illustrators beautiful books) is a wonderful way to meet each author and illustrator. Bonus-getting to know more about them and their uniqueness is really very special.
I am also active in Oregon’s reading program throughout the state, SMART READING. As a Volunteer Site Coordinator and reader for Pre-k’s. We bring the love and joy of reading to even the youngest in a program called Head Start. We read one-on-one with kids from all over the world who have come to live here, and also from the neighborhood areas. Diverse, multicultural, unique--over 8 languages are spoken! Each child takes home 14 free books to begin their own library. It is a joy to read and share time and laughter with these smiling kids.
And, of course there’s the Children’s Book Academy, an online school for both authors and illustrators of kidlit. Founded and run by Dr. Mira’ Reisberg, the courses are top notch and quite professional and affordable. Bonus—I made so many wonderful friends through CBA. It was during one of these classes that I met our publisher, Callie Metler-Smith, founder and owner of Clear Fork Publishing. And the rest is history because my debut picture book, Crow Spirit became a reality.
I could go on and on, but my point is this: join as many professional organizations as you are comfortable with, and be involved in the ones you do join. You will feel rich from the friends you make and good luck to everyone! I would love to see you at your book launch!
Hello Kidlit Readers!
Many of us wish we had a crystal ball to see what the future holds. Or a TARDIS, so that we could zip into the future and if needs be, change events to our liking.
Alas, our Book Blastoff Crew has neither a time machine nor a crystal ball (although at least one of us has a crazy 8 ball; quite unreliable, if you ask me!).
But what we do have is experience and we’re all here to share our journeys, trials and tribulations with you. In the coming months, our Crew will be answering time-bending, gut-wrenching questions and maybe, just maybe, alter YOUR future for the better.
Our Crew is a creative combination of writers and illustrators. Some of us are eagerly counting down the launch to their tales, other members have already rocketed into the stratosphere and are orbiting bookstores now. And then there are the elite few who have already enjoyed several book blastoffs and are readying themselves for another successful mission.
If you have any time-bending, out of this world questions for our Crew, please comment below or shoot us a message. Keep an eye on the sky, and on the bookshelves, as we answer your questions