Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer Hiatus Week Two

Self Care Prompt:

Write a letter to your inner critic telling her to shut the hell up. No, seriously. Tell her all the reasons you don’t care what she thinks. Be firm. Be raw. Be as brutal to her as she is to you. Don’t worry about hurting her feelings. She doesn’t have any.

Writing Prompt:

What age do you write for? What were the three most significant experiences you had at that age? Give yourself twenty minutes and do a timed writing about those three experiences. Be specific, not general. Not, I feared losing my best friend, but I stayed up for six nights in a row worrying who I would play with when Michele moved away because Amy liked to tease me about my braces. 


A couple of housekeeping things before we really disappear for the summer!

If you haven't filled out our poll on the sidebar yet, please do! We have 288 followers and only 14 respondents so far. We'd love to know what you'd like from SVP in the coming months.

Also, we have a couple of book prizes we need to give away!

Winner of last months drawing for a copy of The Basilisk's Lair goes to . . . Natalie Aguirre! Natalie, email me with your address and I'll get that copy right out to you.

Winner of last weeks The Healing Spell is . . .  Magdalena Scott! Email Mary with your snail mail address and she will get your prize in the mail.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Hiatus

As you know, we normally take a short summer hiatus. This year, we are taking a little longer hiatus and starting a little sooner than in the past. Mary is feeling the call—no, immense pull—of her recharging cave and I have vowed to finish my YA project by Sept 1 or die in the attempt. In other words, our life’s work is calling to us in the loud, demanding voice of an ignored and overtired two year old. We need to recharge our wells, dig deep, write a lot, and dream and plan a little for the coming months.

However, we will not leave you completely on your own for the next eight weeks. We still want to be a part of your writing journey, so each week instead of a full post, we will post a self-care prompt that will (hopefully) reconnect you with your own writing, lead to small insights, or just give you a moment of pleasure. We will also post a writing prompt, just to get your juices flowing and get you thinking about your story or your characters in new ways.

Think of it as a mini-writer’s retreat in a jar, kind of thing. The ultimate introvert retreat, really, because you will be all alone in your own home!

Also, please notice that we have a poll up in the sidebar. We would very much like to hear from as many of you as possible as to what sorts of things you’d be interested in exploring here at Shrinking Violets when we return in the fall. And if what you’re interested in isn’t in the poll, please feel free to leave a suggestion in the comments!

Enjoy the rest of your summer and here's hoping you get tons of writing done!


So, are you ready for your first self-care exercise? Here you go. It’s a toughy, but we know you can do it!

Disconnect from the internet completely for one full day. Seriously. One. Full. Day. Notice how you move throughout the world differently. What happens in all that silence? Can you hear your story more clearly? Does your writing call to you more loudly? Is there a way to do this once a week, at least for the summer? What impact would this have on your writing?

Something to think about:

What does summer mean for your main character in the story of your world? What takes place there? How does your character’s world change with the season, and how do those changes affect your character?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Launching Kimberley Griffiths Little & The Healing Spell

Robin and I are very excited to both congratulate
our SVP reader, Kimberley Griffiths Little, and help her launch her new novel!

Kimberley Griffiths Little
Scholastic, July 1, 2010
Hardcover, 368 pages
Reading level: ages 9-12

Twelve-year-old Livie is living with a secret and it's crushing her. She knows she is responsible for her mother's coma, but she can't tell anyone. It's up to her to find a way to wake her momma up.

Stuck in the middle of three sisters, hiding a forbidden pet alligator, and afraid to disappoint her daddy, whom she loves more than anyone else, Livie struggles to find her place within her own family as she learns about the powers of faith and redemption. Livie's powerful, emotional, and sometimes humorous story will stay with readers long after the last line is read.

“An incantational tale of Cajun magic and gators on the bayou and of the love and silence between mother and daughter.” RICHARD PECK, Newbery Medalist

“The Healing Spell is an atmospheric, affecting story of hope and devotion, as elegant and mysterious as bayou country itself.” CYNTHIA LEITICH SMITH, acclaimed author of Tantalize and Eternal

You will not want to miss Kimberley's fabulous book trailer! She took half the photos and wrote the script. This one pulls you way, way in! Strong work, Kimberley!
Click for trailer here.

You can look forward to the companion novel to The Healing Spell, entitled The Circle of Secrets, which will be published by Scholastic in November 2011.

Kimberley lives on a dirt road in a small town by the Rio Grande with her husband, a robotics engineer and their three sons. Kimberley is a popular speaker at schools around the country, presenting “The Creative Diary”, a highly successful writing workshop. She is the recipient of the Southwest Book Award and is the author of several novels which have been selected for state reading lists. She has also been a keynote speaker at the NMLA conference. Kimberley is a co-founder of Spellbinders, a national newsletter for Educators and Librarians to create life-long readers.

Kimberley's lush, newly renovated website offers a Teacher's Guide for her book available for downloading and printing.

She also offers a a very creative and compelling Mother/Daughter Book Club Guide for her new book. It makes me wish I had a daughter-- anyone have an extra they can lend me?

I get complete crushes on authors that lead with generosity, soul, and a zealous desire to advocate for reading. Richard Peck has been on my list for years. His literacy crusade is worthy of a knight. I asked Kimberley how on EARTH she managed to get Himself to blurb her new novel. You can read how that happened on her blog here.

And by the way, the Carolyn See book she refers to is definitely not-to-be-missed! Thanks, Kimberley, for a cool story and for joining us in making the case for karmic networking. And, for being one of those generous, soulful advocates that we love.

Kimberley and friends have been busy this month celebrating her new novel. You can join in the fun if you H-U-R-R-Y over to her blog before July 15th and leave a comment on this post. You could win a swampful of awesome cool schwag. I'm heading over myself!

And, of course, you can win a signed copy of Kimberley's book right here! For this week's contest, we will be selecting our winner from our pool of followers, so if you haven't yet signed on, don't wait another second to do so. See the sidebar on the left!

Kimberley has been busy this month celebrating her launching, and you might have caught her at The King's English in Salt Lake. If you missed it, you can catch her on July 15th at the Los Lunas Library in Los Lunas, New Mexico, or in Albuquerque in August. You can email her for all necessary intel.

Please join Robin and I in giving Kimberley a big stadium wave! So happy for you! New books are joyous, unforgettable occasions and their impact on readers can continue for years to come.

Here's to The Healing Spell!

Mary Hershey

Monday, July 5, 2010

Interview with Twizard Mitali Perkins

If you're very lucky, when you first begin flailing around on Twitter you will stumble upon the gracious and generous Mitali Perkins. If our experience is anything to go by, she will be all that is helpful and kind as you struggle to decipher this new world you've decided to enter.

Even better, she is an amazing example of how to be on Twitter. She does a fabulous job of making her Twitter presence be a natural, intuitive extension of who she is as an author. (She even has a mission statement!) So sit back, get comfortable, and learn from a master. 

SVP: So Mitali, did you ever, in your wildest dreams, imagine yourself as a social media expert? Why is this form of communication such a perfect fit for you?

Like most introverts, I hate the phone and prefer reading and writing notes. Social media puts me in charge of when and how and with whom to interact. I was an R.A. in college and am now a pastor’s wife, so it’s not surprising that when I do come out of my cave I enjoy schmoozing and community building – two essentials of social media.

SVP: How did you first dip your toe into the social media stream? Did you know then it was going to bring you to the attention of thousands of people?

I got on Facebook a couple of years ago to commune with my teens on their turf—it’s been a lovely way to stay connected through their adolescence as long as I respect their space and privacy. As for Twitter, one of my school librarian buddies, Linda Griset, told me she thought I was going to love it. I had no idea the tools were going to serve me so well professionally.

SVP: I saw once that you confessed on Twitter that you had tweeted 50,000 words that year. Do you feel that took those words away from your novel writing? If not, why not?

I write novels, but my broader vision statement is to get good stories to young people. Twitter serves that wider purpose. I write full-time and my kids are teenagers so I have more time than most writers—I’m still writing fiction, I promise. I also type and Tweet at furious speeds.

Last but not least, my practice of dividing my vocational year into four quarters helps to keep things in balance. During spring and fall I come into the public eye more with social media and author visits. Then, during summer and winter, I retreat to write and dream and think and pray. Of course, this summer’s a bit different because Bamboo People ( launches July 1, so I have to be more present.

SVP: I also heard you say (on Twitter) that none of your books have been picked up by the big chains. Do you think your connections through social media have helped fill in the sales gap left by those chains?

I have no idea about the actual effect on sales, but I’ve made some dear connections with indie booksellers, teachers, parents, and librarians. Twitter has helped me join and build a team of likeminded adults who share my vision statement as described above. I know it’s helped me get speaking gigs, like the BookExpo children’s breakfast and the CSLA convention where I met you face to face, Ms. Robin.

SVP: Does it ever feel like a chore? Like you have to live up to your own reputation?

It’s fun. That’s why I do it. I’m using my writing voice to promote what I love – great stories for kids and young adults. I don’t think I have any reputation to maintain. I’m being myself out there and if people don’t like it, it’s their choice to tune out. I never cared much about being popular in high school, either.

SVP: On your website, you talk about enjoying discussing “books between cultures” and the life-changing power of story, and your Twitter presence totally affirms that. What do you recommend for someone who doesn’t have such a clear delineated passion or niche?

If you’re a writer, you have a voice, right? And social media provides a venue to express that voice--humor, interests, heart, and mind. It’s tailor-made for writers; our predecessors would have envied our ability to connect with readers and showcase our talents.

SVP: I’ve heard it said that twitter and other social media is about connections. How is connecting through twitter different that connecting through your writing?

Twitter allows us to connect writing and stories to audiences outside our typical SCBWI Kid Lit world. As Bamboo People releases, I’ve met people who care deeply about child soldiers, refugees, Burma, and justice.

A novel has a life apart from me and by definition must be shared. I have to step back and let the reader own it. My twitter stream belongs more to me than any novel I write—that could be why it’s such a powerful promotional tool for marginalized voices.

SVP: What advice do you have for those authors who are unsure how to begin tweeting, or not even sure they want to?

Jump in, the water’s great. Don’t worry about making mistakes. It’s the only way to learn. On the other hand, watch your spelling and grammar – we’re professionals, remember? Skip the “hip” abbreviations and sloppy shortcuts. Social media works best if you’re good at composing pithy captions and headlines.

Here’s a post I wrote to get you started. Lastly, if it’s not fun, don’t make yourself do it. You can have a vibrant, successful career as a children’s book writer without social media.


So there you have it, folks. I have to say, listen to Mitali talk about Twitter gives me a whole new way to look at it. Hope it does the same for you! You can find out more about Mitali on her website, her facebook page, and, of course, on Twitter.