Monday, September 22, 2008

Three Tough Moms Fight for Libraries

Efforts have kicked off in Oregon and Arizona to save school libraries. Other states may soon follow.

It all started with three “Tough Moms”—see them on the September cover of the national magazine, School Library Journal.

As reported before in this blog they started a grassroots effort that succeeded in getting Washington State legislators to commit $4-million in emergency money to school libraries for this year.

But they have only just begun. Stories keep coming in from districts where the school year started with more cutbacks in library programs.

Lisa Layera Brunkan e-mailed supporters: Perhaps the most heart-wrenching story has come from a Central Washington elementary school located on the Yakima Indian Reservation -- the school serves 1200 children, 96% of whom receive free or reduced lunch. In June, the teacher-librarians there purged 2,000 titles from the collection because the copyright was 1979 or prior.

There are no funds to replace these books. One of the librarians reported that, despite contributing $1,000 of her own money last year to purchase materials and prizes for the kids, still the most popular fiction paperbacks are scotch-taped together every 3 months. Many of these books don't make it through the year because the thickness of the
tape renders them unreadable.

The mom’s campaign, Fund Our Future Washington, continues to lobby the State Task Force on Basic Education, inform citizens on the issue and gather signatures. Last week their petition topped ten-thousand signatures.

Check out photos of the latest rally. As authors of children’s literature, we understand the importance of getting good books in the hands of students. Can a school succeed in preparing students for the 21st Century without school libraries? NO.We’re joining this effort and we hope you will, too: take action.

~~Mary Cronk Farrell

Monday, September 15, 2008

SCBWI Washington/Idaho September Conference

The September 13, conference, held in Spokane, was inspiring! Regional Advisor Deby Fredericks, and her assistants Jan St. George and Larry Telles put on a great event and deserve kudos for a job well done.

Ruta Rimas, Editorial Assistant with HarperCollins new imprint, Balzar and Bray, kicked things off with a talk on "Making Your Picture Book Work." She reminded authors that having a "story" means more than what happens in the book, but distilling the story to its core theme. A good lesson for writers in all categories.

Storyforce's own, Claire Rudolf Murphy, spoke about Setting in her talk, "Writing Your World." Claire first asked us to think about the setting where we do our writing every day, and whether or not that setting effectively helps us to have, "more pages at night than you had in the morning." Then she led the attendees through exercises that showed how setting reveals character, theme and plot.

Cherie Winner, who is the science writer for Washington State Magazine and has written 22 non-fiction books for children, spoke about "Finding the Angle" in your non-fiction writing. She instructed participants to pick a topic you love, because the road to publication is long and you need to stay passionate about the material.

Finally, Andrea Brown associate agent, Jamie Weiss Chilton, helped us understand how an agent benefits a writer's career. She noted that when an author gets into a sticky situation with an editor, the agent can play the bad cop. When selecting clients, she said she's not a stickler for mistakes in the format of a submission. However when a writer doesn't follow guidelines she sees a red flag in terms of how that author will work with an editor.

A Very Useful Conference! Thank you SCBWI Washington/Idaho!

-- cross posted to Under the Covers...