A big thank you to Elizabeth for her advice and for generously offering a query critique prize. See the information below on how to enter to win.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m a middle-grade writer currently querying my second novel– a spooky mystery about a kid who finds a bone in the creek behind his house and discovers he has the ability to see its memories through touch. I live with my husband and three kids outside Pittsburgh and work in Youth Services at our local public library, where I focus on programming for tweens and teens and host creative writing groups for young writers. Prior to working at the library, I was a marketing communications writer for more than 20 years, but, surprisingly enough, I didn’t sit down to write my first novel until after 40. I’m also an SCBWI member and an Author Mentor Match Mentee.
As a writer, what draws you to Kidlit?
My first story idea came as I was finishing a middle-grade book series I was reading along with my daughter. I was so sad it was over that I started to cast around in my mind for a way to recapture the magic the book made me feel. I realized that if I could be part of that magic in any way — if I could write something that made a kid feel what I’d just felt, or feel the way I did as a kid when I positively devoured books–well, there was absolutely no better thing in the world to do!
What importance or impact do graphic novels have on children’s literacy?
I can’t tell you how many patrons come into our library looking for graphic novels. We have separate sections in our collection for both our middle-grade and young adult graphic novels and they circulate a lot! They are a more accessible form of book for struggling or reluctant readers, and even though some parents express frustration that their graphic novel reader doesn’t want to read “regular” books, as librarians, we want kids to read books they love, no matter what the format! There are also some other cool benefits to graphic novels vs. print novels: They enhance visual literacy and inspire creativity since GNs lend themselves more to unconventional story-telling methods.
What factors go into deciding which titles get into the GN collection?
Our head of Youth Services orders all our books, including graphic novels, based on recommendations and reviews from trusted industry sources such as School Library Journal, Booklist, and The Horn Book. Starred books are always of particular interest, and our book-ordering partner Ingram has a “hit list” that we often order from. Our goal is to create and maintain a well-rounded collection, filled with high-quality books that meet our patron’s needs.
How can a GN creator work with their local library to promote their books?
There are several ways to work with local libraries. We hold a big annual event at our library called “Read Local, Eat Local,” with food trucks and local authors who set up tables to sell and sign books. Other libraries in our region also do the same thing, so a GN creator could certainly be on the lookout to apply for any local author events. A GN creator could also reach out to a library’s programming staff to propose a workshop or Q&A/book signing event. I’ve recruited authors to hold writing workshops for youth, and this fall we are featuring a local YA author’s book in our teen book club, and she’s going to be part of the discussion and then have a book signing and Q&A afterward! We’re really excited about these kinds of partnerships. The key for us is finding authors who are willing to work within our non-profit, limited budget. If I knew of a local GN creator, you can bet I would love to bring them in for a drawing workshop for kids, along with a book signing!
What’s something about you that not many people know?
I grew up on a farm, and there was a grave on our property. Given my current book, it probably won’t surprise you to know that I adored hosting Halloween parties. Inevitably, they always involved a night walk to our grave, a ghost story of my invention, and a flashlight malfunction that would plunge us into darkness– right at the scariest part of the story.
To enter to win a a query critique, please comment below with your name. To enter more than once, share this post on social media, then reply to your original comment with the link to where you shared the post. You can enter as many times as you shared. This contest will close by end of day on Oct. 8, and the winner will be selected shortly after. Thank you, Elizabeth!