Our very own Judith Graves gives us a glimpse at her recent appearance, the PNLA 2014 Conference, where she was a keynote speaker during the Young Reader's Choice Awards (YRCA) program Author Luncheon.
Pacific Northwest Library Association Conference 2014
Last week I was honoured to speak at the Pacific Northwest
Library Association Annual Conference (PNLA) http://www.pnla.org/conference-headerin Helena, Montana as a keynote during the Young Reader’s
Choice Awards (YRCA) program Author Luncheon.
This particular event was special to me for several reasons.
In my day job, I work as a library technician in an elementary school library
in a rural community and any chance for professional development, networking
and talking shop with other library types is an opportunity I LEAP toward. (See
what I did there?) Plus, I’m a huge fan of the YRCA program and have actively
promoted it within my school for the eleven years I’ve been running the
Pacific Northwest Library Association's Young Reader's Choice Award is the
oldest children's choice award in the U.S. and Canada. The award was
established in 1940 by a Seattle bookseller, the late Harry Hartman, who
believed every student should have an opportunity to select a book that gives
him or her pleasure.”
1940. Wowza. Now that’s a long-standing award any author
would be thrilled to be associated with. Check out the full details and list of
2015 nominees here: http://www.pnla.org/yrca-2015
YRCA is all about bridging the gap between libraries,
readers and authors…which was basically the theme of my keynote - Author Visits
To DIE For.Complete with handy Prezi
and video clips of virtual author visits in action, I discussed ways in which
technology can provide free opportunities for libraries to link readers with
authors and thus enhance their readership programs. As both an author and a library technician, I
hope I was able to offer some unique insights into what authors are currently
doing that libraries can tap into to further their literacy / engagement /
The PNLA conference theme: Mining the Past was threaded throughout the sessions and I (along
with the other attendees) jotted down a ton of useful notes, lists of
resources, and libraries to follow that I will be sharing with my
district.Many thanks to the conference
organizers for inviting me and putting on one hell of a library conference!
You can tell my lab, Willow, enjoyed the sightseeing we did
during the drive south.
We are very proud to announce that even with the relatively small number of books currently to LEAP's name, three (yes THREE) of them have been nominated for the coveted 2014 Silver Falchion Award™.
The Killer Nashville event which established and holds the Silver Falchion Award™ annually makes clear, "The purpose of the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award™ is to honor the best books readily available to a North American audience in any format within the past year. The categories include both fiction and nonfiction." LEAP BOOKS' Silver Falchion Award™ nominees include:
THE CASE OF THE INVISIBLE WITCH (Patrice Lyle) in the Children's category
About the LEAP BOOKS Silver Falchion Award™ nominees: Award-winning and bestselling author of TUNNEL VISION, Gary Braver says, “KILLER'S INSTINCT by Dawn Dalton and Judith Graves is a clever and fast-paced thriller that raises the bar for monster-hunting tales." In bestselling author Maria V. Snyder's STORM WATCHER Luke Riley is lost. His mother’s recent death has set Luke and his family adrift. Even though his father, twin brothers, and their three bloodhounds are search-and-rescue volunteers, they have been unable to rescue themselves and become a family again. Luke's decision to go against his father's wishes may do much more than change the outcome of one summer--it may change all of their lives. YA and MG author Patrice Lyle's nominated title THE CASE OF THE INVISIBLE WITCH features thirteen-year-old Tulip Bonnaire, Witch PI, who runs Spells & Spies out of her dorm room at Poison Ivy Charm School, a school for polite witches and warlocks. She has only 72 hours to figure out her latest case, or her classmate, Missy, will never be seen again. Literally. The Silver Falchion Award™ will be chosen by the conference attendees and announced at the awards banquet. A big CONGRATULATIONS to our LEAP authors! To learn more about the 2014 Silver Falchion Award™ nominees go HERE.
In an age when self-publishing can bring a manuscript to life as a book in twenty-four hours and bloated publishing entities gobble each other up readily, small publishing houses face unique challenges--most not lasting any longer than the average small business. Even house lines can disappear in what feels like the blink of an eye leaving authors orphaned and struggling to regain the rights to their novels. But one small house is getting new life breathed into it through the efforts of a few popular young adult authors.
LEAP BOOKS LLC was founded in 2009 by literature lover Laurie Edwards. She, with the help of a handful of clever authors recovering from the recent death of a YA line at another small house, decided it was time to build their own.
Things haven't been easy for LEAP. Within their first year their book distributor folded, leaving owner Edwards with a product she believed in but with no easy way to get it into the public's hands. Still, with great determination and the assistance of a few stalwart writers, LEAP continued forward. LEAP produced several young adult and middle grade titles each year and although they were well-received and the company attracted names like Maria V. Snyder (NYT Times Bestselling author and author of the recent Leap release STORM WATCHER) and more, still LEAP struggled to get the public attention it needed to thrive.
"Let's face it," says author Shannon Delany (New York), "we live in a fickle world. Getting and holding the attention of a target audience--especially teens and twenty-somethings--is serious business. The market is flooded with YA novels. Everyone's heard that YA is this growing marketplace and folks think, "Well, I was a teen once--surely I could write something and reinvent myself.""
While LEAP's owner was keeping the company going and reinventing herself by finishing her degree in children's illustration, longtime LEAP author Judith Graves (Alberta) was busy figuring out how she could make LEAP the house it deserved to be. Well aware of the consumability of modern literature, Graves decided to officially join Leap and run SHINE, a line focused on edgy YA and NA e-novellas.
When Delany opened her mouth on Facebook and suggested she was toying with the idea of founding her own boutique publishing house, Graves contacted her and suggested she come aboard SHINE. Having known Graves since their time together as part of the Class of 2k10 (a joint marketing group for debut authors) Delany had no doubt in Graves' capabilities. "The girl is Wonder Woman," Delany says of Graves. "Forget Gal Gadot in the Batman vs Superman movie, Judith Graves is the real deal."
The two began to formulate a plan but, in the midst of their plotting, Graves suddenly asked to give Delany a call. "Judith never calls me. She's in Canada, I'm in upstate New York... We're Facebook friends. Who needs the phone?" Delany knew then that something big was up.
She was right. When LEAP's owner heard Delany was coming on to work with Graves she suggested they take over the entire company.
"Everything changed," Delany admits. "I had been offered a line with a well-respected small house before, and had just watched yet another house close its doors on the YA line Strange Chemistry. A student of my workshops had recently self-published his novel and won a national award for it. Meanwhile my agent was submitting my manuscripts to a much larger house. Just the idea of it all in that sort of context required sea legs of sorts."
Delany talked it over with her husband and a few family members and decided to take a leap of faith. In short order she became the owner of the company and moved it to New York state. "Then the madness began," she says. "We were in this crazy and fluid state of existence during the transfer--trying to get access to everything we needed, bring the right people on, and figure out how and when to tell the authors."
Delany and Graves quickly agreed that what LEAP needed was a better presence in the market. "I sent author and YA Fest organizer Jennifer Murgia (Pennsylvania) a cryptic message asking her to give me a call. I asked her to be our Director of Marketing and it caught her off guard. She said she thought maybe I was going to invite her to write a story for an anthology I had dreamed up--that she had never imagined this."
Within twenty-four hours Murgia had agreed to accept the title of Marketing Director. "I also suggested bringing someone in who could handle the finances and sort out the craziness of authors and royalties," Delany says, "so we brought on William Gee as CFO. We're keeping Kat O'Shea as a Senior Editor during the transition and rounding out the marketing team with the accomplished Elana Johnson (previously of Entangled Publishing). By expanding our team we can focus on what we're best at and provide support to each other as needed."
Delany, Graves, and Murgia debated when and how to tell the already contracted authors there was a change in both ownership and management, and, with Edwards' help, released two letters in quick succession, the first from Edwards and the second from the new team. "I knew there would be questions. Authors are curious folks--we build our careers around two important words: What If? So we arranged to have two private online chats with authors, editors, and illustrators to introduce ourselves and field questions. I think that's one of the advantages small houses have: accessibility. You have the professionalism of a bigger house but the comfort of a cozy home. You can get to know everyone if you try."
Why will LEAP BOOKS succeed? "Well, I can't give all our secrets away," Delany teases, "but I can tell you this: we have a passionate team, a nice backlist, and a clear vision that includes pursuing opportunities in the market that have been traditionally overlooked or viewed as out of reach for small houses. Laurie gave us a great foundation to build our house on. We're forging ahead with SHINE's e-novellas, rebranding both our YA novel line SURGE, and our MG line, and occasionally opening submissions to unagented writers. We are focused on not only continuing to improve the quality of our books and better define our brand, but also we're aware that for authors to thrive and keep producing quality work they require proper care and feeding--we're like any other creative monsters. Each step along the way as we develop, we're LEAPing forward... together."
Whether you're writing fiction or non-fiction, it's important to know what you're talking about.
Even if you're making up an entirely new creature, some research is required to make sure that creature could live on the planet, eat what they eat, and do what they do. You have to explain yourself to readers and be able to back up your reasoning because although YOU may not notice that something changed from chapter 4 to chapter 13, a reader will.
So, what's your story?
I recently went through an absolute research nightmare. I was given a press release from the state auditor's office by a gentleman who told me to look into it and create a story. He told me all the details about the people involved. I was interested in the story and went back to work and told my editor about it all.
The people involved in the story had been audited and caught by the state auditor for allegedly misusing grant funds for a school district. I attempted to contact the state auditor's office and had trouble—we played phone tag, which happens a lot in the writing business and isn't anyone's fault. I also tried to contact the school, phone tag. It was as if the planets aligned, so I had to run this press release.
My editor said go ahead and run it, so I did. Then all heck broke loose, y'all.
People were calling in saying they were angry, I should lose my job, they were having heart palpitations, why would we print this……I'm sure you're wondering what the big deal is, right?
When the gentleman gave me the press release, he forgot to mention the fact that the release was six years old. There was no date on the release, and no date on the state auditor's site.
I had brought up old news that had ruffled feathers the first time around, and this time it was even worse.
Never let go of something until you know you can back it up.
I couldn't get in contact with the people I needed, so I should have waited. I should have held the story until everything was confirmed.
Many people are willing to help with your writing and answer questions. Check with these experts to make sure you have the correct information.
Example: I was having trouble describing the mindset of a Navy SEAL so I made a quick phone call to a local recruiter. He helped me come up with a great description.
Reach out to people and ask questions. Watch movies. Read articles. Look for books on the topic. Researching for a project will never hurt. You might go down a few rabbit holes and end up taking quizzes online to see what kind of fruit you are, but, hey, that's okay!
Research, research, research.
Check the facts.
And , if nothing else, Google it.
Pick up this story where it ends. How has this person's research (or lack thereof) backfired?
I had it! I clutched the paper in my hand and stormed from my desk, down the long overly decorated great hall and towards the boardroom. I was so getting him this time, and the information in my hands was the key.
ABOUT THE BLOGGER
Courtney Warren is a writer for her local newspaper, as well as a graduate student at Hollins University where she is pursuing a degree in Children’s Literature. She has a bachelor’s degree from Delta State University, the home of the Fighting Okra (which she is incredibly proud of). She loves to read just about anything placed on the shelves but has a special place in her heart for the Harry Potter series.
When she is not writing about herself in third person, she loves to write stories about middle schoolers with spunky attitudes who intend to save the world, as well as drinking Earl Grey tea from a very prissy teacup.
Leap Books is pleased to announce the newest addition to our editorial staff. We'd like to welcome Judith Graves as Acquisitions Editor for SHINE, our e-novella line. Judith will be accepting both agented and unagented submissions at: email@example.com.
The nitty-gritty details:
SHINE word counts: 15-20k
We’re looking for solid storytelling with romantic elements, engaging voices, and characters that LEAP from the page
All genres will be considered, but preference for: contemporary, thriller, paranormal, and mystery
Why an enovella with Leap Books SHINE?
Introduce readers to your young adult fiction brand / style / tone / voice / worlds by giving them a short, fun, affordable read. Snag their interest in your other projects by offering a tale sure to SHINE
If you want to step into the ebook arena, but have been hesitant to offer a full-length novel, here's your chance to test this market
Each book will be professionally edited and have an eye-catching cover
At a small press, you’ll have more one-on-one contact with our editors and other authors
Each title will be launched with a 9-week (3 stops per week) blog tour facilitated by a successful blog-tour organizer
SHINE titles may be compiled into anthologies to be sold in both print and ebook formats
About Judith Graves
Award-winning author Judith Graves has multiple young adult novels and short stories published with Leap Books, Orca Book Publishers, Compass Press, and, under the pen name, Judith Tewes, is also published with Bloomsbury Spark. In addition, Judith is an award-winning screenwriter and playwright, writes freelance articles for literary magazines, and facilitates writing workshops for both adults and young adults. She has always been keen to delve into the flipside of publishing and joins Leap Books to manage our newest line. She will assist in the selection of titles, provide editorial services, and supervise the direction of the SHINE young adult e-novella line.
1. How did Luke’s mother die? How does Luke feel about this? How do his brothers feel? How does his father feel? How does this affect the dynamics of the family? 2. Why does Luke want a papillon? What does his father think of that? Why? What would you do if you were Luke? 3. Describe Luke’s relationship with his father. How did it change through the course of the novel? 4. What did Luke learn while working on Willajean’s farm? Have you ever had a job? What did you learn from the experience? 5. How does Luke feel about weather at the beginning of the novel? How do his feelings change? What events in the novel led to this change? How do you feel about weather? Why? 6. Describe your personal experience with dogs. How is it similar to Luke’s? How is it different? 7. Consider the fathers in this novel. How are they similar? How are they different? 8. What makes someone a hero? Is Luke’s father a hero? The dogs? Luke? Anyone else? Do you know any real-life heroes? 9. Describe Luke’s science fair project. Describe Megan’s. How might each of them have expanded or improved their projects? Have you ever participated in a science fair? If so, describe your project. 10. What does the guidance counselor say that Luke suffers from? How does Luke feel about that? What do you fear? Is fear normal?
Mary Helen Sheriff lives in Richmond, VA with her husband, two children, and two
cats. She has an MFA in children’s literature from Hollins
University and is an experienced teacher of elementary, middle grade,
and college students. Her most recent publishing credits include
four middle grade short stories for a reading comprehension website
and a YA short story for an anthology written for Ethiopians learning
English. She is currently writing a novel and maintaining a blog where you can read her thoughts on writing and education.