Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The SCBWI NY Winter Conference was a whirlwind of inspiring guest speakers and workshops. Exhausting and exhilirating. If you have never attended you must put this conference on your MUST DO list. Your brain will overflow with essential information and inspiration to make a go of your writing career.
The luncheon keynote speaker was Jacqueline Woodson, a three-time Newbery Honor winner, two-time National Book Award Finalist, and winner of a Coretta Scout King Honors.
Ms. Woodson started off of her speech with the work of someone else, because as she said we all started learning from the work of others.
"Locking the door, reading, and learning from others. Close the door of the negative so you don't feel less." Phew! What a profound statement.
I continued to jot down excerpts from Ms. Woodson's speech, but I became absorbed and mesmerized by her. Her soothing and even keeled voice set me in a trance and I soaked in every word. Below I share with you bits of her writing journey in her own words...forgive me for not having all the details, but as I said her speech was mesmerizing and I lost focus on writing it all down.
"Writing for 20 years...
Prior to children, having the freedom of writing for hours...
Reading the work of others...
Then working full-time and writing at night...
Then working part-time and writing part time...
Closing the door to write and having the right to tell your story..."
I know this is bits and pieces, but to truly feel inspired by Woodson visit her website and absorb her writing career...you'll be happy you did... http://www.jacquelinewoodson.com/
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Title: Show Way
Written by: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by: Hudson Talbott
Soft cover: 48 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Published: September 2005
The fabrics of our lives are woven through the generations with rich history to be shared. Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson is a heartwarming and heart wrenching story all at once about Soonie’s family and their plight across the generations in the quest for freedom. To learn of the struggles and successes individuals endured to ensure their eventual path to freedom has an inspiring stronghold across hundreds of years, one not to be forgotten.
Immerse yourself in the elegant storytelling of Newberry Honor winner, Jacqueline Woodson, and be prepared to be mesmerized. To learn more about author, Jacqueline Woodson visit: http://www.jacquelinewoodson.com/.
The awe inspiring illustrations of Hudson Talbott will leave the reader emotionally satisfied. Visit the fascinating world of Hudson Talbott at: http://www.hudsontalbott.com/.
Personal note: I had the thrilling opportunity to listen to Jacqueline Woodson speak at the NY Winter SCBWI Conference in January where she read Show Way to the audience. Her writing is exhilarating while reading on your own, but to hear her in person is breathtaking. While I read, Show Way Ms. Woodson’s voice echoed through my mind bringing chills throughout. The experience will stay with me forever.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
The mission statement of The Underground Railroad Living Museum is short and to the point. Many times the less words the more profound the statement:
"Capture and sustain the national Legacy of the Underground Railroad for researchers, educators, non profit organizations and their constituencies."
The Underground Railroad Living Museum program provides:
- Facts about the Underground Railroad
- Information on the Flight to Freedom Program Tour
- Program Partners
- UGRR Summer Camp and its curriculum.
- Virtual tour of several historic Escape Routes!
- Monthly newsletter
Friday, February 12, 2010
The Hubbard House Underground Railroad Museum is one of these locations. As stated on the website:
"Located in historic Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio, Hubbard House overlooks the south shore of Lake Erie and is an easy one-hour drive from Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio, and Erie, Pennsylvania.
The home is an excellent example of life in the Connecticut Western Reserve in the middle third of the 19th century. There are three distinct features of the Hubbard House: the circa 1841 home of William and Catharine Hubbard on the first floor, the Underground Railroad exhibit area on the second floor; and the Civil War and Americana exhibit area in the basement."
Visit http://www.hubbardhouseugrrmuseum.org/index.htm and transport yourself into the past and learn about the lives of William and Catharine Hubbard.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
DMc: Your latest book, America’s Black Founders: Revolutionary Heroes and Early Leaders, celebrates the lives of Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and James Forten. How did you come about in focusing on these three individuals?
NS: When the capital of the United States was in Philadelphia during the late 1700s, all eyes of the newly-forming nation were focused on this city. During the time President Washington resided in Philadelphia, this city was home to the nation’s largest growing community of free blacks. Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and James Forten were leaders of this community, and they were also close friends. Through the petitions they signed, the sermons they preached, the newspaper articles they wrote, the churches they founded, and the organizations they started, these Black Founders influenced the newly forming nation in powerful ways.
DMc: You specialize in writing about African American history for kids. How do you filter out and expand on one particular incident in so much rich content in African American history?
NS: I try to fit into series of books that publishers are already publishing. For instance, Sleeping Bear Press has a line of alphabet books on different cultures. So I pitched an idea to them for an alphabet book on African American history. They offered me a contract and I wrote D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet.
Libraries Unlimited has a series of books for teachers with readers theatre plays about American history. So I pitched an idea to them for a book of readers theatre plays on African American history. They offered me a contract, and my husband, a fourth grade teacher, and I wrote Readers Theatre for African American History.
Chicago Review Press has a series called “For Kids.” In this series I saw how they are publishing books on America’s Founders such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. So I pitched an idea to them for a book in this series about African American Founders. They offered me a contract, and I wrote America’s Black Founders.
Simply fitting into an existing series helps me focus on the content that will be in a certain book. To expand on one particular incident, I visit local universities and search through their collections of African American history to learn all about the event or individual. So in essence, I’m taking university level information and presenting it, some of it for the very first time, to the world of children.
DMc: Please share with us your current work-in-progress.
NS: Right now I have four book projects that I’m working on. Each one is under agreement with a separate publisher. My current deadline that I’m working on every day is for the second book in my series for children’s writers and will be released in late summer, 2010: Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Beginning Readers and Chapter Books.
I’m also working on the second book in a middle grade series of historical fiction. The title of the series is the Black Patriots in the American Revolution. The first book in the series, A Dangerous Search: From Lexington to Bunker Hill, will be released this spring, 2010. I’ve already seen the artwork and the proof of the book, so I’m eager for it to come out! The second book, the one I’m currently writing, takes place at Valley Forge and revolves around the many African American troops who spent the harsh winter there, helping to protect the countryside around Philadelphia from marauding British Troops who had settled inside the city to wait out the winter.
DMc: Please share with us your differences in writing fiction and non-fiction.
NS: The facts stay the same in both types of writing, so the research is very intense for both. For my children’s nonfiction, I try to borrow fiction techniques to make the text come alive and the result is what is known as creative nonfiction. In other words, at times I try to incorporate dialogue and create realistic scenes within my nonfiction books, but I have to be very careful to stay true to the facts and not invent something of my own.
In my middle grade series of historical fiction, the Black Patriots in the American Revolution, the world is the same as the world of nonfiction. However, I invent an entire cast of imaginary characters to exist within this world. I work hard to make sure these characters fit into their world and often base their lives on actual people I’ve read about who also lived there. For instance, in the book I’m currently writing in this series about Valley Forge, I discovered that many women and children stayed at Valley Forge to cook for the troops and do the laundry. Even Martha Washington spent the winter there with the President! So I created a girl who has run away to escape being a slave, but breaks her leg and is forced to hide at Valley Forge while it heals, and accept the help of one of the women working for the troops. In my story, this girl interacts with some of the actual Black Patriots who spent the winter there, and that is how my readers come to know who these Black Patriots really were.
Interested in learning more about Nancy, visit her at:
Where you will also find a complete virtual book tour schedule.
Nancy, thank you for visiting today. It has been an honor to host you.
Monday, February 8, 2010
The rich history of the Haines House as a key stop on the Underground Railroad beginning around 1853. Active Abolitionists, Jonathan Ridgeway Haines and Sarah Grant Haines were the owners of this particular farmhouse located on now what is known as State Route 183. The restoration efforts by the Alliance Area Preservation Society is a true testament of this fascinating time in history.
Visit http://www.haineshouse.org/index.html to learn more about the continuing restoration efforts and museum hours.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
http://memelynne.blogspot.com/ and read about:
- Dr. Eric Eustace Williams 1911-1981
- Katherine Dunham 1909-2006
- Martin Robison Delany 1812-1885
- "I FLY, I FLEW, I'VE FLOWN" The Bessie Coleman Story
Friday, February 5, 2010
To continue the celebration of Black History Month I will be featuring different museums throughout the United States and their efforts to preserve history.
As stated on the Underground Railroad Museum website - http://www.ugrrf.org/ - The Underground Railroad Museum is located in Flushing, Ohio. The museum features an extensive collection of publications, books, memorabilia and other articles. The exhibits portray what is known about slavery and the Underground Railroad in Ohio and features an understanding of the culture in the 1800's.
Visit today and learn about the efforts in preserving history in the Ohio Valley. The wealth of information and efforts will leave you wanting to visiting the museum as soon as possible.