Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga

Friday, July 27, 2012

Talent abounds in the Huntsville area

Huntsville's known for its engineers. But guess what? Plenty of authors and illustrators live here, too. Find out more about them by clicking on the links.

I'm taking my new role as Local Liaison for Southern Breeze to heart. In arranging my first schmooze--a gathering of like-minded, children-book-centric individuals for the purpose of mingling and connecting--I've come to the realization that  success flows all around me. Starting with my own critique group, comprised of prior and current educators, an engineer, an artist, and an attorney, we can claim a few successes of our own. Annie Laura Smith has been published more than 250 times with her novel Twilight of Honor coming out in September. Mark Hubbs, with numerous magazine articles under his belt, will see his first historical fiction novel The Secret of Wattensaw Bayou in print in late 2012. Both Nellie Maulsby and Gail Hopson have read their stories on Public Radio, and one of Gail's stories appeared in a Chicken Soup book. Heather Montgomery, an author of fabulous kids' nonfiction books, has hit gold with Wild Discoveries: Wacky New Animals as Scholastic has targeted it for book fairs. Kay Casteel is a published illustrator. A prior member, Mary Ann Taylor, has to deal temporarily with family drama--no, make that family comedy. (Tune into National Geographic's Rocket City Rednecks, and you'll see her son and husband launch their acting careers--and various items!) And I personally have a  love/hate affair going with my only published book; Alicia Saves the Day is not my best work, but it filled a particular niche--that of a bilingual book with a moral--and won a prize of $1000--and, best of all, it's for a great cause! Besides the few articles I wrote for The Huntsville Times way back when, it's the only money I've netted in the publishing world, so who am I to quibble? The remaining members--and I--continue to write feverishly . . . because it's what we love to do. (And maybe the successes of the H's in Huntsville--Heather, Hester, Hubbs--will rub off on this particular H.)

Then there's the ever-expanding circle of success that surrounds me. Of course, you've heard me rave about  Hester Bass. (You'll find more about her "Show, Don't Tell" retreat in the Southern Breeze newsletter.) Her book The Secret World of Walter Anderson will represent Alabama at the Pavilion of the States at the National Book Festival on September 22 in Washington, D.C. What I hadn't been aware of before setting up the schmooze was the presence of two more very talented YA authors within our area: Beck McDowell and R. A. Nelson. (Be sure to read his very entertaining bio.) McDowell's exciting new novel This Is Not a Drill comes out on October 25. And Nelson's novel Teach Me made the recent NPR's Best Ever Teen Books list!

After sending out an initial enthusiastic flurry of emails in my new role as Local Liaison to a cast of a hundred, I was delighted with the many positive responses I received--and no negative, thank goodness. I connected with the illustrator, Danaye Shiplett, new to the area. And I discovered that my daughter's friend's father likes to write children's books. :-) I certainly didn't know that about him, and he wasn't aware of my interest either.

So being a Local Liaison has its pluses--ready-made friends and a window into the lives of some pretty exciting, talented, PERSISTENT writers and illustrators.

And that's just fun.


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  2. Bonnie, thanks for the plug. I appreciate all that you are doing as our new SCBWI Regional Coordinator. I'm looking forward to the schmooze in August!


  3. Thanks, Mark. I'm delighted to be so involved. And congratulations again on your book contract!

  4. "And that's just fun!" should be the motto our critique group. Thanks Bonnie! Heather L. Montgomery