OCAI: Our newest OCAI member is Stacy Nyikos. Welcome to Oklahoma Children’s Authors & Illustrators web site, Stacy! We’re anxious to let everyone get to know you and so glad you made this video for us. We want to ask you a few questions our viewers might be wondering about. First off, we know you are a busy mother and so we were wondering what your schedule is like as a writer? Do you write every day? Do you stick to a certain schedule? Or do you just write/edit when you can fit it in with everything else you have going?
Stacy: I do write every day. If I didn't, the everyday-ness of life would win out over the butt-in-chair hours needed to get something worthwhile written. I'm at my desk by 8:30 every morning, take a break for lunch, and then another to pick up the kids from school, but generally stay at my computer until 5:30 every day. I confess, part of that time is spent doing fun stuff, such as answering these questions, but anywhere from 4-6 hours is spent writing.
OCAI: What do you enjoy most about writing and is there a reason you write picture books rather than, say, chapter books or novels?
Stacy: I write novels and chapter books. I have a middle grade, Dragon Wishes, that came out in 2009. Picture books, though, are what my agent has been able to sell most often, so I guess that's what I do best, at least for now. The irony is that picture books were originally all I ever wanted to write...until I got an idea for a middle grade. Even then, writing a book seemed impossible. They're so long! Which is why I had to do it. Sprouting wings and flying is a real impossible, but writing a novel? The hurdle was in my head. Still, I love the picture book format. It's like poetry, short, concise, doing a lot with a little, and a different kind of challenge...not to mention loads of fun!
OCAI: When is your book, Waggers, coming out and could you give us a hint as to what it’s about? We know your own dog served as inspiration, so is Waggers a lot like your dog? What is your dog’s name and breed?
Stacy: Waggers releases the beginning of November 2014. It is about a dog who tries to be good, but his tail gets in the way, and was absolutely, 120% inspired by my dog, Desi. We got her from the pound, and she tried so hard to be good. She really is sweet and loving. But when she gets excited, watch out! That tail goes crazy. When it hits the wall, it sounds as if she's beating holes through it. Amazingly, she has only ever once knocked a glass off of a table. I wonder if she has radar or a rear camera on her tail to avoid disaster? Waggers doesn't. He has to find a different way to deal with his destructo-tail, which leads to all kinds of craziness.
OCAI: Do you have any writing tips you can share with teachers and/or wanna-be writers?
Stacy: Oh gosh, that's the million dollar question - how to improve your writing. The thing is, not the same advice applies to everybody. Sure, there are some universals, such as, write every day, be an avid reader, create characters with internal desire lines that deepen emotionally their external desires. But those are the same as telling a baker she needs milk and eggs to bake a cake. Basic. To create writing that others want to read, even buy, dealing with rejection (which is, for better or worse, a significant part of being an artist), that's getting into the secret, profoundly individual life of the writer. Hmmm...if I had to boil it down to one nugget of wisdom...
Don't give up.
Don't. Give. Up.
A novel, poem, picture book...they aren't end destinations on the transcontinental writing train. They're mile markers. That's because there is no end. There are only new creations. A writer is always moving, testing new boundaries, working to become better. So, yeah, whatever your formula for writing may end up becoming, don't give up. You'll get there...and then keep moving.
OCAI: What does your typical school author visit include? Are there certain age groups you prefer speaking to?
With K - 2, I do an Ideas to Books presentation that walks students through the stages of writing a picture book from me getting an idea to the book being bound and heading to a store/library near them, with a visual presentation to show early drafts of both text and illustrations.
For 3 - 8, I have a Revisions Presentation, in which we talk about story structure, how to create a story, and the revisions that take the coal draft and turn it into a diamond story. I also have a Writing Workshop that I do with 3 - 8, in which "we" - i.e. each student - creates a character and writes a short story about that character. At the end, I choose a few volunteers, and we read through their first drafts and talk about what's working and what needs more work.
Also, I've done reading nights, arts & crafts with younger students, Sensory Writing workshops, Skype visits, you name it. And if a librarian or teacher has a particular topic they'd like for me to address, all they have to do is let me know and I'll work up a presentation for them. I'm open for just about anything (except maybe skydiving into the school, but you never know!)
OCAI: Stacy, thank you for taking time to do this interview with us at OCAI. We’re so happy to have you as our newest member and we wish you much joy and success with your writing. Teachers, Stacy is available for school author visits, so be sure to check out her bio page to get more information on the types of sessions she offers. We know you’ll be delighted with her visits and your students will love her books! Thanks, Stacy!
Meet the OCAI Authors & Illustrators . . .
GREAT RETREAT FOR WANNA-BE WRITERS & WRITING TEACHERS
Hey there everyone! When I go into schools for author visits I ALWAYS meet teachers and librarians who are interested in writing for kids but have no idea how to start. Here's a great retreat to go to where you can learn the basic essentials of writing books for children. I hope to see some of you there.
FALL RETREAT: SEPTEMBER 26-28, STROUD, OKLAHOMA Best Western Motel
46 PEOPLE REGISTERED, ROOM FOR 44 MORE SPEAKERS: Brett Duquette, editor, Sterling Books, will do an in-depth workshop on voice. Tracy Daniels, founder of Media Masters, will cover many aspects of promotion. Christa Heschke, agent McIntosh and Otis, will hear pitches. Minju Chang, agent BookStop Literary, will hear pitches from writers and review art portfolios.
Free critiques for any attendee who has never had a book published by a traditional publisher or who does not have an agent. Send ten pages of a novel or one picture book. Make sure it is double spaced, printed on one side of the page only. Make sure your manuscript is labeled with the type of work, picture book, middle grade novel, young adult novel, chapter book, nonfiction. A summary of 60 words or less can be added at the beginning of longer works, not picture books.
MANUSCRIPTS MUST REACH SCBWI OKLAHOMA, BOX 525, CHANDLER, OK 74834, BY AUGUST 15TH. MANUSCRIPTS WILL BE REVIEWED BY A COMMITTEE. THE TWENTY MANUSCRIPTS DEEMED MOST PROMISING WILL BE SENT TO SPEAKERS FOR A WRITTEN CRITIQUE. ALL OTHER MANUSCRIPTS WILL BE CRITIQUED BY SCBWI PROFESSIONALS.
Our two agents will hear pitches and one will review portfolios. Illustrators who want to have a portfolio review should indicate the fact when signing up for a pitch. Each pitch will last ten minutes. Practice a sentence that explains your character, conflict, resolution. You can find articles about pitches on the internet. Be sure to leave time for the agent to ask questions. Pitch spots are limited. If you want one, sign up soon. I have the following people who have signed up for pitches. Let me know if I left you out. 1. Brenda Maier 2.Karen Williams 3.Gaye Sanders 4. Jeannie Hagy (pitch not paid) 5. Stephanie Theban (pitch not paid) 6.Brandi Barnett 7. David R. Merritt 8. Richard Collins 9.Mary Kincaid 10.Gayleen Rabakukk 11.Lynn Barnes 12. Julie Dill 13. Helen Newton
Essentials: From nine-thirty Friday until four-thirty, classes designed to teach craft will be offered. Around the middle of August, you will receive a list of classes from which to choose, and you will need to enroll in the ones you want. After a dinner break, the rest of the retreat will begin.
ATTENDEES WILL ALL PAY THE SAME REGISTRATION FEE, BUT MAY TAKE PART IN THE ENTIRE RETREAT OR IN ANY PORTION. ROOMS AT THE MOTOR LODGE MUST BE SECURED AND PAID FOR BY ATTENDEES. FOOD IS AVAILABLE AT A VERY REASONABLE PRICE IN THE RESTAURANT. ROOMS ALL HAVE MICROWAVES AND REFRIGERATORS. FAST FOOD IS AVAILABLE NEARBY.
If you call Stroud Best Western before September 20 and mention SCBWI, you will receive a special rate, $72.80 plus tax for two beds and two people or $67.49 for one, although we have been warned there could be a slight rate increase. To reserve a room, call 918-968-9515. There is no guarantee rooms will still be available by September 20th. However, driving to either OKC or Tulsa takes only 45 minutes. Price: Members: 150.00, Pitch additional 40.00, critique free Nonmembers: 200.00, Pitch additional 40.00, critique free Registration form at Oklahomascbwi.org Questions: *amyers_ email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
*there is an underscore between amyers and author
And the winners of the Spring Six-Pack of Autographed Books are . . .
Karen Williams and two students.
1st Place Winner -- KAREN WILLIAMS in Tulsa
Congratulations to Karen Williams, Library Media Specialist at Thomas Jefferson Elementary in the Union Public School District, Tulsa!
Karen entered our contest for creative ideas on how to inspire and encourage students during their state testing. Out of all our entries, Karen's was the most unique and definitely sounded the most fun! (We hope she'll send a few photos for us to post!) For her 3rd-5th graders, she created a Smart Board game similar to the TV game show, The Millionaire Game. However, her game questions were a review of all the Media and Launguage Arts Common Core objectives that her students had been styudying throughout the year, such as identifying book genres, figurative language, story elements, reference/research questions, book locations, etc. She had the "Fastest Fingered Question", the "hot seat", and three life lines: poll the audience/class, phone a friend (call on classmate), or 50-50 in which she took two of the wrong answers away, leaving two possible choices. She said, "The kids love this game and it is an amazing way to review the objectives that could be on the State Tests when their little brains are exhausted from the morning testing!"
Thanks, Karen, for your entry and thanks to all the others who entered our contest. If you'd like to know more about the fun game Karen created such as sample questions and game details, you can contact her at: email@example.com. She'd be happy to share her game with you so that YOUR students could play it, too!
As our winner, Karen will be receiving these SIX FABULOUS FREE AUTOGRAPHED BOOKS:
The Great Elephant Escape, by Una Belle Townsend
Will Rogers, Frank Keating, illustrated by Mike Wimmer
The Flimflam Man, by Darleen Bailey Beard
Hoggee, by Anna Myers
Bawk & Roll, by Tammi Sauer
Buffalo Dreams, by Kim Doner
A beautiful painting suitable for framing, by Kim Doner
Bookmarks, by Chris Nick
Ridgecrest Teachers and Staff
Mr. Stiglets, the Testing Fairy!
2nd Place Winner --Jamie Davis in Mid-Del District
The students of Ridgecrest Elementary got a nice testing surprise! The teachers popped into an assembly wearing big sunglasses and neon colored shirts with the slogan: "Our Students Are So Bright We Have Got to Wear Our Shades." Then the teachers danced the Wobble, sang "We're Gonna Rock this Test", and then their grand finale was a visit by the "Testing Fairy" (who strangley resembled their principal, Mr. Stiglets!) and he sprinkled fairy dust (bubbles) on the students. This great idea was organized and planned by Brandi Skokowski, school counselor.
Thanks to Jamie Davis, Library Media Specialist, for submitting these "fairy" fun photos! While, Jamie's school didn't win our Spring Six-Pack, we are still sending her:
A free CD of David Titusdoing his wonderful string tricks, along with a sample string
We hope her students will enjoy this CD. Thanks for sharing your creative idea and tell Mr. Stiglets he may have a new "fairy" career in the works!
Congratulations to Tammi Sauer winner of the 2014 Oklahoma Book Award!
An Exclusive Interview with Tammi Sauer . . .
OCAI: Congrats on your recent award, Tammi. We're so proud of you and all your accomplishments! Here are a few questions we thought our viewers might like to know about your award-winning books. What inspired you to write Nugget & Fang?
TS: Thank you! Winning the 2014 Oklahoma Book Award was such an honor! Before Nugget & Fang, I had written books that took place at a camp, a royal kingdom, barnyards, a pond, the state of Oklahoma, the zoo, and a monster academy. I had also written one that took place during prehistoric times. I knew that my next book should be different. I brainstormed a variety of settings and was drawn to write a story that took place in the ocean. My books rarely begin with a setting, but, when they do, I like to ask myself a question: what can go wrong here? In this case, I instantly thought of SHARKS. But I wanted my shark to be a bit of a softie, so I gave him a minnow for a best friend. Nugget and Fang soon discover that being best friends isn’t always easy.
As with all of my books, Nugget & Fang went through many revisions. After writing the first few drafts, I knew something was still missing. I decided to set the manuscript aside. Many months later, I felt drawn to return to Nugget and Fang’s story. I reworked it and sent it to my critique group. One of my writer friends suggested I really amp up the word play. Holy mackerel! That was just what this manuscript needed!
OCAI: What is a typical day like for you as an author?
TS: Ha! There is no typical day! On the days I’m at home, I check my email, write, go for walks, spend too much time on Facebook, critique other writers’ manuscripts, revise, revise, revise, brainstorm, do paperwork, read, update my website, work on presentations for conferences, daydream, check my email, read, revise, revise, revise, check my email, and write.
OCAI: We know you do school author visits, is there anything you can tell our readers about these visits? What types of sessions do you offer? Are you booking visits for the next school year?
TS: I love doing author visits! I’m a former teacher and library media specialist, and I so enjoy these opportunities to be a part of the school scene. Getting pre-k through sixth grade kids excited about reading and writing is one of my favorite parts about being an author. My presentations are fun, engaging, and informative. Each one is geared for a particular age group so that every student will get the most out of the experience. Activities vary according to the age group, but a day with me includes behind-the-scenes author scoop, writing-related magic tricks, audience participation, readers’ theater, a sneak peek at getting a book published, Tammi’s top Ten Writing Secrets, education, entertainment, Q&A, and much, much more! I’m currently booking for the 2014-2015 school year. I have lots of great schools already on my calendar!
OCAI: Are there any more Tammi Sauer books coming out soon?
TS: Seven new books are in the works! Many of them will be available in 2015. Get ready!
OCAI: Thanks for the great interview. We wish you the best of luck in your career. Teachers, if you'd like to know more about Tammi or want to contact her for a school author visit, please go to her biography page on OCAI or click here. Happy reading!
Look Who is on the "Let's Get Busy" Podcast . . .
Matthew Winner's "Let's Get Busy!" podcast is filled with wonderful interviews with authors and illustrators. His latest episode features Tammi Sauer. She discusses the ideas behind many of her books, the wonders of school visits, and much more!
We have a NEW member joining OCAI--Award-winning author Stacy Nyikos and she is celebrating the release of her new book, Toby, with a blog tour June 8-14, 2014. Blog tours allow authors/illustrators, students, educators and book lovers to connect “virtually” through interviews on websites, podcasts, blog sites and on-line radio shows. To kick off the week, she is doing a sneak peek signing at the Oklahoma Aquarium June 8, from 1 – 3 p.m., during their Oceans Adventure Day. Stacy is a frequent presenter at schools and is the author of numerous books for children that have won multiple awards. She holds a BA from Notre Dame, an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College, and a PhD from the University of Virginia . She lives with her husband, two daughters, and dog in the wilds of Oklahoma! OCAI is in the process of building her pages, but check back soon for more on Stacy and her fun books! In the meantime, you can connect with Stacy through her personal web site at: StacyNyikos.com.
Gwendolyn Hooks--Gwen had a new book out this spring, Read Me Yellow One, part of a three-book reading series for elementary students who are learning to read and speak English. Each book in this series has a set of different themes which are composed of a fiction story and a nonfiction article on the same subject, which can easily be used by teachers to teach the essential writing and reading skills of "comparing & contrasting." Her second book in this series is also out, Read Me Yellow Two. To learn more about Gwendolyn, click here.
A new survey by children's book publisher Scholasticshows major increases in e-book reading among youths, though fully half have yet to try it. And lovers of paperbacks will be glad to hear that print books are still putting up a fight, even among younger children.
Be our guest -- OCAI is a brand new resource for anyone wishing to find information about Oklahoma children's authors and illustrators. Because we are so new, we'd love to hear your thoughts, comments, and suggestions -- so please sign our guestbook!
Please provide us FEEDBACK with the form provided here
Welcome to Oklahoma Children's Book Authors & Illustrators (OCAI).
Here you'll find information about some of the most talented people in Oklahoma. Every other month we feature a new author or illustrator in a video with an exclusive interview so you'll get to meet our OCAI authors & illustrators up-close and personal. Each video and interview is archived for easy reference on the author's/illustrator's biography page. We also provide links to contact information, "fun facts", brochures, lesson plans, & much more.
Need a grant? Check out the grant we provide on our grant page as well as both local and national grants. Be sure to send us grants that you know about because if we post a grant you suggest, we'll send you a free autographed book. We also have a "Bimonthly Question" which gives you more chances to win free books. We'd love to hear from you & we hope you'll invite an Oklahoma author or illustrator to your next book-related event!
What's Inside the OCAI Pages . . . "About the Website" explains the Goals, Vision, and Objectives for our website.
"Raving Reviews" is your responses and viewpoints of the OCAI website.
"Meet the Authors/Illustrators" provides a photo montage, a one-page bio, and photos of each author's and illustrator's book covers (all photos can be enlarged for easy viewing). You'll also find a link to each author's and illustrator's personal website, as well as a printable brochure.
"Young Adult Authors" is basically the same as Meet the Authors/Illustrators page but its exclusively designed for those authors that specialize in books aimed toward the Young Adult readers.
"Upcoming Books" provides a quick reference of who has a new book coming out, the title (if known) and the release date.
"Available for Speaking" lists the authors and illustrators who would be happy to visit your school or special event.
"Tips for Planning a Visit" shares easy tips to help you plan, prepare, and promote an author/illustrator visit or event.
"Need Grants or Funding?" is a great place to find the funds you need for your next speaker visit.
"Post a Question" is a bulletin board for you to ask our authors and illustrators questions. We'll send them your questions and then post their answers.
"In the News" has the latest book news. "Book Technology News" is for the high-tech savy viewers.
"Website Links of Interest" provides a listing of publishers, bookstores, schools, and more.
"Teacher Zone" is a great resource for teachers and a fun area for interaction between teachers. "School Listing" is a list of schools in Oklahoma.
"Kid Zone" provides a starting point for kids and young adults who are writing reports on Oklahoma authors and illustrators. They can also find scavenger hunts, puzzles, and links to other places of interest. "Games" is a fun page for kids to learn more about reading, writing, Oklahoma authors and illustrators through fun games.
"Put Yourself on this Site" is a great way for you, your organization, or company to be represented here at Oklahoma Children's Authors and Illustrators. You must meet the simple requirement of being a published author with a mainstream publisher--not a vanity press or a self-publisher AND/OR have several years of experience in visiting schools throughout the U.S. as a speaker and author with books that are recommended by teachers.Simply follow the easy directions on this page.
"Contact Us" is where you can provide OCAI feedback on anything from how much you love our site to how much you'd love to improve our site. We really do appreciate all of your comments and suggestions!
Check out our new section called Book Focus!
OCAI's Web page
Find OCAI on your smartphone. See below for an example and a QR code so you can quickly link to it on your barcode scanner app.