Turbo Monkey Tales is a group blog focusing on the craft, production, marketing and consumption of Children's Literature. We are illustrators, writers, animators and media mongrels. We are readers! We are published, unpublished and self-published; agented and searching, and 100% dedicated to our Kid Lit journey, no matter where we are on the path. Join our Tribe and grab a vine. The more the merrier!

Monday, August 12, 2013

One Year Later...

Mentish Retreat November 2012

It's hard to believe it's been a year since we launched Turbo Monkey Tales. So much has happened since our first blog post! In honor of our anniversary we thought we'd all take stock and offer our own personal Year in Review.
So, without further ado, here's what the Turbo Monkeys have been up to for the last twelve months!

Hazel Mitchell

Amy Allgeyer Cook

It’s been a pretty exciting year for me. I (finally) finished the first draft of my young adult novel, Water for Starfish, during NaNoWriMo, then spent the next six months in revisions. 

On May 14th, I sent out my first wave of agent queries. Over the next two months, I received full requests, form rejections, more full requests, rejections on fulls, more full requests and … more rejections. Then, on July 15th, came an offer. YAY! Big squees! I let the other agents who had open queries or full manuscripts know that there was an offer on the table. And I gave them two weeks to finish reading and get back to me. Two weeks later, I had three offers of representation from three absolutely freaking amazing agents, every one of whom would have been stellar to work with. Unfortunately, I had to pick JUST ONE! 

After a very thoughtful weekend spent in Reno with some very dear writer friends, I decided to go with Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow Literary. I’m so excited to be a part of the Upstart Crow team and to be working with Danielle, especially!

Sarah McGuire

Last year, our blog's first day was also the first day of preservice in my school district. That seems fitting, since it was also the first year that I taught Creative Writing, which was truly an adventure.
Since then, I...

  • Finished the Highlights workshop with Patti Gauch in October, which helped my jump into revisions on VALIANT
  • Started submitting VALIANT on February 14
  • Spent spring break angsting about VALIANT while vacationing at the oh-so-fabulous When Words Count retreat. (Yay for sweepstakes!)
  • Signed with Tracey Adams of Adams Literary in April (I'm still happy dancing!)
  • Finished school year and VALIANT revisions the way most teachers do– sleep deprived and somewhat incoherent
  • Drove cross-country to help a friend move to Washington state. I even stopped in Reno on the way back to meet with a few of Monkey tribe! VALIANT has traveled as well- venturing out into the world as it looks for a home.
This week, it begins again. During preservice, I'll be preparing for Algebra II, College Algebra Trig, and of course, Creative Writing. 

Craig Lew

In this year of the Turbo Monkey: 

1) My movie ROCK JOCKS released in Theaters in June - Available on iTunes and Amazon http://www.rockjocksthemovie.com
2) My Augmented Reality App BPZapp became available in the iTunes App Store and Google Play 
3) My Augmented Reality graphic novel, THE GOTHS: THE HUNTRESS (available on Amazon) was a finalist in the Indie Excellence Book Awards.
4) My latest acquisition, SMELVIN AND GOULASH BOY (written by Amy Allgeyer Cook, Edited by Lorin Oberweger, illustrated by Hazel Mitchell) will release in print, iBook and enhanced with Augmented Reality in Fall 2013.
5) Spoke at the Boise Cutters and Idaho Media Professionals Film Groups
6) I adopted Smittens, the kitten with the marshmallow mittens. 
7) Raced in the Idaho State Criterium Cycling Championships and lived
8) Met many new people and made some amazing friends.

I have two pending deals which could be huge...but I cannot talk about them yet.

Julie Dillard

Year highlights:
I feel really fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend TWO inspiring conferences this year--the Ventana Sierra Advanced Writers Workshop and SCBWI's Summer Conference in Los Angeles. I'm attacking my stories with fresher enthusiasm because of the focused time those experiences provided to hone in on craft and process. I am in a rewarding new teaching position, which means I have to draw on all the thoughtful advice I get from fellow writers to make progress in the limited time I have. One method I've adopted is getting up at 5am to sneak in an hour of writing before rushing off to work. The best side effect is having the story simmer in my head all day long! The very best part of this year has been, through conferences and great meet-ups with writer friends, abundant reminders of how very kind, funny, and compassionate--even heroic--people who write for children can be. Bring on the new year!

Kristen Crowley Held

Just a couple of days after our first blog post in 2012 I participated in the awesome online children’s writers conference WriteOnCon. This year’s conference starts tomorrow and, trust me, you won’t want to miss it! I also found inspiration at several in person SCBWI conferences and events where I reconnected with old friends and discovered new ones. By far my favorite part of this past year was attending the book launches of several writerly friends and crit buddies. I also had the pleasure of seeing my name in the acknowledgements of a real live book for the first time (if you haven’t read Katherine Longshore's TARNISH, go buy a copy right now, I’ll wait!). After much back and forthing, I broke up with my MG fantasy novel once and for all (or at least until I can figure out how to make it the wondrously magical thing I want it to be). With the help of a two week fast draft class run by Candace Havens, I wrote a “discovery draft” of the YA mystery (BLURT) I started at our mentish reunion at the fabulous St. Mary’s Art and Retreat Center in Virginia City, and next month I’m off to the Writer's Police Academy to make sure my manuscript “won’t bleed red ink later.”  I’m excited about getting BLURT to the beautiful/shiny stage and will be hopping on the query roller coaster later this year. Wish me luck!

Ellen Jellison

For the past year, I’ve been working on a middle grade historical/fantasy novel set along the Danube River in 170 AD. Ancient Roman and Germanic mythology is woven throughout the story, at times in real life, then fading back into mythology. Getting it right has been a challenge. The book is called JUSTUS, although I call it my Never Ending Revision. I’m finally on the last chapters, so yippee!  Two conferences that I recently attended and can highly recommend are the Speakeasy Literary Society’s retreat at Fallen Leaf Lake, and Terri Farley’s Ridin’ Writer’s Workshop. Both were intimate in nature, yet very powerful. I left both with new friendships, new ideas, and a rejuvenated determination in finishing JUSTUS, no matter how long the journey! My favorite word is perseverance, one familiar to all writers and illustrators . . . hang in there and keep on truckin’!

Marilyn Hilton

This has been a wonderful year with the monkeys! Although I didn't lose the 10 pounds I'd hoped to, I read lots of fabulous middle-grade and young-adult novels that have entertained, inspired, amused, educated, and enlightened me. I also attended several writers conferences and retreats, including three SCBWI regional conferences with Kristen, the Speakeasy Literary Society Retreat in April with Ellen, and the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA with Julie and Craig. It was a treat to have that time with them and so many other inspiring writers of children's literature. In October, a YA manuscript I'd been working on won the First Page contest at the SCBWI San Francisco North & East Bay conference, and I've continued working on that manuscript, along with a few others. But most of my writing time and energy this year have been spent working on revisions of my debut middle-grade novel, FOUND THINGS, which will be published by Atheneum in summer 2014. (The photo is me with my wonderful editor, Namrata Tripathi.)

I can't imagine having taken this journey so far without the monkeys, and I'm so excited to see what the next year brings for us all!