(interview by CWG President Sheila Wright)

Sheila: Hello Al, and welcome to “The Writer’s Journey!”

You are one of the original members of CWG, and it is a pleasure for me to introduce you to our readers and to share the exciting news of your new book Mutiny and the Mouse: Seymour in the Pacific.

Al: Thank you Sheila and the CWG for inviting me to chat with you about my work.

Sheila: I like to start off interviews by asking writers how they came to write for children. How did you transition from writing technical articles and books in computer technology to writing children’s stories?


Halloween is drawing near and a great pick for the season is The Legend of the Jersey Devil, a picture book by Trinka Hakes Noble (2013). Review by Sheila Wright.

Travel, if you dare, into the dark, misty swamps of the Pine Barrens, with award-winning author Trinka Hakes Noble, as she retells the legend of the Jersey Devil. With language reminiscent of the early 18th century, the story recounts a stormy night when one Mrs. Leeds, a suspected witch, gives birth to her 13th child—the Jersey Devil. The author weaves a wondrous tale of woe about colonial inhabitants of the “Pines” who are tormented by this awful creature with the head of a horse, wings of a bat, hooves of a goat, and fiery blazing eyes.

Reviewer Sheila Wright,
NJCWG Co-Founder

The author’s language is rich in description, and the artwork by Gerald Kelley completes the spooky atmosphere that keeps us on the edge of our seats. Readers can almost feel the night coolness from the fog-laden swamps and breathe the dank air of the bogs as the Jersey Devil roams the countryside preying on his victims. Though a frightening tale, the illustrations also draw upon humorous aspects of the story, which to some degree, lighten and add to the fun of reading it.

The author, a longtime New Jersey resident, writes about the Pine Barrens with the confidence of someone who knows this intriguing coastal region and its historic mysteries well. The illustrations are an excellent match to a fresh look at an old legend.

Rated on as being best for grades 2-5. In my own view, I would lean towards the upper end of this grade range.


AN EVENING WITH LINDA SUE PARK, Princeton Theological Seminary (Adams House)

Sunday April 21, 2013 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. 

We are excited to announce that the awesome Linda Sue Park (Newbery winner, no less!) will be visiting Princeton in April and we have snagged her for a Wine & Cheese evening with NJSCWBI - yay! Registration is now open, just click the link below. Only $35 a ticket (scbwi members), $45 (non-scbwi members). Linda Sue will be talking about her process of writing across genres, sharing tips and tricks of her trade — and there will also be an opportunity to ask questions and have books signed. Space is limited and you must be registered to attend. This event is NOT to be missed folks!  


Award News from Candlewick

House Held Up By Trees is a

2012 New York Times Book Review

Best Illustrated Children’s Book!  

House Held Up cover
House Held Up By Trees
by Ted Kooser
illustrated by Jon Klassen


Every year since 1952, the New York Times Book Review has asked a panel of judges to select the ten best books from among the several thousand children’s picture books published that year. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Best Illustrated Awards. The 2012 list will be featured in the November 11 special children’s issue of the Book Review.
Our mailing address is:
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street
Somerville, MA 02144

Our website:

Meet Lemony Snicket AKA Daniel Handler


Wednesday, October 24 at 6pm
The mysterious author of A Series of Unfortunate Events talks with fans of all ages about the first book in his long-awaited, four-volume, tell-all autobiographical series, All the Wrong Questions – in which the author spills all the juicy details about his early life as an apprentice.
Join us for a exclusive sit-down with the notorious author and Sarah Vowell of This American Life – including behind-the-scenes multimedia, a laugh-out-loud excerpt read by the author, and an audience Q&A.

$15; Members $12

(Danielle suggested one memeber attend, and bring back insights for the rest of us)

Exciting workshop opportunity *and* writing exercise below, re-posted from Highlights Foundation.

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, encourages writers to make time to write daily. But what if the well has run dry? What if the cursor on the screen is only annoyingly marking the time that you are not actually writing? Ms. Lamott describes the pain of staring at a… blank screen,

“. . . I become a dog with a chew toy, worrying it for a while, wrestling it to the ground, flinging it over my shoulder, chasing it, licking it, chewing it, flinging it back over my shoulder. I stop just short of actually barking. But all of this only takes somewhere between one and two minutes, so I haven’t actually wasted that much time. Still, it leaves me winded. I go back to trying to breathe, slowly, calmly, and I finally notice the one-inch picture frame that I put on my desk to remind me of short assignments.”

Your short writing assignment for today comes from award-winning author Juanita Havill and author-editor Susan Pearson.

Choose a narrative picture book—one with a clear beginning, middle, and end—and study the story. Then write the first page of the first chapter of a novelization of the picture book.

Juanita and Susan will run a week-long writing retreat, guiding writers through daily short assignments, lessons in plot and character, and one-on-one manuscript feedback. Finding Your Story is geared toward people who need time to write, as well as time to study the craft of writing for children.

We would love to see how you interpreted today’s assignment. Please post in the space below. Make sure that you include your name and the original picture book that you have studied for this rewrite. Don’t forget to check out Juanita and Susan’s workshop by clicking here.

In the third installment of his series, member Marvin Mayer continues recounting his experiences attending the 2010 Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop.

Member Marvin Mayer This month, I want to “take” you inside some of the sessions I attended and offer a “snippet” I picked up here and a “gem” I garnered there; words of wisdom from some of those uniquely qualified folks I introduced to you last month.

Our conference began on Saturday night with a Welcoming Banquet in the dining room of the Atheneaum Hotel. After being served an excellent dinner, we were officially welcomed to Chautauqua and told just a “smidget” of what we might expect in the week ahead. Then Donna Jo Napoli took the podium to deliver our keynote address. (more…)

In the first installment of a monthly series, member Marvin Mayer writes in with his experiences attending the 2010 Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop.

Member Marvin Mayer It was a financial stretch for me, but by flying at “off peek” times, sharing hotel rooms, and with the help of some scholarship funds, I managed to attend the 2010 Writers Workshop. This was the 26th year that the Highlights Foundation has sponsored their week-long workshop at Chautauqua. Highlights Foundation is the parent organization for the Highlights For Children and Highlights High Five magazines, along with book publisher Boyds Mills Press and their various subsidiary imprints.

In this installment of The Writer’s Journey, member Jennifer Troulis interviews children’s author Steven Kroll
Jungle Bullies, by Steven KrollSteven KrollThe Boston Tea Party, by Steven Kroll

Hello, Steven, and Welcome to The Writer’s Journey!


Cofounder Sheila Wright interviews children’s writer and NJCWG member, Jennifer Troulis

City of the BanishedThe Enchanted House of WhispersJennifer Troulis

Hello, Jennifer, and welcome to The Writer’s Journey…

Sheila: You grew up in Edison, New Jersey in the late 60’s writing and illustrating stories based on your family and pets. I seem to recall that you once told me that you still have those early stories. Was your love of writing and illustrating influenced by your parents? (more…)

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“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
— C. S. Lewis