Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Author Roundtables with the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Dakotas Chapter

On Tuesday, May 8th, at the Memorial Union on the NDSU campus, the Red River Valley Writing Project collaborated with the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators-Dakotas Chapter to host roundtables for the purpose of bringing together local authors and teachers. Each writer had a roundtable with their books, website information, and other publicity materials. Teachers could visit from table to table, getting to know local authors and talking to them about potential classroom visits. We had about 15 people attend this event. For those who couldn't make it, let's take a virtual tour of the event.

Tami Lawrence

The first roundtable we will stop at is Tami Lawrence, who has an early childhood degree and does grant writing as well as creative writing. She has published a book titled Are There Dirt Bikes in Heaven? marketed by Christian Faith Publishing. It is about a child who has a lot of questions about heaven.

Kim Rensch

At the next table, the RRVWP's own writing group leader, Kim Rensch, was promoting the website she and other RRVWP TCs created called  My ND Story. This website is a place for North Dakotans of all ages to publish place-based creative work. There is also a robust page of teacher resources, from writing prompts to ideas for creating a community of writers at your school.
Kim Rensch tells the group about My ND Story
Elizabeth Raum

Elizabeth Raum is the director of the Dakotas chapter of SCBWI. Not only is she a very well published author--check out her table below--but she is devoted to supporting writers in this region through a highly organized series of workshops, writing groups, conference opportunities, web-based professional development, and general networking. If you have written or are thinking of writing for children, you need to get to know Betty! She's warm and intelligent and immensely helpful. Her new book, a nonfiction book titled The Big, Bold, Adventurous Life of Lavinia Warren, will be released on September 4th. It is written for middle grade readers.


Deirdre Prischmann-Voldseth

Who knew that one of that Dr. Prischmann-Voldseth, an Associate Professor in the entomology at NDSU is also a prolific children's book author?

Check out all these books about bugs. My favorite is the one about dragonflies. Both she and Betty Raum have written books about bees, so if you wanted to create a unit on bees, you could definitely draw from local authors as well as the Buzz Lab at Plains Art Museum, who happens to be the RRVWP's community partner.


Ryan Christiansen

Ryan Christiansen, far right, talks about his writing
Another NDSU author, Ryan C. Christiansen, MFA, teaches English part-time at North Dakota State University and North Dakota State College of Science. He is an Associate Editor for New Rivers Press at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Mr. Christiansen is an experienced journalist and technical writer, and he received his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he specialized in the flash fiction novel genre. 

His novel, Boy Wanted, is set in this region and has some mature subject matter, so use caution when assigning it in the upper grades. Set during the Great Depression, the main character, twelve-year-old Alvi, answers an ad titled, "Boy Wanted," which changes his life forever. 


Tory Christie

Tory Christie is another scientist/storyteller. She has a series of books with an irrepressible protagonist named Curious McCarthy. There is some great science "taught" through these hilarious books that make amazing use of footnotes. Kind of a combination of Harriet the Spy and Bill Nye, the science guy, any elementary age kid in this area would love these books. Tory is super smart, warm, and approachable, and like all these authors, would make a great visitor to your classroom to talk about the books or what it's like to be a writer or a scientist or a writer-scientist. Her website is www.torychristie.com

Linda Sand and Selina Bjorlie

These two authors have published in magazines for children. For those who are curious about this kind of writing, they are great to talk to. They are super knowledgeable about writing craft and how to submit work for different venues. 

Selina is pictured on the far right in this photo, and Linda is next to her. 

Thanks to NDSU's Office of Teaching and Learning for providing snacks. It was a fun event. RRVWP Director Kelly Sassi was glad to see 2010 fellow Troy Brewster, who writes plays, back at this event and also current NDSU students who are interested in starting a writing career checking out the activities. This was a new kind of event for us, and those who attended had the time and space to have substantive conversations with each other. Thanks to all who presented and attended! -Kelly Sassi