Storytellers & Friends! We have Newbery Honor award winner RITA WILLIAMS-GARCIA with us today! Rita is a #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Coretta Scott King Author Award winner, and a National Book Award Finalist. I’m constantly in awe of Rita’s expertise of weaving social awareness into her books, adding even more depth to her stories and characters.
You are in for a treat today. If you’re working on young adult novels or middle grade books, you’ll want to pay special attention to Rita’s incredibly actionable tips and advice!
“Let the story belong to the character.”
“I told my first lie and a star was born.”
“Once that book goes out in the world, it belongs to the world.”
“Here is the beautiful thing: A book will find her reader and it will open that reader up in ways that she had not been open.”
What You’ll Learn From This Episode:
How to weave social awareness into your writing and still have your story connect with readers
The road blocks Rita faced throughout the publishing process and how her experiences can help you navigate the publishing world successfully
How important it is to work with publishers and agents that support you and your writing
How to make your story come alive
How to magnify the world you created in your story
Rita’s advice and tips on reaching out to exceptional agents
From beloved Newbery Honor winner and three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner Rita Williams-Garcia comes a powerful and heartfelt novel about loss, family, and love that will appeal to fans of Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander.
Clayton feels most alive when he’s with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the band of Bluesmen—he can’t wait to join them, just as soon as he has a blues song of his own. But then the unthinkable happens. Cool Papa Byrd dies, and Clayton’s mother forbids Clayton from playing the blues. And Clayton knows that’s no way to live.
Armed with his grandfather’s brown porkpie hat and his harmonica, he runs away from home in search of the Bluesmen, hoping he can join them on the road. But on the journey that takes him through the New York City subways and to Washington Square Park, Clayton learns some things that surprise him.
Learn More About Rita Williams-Garcia
Rita Williams-Garcia is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels for young adults and middle grade readers, and two picture books. Her most recent novel, Gone Crazy in Alabama ends the saga of the Gaither Sisters, who appear in One Crazy Summer and PS Be Eleven. All three novels in the series have won the Coretta Scott King Author Award. Her numerous awards and citations include having been named a National Book Award Finalist twice, a Newbery Honor Book, a Parents’ Choice Award, a Junior Library Guild, and the Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction. She is on faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children MFA Program and she resides in Queens, New York.
Rita’s Recommended Books & Resources:
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner
On Writing Fiction: Rethinking conventional wisdom about the craft by David Jauss
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)