Welcome to the Bookshelf Detective, a site packed with tricks and tips for readers and writers of children's literature. Thank you for visiting!
Kim Tomsic

Friday, July 19, 2013

Children's Book Festival

The first annual BOULDER CHILDREN’S BOOK FESTIVAL benefitting the “I Have A Dream Foundation” will be held at Barnes & Noble, 2999 Pearl Street, in Boulder on Saturday, August
17, from 1- 4 p.m.  Colorado authors and illustrators will read from just released and recent titles, sign books, and teach fun book-related crafts, writing exercises and provide curriculum-based information for teachers and librarians. Exciting give-aways and drawings throughout the afternoon. Children from toddlers to teens, parents, teachers and librarians are invited to meet and interact with some of the most talented authors and illustrators in Colorado.

The following authors and illustrators will share their picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction:
Leslie Ann Clark
Kerry Lee MacLean
Claudia Mills
Cathy Morrison
Nancy Oswald
Kathleen Pelley
Phyllis Perry 
Pat Postek
Natasha Wing

*Leslie Ann Clark, Ingrid Law, Kerry Lee MacLean, Elaine Pease and Phyllis Perry are all from Boulder County.

This event is free.
For more information contact Jeff Oliver at Barnes & Noble, 303-444-0845.

1 – 2:30
Phyllis Perry - Colorado History using: A Kid’s Look at Colorado, Bold Women in Colorado History, Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Colorado History

Lindsay Eland – Reading and signing A Summer of Sundays.

Elaine Pease – Art project – Creating a sea urchin from Even Sharks Need Friends

Ingrid Law - a short reading, with Q&A, as well as a door prize and a drawing for teachers, offering a free 30-60 minute session in their classroom.

Leslie Clark – Art activity

Natasha Wing – Art Activities

Pat Postek – Signing and Reading

2:30 – 4

Kathleen Pelly – Reading

Phyllis Perry - Panda's Earthquake Escape - Teach a few
Chinese words

Lindsay Eland – Reading and signing A Summer of Sundays.

Elaine Pease – Reading from Ghost Over Boulder Creek

Claudia Mills – Reading with a signing to follow.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Letters and Lines Coming this Fall

This beautiful illustration is by SCBWI member Brooke Boynton Hughes

Attention Plucky Few:  Letters and Lines Conference Coming this Fall
September 28th and 29th The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is excited to announce the annual Letters and Lines Conference will take place at a new location, the Denver Marriott West in Golden, Colorado. Letters and Lines will be an intimate conference where participants can mingle with a panel of publishing super stars. The faculty includes three editors, two agents, a Newbery winning author, a distinguished and award winning author/illustrator, several local celebrity illustrators and authors, and a queen (okay, maybe not an official queen, but a PR Maven) .
Many dream of writing or illustrating a children’s book, but few have the courage to pursue the goal. If your interest is piqued, then count yourself as one of the plucky few. Maybe you’ve written several manuscripts, or maybe you have ideas bursting in your head, ready to be committed to paper. Since you’re spirited enough to be on this path, why not help your dream come to fruition? Attending a conference is the quickest way to fast track your goals. Conferences are an opportunity to make connections, get useful feedback, and learn the ins and outs of the publishing industry. 
If you’re still reading this post, then maybe you’re at the point when you’re wondering what the heck happens at a conference. Letters and Lines will be packed with various sessions—some structured as lectures; others structured in an interactive format with instant advice.
 or take a brief glimpse of what’s on the menu:
Execute your fantasy novel
Examine the nature of a character driven Picture Book
Hear agents and editors read and give feedback to participants’ first pages
The secret to picture book writing
How to create a storybook App (w/app genius Julie Hedlund)
The eBook
Spotlight on an illustrators career
Taking your novel from concept to completion
First impressions: illustrator participants get immediate feedback
How to weave character with plot and setting
The nitty gritty of framing a story
And much much more! In addition to the great classroom and interactive session, participants can also preregister for a one-on-one personal consultation with a publishing professional. This experience alone makes the entire conference worth the effort. Writers get the first ten pages of their manuscript read and critiqued by either an agent, editor, or published author. Illustrators can also sign up to receive a professional one-on-one critique.
Still want to know more…like who will be there?
·                      Newbery Award winner Linda Sue Park
·                     Arianne Lewin, executive editor, G. P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Young Readers Group)
·                     Kelly Barrales-Saylor, editorial director, Albert Whitman & Company
·                     Wendy Loggia, executive editor, Delacorte/Random House
·                     Brianne Johnson, agent, Writers House
·                     Sara Megibow, agent, Nelson Literary Agency
·                     Bitsy Kemper, author and PR Queen!
·                     Award winning Illustrator/Author Michael Garland
·                     A full list of local authors and illustrators (see brochure for details)

Friday, July 5, 2013


Destiny Rewritten by KathrynFitzmaurice (Harper Collins Katherine Tegen Books) is a charming and absorbing tale. This book will capture the imagination of your eight to thirteen-year-old readers. It’s chock-full of fun quests and unique characters.  But let’s start at the beginning, where the epigraph sets the tone:
          In this short Life
          That only lasts an hour
          How much—how little—is
          Within our power
          –Emily Dickinson
How much do our decisions influence our future, or is everything up to destiny? It’s a fun premise to consider, and that’s what I love—a book full of possibilities.
JACKET FLAP: Eleven-year-old Emily Elizabeth Davis has been told for her entire life that her destiny is to become a poet, just like her famous namesake, Emily Dickinson. But Emily doesn't even really like poetry, and she has a secret career ambition that she suspects her English-professor mother will frown on. Then, just after discovering that it contains an important family secret, she loses the special volume of Emily Dickinson's poetry that was given to her at birth. As Emily and her friends search for the lost book in used bookstores and thrift shops all across town, Emily's understanding of destiny begins to unravel and then rewrite itself in a marvelous new way.

Twelve-year-old Emily approaches her quest with a spirit of pluck, creativity, and contagious mania. And in her hometown of Berkley, California, there’s a whole pack of interesting characters to meet—her spy-obsessed younger cousin Mortie (who may or may not be on some sort of reconnaissance mission), her friends at school, thrift shop owners and the local tree huggers.

Katherine Tegen Books, February 2013
Realistic Fiction
352 pages
ISBN-10: 0061625019
ISBN-13: 9780061625015 
Recommended for grades 4-6

Monday, July 1, 2013

Landing the Elusive Publishing Contract

Getting to Yes!

By Kim Tomsic
Do you have a goal to publish a book through a traditional publishing house rather than self-publishing? If yes, here is my OVERLY simplified flowchart for getting from point A to Z. Enjoy!

1. Write an incredible story!

Check out these RESOURCES to help you write that book:


Check your beats, plotting, and pacing by reading SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder
Follow Deborah Halverson on the blog:

Join the SCBWI, take a webinar, attend a conference, network and learn the business side of publishing, too.

2. Ask your critiquing group for input 

If you are not part of a critiquing group, JOIN ONE! It will fast-track you to better writing. I promise!

3. Edit

More resources:  SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS by Renni Browne and Dave King

Consider hiring a reputable professional editor or editing service such as: 

Deborah Halverson,  DEAR EDITOR
Harold Underdown at https://www.underdown.org/
Emma Dryden at Dryden Books

4. Repeat 
Repeat steps two and three over and over and over again until your story is polished, your characters are compelling, your plot is paced perfectly, your ending is unexpected yet inevitable, and you are ready to submit!

5. Learn the business!

Learn the business side of publishing, including how to write a compelling query letter, logline, jacket flap, and synopsis. Learn about word count and how to talk about genres. Figure out where your manuscript fits.

Receive input from your critiquing group

Edit. Edit. Edit.

6. Ask beta readers to give you input on your manuscript

Edit. Edit. Edit.

7. Research Agents:
Most publishing houses only accept manuscript submissions through agents, so step seven is to RESEARCH agents. This is a lengthy process, but worth the effort. Research by reading their clients' books, reading interviews with the agent, and even reading the agents' social media posts. You'll know an agent is a good fit after you've thoroughly researched, because you'll be able to determined that they not only represent the  type of books you write, but you'll also come closer to knowing if they are someone with whom you'd want to have a long-term professional relationship.

8. Query your top five agents

By now, you should have been learning about the publishing business. 

Here's a brief article on how to write a query letterLINK

If your query is not receiving any kind of traction or personal responses, either your query letter needs work, or your querying the wrong type of agents, or your manuscript still needs some work. Take your query letter to your critiquing group and to beta readers. Repeat some edit steps before you move on.

Query five more agents (whom you have researched and matched as before)

9.  Hooray!! You've landed an agent!!!


10.  Work with your agent to get your manuscript submission ready! Agent is probably an editorial agent (in this market, most good ones are). Therefore work with your agent to Edit. Edit. Edit. Polish, Polish, Polish.

11.  Agent will take your query paragraph, logline, jacketflap work, and synopsis to compose a “for sale” letter to an editor at a publishing house. Why do most publishing houses have an agent-only submission policy…because the editor knows that all the above steps were taken, the project is polished, and an agent probably submitted based on an editor’s personal taste (i.e. maybe your agent knows an editor who is specifically looking for a dystopian mystery with a paranormal twist and a Jane Eyre-ish main character)

Big moment!!! Editor loves your project…what’s next?

12.  Editor writes a memo in preparation for next acquisitions meeting (and you better believe it will be an easy memo to write if your agent wrote a compelling "for sale" letter based on the amazing query/synopsis/jacket flap and logline you wrote). 

Editor presents project to acquisitions committee for a vote

If vote goes well, editor writes an editorial memo to the Sales/Marketing/Design team and puts a Profits and Loss statement together on how they project will play out. Editorial memo will include author bio, selling points of manuscript, similar titles in the market, P&L statement, the manuscript, synopsis.

Editor makes pitch

The Sales/Marketing/Design team vote. Maybe other votes take place.

Congratulations…you’ve got a Yes!!!

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