The New Voices in Children’s Literature Tassy Walden Award provides recognition for new writers and illustrators of children’s literature who live in the state of Connecticut. It is sponsored by the Shoreline Arts Alliance and was an important validation to my writing at a critical time. Even though it is not a huge, famous award, it was foundational for me as a writer and I will always be grateful to have received this honor.
The judges of the Tassy Walden Award are publishing industry experts who—as stated on the Shoreline Arts Alliance website—judge on “the basis of literary and/or artistic merit and quality.” In evaluating writing, judges consider excellence achieved for “establishment of the theme; plot development; character development; depiction of setting; suitability of material for a child audience; overall presentation, including clarity, accuracy and organization of material.” Candlewax took first place in the young adult category.
Absolutely. I don’t think it matters how old you are or if you are a guy or a girl. Mindset is more important. Either you are ready to enter the story or you’re not—it’s an adventure.
Candlewax is my first published book. I have a couple more in a drawer. I heard one scratching around the other day trying to get out.
The first editor had a deep sense of the worthiness of the story and totally believed in the book, taking it under her wing and making sure that I didn’t lose faith. The next editor, who hails from the New York Publishing Establishment, was cheerfully murderous, killing pages and whole chapters at time. I saw her picture in the Post Office just the other day. With her decades of experience editing, she brought a whole different perspective to the task. Her instincts were spot on. Both editors were crucial to Candlewax and fun to work with. I am one lucky writer!
No, not in the traditional sense of the word. My publisher, a start-up named Terabyte Press, owns world rights for Candlewax. I work with an outstanding intellectual property attorney and I have an author-beneficial contract with Terabyte. Publishing with Terabyte is a win-win situation. Subsidiary rights such as world rights for foreign language translation, book clubs, film, etc. are available through the wonderful Rebecca Mancini at RightsMix, and she in turn works with some of the best international agents out there.
It’s like broiling something in the oven. You have to watch it very carefully. One moment it’s raw, and the next it’s burnt. Ultimately it has to feel right to me and to the editors. Readers have different perspectives: One reader might love battles and someone else would prefer to skip the fight-to-the-death part of the story—it’s often a matter of preference. There are a lot of people on this planet, and if some of them find enjoyment in reading my stories, then that is fulfilling to me as a writer. If they like most of Candlewax but not all of it, well, that’s just fine—I appreciate every reader. And for those readers who love Candlewax, you would not believe how much that means to me.
Most troubles in the world would be solved if women were more valued and allowed to bring forth their special brand of sanity. But, if you pay attention to Candlewax, you’ll see that I support both genders. Both men and women should be strong, especially in a world like Candlewax! There’s no reason that a man can’t be tender and respectful to women and vice-versa. I think that readers who like a strong female protaganist will also like the courage and skill of the warrior-king, Cyril—which is why I think Candlewax appeals to both male and female readers.
I’m keeping that a mystery for now.