Sonja Anderson: Book-Loving Librarian, Educator, and Children’s Author

by Eric Gollings

The first time I went to a book launch, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My family arrived at the Burien Public Library a little late and found a crowd packed into the expansive meeting room.

I stood at the door listening and craning to see the author over the throng. Behind me, the sun shone through tall windows on rows of shelves with countless books. I thought, “What a perfect place for a book launch.”

That book launch debuted Sonja Anderson’s novel, Sophie’s Quest.

The first thing you notice about the book is the beautiful cover art depicting an owl wearing a purse and hat, soaring over a sunny harbor. As you read, you find that it deals with deep questions of faith, culture, and the differences that often divide us. It does this all in a way that is accessible and engaging for young readers. For an aspiring novelist, the story of how this book and its sequel came into being is as uplifting as the adventure itself.

Sonja Anderson loves books. She is a multi-published author, an educator, and a librarian—the perfect vocations for a book lover.

Her love of reading and teaching has taken her many places. In Chicago, she studied history at North Park College. At Harvard University in Boston she earned a Master of Education degree. In Tokyo she taught kindergarten and second grade at an international school.

Since coming to Washington State she has taught every grade as a substitute teacher in Seattle Public Schools, and for twelve years she served as the Christian Formation Coordinator for the North Pacific Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church. She is currently the library tech at her local elementary school where she helps children find books that will ignite their own passion for lifelong reading. Sonja Anderson is also an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators and of the Northwest Christian Writers Association.

At this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Sonja will share her insights in two break-out sessions for emerging writers.

Authors and Children’s Book Illustration: How the Publisher, Illustrator, and Author Work Together (or Not) to Create a Great Book – Learn common misunderstandings many writers have about the way children’s books are illustrated. This includes both picture books and the cover art for novels. Gain an understanding about the quality of the art that should be submitted with your story—or if it should even be submitted—and learn what to expect when working with a publisher. (Emerging-writer level)

Sleuthing for Success: How Nancy Drew Would Get Her Children’s Story Published – Learn the pros and cons of indie publishing vs. royalty publishing for children’s works. Discover how thinking creatively, flexibly, and realistically about the best ways to reach kids can help you find the right agent/editor/publisher for your children’s story. Learn how prayer and a generous attitude toward other writers can help make connections, build relationships, and provide encouragement during not-so-successful days of writing and marketing. Included: tips on using print resources and conducting successful Internet searches for potential markets. (Emerging-writer level)

Don’t miss hearing Sonja Anderson at the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. Sign up now!

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Eric Gollings, a humanitarian professional with an MBA, is fluent in Spanish, Chinese, and English and has spent years living and serving in Latin America and Asia. For the last eight years, he has worked for World Vision. His writing and speaking interests include history, theology, humanitarian affairs, and speculative fiction. Eric enjoys creating clear and compelling communication, whether through blog posts, stories, professional e-mails, or speaking engagements.

Our Most Embarrassing Moments at a Writers Conference

Writers conferences are a great source of instruction, encouragement, and blessing to the writer, but they can also cause stress.  Writers know attending a conference can be crucial to their success.  They’re told that the agents and editors are the gatekeepers to publication and they usually have less than three minutes to get through the gate.

Shaking voices, trembling hands, and sweat-stained armpits prove writers are aware how  each encounter could fulfill or flounder publication dreams.

embarrassing moments

In the final countdown to the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal April 11-12, 2014,  with Davis Bunn, the proverbial butterflies have begun their migration to registrants.  To relieve pressure with laughter, NCWA members decided to share our worst conference experiences.

 

 

Ocieanna


Ocieanna Fleiss
– An editor from a prominent Christian publisher told me to not be afraid to write a @#$% first draft. LOL! At my first writers conference EVER! I about lost it and the very sweet, conservative older lady sitting next to me almost fell off her chair.

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Roberta-Kehle

Roberta Kehle –  I used to  pick up our speakers at the airport, but often got lost going to the hotel, usually when they needed to go to the bathroom and were in misery.  Another time I was trying to get a Starbucks for an agent and had a minor parking lot mishap. They quit asking my pick-up help. Wonder why? Hmm, this might scare off attendees.

 

sonjaSonja Anderson – My most embarrassing moment related to a writing conference came after the conference. I had the opportunity to submit a manuscript to an agent and an editor from the annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference in Seattle. After I wrote a query letter to the female editor from a fancy New York publishing house, I thought I’d save time and cut and paste the letter for the male agent from Chicago.

Big mistake! Imagine my great grief and embarrassment when I looked at the letter more carefully (after hitting “send,” of course, to the male agent ), and saw that I never removed the line about hoping that the rest of her PREGNANCY went well!
Needless to say, I never heard back from that agent. Sigh.

 

LynnetteLynnette Bonner – At an NCWA conference several years ago, I sat in on a pitch session with a big-name agent. She liked what she heard and requested that I send her a proposal after the conference. Later that same day she was chatting with Jim Rubart.

I needed to talk to Jim about something so I approached and was standing off to one side as they chatted. Jim turned to me and in his gregarious way said, “Hey! How’s your day gone? Did anyone request your stuff?”

And I replied that yeah, “Actually she requested that I send her a proposal.”

To which the agent jolted back and gasped, “I didn’t request a proposal from YOU!”

Jim did a double-take between the two of us as I said, “Well, actually you did.” She then apologized profusely and admitted she remembered me. Needless to say, I never sent her a proposal.

 

Mindy HeadshotMindy Peltier – After hearing how volunteering at a conference can impact your ability to get published, I arranged to meet two editors at the airport. They were from the two Christian publishers I dreamed of writing for some day.  I’d rehearsed a line I thought was clever and would prove my passion and need for writers conferences.

Feeling brave as I deftly merged into I-5 rush hour traffic,  I said, “Writers conferences have become counterproductive for me. I’m writing less…

One editor didn’t realize the airspace was meant to be a dramatic pause before my brilliant punch line.

He began defending conferences and instructed me on my need to attend and appreciate them.  I didn’t want to interrupt.  I merged into the carpool lane. The editor in the back seat added to the defense.

Shocked, I was convinced the misunderstanding had crash-dummied my  publication dreams.  I figured my name would be passed around the editors’ circle, along with the guy who tried to pitch his book at the urinal.  I couldn’t even finish my sentence.

The punch line he missed was “… because the more conferences I go to, the worse my writing becomes.

I was trying to cleverly reveal how conferences were impacting my writing life.  I was learning about writing, but on a larger scale, I was understanding how much more I needed to learn about writing and the publishing industry.

I’ve relived that agonizing moment over and over since then, and even in my dreams, I crash before the punch line.

Every year I attend and volunteer at several  writers conferences, and I’ve even taught at a few. But, they’re still counterproductive for me, because the more writers conferences I attend, the worse my writing becomes.


If an embarrassing moment at a writers conference occurs, don’t worry, it won’t affect your publication dreams.  All of the above writers were published after their  blunders.

Brush it off and move on, but only after you send the story to us.  We’d love to use in a blog post next year.

 

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