the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Author Blog

Dianne White and BLUE ON BLUE!

Posted by Adi Rule on Tue, Dec 09, 2014 @ 08:12 AM

Today we're just beaming about the release of Dianne White's new picture book, Blue on Blue (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster)! The stars just keep coming, from Kirkus, Booklist, Publisher's Weekly and beyond. Here's a peek:

BlueonBluecoverIt’s a bright, beautiful, blue-on-blue day, but a storm is on its way, and soon …





Rain on rain on rain is pouring. Will the sun ever be back? 

We're thrilled to be talking with Dianne, a member of 2007's Whirligigs, on the blog today. Welcome, Dianne! So, tell us . . . 

What was the spark that ignited this book?

In large part, I credit Kathi Appelt for setting me off in a good direction. I’d submitted a number of manuscripts to her for my first packet of the post-grad Picture Book Certificate program and many of those used dialogue. Kathi asked me to Please! write something without dialogue. Blue on Blue was the result. It was quickly written one Sunday afternoon, the day before I was scheduled to share a manuscript with my VCFA picture book colleagues. Being under a time crunch, I fell back on a lesson I’d done with students many times – I collected “rain” words, thought about the beginning, middle, and end of my story, and wrote. I shared the manuscript with the group and some time later, after a few word-level tweaks, sent it off to Allyn Johnston, who had recently launched her new S&S imprint, Beach Lane Books. When she called a few weeks later to say she wanted to acquire the manuscript, I was over the moon!  

Tell us about your writing community. Are you in a critique group?

After living for years in Southern California where I had the opportunity to grow as a writer in the good company of my SCBWI colleagues from two different regions (LA and Cen Cal), I moved to Arizona and was left without a face-to-face critique group. I continued to share manuscripts by email with a few trusted friends from CA and VCFA, but I longed for a “live” group. Recently, some wonderful local writers and I have started two different critique groups that meet once every 3 to 4 weeks. 

FirstBookSigning 1

What authors do you love for their sentences? How about plot? Character?

Speaking strictly of picture book authors, I’ve been a long-time admirer of Cynthia Rylant’s work. Her versatility, language, and ability to get to the heart make her a favorite. Of course, my list includes many, many others. So to mix things up, I’ll mention just a few contemporary children’s poets whose work I admire – Joyce Sidman, Alice Schertle, and Rebecca Kai Dotlich.

Do you write in silence? If not, what’s your soundtrack?

I DO write in silence. Sort of. I read everything I write aloud, so I guess I write to the sound of my own voice. It helps, somehow. I even occasionally record what I write so I can hear the words in a slightly different way. Sort of like the auditory version of tricking yourself by changing the font or size in order to “see” a manuscript differently. I need to hear it differently. 

Who were your advisors at VCFA?

While I was at VCFA, I had the joy of working with some of my most favorite picture book authors – Phyllis Root and Marion Dane Bauer in my first and second semesters and Kathi Appelt during a post-grad semester in the Picture Book Certificate Program. I also had the pleasure of working with Jane Resh Thomas and Tim Wynne Jones in my third and fourth semesters. 

describe the imageWhat is your favorite VCFA memory?

My best of memory of VCFA is – dare I say it? – hanging out in the wine pit in the evening with my classmates. It was those many evenings spent laughing and enjoying one another’s company that cemented some very special friendships that continue to this day.  Those friendships have come to mean everything to me, both professionally and personally.

The value of the wine pit can't be overstated! :) Thanks so much for stopping by, Dianne! Welcome, Blue on Blue!

Dianne White has lived and traveled around the world and now calls Arizona home. She holds an elementary bilingual teaching credential and a master's in Language and Literacy. In 2007, she received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Visit Dianne online at!


Topics: 2014 release, picture book, Simon & Schuster, Dianne White, Beach Lane Books

Roundup - Bank Street Honors VCFA Authors, Book Deals & More

Posted by Tami Brown on Fri, Jun 13, 2014 @ 06:06 AM

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It may be Friday the thirteenth (and a full moon at that!) but at VCFA it's our lucky day!

Bank Street College of Education recently released its list of Best Books of 2014 and there are a slew of familiar Vermont College of Fine Arts names on the list. Check out this honor roll of VCFA writers!

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Señor Pancho Had a Rancho by René Colato Laínez, illustrated by Elwood Smith (Holiday House). Old MacDonald and Señor Pancho both have a lot of noisy farm animals in this festive, bilingual sing-a-long. Lively ink and watercolor illustrations

Vampire Baby by Kelly Bennett, illustrated by Paul Meisel (Candlewick Press). Big brother is certain that his baby sister—who chomps everything in sight—must be a vampire, so he tries to find the right home for her. Humorous mixed-media color illustrations.

Cowboy Up!: Ride the Navajo Rodeo by Nancy Bo Flood, photographs by Jan Sonnenmair (Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press/Highlights) A day of roping and riding competitions at a rodeo is depicted through photographs, poetry, and prose.

Yes, Let’s by Galen Goodwin Longstreth, illustrated by Maris Wicks (Tanglewood) A family trip to the woods, including a hike, a picnic, and swimming, packs a lot of fun into one day. Colorful, humorous illustrations.

Robot, Go Bot! by Dana Meachen Rau, illustrated by Wook Jin Jung (Random House). Simple words, in comic-style balloons, tell the engaging story of a bossy girl and her robot.

Penelope Crumb Never Forgets by Shawn K. Stout, illustrated by Valeria Docampo (Philomel Books/Penguin) When a quirky, spirited girl establishes her Ultra Museum of Forget-Me-Notters, her choice of objects to represent her loved ones causes havoc. Black-and-white puppet-like illustrations.

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia (Amistad Press/HarperCollins) Life gets complicated for the Gaither sisters in 1968 Brooklyn—Dad’s in love, uncle Darnell’s home from Vietnam, and the Jackson Five are coming to town.

The Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley (Clarion/HMH) Mehrigul, a Uyghur farm girl and gifted basketmaker, longs to go back to school but must battle her aggressive father, her depressed mother, and the Chinese rulers who have invaded her homeland.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing) Twelve-year-old Chap Brayburn, along with the Sugar Man and two raccoons, must save the Texas swamp and its rare inhabitants from animal and human predators. Fast-paced and funny.

Parched by Melanie Crowder (Harcourt Children’s Books/HMH) Sarel and Musa use their knowledge of the land to survive after the violent deaths of family members and abuse by gang members brought on by a devastating drought.

Formerly Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham (Candlewick Press) Jane, a high school senior recovering from the loss of her arm from a shark attack, discovers her special talents as well as her responsibilities to herself and others. Told in narrative verse. (Sequel to Shark Girl)

45 Pounds (More or Less) by K. A. Barson (Viking/Penguin) Emotional eater Ann has allowed her weight to control her life, until she is faced with her aunt’s wedding. She then acquires a greater understanding of her family.


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Hailed for its creepy cool cover (we think it's a twisted tip of the hat to Downton Abbey!) Fuse #8's blog at School Library Journal featured Julie Berry's upcoming release The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place (Roaring Brook Press).

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With months still to go before its publication date, Dianne White's Blue On Blue (Beach Lane Press) has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Way to go, Dianne! This is the first of many accolades this beautiful book will receive!


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Happy launch week to Makeover Magic, the third book in Jill Santopolo's delightful Sparkle Spa series! Jill stopped by The Launchpad to talk about this series back in March -- read about it here if you missed it!

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A. B. Westrick's critically acclaimed middle grade novel Brotherhood (Viking 2013) is out this week in paperback!

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Coretta Scott King/Steptoe Award winner Kekla Magoon's The Guerilla Life of Manolo Cabesas, the story of a rural teen's transformation into a hardened soldier for a rebel army in South America, to Andrea Tompa at Candlewick, by Michelle Humphrey at the Martha Kaplan Agency (World). Congratulations, Kekla!!

Cynthia Surrisi sold her debut middle-grade mystery, The Maypop Kidnapping to Carolrhoda. It's set in a small coastal Maine village filled with eccentric locals; when 13-year-old Quinnie's beloved teacher goes missing, Quinnie leads a relentless, sometimes misguided search – against her mother's orders and it's scheduled for publication in 2015! Hooray Cynthia!

Erin Hagar sold a biography that's sure to be near and dear to our hearts-- and tummies! Julia Child: An Extraordinary Life in Words and Pictures, beautifully illustrated and aimed at 8 to 12 year olds, will be published next spring by DUOPRESS Books. We can't wait, Erin. Bon Appetit! 

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And last but not least...

The deadline for the Katherine Paterson Prize at Hunger Mountain is fast approaching! (June 30th) Enter your Young Adult, Middle Grade, or Picture Book manuscripts (up to 10,000 words). This year's judge is Katherine Applegate, Newbery-winning author of The One and Only Ivan and dozens of other books. There's a $1000 first prize, and past winners have found literary agents and ultimately sold books to major presses following the publication of their winning pieces at Hunger Mountain. Please visit Hunger Mountain at for guidelines.

Topics: Candlewick Press, Holiday House, Elwood Smith, 2014 release, round-up, Shawn K. Stout, Philomel, Penguin Random House, Kathi Appelt, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, HMH Books For Young Readers, A. B. Westrick, Kekla Magoon, Kelly Bingham, Paul Meisel, Roaring Brook Press, Viking, 2013 release, Jan Sonnenmair, Maris Wicks, Cynthia Surrisi, Kelly Bennett, Nancy Bo Flood, Wordsong, Amistad Press, K. A. Barson, Random House, congratulations, Julie Berry, Melanie Crowder, Rita Williams-Garcia, Rene Colato Lainez, Jill Santopolo, Aladdin, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Dianne White, Valeria Docampo, Beach Lane Books, Boyds Mills Press, Highlights, Galen Goodwin Longstreth, Tanglewood, Josanne La Valley, Clarion, Dana Meachen Rau, Wook Jin Jung

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