The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth_Blackwell Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) was born in England, but later moved to the United States. She became the first female in the United States to receive a medical degree, and the first female physician in the US.  She also started a medical school for women. To find out more about Elizabeth Blackwell, click HERE.

 Eliabeth Blackwell Quotes

  •  For what is done or learned by one class of women becomes, by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women.
  • It is well worth the efforts of a life-time to have attained knowledge which justifies an attack on the root of all evil . . . which asserts that because forms of evil have always existed in society, therefore they must always exist . . .
  • Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us which makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves.
  • I must have something to engross my thoughts, some object in life which will fill this vacuum and prevent this sad wearing away of the heart.
  • Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor.

 I can really identify with the second to last quote, because it seems like if I’m not busy, I’m not happy!

Katie Davis: Author. Illustrator. Writerpreneur.

katie davisI first heard the name Katie Davis years ago when I  started pursuing a career in children’s literature. Back then, I read an article about the success of her book, WHO HOPS. So I was thrilled to meet Katie this year at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference in New England.

Katie has a few more books to her credit now, is creating even more, and has developed several books and courses to help other writers achieve their dreams. One of these is How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to Create a Bestseller. Additionally, Katie does private one-on-one marketing consulting.

One of her newest ventures started when she saw a need for authors to have a video presence in today’s internet world.  She developed Video Idiot Boot Camp, a program to teach people (like me) who might be a little wary of getting in front of the camera, the skills needed to make videos.  (I should add here that one of Katie’s  videos won a School Library Journal Trailee Award. It’s adorable, and you can watch it below.)  We are excited to be able to share words of wisdom from the super smart and super talented Katie Davis with you today.

We know that one of your new passions is creating videos, and helping authors create videos. Why do you think this is important? Making them isn’t a new passion; teaching others to make them is new. When I saw how video brought people to my site and connected my visitors to me and subsequently, to my work,  my business changed. Then I got crazy over video as a way of life. I see how it gets the word out on my books, my site, and what I do.

So should people in other occupations be making videos too? I can’t think of a business or organization that couldn’t use video to grow interest. There are so many kinds of videos to create – and so many places to find free or incredibly cheap content for them! And they don’t have to take a lot of time – because frankly who has time for yet another black hole time suck project? But the one thing at least every site should have a welcome video, which is why I have my students make one in Boot Camp!

What are some important things authors and illustrators can do to help their careers?  Obviously, aside from actually writing the books 😎 I think Pinterest is great because it doesn’t take a lot of time, it takes advantage of the natural visual medium that is internet, and what’s even better is that it’s wonderful for people who aren’t illustrators. One product I have is a digital Pinterest course.

An important thing to remember, if you’re one of the many people I speak to who are afraid of the word “marketing,” is to instead call it “meeting people and making friends.” My social media course could help you do that.

What one work-habit helps you most with your career?  Ignoring the haters, prioritizing, and realizing there is nothing wrong with earning a living doing something I love. A lot of writers,  particularly women and particular kidlitters, have a hard time asking to be paid for their work. It’s because what we do is connected to noble things: children and literacy. But saving lives is noble too, yet we don’t expect our pediatric doctors to perform free heart surgery, do we?

Valuing what I do has helped me enormously. I’ve taken my business and grown it to more than writing and illustrating, which is great because my books don’t always pay the bills. I have streams of income as a writerpreneur through products, consulting other writers, Video Idiot Boot Camp, and various other things I’m doing. It’s fun, exciting, and keeps me in children’s publishing while working on my books.

Very good points!  I know you write across several genres. What exciting project are you working on now? Funny you should ask, because I have one from almost every level with my who hopsagent right now! I have an intense young adult novel, a very funny third grade-ish yiddishkeit re-telling of a Korean folktale, and a picture book  for which I’m not the right illustrator!

Wow! It’s great that you have so many varied projects moving forward! Now can you tell us about a time when nerdiness turned out to be an advantage. I’ve used my Nerdy Chickiness to cover for not knowing something on live TV – which resulted in a very funny moment! Just admitting to not being on the front lines of coolness can allow one to both save face and make you look even cooler because you’re willing to admit how uncool you actually are. Try it sometime!

So true… And we ask everyone this last question.  If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?  Do not, I repeat, do not get that short haircut and subsequent perm in ninth grade, in the year 197(mumbles something incoherent).

Remember that award winning video I mentioned above? You can watch it right here! I love it. And it’s not just because of the chick tie-in! If for some reason you can’t see the video below, click HERE to watch.

Subscribe to Katie’s YouTube Channel and keep up with her other awesome videos by clicking on the link below.

You can find out more about Katie by visiting her WEBSITE. And you’ll be seeing her influence more around here soon, because after going to Katie’s presentation at the conference, I signed up for her Video Idiot Boot Camp, and am now officially a vidiot! I’m going through the process of making my first video now.

Thanks Katie for joining us today! (Make sure to read the comment below that Katie left about her early bird special, and hint at something more to come!)


Summer Reading

Children's choicesA few weeks ago I was very excited to find out that The Boy Project made the 2013 Children’s Choices Reading List. At the time, I announced it on Facebook and Twitter, but wanted to wait to announce it here when putting together a post about Summer Reading.

Maybe over the years you’ve seen the Children’s Choices Bookmarks in your library with Tomie dePaola’s cute logo of back to back children reading at the top, and the list of recommended books below?  I was very familiar with these bookmarks, which made the news that my book would be on one of them particularly thrilling!

The Children’s Choices reading list is co-sponsored by the International Reading Association and the Children’s Book Council. It is described on the IRA website as:

“A reading list with a twist! Children themselves evaluate the books and write reviews of their favorites. Since 1974, Children’s Choices have been a trusted source of book recommendations used by teachers, librarians, parents—and children themselves.”

The list is revealed in late April, just in time to prepare for summer reading. If you want to check out some of these approved kid-friendly titles (picture books through middle grades), click on the image above. (The downloadable bookmark is on the last pages.)

The pull of easy entertainment is more prevalent than ever in today’s world, and though I hate to admit it, sometimes I have to force my children to read. The good news is that once they start reading a good book, they don’t want to stop. So summer reading is going to be pushed in my house this year. I’m already tired of the drone of the television and watching my bright daughter hunched over her iPod. We are entering a period of mandatory reading time, and it is going better than I expected.

the apothecary My thirteen year old daughter is currently reading The Apothecary by Maile Meloy. Her school recommended it, and she has told me about fifteen times already that it is a “really really good book!”  Here is the brief summary from Google Books:

” Follows a fourteen-year-old American girl whose life unexpectedly transforms when she moves to London in 1952 and gets swept up in a race to save the world from nuclear war.”

I am also indulging in summer reading. I’m currently reading Siege and Storm, the YA fantasy sequel to Leigh Bardugo’s  Shadow and Bone, which was is of the best YA

shadow and bone fantasies I’ve read in a long time.   I do think it’s important to let children read books they ENJOY for summer reading. The first book my daughter selected, she just couldn’t get into. She felt guilty about not finishing it because we’d purchased the book. After she got a few chapters in and still didn’t like it,  I let her abandon it for a title she’d enjoy. It is far more important at this stage for reading to be an activity she loves, than for us to “get our money’s worth” from a particular book.

So may great books are out there waiting for us! What are you and your family reading this summer?

The Quotable Nerdy Dad

In honor of Father’s Day, here are some quotes by fathers on fatherhood (and possibly some tips on how to raise a Nerdy Chicklet!)…


“The fundamental defect of fathers, in our competitive society, is that they want their children to be a credit to them.”

Bertrand Russell 00000160


“Fathers, like mothers, are not born. Men grow into fathers and fathering is a very important stage in their development.”

David Gottesman


00000016“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”

Henry Ward Beecher 


“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

Mark Twain



“Fathers, be good to your daughters. You are the god and the weight of her world.”00000161

John Mayer


Happy Father’s Day, to all the men out there who play an important role in the life of a child, especially my own Dad. We love you!







The Quotable Nerdy NJSCBWI

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the New Jersey Society of Children’s Book Writers and illustrators conference in Princeton, NJ. I will be posting more from the weekend, but here are some quotes that really inspired me from (mostly) chicks at the conference:


“Listen—we writers are one. We all share a common goal—to tell the best story we possibly can. I strive to do that every day, and so do you. There is no divide.” Tara Lazar, author of The Monstore

“I get my ideas from living.” Peter Brown, creator of The Curious GardenChildren Make Terrible Pets and You Will Be My Friend!

“Reading books is fantastic homework.” Ame Dyckman, author of Boy + Bot SAMSUNG CSC

“Writing every day helps you build up a tolerance for it. Kind of like drinking every day.” Lauren Oliver, author of Before I Fall and the Delirium series


“Like moving deck chairs on the Titanic.” Simone Kaplan of Picture Book People, on trying to change only words in a flawed manuscript

SAMSUNG CSC“If you want to be big, think big.” Joyce Wan, creator of You are my Cupcake and We Belong Together

“We are in the golden age of children’s non-fiction.” Betsy Bird, librarian and blogger extraordinaire

“I’m on muscle relaxants.” ANONYMOUS

Do you have any quotes from the conference that inspired you?

Three (+) Questions with Lori Marrero

marrero2Lori Marrero has spent her entire career in public education. When I met her, over twenty years ago, she was a high school English teacher and I was about to enter graduate school to get the MAT degree I needed in order to teach high school English also. We’ve been friends ever since. After getting her degree in administration and working as an assistant principal for a few years, Lori is now the principal of Muller Road Middle School. She came into this new school as its first principal, and has been helping shape the course the school will take. Her hard work was honored this year when she was named 2013 Educational Administrator of the Year by the Richland County Association of Educational Office Professionals. I recently had the pleasure of doing a school visit at Muller Road Middle in the amazing library there. When I saw what was going on at that school, I knew I had to get Lori’s input here at Nerdy Chicks Rule. Her answers to my three (+) questions,are insightful and enlightening! 

1.   You were chosen to be the first principal at the innovative new school, Muller Road Middle, where all textbooks are on iPads. What are the main benefits of this strategy?  This has been a very exciting journey for me and for our teachers!  Actually, we don’t use textbooks at all, not even digital ones.  We believe that we have entered into a time where knowledge is free, we just have to know how to access it and how to discern if it is good information or bad information.  So instead of being bound by textbooks (which are basically some publisher’s view of what is or isn’t important to know), we ask our students to ask questions and discover the answers using the resources available to them via the internet.  If students are to be successful in a fully digital world, then they have to be comfortable and smart about it.  It’s our job to make that happen

2.  What do you see as the biggest challenges faced by public education today?  I think public education as we have known it is facing extinction.  I know that seems a very dire prediction, but if we don’t create our own metamorphosis, then I fear we will become obsolete.  Charter schools and private schools recognize that education has to change and they’re willing to do that – whether that means online learning or specialized schools which speak to students interests and passions.  We’ve got to find a way to touch the lives of our students in ways that speak to them, whether through social networking or tapping into the things that motivate them to thirst for more.  We think project-based learning or problem-based learning is a good way to start.  We’ve got to design schools, classrooms, and most importantly, lessons to meet the future of these students.

3. What is the best thing we can do for our children to kindle a love for learning and to keep that flame burning?  Tap into their passions, ignite the spark, and give them room to explore.  We’ve got to be guides for how to learn – no longer can we be the “sage on the stage”.  There’s much too much we don’t know for us to continue to pretend to be the keymaster for knowledge. Design great schools, allow teachers to innovate and create classrooms and lessons that speak to the needs of their students, and get out of the way.  Honestly, we need to get legislators out of the business of education and put it back in the hands of our communities.

After reading that there is a huge disparity between the salaries earned by male and female principals, I couldn’t resist asking Lori one more question…

+1. For decades and decades, most principals were male, even though most teachers were female. That seems to be changing, but I read that there is still a disparity between the salaries of male and female administrators. Is there anything women who want to pursue careers in administration can do to increase their chances of obtaining equitable salaries?  I’m not aware of disparities in my district, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there.  Most salary discrepancies I know of have to do with whether you are an elementary, middle, or high school principal.  The higher the level, the more the pay – but then you have more responsibilities and more after-school expectations.  Do I think it’s harder for women to break into administration?  Perhaps – I think sometimes men advance more quickly with less classroom experience, but overall my experience is that the pay differences have been minimal if they exist.  Women interested in pursuing administration should consider how they want to redesign education.  Start in their classroom and spread it.  I truly believe the next generation of leaders have to be those who are willing to lead through a time of great change.

Wow. So much food for thought. Thank you so much for joining us today, Lori. Muller Road Middle School has some very lucky students!