Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Writing & Illustrating Kids' Books


Seven professionals are on the panel of this event, including me. Please join us!

February 29, 2016 (7:00 PM – 8:30 PM)
Central Branch, Vancouver Public Library, Vancouver, Canada
Interested in writing or illustrating books for young readers?
Join seven professional children's authors and illustrators to find out how they broke into this exciting and competitive field and how they built their careers.
You will have a chance to ask questions and get practical information on such topics as how to improve your writing, how to find a publisher and submit your work, what agents do, what to look for in a book contract and what the financial rewards are.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Self-Quiz: Strategies for Raising an Achiever

o I resist praising my kids for being smart. Instead, I congratulate them on hard work and determination.
o I provide lots of different reading materials in the house.
o I read to my kids even after they can read on their own.
o When we read together, I try to make it a social activity, not a quiet time.
o I set aside time for them to read for pleasure (not related to school assignments) every day, ideally fifteen to thirty minutes.
o When my child chooses something I’d rather he or she didn’t read (comic books, toilet humor, a book that seems too young), I bite my tongue rather than criticize.
o I set aside a time each day when all electronic entertainment must be shut off, and all the family (including parents!) reads—aloud or silently, together or separately.
o I encourage my older children to read to their younger siblings or neighbors, perhaps even pay or reward them for doing so.
o I occasionally reflect on any reading struggles I had as a child, and talk about how I overcame them.
o (For moms): I encourage my husband (or a primary male role model) to do his own reading within sight of our son, and to read with him.
o I encourage a guy to take my son to the library or bookstore on occasion—and to enter and select books at the same time!
o I tell kids their brain is a muscle that gets stronger with use. (Kids told this do better on test scores.)
o I remind them that good grades lead to better earning power.
o I buy my kids books or gift certificates for bookstores on occasion.
o I always give the kids a choice between several types of books and remember to let them hold the book and turn the pages.
o Sometimes, after a movie, I check out the book it was based on from the library and compare it with the movie version with my kids.
o I get my kids to help me make shopping lists, read labels on food, write thank-you notes, clip coupons, read road signs and road maps—anything that uses their reading and writing skills.
o I encourage my kids to make up stories, and I write some of them down as they tell them.
o I buy or borrow library copies of books on tape, or tape record stories for my kids.
o I’ve helped my kids create a special place for the books they own.
o I keep a few favorite reading materials in the car.
o I’ve bought all my kids bedside reading lamps and turn a blind eye to late-night (but not super late-night) book or magazine reading. However, I’m aware that cell phone and Internet use late at night is vastly different; it robs kids of sleep.

Excerpted from Jump-Starting Boys: Help Your Reluctant Learner Find Success in School and Life, by Pam Withers and Cynthia Gill (Viva Editions). All references (footnotes) contained in the book.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Do overprotected kids = anxious kids?

     Parental protection keeps kids safe; too much parental protection may turn them into anxiety-ridden adults.
     Being an outdoorsy person all my life, I’ve often observed that people who are into outdoor sports, walks, etc., tend to be happy, outgoing, gregarious sorts. And I’ve half wondered now and again if it’s their time outdoors that makes them that way, or if people who are that way naturally are drawn to spending time outdoors.
     So I was intrigued to hear a recent report that explored whether children whose parents vigorously protect them from harm (which surely includes those kids discouraged from participating in outdoor sports, hiking through the woods, etc. – I mean, what if a tree fell on them or they tripped on a root?) may grow up more anxious than others. As in, kids need to learn how to take manageable risks, and it’s perfectly okay if they get some scrapes and bruises in the process.
     Given that I write adventure and extreme-sports novels for kids, the next thought that popped into my mind was, maybe some kids like to read (or attend movies about) risky adventures in order to escape, temporarily or otherwise, that parental hovering all so present these days.
     One academic in the report pointed out that these days, emergency rooms see fewer physical emergencies and more mental anxiety emergencies among kids and young people (compared with past generations), and it’s no coincidence if one seems to be replacing the other.
     But don’t take it from me: Here’s a link to a fascinating discussion on this topic:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Me & Beloit College, Wisconsin

I'm a proud alumnus (1978) of Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin, USA, where I kept myself out of trouble by editing the college newspaper (The Roundtable) and taking as many writing classes as I could (in between learning to kayak through the outdoors club).  I loved my years at Beloit, and the many friends I made there, and thrived on the academic challenges (having decided at a very young age I wanted to be a journalist).
So I was pleasantly surprised this week to find that the current issue of my alma mater's magazine offers an enthusiastic review of my novel, Andreo's Race. The link is below.
Thanks, Beloit!

     In the latest adventure novel for young adult readers by Pam Withers, the heart-pumping action reaches beyond the limits of sports to touch upon the even more terrifying and dangerous world of human trafficking.
     Sixteen-year-old Andreo, adopted from Bolivia, is gearing up to compete in an Ironman competition located within the Bolivian wilderness. However, he and his friend Raul, a fellow Bolivian adoptee, begin to suspect that their adoptive parents may have acquired them illegally. Using the race as a front to explore the truth, Andreo and Raul find themselves embroiled in a race that goes far beyond a finish line, as they seek to expose a ring of baby traffickers.
     Presented through the eyes of Andreo, the joys of competing in an international race quickly mesh with the unadulterated fright of coming to terms with a life that may not be what it seems.
The exhilarating story further showcases why Withers has become such a celebrated author, as Andreo’s Race comes on the heels of award-winners such as First Descent. Her visceral storytelling and compelling characters make the novel a brisk, thrilling read.
     This is Withers' second novel for Tundra Books, both of which utilize her passion for extreme sports and Latin American culture as a jumping off point for her action-packed prose. —Will Tomer’17

Friday, January 15, 2016

Hello Halifax (Nova Scotia)

Hello Halifax, Nova Scotia schools and libraries: I'm available for author presentations in your area June 6 through 9, 2016. Hope to meet some of you! Check out my information here:

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Math and kids

Math and Kids: Words and Numbers to Ponder
  • When high school math is optional, 50% of students choose not to take it.
  • Children start to give up on math at age seven, sometimes even younger.
  • One study found that between 10 and 15% of those entering college are not ready for first-year math. 
  • (Worse, a quarter of students are unprepared for college-level writing.)
  • About 5% of children have high anxiety over math.
  • Those who conquer their fear of math early in life are “more likely to invest intelligently later on, increase their financial knowledge and worth, and establish a more secure retirement,” while those with low math comfort are risk-averse in general.
In today’s world, which do we need more of?

Globally, “one billion school-age children will grow up with very minimal reading, writing and math. People should be marching in the streets with pitchforks about this.”—Jose Ferreira, online
education pioneer

Excerpted from Jump-Starting Boys: Help Your Reluctant Learner Find Success in School and Life, by Pam Withers and Cynthia Gill (Viva Editions). All references (footnotes) contained in the book.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy new year!

Wishing one and all a healthy, happy, prosperous new year!
Among all the things that I can celebrate, one is submitting a teen adventure novel yesterday, one that I've been working on for six months. It's always such a relief (also a letdown!) to finally turn it in to my agent. Except that now it's time to get to work on my next! Maybe after the holidays...
This one is about a boy to stows away on a yacht for an adventure, only to find he's in the middle of a people-smuggling operation. It is my 21st book. (Several others are being edited or waiting for publishing dates. I do have a middle-grade mystery-sports novel coming out in the spring.)
Again, happy new year!