RAWing with RoseMary Honnold

Connectingya.com presents..

RAWing with RoseMary Honnold answering the five questions of doom.

<Visit the VOYA and Teacher Librarian booth #204 in the Exhibit Hall at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco!>

1.      Tell me how you got started writing and editing (Hint, I know some of this).

Yes, you do know some of this! I did my first presentation on YA Services for Ohio Library Council at Kent State in the fall of 2001 and I had so many handouts I wanted to give people . . . I would have killed several trees printing them all out. I realized that the attendees wouldn’t want to carry all that around, the handouts might get trashed before they made it home, and the papers would be a headache to file and retrieve. I created a website, See YA Around, so these 40 or so people could go there and download whatever they wanted whenever they wanted it. I showed them each thing, photos, outlines, and forms, on an overhead projector—the high tech of the time. My only handout was a bookmark with the website address on it. Then I decided to add new programs to the site as I did them, along with photos, forms, step-by-step instructions and shared the site on some list-servs, the social media of the time. Meanwhile, I was trying to learn html as fast as I could because there weren’t the handy site-building programs for free back then.

After a few of these posts, Mr. Patrick Jones emailed me and said, “Stop giving your stuff away for free. You should write a book.” And that is how, a mere six months later, I turned in my first book manuscript for 101+ Teen Programs That Work to Neal-Schuman Publishers. It was published in the fall of 2002. Doing workshops soon followed and I started traveling a bit to share ideas for programming. The editing came later, after my fifth book (in about six years). My publisher, Charles Harmon at Neal-Schuman Publishers, asked me to help some writers finish manuscripts they had been working on a couple years. I discovered I was pretty good at organizing and coaxing more information from writers. I then discovered I could talk some people into writing books, too, so I was learning to be an acquisitions and development editor with NS. Then YALSA was looking for an editor for YALS, so I did that for a year. All of this–workshops, writing and editing for Neal-Schuman, and editing YALS–was along with my still full time job at Coshocton Public Library as a YA services coordinator and reference librarian.

Then, at Midwinter in Denver in 2009, Rollie Welch told me VOYA needed a new editor-in-chief, and he pretty much dared me over a few beers to apply. Later, when I read the list of requirements on the full page ad for the position, I thought, hey, I can do that, and that, and that—so I emailed the publisher at Scarecrow, Edward Kurdyla, and forgot to attach my resume! Good first impression. Anyway, he invited me to Maryland for a day-long interview and at the end of the day, he offered me the job. Nine months later, he told me he was starting his own publishing company and buying VOYA and Teacher Librarian and he asked me to come along, so I did. Now I have one full time job writing and editing for VOYA and VOYA Press and I work at home. From the first presentation to my present VOYA editor-in-chief position, it has been a matter of saying yes to opportunities as they arose and pushing myself to learn something new. That might be more that you wanted to know!


 2.  As editor of VOYA, you are probably one of the most knowledgeable people in the U.S. about services to teens.  Hit me with the big trends that you find most exciting.

Libraries as makerspace for teens. When I was a child and teen, I loved spending time with my grandmother because we made things. She taught me what she knew by making things with me in a very hands-on experience. It was time spent and skills learned this way that led me to use that same technique with my teens at the library. I established relationships with them by teaching them how to do things hands-on. Instinctively I was helping them develop the 40 Developmental Assets. We did everything from making soap and beaded jewelry and mehndi to filmmaking and having drawing and cooking classes. When you are sitting with teens creating, they talk with you about all kinds of things, and they are learning the joy of creating and they will someday share that experience with their children. Librarians used to tell me their teens wouldn’t do “crafts” . . . but it is all in the presentation and adult participation. Hands-on learning is for everyone and so many of the new tech-related projects supplement STEAM learning at school. Libraries offering makerspaces where teens can create with adults to mentor them . . . it is like my little “craft” programs on steroids. I love it.

         The other thing is the use of all kinds of social media to connect libraries and books with teens, not only using the media for announcements, but for actual programs, author interviews, and book discussions. We used to debate whether radio, newspaper, cable TV, posters, or handouts were best to reach teens. When I left the library, I had a MySpace page for our teens, something new and risky. Now you have all of that plus Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and some that I haven’t even looked at because I can’t keep up with all the posting (and passwords). VOYA is on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/VOYA-Magazine/86435962310), Twitter (https://twitter.com/voyamagazine), Tumblr (https://www.tumblr.com/blog/voyamagazine), and Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/voyamagazine/). Keeping those up, along with the website (http://www.voyamagazine.com) can be a full time job, but VOYA is definitely online.  We also have Digital VOYA on our site, exactly the same as the print issue, free with a print subscription.


3.      You mentioned that you’ll be adding a new code to denote books of interest to reluctant readers.  Tell me about that decision and why you think it is important to highlight those books.

  1. Our reviews editor, Lisa Kurdyla, and I have tossed the idea of adding a reluctant reader designation to the reviews a few times. She is doing all the work to make this happen. She has to inform our reviewers and the publishers, and will write the definition for the review section of the magazine. These books appeal to teens who need a stepping stone to more reading, teens who might have reading difficulties, and teens who are overwhelmed by a lot of pages and words they don’t know. This makes them perfect for ESL teens, as well. The topics are exciting and real and often something with which urban teens, in particular, can relate. The stories are fast-moving, meant to grab a teen reader’s attention and hold it. Most YA librarians have been faced with a parent who says his or her teen doesn’t read but has to do a book report. A reluctant reader book might be the first book that teen ever finishes.

Along with the new reluctant reader code (R), we are adding a new adult code (NA). The NA code will be books written for the older teens through young twenties. Lisa has seen a lot more of these books coming from the publishers and they fit in some YA libraries, but not in others. There are so many crossover titles now, too. This code will help librarians make the decision if the book is right for their collections.

4.      In addition to editing your VOYA, how are involved are you in books with VOYA Press?  What books are new or coming out that you’re most excited about and why?

With VOYA Press, I put on my acquisition and development editor hats. Sometimes I ask someone to write a book, other times, a writer comes to VOYA Press with an idea. I also make suggestions for cover design, title, etc., but those are ultimately up to the publisher, Edward Kurdyla. I do some proofreading, but real proofreading is done by someone who hasn’t read the manuscript fifty times! I have about twelve books out since I became VOYA’s editor-in-chief. You can see all the books I’ve written, edited, and or acquired on a Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/rmhonnold/books-ive-written-edited-andor-acquired/. The newest VOYA Press title coming out this summer is Sci Fi on the Fly: A Reader’s Guide to Young Adult Science Fiction by Karin Perry. Karin loves science fiction and it shows in her descriptions of the nearly one thousand titles included. She has read alikes for every title, something very handy for reader’s advisory.


5.      Okay, you’re in the elevator with two still have the new librarian smell types at a library conference and you introduce yourself as the editor of VOYA.  They of course know what it is, but not why they should subscribe. You got ten floors and 50 words, hook ‘em.

VOYA is THE magazine for school or public librarians working with teens. Every issue is a full day workshop! We have book, audio book, and DVD reviews; author interviews; programs; and themed booklists for collection development, building displays, and helping teens, teachers, and parents find books. All this for $62!





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