Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The 2017 Golden Kite Award And Sid Fleischman Humor Award Winning Books!



This year, the awards will be presented at the sold-out 2018 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York.
Congratulations to all the winners!


Middle Grade Fiction: Jack Cheng - SEE YOU IN THE COSMOS (Dial Books/Penguin Random House)



 Non-Fiction for Older Readers: Debora Heiligman - VINCENT AND THEO (Godwin Books/Henry Holt and Company)



Picture Book Nonfiction: Carole Boston Weatherford - SCHOMBURG: THE MAN WHO BUILT A LIBRARY (Candlewick Press)



 Picture Book Illustration: Kenard Pak - GOODBYE AUTUMN, HELLO WINTER (Henry Holt and Company) 



Picture Book Text: Carolyn Crimi - THERE MIGHT BE LOBSTERS (Candlewick Press)



Young Adult Fiction: Elana K. Arnold – WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF (Carolrhoda Lab)


Sid Fleischman Award Winner: Crystal Allen - THE MAGNIFICENT MYA TIBBS: THE WALL OF FAME GAME (Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins)



Congratulations as well to the creators of the Golden Kite honor books...

Middle Grade Fiction:
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley – The War I Finally Won (Dial Books/Penguin Random House)
Ruth Freeman – One Good Thing About America (Holiday House)

Picture Book Text:
Carmen Agra Deedy- The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet (Scholastic Press/Scholastic, Inc.)

Picture Book Illustration:
LeUyen Pham – Fallingwater (Roaring Brook)

Young Adult Fiction:
Courtney Stevens – Dress Codes for Small Towns (Harper Teen/HarperCollins)  Liara Tamani – Calling My Name (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)

Click here to find out more about the Golden Kite Awards and Sid Fleischman Humor Award.

Illustrate and Write On!
Lee

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Literary Agent and V.P. Elizabeth Harding of Curtis Brown discusses the $3 Billion children's book business



From this interview with Valerie Peterson on the Balance, Elizabeth shares:

'Where the retail booksellers have been the primary market for adult books, for children's books, the school, and library markets have always been really important to sales — and there's been a recent resurgence there.
To give some historical perspective — 20 years ago the school and library market was very robust and, at the time, it was great if your children's book sold in bookstores, obviously, but it wasn't the focus.
Then Barnes and Noble and other superstores and Amazon came into the picture, and it became really important to be able to sell your books through those venues; a lot of weight was put on those sales. The focus shifted [from schools and libraries] to getting books onto the picture book wall at B&N. The children's market began to rely heavily on those retail sales — which hadn't traditionally been the case, and which was more in tune with how adult books were sold.
There still is a lot of weight put on those sales, but we're back to having the school library market being really critical.
It's well-worth reading the full interview (and I love the advice about befriending your local children's librarian!)

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Start the new year with creative inspiration from Marla Frazee

This video short by Adam Goodwin about award-winning author illustrator Marla Frazee is lovely, full of wisdom and anecdotes and inspiration for starting this new year of creativity for us all...

Enjoy.

Marla Frazee from Adam Goodwin on Vimeo.

Thanks, Marla, and thanks Adam!

Illustrate and Write On! 
Lee

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Newbery-Winning Author Kwame Alexander on how giving back changed his world view






This moment, as told by Tamra Bolton at the Parade website, is full of lessons for us all. New York Times Bestselling and Award-Winning author Kwame Alexander helped create a library for children in a remote village in Ghana.

Kwame "had just released his newest book, Solo, about a young man, Blade Morrison, and his struggle to deal with his past and uncertain future. Morrison’s quest eventually takes him to Ghana where he finds his roots and begins to understand who he is and where he is going."

When Kwame visited the village to celebrate the library's opening, he found the building wasn't completed. There wasn't even a roof.

"Like in my book Solo, I came over here to help, but what I discovered is, I’d never asked the question, ‘Is this library important to you? Is this something you want?’ Their answer was, ‘We need a health clinic’. I thought, ‘Why not include a health clinic?’”

The lesson for all of us who want to help make our world a better place?

"I realized you cannot expect to teach a child to read if they are not well. You can’t go into a community and dictate what they need; you have to find out what they need." –Kwame Alexander

Read the full article here.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Aim High in 2018 - You and SCBWI's 25 Different Award and Grant Programs



SCBWI has awards and grants for Published Authors and Illustrators, for Writers, For Illustrators, for Students, and even a Community grant to help schools pay for an author/illustrator visit – there's so much opportunity!

For published authors and illustrators,

from the Book Launch Award ($2,000 to help the promotion of an author or illustrator's new published work) to the Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grant (honoring the contribution of mid-list authors) to SCBWI's flagship Golden Kite Awards, and more...

For Writers,

from the Emerging Voices Award (to foster the emergence of diverse voices in children's books), to the Work-In-Progress Grants, to the Karen Cushman Late Bloomer Award (for a work-in-progress from an unpublished author over 50), and more...

For Illustrators,

from the Narrative Art Award (given annually to an illustrator of promise based on a given prompt),  to the Don Freeman Work-in-Progress Grant (to assist illustrators in the completion of a book dummy or portfolio), to the Portfolio Awards (given top the top portfolios submitted to the annual SCBWI Summer or Winter Conference), and more...

Check out all the grants and award opportunities here, pay attention to the submission deadlines, and put your work out there in 2018!

Good luck, and write and illustrate on!
Lee

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Give Yourself the Best Gift Of All For 2018 - Time For Your Creativity



Whether it's filling-the-well time (as suggested in Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way) and/or being part of a writing/illustrating group that meets regularly, and/or scheduling time in your calendar once a week (or five times a week) for you to do your writing/drawing/creating, take charge of your creative journey in 2018 by honoring how important your voice is — and giving yourself the gift of time to express what only you can express.

Happy New Year, from everyone at SCBWI!

Here's to a powerfully creative 2018 ahead...

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Which 2017 books got YOU to read them as soon as they were published?

This idea came from a comment left by blog reader awesomeMT...



Look at the books you've read in 2017. How many were published in 2017?

Consider which books got you to read them as soon as they were published (or at least in the same year they were published.) Why?

Can you make a list of those qualities?

We all have huge to-be-read piles... how does a book make it to the top of your pile? (Confession: I've bought books that have waited a very long time (I'm talking years) to be read, and I still haven't done it... But I haven't put a lot of thought into why other books jump the waiting list because I'm more excited to read them.

Word of mouth? Super-cool concept? Cover feels compelling? Opening lines grabbed you? Cover blurb from an author you love? A review that made you take notice? Something else?

Once you know how a book gets YOU to prioritize reading it, the question becomes: How can you reverse-engineer those qualities to be something your book has when it is published?

That wish-list of qualities? That's a marketing check-list for you...

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee


Thursday, December 21, 2017

What's Your Favorite Book(s) of 2017? A twist on the question...

It's that time of the year for all the best-of lists, which always brings up the comment, "Well, choosing favorites is very subjective."

YES! And that's a great thing.



Here's a challenge. Put together your own personal "Best of 2017" book list, but make it for books in your category/genre.

Illustrate graphic novels? What's your best recommendations for other people's graphic novels from the past year?

Write and illustrate picture books? What are your top three picture books by writer/illustrators?

Write funny middle grade? What are your top three middle grade comedies?

Write YA contemporary? What's your short list of favorites?

You get the picture... As we create, we also need to know what's going on in the marketplace - what books do we imagine on either side of our own book on the shelf of our ideal reader?

Knowing this helps us:
• talk about our own book,
• better engineer our marketing efforts by studying how these other books we love in the same category as our own are promoted,
• see how we might join in the conversation about these books wherever those conversations are happening. Because their audiences are our audiences, too.

And that's a great thing to know.

So, what are YOUR favorite books of 2017, in the same category/genre where you create content?

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Listen to SCBWI's Newest Podcast: A Conversation with Jennifer Laughran



Jennifer Laughran is a senior agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. In this interview with Theo Baker, Jennifer talks about her running start as an agent, the elements of building a career, what goes into some "overnight" successes, what she's hoping for when she receives a submission, and much more!

Listen to the episode trailer here.

And SCBWI members can listen to the full podcast here (log in first!)

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Mark Fearing's phases of creating a graphic novel

On his website, Author/Illustrator Mark Fearing takes us through the process of creating his graphic novel "Earthling!" that was published by Chronicle Books.



It's a fascinating look at the artistic process, where the manuscript/script is in service to the graphic novel. As Mark puts it, "It’s similar to a film in that the final product is not the final written script. It’s the film that comes from it."



For those interested in the graphic novel format, it's well-worth reading.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Happy Book Birthday! A New Benefit For SCBWI Members



SCBWI is thrilled to launch a new member benefit—the Happy Book Birthday program. Beginning in February, 2018, our Happy Book Birthday program invites all members to announce their new book in the month that it is released.

Every month, authors and illustrators can send an image of their soon-to-be-published book cover and a 25-word summary to bookbirthday@scbwi.org. On the first of each month, we’ll display all of the books on our beautiful Book Birthday page, and advertise them through our social media channels to drive traffic to the Birthday page. We’ll leave the Book Birthday announcements up on our site for two weeks.

 We hope that all of our traditionally and independently published members will take advantage of this opportunity to celebrate their achievement and launch their work into the book-buying community.

The first Book Birthday will be for all books published in February 2018. On December 15th, members with February books can start submitting their information. The deadline is January 10th, no exceptions.

Please send the following to bookbirthday@scbwi.org
1.) Title of book,
2.) name of author and/or illustrator,
3.) book cover, and
4.) summary or statement maximum 25 words

Illustrate and Write and Celebrate On,
Lee

Thursday, December 7, 2017

When To Cheat On Your Book - A Guest Post by Lori Snyder

This post originally ran on Lori's Splendid Mola blog. With her kind permission, we get to enjoy it here...

When To Cheat On Your Book



I’ve been working on my current WIP for about eight months, a new middle grade (or possibly young adult) work that mashes together a bunch of things I love: Sufi poetry. The nature of hope. Finding your tribe. Quantum physics. You know, just the usual.
I’ve been thinking about this book for years, so when I sent off my final revision of my last book to my agent, I was completely excited to sit down and start working. I had decided to try a new method, based on the Al Watt book The 90-Day Novel. It wasn’t really that different from my last method, which entails me writing what I call an “outline” but which is actually 20-50K of stream-of-consciousness notes about the world, the characters, the story. These notes include things like “YAY! I love this!” and “Nope. Wrong” or, most eloquently, “Ack.”
Anyway, The 90-Day Novel is designed to walk you through completing your first draft in (you guessed it) 90 days. The first 30 days are dedicated to getting to know your main character and antagonist through a series of writing prompts. I don’t write everyday, so this part took me a little while longer. I liked this method a lot. After the first 30 days, I knew my character better than I usually do (main characters are often my writing nemesis), but I also knew I wasn’t ready to start writing the book. There wasn’t a story yet. Or, to be more accurate, stories had presented themselves but they were the wrong ones, not the ones this book needed.
So I abandoned the schedule of 90 days and wrote more notes. After a few months, even though I wasn’t really sure where the story was going, I felt the pull to start the actual draft, so I wrote the first couple of chapters. They didn’t feel right. I took more notes and wrote a new set of first chapters—which were also wrong.
And, again: more notes, new first chapters.
Still wrong.
No matter what I did, I couldn’t find my way into this book.
It was very not fun.
About this time I turned 50 and, for my birthday, gave myself a week off to just be. At this point I wasn’t spinning only on my book; I was also spinning on my businesses and the meaning of my life and money and way too many other things. Stopping was exactly what needed to happen. (Also, my dear friend and writing group partner Frances sent me this Ask Polly article, which had the effect of completely upending my world view in a truly wonderful and unexpected way…but, as Michael Ende says in The Neverending Story, that’s a different story and shall be told a different time. However, I hope you enjoy the article.)
During my week of being I didn’t plan to do anything in particular. I gave myself permission to do whatever seemed right. I ended up going for a lot of walks on the beach while listening to podcasts about creativity, flow, happiness, and writing, four of my favorite topics.
One of the podcasts was Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons (love her!!!), particularly this episode where she spoke with a woman in her mid-50s, an art teacher who wanted to do the art that was calling to her and didn’t feel allowed, somehow. Elizabeth Gilbert suggested that to this woman that she run off and have an affair with her art: Do it in secret, maybe even sneaking off at 3 am or grabbing a stolen ten minutes in the stairwell. Most of all, don’t tell anybody.
Now, I don’t like affairs/betrayal/cheating, so the use of that language, even though it wasn’t meant that way, did give me pause. But, suddenly, as I listened, I thought…you know what? I think need to have an affair with a different book.
I’m an odd kind of writer, the kind who has one idea at a time and isn’t seduced by the shiny new book waiting to happen. I’m in awe of writers who have lists of ideas and don’t know how to choose which one to do. My next ideas don’t come until I’m almost finished with a book. I’ve learned not to panic about that, because an idea always does come. Still, when I talk to writers who have lists of books they want to write, I marvel.
This time, though, it was different. I had a snippet of a beginning I’d written over a decade ago, something I’ve kept all this time because I love it so. And, strangely, ideas for that story had been popping up as I struggled with my WIP.
So I decided to do what Liz Gilbert had suggested to that other woman. I would try working on the new book and just see what happened. I would do it in secret. I wouldn’t tell anybody.
Those of you who know me know that, when it comes to things about myself, “secret” isn’t how I operate. (This is different if I’m holding someone else’s secret, but for me, I do best with total transparency. I’m a big fan of talking about things.) So, of course, that night when my husband came home, I told him about it immediately. And then when Frances, who had sent me the Ask Polly article above, called, I told her, too. And these conversations were key.
My husband rightly pointed out that a couple of years ago, when I first started talking about my current WIP (which, you may recall, is partly about the nature of hope), I was in a different place. A lot has happened in the last two years, to put it mildly, and he suggested that maybe “hope” meant something very different to me than it does now. (He was right.) And, he added, maybe I hadn’t quite figured out what my relationship with hope was now, which would make writing a rumination on it a little difficult. (Yes. He is wonderful. And brilliant. Not that I’m biased.)
Frances told me that she had been thinking that perhaps it wasn’t the right time for my current book. She reassured me that I didn’t have to worry that I was just running after the new, shiny idea because my current book was a little difficult. “In fact,” she said thoughtfully, which is how she says most things, “if anything, you have the opposite problem.” (She was also right. Also brilliant and wonderful.)
This all happened on the Thursday and Friday of my week off. That next Monday, I started my affair. I put my WIP aside and began writing notes for the new book. My usual way to work is to write notes for six to eight months before I start the first draft.
Not this book, though. This book took a mere three days of notes (!!) for the story to unfold itself in such a gorgeous and luminous way that I kept worrying that maybe I had actually stolen the whole thing from something that already existed, and only thought it was original. (I don’t think I did. But I’m still a little worried.)
And then I started writing. Two weeks in, I’m on the third chapter, and I know exactly where it’s going. It’s flowing in a way my other WIP never did (sorry, dear, sweet cheated-on book!). Best of all, it’s making me happy.
I don’t know if the whole book will fly out of me the way these past few chapters have, but I do know this: it was the absolute right decision to go after this sparkly new book. I’m pretty sure we’re in love.
How do you know when it’s the right time to cheat on your WIP with a new book or idea? For me, it’s like everything else: You know it’s the right time when you know who you are and what makes you happy, and then (this is key, I’ve discovered) take the time to stop every now and then and remember those things. That’s when it becomes clear. That’s when everything becomes clear. The pauses are key. They don’t have to be long: a couple hours of truly clearing your schedule and letting yourself just be might do it. The permission is what makes the difference, though—if you spend the time thinking or feeling bad about all the things you “should” be doing, the magic won’t happen.
So if you’re confused, or spinning, give it a shot. Take as long as you possibly can…maybe even a tad longer. BrenĂ© Brown, a researcher and author I love, writes herself a permission note, the same as a parent would write their kid to get out of school. Do that if you have to. Give yourself permission to be and not do during that time. And see what happens. (Note: this is useful no matter what’s going on in your life. I highly recommend trying it on a regular basis.)
I definitely plan to go back to the other book. That relationship isn’t over, not by a long shot. It just needs some time to sit and mature, to grow into what it needs to be.
In the meantime, my new book and I are very, very happy.

***