Saturday, July 23, 2016

"FOREST HAS A SONG" Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award-Winner Giveaway and Conference Countdown

Only six more days until #LA16SCBWI!

To celebrate, we'll be giving away a copy of Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illustrated by Robbin Gourley (Clarion)

VanDerwater makes a stunning debut with twenty-six inviting poems leading readers through a vibrant tour of forest-wonders---ferny frondy fiddleheads, a grandfather fossil, a fawn, an owl's first flight. Poetry filled with metaphors, imagery, alliteration and personification show what poetry for children of all ages is about.

To enter, just leave your best question for Amy about the poetry collection in comments below, and I'll choose one winning question to ask Amy at the conference. The author of that winning question will also win a copy of "Forest Has A Song."

Ready to play?

Okay, Go!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

"CHALLENGER DEEP" Golden Kite-Winning Book Giveaway & Conference Countdown

Only 8 more days until #LA16SCBWI!

To celebrate, we'll be giving away a copy of Neal Shusterman's "Challenger Deep," which won the 2016 Golden Kite Award for Fiction.

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence to document the journey with images.Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.Caden Bosch is torn.
To enter, just leave your best question for Neal about the novel in comments below, and I'll choose one winning question to ask Neal at the conference. The author of that winning question will also win a copy of "Challenger Deep."

Ready to play?

Okay, Go!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

"BOATS FOR PAPA" Golden Kite-Winning Book Giveaway & Conference Countdown

Only 10 more days until #LA16SCBWI! (Which is sold out!)

To celebrate, we'll be giving away a copy of Jessixa Bagley's "Boats For Papa," which won the 2016 Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text.

"Buckley and his mama live in a cozy cabin by the sea. He loves to carve boats out of the driftwood he finds on the beach nearby. He makes big boats, long boats, short boats, and tall boats, each one more beautiful than the last, and sends them out to sea. If they don't come back, he knows they've found their way to his papa, whom he misses very much."

To enter, just leave your best question for Jessixa about the picture book she wrote and illustrated in comments below, and I'll choose one winning question to ask Jessixa at the conference. The author of that winning question will also win a copy of "Boats For Papa."

Ready to play?

Okay, Go!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The ALA Awards Speech You Need To Read: David Levithan Accepts The 2016 Margaret A. Edwards Award

"We are collectively an army of empathy."
-David Levithan

David Levithan (tallest person in the center) with the Edwards Committee, just before receiving the award and giving his speech. Photo from School Library Journal here.

David's acceptance speech as shared on his website is amazing, important, deeply felt, and very brave.

Let's all Illustrate and Write On, and be Brave, too.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Ways to use the color wheel

I've seen color wheels, and knew about the opposites, but triangles and square calculators for color values that would 'work together' was new to me.

"Sessions - Color Theory: Color Wheel" is probably basic art school stuff, but since I didn't go to art school, I found it interesting (even though the video isn't dramatic entertainment...)

What is fascinating is to look at some picture books (and covers of Middle Grade and YA novels) and see how the color theory and combinations talked about in the video underpins a lot of the amazing illustrations we look at every day!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, July 7, 2016

25 Things You Need To Know About Writing Mysteries - A Thought-Provoking (And Imaginary Friend-Killing) Post by Susan Spann

From there being three kinds of clues to how we writers have a time machine, and can go back and drop the keys where we need them, there's lots to learn (and consider) in this Susan Spann article over at Terrible Minds.

A few highlights:

"Readers don’t turn the pages because they care about fictitious corpses. Readers want to help the cool kids solve a crime." 

 No, seriously. Don’t. Not directly, anyway. Backstory is the cayenne pepper of the writer’s literary spice drawer. A little, added at the proper time, enhances the novel and gives it zing. Use too much and readers dump the entire thing in the garbage bin." 


"Every one of your suspects is a liar. The issue is that only one is lying about this murder. The rest don’t want the sleuth finding out they were dressing in drag, having sex with a prostitute dressed as a purple dinosaur, or fertilizing the marijuana grove at the time of the killing. Figuring out what your suspects are hiding is just as important as figuring out “who-done-it” … and sometimes, a lot more fun."
Enjoy, and

Illustrate and Write On!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Natalie Goldberg: Wisdom As "Writing Down The Bones" Turns 30

Natalie Goldberg (right), in conversation with the poet Steven Reigns

I was so fortunate to hear Natalie Goldberg present and then speak with Steven Reigns in West Hollywood, California last week. It was a brilliant evening, and here are a few highlights of what Natalie shared:

Great writers pass on "their breath at moments of inspiration."

on writing:

"No good or bad. It's a practice. Like tennis. Like anything."

On coming out as a woman who wanted to be with other women:

"Writing broke open my mind."

On writers confusing success and love:

"Don't write to get love, but you can feel love as your write."

On writing practice:

"Get your pen and keep your hand going."

On her success at age 38, and continuing to write and publish,

"I'm always competing with her."

And (maybe my favorite)
"The writer in me is kick-ass."

Natalie's breakthrough book on craft remains "Writing Down The Bones" (now out in its 30th anniversary edition) and her newest book is "The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and This Zigzag Life."

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The 'Misaligned' Picture Book - Advice For Authors and Illustrators

I really liked this piece, Writing Between The Lines, by Author/Illustrator Fred Koehler, whose illustration collaboration with author Rebecca Kai Dotlich on ONE DAY THE END just won a Boston Globe Horn Book Honor Award.

Fred discusses how in that picture book, "the pictures tell a completely different story than the words," and then breaks down - with some very specific advice - how authors can help illustrators achieve this.

In particular, the exercises Fred suggests are well worth it, guiding us with insights like:
Describe the emotional impact of the scene instead of the physical one. (i.e. – instead of “Quinn threw his stuffed dog toy against the wall.” Try “Quinn was mad, and he wanted everyone to know it..”)
 Give it a try with your picture book manuscripts!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thanks to Claudia Harrington for the heads-up on this one!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A cool brainstorming tool

For those times when the right word or visual concept eludes you, or you need stretch your curiosity muscles, check out the App Blippar.

You point it at something (I aimed my smartphone at an arrangement of sweet pea flowers) and it generates a cloud of words that are, according to it, related.

Words like floral and blooming pop up on the screen, and then the app loads the circles at the bottom with options to explore. Garden snapdragons, poinsettia, Flower bouquet, Streptocarpus, Flower.

I chose flower, which then gave me these choices

And then I went down the path of the word I didn't know: Gametophyte:

Which lead me to Pollen:

Which lead me to Pollen tube:

Which led me to Giovanni Battista Amici:

Who? Well, I clicked on it and discovered Giovani was one of the inventors of the microscope.


It's a pretty interesting visual brainstorming tool. I wonder how you'll use it?

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Stuart Horwitz's Advice on Finishing Your Book In Three Drafts

Courtesy of Jane Friedman's indispensable blog for writers, this post adapted from Stuart's book of the same title, How To "Finish Your Book In Three Drafts" has some really good advice in it.

Even the idea of calling each draft a different name offers the value of having the right mindset for wherever you are in the process. He calls:

Draft 1 - Messy Draft
Draft 2 - Method Draft
Draft 3 - Polished Draft

I also thought Stuart's list of questions for your beta readers included some stunningly obvious ones that have never occurred to me to ask… but I will now!

Things like: "What scenes do you remember the best?"


"Which parts did you want to skip?"


"Where did you feel there was an emotional payoff?"

Well worth reading, whichever draft you're currently on…

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Barnes & Noble's Future, and the ecosystem of Publishing

This New Republic article by Alex Shephard, "Pulp Friction: If Barnes & Noble goes out of business, it will be a disaster for book lovers," is a fascinating perspective.

In particular, the idea that

"The irony of the age of cultural abundance is that it still relies on old filters and distribution channels to highlight significant works."

is worth considering.

And, as the article explains, if B&N is the old financial support for risk-taking in publishing, what might be the newer supports?

Will it be the old model of chain bookstores placing huge initial orders, or will it be something else? 

Will it be crowd funding, along the lines of the recent success of "Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls?"

What do you think?