Thursday, November 29, 2012

The REAL Scoop on the Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grant

In which Jane explains...

Hello all my fellow MidListers:

You know--there are the authors of Twilight and Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, there's Eric Carle and Maurice Sendak and Tomie dePaola, and on the fingers of both hands and maybe your toes, you could add a few more super stars to that number.

And the rest of us are midlist.

Some of us are happy there. We sell books on a regular basis. We win some minor awards. OK, maybe a major award once or twice. We have kids and adults who tell us we have changed their lives. We teach children to read, to fall in love with the night sky, the small natures, the lives of princes and princesses. We let children in on the wonderful diverse world we live in. We let them watch a story unfold. We tickle their ears with puns and poems and jokes and tales. We nurture their hearts when their hearts have been banged up a bit or even broken. We are their surrogate moms and dads and grandmoms and granddads. We are their literary families, their book friends. (Or as one child wrote to me, "Your book fiend," though I knew what he meant to say!)

We write to be read, and sometimes we write to have written, and occasionally we write to be paid. Though not enough. Never enough, we midlisters.

And sometimes, as popular as we once were, we suddenly are last year's flavor last year's news.

It has happened to me over a long career. There have been months, years where nothing has gone right. Where the books I labored over and loved the most didn't sell. Yes, truly. I have about thirty unsold picture books and book proposals in my files and every year I add to that list. I have told my children that after I'm gone, for the next thirty or so years, they can say to the editors, "We have just found mother's LAST book!" And maybe they can sell it for a bit of change. Or a fortune. I hope so. It's their inheritance after all.

So when I had a bestseller--a really and truly long lasting (for as long as these things last) bestselling series, I said to all those dinosaurs, "You are going to help some of those wonderful midlist authors who's careers have stalled or fallen off the cliff or dropped dead at their feet. You are going to let them know that they are not forgotten, their books are still read, still loved. And the dinosaurs stomped their terrible feet and rolled their gigantic eyes and gnashed their terrible teeth (where where did you think Sendak got all his ideas from!) and thundered, "How can we help?"

Which is how--with a lot of organizational know-how from SCBWI--the Jane Yolen Midlist Grant was born.

Oh--and of course I have taken a few liberties here and there with this account. I am a fiction writer after all. But you knew that already.

Jane Yolen

PS You can ask your own dinosaurs and piglets and waltzing penguins and magical pots and dancing elephants how they can help, too. Just send a $1 or $5 or more to the Jane Yolen Midlist author grant at SCBWI headquarters and it will be added to the bankroll.
The grant gives $3000 to midlist authors to honor their contribution and help raise awareness about their current works in progress. A winner will receive $2000 and two honor recipients will each receive $500. Jane hopes the grant will help boost the careers of Mid-list authors who have, for whatever reason, not recently sold a book in several years. 

The Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grant winners for 2013 will be announced at #NY13SCBWI, on Sunday morning of the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City, February 1-3, 2013.

For details on how to be considered for 2014 and how to nominate a worthy mid-list author go here.

Thanks, Jane!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Make Sure YOUR Book will be considered for the Golden Kite and Sid Fleischman Awards - Deadline: January 4, 2013

The Golden Kite Awards are given annually to recognize excellence in children’s literature.  Grant cash prizes of $2,500 are awarded to author and illustrator winners in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Book Text, and Picture Book Illustration.

Authors and illustrators will also receive an expense-paid trip to Los Angeles to attend the award ceremony at the Golden Kite Luncheon at SCBWI’s Summer Conference in August and a lifetime membership in SCBWI.

A commemorative poster with the winners will be created and distributed to, among others, various schools, libraries and publishers.

In addition to the four Golden Kite Award winners, four honor book recipients will also be named by the panel of judges which consists of children’s book writers and illustrators.

Instituted in 1973, the Golden Kite Awards are the only children’s literary award judged by a jury of peers. More than 1,000 books are entered each year. Eligible books must be written or illustrated by SCBWI members, and submitted either by publishers or individuals.

Go here for all the submission information for your 2012-published book!

The Sid Fleischman Award is for exemplary writing for children in the genre of humor, presented by the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.  It is an award for authors whose work exemplifies the excellence of writing in the genre of humor. The SCBWI established the award to honor humorous work, so often overlooked in children’s literature by other award committees.

Go here for the submission information for your 2012-published book!

Good Luck!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Arthur A. Levine and Cheryl Klein make a teenager's dream come true...

The perfect story for our USA celebration of Thanksgiving...

This short MSN Video is about how Publisher, Editor and SCBWI board member Arthur A. Levine, along with Executive Editor Cheryl Klein worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make Stephanie Trimberger's wish come true.

In Stephanie's own words:
“My life is not easy, and books just help me get away.  And if I could do that for one other person, it would be awesome.”

Watch the video here - it's beautiful.

I love when Arthur says,

“You never actually know when the book that you have made is the book that saves somebody’s life, the book that makes somebody feel like they have hope, the book that makes somebody feel that they’re not alone. It just shows you how the work that we do can touch kids, and so that makes you feel so grateful.” 

Sadly, Stephanie passed away last week.  But I'm so glad she got to have her wish come true.  It's made me think a lot about being thankful, and for that I'm grateful.

You can read more about Stephanie and her debut novel here.  And thanks to the amazing Martha Brockenbrough for letting me know about this inspiring and heart-wrenching story, so I could share it with you.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Books For Your Reading List: The 2012 National Book Award for Young People's Literature Finalists and Winner!

Let's do the Winner first!  The National Book Award For Young People's Literature Winner is...

William Alexander for Goblin Secrets
(Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)

Here's what it's about:
Rownie, the youngest in Graba the witchworker's household of stray children, escapes and goes looking for his missing brother. Along the way he falls in with a troupe of theatrical goblins and learns the secret origins of masks. Now Graba's birds are hunting him in the Southside of Zombay, the Lord Mayor's guards are searching for him in Northside, and the River between them is getting angry. The city needs saving—and only the goblins know how.

The Finalists:
Carrie Arcos, Out of Reach (Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)
Rachel has always idolized her older brother Micah. He struggles with addiction, but she tells herself that he’s in control. And she almost believes it. Until the night that Micah doesn’t come home. Rachel’s terrified―and she can’t help but feel responsible. She should have listened when Micah tried to confide in her. And she only feels more guilt when she receives an anonymous note telling her that Micah is nearby and in danger. With nothing more to go on than hope and a slim lead, Rachel and Micah’s best friend, Tyler, begin the search. Along the way, Rachel will be forced to confront her own dark secrets, her growing attraction to Tyler… and the possibility that Micah may never come home.
Patricia McCormick, Never Fall Down (Balzer+Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)
When the Khmer Rouge arrive at his hometown in Cambodia, Arn is just a kid, dancing to rock 'n' roll, hustling for spare change, and selling ice cream with his brother. But after the soldiers march the entire population into the countryside, Arn is separated from his family and assigned to a labor camp. One day, the soldiers ask if any of the kids can play an instrument. In order to survive, Arn must quickly master the strange revolutionary songs the soldiers demand. This will save his life, but it will also pull him into the very center of what we know today as the Killing Fields. And just as the country is about to be liberated, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier. He lives by the simple credo: “Over and over I tell myself one thing: never fall down.” Based on the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, this is an achingly raw and powerful novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace.
Eliot Schrefer, Endangered (Scholastic)

When Sophie has to visit her mother at her sanctuary for bonobos in Congo, she’s not thrilled to be there. It’s her mother’s passion, and Sophie doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. At least not until Otto, an infant bonobo, comes into her life, and for the first time she feels the bond a human can have with an animal. But peace does not last long for Sophie and Otto. When an armed revolution breaks out, the sanctuary is attacked, and the two of them must escape unprepared into the jungle. Caught in the crosshairs of a lethal conflict, they must struggle to keep safe, to eat, and to survive.

Steve Sheinkin, Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon (Flash Point, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press)

In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned three continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at a remote site at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, risk-taking, deceit, and genius that created the world's most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb. 

It's also fascinating to learn about who judged the books in this category:

Born and raised in England, Susan Cooper has been writing books for children and young adults since 1963. Her classic five-book fantasy sequence, The Dark Is Rising, won the Newbery Medal and Carnegie and Newbery Honors, and she is the 2012 recipient of the American Library Association’s Margaret Edwards Award for lifetime achievement. A board member of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance, she lives on an island in a saltmarsh in Massachusetts.

Daniel Ehrenhaft is a bestselling author of books for teens, among them The Wessex Papers, winner of the 2003 Edgar Award, and most recently Americapedia (2011), which The New York Times has called "Jon Stewart's America for the YA set." As an editor, he helped to create the Gossip Girl and Peaches series. He is now Editorial Director of Soho Teen, whose first list launches in January, 2013.

Judith Ortiz Cofer is the author the YA story collection An Island Like You (1995); YA novels The Meaning of Consuelo (2003), Call Me Maria (2004), and If I Could Fly (2011); and other works. She has published poetry and prose in The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, Glamour, and other journals and anthologies. She is the Regents and Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.

Gary D. Schmidt is a Professor of English at Calvin College, where he teaches courses in writing, medieval literature, and children's literature. He is the author of the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor-winning novel Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (2004), the Newbery Honor- winning The Wednesday Wars (2007), and Okay for Now, a National Book Award finalist in 2011. He lives on a two-hundred-year-old farm in Alto, Michigan.

Marly Youmans is the author of nine books, including novels, poetry collections, and several Southern fantasies for young adults. She is the recipient of the Michael Shaara Prize and was a finalist for the Southern Book Award for The Wolf Pit (2001), won the Ferrol Sams Award for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage (2012), and received several Hoepfner Awards, among other honors. A Carolinian, she lives in Cooperstown, New York with her husband and three children.
Congratulations to the finalists and winner!  

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 15, 2012

4th Annual YA Novel Discovery Contest: "No Query? No Pitch? No Problem!"

Want a chance to get your writing read by editors at Simon and Schuster, Harlequin Kimani, Random House, Candlewick, Scholastic, Sourcebooks, Kensington, Harlequin Teen, Bloomsbury, and Feiwel and Friends?

From agent Regina Brooks comes info on the 4th Annual YA Novel Discovery Contest

Sarah V. Combs is one of the contest success stories. She wrote:
"I ended up signing with an agent -- just a few weeks ago, she sold the book to Candlewick's Nicole Raymond, who served as one of the judges of the 2010 YA Novel Discovery Contest. Breakfast Served Anytime is slated for publication in Spring 2014.”
Here's more info from the contest entry website:
Get in Front of Top YA Editors and Agents with ONLY the First 250 Words of Your YA Novel!
No query? No pitch? No problem!

Have a young adult novel—or a YA novel idea—tucked away for a rainy day? Are you putting off pitching your idea simply because you’re not sure how to pitch an agent? No problem! All you have to do is submit the first 250 words of your novel and you can win exposure to editors and a review of your manuscript from one of New York’s TOP young adult literary agents, Regina Brooks.


In honor of National Novel Writing Month (—an international event where aspiring novelists are encouraged to write an entire novel in 30 days—this contest is meant to encourage the aspiring YA author to get started on that novel by offering an incentive for completing the first 250 words.

The Grand Prize Winner will have the opportunity to submit an entire manuscript to YA literary agent Regina Brooks AND receive a free, 10-week writing course, courtesy of Gotham Writers' Workshop, plus a collection of gourmet teas from!

The Top Five Entrants (including the Grand Prize winner) will receive a 15-minute, one-on-one pitch session with Regina Brooks, one of New York’s premier literary agents for young adult books. They will also receive commentary on their submissions by editors from  Scholastic, Feiwel and Friends, Random House, Harelquin Teen, Kensington,  Kimani Tru, Candlewick, Bloomsbury, Simon and Schuster  and Sourcebooks. In addition, they will receive a year’s subscription to The Writer magazine!

First 50 Entrants will receive a copy of Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:The rules of the contest are simple and entering is easy.  Submit entries of ONLY the first 250 words of your manuscript and the title via the contest website at

One entry per person; anyone age 14+ can apply. Open to the U.S. & Canada (void where prohibited). Entries for the YA Novel Discovery Contest will be accepted from 12:01am (ET) November 1st, 2012 until 11:59pm November 30th, 2012 (ET).

YA literary agent Regina Brooks and her team, will read all of the entries and determine the top 20 submissions. These submissions will then be read by Navah Wolfe Simon and Schuster, Tracey Sherrod Harlequin Kimani, Krista Viola Random House, Nicole Raymond Candlewick, Rachel Griffiths Scholastic, Aubrey Poole Sourcebooks, Mercedes Fernandez Kensington, Nataysha Wilson Harlequin teen, Laura Whitaker Bloomsbury, Anna Roberts Feiwel and Friends. These judges will whittle the top 20 down to five, and each of the five winners will be provided commentary on their submissions.

For SCBWI members dedicated to their craft, this sounds like a great opportunity.

You can enter here. Good Luck!

 Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Do Publishers Need to Offer More Value to Authors?

Jane Friedman, web editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review, and former publisher of Writer’s Digest, gave a presentation in Berlin this fall called "The Future of the Author-Publisher Relationship."

In it (and an accompanying article), she suggested that

"...given the changes happening in the industry—traditional publishers will need to be more author-focused in their operations by offering tools, community, and education to help authors be more successful, to everyone’s greater benefit. If publishers fail to do so, then authors, who have an increasing number of publishing options available to them, will depart for greener pastures. I pointed out that Amazon has a VP of author relations, and views the author like a second customer, but publishers have no such author-relations position or focus on authors as a community to be served. I recommended publishers create their own VPs of author relations and be more strategic in serving authors on a long-term, broad basis rather than on a title-by-title basis."

In this fascinating blog post, Jane explores why, from the perspective of the big six publishers (soon to be big five), that idea of offering more value to authors may not happen.  She explores the desirables that publishers offer authors (Money, Service, and Status) and reflects on how, 

"Given industry change, a start-up can reasonably challenge publishers on at least 2 if not all 3 of the desirables mentioned above."

She comments on how, as of now

"...most self-publishing authors who strike it rich are only too happy to sign with a big player and see their sales skyrocket into the millions from the hundreds of thousands. A lot more has to change in the industry to convince publishers to be more service-oriented toward their authors. But if and when it does change, will it be too late to convince authors who offers the best partnership?"

It's well worth reading!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Penguin & Random House To Merge

It's being reported everywhere (like this article in the New York Times), Penguin and Random House will become Penguin Random House!

"The merger will create the largest consumer book publisher in the world, with a global market share of more than 25 percent."

That's one out of every four books!

Certainly the landscape of publishing is changing.

Markus Dohle of Random House will be chief executive of the new entity, and in letters to the author, agent and bookselling communities, wrote:

“For us, separately and in partnership, it is and always will be about the books. Your books.”
He also said in an interview with PW that "his goal is to leverage the resources of the new company while creating a small company culture where publishers, authors, and editors can feel at home. That can be done, Dohle said, by maintaining distinct imprints and publishing groups."

Once it passes the regulatory hurdles, this would bring the number of major American publishing houses down from six to five.  Some analysts are predicting more mergers moving forward.  From the New York Times article,

“I wouldn’t be surprised if all the major trade publishers were having conversations like this,” said Ned May, an analyst at Outsell, a research firm. “I would expect to see similar realignment.”

And from an article at digital book world comes this version (among many) of what the new Penguin Random House logo might look like:

Possible Logo designed by Joe Encarnacion, creative director at Hatchback Studios
Important news for all of us Children's Book Writers and Illustrators to know.

Illustrate and Write On,

Monday, November 5, 2012

#WhyIVote - Kid Lit Writers and Illustrators Collaborate To Encourage Voting in the US Presidential Election!

#WhyIVote is a gathering of kid lit bloggers (and a tweet hashtag) to encourage voting in Tuesday's US election.

A round-up list with links, compiled by Colleen Mondor at her Chasing Ray blog, #WhyIVote has different  members of our children's book community chiming in on the theme, like:

Joy at Joy's Book Blog: "I vote because when my grandmothers were growing up, women couldn't vote. I asked Grandma Weese about it once. She was apparently a bit of a rabble-rouser - "I told them at the high school that I didn't know what made men think they were so smart."


Katy K at A Library Mama: "I vote because even if democracy isn't perfect, it's the best thing we've hit on so far, and a democracy where people don't vote, isn't. I vote so that my kids can see me take an active role in our government and believe that one person can make a difference."


Tanita Davis at fiction, instead of lies: "Voting is both privilege and gift, and obligation, for someone whose ancestors were slaves, and whose chattel status prevented them from being thought of even as human."


Jone has a Walt Whitman poem at Check It Out: "It seems to me that each political season stirs up more divisiveness than the earlier. It's stunning the amount of money spent to get elected. In "For You, O Democracy," I found hope in the lines."


Greg Pincus at Gotta Book: "As I watch the devastation of hurricane Sandy, I'm reminded again how we all pull together... how we are, despite vast spaces between us, all part of something bigger than just our own smaller communities. To me, a Presidential election is about that, too."

There are many more... so go check out the roundup list and read the posts.  You can add a link to your own blog post about why YOU vote.

#WhyIVote is a great example of the power and impact of the Children's Literature community.  So be part of it.

Illustrate and Write On... and Vote!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Don't Miss Applying For SCBWI's New On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Award!

This exciting new SCBWI award aims to "foster the emergence of diverse voices in children’s books."

The grant will be given to two writers or illustrators who are from an ethnic and/or cultural background that is traditionally under-represented in children’s literature in America.

Here's the award:

Two writers or writer/illustrators will each receive an all-expenses paid trip to the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York to meet with editors and agents, a press release to publishers, a year of free membership to SCBWI, and an SCBWI mentor for a year. 

It's an amazing opportunity!

Note:  The deadline for submission is November 15, 2012.

The winners will be announced December 15, 2012 and the award presented at the 2013 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York.

You can find out all the details here.

Hurray to celebrating (and fostering) more diversity in Children's Literature, and Good Luck!

Illustrate and Write On,