Thursday, July 31, 2014

7 Things You Need To Know: The Sold-Out 2014 SCBWI Summer Conference Starts Tomorrow!

The countdown:

7. We've got STAR Power!

Meg Medina was named one of CNN's "10 Visionary Women" of 2014. In her CNN profile, Meg says,

“I want multicultural fiction to no longer be considered niche fiction. It’s just fiction about who’s here.”

Meg also won the 2014 Pura Belpre award for her YA novel, "Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass." The Pura Belpre Award is the American Library Association’s top award for Latino children’s and youth authors “whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.” 

Meg is on faculty at our conference - She'll be part of the Friday afternoon Diversity Panel, she'll be co-hosting a Saturday lunchtime "Diversity Chat" with fellow author Lamar Giles, and she'll be teaching two breakout sessions: Saturday Morning's Creating Characters With Depth and Sunday Afternoon's Pro Track Marketing with Meaning: Building Community and Reputation.

She's just one of the amazing authors who we'll all learn from!

6. Doing your homework is good. Sometimes, cramming can help.

It's amazing how much more you can get out of a session or keynote if you've been able to read and study the books that faculty member has published, but what happens if you arrive at the conference realizing you didn't get to check out any of Salina Yoon's novelty books and you're planning on attending her Friday afternoon breakout session, "The Art and Business of Novelty and Board Books (How To Create and Sell Them!)"?

Here's where the Conference Bookstore can really help. Check out (and purchase) titles from all the conference faculty - and hey, this is how you get books for the faculty to sign. Like Judy Blume. Yeah, THE Judy Blume. Signing. Her. Books! (And giving the final conference Keynote on Sunday afternoon!)

Wow - Number six ended up with STAR power, too!

5. Need some travel reading for inspiration? Check out twelve pre-conference interviews with our amazing faculty:

Judy Blume (whose books have sold over 70 million copies!)

Editor Jill Santopolo

Newbery-Winning Author Linda Sue Park

Editor Sara Sargent

Publisher and Editor Bonnie Bader

Newbery-Winning Author Cynthia Kadohata

Author and Editor Deborah Halverson

The 2014 Sid Fleischman Humor Award Winner Bill Konigsberg

The 2014 Golden Kite Award Winner For Illustration Peter Brown

The 2014 Golden Kite Award Winner For Fiction Tim Federle

The 2014 Golden Kite Award Winner for Nonfiction David Meissner

and the 2014 Golden Kite Award Winner for Picture Book Text Pat Zietlow Miller

STAR power, again!

4. Extend Yourself - metaphorically.

Follow the brilliant teaching author Esther Hershenhorn's advice and attend one session that's outside your zone of comfort - you may be surprised what inspiration flows!

3. Extend Yourself - physically.

There's yoga for conference attendees (with the lovely author and Yoga instructor Lori Snyder), there's dancing at the Saturday night Gala, and there's that moment when you're sitting next to someone you don't know, or standing in line next to a stranger who is also wearing a conference nametag... that's when you reach out and say,

"Hi! I'm Lee, and I'm a writer..." 

Okay, you need to use your own name there, but the point is these are YOUR people - OUR people - and that's how you make friends and build community.

2. The Illustrator Journals are back!

We're stoked that we'll have six amazing illustrators each share a piece they'll create of/from/inspired by their 2014 SCBWI Summer Conference experience. Participating this time round are:

Lisa Anchin

Ruth McNally Barshaw

James Burks

Maple Lam

Diandra Mae

Rodolfo Montalvo

Their illustrations will be posted on The Official SCBWI Conference Blog, so keep an eye out!

1. Have fun! 

You're giving yourself an entire weekend to marinate in your passion. An entire conference to focus on being inspired, learning craft, mastering business, grasping opportunities, and reveling in being part of a vibrant, warm and encouraging community.

Don't try to do everything (you can't - cloning isn't that advanced.)

Be open.

Be friendly.

Take time for yourself (Yes, you're allowed to write and draw and brainstorm this weekend!)

And if you're attending the conference or not, know that SCBWI TEAM BLOG -- this time around:

myself - Lee Wind,
Martha Brockenbrough,
 Jolie Stekly,
and Jaime Temairik --

will be posting great stuff live from the conference floor on The Official Conference blog, and on twitter (follow #la14scbwi and @scbwi )

Here's to an amazing conference ahead!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


The Sold-Out 2014 Summer Conference will feature a main room panel on Diversity on Friday afternoon, moderated by author Suzanne Morgan Williams and featuring agent Adriana Dominguez, and Authors Sharon Flake, Lamar Giles, Meg Medina and Linda Sue Park!

I connected with Suzanne virtually to get the scoop about her panel:

Other diversity highlights of the conference include:

The Friday night LGBTQ Q&A

Featuring conference faculty, including Golden Kite Award-Winner for Fiction Tim Federle and Agent Danielle Smith, I have the honor of hosting this informal gathering to discuss LGBTQ publishing, the submission process, and answer your questions about this vital corner of the market for young readers.

The Saturday lunchtime by the pool DIVERSITY CHAT

Hosted by by Lamar Giles and Meg Medina!

Saturday's Afternoon Breakout session led by Agent Adriana Dominguez: DO's And DON'TS OF WRITING DIVERSE CHARACTERS

And, of course, keynotes, main-room panels and breakout sessions featuring our conference faculty - a diverse group of authors, illustrators and children's literature industry professionals!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sage Words For Our Careers As Writers and Illustrators

"The future is not a destination, it is a direction." - Edwin E. Catmull
I've been thinking about the wisdom in this line for weeks now, having read it in Edwin's book, Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration.

It's good advice.

Illustrate and Write on,

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Listen to a Marginalized Teen Reader Talk About YA From Their Perspective

Last week, YA author Justine Larbalestier hosted this guest post by teen reader and aspiring author Bysshe.

It's a fascinating insight into sex, violence, dystopia, romance, the lack of diversity and really, what's missing... from a teen perspective.

And it's a passionate message to we adults in the world of Children's Literature, from writers to editors to publishers to marketing professionals, about what teens want and need to see.

Thanks to Justine, for giving Bysshe the platform, and cheers to Bysshe, for being brave enough to put it out there and have their voice heard!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Winning Season...

Our Blog-Reading (and commenting) Winners of the SCBWI 2014 Golden Kite and Sid Fleischman Award-Winning Books are...

Kimberly Callard has won a copy of "Sophie's Squash," written by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. Pat won the Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text for this title. You can read the official SCBWI Blog interview with Pat here.

Andrea Ebert has won a copy of "Mr. Tiger Goes Wild," written and illustrated by Peter Brown. Peter won the Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Illustration for it! You can read the official SCBWI Blog interview with Peter here.

Keila Dawson has won a copy of "Better Nate Than Ever," written by Tim Federle. Tim won the Golden Kite Award for Fiction for the book! You can read the official SCBWI Blog interview with Tim here.

Book Mama has won a copy of "Call of the Klondike," by David Meissner and Kim Richardon. David won the Golden Kite Award for Nonfiction for it! You can read the official SCBWI Blog interview with David here.

And Carl Scott has won a copy of "Openly Straight," by Bill Konigsberg. Bill won the Sid Fleischman Humor Award for "Openly Straight!" You can read the official SCBWI Blog interview with Bill here.

Congratulations to our SCBWI Award-Winners, and to our blog commenters who have won copies of these award-winning books!

Illustrate and Write On,

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Last Chance to Register for the 2014 SCBWI Summer Conference!

Craft... Business... Inspiration... Opportunity... Community!

The 2014 SCBWI Summer Conference is jam-packed with Keynotes,

Workshops (in the tracks: General, Pro, Illustration and Nonfiction), Socials and Peer Critique opportunities.

There's the Golden Kite Luncheon, The Tomie dePaola 80th Birthday Bash - A Night In Old Italy, and the Portfolio Showcase.

There's a diversity panel, a marketing and sales panel, an agents panel, and a palpable buzz of excitement as the stars of our world of children's literature gather with us for four remarkable days August 1-4, 2014 (the fourth day being the incredible intensives!)

The conference is on the verge of selling out - only a few spaces remain.

Want to know more? Check out the Pre-conference interviews with these faculty members:

Executive Editor Jill Santopolo

Newbery Award-Winning and Best-Selling Author Linda Sue Park

Editor Sara Sargent

Associate Publisher and Editor Bonnie Bader

National Book Award Winner and Newbery Medalist Cynthia Kadohata

Editor and Author of "Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies" Deborah Halverson

and the interviews with this year's Golden Kite and Sid Fleischman Award Winners (who will all be teaching workshops and accepting their awards at the Golden Kite Luncheon)...

David Meissner, nonfiction winner for "Call of the Klondike"

Tim Federle, fiction winner for "Better NATE Than Ever"

Peter Brown, illustration winner for "Mr. Tiger Goes Wild"

Pat Zietlow Miller, picture book text winner for "Sophie's Squash"


Bill Konigsberg, Sid Fleischman Humor Award Winner for "Openly Straight"

It's going to be an awesome conference - but if you want to join us, you'll need to act fast.

You can find conference details and registration here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Innovations in Book Marketing: Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson and Peter D. Sieruta's "Deleted Scenes" Blog for WILD THINGS

Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature is forthcoming from Candlewick Press (releasing August 5, 2014.)

Written by three librarian-bloggers, the book is a collection of "the stories behind the stories of your favorite children's books," including "some of the feuds and fights of the children's book world."

And yet... the authors found there were too many stories.

"Truth be told we didn't really notice this until we turned in our preliminary manuscript to our editor. The page count? 700+
"Pick up the book now and you'll find it a svelte 272 pages. That meant cutting out content. A LOT of content. Great stories that will intrigue and entice you but just didn't quite fit in with the book as a whole."

So to promote the book, Betsy Bird (of Fuse #8) and Julie Danielson (of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast)* have put together the WILD THINGS website/blog, where they are "repurposing" the stories that otherwise would have just sat there on the cutting room floor.

A screen shot of the WILD THINGS site

So now, we can:

Find out about the horse that was an honorary member of the American Library Association.

Hear the kind, the snippy, and the consistent of Maurice Sendak's advice to other illustrators and aspiring children's book creators.

And see both sides of Hans Christian Andersen's visit with Charles Dickens.

It's a very clever use for all that material the authors worked so hard on, and it certainly whets our appetite for the stories that did make the cut and are included in the final book!

Illustrate and Write ...and Market On,

*The book's third author, Peter D. Sieruta, passed away in 2012, with "all his contributions to Wild Things completed."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Purpose of Illustration...

"The main function of illustration is to illuminate text, to throw light on words. In fact, illustration in medieval books is called illumination and the term illustration derives from the Latin verb meaning "to light up," "to illuminate."

- pg. 120 of "Writing With Pictures: How To Write and Illustrate Children's Books" by Uri Shuilevitz.

This is just one of many inspirations from this number one most-recommended craft book on illustrating for children and teens!

Who said was it number one?

I asked twenty-five of the top authors, illustrators, and author/illustrators working in children's literature today. Also a book seller, an agent, an art director, a lawyer, a few poets, and an editor. I asked these experts for the books on craft that inspire them, that are must-reads, and that they recommend - and "Writing with Pictures" won the race, being included on ten short-lists!

You can check out the entire recommended bibliography in my "Essential Reference Books on Writing & Illustrating for Children & Teens" article in SCBWI's "The Book: The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

SCBWI's Podcast Series!

Have you checked out SCBWI Conversations?

One of the benefits of SCBWI membership is access to this great new series of podcast conversations with leaders in the field of children's publishing.

There are four episodes to listen to right now!

The latest epidsode is an interview with New York times best-selling author and two-time National Book Award finalist Laurie Halse Anderson. SCBWI friend Theo Baker and Laurie discuss her writing Picture Books, Historical and Contemporary teen novels - or, as Laurie puts it:

"I like to say there are three halves to my brain."

It's a discussion full of inspiration and insights from Laurie, including:

"I think that the artist is called to write outside of their experience... but you have to do it with humility and respect..."

"Historical fiction is multi-cultural fiction: because even if you are writing about somebody who is of your ethnic and your orientation and your gender and your faith background, if they lived 200 years ago, they're not in your culture."

"The condition of the human heart is timeless."


"The quality of my work improved to the point where people wanted to publish it when I tapped into my own passions."

The three other podcast conversations available as of this posting are:

SCBWI's Executive Director Lin Oliver talking with Publisher, Editor and Picture Book Author Arthur A. Levine

Theo's conversation with Young Adult Author Matt de La Peña


Theo's conversation with Chronicle Editor Melissa Manlove

Enjoy listening and learning from SCBWI's Conversations!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Why Teenagers Act Crazy - Some Fascinating Insights From A Professor of Clinical Psychiatry

I learned a few years ago that adolescent brains don't finish developing until the age of 25.

Taking that one step further in this great opinion piece in the New York Times, Richard A. Friedman explains that

"Different regions and circuits of the brain mature at very different rates. It turns out that the brain circuit for processing fear — the amygdala — is precocious and develops way ahead of the prefrontal cortex, the seat of reasoning and executive control. This means that adolescents have a brain that is wired with an enhanced capacity for fear and anxiety, but is relatively underdeveloped when it comes to calm reasoning."

Add to that his explanation that

"the brain’s reward center, just like its fear circuit, matures earlier than the prefrontal cortex."   

and that the reward center "drives much of teenagers’ risky behavior"

and you have a recipe for the drama of being a teenager.

It can also be a wellspring of inspiration and insight as we write and illustrate for teens!

Illustrate and Write On,