Thursday, October 29, 2015

"Just A Drop Of Water" - The 2015 Crystal Kite Interview with Kerry Cerra

In the Southeast division, the 2015 Crystal Kite Award goes to "Just a Drop of Water" by SCBWI Florida member Kerry Cerra.



Author Kerry Cerra



Lee: Hi Kerry, please tell us about your Crystal-Kite winning book!

Kerry: Just a Drop of Water is a middle grade book set in Coral Springs, Florida. It tells the story of two thirteen-year-old boys—one Christian, one Muslim—and how their friendship is tested in the wake of 9/11. 

That’s the short pitch of it, but it’s also a book about loyalty, family relationships, friendship, and most importantly…peace. While the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 were tragic, I hope we can learn from them. Acceptance is the key to peace, and that begins with children. I don’t mean acceptance of terrorism, but acceptance of religious, cultural, racial, and all other differences to eventually create a world where we can live side by side. I hope that Just a Drop of Water is a step in that direction.

Lee: Can you share how the middle grade novel came about for you, premise to evolution to manuscript?

Kerry: Pretty quickly after the 9/11 attacks, it was discovered that Mohamed Atta—the lead hijacker of the plane that flew into the north tower in New York City—lived in our Florida town. Fear was already heightened throughout America, but this information almost paralyzed me. I had three small kids, and I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d seen Atta around town somewhere. 

At the same time these scenarios were running though my head, I discovered that a close college friend—who is Muslim—was having a difficult time and that his parents, who lived in the Florida town where the terrorists took flight lessons, were being questioned by the FBI. I wish I could say I believed their innocence in that moment, but it would be a lie. I’ve never really forgiven myself for that. Once my head cleared and the fear subsided a little, I knew—with all that is in me—that they were innocent. I started to wonder why I had doubted them in the first place. And, I wondered if my kids, at their young ages, would have ever doubted their friends. At what age does one go from trusting and innocent, to fearful and jaded? These questions wouldn’t let up in my mind, and I may have begun subconsciously plotting this novel before I even realized it. 

Having said that, I’m a pretty shy person—that kid in the back of the classroom who never raised her hand. But I hate injustice! Prior to September 11, I was never one to publicly speak out against anything. When I heard about some of the things my Muslims friends endured in the weeks following 9/11 and heard some of the stories of hate crimes being committed against Muslims and to mosques around the country, something sparked in me and I knew I had to write this story. We cannot be the same people the terrorists are. We cannot lump people together by religion, culture, race, or any other means of discrimination. I am afraid of terrorists. I have some fears about Islam because I don’t know it well. But, I do not fear my Islamic friend because I know him. We have to remember the humanness of every individual person and treat them accordingly. This novel is my way of reaching the one age group I have the most hope for regarding our country’s future. Kids. If they can learn to accept people for their differences and work together instead of against each other, then I think there’s a lot of hope for the future. Just a Drop of Water is my way of finally speaking out, publicly.

Lee: How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you’ve gained by being a member?

Kerry: I’ve been a member of SCBWI since 2006 and have loved every single minute of it—especially the conferences. I remember my first one and could hardly speak a word because I felt like I was surrounded by all these rock stars. Seriously. But our Florida chapter is filled with gracious, down-to-earth writers who cheer each other on and who pick you up off the floor when you want to quit. Maybe I would have fulfilled my dream of getting published without SCBWI, but it definitely wouldn’t have been as much fun or as rewarding.

For now, all I really know are my Florida SCBWI pals. Someday, I would love to be able to attend the New York or LA conference and mingle and be inspired by even more writers and illustrators. Goals!

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children’s book writers and illustrators?

Kerry: There are so many words of wisdom I’d love to share, but I think the most important thing is this. Trust yourself…in your writing, in your submission process, in selecting an agent, in considering a publishing house, in everything! Your gut will not steer you wrong. I cannot tell you how many editors and agents told me to give up on Just a Drop of Water. Some said the world wasn’t ready for a 9/11 book. Some couldn’t believe I’d written a 9/11 book that wasn’t set in New York. Some said even though they loved it, they’d never be able to sell it. But, I knew the story was important. And I wanted to tell it. I’d done my homework and was confident that there was a market and a need for a story like this. It would have been easy to stick the manuscript in a drawer—as was recommended to me so many times—and never pursue its publication, but I trusted my gut and kept at it. And look at it now. It’s won awards and made state reading lists. I’m so grateful that the book is reaching students all over and giving them a glimpse of what those days following 9/11 were like. Never give up on something you believe in. You are your book’s best advocate.


Thanks, Kerry!

As an added bonus, I reached out to Katy Betz who designed this Crystal Kite-winning book's cover. Here's what she shared:


After reading the manuscript, I completely fell in love with the meaning behind the book title and wanted to express it visually and symbolically. My process always involves creating a mind map to extract imagery from words and piece them together. After doing several sketches, the cover composition finally emerged and it perfectly captured the essence of the story. Once the initial phase of developing the concept was completed and approved, I went on to take photo reference. I actually asked a friend to model for the running legs. We used the lawn hose to create a puddle in the street, and then I asked him to sprint (several times) until I got a great shot of tennis shoes splashing in water. The final artwork is a combination of traditional oil painting and digital painting. 


Thanks Katy!

I also contacted SCBWI Florida RA Linda Bernfeld to find out more about their region:

We are thrilled that Kerry won the Crystal Kite for the Southeast Region. Kerry is hardworking and organized. She wrote her book, Just a Drop of Water, while also giving SCBWI Florida big chunks of her time as Conference Critique Coordinator. Twice a year, she oversees the matching and scheduling of more than 100 manuscripts with editors, agents and writers and setting up times for the face-to-face sessions. It can be a thankless job but she and her team have been successful in creating matches that resulted in contracts for representation and book sales. SCBWI Florida hosts a regional conference in Miami in January and a five-track craft workshop each June in Disney World. We also have Boot Camps Across Florida in September as well as free meetings around the state throughout the year.

Learn more about the author, Kerry Cerra, at this website here.

You can find out more about cover artist Katy here.

And find out lots more about SCBWI Florida here.

Congratulations again to Kerry (and Katy) on "Just A Drop Of Water" winning the 2015 Crystal Kite Award!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Oliver Jeffers teaches us how to draw a penguin

This tutorial in the Guardian by New York Times Best-Selling author/illustrator Oliver Jeffers was really fun - and instructive. (Especially for those of us whose main materials are words and white space.)




Light source, yeah. Good point!

Check it out.

And you can visit Oliver's website here.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, October 22, 2015

"Hello From Nowhere" – The 2015 Crystal Kite Interview with Karen Blair

The 2015 Crystal Kite Award in the Australis/New Zealand Division goes to Illustrator Karen Blair for "Hello From Nowhere," written by Raewyn Caisley!


Illustrator Karen Blair, whose "Hello From Nowhere" won a 2015 Crystal Kite Award!


Lee: Please tell us about your Crystal-Kite winning book!

Karen: "Hello From Nowhere" is a picture book about Eve, a girl who lives with her dad in the Nullarbor in Australia’s outback. It is written by Raewyn Caisley who was inspired by her time in this unique environment when she moved from New Zealand to Australia and ran a roadhouse for 2 years. Eve loves living in the middle of Nowhere, but she misses her Nan who has never visited from the city. When she does eventually come, Eve can show her all the wonderful animals and sights that make it so special like 200 kangaroos at dawn or the infinite stars in the night sky. Hello From Nowhere includes themes of place, belonging, family and relationships with the land and people. I felt a connection with the long distance relationship between Eve and her Nan, and that special, intense time of coming together to share everything and then the bittersweet farewell. 

Lee: How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you’ve gained by being a member?

Karen:  I joined SCBWI Australia West in 2007 and was instantly inspired by the people I met. At that stage I was pre-published and although I knew that making children’s books was my dream, I didn’t really know how to go about it. At the first big event I attended, the SCBWI West Conference in 2008, I had the opportunity to meet a publisher, so I created a storyboard and took it to Sarah Foster who was the Publisher at Walker Books Aus/NZ at the time. She gave excellent feedback and although that work was never published, making that contact and having face-to-face communication was so important. Also, hearing her talk about what they were looking for and how they approached books was really important. She went on to publish 3 of my books. Since then I have attended local conferences, meetings, retreats, forged very strong networks and friendships, professional relationships, made further contact with publishers and a mentoring program, illustrated 7 books including Granny Grommet and Me by Dianne Wolfer who was SCBWI Regional Advisor at the time! I love the mix of pre-published or “newbies,” recently published and well-established book creators who are all willing to guide and help each other (as well as have a lot of fun!). Western Australia is very isolated which I think helps to foster a sense of camaraderie amongst our group. SCBWI has really been a very important part of my growth as picture book creator and the support I get from my peers is really incredible. It has also been wonderful to see my friends' careers go from strength to strength. 

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children’s book writers and illustrators?

Karen: I am mostly an illustrator, but I think this holds true for writers as well - keep up your creative “fitness.” I try to sketch as much and as often as I can, doing heap and heaps of practise sketching before doing any final work. Embrace the process - its my favourite part. Also embrace publisher feedback. You can get so caught up in what you think is working, but fresh eyes can point out obvious or even subtle things to change or slightly alter to make the book the best it can be. I have also recently been attending workshops with artist to learn different techniques, since I didn’t do any training to become an illustrator! I just hope I keep getting better in little ways and I can keep enjoying making books that are challenging and make me feel connected to the story and hopefully put a little of that in the illustrations.

Thanks, Karen!

I also checked in with Susanne Gervay, the Regional Advisor for SCBWI Australia East & New Zealand to find out more about Karen and their region. Here's what she shared:

SCBWI Australia and new Zealand love Karen Blair who is one of our new, young talented SCBWI protégés. Enormously gifted, she’s always been a writer and illustrator, like so many children’s book creators. SCBWI welcomed her into the community and she has flourished, receiving awards, publishing contracts and friendship. It’s such a great pleasure to see the support of SCBWI Australia and New Zealand has been part of her creative journey. Being awarded the Crystal Kite Award is our celebration of her talent.

SCBWI Australia East & New Zealand and SCBWI Australia West celebrate so much talent and bring together two countries through children’s books. SCBWI Australia and New Zealand has become the prime organisation for Australian children’s writers and illustrators Down Under. There is enormous energy here, with events, conferences, get together retreats, launches, industry talks, professional and personal friendships. SCBWI is increasing the conduit to most of the writing organisations in Australia and New Zealand including the Children’s Book Council, our Writers Centres, literary festivals and competitions. We are now on a brave new venture called WRITERS in the PARK.
SCBWI leads this festival, collaborating with our historic Centennial Parklands where Australia was declared a nation and The Residences the only heritage houses in the Park where visitors can stay.

Speaking are 50 authors, illustrators and publishers including some of our best and brightest established and emerging SCBWI authors and illustrators. James Foley the new RA from Australia West is flying to Sydney to launch his brilliant new hilarious zombie bunny book, ‘My Dead Bunny'. The malt award winning Anna Pignataro is flying from Melbourne to Writers in the Park where I will launch her beautiful picture book ‘Being Agatha.’ Our talented ARA illustrator Marjorie Crosby-Fairall and IC Sarah Davis who just did the covers for American Girl and has won endless awards are coordinating the illustrator duel and the illustrator hands-on tent.

What’s at Writers in the Park? There are two stages, a cartoonist corner, illustrator SCBWI tent, stands and much more. We have included many literary and literacy organisations from the Society of Women Writers, Room to Read www.roomtoread.org bringing literacy to the children of the developing world, The Footpath Library which provides books to the homeless, to the Charles Dickens Society. How can we have this festival without ‘A Christmas Carol’ and Scrooge. Charles Dickens’ statue stands in Centennial Park, only one of 3 Dickens statues in the world.

Writers in the Park reaches across Australia and New Zealand celebrating books and ideas in this inaugural literary festival. 

www.writersinthepark.com 
hashtag: #writepark 
facebook.com/witpsyd 
twitter.com/writeparksyd

Love SCBWI across the world to join into Writers in the Park through facebook, twitter and support our brave new adventure in the world of children’s books.
Thanks, Susanne!

Learn more about Karen and her illustrations at her website here.

You can find out more about SCBWI Australia East & New Zealand at their regional website here.

Thanks again to Karen and Susanne, and Congratulations again to Karen for "Hello From Nowhere" winning the 2015 Crystal Kite Award!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks Mentorship Program – Only 10 Days Left To Apply



Our friends at #WeNeedDiverseBooks are launching their inaugural mentorship program,

"partnering award-winning writers and illustrators recognized for their diverse publications with upcoming writers and illustrators who are diverse or working on diverse publications." 

Year-long mentorships will be awarded in five categories: picture book text, illustration, nonfiction, middle grade fiction, and young adult fiction.

The WNDB™ mentors are: Coretta Scott-King Award winner Nikki Grimes (Picture Book), Robert F. Sibert Honor recipient Patricia Hruby Powell (Nonfiction), William C. Morris and Lambda Literary Award finalist Malinda Lo (Young Adult),  Newbery Honor recipient Margarita Engle (Middle Grade) and Skipping Stones Award-Winner for Excellence in Multicultural Literature and Tomas Rivera Award finalist Carolyn Dee Flores (Illustrator)!

It sounds like an amazing opportunity! You can find out more and apply at this link.

Submissions close on October 31st.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jake Green goes inside illustrators' studios

Check out this photo feature in the Guardian, where Jake Green visited the studios of illustrators including New York Times Bestseller Oliver Jeffers (in New York), The Association of Illustration Children’s Illustrator of the Year Benji Davies (in London), and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award-winner Kitty Crowther (in Belgium.)



It's fascinating to see these glimpses into their creative spaces!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, October 15, 2015

"Bog" – The 2015 Crystal Kite Interview with Karen Krossing

In the Canada division, the 2015 Crystal Kite Award goes to "Bog" by SCBWI Canada East member Karen Krossing.

Karen shared that the cover of her Crystal Kite-winning book is by Quebec artist Félix Girard

Author Karen Krossing (photo credit: http://owencaptures.com/)


Lee: Please tell us about your Crystal-Kite winning book!

Karen: In the midnight forests of the north, a cave troll named Bog has spent his young life hunting with his father and avoiding humans whenever possible. When his father is mercilessly turned to stone by the Troll Hunter’s followers, Bog sets out to find the murderers and avenge his father. But with no leads and little knowledge of the human world, Bog knows his journey won’t be easy. Along the way, he meets a huge forest troll named Small and a young human girl named Hannie. Together, they venture deeper into human territory, where they learn of the legendary Nose Stone—a rock rumored to bring a stone troll back to life. Hope fills Bog’s heart, but when he discovers the Troll Hunter is also going after the Nose Stone to destroy it, his quest becomes a race of cunning, trickery, and wits. 

School Library Journal called Bog "an intriguing, fantasy world of deep forests, magic, and friendship." You can listen to an excerpt from Bog here, and view the book trailer here

Lee: How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you’ve gained by being a member?

Karen: I've been a SCBWI member since 2011, and I've attended conferences in New York and Canada. Membership gives me camaraderie with like-minded creators, industry insights, and ways to improve my craft. If you're a writer or illustrator for children, joining creator organizations like SCBWI is a must. 

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children’s book writers and illustrators?

Karen: Child readers are honest. If they don’t like a book, they’ll simply stop reading it. Authors for children must write a compelling first sentence that captures readers’ attention. Then they must entice readers to turn each page until they finish the story, breathless and ready for more. 

Hone your idea before beginning to write. A brilliant premise, deeply developed characters and at least a rough plot are the foundations of great writing. Once you have an exceptional idea, remember that the craft of writing lies in the revision process. I like to get constructive feedback from fellow writers whose opinions I trust. I evaluate their feedback to determine how to polish the work, including rewriting multiple times. 


Thanks, Karen!

I also contacted SCBWI Canada East RA Alma Fullerton to hear more about their region:

Canada East covers half of Canada - From Ontario eastward to maritime provinces. We hold a major conference once a year - our next one being April 29 - May 1, 2016 in Ottawa. We have several different critique groups throughout Canada East and hold monthly Get togethers in three different cities throughout our area - Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. We are always looking for people in other areas who would like volunteer to help organize Get Togethers or critique groups. Canada East is finalizing together last minute details and will be launching our joint mentorship program with SCBWI Florida within the next week. We are also teaming up with CANSCAIP to have a children’s writer’s presence in the upcoming Canadian Writer’s Summit in June 2016 in Toronto. The Canadian Writer’s summit is being organized by 18 Canadian writer’s organizations.

Find out more about Karen at this website.

You can learn more about SCBWI Canada East here.

Congratulations again to Karen on "Bog" winning the 2015 Crystal Kite Award!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mark Your Calendars, Set Your Alarms: Registration for #NY16SCBWI Opens at 10am PDT on Monday October 19, 2015

It's the 17th Annual Winter Conference, held February 12-14, 2016 in New York City!



With keynotes from





















2 Keynote Panels featuring leading Publishers, Editors and Agents:

The Presidents' Panel: The Big Picture with Jon Anderson (President and Publisher, Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing Division), Jean Feiwel (Senior VP and Director, Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan Children's Publishing Group), Mallory Loehr (Vice President, Publishing Director, Random House/Golden/Doubleday Books for Young Readers), and Adrea Pappenheimer (SVP, Director of Sales/Associate Publisher HarperCollins Publishers.)

and

Acquisitions Today: Opportunities and Challenges with Alessandra Balzer (Balzer + Bray), Liz Bicknell (Candlewick), Ginger Clark (Curtis Brown LTD), Sarah Davies (Greenhouse Literary) and Alvina Ling (Little, Brown Books.)

There will also be:

22 interactive breakout sessions with Editors, Art Directors and Agents!

The Portfolio Showcase

The Art Browse

The Saturday Night Party

The Autograph Party

and A full Friday of optional pre-conference activities, with your choice of:

I. Writers' Roundtables

II. Writers' Intensive: The Big and the Small: A Novel Revision Intensive

III. Published Authors' Discussion

IV. Illustrators' Intensive: Work Long and Prosper: Career Longevity for Illustrators

Keep in mind, the Friday pre-conference activities always sell out fast, and the conference itself has sold out for the last four years running. Visit http://www.scbwi.org/ for registration and all the conference information.

It's going to be amazing, and we hope you will join us!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, October 8, 2015

"Be A Change Maker" – The 2015 Crystal Kite Interview with Laurie Ann Thompson

In the West Division, the winner of the Crystal Kite Award is "Be a Change Maker" by SCBWI Western Washington member Laurie Ann Thompson!



Author Laurie Ann Thompson

Lee: Please tell us about your Crystal-Kite winning book!

Laurie: BE A CHANGEMAKER: HOW TO START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS is a how-to guide for teens who want to effect positive social change in their communities or around the world. Equal parts instruction and inspiration, the book includes advice and exercises as well as profiles of young people who’ve already launched a social venture. My goal with the book was to convince kids that they really can be the changes they wish to see in the world... and then give them the tools to go out and start doing it, right now. 

Lee: Are you seeing nonfiction books for young readers getting more respect now, and is your win perhaps a welcome sign of that?

Laurie: I think so. The demand for nonfiction for young readers has increased due to the Common Core State Standards, which has definitely resulted in more respect for children’s nonfiction authors. The standards have also led to more high-quality nonfiction titles being available in recent years, which in turn allows more readers to discover how much they enjoy reading nonfiction for kids. It’s even starting to cross over just like YA fiction did: I’ve had many adults tell me how much they enjoyed my book and learned from it. That was a welcome surprise, indeed! 

Lee: How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you’ve gained by being a member?

Laurie: I joined SCBWI in 2004, and shortly after I started working on what eventually became BE A CHANGEMAKER. Besides years of education on craft and marketing, countless manuscript consultations, and bi-weekly meetings with my fabulous critique group--all of which were made possible by SCBWI--volunteering for the organization also let me be a changemaker myself. Being a co-regional advisor for SCBWI Western Washington was a life-changing experience for me, and I was able to lean on those experiences for research and anecdotes that ended up in the book later. FInally, the camaraderie from my SCBWI pals is what kept me going all those years. This book simply would not exist without SCBWI. 

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children’s book writers and illustrators?

Laurie: Find yourself a community! Becoming an author is usually a pretty long, hard road: Don’t let it be a lonely one, too! You’ll need peers to ask what you’re working on so you’re accountable for producing new material. You’ll need trusted readers to give you good feedback to help make your work shine and help your craft grow. You’ll need friends--friends who really get it--to help you up when you get knocked down… and to help you celebrate when you succeed! I believe that kidlit people are the nicest people in the world, so no matter how much of an introvert you are, don’t be afraid to connect and make some like-minded friends. You never know where it might lead!

Thanks, Laurie!

I also contacted Dana Sullivan and Dana Arnim, the co-Regional Advisors for SCBWI Western Washington, to find out more about Laurie and their region. Here's what they shared:

The Western Washington chapter congratulates Laurie Ann Thompson on her recent honor of winning the Crystal Kite award for Be a Change Maker: How to Start Something That Matters.

Laurie joined SCBWI in 2005 and spent many years volunteering for our Advisory Committee, before stepping up to serve as our Co-Regional Advisor from 2009 to 2011, leading with a calm, encouraging and enthusiastic hand. She continues to volunteer on our Advisory Committee as both Nonfiction Coordinator and Published Member Liaison. With all her knowledge, mad diplomacy skills and writing chops, we just can’t let her go.

Laurie is most definitely on a literary roll. Be a Changemaker published in September, 2014 and her picture books, Emmanuel’s Dream and My Dog Is the Best hit the shelves in January and June, 2015. Somehow, between her SCBWI duties, school visits, raising two kids and a dog (with the help of SCBWI-widower Bernie) she manages to keep to a rigorous writing schedule, fueling rumors about more book deals under way.

Congratulations, Laurie! Your years of volunteering, mentoring and organizing have already earned you a place in our soggy, northwest hearts. Your Crystal Kite win is so well-deserved and honors not just your writing, but your tenacity and desire to make the world a better place. Western Washington is a much better place for having you in it.

About our chapter

The Western Washington chapter of SCBWI spans north/south from the British Columbia border to Oregon and east/west from the Cascade Mountains to the Olympic peninsula. Most of our 800 or so members tend to live in the Seattle/Bellevue area, but our island members are loyal and prolific, if somewhat reclusive. We hold monthly Kid Lit Drink Nights through the year; regular monthly chapter meetings with presentations from October through May; annual writer retreats; and collaborative illustrator retreats with the Oregon chapter every other year. Our wildly popular Inside Story is held twice a year at rotating bookstores to celebrate and promote the recent publications of our local authors and illustrators. For 24 years we have presented an annual conference with stellar faculty, breakout sessions, roundtable manuscript critiques, portfolio showcase, full-day master classes, and a faculty/attendee cocktail party.

Find out more about Laurie at her website here.

And to learn more about SCBWI Western Washington, visit their regional website here.

Congratulations again to Laurie on "Be A Change Maker: How To Start Something That Matters" winning the 2015 Crystal Kite Award!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Check out Author Amy Stewart's Publishers Weekly article, "10 Tech Tools for Writers"

Evernote. Dragon. Google Ngram Viewer.



They may sound complicated and foreign, but Amy Stewart explains how she uses them (and seven other tech tools) to make her writing and author life better.

Want to know how to search ship manifests?

Organize your notes across phone/tablet/computer?

Streamline having to submit book tour receipts?

There's great information in there – Thanks, Amy!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Success: What Counts? – A Guest Post By Claudia Harrington

Author and SCBWI Regional Advisor Emeritus Claudia Harrington


In our commercial world, it’s hard NOT to think of success in terms of something flashy, but for me, success comes in small bites.

Success isn’t just having a blockbuster so you can be invited to keynote at the summer conference. It’s made up of all of those little moments of growth, when you feel your head expand and you work through the challenge of translating it onto the page.

My first success came at my Dad’s funeral. I’d been asked to give a eulogy, and I started with this: “I told you I was sick – that’s what my dad always said he wanted on his tombstone.” It got an enormous laugh. The way I felt when my words made people laugh was a huge motivator, and a huge success.

My next (and first published) success came after reading a call for submissions in SCBWI’s Bulletin – one of my poems was included in what became a “Best Pick” picture book anthology from Philomel.

Flash forward over these past years… There have been so many close calls, where editors loved my work and either revised with me sans contract (success!), or championed my manuscript at acquisitions meetings (success!)

After each near miss I got back on the horse, but those moments helped me grow as a writer, and were absolutely successes. One editor, in fact, said “Why, oh why, didn’t I see this sooner?” when she got back from a long leave only to find my manuscript in her slush pile. Although that time Sales & Marketing didn’t agree, her comment was still a wonderful success – it kept me going.

Being L.A.’s SCBWI Regional Advisor for eleven years helped me to grow so much faster and deeper than I otherwise might have. It gifted me with relationships with wonderfully talented writers, agents and editors in our field, and the opportunity to pick their brains and listen to their talks on craft. I’ve also always taken advantage of available conferences and critiques, knowing that I could be one comment away from what helps me take a manuscript from almost-working to glorious. Usually I get that nugget, and my manuscripts have gotten better and better over the years.

Every draft has made me a better writer (success!)

Every book has made me a better writer (success!)

Every critique, from an editor, agent or fellow writer, stretched me and made my work better (success!)

When I submitted a manuscript for critique to a conference a few years ago, my manuscript ‘met’ my current agent, and it was pretty much love at first sight. (success!) My agent asked me if I wanted to pitch to an educational publisher who had approached her about a 6 picture book series. Because I work in a lot of genres, but felt weakest in picture books, how did I answer? With a resounding YES! I worked my butt off on the proposal, learning as I went (success!), and ended up writing a sample book in the process, which they loved. (success!) That led to being awarded the contract, (success!) and those 6 books just came out September 1st! (success!)

I feel as if I’m building on my 22 years of success as I now plan my debut book series launch party, and look forward to many more successes, big and small, in the future.

What I’ve learned is to cherish all the successes, and that my SCBWI family will cheer me on every step of the way (huge success!)

Here's another one of Claudia's "success!" moments...

video


More about Claudia:

Claudia Harrington launched her writing career in kindergarten with a poem called Scab On Her Head. Five-year-old literary passion eventually blossomed into poetic publication, including a piece in I Invited A Dragon To Dinner & Other Poems To Make You Laugh Out Loud (Philomel), a CBC Best Pick. Claudia soon found the SCBWI, a recharging station of kindred spirits, going on to lead the LA chapter as Regional Advisor for eleven years. She was recently honored with a nomination for their prestigious Sue Alexander Most Promising Manuscript Award. 

By day, Claudia sells homes in Los Angeles. By night, she conjures the writing spirits in hopes of a few juicy literary morsels. In her former life, she could be seen in commercials, film and television, thanks to her theatre degree from Northwestern University. She’s played everything from a woman giving birth in front of a young Bradley Whitford to a sex-starved magazine editor on The Young & The Restless to Mark Harmon’s nurse in an indie film. Despite the acting work, she remains grateful to her mother for forcing typing school on her so she’d have “something to fall back on” – novel revisions are brutal in longhand. 

When she’s not writing, Claudia juggles her wild and wacky assortment of kids, husband (singular) and a standard poodle who eats underwear. Check out her blog, home to bite-size bursts of inspiration from gems in the children’s book industry, at ClaudiaHarrington.blogspot.com