Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Listen to SCBWI's Newest Podcast: A Conversation with Javaka Steptoe

He's won the Caldecott. The Coretta Scott King Award. And he's a New York Times Bestselling Author/Illustrator.

Our latest podcast is an in-depth interview with Javaka Steptoe, covering art, creativity, curiosity, building a career, and so much more!

Listen to the episode trailer here

And SCBWI members can hear the full pocast here (log in first!)

Illustrate and Write On, 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Money, Diversity, and Creativity - part two

We're back with more wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert and her book, Big Magic:

These wise words are from the section "Your Day Job" on pages 152 - 154.

"...over the years, I have watched so many other people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills. I've seen artists drive themselves broke and crazy because of this insistence that they are not legitimate creators unless they can exclusively live off their creativity...

I've always felt this is so cruel to your work—to demand a regular paycheck from it, as if creativity were a government job, or a trust fund. Look, if you can manage to live comfortable off your inspiration forever, that's fantastic. That's everyone's dream, right? But don't let that dream turn into a nightmare. Financial demands can put so much pressure on the delicacies and vagaries of inspiration. You must be smart about providing for yourself.

...You can look after yourself in this world while looking after your creativity at the same time—just as people have done for ages.

...So many times I have longed to say to stressed-out, financially strapped artists, "Just take the pressure off yourself, dude, and get a job!"

There's no dishonor in having a job. What is dishonorable is scaring away your creativity by demanding that it pay for your entire existence."

- Elizabeth Gilbert

Illustrate and Write On,

A New Children's Book Award for Comedy - From Author, Librarian, and School Library Journal Blogger Betsy Bird

Named in honor of Paula Danzinger, Betsy Bird recently announced "The Danzinger Awards For Hilarious Kids Books"

completely crowdsourced, the awards will be given in five categories:

– The Funniest Picture Book of 2017
– The Funniest Fiction for Older Children of 2017
– The Funniest Debut Author for Kids of 2017
– The Funniest Debut Illustrator for Kids of 2017
– The Memorial Dead Funny Person Award (2017)

You can vote here.

Shouting out to SCBWI's own Sid Fleischman Humor Awards, Betsy writes, "What this country wants, nay, needs is not one but MANY humor awards for children’s books."

 Sounds great!

 Illustrate and Write On - and go vote! 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Money, Diversity, and Creativity - part one

The intersection of these three things, money (and having the financial resources to pursue writing and illustrating for kids and teens), diversity of creators and the projects created, and creativity - how we best empower ourselves to live healthy creative lives, and nurture our creativity - is much on my mind, and seems to be popping up in many different places.

Today, let's look at K-Fai Steele's post at KidLitArtists.com, "Why we can’t talk about diversity in kidlit without talking about money"

K-Fai contacted over 100 creators and asked them about how they make money work, to explore the idea that

"Perhaps kidlit being a cost-prohibitive industry to begin with is one of the contributing factors to the lack of diverse books and diverse creators."

You can read the full piece here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, October 19, 2017

An excellent article by Mikki Kendall on writing "the Other"

From Mikki Kendall's blog, this article "Diversity, Political Correctness and the Power of Language"

"...a huge part of the problem is the assumption that the Other does not read. Does not consume art. Does not have a right to a voice in how they are represented. Because your bigoted depiction of them is a key component of the kind of gatekeeping that locks marginalized communities out."
"There’s this weird myth that bigotry only looks like physical violence, and yes that’s awful, but deep down the physical violence is only a symptom. Bigotry, real harmful sustained across generations bigotry is much more covert. It lends itself to creating fictional characters that paint Black people as violent thugs, it lends itself to Black motherhood being depicted as loveless, it lends itself to trans characters that are villains, to killing lesbians off for loving, to disability as a burden on families, to a million and one seemingly individual stories that paint a comprehensive picture of anyone who is not cis, white, straight, and able bodied as unworthy of existence, much less of equality."


Writers have the power to create brand new worlds, so we should always stop and ask ourselves why we are so hung on replicating everything wrong in the old one?

Read the whole piece. It's well worth it.

And while you're at it, read the brilliant "Fiction, Research, Reality, More Research" by Mikki, as well. It has this gem:

"Literally do some research, ask yourself why you think the past or future was white, cis, straight, able bodied, and slim. The past wasn’t that way, the present isn’t that way and despite the best work of bigots, the future is browner, rounder, and more complicated than anything you’ve been trained to expect."

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Diversity Awards and Grants for authors and illustrators

Do you know all 13 of these?

SCBWI Diversity Awards and Grants – Emerging Voices Award and Multi Cultural Work in Progress Award.
ALA Awards: Coretta Scott King Book Awards recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults.
Schneider Family Book Awards for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.
Pura Belpré Awards honoring a Latino illustrator whose children's books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.
Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language works of exceptional merit for children or teens relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience.
 Asian Pacific Library Association: Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature honors and recognizes individual work about Asian/Pacific Americans and their heritage, based on literary and artistic merit.
American Indian Library Award: The American Indian Youth Literature Awards: presented every two years. The awards were established as a way to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians. Books selected to receive the award will present American Indians in the fullness of their humanity in the present and past contexts. 
Texas State University College of Education: Tomás Rivera Book Award:  to honor authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Mexican American experience. 
Association of Jewish Libraries: Sydney Taylor Book Awards given to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. 
University of Wisconsin Madison: South Asia Book Awards: recognizes the year’s best among children’s and young adult literature that portray South Asia or South Asians living abroad.
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee; Américas Book Awards: honoring books that authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States. 
The Jane Addams Peace Association: The Jane Addams Children's Book Awards are given annually to the children's books that effectively promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence. 
Scholastic Asia and National Book Council of Singapore:  The Scholastic Asian Book Award (SABA) SABA recognizes children’s writers of Asian origin who are taking the experiences of life, spirit, and thinking in different parts of Asia to the world at large.

Find out more at the SCBWI website Diversity Resources page here.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert's "BIG MAGIC: Creative Living Beyond Fear"

Just started reading Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I had to share what's at the end of chapter one:
"But I will never forget what the real Jack Gilbert told somebody else––an actual flesh-and-blood person, a shy University of Tennessee student. This young woman recounted to me that one afternoon, after his poetry class, Jack had taken her aside. He complimented her work, then asked what she wanted to do with her life. Hesitantly, she admitted that perhaps she wanted to be a writer.

He smiled at the girl with infinite compassion and asked, "Do you have the courage? Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes."

Thank you, Elizabeth. And thank you Jack, for those words.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Racism, Growth of an Author/Illustrator, and Context: A Museum and Children's Book Creators Grapple with the "right" thing to do

So the Dr. Seuss museum had a mural painted on a main museum wall, illustrations from Dr. Seuss' first book, "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.." (Mulberry street is only blocks from the museum's Springfield, Massachusetts location.) These illustrations included what today is understood to be a racist stereotype of a Chinese man.

Three children's book creators, Lisa Yee, Mike Curato, and Mo Willems were invited to a festival at the museum. They pulled out to protest the museum's lack of context for the mural, protesting the idea that the image would be seen by children and not interpreted in the scope of Dr. Seuss' evolution as an artist and a human being.

The festival was cancelled and the mural will be "replaced."

It's been reported in multiple sources, but I'd suggest you read the very well-considered post about this at Grace Lin's blog here.

It's interesting to consider both our power as children's book creators and how people (and even institutions) can evolve over time and go from buying into racial stereotypes to promoting tolerance, acceptance, and even celebrating differences.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Continuity of Subject: A Portfolio Checklist from Rosanne Kakos-Main courtesy of Harold Underdown's

Getting out of the Art File over at Harold Underdown's The Purple Crayon website has lots of great advice for illustrators.

Harold's amazing resource, Writing, Illustrating, and Publishing Children's Books: The Purple Crayon website

What struck me most was the list of tips from designer Rosanne Kakos-Main for illustrators to consider when putting together their portfolios, that included:

Continuity of Subject: Can you illustrate the same subject from different points of view, in different situations, showing different feelings?
It's a point well-worth considering, because it can prove to an editor and art director that you're ready to handle a project where we visually follow the same character in different circumstances.

Read the full article here.

Thanks, Rosanne and Harold!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

#PubForPR! An Auction to Aid Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief

A very worthy cause!

The Publishing for Puerto Rico auction starts Monday, October 2nd at 9 AM Eastern and ends Thursday, October 5th at 10 PM Eastern.

Find out more (and get bidding) at http://pubforpr.wordpress.com

And as Lily Meade explains in the video above, if you can't contribute money, know you can still help by amplifying the message!

Here's to doing good, and moving our career journeys forward at the same time!