Thursday, August 16, 2018

Looking for a writing prompt? Check out illustrator portfolios, part 1

Here's the first dozen of inspirational images that resonated for me from the amazing portfolio show at the recent SCBWI 2018 Summer Conference here in Los Angeles.

Shannon McNeill

Maile McCarthy

Zhen Liu 

Kary Lee

J.R. Krause

Chad Hunter

Amanda Ho

Cassandra Federman

Rebecca Evans

Mags DeRoma

Amy Kenney

Courtney Dawson

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

¡El SCBWI tiene recursos en español para los socios hispanohablantes! (The SCBWI has resources in Spanish for Spanish-speaking members!

SCBWI's newest "member of the year" is actually members of the year in 2018...Judy Goldman (RA Mexico) and Malena F Alzu (SLC, Spanish language Coordinator.)

SCBWI's newest members of the year: Melana Alzu (left) and Judy Goldman

Melana and Judy very kindly put together this explanation (in both Spanish and English) of some of SCBWI's Spanish-language resources:

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El SCBWI tiene recursos en español para los socios hispanohablantes. Uno de ellos es el boletín electrónico cuatrimestral, totalmente en español, La cometa, que tiene alrededor de 800 suscriptores alrededor del mundo.

La cometa es editada por Judy Goldman (Regional Advisor de México) y producida por Malena F Alzu (SLC, Spanish Language Coordinator). Entre los suscriptores hay editores, escritores, ilustradores, traductores y gente interesada en el tema de la literatura para niños y jóvenes en español. En el boletín se ofrecen entrevistas a profesionales del sector, noticias de concursos, cursos, premios y conferencias así como artículos de socios sobre temas relacionados con la técnica, con la profesión y crónicas de eventos a los que asisten.

También existe la página de Facebook --SCBWI en español--, donde, de manera regular, se publica información actualizada sobre el sector.

Adicionalmente, se ha formado, recientemente, un grupo de crítica a distancia (critique group) en español.

Si quieres recibir La cometa, apuntarte al grupo de crítica o tienes alguna duda o comentario sobre los recursos del SCBWI en español, mándanos un correo a con tu nombre completo y país de residencia.

* *

The SCBWI has resources in Spanish for Spanish-speaking members. One is La cometa, an electronic newsletter in Spanish. Published every four months, it’s sent out to about 800 subscribers around the world.

La cometa is edited by Judy Goldman (RA Mexico) and produced by Malena F Alzu (SLC, Spanish language Coordinator). Among its readers are editors, writers, illustrators, translators, and people interested in children’s literature in Spanish. The newsletter includes interviews with sector professionals, news about contests, courses, awards, and conferences as well as articles written by members focused on themes such as technique, the profession, and reports about events they have attended.

Also available is the Facebook page –SCBWI en español—where sector information is published in a timely manner.

Additionally, a critique group writing in Spanish has been formed.

If you would like to receive La cometa, join the critique group or have a question or commentary about Spanish-language resources, send us an email to with your full name and country of residence.

* *

Illustrate and Write On, in English, or español, or your language of choice,

Friday, August 10, 2018

Your Many Author/Illustrator Bios

You'll need a short bio for social media. Another one for your next book. A third version for your website. A byline for articles you write. A profile on your author page on different retail websites. A version that's young-reader friendly. A version that's media-friendly. A version for events (that you provide in advance.)

And sometimes, depending on the marketing/PR opportunity, you'll need a version tailored specifically for that program.

Sometimes you'll get fifteen words, or less. Sometimes, you'll need a loooong version that's many paragraphs.

And you'll need to update your bios as new things happen (new books and accolades!)

Two things that can help:

1) Keep a master document of all the "official" versions of your bio, so it's all in one place. Make note of where you've used which version, and when.

2) Study examples of bios you like. See how the tone of a bio can match a book.

Check out this post from Diana Urban at BookBub, with 20 examples of strong Author Bios, and the reasons the marketing team liked each one.

3) Don't forget to have your bio (especially the version that will be printed in your upcoming book) copy-edited and proofread by a professional who knows their stuff (a.k.a., not you.)

Good luck, and have fun with it!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Gearing Up For #LA18SCBWI, Whether You'll Be In L.A. or Following Along Virtually

Visit the SCBWI Official Conference Blog here!

It's here! Tomorrow's the start of the 2018 SCBWI Summer Conference here in Los Angeles, and here's how to both contribute and follow along on social media.

The official hashtag:


The easiest way to tap into the stream of inspiration, business tips, craft insights, opportunity, and community is to search with the hashtag on your favorite social media platform and find the people posting/tweeting/snapping about #LA18SCBWI... and then follow them, and join in the conversation yourself!

Your #LA18SCBWI Team Bloggers Are:

Martha Brockenbrough

Martha Brockenbrough is the author of several books for young readers, including Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary (Feiwel & Friends); The Game of Love and Death; and Love, Santa (both Arthur A. Levine Books). She is a faculty member at Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children & Young Adults program. Forthcoming titles include Unpresidented, a biography of Donald Trump, and Cheerful Chick, a picture book about a resilient bird with a big dream.


Adria Quiñones

Adria Quiñones is a wildly successful technical writer who began writing novels for kids in order to have the experience of writing something that someone actually wanted to read. She is a member of Metro-NYC SCBWI's steering committee, hosts the chapter's Upper West Side write/sketch night, and helped found DIALOGS, the chapter's meet-up for kidlit creators from marginalized communities. Adria is a regular contributor to the Metro-NYC SCBWI‘s blog and was a winner of the SCBWI 2014 Midwinter Conference’s prestigious joke contest. In January 2015, Adria was named one of the winners of SCBWI’s Emerging Voices Award for her middle-grade novel, The Disappeared. She is currently at work on a picture book.


Jolie Stekly

Jolie Stekly is a writer, instructor, and coach. She’s a long-time member of SCBWI and was recognized as SCBWI’s member of the year in 2009. She is a former regional advisor of the SCBWI Western Washington region. Her writing is represented by Rosemary Stimola at Stimola Literary Studio.

Don Tate

Don Tate is an award-winning author and the illustrator of numerous critically acclaimed books for children. He is also one of the founding hosts of the blog, The Brown Bookshelf – a blog designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers. Don’s books have won the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, The Christopher Award, a Texas Institute of Letters Literary Award, a Writers’ League of Texas Book Award, and the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award.

Jaime Temairik

Jaime Temairik is originally from Washington State and has recently moved to Philadelphia, PA, where she enjoys finding soft pretzels and colonial-era privy pits. Visit her online illustration portfolio at to learn more about her books and work (but not her privy pits).


Lee Wind

Lee Wind, M.Ed., (and yes, the author of this blog post) is the official blogger for SCBWI ( and is Captain of SCBWI’s Team Blog. His award-winning personal blog, I’m Here. I’m Queer. What The Hell Do I Read ( has had over 2.5 million page loads and is a Children's Book Council "Great Diversity Blog." A writer of picture books through YA, his debut crowdfunded teen novel, "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill," publishes October 2, 2018.

Here's to an amazing #LA18SCBWI ahead!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Listen to SCBWI's Newest Podcast: A Conversation with Connie Hsu

Connie Hsu is an executive editor at Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Publishing, a founding member of the Children’s Book Council Diversity Committee, and a member of the Brooklyn Book Festival Children’s Planning Committee. Her authors include Vera Brosgol, Ruth Chan, Angela Dominguez, Shannon Hale, Kathryn Otoshi, Dan Santat, Steve Sheinkin, Mariko Tamaki, Susan Tan, and Tillie Walden.

In this podcast, Connie speaks with Theo Baker about her journey to being an editor, how she sees an editor’s role, and what she’s looking for in a manuscript.

Listen to the episode trailer here.

Current SCBWI members can listen to the full podcast here (log in first!)

Illustrate and Write On, 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Translator and Author Lyn Miller-Lachmann Shares Two Insights (and Opportunities) for American Creators of Children's and Teen Literature

In this interview for The Pirate Tree, Lyn Miller-Lachmann has two moments that really shake up the accepted narrative:

“In their reluctance to publish world literature in translation, and books with international settings, U.S. publishers reflect the insularity of the population as a whole. Unfortunately, this reinforcement of insularity – what some see as ‘American exceptionalism’ – does us all a disservice, because our young people are ill-prepared to live in a world that does not center us.”
“The trend in U.S. picture books to have the young person solve every problem often marginalizes or infantilizes elders when we need the energy and creativity of the young and the experience of elders to overcome the challenges that we face today.”

Thought-provoking, isn't it?

The entire interview is well worth-reading. My thanks to Cynthia Leitich-Smith for highlighting it on the indispensable Cynsations.

You can learn more about Lyn at her website here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

#LA18SCBWI Homework!

Are you attending the upcoming SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles, August 3-6, 2018?

It's coming up fast (the conference starts a week from Friday!) so seize your chance to do some prep work to get the most out of the weekend...

1) Study the schedule. Have a plan going in, about which breakouts you want to attend, which socials you want to participate in, which panelists whose work you haven't yet seen that you want to familiarize yourself with before you show up, so you can get the most out of what they're going to share.

2) Study the faculty list. Are you looking for an agent? Make a list of all the agents on faculty, and do your research online before you get to the conference hotel. That way, you can narrow it down to likely candidates, and focus your attendance and questions.

3) Study the faculty list some more. Even once you have an agent, knowing the editors and art directors working in our industry makes a difference. Who is publishing work you love? Who would you love to be published by? Familiarity with something they've recently published is a great conversation-starter!

4) Study the faculty list even more. Who's writing and/or illustrating in your category and genre? Who are you MOST excited to hear from, learn from, and meet? Get their latest book, and read it before you get to the conference. Again, familiarity with something they've recently published is a great conversation-starter!

5) Prepare how you'll present yourself and your work. What's your elevator pitch? Finish up your portfolio. Get business cards or postcards ready to share. Oh, and what's your approach to the Ball?

Then, once you've done your homework and you get to the conference here in Los Angeles, be open to the serendipity of things you didn't plan for... sometimes, those are the moments that yield the biggest take-aways of all!

Illustrate and Write On, and see you soon!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Children's Book Council Announces Their CBC Diversity Outstanding Achievement Awards Program

As explained at the CBC website,

These awards will be given annually, beginning in fall 2018, to professionals in the children’s publishing industry who are making or have made a significant impact on diversity in book creation and/or employment practices. Qualifications for the award include but are not limited to: the publishing and marketing of diverse books, diversity in hiring and mentoring, and efforts that create greater awareness with the public about the importance of diverse voices.
The nominations will be crowdsourced,
From July 30 to August 17, employees of all CBC member publishers can nominate individuals in the industry, along with a description of the reasons for their nomination. An online form will be distributed by email and be available on the CBC website. All the nominations will be read by the members of the CBC Diversity Committee, who will choose three-to-five winners to be announced at the CBC Annual Meeting on September 27. The award winners will each get to select an organization of their choice to receive one thousand dollars’ worth of children’s books in their name.
Cheering the CBC on in this new initiative—here's hoping it will shine a spotlight on those already doing great diversity-enhancing things in the world of Children's Literature, and motivate everyone to do more!

And it's a nice touch that the prize (beyond the acclaim) is to have hopefully diverse books donated to an organization in the winner's name. That's a prize that walks the walk! Read all the details here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Industry Info to Know: How Local Indie Stores Can Compete With Amazon

This analysis by Scott Thorne of the research by Ryan L. Raffaelli, assistant professor in the Organizational Behavior Unit at Harvard Business School, was fascinating.

The take-away, that local indie bookstores can succeed by leveraging three advantages they have over online retailers:
His research found that resurgent booksellers engaged in three bottom up practices throughout the industry:
1) Community. Emphasizing their position as a local member of the community, able to interact with other community members in a way that Amazon and other online retailers could not.
2) Curation. While online retailers focus on very wide inventory and discounted prices, the brick and mortar stores emphasized the selection they offered and the ability of their staff to guide customers to books and other items they would enjoy.
3) Convening. Bookstores leveraged their physical locations, scheduling even more events than they had in the past. Those were either free or paid, with some offering in excess of 500 per year, making them an important part of the local entertainment scene.
The opportunity this presents for we authors and illustrators is clear: We should be tapping into the communities we are already part of, positioning our titles to local stores as part of their curation process, and thinking events.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Porter Square Books Writers In Residence Program - What an Amazing Trend To Start!

As reported in Shelf Awareness, Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts has launched a "Writers in Residence Program."

As the store explains on their website:

"In order to make the resources needed to write books more available to the writers and aspiring writers in our community, Porter Square Books will select two writers, one writing for adults and one writing for young readers, to be our 2019 Writers in Residence."
Not only are there perks for the two writers selected (including a staff discount on everything and access to the store office—a quiet space to work—after 5pm and on the weekends) but there are also responsibilities (including three event introductions, three pieces for the store's blog, dibs on the authors' book launch event for the book they worked on during the residency.)

You can find out more and apply here.

It's a great initiative on behalf of this one bookstore, and hopefully an inspiration for other bookstores to follow suit... Imagine the impact if all the 1,100 indiebound bookstores created their own "Writers in Residence" Programs. And then, if every bookstore in the country—no, the world!—participated, too.

And if the selection of these writers is made with an eye to #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #OwnVoices, it could really make an impact—starting one store, one writer, one book, and one reader at a time!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Raising Our Voices - Illustrators Making An Impact

As reported in Publishers Weekly,
Prominent illustrators have donated images to display whenever we raise our voices to demand an end to the cruel [U.S.] administration policies of separating children from their parents and imprisoning refugees in detention facilities indefinitely. There are also postcards to send to the children who have not seen their parents in months.
That's from the Raising Our Voices website.

The printable protest signs have been used "around the world, from Tokyo to Seattle, Burlington to New York City, and many other cities and towns."

Here are some of the powerful images of protest:

Kira Lynn Caine’s Seeking Asylum is Not a Crime
Peter H. Reynolds’ Families Belong Together
Alison Farrel’s Caution: Ice

And postcards of support for the separated children:
Marc Rosenthal's Manténgase Fuerte: No Estas Solo / Stay Strong: You're Not Alone

Peter H. Reynolds' Your Dreams Are Your Wings
Jennifer K. Mann's We Are Thinking Of You / ¡Estamos Pensado En Ti!

Read more and get involved here.

Illustrate and Write On,