Thursday, December 5, 2019

Don’t miss out on the 21st Annual SCBWI Winter Conference, Feb 7-9, 2020 in New York City - Less Than 30 Spots Left!

It’s going to be amazing!

Join us for:
Deep dives into craft

Dynamic Keynotes

Relevant panels of industry experts

Your choice of three in-depth workshops taught by editors, agents, and master writers and illustrators.

The Golden Kite Awards Gala

Saturday night buffet dinner

Networking Socials (LGBTQ + Allies, Illustrators, Nonfiction, All Voices Inclusivity, International, First Time Attendees) and Peer Critiques

Portfolio Showcase
It will be a weekend packed with craft, business, inspiration, opportunity, and community – and will most likely sell out as it did last year.

We hope you’ll be able to join us.

Click here for all the conference information and to register:

Illustrate and Write On, 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Thinking of Writing a Holiday Picture Book? Some Wisdom from Patricia Toht

Patricia Toht is the author of two different holiday picture books, “Pick a Pine Tree” and “Pick a Pumpkin” and in this post at the GROG blog from last December, Writing a Holiday Picture Book,

Patricia runs through some of the pros, cons, and considerations for writing holiday-themed picture books.


From the Pros:
Holidays come around every year.
From the Cons:
There’s a very short window for sales.
From the Considerations: (I share two here but all five are good.)
2) Christmas and Halloween are widely covered in the US. If you choose either, can you come up with a unique character, setting, conflict, or other element? 
4) Look at book formats. Has a particular format not been done? Concept book? Wordless? Nonfiction? Historical fiction? Poetry?
The full post is well-worth reading.

Illustrate and Write On, 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Wonderland Article Gives Us a Glimpse Into the Maira Kalman Exhibition at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

So maybe you can't get to Amherst, Massachusetts before April 5, 2020. Or maybe, this will convince you to!

 The Pursuit of Everything: Maira Kalman’s Books for Children

The Wonderland article has lots of great photos and quotes from Maira's talk at the exhibit's opening, including these gems:
“The most wonderful projects come from wandering and finding your way and one thing leads to another.”
About writing about Thomas Jefferson, slavery and his sexual relationship with the woman he enslaved, Sally Hemings, in her 2014 book “Thomas Jefferson, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything”: “You can’t tell that story and have that thing be left out of it. … But you can talk to kids about that very plainly. … We said the monumental man had monumental flaws.”
“The way I deal with people is not from a cynical or sarcastic point of view,” Kalman says. “What I really want to say is we’re all in this together and I find you fantastically beautiful and interesting.”
“If you don’t digress and go off the point, I think you miss the point.”

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast Now: A Conversation with Floyd Cooper

Author/Illustrator Floyd Cooper has created nearly 100 picture books, winning multiple awards along the way! In this interview with Theo Baker, Floyd shares early lessons from his career and discusses his artistic process.

Listen to the episode trailer here.

Current SCBWI members can listen to the full episode here (log in first).

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Homework Help - A roundup of experts on Dyslexia dispel myths and misunderstandings

Writing and illustrating on a topic where we don't have expertise can be tricky... that's where doing our homework comes in.

Jen Robinson's Nov 13, 2019 Growing Bookworms Newsletter shared a link to this Expert Roundtable: Dispelling the Myths and Misunderstandings About Dyslexia from Reading By Example.

It's a crash-course on how to make sure we're not reinforcing misleading stereotypes and false information on Dyslexia.

And what's particularly useful is that asking six different experts -- with different perspectives -- the same question,

"What are the one or two things that you believe are most commonly misunderstood about dyslexia today, and what message would you want to share with educators, parents and/or students to increase their awareness of the reality?" 

We get a much more fully-realized picture than if we just spoke with a single expert.

It's a good model for doing our homework as creators of content for children and teens.

Thanks to Jen for sharing the link, and to the six experts who shared their knowledge in the roundtable.

Read the full article here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Leslie Helakoski and Darcy Pattison share 9 Picture Book Topics to Avoid (or, at least be forewarned about!)

Over at the Highlights Foundation blog, SCBWI members and all-around awesome picture book folks Leslie Helakoski and Darcy Pattison share a post on 9 Picture Book Topics to Avoid.

What's so helpful is that they acknowledge the well-worn themes, but also point out that if you go there, you better be bringing something new and fresh to the category... and then they list some picture books that have done just that.

From the tooth fairy to a new baby coming into the family, the areas are familiar... but are the fresh takes on those as familiar?

They ask us to consider, for a fresh take on tooth fairy stories, The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy by Martha Brockenbrough, illustrated by Israel Sanchez

and for something new on the new baby on the way stories, You Were the First (2013) by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin.

The full blog post is well-worth reading.

Consider, does your current picture book work in progress fall into any of these nine categories? And if so, do you have an approach that will help your take stand out?

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Your Twitter and Facebook Headers - Are Using This Free Real-Estate In The Best Way Possible?

It's a question brought on by this roundup "Authors on Twitter: 55 Stunning Header Image Examples" by Diana Urban at BookBub.

Both Facebook and Twitter allow you to upload your own custom headers... are you making the most of that space?

Check out the examples in the article, and also consider who are your colleague authors - those whose books your readers love, too - and go to their pages on social media to see what they're doing with that space.

Be aspirational - check out what the best-sellers in your category are doing.

Be strategic - Diana's roundup gives some handy design categories these fall into, including:

Promote a single book

Promote a series

Display multiple books

Showcase art from a book or cover

Focus on author branding

Be creative - use a free tool like, or a more robust designer tool, or consider hiring an actual designer to help make you look like the professional you are.

Some inspiration:

Have fun with it, and know you can change it up over time!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

"How I Hit a Bestseller List with a Traditionally Published Book" - Christina McDonald Shares Her 7-Step Playbook on the BookBub Blog

How I Hit a Bestseller List with a Traditionally Published Book by Christina McDonald is a guest post over at BookBub.

Fascinating? Yes.

Duplicatable? Well, no one else is Christina with that exact book, "The Night Olivia Fell", but there are lots of strategies and techniques Christina shares that we might consider for our books, including testing ads, stacking promos, and orchestrating everything to hit at the same time.

The bottom line:
“Don’t be deceived: Hitting the USA Today bestseller list isn’t easy. You need your publisher on board if you’re traditionally published, and you have to be willing to give it all you’ve got, including investing a lot of money and time into marketing. I spent over a month preparing for the few days I hoped to increase sales.” — Christina McDonald
The full post is well-worth reading. See what might resonate for you!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Publishing a Book, By The Numbers (and Illustrated Charts!)

This comic-style article, Publishing a Book, By the Numbers, in The New Yorker by Michelle Rial is brilliant and hysterical.

 Go check out the full piece online here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

SCBWI 2019 Reading List Advertised In PW's Children's Bookshelf!

Children's Bookshelf is "a free e-newsletter from Publishers Weekly that reports on children's and YA books" with 32,000 opt-in subscribers!

SCBWI's 2019 Reading List is "a SCBWI digital publication that lists books written and/or illustrated during 2019 by our PAL members. The list is organized into the categories of Board Book, Picture Book, Early Reader, Chapter Book, Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Anthologies, and is available to download. There are over 140 searchable keywords to help teachers and librarians locate stories on certain genres, themes, and subjects, or find books from authors and illustrators in their area. The SCBWI Reading List is a great way for anyone to find the perfect book for a child or young adult in their life."

Check out the SCBWI 2019 Reading List, and share it with the people you know to help spread the word!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Jonathan Maberry on Why Some Readers Like To Be Scared

Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times best-selling and five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author, anthology editor, comic book writer, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator, and writing teacher/lecturer. He was named one of the Today’s Top Ten Horror Writers. His books have been sold to more than two-dozen countries.

His young adult fiction includes ROT & RUIN (2011; was named in Booklist’s Ten Best Horror Novels for Young Adults, an American Library Association Top Pick, a Bram Stoker and Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading winner; winner of several state Teen Book Awards including the Cricket, Nutmeg and MASL; winner of the Cybils Award, the Eva Perry Mock Printz medal, Dead Letter Best Novel Award, and four Melinda Awards); DUST & DECAY (winner of the 2011 Bram Stoker Award; FLESH & BONE (winner of the Bram Stoker Award; 2012; and FIRE & ASH (August 2013). BROKEN LANDS, the first of a new spin-off series, debuted in 2018.

In this interview with Tyler Moss for Writer's Digest, Jonathan says,
"...when people ask me why I write about monsters, I tell them that I don’t. I write about people who confront monsters and find a way to defeat them. That’s a big difference."
Jonathan further breaks down the reasons why some readers like to be scared:
"Partly because we like to think that there’s more to our world than what which can be measured. Partly because we like to put ourselves into the roles of the characters in a scary story and imagine what we would do, what we could do, and how we’d react. Partly, we like to explore the dangers of our own life through the filter of metaphor and allegory, largely because in fiction there is a third act, a resolution, a solution. If we see Van Helsing stake a vampire or plucky teens rise to overthrow a dystopian government or a frightened mother save her children from a poltergeist, then it helps us cultivate and preserve the optimism that allows us to believe we will somehow conquer the threats in our real lives."
The whole interview is well-worth reading. Oh, and Happy Halloween!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast Now - A Conversation with Alvina Ling

Alvina Ling is Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. In this interview with Theo Baker, Alvina speaks of her career path, what’s constant in being an editor, the relationship between her and her writers and illustrators, and so much more!

Listen to the episode trailer here.

Current SCBWI members can listen to the full episode here (log in first).

Illustrate and Write On,