Thursday, June 13, 2019

Linda Sue Park Shares Lois Lowry's Advice on Novel Structure

Linda Sue Park, photograph by Sonya Sones

Newbery-Winning Author Linda Sue Park is a brilliant writer, and, to quote her, it's pretty clever to learn "from the best!" On her website, she shares advice on writing, including a section on Structure:
My outline for novel structure comes from author Lois Lowry (I’m a strong believer in learning from the best!). I read about how she builds her stories:

•Complications and choices

Once again, I've adapted another writer’s advice to suit the way I work. I divide “Quest” into two sections: Internal and External. In every scene I write, the character must either make progress toward or face impediments to the quest(s).
She continues by sharing how she applied this to her novel Seesaw Girl.

Go read Linda Sue's advice now. (There's great stuff there about reading 1,000 books before you write your own, and about discipline, too.)

Thanks, Linda Sue!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The 2019 Crystal Kite Winners!

Fifteen divisions.

Peer-selected winners.

Sixteen newly award-winning books published in 2018 to add to your must-read list!

Presenting this year's SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards:

From the Atlantic division (Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Wash DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland), the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner is...

Hawk Rising by Maria Gianferrari; illustrated by Brian Floca

From the Australia, New Zealand division, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner is...

At The End of Holyrood Lane by Dimity Powell; illustrated by Nicky Johnston

From the California, Hawaii division, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner is...

She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lynn Fulton

From the Canada division, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner is...

The Outlaw by Nancy Vo

From Europe, Latin America, Africa division, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner is...

The Night Lion by Sanne Dufft

From the Mid South Division (Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana), the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner is...

A Hippy-Hoppy Toad by Peggy Archer

From the Middle East, India, Asia division, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner is a tie...

The Clever Tailor by Srividhya Venkat


All Eyes on Alexandra by Anna Levine

From the Mid West Division (Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio), the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner is...

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

From the New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island), the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner is...

The Rough Patch by Brian Lies

From the New York division, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner is...

Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dee Romito; illustrated by Laura Freeman

From the South East Division (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama), the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner is...

Evangeline of the Bayou by Jan Eldredge

From the South West Division (Nevada, Arizona, Utah, southern Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico), the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner is...

The 11:11 Wish by Kim Tomsic

From the Texas, Oklahoma division, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner is...

The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast by Samantha Clark

From the UK, Ireland division, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner is...

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen

And finally, from the Western Division (Washington, Oregon, Alaska, northern Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota), the SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner is...

Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have A Horse by Marcy Campbell illustrated by Corinna Luyken

Congratulations to all the winners, and to everyone who entered! You can find details about entering your 2019-published book for consideration in the 2020 SCBWI Crystal Kite Awards here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Editor Harold Underdown Explains How To Use a Revision Grid

It's a powerful tool. You may have seen the legendary one created by J.K. Rowling for the entire Harry Potter series, on one piece of paper!

In this blog post over at the Highlights Foundation, Using a Revision Grid to Break a Story Down Into Elements, there are two videos with Harold walking us through, first, the revision grid concept, and second, how he used a customized grid to look at the first two chapters of Gail Carson Levine's Dave at Night.

A still-frame from the video where Harold walks us through what a Revision Grid is, and how it works.

The post even includes downloadable templates for creating your own Revision Grid for your story.

I'll add that making a revision grid works for picture book manuscripts as well—especially as a way for writers to track if there are enough different locations/visuals for an illustrator to explore with the 15 or 16 page turns.

The Highlights Foundation post is a generous teaser for their upcoming revision retreat (co-facilitated by Harold Underdown and Eileen Robinson), and is well-worth checking out. Read the full post and watch the videos here.

Illustrate and Write—and Revise—On!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Inspiration for All of Us Storytellers From Brian McDonald

“Stories are the collective wisdom of everyone who has ever lived. Your job as a storyteller is not simply to entertain. Nor is it to be noticed for the way you turn a phrase. You have a very important job--one of the most important. Your job is to let people know that everyone shares their feelings--and that these feelings bind us. Your job is a healing art, and like all healers, you have a responsibility. Let people know they are not alone. You must make people understand that we are all the same.”

— Brian McDonald
From Lori Snyder's free Writers Happiness newsletter, I thought this quote was so powerful, and true.

I hope it inspires and empowers you, too!

If you'd like more storytelling wisdom from Brian, check out his blog, The Invisible Ink, here. He's also interviewed on the Paper Wings podcast here—which is packed with insights!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, May 30, 2019

A Conversation with Erin Entrada Kelly - Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast

Erin is the winner of the 2018 Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe. With many other awards and multiple books on the New York Times bestseller list, she is also a professor of children’s literature at Rosemont College. In this two-part interview with Theo Baker, Erin shares about her background in journalism, having the right mindset for feedback, how she developed her craft, and 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,

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Agent Jennifer Laughran Breaks Down The Why, Why Nots, Code Language, and How of Those Publishers Marketplace Deal Announcements

This blog piece (at her archived blog) by Jennifer Laughran, Senior Agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, is excellent foundational information.

Did you know that "nice deal" is anything between $1 - $49,000?

Or the seven reasons agents might not report sales?

Or that some agents, sometimes, report sales to "drum up some early foreign or other subrights interest"?

There's lots more to learn, and Jennifer's post is a great place start. Read the whole post here. And thanks, Jennifer!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Illustrators – Do You Know About the Portfolio Showcase at #LA19SCBWI?

It's a showcase.

It's a contest.

It's an amazing opportunity to get your work seen by SCBWI judges, mentors, and the art directors, editors, agents, and other publishing professionals attending the SCBWI Summer Conference.

Nifty illustration by Priscilla Burris, SCBWI U.S. Illustrator Coordinator & Advisor

It's a chance to meet a professional deadline.

It's a chance to get feedback on your work.

It's a chance to put your work out there!

Read all the details here.

We hope you'll join us at the 48th Annual SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles, August 9-12, 2019. Find out all about the conference at this link:

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Funny, Harsh, and Even a Bit True: Harlan Coben's Writing Tips

Harlan Coben has written "dozens of novels," and over at Publishers Weekly's BookLife, he shares five writing tips.

#3 surprised me, though given Harlan's genre, maybe it shouldn't have:

3. Write like there is a knife against your throat.

The knife is right there and if you bore us, flick, you’re dead. Write with that kind of energy. Make every word count. The great Elmore Leonard said it best: “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”

#4 felt very true.

4. The distance is nothing. It is only the first step that is difficult.

I don’t know who originally said this, but the first word you write each day is the hardest, the second word is the second hardest, and so on. Once you start, it does get easier.

Take a look, and see if these tips are helpful for you.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Matt de la Peña and Christopher Paul Curtis Create SCBWI Scholarships for IPOC Women

Two new scholarships are available for this summer's SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles (and there will be two new scholarship opportunities for #NY20SCBWI as well!)

SCBWI is proud to announce the creation of two new scholarship awards for SCBWI members to attend the international Winter and Summer Conferences. Four scholarships will be given in total: the two scholarships for the Los Angeles Summer Conference are sponsored by author, SCBWI Board member, and Newbery Award recipient Matt de la Peña; the two scholarships for the New York Winter Conference are sponsored by Newbery Award-winning author Christopher Paul Curtis. Both of these awards are for Indigenous and People of Color who identify as women.

All four winners of the two awards will receive an all-expense paid trip to one of the two SCBWI conferences, as well as two follow-up mentorship conversations with an industry professional. All expenses, such as travel and hotel, will be included, as well as a $250 stipend for additional costs, such as home or child care.

Eligible SCBWI members for the Summer Conference Matt de la Peña Award can apply from May 1 through June 15. The application form for the Summer Conference can be found here. Applications for the Christopher Paul Curtis Award will be available after October 1.

In sponsoring the scholarship, Matt de la Peña said,
“It is an honor to provide a small boost to hard-working and talented writers and artists in a time when it is such a challenge to make a career in the arts. I’m so thankful that SCBWI has provided me this opportunity to give back.”
Christopher Paul Curtis added this about his scholarship fund:
“My hope is that this scholarship serves as a nudge. A small encouragement to help a writer who is a woman of color get to the point where she listens to the voice that has asked day after day, ‘What are you waiting for? You are a writer. Do something about it.'”
SCBWI conferences provide a gateway for people to advance their careers. With the establishment of these awards, SCBWI hopes to increase the diversity of children’s books by providing four deserving IPOC women authors or illustrators a chance to seek creative and professional fulfillment and find a path to publication.

SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver noted,
“The generosity exemplified by Matt de la Peña and Christopher Paul Curtis in funding these scholarships will change the lives of four new children’s book creators, and help feed the pipeline for getting more diverse books into the hands of all children.”
Illustrate and Write On—and, if you are indigenous and/or a person of color who identifies as a woman, and you're ready to take your career as a writer and/or illustrator of work for children to the next level, apply!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

How Do You Know If You've Written a Picture Book?

This question comes up so often, I'm grateful to Darcy Pattison and Leslie Helakoski who, over at the Highlights Foundation blog, wrote a great piece that helps us writers figure it out, How Do You Know If You've Written a Picture Book?

They offer us nine questions off the bat, including:
Does the MC change or evolve over the course of the story? Is there tension and a narrative arc? and Does the story have a universal connection and kid-relatable problem?
And then, a breakdown of what each of the fourteen sections of a picture book must accomplish, from the foundational make the reader want to turn the page to the more meta If this section is left out does the story change or suffer?

Overall, it's well-worth reading—especially when you're trying to figure out if a new idea is a picture book, a magazine article, or something else entirely.

Illustrate and Write On, 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Janice Hardy on "Why Conflict Is so Hard to Create in Romance"

Recommended by the wonderful Cynsations blog, this article by Janice Hardy on "Why Conflict Is so Hard to Create in Romance" is well-worth reading.

With a helpful mini-synopsis of three different romance novels, Janice illustrates how:
"Unlike most novels, there is no mustache-twirling antagonist standing between the lovebirds and happiness. And since the protagonists need to come together in the end, you can’t have one defeat the other. Without these common antagonistic elements, finding a conflict strong enough to drive a plot can be quite the challenge.

Until you realize that most romance novels have a person vs. self conflict.

There is no bad guy in a romance. The issues keeping the two people apart are their own personal issues. A fear of commitment. An impulsive nature. A lack of communication skills. Some flaw that’s been getting in the way of their happiness that they need to overcome and/or learn to accept to find love and be happy."
Read the full article here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Netflix on a Book Acquisition Spree

The appetite for IP—sourced from books—is growing, according to this article in Publishers Weekly, The Netflix Literary Connection.

Standout quotes:
“There’s just no other substitute for the amount of work and creativity that goes into a book,” said Matt Thunell, v-p of original series at Netflix.

“The reason I love books—especially a book-to-series translation—is that they often provide this incredible landscape, mythology, and opportunity for worldbuilding that’s really hard to come by in the everyday pitches I’m hearing,” Thunell said.
Read the full article here.

Illustrate and Write On,