Tuesday, June 2, 2020

A Crisis and the Importance of Words - Wisdom from Jason Reynolds, National Ambassador of Young People's Literature.

Jason Reynolds's tweet from Friday May 29, 2020, shared by Jacqueline Woodson (our previous National Ambassador of Young People's Literature) and more than 7,000 others, is a powerful reminder in the midst of America's dual crises of Coronavirus and Racism:

"If you call us thugs, you don't have to call us children. If you call us thugs, you don't have to call us angry. If you call us thugs, you don't have to call us heartbroken. If you call us thugs, you don't have to call us human. You also don't have to call yourselves complicit." — Jason Reynolds

Words Matter. #BlackLivesMatter.

And we, as creators of work for children and teens, have power in our words, our stories, our illustrations. And in that power is responsibility, and even the opportunity to make our world a better place.

Illustrate and Write On, and Stay Safe,

Thursday, May 28, 2020

SCBWI Announces New Round of Free-to-Members #SCBWIdigital Workshops

Six new free online workshops for SCBWI members start June 4, 2020. Every Thursday at 1pm Pacific, you'll get to learn from:

June 4: Tracey Baptise, author
"The World Isn't Flat: World Building for Realistic and Fantasy Stories"

June 11: Vashti Harrison, author/illustrator
"Character Building for Writers and Illustrators"

June 18: Beth Kephart, author
"Writing Our Lives: From the Telling Detail to the Evocative Scene

June 25: Lesa Cline-Ransome, author
"Telling Their Stories: Writing Nonfiction Picture Book Biographies From Beginning to End"

July 2: Deborah Halverson, editor
"Submission Studio: Writing Queries, Strategizing Submissions, and 10 Ways to Translate "No" to "Yes!"

July 9: Tiff Liao, editor, Henry Holt
"Straight Through the Heart: How to Make Readers Fall in Love With Your Characters"

Read all the details here and learn more about the workshop faculty here.

Registration opens the Monday before the workshop. Only the first 3,000 members who sign up can watch it live and ask their questions. But every SCBWI member can watch the recording for 30 days after the workshop presentation. They promise to be great!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast: A Conversation with Raúl the Third

Raúl the Third is a Pura Belpré medal award-winning illustrator of graphic novels and author/illustrator of picture books and soon, early readers. In this conversation with Theo Baker, Raúl discusses his connection to art, shares some of the strategies he uses in illustrating, and recounts his path to building his own universe of characters and stories.

Listen to the episode trailer here.

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

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Finalists for the 2021 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature Include Many Familiar Faces From Our SCBWI Community!

The finalists for the 2021 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature are:

・Laurie Halse Anderson
・Eric Gansworth
・Meg Medina
・Linda Sue Park
・Mitali Perkins
・Jason Reynolds
・Cynthia Leitich Smith
・Laurel Snyder
・Alex Wheatle

The finalists were selected by an "international jury of accomplished writers and artists... with their sole criterion being the significant achievement of a writer or illustrator, either over a lifetime or in a single publication, as well as an ongoing, positive impact on children’s literature." The winner will be announced in October. Learn more here.

Congratulations, and good luck to all the finalists!

Illustrate and Write On,

P.S. - this does serve as an excellent reading list prompt, as well...

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

"A Story is a Question, Not an Answer." - Richard Peck, from the SCBWI Vault

This is truly something to celebrate. For more than 40 years, SCBWI has hosted some of the most brilliant writers and illustrators, editors, agents, publishers, and other industry pros creating work for children and teens, and now there's a new YouTube channel where you can see moments of their brilliance from the past, today.

Like this amazing under-four minute video of the late multi-award winning author Richard Peck, recorded in 2001:

and this inspiration from multi-award winning illustrator (and sometimes author) Vanessa Brantley-Newton, recorded in 2017:


 "Shake it off, Pack it under." That's how you deal with adversity!

 Vaults are generally filled with gold. With fine wine. With treasure.

And these moments are treasure. With new material every Tuesday and Thursday, the SCBWI Vault is well-worth subscribing to on YouTube!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, May 14, 2020

SCBWI Member, Friend, Author, and Yoga Instructor Lori Snyder Makes Her "Writers Happiness Retreat" Online, and FREE For All!

The First Online Splendid Mola/Writers Happiness Retreat for Writers
with Lori Snyder

Writing time, yoga, and community—from home
Friday evening, May 15 - Sunday brunch, May 17 Free
Author and retreat leader Lori Snyder

Lori shares a bit more:

The idea behind this writing retreat is simple: community and time. Time to write, to brainstorm, to clear your psychic space from distractions. To sit with your manuscript. To revise. To remember why you love this. To finish something. To start something. To remind yourself how good you are. To feel refreshed. To be supported. To remember that your writing matters in the midst of all of this, and that it’s also totally okay if it’s not coming easily at the moment.

There are no critiques, no readings, no workshops. Just a chance to work on or think about your project in a supportive community of other writers working on and thinking about their projects.

There will be an opening and closing circle, plenty of writing time, optional yoga and meditation for writers, and optional shared meals, and you are welcome to attend all or just parts here and there, whatever works for your time, brain, and life right now.

This online writers retreat is free as part of the Writers Happiness Movement, which runs on the patronage of writers who want to live in a world where kindness, joy, and writers are supported.

Get the details and sign up here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Monday, May 11, 2020

The SCBWI Online Summer Spectacular Is Announced - Reservations Open This Wednesday May 13, 2020

Due to the current global health crisis, The 2020 SCBWI Summer Conference is going Digital! Hosted on Zoom July 31, - Aug 4, 2020, with video recordings available the entire month of August - so you can participate live or watch at your convenience.

You can see the full schedule here, and make sure to note these amazing highlights:

A Friday night kickoff with Philip Pullman and Arthur Levine!

Keynote conversations with:

Kwame Alexander and Raúl The Third

Laurie Halse Anderson and Meg Medina

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

Judy Blume and Lin Oliver

Jeff Kinney and Lin Oliver & Henry Winkler

Grace Lin and Alvina Ling

Jason Reynolds and Caitlyn Dlouhy & Nic Stone

Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple

Jacqueline Woodson and Nancy Paulsen!

There will also be an Editors Panel, with Stacey Barney, Arthur A. Levine, Neal Porter, Jill Stantopolo, Julie Strauss-Gable, and Namrata Tripathi!

And an Agents Panel with Regina Brooks, Linda Camacho, Rosemary Stimola, and Brooks Sherman!

There will be an online portfolio showcase, the opportunity to sign up for consultations on your manuscript, portfolio, social media presence, and career path, and even Twitter Chat Socials for Illustrators, GenNext, Equity and Inclusion, and a Safe Safe Zoom Gathering for those writing and illustrating LGBTQ characters and themes!

There's even an instagram meme Contest!

Don't miss what's going to be the virtual event of the season - we hope you'll join us! Get all the information and be prepared to register at 10am Pacific this Wednesday May 13, 2020.

Illustrate and Write On, and Stay Safe,

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Illustrator Ellen Beier Shares a Discovery Tip and the Story of Her Picture Book Coming Back from Out of Print to Be Reissued By a Different Publisher

This interview by Gayleen Rabakukk over at Cynsations with SCBWI illustrator member Ellen Beier has three stand-out moments. The first is the way that Ellen connected with one of her publishers:
Gayleen: I noticed those projects were for Asian publishers. How did you make those connections? Were there any logistical or other challenges in bringing the images to life?

Ellen: Les Misérables was published in an abridged version for Little Fox, South Korea which produces online classics for children in Asia.

They found my portfolio on the SCBWI gallery and released the illustrations serially by chapters over many months, a total of 270 paintings. I enjoyed this format that resembles graphic novel or comic frames.
Which of course, begs the question: Can publishers find YOUR portfolio in the SCBWI illustrator gallery?

The second stand-out moment was the reissue journey of a picture book Ellen illustrated, written by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood (Holiday House, 2011, reissued South Dakota Historical Society Press, 2018)!

It's a story about being resiliant, flexible, and believing in YOUR story, and the impact it can have on readers. And not giving up.

Congratulations to both Ellen and Virginia on the success of the re-release!

The third aspect I found fascinating was how differently Ellen preps to do her illustrations:
With every book I read the original text—in the case of Les Misérables I also listened to the entire 51-CD set of recordings of Victor Hugo’s narrative translated into English. I purposely did not watch the newer films of Les Misérables because I wanted my take to derive entirely from the words. 
For Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (L.C. Page & Co., 1908) I did watch all the films beginning with the 1934 black and white film up to the latest version on Netflix. The publisher in this case wanted the images of Anne and other characters to be consistent with those in the public imagination.

Read the full interview with Ellen at Cynthia Leitich Smith's indispensable Cynsations blog here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Second Round Voting for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Members Choice Awards is Now Open (voting ends May 13, 2020 at 5pm US pacific time)

SCBWI Members: This is your chance to help choose which book will win for your region!

To cast your vote: log on to www.scbwi.org. Once you are on your Member Home page, go to the left navigation bar, scroll to the bottom and click on Vote in the Crystal Kite Awards. That takes you right to the voting page where all of the books in your Division appear. Then click the VOTE FOR THIS BOOK button below your chosen book and you are done!

And then you can sport this "I Voted" graphic on your social media! (Don't forget to use the hashtags #SCBWI19CK and #scbwicrystalkites.)

Learn more about the SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards here and at the awards Q&A page here.

And good luck to all the finalists!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, April 30, 2020

BookBub Compiles 15 Ways Authors are Using Instagram to Connect with Readers Amidst Physical Distancing

There's a lot to appreciate about this piece by Evelyn Maguire, 15 Ways Authors are Using Instagram to Overcome Physical Distancing Challenges.

I'll start with how much I prefer the expression "Physical Distancing" to "Social Distancing." This is precisely when we need to feel closer to each other socially - and technology can help with that. It's just we need physical distance between us to keep everyone safe. It's an important distinction.

The article's content is inspiring as well. While the examples are all from Instagram, they're applicable to other platforms and forms of social media. Here are some highlights of how authors are overcoming physical distancing challenges:

1. They’re hosting Q&As via Instagram Live
Authors have been making themselves more accessible to readers by inviting them to scheduled or impromptu Q&As via Instagram Live.

3. They’re recommending quarantine reads
Many authors are sharing book recommendations with their readers.

4. They’re bringing book launches to readers virtually
For many authors, coronavirus has disrupted their much-anticipated book releases and launch events. So many are using Instagram to celebrate their launches virtually instead.

10. They’re offering ways to help fellow writers
Some authors are providing writing guidance as a way to help fellow writers during this stressful time!

15. They’re trying to lighten the mood
With humorous videos, pictures, and memes, many authors have been sharing lighthearted moments with their followers.

Check out the full piece and all the examples here.

Illustrate and Write on - and feel connected socially (even while we're physically distant),

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast: A Conversation with Senior Executive Editor Sara Sargent

Sara Sargent is a senior executive editor at Random House Books for Young Readers, where she publishes fiction and nonfiction in the picture book, middle grade, and young adult categories.

In this conversation with Theo Baker, Sara discusses trends and readers, her career path, the evolution of her lists as an acquiring editor, 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,

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Remembering Tomie dePaola - The Author/Illustrator Who Put the "I" in SCBWI

Tomie dePaola passed away at the end of March, 2020.

There have been some beautiful online tributes to him, including this remembrance from SCBWI's Executive Director and Co-Founder Lin Oliver, who writes of their friendship, and of Tomie's contribution to SCBWI:
Tomie’s role in SCBWI was huge. He was an early Board member, and gave one of our first keynote banquet speeches during which he read The Clown of God to a tearful audience. He was a tireless advocate for illustrators, and was the one who insisted we include illustrators in our name (before him, it was the SCBW). He conducted the first master class intensive at the conference. He sponsored the Tomie dePaola award, now called the Narrative Art Award. He spoke at so many conferences, loved our organization and our community. His art was featured on the very first full color Bulletin cover.

and this piece in Publishers Weekly,

which includes some great memories, including from Author/Illustrator and Art Director Laurent Linn, who wrote,

Tomie was dance and music and color and wit and theater. He crafted all of these elements into his art, layering them in just the right amounts depending on the story, and created books that were beautiful but also spoke to the soul of a child. He understood the minds of children, their desire to discover, their need for respect. While I’ve never known anyone whose laugh resonated as deeply as Tomie’s, he wasn’t all light and sparkle (though he certainly was those!) He was also profound and thoughtful about the peaks and valleys of his life. He had his woes.

But I learned from him and was profoundly inspired by how he got through—no, how he grew—during difficult times. He spoke of being young and gay in the 1940s and 1950s and the blatant discrimination he faced, the horrible losses of family he loved and friends who were his chosen family, and painful low points in his long career. But he always had hope. The last time I spoke with him was on Sunday, March 21. I asked him about the unsettling and unknown times we’re facing today. No offense, I said, but you’ve lived a long time and seen so much. (He laughed and said no offense taken—he’d earned his 85 years!) How did this horrific virus compare to anything he had experienced before? He said it’s nothing like what he has known, but he was hopeful. He spoke of wanting to use this time to look at things differently, to have more compassion for others, to rethink how we live our lives and come out better than we were before. I am devastated that he is gone and still can’t believe it. But as we face the future without him, I shall carry his hope, and his sparkle, with me every day.
Our world is so much better for having had Tomie part of it. And we have his books, still.

Read more about Tomie, and his books. As Lin wrote, "His legacy endures in all ways, big and small."

Illustrate and Write On,