Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Writer Intensives!!! (There's still some room in these amazing experiences on Monday August 4, 2014 in Los Angeles, CA!

The writer intensives at #LA14SCBWI are selling out, so grab these opportunities while they're still available!

Literary Agent Josh Adams of Adams Literary, who is a great character himself, on Character: Creating Memorable Protagonists (Morning Intensive A)

Bonnie Bader, Associate Publisher of Frederick Warne (where she oversees the Peter Rabbit and Spot publishing programs, as well as Editor-in-Chief of Penguin Young Readers/Early Readers (where she heads up the leveled reader and 8x8 programs) on How to Hook Readers from the Beginning of your Book so they'll Never let Go (All-Day Intensive B)

Thriller author Lamar Giles on Writing a YA Thriller (Morning Intensive C)

Deborah Halverson, editor and author of "Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies" on Crafting a Youthful Narrative Voice and Sensibility in MG/YA Fiction (Morning Intensive D)

Krista Marino, Executive Editor at Delacorte Press (Random House Children's Books) on World Building (best for fantasy, science fiction and speculative MG and YA fiction. Morning Intensive E)

Newbery-Winning Author Linda Sue Park's Write Here Right Now! A Novel Revision Workout (Morning Intensive F)

Literary Agent Kelly Sonnack of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency on Finessing Your First Pages (Morning Intensive I)

Andrea Welch, Senior Editor at Beach Lane Books, on Measuring Up Your Manuscript on the Ten Essential Picture Book Elements (Morning Intensive K and Afternoon Intensive M)

Speed Pitching Agents Alexandra Penfold (Upstart Crow) and Erin Murphy (Erin Murphy Literary Agency) (Morning Intensive L and Afternoon Intensive N)

Speed Pitching Agents Linda Pratt (Wernick & Pratt Agency) and Sarah Davies (Morning Intensive M)

Author of over 100 books for kids (and incredible live storyteller) Bruce Coville on The Light Fantastic - Writing Compelling Fantasies - where he'll do an "annotated storytelling" of the first two chapters of The Monster's Ring examining the tricks and techniques he used, and then explore ten specific tips for writing compelling Fantasies. (Afternoon Intensive A)

Agent Sarah Davies on What It Takes - an interactive, inside look at how to break in, how deals are done, surviving the publishing rollercoaster and building a career. (Afternoon Intensive C)

Editor and Consultant Emma Dryden on Robust Revision - Techniques and tools for picture books, middle grade and young adult authors. (Afternoon Intensive D)

Krista Marino, Executive Editor at Delacorte Press (Random House Children's Books) on Show It, Don't Tell It - Making Your YA Voice Stronger. (Afternoon Intensive G)

Agent Jen RofĂ© on The "So What?" Factor (Afternoon Intensive H)

Jill Santopolo, Executive Editor at Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group (Penguin Random House) on From Beginning To End: Tips on Plotting Your Plot (Afternoon Intensive I)

Sara Sargent, editor at Simon Pulse (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) on the key to writing that "unputdownable" book - The Tension Headache: Raising the Stakes in your Manuscript. (Afternoon Intensive J)

Julie Strauss-Gabel, Vice President and Publisher of Dutton Children's Books (Penguin Random House) on, whether you're published yet or not, deciding what you should write next: At the Crossroads: Choosing Your Next Project. (Afternoon Intensive K)

We hope to see you at the Summer Conference, and at the Monday intensives! Click for Conference, registration and more information on the intensives.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The ABC Of It: Why Children's Books Matter - An Exhibit At The New York Public Library

This exhibit at the library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Gottesman Exhibition Hall (the main building with the famous lions at 5th Avenue and 42nd street in Manhattan) is well worth checking out!

As described on the library's website:

The ABC of It draws on collections across the Library to present the literature for children and teens against a sweeping backdrop of history, the arts, popular culture, and technological change. The books and related objects on view reveal hidden historical contexts and connections and invite second looks and fresh discoveries. They suggest that books for young people have stories to tell us about ourselves, and are rarely as simple as they seem. 

I took a docent tour, and found so many things that were fascinating and made me take notice. It was one of those exhibits where I imagine every time through you could find new things, and that five people coming out of the exhibit would have seven different take-aways to discuss!

Some of my personal highlights:

An actual New-England Primer (the oldest-known copy, from 1727.) This was extra-interesting since I had just read "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" by Elizabeth George Speare in which the Primer plays an important role... 

The shift away from viewing children as sinners (as in the Primer) to being wonderstruck is shown by William Blake's "Songs of Innocence" from 1794.

The idea that the best way to educate children is by delighting them, put forth by John Locke.

The story of how when Alice in Wonderland was first published, the real author (Professor) Charles Lutwidge Dodgson used the pseudonym "Lewis Carroll" so he would not be publicly embarrassed by having it known that he had written a children's book! 

"Slovely Peter, or Happy Tales and Funny Pictures" caught my eye, because it's one of the few books my parents had from their childhoods in Israel that I grew up with here in America. I learned in this exhibit that the book was originally created by Heinrich Hoffmann in 1844, was a huge hit in Germany, and ended up getting translated into many different languages, including; in Israel, into Hebrew; and in America, into English... by none other than Mark Twain!

The actual stuffed animals that inspired Winnie The Pooh and friends (A.A. Milne had purchased them for his son Christopher Robin Milne, who had originally named the bear "Edward.")

The exhibit had some visually dramatic installation moments as well, including:

The "Where The Wild Things Are" arch that you could walk through! 

A display of cartoon action figures, tied into the section on comics.

A tribute to banned books, with a central column built from challenged books. On either side of the column they went into more detail about eight of the books and the challenges those books faced. I knew most of those, but "The Rabbit's Wedding" by Garth Williams in 1958 was a revelation!

The final exhibition room, "Storied City: New York" was about New York City itself, and the often starring role it has had in children's literature.

It held one more moment that delighted me:

This amazing illustration from Roald Dahl's "James and the Giant Peach"

Beautifully curated by Leonard S. Marcus, if you can make it to see "The ABC Of It: Why Children's Books Matter," do! The exhibit is free to the public, and open until Sunday September 7, 2014.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Crystal Kite Round Two Voting Is Open!

But only until April 30th!

Congratulations to all the short listed authors and illustrators whose books are up for the Crystal Kite Award!

Now is the time to choose the winners in each division.

To cast your vote, log on at scbwi.org

Then go here: https://www.scbwi.org/crystalkite-results

Good luck to all the finalists!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Get Ready To Register For #LA14SCBWI - The Upcoming SCBWI Summer Conference, August 1-4, 2014 in Los Angeles!

Mark your calendars and get ready: Registration for the 2014 SCBWI Summer conference opens at 10am Pacific Time on April 21, 2014!

The SCBWI Summer conference is a jam-packed weekend featuring over 25 top agents, editors and publishers, providing insider information about the market. It's a rare opportunity to meet and network with so many of the decision makers in children’s publishing!

There will be a brilliant array of children’s literature star authors and illustrators to inspire you with their knowledge and vision.

Small group targeted breakout workshops will give you take-away skills to hone your craft. 

And classroom-sized intensives on the final day give you an opportunity to dig into your work-in-progress, and make it the best it can be.

There are also Manuscript, Portfolio, and Social Media Consultations, a Juried Portfolio Showcase, an Illustrator Intensive and two post-conference Writer Intensive workshops to make the most of your conference weekend.

The conference Keynote speakers include:

 Aaron Becker, author/illustrator of the 2014 Caldecott Honor picture book, "Journey."

Judy Blume, legendary author - no kidding, she's been awarded the Library of Congress Living Legends Award - who has sold more than 82 million copies of her books.

Judy says that some of her best ideas come to her when she's kayaking!

Publisher Justin Chanda (Simon & Schuster), who oversees the publication of two hundred and fifty titles per year ranging from "the youngest picture book to the edgiest YA."

Stephen Chbosky, whose best-selling YA novel, The Perks of Being A Wallflower, was made into a movie - that he adapted and directed himself.

Tomie dePaola, Society of Illustrators' Lifetime Achievement Award Winner and author and/or illustrator of over 250 books for children.

 Sharon Flake, multiple Coretta Scott King Author Award Honoree.

Lamar Giles, author and advocate for diversifying kid lit who proposes updating the "Be the change" motto to "Don't BS the change."

Deborah Halverson, author of YA fiction, the nonfiction craft book "Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies" and the freelance editor behind the DearEditor.com writer's advice website.

Cynthia Kadohata, National Book Award Winner for her middle grade novel "The Thing About Luck" (and 2005 Newbery Award winner for "Kira-Kira")

Megan McDonald, author of the popular and award-winning Judy Moody and Stink chapter book series. (She also wrote the screenplay for the movie, Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer.)

Meg Medina, Winner of the 2014 Pura Belpre Award for her YA novel, "Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass." She also won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writers medal for her picture book, "Tia Isa Wants A Car," as was named one of the "CNN 10 Visionary Women in America."

Linda Sue Park, Author of picture books and novels for young people, including the Newbery Award-Winning "A Single Shard" and the New York Times-Bestselling "A Long Walk To Water"

Meg Rosoff, author of the Michael L. Printz Award-winning "How I Live Now"

Judy Schachner, author and illustrator of the New York Times-bestselling picture book series Skippyjon Jones.


Maggie Stiefvater, New York Times-Bestselling YA Author of the Shiver Trilogy and the Michael L. Printz Honor book, The Scorpio Races.

The Panels include:

An Inside Look at Marketing and Sales: Felicia Frazier, Shanta Newlin and Emily Romero

Seven Editors Present: Three and Three: 3 Things Your Manuscripts Should Include and 3 Things to Avoid : Alessandra Balzer, Mary Lee Donovan, Allyn Johnston, Wendy Loggia, Lucia Monfried, Dinah Stevenson, Julie Strauss-Gabel

Increasing Diversity in Children’s Books: Adriana Dominguez, Sharon Flake, Lamar Giles, Meg Medina, Linda Sue Park, moderated by Suzanne Morgan Williams

Seven Agents Present: What Hooks Me: Sarah Davies, Steve Malk, Erin Murphy, Alexandra Penfold, Rubin Pfeffer, Linda Pratt, Laura Rennert

PLUS: The Intensive Day, Monday, August 4, features over 25 hands-on writers intensives and one all day illustrators intensive. These targeted sessions will give you a priceless opportunity to dig into your work with a luminary in the field.

With your registration you get:
 -Access to all conference keynotes and workshops
 -The Gala Party on Saturday night (includes dinner and a drink ticket)
 -Ticket to the Golden Kite Luncheon on Sunday
 -Attendance to the Friday night Portfolio Showcase and cocktail party
 -Chance to sell your books at the PAL book sale on Friday (some restrictions apply)
 -Tea and coffee each morning
 -Free wireless in your room

Whether you are an author and/or illustrator, published or unpublished, a creator of picture books or middle grade or young adult novels, fiction or nonfiction, you won't want to miss the SCBWI Summer Conference.

We hope to see you there!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Picture Book Wisdom from the 2014 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

My Picture Book Panelists! From Left, myself, Gianna Marino, Jon J. Muth, Salina Yoon and Joe Cepeda

I had the honor of moderating a great picture book panel, "Children's Books: Drawing the Imagination," at the L.A. Times Festival of Books this past weekend with Joe Cepeda, Gianna Marino, Jon J. Muth and Salina Yoon. Afterwards, I got to listen to part of the panel moderated by Kelly Sonnack, "Children's Books: Inspiring Young Minds," with Mac Barnett, Doreen Cronin, Jennifer Fosberry and John Rocco.

There was so much great wisdom shared (including some very nice shout-outs to SCBWI), but here are a few of the moments that really resonated for me and that, amidst the excitement and moderating, I managed to record in my journal:

"The strength of a story is the truth you find in it."
- Jon J. Muth

The secret to expressing emotion visually?
"The eyes."
- both Salina Yoon and Gianna Marino

I don't want to be anchored to accuracy so much that it neuters the magic of a story.
- Joe Cepeda

"As I draw more I can throw words out."
- John Rocco

You don't talk down to kids.
- Jennifer Fosberry

If you start thinking how you're going to tell it for kids you're dead and you need to start over. You have to tell it for yourself.
- Doreen Cronin

"I'd much rather have a book that a few people love intensely than a book that a lot of people like okay."
-Mac Barnett

What a great reminder that any time you can go hear (or speak with) professional writers and illustrators at the top of their game, DO IT!

It's one of the great things SCBWI offers at local and international events and conferences: opportunities to listen to, learn from and be inspired by the experts.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Speed Reading Apps... Are they the future of reading?

Okay, when I heard about speed reading apps such as Velocity and Spritz, I thought it was crazy, but play along, okay?

Go here and copy the text of this article, "Don't Mock Speed Reading Apps. They are Life-Changing" by Jim Pagels.

Then go here to Spreeder and paste the text in the window.

The Spreeder window.

It will take you just 3 minutes and five seconds to read the whole article as it's fed to you FAST.

Pros to consider:

You do read faster than normal (certainly I did) and evidently can train yourself, as Jim explains in his Slate article, to read faster and faster.

It eliminates multi-tasking while reading something because the program demands your full attention.Your mind and eyes cannot wander or you lose the thread of what you're reading entirely. (I liked the metaphor that it's like a treadmill for your eyes, and you can't just stop while running on a treadmill or you'll fall off.)

Cons to consider:

Formatting is eliminated.

Savoring and digesting what you're reading is secondary to speed.

But that was a nonfiction article.  How about fiction?

Here's the text from the first page of E.B. White's masterwork, "Charlotte's Web." What's it like to read it via Spreeder?

Copy this:


1. Before Breakfast
WHERE'S Papa going with that ax" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.
"Out to the hoghouse," replied Mrs. Arable. "Some pigs were born last night."
"I don't see why he needs an ax," continued Fern, who was only eight.
"Well," said her mother, "one of the pigs is a runt. It's very small and weak, and it will never amount to anything. So your father has decided to do away with it."
"Do away with it? shrieked Fern. "You mean kill it? Just because it's smaller than the others?"
Mrs. Arable put a pitcher of cream on the table. "Don't yell, Fern!" she said. "Your father is right. The pig would probably die anyway."
Fern pushed a chair out of the way and ran outdoors. The grass was wet and the earth smelled of springtime. Fern's sneakers were sopping by the time she caught up with her father.


And paste it in the Spreeder Window.

Hit play, and see what you think.

Maybe a tool for writers to make sure every word really counts?

Share what you think in comments.

Illustrate and Write On,

ps - My thanks to the "Need for Speed" Cassandra post for the links mentioned above.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Calling All SCBWI Members: It's Time To Vote For The Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards!

The annual Crystal Kite Award is a peer-given award to recognize great books from 15 SCBWI regional divisions around the world.

First round voting is open now until April 14, and you may only vote for a book that is in your division. Every member gets to vote for just one book!

 The fifteen divisions:

 US Divisions
· California, Hawaii
· West (Washington, northern Idaho, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota)
· Southwest (Nevada, Arizona, Utah, southern Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico)
· Midwest (Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio)
· New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island)
· New York
· Texas, Oklahoma
· Atlantic (Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Wash DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland)
· Mid-South (Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri)
· Southeast (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana)

International Divisions
· UK, Ireland
· Middle East, India, Asia
· Canada
· Australia, New Zealand
· Other International

 Second round voting will open April 18 - April 30.

 Remember that if your book is entered you may promote the award on social media and to personal friends but you may not:
- Send emails to people you do not know to promote your book
 - Use the SCBWI messaging system to promote your book
 - Use any SCBWI discussion board or listserve to promote your book
 Doing any of these will immediately flag your book for deletion in the Crystal Kite Awards.

 Good luck to everyone who has entered - and go vote now!

 Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Announcing The 2014 Spark Award Winners - SCBWI's Award for Independent- and Self-Published Books for Kids and Teens!

The new annual award to recognize excellence in a children's book published through a non-traditional publishing route, SCBWI's inaugural SPARK award goes to two books...

The heart-pounding BMX bike girl YA novel SHREDDED by Karen Avivi (a Canadian author)


The picture book about the power of art in two brothers' lives, AL AND TEDDY by Neil Waldman (a US author.)

Congratulations to both Karen and Neil!

And cheers as well to the author/illustrators of the four Spark Honor books:

Saving Mars, a thrilling sci-fi adventure by Cidney Swanson.

A teenager must choose between super powers and saving those she loves in One, by Leigh Kopans

Wendy Kupfer’s Let’s Hear it for Almigal, a picture book illustrated by Tammie Lyon, celebrates Almigal’s determination to hear every sound in the world with her new hot pink cochlear implants.

Wings for a Flower, by Ellen Gaffney, tells the inspiring story of an Indian girl’s rehabilitation after losing the use of her legs.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The 2013 Crystal Kite Winner Profiles: California's San Francisco North & East Bay's Katherine Applegate For "The One and Only Ivan"

The winner of the 2013 Crystal Kite Award for the California/Hawaii region is Katherine Applegate for her middle grade novel, "The One and Only Ivan."

You might notice this book already has a shiny award on the cover - Katherine also won the Newbery Award for it!

I caught up with Katherine at my local SCBWI Los Angeles Writer's Days (where we'd invited her to give the opening keynote) to hear more about her book and what SCBWI means to her...

Katherine's SCBWI chapter is San Francisco North & East Bay. Colette Parrinello and Margaret Speaker Yuan are the co-Regional Advisors for that region, and they write:

SF North & East Bay Region serves members in Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Contra Costa, and Alameda counties. The region is vibrant and active with over 540 members, dedicated volunteers, and published authors and illustrators who serve as speakers, mentors, and friends to those new to the industry.

The region hosts over nineteen programs including two Creative Get-away Retreats in Marin County, North Bay meetings in Sebastopol, Beyond the Bay meetings in Walnut Creek, Marin meetings in Corte Madera and Mill Valley, Illustrator meetings in Oakland, two Intensive Workshops, one for writers and one for illustrators, an Annual Fall Conference in Oakland plus the occasional webinar and critique cafe. We also developed and use Critconnect, a web-based critique group/member matching board. We seek members to help organize local schmoozes, especially in Napa county.

Along with Kathleen, our region is honored to have TWO 2013 Golden Kite Award winners also - Joanne Rocklin, Fiction, The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook, and Jeri Chase Ferris, Non-fiction, Noah Webster and His Words. 

To learn more about Katherine and her book, visit The One and Only Ivan website here.

And to find out more about SCBWI San Francisco North & East Bay, visit them online here.