Thursday, November 27, 2014

The 2014 Crystal Kite Winners: THE 13th SIGN by Kristin Tubb (SCBWI Midsouth)

And now our Crystal Kite Spotlight illuminates THE 13th SIGN by Kristin Tubb!

A member of SCBWI Midsouth (Tennessee/Kentucky), Kristin's novel won for the Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Alabama division.

Award-Winning Author Kristin Tubb

I contacted Kristin to find out more...

Lee: Please tell us about your book! 

Kristin: Here's the jacket copy: 

"What if there was a 13th zodiac sign? You’re no longer Sagittarius, but Ophiuchus, the healer, the 13th sign. Your personality has changed. So has your mom’s and your best friend’s. What about the rest of the world? What if you were the one who accidentally unlocked the 13th sign, causing this world-altering change, and infuriating the other 12 signs? Jalen did it, and now she must use every ounce of her strength and cunning to send the signs back where they belong. Lives, including her own, depend upon it." 

Kirkus called it "the ultimate astrological fantasy." I like to say it explores the question: do you control your personality or does your personality control you? 

Lee: What a cool concept - and it's quite the hook! How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you've gained by being a member?

Kristin: I've been an SCBWI member since 2002. If it's okay, I'd like to share the speech I gave when accepting the beautiful Crystal Kite statue to fully express my feelings about SCBWI: 

When I found out The 13th Sign won the Crystal Kite, I posted a teary, grateful message on Facebook, and realized that I needed to explain what “SCBWI” stood for to my non-writing (sane) friends. So, I dutifully spelled it out for them: “SCBWI stands for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.” But it occurred to me that SCBWI stands for SO MUCH MORE. 

SCBWI stands for: Study Craft Because kids Want Intense. 

Kids want real stories. Study your craft here and give them the gift of a deep, meaningful story. A life-changing story. 

Before The 13th Sign came out, I was at a party. One of my husband’s friends said, “Oh! You had another book come out? Is this another children’s book, or is it a real book?” 

I know, right? SCBWI stands for: Smile with Confidence Because this Work is Important.

Sometimes, the only place kids can find truth is in a story. Give kids the truth. It doesn’t get more real than the truth told to a child. We’re all here for the same reason: we have a need to tell a story to a kid. SCBWI means never having to walk this path alone. 

So most of all, SCBWI stands for: Shout and Cheer Because We’re In it together. 

Lee: Yay! Do you have any advice to share with other children's book writers and illustrators?

Kristin: Other than join SCBWI? :-) Reading and studying current children's books would be at the top of the list. Join a critique group would rank high as well. But I suppose besides those (because most SCBWI members have done these things, I'm guessing), I'd emphasize studying the craft of writing, truly and diligently and continuously. Not just to get published (although yes, that's a goal). Study craft, always, because our readers deserve our very best effort.

Thanks, Kristin!

I also connected with Associate Regional Advisor Courtney C. Stevens (since Kristin is the Regional Advisor for SCBWI Midsouth) to hear the inside scoop on Kristin's win. Here's what Courtney wrote...

I'm not sure that I even know where to begin. Kristin is a gem. She's a fabulous leader, who somehow manages to balance her writing career and organizational responsibilities at the highest levels. Ultimately, she loves people and the power of story. Those two things come across when you read her work and when you interact with her. I am honored to be her ARA and her critique partner. She has enriched my life, the life of the region, and the life of readers in a powerful way. Seeing her win a second Crystal Kite, and be recognized by our beloved organization, made me stand and cheer and cry tears of joy. It is always fabulous to see greatness rewarded.

I could share many details about SCBWI Midsouth (approximately 500 members, conferences and retreats that sell-out, high PAL membership percentages, healthy critique groups, online visibility), but none would completely describe the atmosphere of children’s writers and illustrators in Kentucky and Tennessee. Our leaders are generous with their time, wisdom, and encouragement as they plan events, and the region has benefitted and grown from their consistent leadership and vision. Our members cheer for each other’s success, cry on each other’s shoulders, and get together in many of our cities to talk about life, rather than just writing/illustrating. We're friends. We've made events out of being friends because this business of publishing a book is far less scary when you are shoulder to shoulder with excellent people. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know I am a published author today because of SCBWI, and specifically, because the men and women in my region pushed me forward and surrounded me with hope.

Thanks to Kristin and Courtney, and Cheers to Kristin on The 13th Sign winning The 2014 Crystal Kite Award!

You can learn more about Kristin and her books at her website here.

And find out more about SCBWI Midsouth (Tennessee/Kentucky) at their regional website here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jacqueline Woodson Wins The National Book Award... And Awards Show Host Daniel Handler Gets Called Out For Racist Comments

There's a lot of attention being paid to Daniel Handler's comments made at the awards ceremony last Wednesday, directly after Jacqueline Woodson's win of the National Book Award for her middle grade memoir, "Brown Girl Dreaming."

But what's getting lost in the discussion are Jackie's own words - her acceptance speech, her grace, and her passion, thanking the community for our love of books and for changing the world.

Courtesy of c-span, here's the edited down nine minutes of the National Book Award ceremony.

Go here to see the video of Jacqueline Woodson (right) accepting her National Book Award from Sharon Draper

While there are enough voices Monday morning quarterbacking the individual and systemic racism (intended or not), enough of an outcry was made that in addition to a social-media-issued apology, Daniel donated $10,000.00 (with a matching donation of up to $90,000.00 additional within the first 24 hours) to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks indieGoGo crowdfunding campaign.

Hopefully the attention can bring about not just heightened awareness, but change for the better throughout our industry.

And as it should be, the final word is Jacqueline's:

"I'd rather continue to move the dialogue forward in a positive light rather than a negative one. This is a moment when our country can grow and learn and better understand each other. It would be nice to put the energy back where it should be -- on the books and what the books are saying and doing -- Redeployment is an astounding novel, Glück is nothing short of an amazing poet. I don't know Osnos' book yet but I plan to read it. Brown Girl Dreaming is about writing and about the history of this country. But more than that, it's about what this conversation should be -- a coming to understanding across lines of race."

*** UPDATE: Jacqueline Woodson wrote an important piece about this in the New York Times, published Sat Nov 29, 2014, "The Pain of the Watermelon Joke" *** 

Congratulations to Jacqueline, and for all of us, let's Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The 2014 Crystal Kite Winners: THE STORY OF FISH AND SNAIL by Deborah Freedman (SCBWI New England)

This week our Crystal Kite Spotlight shines on THE STORY OF FISH AND SNAIL by Deborah Freedman!

A member of SCBWI New England, Deborah's picture book won for the Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island division.

Award-Winning Author/Illustrator Deborah Freedman
I contacted Deborah to find out more...

Lee: Please tell us about your book!

Deborah: THE STORY OF FISH & SNAIL is my love letter to reading. It's about two friends who live in a book — Fish, who likes to explore other books, and Snail, who does not want to leave home. Tension! Conflict (with splishing and splooshing)! And and one super act of courage.

Lee: Sounds dramatic and sweet - perfect for a picture book! How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you've gained by being a member?

Deborah: I've been a member since 2000. I sold my first book in 2005 after an editor saw my artwork at the New York conference that year. Since then, I've made and continue to make friends through SCBWI who have been inspiring, and encouraging, and are simply dear to me. 

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children's book writers and illustrators?

Deborah: Oh, I don't know . . . I certainly don't have this writing life all figured out. So how about this: never assume you have it all figured out! 

Thanks, Deborah!

I also connected with Marilyn Salerno (who, along with Margo Lemieux, is co-Regional Advisor for SCBWI New England) to learn more. Here's what she wrote...

I am very excited Deborah captured the Crystal Kite for a beautiful picture book with a story line for all children.

As for info on SCBWI NE we are over 2,000 strong and host several events a year including a three day conference, one day events, evening presentations, over 80 monthly critique groups, and have a very active website and list serve. We have a PAL chairperson who is busy planning PAL events including a page attached to our Facebook page about happenings in the region. 

My thanks to Deborah and Marilyn, and Cheers to Deborah for THE STORY OF FISH AND SNAIL winning the 2014 Crystal Kite Award!

To learn more about Deborah and her books, check out her website here.

To find out more about SCBWI New England, visit their site here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Product Placement in books?

"Find Me I'm Yours" is a new e-book (and cross-platform story) that was funded, in part, by $1.3 million dollars from the people behind the artificial sweetener Sweet'N Low.

Yep, you read that right.

The New York Times article about product placement in e-books

According to this recent New York Times article, in the e-book, the main character paints her nails to look like Sweet'N Low packets, and in one scene defends her use of the product to a friend, citing the company's research.

While it's targeted to adult readers (mainly women), it is a fascinating foray into what one possible future of publishing might look like. We've come to accept -- and expect -- that when a character on a TV show drinks a Coca-Cola, it's sponsored. We accept/expect it in movies, too.

And now, it would seem, this is becoming true for books as well.

Can teen novels be that far behind?

Illustrate and Write On,

p.s. - This blog post was NOT sponsored by either Sweet'N Low or Coca-Cola. Just so you know.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The 2014 Crystal Kite Winners: BONKERS! by Natasha Sharma (SCBWI India)

This week's Crystal Kite Winner Spotlight shines on BONKERS! by Natasha Sharma!

From SCBWI India, Natasha's book won for the Middle East, India and Asia division.

Award-Winning Author Natasha Sharma

I contacted Natasha to learn more...

Lee: Please tell us about your book!

Natasha: Bonkers! (published by Duckbill Books) is a story that follows the adventures of a boy named Armaan with his long awaited, newly acquired puppy, Bonkers. Life for Armaan has been difficult with a bully named TT, leader of the Ghastly Groundhog Gang, always on his heels. And while he hoped for a dog that would protect him and sort out his life, insanity further prevails with the puppy around. Instead of being protector of hearth and kin, the dog proceeds to chew up Armaan’s spectacles, eat up his favourite shoe, mess with a game of cricket being played by the bully and essentially turns the boy’s life upside down. Will things ever get back to normal? 

The story is as much about discovering your inner reserve of courage as it is about laughing alongside crazy episodes with the boy and his dog. For Armaan, that happens when his dog is in trouble. It is about understanding that even bullies have their own fears. But at the heart of it, it’s a book that can best be described as bonkers! 

This story had to be written. I grew up in a home with 40 animals (it wasn’t a farm). Amongst the many horses, buffaloes, rabbits, ducks and hens were my four dogs, often accompanied by a litter of puppies. My dogs were the center of my life growing up – my friends, my protectors and my go-to when I was upset, always ready to sit patiently and hear me out. I’ve woken up with puppies dangling off my braids, rescued them off windowsills and stood between dog and parent when the dog ate my wedding cards before they were mailed (eating homework was too low grade). There’s so much in my head to inspire me that it took time to sift through what I wanted to use! 

Lee: Wow - 40 animals! Sounds like you had a lot of real-life inspiration to pull from in making one puppy turn your character's life Bonkers!

How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you've gained by being a member?

Natasha: I’ve been a member with the SCBWI since 2011. The India chapter is rapidly growing and the SCBWI provides an easy way to connect with other writers. Events like First Pages provide fabulous feedback on one’s own work and since it was online, it was great to see what was working or not in other openings. A writing workshop on picture books by Ann Whitford Paul who was visiting India at the time from the US, were much easier to pull together with the support of the SCBWI and turned out to be a fabulous talk. 

As the India chapter grows, we are excited to have a platform to garner resources and make it available to the children’s book community at large. I have to say that I love reading the bulletin – it gives nuggets of information that are so useful. Above all, as a writer, SCBWI helps me, as it has in this case, to go beyond the market I am publishing in and reach out to a wider peer group and audience.

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children's book writers and illustrators?

Natasha: Keep at it. Whether you are brimming with ideas, stuck in your plot, clueless where you are going - keep at it. Keep learning, evaluating, writing, illustrating and improving your own skills. And through the most frustrating moments, remember why you write or illustrate. I believe we are people who are driven by an impossible bug in our brain to put down what is going on in our head. It gives me the greatest joy to write. I simply try and remember that always. 

Lee: "it gives me the greatest joy to write." Love that, and YES!

Thanks Natasha!

I also connected with SCBWI India's Regional Advisor, Anushka Ravishankar, to find out more about Natasha's win and their region. Here's what Anushka wrote:

Natasha Sharma has only been writing for children for a few years, but what productive years they have been! She now has ten books published, and they have all been getting great reviews. She does elaborately, creatively and lovingly planned sessions with children in bookstores and schools, and is a hugely popular writer/ performer at litfests and school book weeks. She is also meticulous about keeping her blog and her website current and updated, which is something all authors can learn from!

Her award-winning book, Bonkers!, is, she says, a tribute to her dog who was just as mad and loveable as the dog in her book. With wit and aplomb, she has also woven in the theme of bullying in a book which at no moment reads like a treatise against bullying, but shows children that bullies need not be scary, after all.

Natasha is an enthusiastic member of SCBWI India. Since we are so spread out geographically, we need volunteers in different cities and Natasha has willingly taken on the onus of doing programmes in Mumbai. She has already organised one -a picture book workshop by visiting SCBWI member Ann Whitford Paul, which was a great success.

It's been a little over a year since SCBWI India was restarted. Working with a wonderful advisory group, and some very dedicated members, we have had many workshops, talks, discussions and meetings.

Visiting SCBWI authors like Holly Thompson, Christopher Cheng and Ann Whitford Paul have held workshops on writing novels, non-fiction and picture books. They have all garnered massive and enthusiastic attendance and praise.

We also have events which the members specifically want - like discussions on contracts, talks on digital books and so on.

As our members are spread out over the country we try and do detailed reports on each event which go up on our blog Some members, like Tanushree Dahiya Singh in Delhi and Natasha Sharma in Mumbai and Arundhati Subramaniam in Bangalore have been very enthusiastic about writing these reports.

Our most successful events by far have been the online first pages, of which we have had two. We do it through Facebook, and have had editors, writers and critics from India, Malaysia, the UK and USA, which makes it very attractive. This is for members only.

We now have an IC, Oriya Kuriyan, who has many plans up her sleeve. So far we have had one picture book workshop for illustrators, which went off swimmingly.

With many events planned in the coming year, we hope SCBWI India will grow and grow!

Thanks so much to Natasha and Anushka, and cheers to Natasha for BONKERS! winning the 2014 Crystal Kite Award!

You can find out more about Natasha and her books at her website here.

And learn more about SCBWI India and all they offer at their online home.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Class Clown Academy: SCBWI's President Self-Publishes his latest book (after more than 60 traditionally published titles!)

Author Stephen Mooser

Stephen Mooser has written both stand-alone books (like his first published title, 101 Black Cats (Scholastic), Orphan Jeb at the Massacree (Knopf) and Shadows on the Graveyard Trail (Dell Yearling); series, including The Treasure Hounds (Troll), The Creepy Creature Club (Dell), The All-Star Meatballs (Dell) and Goofball Malone, Ace Detective (Penguin); and also nonfiction books about the weird and strange, including The Unknown: Nine Astounding Stories (Lippincott) and The Man Who Ate A Car and Tons of Other Weird True Stories (Dell).

A co-founder of the SCBWI, Steve has had over 60 books for children and young readers traditionally published.

His latest book is Class Clown Academy, and it's one that he chose to self-publish.

This news was so unexpected (and fascinating) that I had to find out more. Here's my interview with Stephen...

Lee: Hi Steve!

Steve: Hi back

Lee: So, you've traditionally published something over 60 books for young readers, and now, you're doing something different - self publishing?

Steve: Yes, the last book I wrote, Class Clown Academy, a Wayside School type format failed to sell for a number of reasons. Normally I would not have considered self publishing but I believed in this book and also believed it had certain aspects that lent itself to self publishing

Lee: Okay, so you have a book you really believe in that isn't getting traction the traditional route. What were the factors that made you decide to self-publish rather than continue to try the traditional publishers?

Steve: We had tried all the traditional publishers. 3 agents had tried. What made the book special was that it lent itself to becoming a virtual school. Over 3 years my team built the school www.classclownacademy. The school will drive people to the book, which is available in the student store.

Lee: So it's a website that's a virtual school, and in the school bookstore readers can buy your book?

Steve: Yes, and yes. They can also buy hats and bumper stickers and much more. Now my job-a huge one - is to drive people to the site!

Lee: I spent some time on the site this morning, reading in the library about how to tell a joke... (and laughing at the movie "Farts and You" that was screening in the CCA Theater.) Did you envision the project being MORE than a book when you were originally going out to publishers, or was the expanded universe of the story something that came about as you plotted how to successfully self-publish the book?

Steve: I thought of the school early on, but I didn't envision so much the cost or the time. But I had a great team, a book editor and formatter, programmer and artist and once I started I wanted to finish.

Lee: so, really, you didn't so much as self-publish a book as become a self-producer of an online website and a book - you had to hire that team, right?

Steve: Yes. Here is the thing about self-publishing. First you have to have a good product and believe in it. Then you have to think about how to sell it. You are now a small business and basically on your own. It is a big risk, but doing it right gives you a chance to reach a readership.

Lee: It used to be that self-publishing was viewed as the realm of the impatient, the "easy" way to get published. You're not making it sound easy.

Steve: It is not easy but then selling a book to a traditional publisher is not easy either. There are thousands of talented people you are competing against. Amazon has something like 3 million unique titles on its site. How can anyone find your book. And then want to buy it? Most projects fail badly. Mine might too, but. And I say this often. Where Digital Books are going no one knows but wherever it is heading we are all in on the ground floor.

Lee: Now the perception of self-published books and the 'stigma' they might have had 10 years ago, that seems to have changed, hasn't it?

Steve: Yes, it has changed. More and more people are self-publishing. But, again, I can't emphasize enough you need to do a professional job and put out a book that can compete with traditionally published books. As an aside there are some areas where it makes sense to do a limited edition. Books, for instance on something like autism where there is a need and you can target the audience have had success

Lee: Sort of niche-self-publishing

Steve: Sure, I have talked to many people who did books because they saw a need and filled it. For the most part self-publishers should do Print on Demand so as to keep costs down and just print as orders come in

Lee: that way your car trunk (and/or garage) aren't filled with books you haven't sold yet!

Steve: Yes, don't carry inventory. Also, the people that will do large print runs are often rip-offs. Always look at Preditors and editors before giving anyone your money.

Lee: Good advice. So how do you set your expectations when you're self-publishing... How do you keep the stories of the Amanda Hockings and Christopher Paolinis and their superstar level of success from taking over?

Steve: Good question. There is nothing wrong with dreaming. It is why we are writers. But don't embark on self-publishing without setting a budget and believing the possibility of losing it all. Start before investing anything by thinking long and hard about "how will I sell this?"

Lee: Yeah, sending a notice out to all your facebook friends is a one-time thing, and not a marketing plan. No one wants to get two announcements that you have a new book out!

Steve: Right. Having someone with a million followers tweet your book will probably sell less than 50 books because that's not your audience. You have to be creative and, again, have a great product. As I said Amazon has millions of books. But I built a website. Well, there are now over a billion websites. It's a hard climb but there are steps along the way if you are willing to look for them

Lee: Well, I imagine a lot of those steps of being 'discovered' are the same dance, whether you are traditionally or self-published.

Steve: Exactly

Lee: Like pitching your book...

Steve: Of course. And when it comes to making the sales the marketing departments of traditional publishers are relying more and more on the authors anyway

Lee: Okay... So, pitch us "Class Clown Academy!"

Steve: If you are 6-10 years old, or have the mind of one--as I do-- then you will find lots to do at the Academy. At the end of the day you can go back to the principals office and print out your diploma, as I did, and become A Master of FineFarts. And if you like the school I promise you you will love the book

Lee: So that's really pitching the website... is your main strategy that playing there will lead to book sales?

Steve: Yes, I do visits and conferences and sell copies, but I'm counting on the website to bring notice. Also, putting out a book, or a website is opening yourself to many possibilities. Will some father in the film business look over his kid's shoulder and think that might be a good title for a film or animated series. Or would someone want to buy the site and add it to their own multi-game site. As I said dreaming is part of the fun of any project. And I know since I used to be a treasure hunter

Lee: Ha! I loved learning about your 'treasure hunter' past in your bio! So, for your next book, would you consider self-publishing again, or would you take it the traditional route? Or is it too soon to say?

Steve: I would not do this again unless I had a way to market it in advance. I am working on a sequel to the book Class Clown Academy Summer School, but will just fold it into the site

Lee: I hope you find treasure there! Thanks so much, Steve!

Steve: Thank you.

* * *

And that's our interview. You can check out the Class Clown Academy website here, and Steve's website here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The 2014 Crystal Kite Winners: TEA REX by Molly Idle (SCBWI Arizona)

This week's Crystal Kite Winner Spotlight illuminates TEA REX, written and illustrated by Molly Idle.

Hailing from SCBWI Arizona, Molly's book took home the crystal for the Nevada, Arizona, Utah, southern Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico division.

Award-winning author/illustrator Molly Idle

I contacted Molly to find out more...

Lee: Please tell us about your book!

Molly: TEA REX is written as a proper, how-to-guide, providing instructions for hosting a tea party...for a special guest. The pictures in the book however, read more like a how-NOT-to-guide... And how could they not, when the special guest is a giant dinosaur?!

Lee: Fun! How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you've gained by being a member?

Molly: I've been a member of SCBWI since 2000- almost 15 years! What do I feel I've gained? Ohmygoodness... Where to start? Should I start with the friends I've met, or the fresh perspectives presented? The business contacts I've made, or the career opportunities seized? The constructive criticism received, or the camaraderie of community? Seriously, the SCBWI has so much to offer.

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children's book writers and illustrators?

Molly: Well, the fist piece of advice I usually offer aspiring children's book writers and illustrators is: Join the SCBWI. But if you're reading this, the chances are, you're already a card carrying member. So, my second piece of advice is that you acquire just one other card... a library card. Read as many books as you can get your hands on! After the first few hundred, you'll really start to get a feel for what books work and, why they work... Then you can get down to business making your own books that work too.

Great advice. Thanks, Molly!

I connected with SCBWI Arizona Regional Advisor Michele Parker-Rock to learn more about Molly's win and their region. Here's what she wrote:

SCBWI Arizona was founded in 1988 and has been proudly serving the region for more than 25 years. As Regional Advisor I am honored to represent the growing number of individuals who make up our culturally diverse membership. We offer a wide range of opportunities for professionally published, seasoned, and pre-published writers and illustrators who actively seek to develop their craft and stay informed about the ever-changing business of the children’s and young adult marketplace.

SCBWI Arizona is a large geographic region. Our members come from all over the state, from Yuma to Lake Havasu City, Tombstone to the Grand Canyon, Phoenix to Tucson, Sedona to Flagstaff, and all the places in between. Members connect through our subscriber LISTSERV and keep abreast of activities and events by tuning into our Home Chapter, our regional website,, our Facebook page, and our Twitter network

SCBWI Arizona is committed to providing a wide variety of high quality free and tuition based events and services throughout the year, including conferences, intensives, retreats, hands-on workshops, critique-niks, networking get-togethers, Webinars, mentorships, and more. We also continue to provide SCBWI PAL members with opportunities to showcase their books at conferences and conventions held by various organizations, including the Arizona Library Association, the Tucson Festival of Books, the Arizona Reading Association, the International Reading Association, the Arizona Humanities Council, the Arizona Book Festival, and others.

Each year we bring top industry professionals to our region for our annual “Welcome to Our House” Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. This year we are pleased to welcome Emily Feinberg, Assistant Editor, Roaring Brook Press; Karl Jones, Assistant Editor at Penguin Young Readers; Ariel Richardson, Assistant Editor Chronicle Books; Alison Weiss, Associate Editor, Egmont USA; John Cusick, Literary Agent, The Greenhouse Literary Agency; Danielle Barthel, Literary Agent, New Leaf Literary and Media; and Jaida Temperly, Literary Agent, New Leaf Literary and Media. For details go to

In addition, SCBWI AZ is excited to feature our own Molly Idle who will be presented with the well-deserved 2014 Crystal Kite Member Choice Award for her book TEA REX (Viking Children’s Press, 2013). Since its publication, TEA REX has garnered much praise. Publishers Weekly said, “…Idle has a gift for comic composition...” Kirkus Reviews said, “Sure to be enjoyed by tea-party enthusiasts, and even dino fans with no use for a teapot will find themselves drawn to this clever tale of a not-entirely-civilized beast of the past.”

SCBWI Arizona is grouped with Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico in the Southwest Region for the Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards. This year voters were faced with many excellent choices. It was particularly gratifying to see Molly Idle win in our division. Molly has been an active member of our region since 2000, and she is a consummate author/illustrator. Her book FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO (Chronicle Books, 2013) was a 2014 Caldecott Honor Book. Her latest book FLORA AND THE PENGUIN (Chronicle Books, 2014) received starred reviews from The Horn Book, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly that noted, “Once again, Idle’s elegantly drafted scenes couldn’t be more polished, and the foldout sequence that brings this dance to a close feels like a real triumph.”

After graduating from Arizona State University with a BFA in drawing, Molly went to work for DreamWorks Feature Animation Studios. Five years and a number of film credits later, she left the studio and submerged herself in the world of children's book illustration. In 2010 Molly was the Grand Prize Winner of the SCBWI Juried Portfolio Showcase. That same year, she wowed our members with an outstanding workshop, “Anatomy 101,” in which she demonstrated her technical prowess and artistic sensibilities. The rest is Idle history.

Molly currently lives with her family in Tempe, AZ. Lori Nowicki at Painted Words represents her: You can also learn more about Molly at

SCBWI Arizona is pleased to have Molly Idle as one of its distinguished members. We wish her continued success.

By Michelle Parker-Rock
Regional Advisor SCBWI Arizona
2011 SCBWI Member of the Year
Author of Books for Young Readers

Thanks Molly and Michelle, and Cheers to Molly on TEA REX winning the 2014 Crystal Kite Award!

To find out more about Molly and her books, check out her website here.

And to learn more about SCBWI Arizona, visit their online home here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Don't Miss Out On #NY15SCBWI

Kwame Alexander is a poet and author of 18 books, including the teen novel-in-verse Crossover and the picture book Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band. (He also founded Book-in-a-Day, a student-run publishing program, and LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy project! And Publisher's Weekly just listed Crossover as one of their best MG books of 2014!)

James Dashner is the author of The Maze Runner (that's now a film in theaters!) and three other series, including The 13th Reality.

Kami Garcia is the author of the Legion Series and co-Author of Dangerous Creatures and Beautiful Creatures (Yup, also the one that became a movie!)

Hervé Tullet is the author/illustrator of, among other titles,  the picture book Press Here and the board book series Let's Play Games. (And he's known in France as 'The Prince of Pre-School Books!")

Laura Vaccaro Seeger is the author/illustrator of more than 15 picture books including First the Egg and Green (She's also a two-time winner of the Caldecott Honor Award!)

Anthony Horowitz has written over 40 books, including the teen spy series Alex Rider. (He also writes new Sherlock Holmes novels!)

What do all these children's book creators have in common? They're all keynoting at the upcoming SCBWI 2015 Winter Conference in New York City, February 6-8, 2015.

The conference will also include an editors' panel, an agents' panel, 11 morning and 11 afternoon breakout sessions covering art, writing, picture books, middle grade, young adult, writing diverse characters, developing your illustration brand, working with an editor, writing a book series, creating cover art, writing chapter books and so much more!

There will be an autograph party, a portfolio showcase, a gala dinner, and even a full day of intensives on Friday (Writers' Round Table, Writers' World Building hands-on workshop, Building your first website and the Illustrators' Intensive!)

#NY15SCBWI promises to be packed with inspiration, opportunity, craft, business and community. We hope you can join us.

Find out more information and register here.

Illustrate and Write On,