Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Listen to SCBWI's Newest Podcast: A Conversation with Connie Hsu

Connie Hsu is an executive editor at Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Publishing, a founding member of the Children’s Book Council Diversity Committee, and a member of the Brooklyn Book Festival Children’s Planning Committee. Her authors include Vera Brosgol, Ruth Chan, Angela Dominguez, Shannon Hale, Kathryn Otoshi, Dan Santat, Steve Sheinkin, Mariko Tamaki, Susan Tan, and Tillie Walden.

In this podcast, Connie speaks with Theo Baker about her journey to being an editor, how she sees an editor’s role, and what she’s looking for in a manuscript.

Listen to the episode trailer here.

Current SCBWI members can listen to the full podcast here (log in first!)

Illustrate and Write On, 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Translator and Author Lyn Miller-Lachmann Shares Two Insights (and Opportunities) for American Creators of Children's and Teen Literature

In this interview for The Pirate Tree, Lyn Miller-Lachmann has two moments that really shake up the accepted narrative:

“In their reluctance to publish world literature in translation, and books with international settings, U.S. publishers reflect the insularity of the population as a whole. Unfortunately, this reinforcement of insularity – what some see as ‘American exceptionalism’ – does us all a disservice, because our young people are ill-prepared to live in a world that does not center us.”
“The trend in U.S. picture books to have the young person solve every problem often marginalizes or infantilizes elders when we need the energy and creativity of the young and the experience of elders to overcome the challenges that we face today.”

Thought-provoking, isn't it?

The entire interview is well worth-reading. My thanks to Cynthia Leitich-Smith for highlighting it on the indispensable Cynsations.

You can learn more about Lyn at her website here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

#LA18SCBWI Homework!

Are you attending the upcoming SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles, August 3-6, 2018?

It's coming up fast (the conference starts a week from Friday!) so seize your chance to do some prep work to get the most out of the weekend...

1) Study the schedule. Have a plan going in, about which breakouts you want to attend, which socials you want to participate in, which panelists whose work you haven't yet seen that you want to familiarize yourself with before you show up, so you can get the most out of what they're going to share.

2) Study the faculty list. Are you looking for an agent? Make a list of all the agents on faculty, and do your research online before you get to the conference hotel. That way, you can narrow it down to likely candidates, and focus your attendance and questions.

3) Study the faculty list some more. Even once you have an agent, knowing the editors and art directors working in our industry makes a difference. Who is publishing work you love? Who would you love to be published by? Familiarity with something they've recently published is a great conversation-starter!

4) Study the faculty list even more. Who's writing and/or illustrating in your category and genre? Who are you MOST excited to hear from, learn from, and meet? Get their latest book, and read it before you get to the conference. Again, familiarity with something they've recently published is a great conversation-starter!

5) Prepare how you'll present yourself and your work. What's your elevator pitch? Finish up your portfolio. Get business cards or postcards ready to share. Oh, and what's your approach to the Ball?

Then, once you've done your homework and you get to the conference here in Los Angeles, be open to the serendipity of things you didn't plan for... sometimes, those are the moments that yield the biggest take-aways of all!

Illustrate and Write On, and see you soon!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Children's Book Council Announces Their CBC Diversity Outstanding Achievement Awards Program

As explained at the CBC website,

These awards will be given annually, beginning in fall 2018, to professionals in the children’s publishing industry who are making or have made a significant impact on diversity in book creation and/or employment practices. Qualifications for the award include but are not limited to: the publishing and marketing of diverse books, diversity in hiring and mentoring, and efforts that create greater awareness with the public about the importance of diverse voices.
The nominations will be crowdsourced,
From July 30 to August 17, employees of all CBC member publishers can nominate individuals in the industry, along with a description of the reasons for their nomination. An online form will be distributed by email and be available on the CBC website. All the nominations will be read by the members of the CBC Diversity Committee, who will choose three-to-five winners to be announced at the CBC Annual Meeting on September 27. The award winners will each get to select an organization of their choice to receive one thousand dollars’ worth of children’s books in their name.
Cheering the CBC on in this new initiative—here's hoping it will shine a spotlight on those already doing great diversity-enhancing things in the world of Children's Literature, and motivate everyone to do more!

And it's a nice touch that the prize (beyond the acclaim) is to have hopefully diverse books donated to an organization in the winner's name. That's a prize that walks the walk! Read all the details here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Industry Info to Know: How Local Indie Stores Can Compete With Amazon

This analysis by Scott Thorne of the research by Ryan L. Raffaelli, assistant professor in the Organizational Behavior Unit at Harvard Business School, was fascinating.

The take-away, that local indie bookstores can succeed by leveraging three advantages they have over online retailers:
His research found that resurgent booksellers engaged in three bottom up practices throughout the industry:
1) Community. Emphasizing their position as a local member of the community, able to interact with other community members in a way that Amazon and other online retailers could not.
2) Curation. While online retailers focus on very wide inventory and discounted prices, the brick and mortar stores emphasized the selection they offered and the ability of their staff to guide customers to books and other items they would enjoy.
3) Convening. Bookstores leveraged their physical locations, scheduling even more events than they had in the past. Those were either free or paid, with some offering in excess of 500 per year, making them an important part of the local entertainment scene.
The opportunity this presents for we authors and illustrators is clear: We should be tapping into the communities we are already part of, positioning our titles to local stores as part of their curation process, and thinking events.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Porter Square Books Writers In Residence Program - What an Amazing Trend To Start!

As reported in Shelf Awareness, Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts has launched a "Writers in Residence Program."

As the store explains on their website:

"In order to make the resources needed to write books more available to the writers and aspiring writers in our community, Porter Square Books will select two writers, one writing for adults and one writing for young readers, to be our 2019 Writers in Residence."
Not only are there perks for the two writers selected (including a staff discount on everything and access to the store office—a quiet space to work—after 5pm and on the weekends) but there are also responsibilities (including three event introductions, three pieces for the store's blog, dibs on the authors' book launch event for the book they worked on during the residency.)

You can find out more and apply here.

It's a great initiative on behalf of this one bookstore, and hopefully an inspiration for other bookstores to follow suit... Imagine the impact if all the 1,100 indiebound bookstores created their own "Writers in Residence" Programs. And then, if every bookstore in the country—no, the world!—participated, too.

And if the selection of these writers is made with an eye to #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #OwnVoices, it could really make an impact—starting one store, one writer, one book, and one reader at a time!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Raising Our Voices - Illustrators Making An Impact

As reported in Publishers Weekly,
Prominent illustrators have donated images to display whenever we raise our voices to demand an end to the cruel [U.S.] administration policies of separating children from their parents and imprisoning refugees in detention facilities indefinitely. There are also postcards to send to the children who have not seen their parents in months.
That's from the Raising Our Voices website.

The printable protest signs have been used "around the world, from Tokyo to Seattle, Burlington to New York City, and many other cities and towns."

Here are some of the powerful images of protest:

Kira Lynn Caine’s Seeking Asylum is Not a Crime
Peter H. Reynolds’ Families Belong Together
Alison Farrel’s Caution: Ice

And postcards of support for the separated children:
Marc Rosenthal's Manténgase Fuerte: No Estas Solo / Stay Strong: You're Not Alone

Peter H. Reynolds' Your Dreams Are Your Wings
Jennifer K. Mann's We Are Thinking Of You / ¡Estamos Pensado En Ti!

Read more and get involved here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Reason To Build A Box - Big Picture Craft Help From Donald Maass

It's on a website called "writer UNboxed," (love the contrarian element of that) and Donald's piece, The Reason to Build a Box, suggests the best way to deal with the paralyzing universe of story options is to narrow it down, and build a box within which to craft your story.

"Narrow down the story parameters. Simplify. Set a story framework. Let a small snapshot imply a vast landscape. Fire a bullet instead of building a bomb. The Great American Novel cannot possibly be about everyone and everything. It can only be a slice of the whole cake. (And, really, who needs to eat a whole cake? Ingest one slice and you’ve got the idea.)"

It's a great piece, and includes a list of 21 prompts that can help you build that box for your story. A few gems:
What genre rule must you absolutely obey? What genre trope will you reverse?
What’s this story world’s most glaring irony? How is your protagonist thrust in the middle of that?
It's well worth reading, and trying out.

Thanks to Cynthia Leitich Smith who mentioned it on her amazing blog here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Movement To NOT Italicize Foreign Words

First, watch this brilliant video by Daniel José Older

Second, check out this Quartzy article, Bilingual Authors Are Challenging the Practice of Italicizing Non-English Words by Thu-Huong Ha.

Third, think about how you handle non-English words in your manuscript. Are you unnecessarily "othering" the people who speak that language? It's a practice worth taking another, more critical, look at.

Illustrate and Write On,