Thursday, November 29, 2018

Listen to the Newest SCBWI Podcast: A Conversation With Bruce Coville

Bruce Coville is the celebrated author of over 100 books for children and young readers. In this exclusive interview with Theo Baker, Bruce speaks of audiobooks, covers and titles, first lines, shares how he's “always attempting to write a book I would have wanted to read at age ten, or twelve,” offers some sage advice, and considers how literature can offer young people role models in a way that reality no longer does.

It's a wide-ranging, wonderful interview with one of our industry's most fabulous (and funniest) authors!

Listen to the episode trailer here.

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

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

One Way SCBWI Members Give Back (And Next Year, You Can, Too!): SCBWI’s 2nd Annual Books For Readers Literacy Initiative

Members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators joined forces again as part of our 2nd Annual SCBWI Books For Readers book drive to collect, curate, and donate new books created by our members to two 2018 recipients: the Indian Education Program of the Fargo and West Fargo Public Schools in North Dakota, and the Literacy Alliance in Oviedo, Florida.

“We are thrilled to receive this generous donation of books. Many of our families do not have the luxury of having books in their homes,” said Melody Staebner, the Fargo and West Fargo Public Schools’ Indian Education Coordinator and an enrolled member in the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. “With this donation during our Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we can reinforce the importance of reading at school and at home! We know that if kids are excited about reading, and are competent readers by the third grade, they will have a better chance of graduating high school—one of our program’s goals, as well as following their dreams!"

SCBWI's Lin Oliver added, “Getting books into children’s hands is why we create books—to help build dreams. And, getting our books into hands of readers in need... is a dream come true!”

Photos from the Indigenous People's Day celebration in North Dakota:

And more from the Literacy Alliance celebration in Florida:

You can learn more about the SCBWI Books for Readers program here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 22, 2018

How Solving a Problem with the History of Her Historical Novel Opened Up The Novel's Characters and Story: Samantha Harvey in Publishers Weekly

In "Bartering with the Facts: How a Novelist Solves a Historical Problem," Samantha Harvey shares what happened when research revealed that the confession box she had scoffolded her 1491-set novel around wasn't in line with the history of confession boxes in Catholic Churches in England- she was off by about fifty years.
“I decided that I could keep the confession box in my novel if I could acknowledge and explain how it was that a small, inconsequential village called Oakham—itself made up—could be the first in England to have such a thing. What conditions could make it possible, and what social, cultural, psychological, religious detail could make it plausible? In terms of novel writing, plausibility seems to me the more interesting cousin of truth. It’s where facts are arranged in such a way that they align to form a feeling of truth—a truthiness—that infuses the novel and becomes part of its internal logic.”
She also writes,
“Writing is a form of spellbinding. Anything amiss will break the spell—anything that seems wrong or off-key or untrue or disingenuous or, ironically if fiction, made up. (Of course, fiction is making-up by and large, but the trick is to make it seem not so at least while the reader is reading.) The spell is cast when there is a feeling of truth about what’s happening—whether that’s come about by adhering closely to facts, or by subverting, manipulating and coloring the facts. To me this isn’t a moral question about fiction’s responsibility to the truth, as some would have it, but only an aesthetic question. You do whatever you need to do to sustain the spell.”
Samantha shares two other examples of things that were "off" about the history of her book, and how in one case, she corrected it, and in the other case, she didn't—and explains why.

It's a fascinating look into the “ the strange dance between fact and fiction that we call research” and writing historical fiction.

 Well-worth reading.

Illustrate and Write On, 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

What Writers Need To Know About Envy - an excellent article by Brooke Warner in Publishers Weekly's BookLife

Brooke makes some strong points in this piece, including:
According to Psychology Today columnist Mary C. Lambia, envy is an emotion “directed at another or others, wanting their qualities, success, or possession[s],” and it stems from shame. Knowing this can allow for some helpful self-inquiry. If we can allow ourselves to go there, we can address the manifestations of shame—addiction to approval; hypersensitivity to rejection; feelings of not being good enough; taking things personally; all-or-nothing thinking—for what they really are.
and she offers motivation and advice on ways to let go of envy, including these words from Dani Shapiro, author of the new memoir Hourglass,
“Envy is a waste of energy for writers. No one can tell your story. Do the work.”
It's well-worth reading, and some introspection...

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Check Your Respect - an excellent article about nurturing artists (ourselves and young people) by Paula Chase Hyman on The Brown Bookshelf

“Art is breathing for the artist.”

There is so much wisdom in this piece by Paula Chase Hyman, Check Your Respect.

Paula shares the not-so-helpful comments of others regarding her daughter's pursuit of a future as a dancer, and reflects on how her own journey as an author shares many of the same challenges...

And in the face of those challenges, Paula “knows what it’s like to have Art in you that you’re compelled to put out in the world.” And with that knowledge, she advocates for her daughter, for herself, and for those of us fortunate enough to read her words.

“Please stop smothering us with your fears and concerns. Negative energy is the artist’s natural enemy. We have enough self doubt to fill a stadium. Don’t push yours on us.

Root for us.

Support our work.

Tell others about the artists you know.

We put beauty into the world. That’s never a bad thing.”

Read the full piece here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Instagram for Illustrators - 10 handy "Basic Tips" from Illustrator Ohn Mar Win

Ohn Mar Win wrote this piece, Instagram for Illustrators - 10 Basic Tips for Gaining Great Followers back in August of 2015. At the time, she had 4,669 instagram followers. Today, she has 128,000 followers.

So check out Ohn Mar Win's advice, including this bonus piece of wisdom, “There are a surprising number of art directors and editors on Instagram who may not state they are art directors and use personal accounts to follow your work!!”

Two of the ten tips to highlight:

7) Hashtag your work appropriately - the most popular ones are...#art #artist #painting #illustration #drawing #draw #sketch #sketchbook#artoftheday #instaart #instaartist #wip #artistsoninstagram #sketchbook #watercolours (or whatever medium you've used) #yourname #illustration
9) Watermark your work (install iWatermark app) use the adjust/ vignette/ tilt shift function if you are worried about unscrupulous use of your art.

It's all excellent advice - check out the full article here, and follow Ohn_Mar_Win and other illustrators on Instagram for inspiration.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Do You Use Instagram as an Author? Some Advice

Check out the inspiration and examples using the #bookgiveaway hashtag on Instagram

From Jane Friedman's blog, this excerpt, 5 Ways to Use Instagram as an Author, is from Social Media for Writers: Marketing Strategies for Building Your Audience and Selling Books (Writer’s Digest Books) by Tee Morris (@TeeMonster) and Pip Ballantine (@PhillipaJane).

Highlights include:

Competitions are a proven way to increase your number of followers on Instagram, but don’t go this route until you have at least a small following. It’s hard to make a splash if only a few people are following you... So what do you ask people to do? Keep it simple, and make sure it involves nothing dangerous or too outrageous. A picture of a participant with your book (“book selfies”), dressed up like a character, or posing with something significant related to the book (an artifact or some related item) are all good choices. Or you could go with something related to your genre that is more open to interpretation.

and Joanna Penn's at The Creative Penn's article, How to Use Instagram As An Author Plus 10 Ways to Grow Your Account Organically, offers some choice examples of how authors are successfully using instagram. From Poems, inspirations, book covers, author signing events, and quotes, there's so much inspiration!

How do you use Instagram?

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Can Diverse Books Save Us? In a divided world, librarians are on a mission - An excellent piece from School Library Journal

The call for diverse books is out, and librarians are answering... are we as children's book creators?

Check out this article in School Library, Can Diverse Books Save Us? In a divided world, librarians are on a mission.

A few highlights:
“She gasped when she saw a girl wearing hijab on the cover,” says Deborah Vose, recalling a seventh grader who wandered into her library one afternoon and stood, captivated, before a display of books. Staring at the cover of Brave, the 2017 graphic novel by Svetlana Chmakova, the student grasped the book and exclaimed, “Someone who looks like me!”

It was a brief moment of discovery and connection that would delight any educator, but to Vose, the librarian at South and East Middle Schools in Braintree, MA, it was especially significant. She—like the vast majority of respondents to a recent School Library Journal (SLJ) survey—has made it a priority to bring books reflecting diverse cultures and perspectives to the children and community she serves.
...a significant driver here is individual conviction—of the 1,156 survey respondents (school and public librarians serving children and teens in the United States and Canada), 72 percent told SLJ they consider it a personal goal to create a diverse collection.

“As a teen librarian in the whitest state in the union, I feel it is my duty to not have the collection reflect my community, but rather to reflect the wider world,” says Melissa Orth, a teen librarian at Curtis Memorial Library, in Brunswick, ME. “Books featuring characters with different cultural experiences from their own can educate teen readers and build empathy.” For Sandra Parks, broadening the collection of her library at Skyline Middle School in Harrisonburg, VA—an effort in which she has focused on acquiring more titles with LGBTQIA+, Muslim, and African American characters and themes—“may be the most important thing I have done in my career,” she says.
Go read the whole article here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Are You In for This Year's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)?

Need motivation to churn out that first draft?

Understand the wisdom that you can't edit a blank page?

Want to know that you're on the journey with thousands - hundreds of thousands - of other writers?*

Then maybe you should participate in National Novel Writing Month!

Keep in mind that this is about creating a messy first draft, and you shouldn't be submitting your just-completed-by-sprinting-to-the-final-scene manuscript to anyone. In fact, consider that the other eleven months of the year might just be called National Novel Revision Months...

Having said that, NaNoWriMo can be powerful motivation.

Good luck, and have fun with writing your novel! If you're in, leave a comment, and let your SCBWI community cheer you on!


*In 2017, there were 402,142 participants in NaNoWriMo!