Thursday, January 31, 2019

Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast: A Conversation With Libba Bray

#1 New York Times bestselling and Michael L. Printz Award-winning YA author Libba Bray speaks to Theo Baker about music, journaling, how playwriting led her to a career writing books for teens, shares her advice on writing, and so 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,

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Kristin Daly Rens, Executive Editor at Balzer + Bray/Harper Collins shares her advice with authors

From this interview with Jonathan Rosen at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors
“Don’t worry about what is trendy—write what interests YOU. So often at conferences, etc, editors and agents get asked what the current trends are in children’s and teen books, but the truth of the matter is that the best way to make someone—whether that someone is an agent, editor, or reader—care about your book is if the author is writing something they believe in and care about themselves. When an author is passionate about what he or she is writing about, readers can see that passion on the page—and it makes them fall in love with that story as well.” —Kristin Daly Rens
Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, January 24, 2019

SCBWI Announces the 2019 Golden Kite Award Winners

And the winners of the 2019 Golden Kite Awards are...

Middle Grade Fiction: Susan Hood – LIFEBOAT 12 (Simon & Schuster) This compelling novel in verse, based on true events, tells the story of a boy’s harrowing experience on a lifeboat after surviving a torpedo attack during World War II.

Non-Fiction for Younger Readers: Barb Rosenstock – OTIS AND WILL DISCOVER THE DEEP (Little Brown) The suspenseful, little-known true story of two determined pioneers who made the first dive into the deep ocean.

Non-Fiction for Older Readers: Elizabeth Partridge – BOOTS ON THE GROUND: AMERICA’S WAR IN VIETNAM (Viking) A personal, moving foray into the Vietnam War and its impact that goes beyond the historical facts to show how the war irrefutably changed the people who were there.

Picture Book Illustration: Becca Stadtlander – MADE BY HAND: A CRAFTS SAMPLER (Candlewick) A beautiful, one-of-a-kind volume invites readers to marvel at the time, effort, and care that went into creating handmade toys, tools, and treasures of the past.

Picture Book Text: Jessie Oliveros – THE REMEMBER BALLOONS (Simon & Schuster) A tender, sensitive picture book that gently explains the memory loss associated with aging and diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Young Adult Fiction: Jane Yolen – MAPPING THE BONES (Philomel) Influenced by Dr. Mengele’s sadistic experimentations, this story follows twins as they travel from the Lodz ghetto, to the partisans in the forest, to a horrific concentration camp where they lose everything but each other.

The Golden Kite Awards will be presented at a gala during the New York Winter Conference on Friday, February 8 at 7pm at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Guest speaker U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will deliver remarks at the event.

The SCBWI Golden Kite Honor Books are:

Young Reader and Middle Grade Fiction: Dusti Bowling –24 HOURS IN NOWHERE(Sterling Children’s Books) Susan Fletcher – JOURNEY OF THE PALE BEAR (Margaret K. McEldery Books) Jewell Parker Rhodes – GHOST BOYS (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)

Young Adult Fiction: Elizabeth Acevedo – THE POET X (Harper Teen) Vesper Stamper – WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Non-Fiction for Young Readers: Sandra Neil Wallace – BETWEEN THE LINES: HOW ERNIE BARNES WENT FROM THE FOOTBALL FIELD TO THE ART GALLERY (Paula Wiseman Books) Annette Bay Pimental – GIRL RUNNING: BOBBI GIBB AND THE BOSTON MARATHON (Nancy Paulson Books) Melissa Stewart – PIPSQUEAKS, SLOWPOKES, AND STINKERS (Peachtree)


Picture Book Text: Cori Doerrfeld – THE RABBIT THAT LISTENED (Dial Books for Young Readers) John Himmelman – FLOATY (Henry Holt & Co. Books for Young Readers) Troy Howell – WHALE IN A FISH BOWL (Schwartz & Wade)

Picture Book Illustration: Larry Day – FOUND (Simon & Schuster) Barbara McClintock – NOTHING STOPPED SOPHIE: THE STORY OF UNSHAKABLE MATHEMATICIAN SOPHIE GERMAIN (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)

Congratulations to all the winners and honorees!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

SCBWI Announces The 2019 Sid Fleischman Award Winner

The Sid Fleischman Award was created to give more attention to “authors whose work exemplifies the excellence of writing in the genre of humor. The SCBWI established the award to honor humorous work, so often overlooked in children’s literature by other award committees.”

To honor that vision, we'll announce the winner of the 2019 Sid Fleischman award here on SCBWI: The Blog first (right now!), and then on Thursday we'll announce the Golden Kite Award winners for 2019.

The winner of the 2019 Sid Fleischman Award is...

Angela Dominguez for STELLA DIAZ HAS SOMETHING TO SAY (Roaring Brook Press) A heartwarming story based on the author’s experiences growing up Mexican-American.

Stella Diaz loves marine animals, especially her betta fish, Pancho. But Stella Diaz is not a betta fish. Betta fish like to be alone, while Stella loves spending time with her mom and brother and her best friend Jenny. Trouble is, Jenny is in another class this year, and Stella feels very lonely. When a new boy arrives in Stella's class, she really wants to be his friend, but sometimes Stella accidentally speaks Spanish instead of English and pronounces words wrong, which makes her turn roja. Plus, she has to speak in front of her whole class for a big presentation at school! But she better get over her fears soon, because Stella Díaz has something to say!
The Sid Fleischman Award (Along with the Golden Kite Awards) will be presented at a gala during the New York Winter Conference on Friday, February 8 at 7pm at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Guest speaker U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will deliver remarks at the event.

Executive Director Lin Oliver said,

“We are proud to celebrate these wonderful books and send congratulations to the authors, artists, and publishers who are contributing to today’s thriving body of children’s literature.”
Congratulations, Angela!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Don't Quit Your Day Job - The Authors Guild Publishes The Results of Their Largest Survey Ever of Author Income, and The Numbers are Modest (and Down)

With more than 5,100 authors participating (and multiple organizations—including SCBWI—getting their members to take part), this survey has six major takeaways that you can read here.

One of the big ones is that annual mean author income from books alone is just under $2,600!

A slide from the Authors Guild new survey of author income

The numbers, and report, are sobering information, well-worth reading, and useful—writing for kids and teens is certainly a "dream job," and at the same time it's important to have realistic expectations of what a career as a writer means financially.

Of course, there are those in the highest income ranks who are making $150,000 - $300,000 a year, but for the rest of us, well, look at the numbers:

$6,080 is the mean annual income of all published writers in 2017 (traditionally published, self-published, and hybrid published) from both book and writing-related income. For those of us in that vast majority, we need a day job/additional stream of income to make things work!

There's lots more to read in the report - do so here.

And Still, Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Debbie Ohi's Free Picture Book Thumbnail Templates for Writers and Illustrators

Check out this amazing resource: Debbie Ohi's Free Picture Book Thumbnail Templates for Writers and Illustrators

The 32 thumbnails is very useful (and arguably better than folding a piece of paper into 32 rectangles,

but it's Debbie's Reference Layout that feels innovative—especially for illustrators, with Debbie giving you space to sketch options for each spread!

She even shares the above example of how she uses the template.

It's a great and generous public service to her fellow writers and illustrators—you'll find these picture book thumbnail template resources that you can download yourself here.

Thanks, Debbie!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Hashtags for Illiustrators - Some suggestions (add your own in comments!)

#childrensbookillustration (note that with 297,466 posts as of this week, #childrensbookillustration it is different than #childrenbookillustration, which has 54,108 posts)

There's #picturebookart, #picturebookillustration, #childrensillustration, and so many more...

Some have over a million posts already (like #illustratorsoninstagram) and some are much more specific, calling out the medium/materials, (like #fountainpengeeks or even super-specific like #pilotfalcon, or the process (like #foundobjectart).

A good suggestion over at CreativeHowl is to separate the hashtags from the description with a hard return and a few lines of dots, so it seems more tidy (a big block of 10-30 hashtags can be visually intense.)

Perhaps the coolest thing about hashtags is you don't even need to be signed up for instagram to watch the flow of creativity - just go to instagram and search!

Do you have other good illustrator hashtags to share? Please do so in comments! Thanks, and

Illustrate On!

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Free Writers Happiness Challenge (Five Minutes a Day for Fourteen Days) Starts Today!

Lori Snyder, a writer herself and the leader of yoga and mediation sessions at the SCBWI Summer Conferences for many years, is once again leading her fellow writers on a "Writers Happiness Challenge."

As Lori explains on the signup page, the Writers Happiness Challenge takes five minutes a day, and is a
“series of curated daily exercises designed to help you expand your happiness, access flow states with greater ease, and create more space for and around your writing. It’s for all writers of any kind, and it’s free.

These exercises are not writing prompts in the traditional fashion. Some of them don’t even involve writing, though many of them do. They are happiness prompts written specifically for writers, designed to help create a baseline of happiness to lead to more creativity and innovation and a deeper joy around life and your writing.

You can do the challenge on your own, with your writers group, or with a writing buddy. It’s free and accessible to all.”
What does happiness have to do with writing? Lori shares,
“new studies are showing that the best emotional state for innovation and creativity is a state of high energy and positivity. In other words, it’s looking as though happiness fuels creativity more than any other emotion. Happiness does lots of other happy things, too. It makes us more able to see ourselves, our art, and our lives with more clarity, thus allowing us to see how and when we might fit in pockets of writing time. It reminds us what we care about most and how to make space for that. And, not least of all, it feels good.”

It sounds like a wonderful way to start a creatively fulfilling 2019!

You can find out all the details and sign up here:

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Creative Goals For 2019

Looking to the year ahead, think about what elements of the process you control. And then, based on those parameters, consider setting some creative goals for yourself.

Maybe one goal is input - time put in, i.e, I'm going to write two times a week. Or for two hours a day. Or, two weekends a month—whatever is right for you.

Maybe another goal is creative milestone-based, i.e, I'm going to finish five new pieces for my portfolio, or I'm going to finish this new draft of my manuscript, or I'm going to revise my NaNoWriMo rough draft, or  I'm going to write twelve new picture book manuscripts, one a month, like the 12 x 12 challenge.

Maybe your goal is community-based, i.e., I'm going to find a writers group, or I'm going to attend a conference, or I'm going to make time to go out for coffee with a creative colleague once a month to feel connected.

Maybe your goal is marketing-focused, i.e., I'm going to make a bigger effort to interact with my readers on social media, or I'm going to reach out to ten librarians about my book, or I'm going to build that website I've been talking about, or I'm going to prepare and pitch to speak at a specific event.

Maybe your goal is putting your work out there, i.e., I'm going to submit to five agents, or I'm going to enter the SCBWI Work-In-Progress grant competition, or I'm going to submit my art for a portfolio show at a conference.

Maybe your goal is to learn more about your craft, i.e., I'm going to apply for that MFA program, or I'm going to listen to all the SCBWI Podcasts interviews with illustrators, or I'm going to submit my work to a freelance developmental editor to get take-it-to-the-next-level input.

Maybe your goal is finding a mentor. (We all could use one!)

Maybe your goal is being a mentor. (There's so much we gain when we give of ourselves and our expertise!)

Take a few minutes and set some creative goals for yourself for the year ahead. You don't have to share them with anyone, though you're more than welcome to share them here in comments or on social media!

Again, I won't ask you to do something I wouldn't do myself, so here are mine:

Lee's Top Three Creative Goals For 2019

1. Write Three Times a Week
2. Complete my current YA draft
3. Make time to be social with my group of kid lit friends

Now it's your turn. What are your creative goals for 2019?

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Goals for 2019: Gratitude as Preparation

There's been a meme going around on social media, list five things you love about your current work-in-progress.

I think this is a great exercise to remind ourselves about the heart of our story, and to keep us on-track as we go through the process of conceptualizing, drafting, and revising!

To not ask you something I wouldn't do myself, I'll go first — oh, and remember, there's no right or wrong answer. This is for YOU, and you don't even need to share it (but, of course, you're welcome to share it here in comments or on social media if you'd like.)

Lee's List of 5 Things I Love About My Current Work-In-Progress

1. I love the multiple meanings of my working title
2. I love that it's an action-adventure with gay teen main characters
3. I love that there's a romance
4. I love that it references a genre I love
5. I love both of my main characters, and for different reasons.

It's a useful compass for the journey ahead.

So, as we look forward to our creative work in 2019, consider making a list of the five things you love most about your current work-in-progress.

Illustrate and Write On,