Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A Conversation with Francesco Sedita - Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast!

Francesco Sedita is the president and publisher of Penguin Workshop at Penguin Young Readers, as well the author of the Miss Popularity series. In this two-part conversation with Theo Baker, Francesco speaks of his vision for Penguin Workshop, his approach as a publisher, the influence of books like “Wimpy Kid,” and how co-writing a graphic novel has helped his own writing.

Listen to the episode trailer here.

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

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Elizabeth Partridge - The Golden Kite Award Interview—Non-Fiction for Older Readers Winner for "Boots on the Ground: America's War In Vietnam"

Elizabeth Partridge was awarded the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Non-Fiction for Older Readers for "Boots on the Ground: America's War In Vietnam" at the SCBWI 2019 Winter Conference in New York City on February 8, 2019. 

Award-winning author Elizabeth Partridge

 Here, we catch up with Elizabeth about her book and winning this honor... 

Lee: Congratulations, Elizabeth! Please tell us about finding out you’d won this Golden Kite Award.

Elizabeth: Lin Oliver called and left a message on my cell phone. I didn’t recognize the number, so I didn’t even check my message for a couple of days. Then I heard her message in which said she had “important news.” It didn’t even occur to me she was calling about the Golden Kite! I was working on a deadline, and my mind was far, far away. I was totally blown away when I called her back and she told me the important news was that I’d won the Golden Kite!

Lee: Pitch us to move Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam to the top of our To-Be-Read pile — What's it about?

Elizabeth: Nearly three million Americans served in Vietnam during the war, almost ten percent of their generation. They came home to a divided, disillusioned country. I interviewed men who fought, a nurse, a refugee, and a protestor to hear their stories of what the war was like for them. What did courage look like to them? Honor? How had their morals changed? Their answers were not what I expected.

The Vietnam War changed America forever. It cost the lives of nearly 60,000 young Americans, took down a president, and forced us to deal with a wave of refugees we were ill-prepared for.

We’re divided again as a nation, and the seeds of our divisiveness were planted during the Vietnam War. What lessons can we learn from the turmoil and anguish of the war, so that we can make better decisions for our country today?

Lee: I love how relevant to today you made it! Is there an Ah-ha! Moment from the book’s creation you can share?

Elizabeth: There were so many amazing, intense, overwhelming moments in putting together Boots on the Ground. One that struck me early in interviewing veterans is how the war was still totally vivid for every one of them. As they spoke with me, it was as if they were back in Vietnam.

As I got closer to finishing the book I realized that each individual story is both highly personal, and also woven deeply into the fabric of what makes history. I love the place where personal and political meet up. It’s an intense, powerful cross-current.

Lee: How long have you been a member of SCBWI, and how has SCBWI helped on your journey?

Elizabeth: I’ve been a member of SCBWI since before I was published, 25 years ago. At first, SCBWI helped me sort out my beginner questions: who can I submit to? What is the proper format for a manuscript? How do I write a picture book manuscript? After getting published, I started presenting at SCBWI chapters and really enjoyed meeting other authors and lending a hand/giving advice to the people coming up.

When my friend, illustrator Martha Weston, died unexpectedly, her family wanted to create a tribute to her, and asked me what would be the best organization to sponsor a grant in her name. Without hesitation I said SCBWI, and they set up a terrific grant that is going strong. Check it out. https://www.scbwi.org/awards/martha-weston-grant/

I’ve always kept my membership current and have loved watching SCBWI stretch its wings to be helpful to more long-time published authors as well as aspiring authors. It really ticks me off when people label SCBWI as being just for beginners. It is so much more! The huge network of local groups all over the United States and a few overseas are invaluable for making our community a real community.

Lee: What advice do you have to share with other children’s book creators?

Elizabeth: Very few people are excellent at writing when they start out. It’s a craft, like cider-making, or weaving. Take classes, read, write. Try out different genres. And in our crazy-busy world, you have to make sure you actually DO it, not just think about doing it. Get your butt in the chair, and keep at it.

Lee: Super advice, yes, we must DO it! Thanks so much, Elizabeth, and again, congratulations!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

SCBWI Member Lee Wardlaw Leads Our Children's Literature Community To Restock Libraries in a Recovering California Town

This article in Publishers Weekly, Donations Help Rebuild Libraries in Paradise, Calif., made me so proud of Lee Wardlaw and our children's literature community!

The article covers Lee's personal stake in recovering from wildfires (her own life experience and her debut book for children in 1990) to her leading the effort in the last months to gather and sort 5,300 donated books, and then, this April 2019, driving more than 1,000 miles roundtrip to deliver them to Paradise, California where they are so needed!

 “The kids really needed books... Books bring a sense of familiarity, family, and normalcy—something that’s not chaotic in their lives." —Lee Wardlaw

Well done, Lee Wardlaw! We're cheering you on!

You can find out more about Lee Wardlaw here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Crystal Kite Round Two Voting Opens Today! #SCBWI19CK #scbwicrystalkites

Get your "I voted in the Crystal Kites" badge by... voting!

Vote between today, April 18, 2019 and April 30, 2019 (by 5pm Pacific) to cast your round two vote to help choose the winner from your geographic division!

To cast your vote, log on to www.scbwi.org.

Once you are on your Member Home page, go to the left navigation bar, scroll to the bottom, and click on Vote in the Crystal Kite Awards.

That takes you right to the voting page where you'll see the finalists in your division. Then click the VOTE FOR THIS BOOK button below your chosen book and you are done!

Winners will be announced in late May or early June, 2019. Good luck to all!

Find out more about the SCBWI Crystal Kite Members Choice Awards here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Brendan Reichs and a new metaphor for plotting vs. pantsing

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books panel (left to right): Brendan Reichs, Ally Condie, Carlos Hernandez, Lee Wind (moderator), and Quinn Sosna-Spear

A great moment in the middle grade panel I moderated on the YA Stage this Saturday, Middle Grade Fiction: Magic and Mysteries with Quinn Sosna-Spear, Carlos Hernandez, Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs was a question from the audience about process that had everyone on the panel share whether they plotted things out in advance or they wrote by the seat of their pants, making it all up as they went along...

Turned out, Carlos, Quinn, and Ally all mix the approaches, and then Brendan shared that instead of "plotting" and "pantsing," he liked a different metaphor—architects and gardeners. He expanded on the idea, saying that gardeners work with what happens, while architects plan everything out.

And then, it occurred to me that for those of us who combine the two approaches, maybe we're landscape architects?

The idea got a spontaneous wave of applause from the 100+ folks in the audience.

So there you go, another way to describe process... I hope it's helpful.

Illustrate and Write On (no matter your method!),

Thursday, April 11, 2019

SCBWI Members: First Round of Voting for the Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards Is Now Open (Ends April 14 at 5pm Pacific)

The annual SCBWI Crystal Kite Award is a peer-given award to recognize great books from 15 SCBWI regional divisions around the world. Those divisions are:
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, Washington DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland)
· Mid-South (Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana)
· Southeast (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama)

International Divisions
· UK, Ireland
· Middle East, India, Asia
· Canada
· Australia, New Zealand
· Other International
To cast your vote, log on to www.scbwi.org.

Once you are on your Member Home page, go to the left navigation bar, scroll to the bottom, and click on Vote in the Crystal Kite Awards.

That takes you right to the voting page where all of the books in your division appear. Then click the VOTE FOR THIS BOOK button below your chosen book and you are done!

Good luck to all!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The American Library Association Releases Their List of the Top 11 Most Challenged Books of 2018

In 2018, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) tracked 347 challenges to library, school and university materials and services. Overall, 483 books were challenged or banned in 2018, with the following comprising the top 11 most frequently challenged:

1. “George,” by Alex Gino
Reason: for including a transgender character

"George" by Alex Gino was the #1 Most Challenged Book in the U.S. in 2018

2. “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo,” by Jill Twiss, illustrated by E. G. Keller
Reasons: for LGBTQIA+ content, political and religious viewpoints

3. “Captain Underpants” series, written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: for including a same-sex couple, perceived as encouraging disruptive behavior

4. “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas
Reasons: for profanity, drug use, sexual references, deemed “anti-cop”

5. “Drama,” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Reason: for LGBTQIA+ characters and themes

6. “Thirteen Reasons Why,” by Jay Asher
Reason: for addressing teen suicide

7. “This One Summer,” by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Reasons: for profanity, sexual references, certain illustrations

8. “Skippyjon Jones” series, written and illustrated by Judy Schachner
Reason: for depicting cultural stereotypes

9. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: for profanity, sexual references, religious viewpoint

10. “This Day in June,” by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
Reason: for LGBTQIA+ content

11. “Two Boys Kissing,” by David Levithan
Reason: for LGBTQIA+ content

There are eleven this year rather than the traditional ten, as "This Day in June" and "Two Boys Kissing" were tied for challenges.

You can find out more about the Top Banned Books of 2018 list here.

Illustrate and Write On (even if you worry it might be challenged or banned.) Sometimes, the gatekeepers aren't going to be pleased, but your message, your book, will make all the difference and transform a child or teen's life for the better. And that's worth fighting—and illustrating and writing—for.


Thursday, April 4, 2019

Becca Stadtlander - The Golden Kite Award Interview—Picture Book Illustration Winner for "Made By Hand: A Crafts Sampler"

Becca Stadtlander was awarded the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Illustration for her illustration of "Made By Hand: A Crafts Sampler" (written by Carole Lexa Schaefer) at the SCBWI 2019 Winter Conference in New York City on February 8, 2019.

Award-winning Illustrator Becca Stadtlander

Here, we catch up with Becca about her book and winning this honor...

Lee: Congratulations, Becca! Please tell us about finding out you’d won this Golden Kite Award.

Becca: Thank you! It was exciting, and totally unexpected. I found out on a Friday night when I was in the back of a friend's car on my way to a dinner party. Lin Oliver called me as I was about to step into a wine store to buy a bottle for the party. Hahaha, I was shocked, but completely thrilled. It was all I could think about all night, and then all I could think about for the following weeks. I was happy, but very very nervous about delivering the acceptance speech.

Lee: Pitch us to move Made By Hand: A Crafts Sampler to the top of our TBR pile — What's it about?

Becca: Made by Hand is a unique historical fiction book, that would please a huge age range, including adults. Carole Lexa Schaefer has created something beautiful about actual American folk art artifacts that remind me of the feeling I get when appreciating a family heirloom or well loved object. All of the items in the book are placed into individual stories about the people and hands that created them, ranging from the 1700s to 1950s.

Lee: Is there an Ah-ha! Moment from creating the book’s illustrations that you can share?

Becca: I joked a little about this in my acceptance speech, but for me it was all the hands I had to paint in the book. I'd love to report that I paint everything perfect all the time, but I'm a human, and that is not the case. At the time I started working on this, I was having troubling painting hands with confidence. This assignment really showed me that "practice makes perfect" or at least "perfectly acceptable". I drew them over and over and took so many photos of my own hands doing things, that I started gaining a much better understanding of what I was doing. Absolutely an "ah Aha" moment!

Lee: How long have you been a member of SCBWI, and how has SCBWI helped on your journey?

Becca: I have been a member of SCBWI member since 2017, so very new for me! I think it's been good to feel like I'm part of a larger community. Working from home can sometimes be very isolating, so it's been great to make me more aware of all the other artists and writers doing what I do. I got to meet some fantastic people at the Golden Kite Gala recently, and that was the best part!

Lee: What advice do you have to share with other children’s book creators?

Becca: I think the best advice I have ever received that I would be happy to pass on is to always be nice. The children's book world may seem like a big place but it is actually very small, and you can get far just by being nice and professional.

Lee: Great advice—hurray for nice! Thank you, Becca, and again, congratulations on winning the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for your illustration of Made By Hand: A Crafts Sampler!

Find out more about Becca at this website.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Trends in Children's and Teen Literature? A Dozen Agents Weigh In On Their Way to the 2019 Bologna Children's Book Fair (from Publishers Weekly)

We all know we shouldn't write and/or illustrate to trends.

Having said that, these brief interviews, compiled by Diane Roback for Publishers Weekly in the article, Trends to Watch for at Bologna 2019, are fascinating.

Check out what Rachel Hecht (of Rachel Hecht Children’s Scouting), Marcia Wernick (of Wernick & Pratt Agency), Mia Roman (of New Leaf Literary & Media), Samantha Fabien (of Laura Dail Literary Agency), Addison Duffy (of United Talent Agency), Josh and Tracey Adams (of Adams Literary), Kelly Farber (of KF Literary Scouting), Ammi-Joan Paquette (of Erin Murphy Literary Agency), Cecilia de la Campa (of Writers House), Molly Ker Hawn (of The Bent Agency), Victoria Wells Arms (of Wells Arms Literary), and Michael Stearns (of Upstart Crow Literary) have to say!

Read the full article here.

Illustrate and Write On,