Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Take Some Creative Advice from Meg Medina - Your Artistic Mission Statement

There's maybe no better way to prepare for the new year ahead than to consider, as writers and/or illustrators,

"what do we want our lives to look like?" 

What's our mission?

And to write that out as our "Artistic Mission Statement."

For inspiration, listen to this under-9 minute podcast, Podcast #30: Meg Medina Talks About Nurturing Your Artistic Voice, from our friends at the Highlights Foundation, where George Brown speaks with Meg Medina about Meg's finding the mission statement she wrote 19 years earlier, before her books and awards, when she was a new mother and trying to figure out how to have time to write. Trying to see the artistic path ahead.

And now she looks back, seeing how far she's come, and thinking about where she wants her artistic career to go next!

So write down (or draw) your artistic mission statement, and have that with you as you head into 2020!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Travling this Holiday Season? Take some Social Media Inspiration from Karina Hale

This was very cool: Karina Hale posted pictures of her upcoming book on Instagram in a variety of locations.

 It was featured in this BookBub piece on Book Promotion.

And it made me think - Karina's not writing children's or YA, but this idea could work for ANY book. (My book! Your book!) And it doesn't have to be exotic travel to some fabulous beach or European hot spot. It could be photos of your book in locations you visit every week. The snowy field across the street. The farmer's market. The train station.

Maybe you match the locations and tone of your book. Or maybe you just go for it, and create a travelogue with your book in hand.

It seems like a fun way to connect with your community and promote your book at the same time! And hey, aren't you carrying around a copy of your book anyway?

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Love Letter To (And Defense of) Picture Book Biographies

Over at Electric Lit, J.M. Farkas writes "You Should Be Getting Your Biographies in Children’s Picture Book Form"

“Reading PBBs is an amazing hack for readers who want to know the general beats of notable lives.... But beyond acquiring facts and increasing your Jeopardy! score*, what I relish most about PBBs is how they infuse history with much-needed empathy and emotion.”

“There’s also one more hidden benefit: reading them will make you a better writer. A biography in a picture book format is a master class in distillation. All writing involves making choices, sometimes excruciating choices, of what to leave in and what to leave out—but the art of a biographer takes this excision to the next level. And the scissory task of a picture book biographer is even more arduous: how to fit an entire life into a 32-page container. It’s no coincidence that some of the best PBBs have the fewest words.”
And then the author lists some of their favorite picture book biographies. Some I knew, others I've added to my to-be-read list.

The whole piece is well-worth reading!

Illustrate and Write On,

*For a fun sidebar, see the shout out that 'Jeopardy!' Star James Holzhauer gave to children's books as his strategy to become a game show millionaire.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast Now: A Conversation with Mem Fox

International Best-Selling Children’s Picture Book Author Mem Fox speaks with Theo Baker about her drama school background, her writing and revising, and what it means to be an Australian writer.

Listen to the episode trailer here.

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

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

How to Launch a New Book - a BookBub "Book Promotion 101" Article

Packed with good ideas to add to your plans, check out BookBub's Book Promotion 101: How to Launch a New Book.

Organized into five phases:

Planning, Early Promos, Preorders, Launch Day, and Post-Launch, 

the article aims to "walk you through the stages of a book launch, with examples of how successful authors have promoted theirs."

From learning "how your audience searches for books" to securing "blurbs from comparable authors" to sending a "digital gift pack to readers who preorder" to streaming "a live Q&A on Facebook or YouTube" to signing up "as a HARO source" there's great advice for every step of your book making its way into the world. Some of the many ideas shared may be ones you're already doing, but others may inspire you to try something new!

The full article is well-worth reading.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, December 12, 2019

SCBWI Books for Readers Continues Giving Books and Building Dreams - Read About SCBWI's 2019 Donation Events

This report by Patty J. Murphy reported on the two 2019 events that donated thousands of SCBWI PAL member books to young people.

SCBWI’s donation of 1,000 books to Madison Reading Project and its Big Red Reading Bus, allowed the organization to reach a milestone– the 100,000th book donated to readers–and to be recognized for the hard work they have done, as well as the work yet to come.

“It is a tribute to what we are doing and to the kids we serve. We are wowed that the authors and illustrators who created these books are supporting what we are doing, and helping get their books into these kids’ hands,” said Executive Director Rowan Childs. “It’s also an intrinsic pat on the back–a belief in what we are doing to increase literacy rates, and encouragement for all of us to do more!”
“These books are unlike any others that our children have received before,” said Dr. Goff, executive director of REACH, “because they’re donated by the very people who created them. They’ll allow our children to see worlds outside their communities, to offer them experiences they’ve never had, and to see what can be, and what they can achieve. Like that famous quotation, ‘A reader lives a thousand lives–a non-reader only one!’ These books will give our kids a thousand lives–and then some!”
Read the full report here.

To learn more about the SCBWI Books for Readers Program and nominate your favorite literacy organization for 2020, visit The SCBWI Books for Readers FAQ here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Literary Agents of Color - A Great Resource to Know About

Agent Beth Marshea's recent article in Publishers Weekly, We Need Diverse Agents, points out,
"With nearly 80% of the industry identifying as white, straight, and able bodied, is it any wonder that so many stories sound the same? Calls for more diverse characters, authors, and stories are great. There’s a step further that must be taken, however; we need to make changes to the gatekeepers. As Kacen Callender rightly pointed out in their Publishers Weekly article, 'We Need Diverse Editors,' sometimes stories weren’t written for the people we have guarding the house.

The need for representation in all aspects of publishing is clear. In order to get an editor, books need to be represented by agents—so it stands to reason that the industry needs diverse agents, as well."
And then, Beth brought up the website Literary Agents of Color at https://www.litagentsofcolor.com/, which, as of writing this, lists 56 "amazing agents of color."

Our industry certainly needs more, but it's great to know about this resource!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Don’t miss out on the 21st Annual SCBWI Winter Conference, Feb 7-9, 2020 in New York City - Less Than 30 Spots Left!

It’s going to be amazing!

Join us for:
Deep dives into craft

Dynamic Keynotes

Relevant panels of industry experts

Your choice of three in-depth workshops taught by editors, agents, and master writers and illustrators.

The Golden Kite Awards Gala

Saturday night buffet dinner

Networking Socials (LGBTQ + Allies, Illustrators, Nonfiction, All Voices Inclusivity, International, First Time Attendees) and Peer Critiques

Portfolio Showcase
It will be a weekend packed with craft, business, inspiration, opportunity, and community – and will most likely sell out as it did last year.

We hope you’ll be able to join us.

Click here for all the conference information and to register: 


Illustrate and Write On, 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Thinking of Writing a Holiday Picture Book? Some Wisdom from Patricia Toht

Patricia Toht is the author of two different holiday picture books, “Pick a Pine Tree” and “Pick a Pumpkin” and in this post at the GROG blog from last December, Writing a Holiday Picture Book,

Patricia runs through some of the pros, cons, and considerations for writing holiday-themed picture books.


From the Pros:
Holidays come around every year.
From the Cons:
There’s a very short window for sales.
From the Considerations: (I share two here but all five are good.)
2) Christmas and Halloween are widely covered in the US. If you choose either, can you come up with a unique character, setting, conflict, or other element? 
4) Look at book formats. Has a particular format not been done? Concept book? Wordless? Nonfiction? Historical fiction? Poetry?
The full post is well-worth reading.

Illustrate and Write On,