Thursday, February 27, 2020

Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast - A Conversation With Juana Martinez-Neal

“In 2012, Juana Martinez-Neal won the Portfolio Showcase Grand Prize at the SCBWI Los Angeles conference. Today, she is a multi-award winning author/illustrator. Alma and How She Got Her Name” (Candlewick Press) was her debut picture book as an author-illustrator, and was recently awarded the 2019 Caldecott Honor!

Juana illustrated “La Princesa and the Pea” (written by Susan M. Elya, Putnam/Penguin), winner of the 2018 Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration, and “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story” (written by Kevin Noble Maillard, Roaring Brook Press), winner of the 2020 Robert F. Sibert Medal.

In this exclusive conversation with Theo Baker, Juana shares about her childhood in Peru, her path to children's books, the many media she's worked with to create her illustrations, and balancing family responsibilities with creative time.

Listen to the episode trailer here.

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

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Don Tate on Writing Nonfiction Picture Books at Nonfiction Chicks Present: Nonfiction Fest

This excellent interview with author/illustrator Don Tate, Questions I'm Frequently Asked About Writing Nonfiction for Children, covers a lot of important ground.

What is the biggest obstacle you face in writing a biography?

Creating a story. A biography isn’t a chronological list of milestones. That’s a timeline, it goes in the back matter. For me, a biography is story with a beginning, middle, and an end. A biography has a scene-to-scene plot with rising and falling action. A good biography demonstrates change in the character from beginning to end. But researching a person's life doesn’t fall so easily into my criteria. Therein lies the obstacle.
Many of your stories deal with hard, painful truths about U.S. history. How do you tell these stories and make them appropriate for children?

Hansel and Gretel is the story of two young kids who are kidnapped by a cannibalistic witch. They are threatened to get baked in an oven. The story of Hansel and Gretel is a fairy tale; it’s not nonfiction, obviously. But for generations, it was a popular story for young readers. Children are tough. They can handle tough stories. I don’t think it’s a good idea to hide our tough history from children. The enslavement of Black people was an inhumane institution that existed lawfully in the U.S. at one time. That’s an ugly truth. It should not be sugar-coated or erased. Children are our future, and they need to know what happened in the past in order to prevent bad things from happening again. That said, there are certainly things within the topic of slavery that I cannot address in a children’s book. My stories serve as an entryway to discussion.
Read the full interview here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Do You Know About the "Edited By?" SCBWI Member Benefit?

As a benefit of SCBWI membership, SCBWI offers a publication called "Edited By" that lists editors and what they have recently acquired.

The title page of "Edited By"

Compiled by Deborah Halverson, the idea is that,
Each year, the SCBWI surveys publishers and editors for lists of up to seven books acquired or edited recently. It is our hope that this publication will be a useful tool in targeting your manuscript submissions. By providing you with information about each publisher/editor’s tastes and acquisition decisions, this document can help you determine where to submit your manuscripts and/or illustrations.

It's page 99 of The Book: Essential Guide to Publishing for Children, which you can access by signing into your SCBWI profile and looking under publications. The direct url is:

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

How Children's Content Creators Can Help Indie Bookstores (And Our Careers, too)

In this February 2020 Forbes article, How Indie Bookstores Beat Amazon At The Bookselling Game: Lessons Here For Every Retailer, Pamela N. Danziger argues that community, curation, and convening are three superpowers Indie Bookstores can use to succeed.

It's worth asking ourselves, as writers and illustrators, how can we leverage those same three "Cs"?

How can we build community (online, with our works, and in person)?

How can we curate content (and maybe have our books included in that curated content)?

And how can we convene - bring together - folks interested in our content?

Doing so could build synergy towards success with our audiences, indie bookstores, and our own books.

Read the full article on here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Highlights from #NY20SCBWI

Lin welcomes attendees to the 2020 SCBWI Winter Conference

I've found I can always afford fifteen minutes of idea chasing." -Kate Messner

"I have no speical talents. I am only passionately curious." - Albert Einstein, shared by Kate Messner

Jerry Pinkney's illustration (pun intended) of how the illustrator is the "interpreter of text," working out things the illustrator wants to work out.

On evaluating a work that's been submitted, agent Patrice Caldwell asking, "What's going to make them put down their phone and read a book?"

Agent Marietta Zacker, on her evaluation process: "1) Do I love it? 2) Can I think of specific editors who would love it, too?" 3) What does it need to get it ready? "I look for things that people can't not do."

Editor Connie Hsu on her own evaluation process, that after voice, "I wonder what reason is for the book to be."

"You have to decide what kind of legacy you want to leave. I want my books to say something." –Derrick Barnes.

Read more about the conference at the Official SCBWI Conference Blog here.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

#NY20SCBWI - The 2020 SCBWI Winter Conference - Starts Tomorrow!

All the excitement of the Golden Kite Awards, the portfolio show, the keynotes, the panels, the business, the inspiration, the craft, the community, and the opportunity of the SCBWI Winter Conference is being blogged over at the SCBWI Conference Blog.

Just us there!

And we invite you to follow and use the #NY20SCBWI hashtag online.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Lee & Low's Diversity In Publishing 2019 Baseline Survey Results are Released

"Where is the Diversity in Publishing?" Four years after their first (and groundbreaking) survey of the publishing industry to get some solid numbers to be able to quantify and track diversity status, efforts, and progress, the 2019 survey results have been released.

Looking at race, gender, orientation, and disability, this time around the survey included literary agents and university presses, and overall had a lot more participation ("In 2015, there were 3,706 responses to the survey. In 2019, we received 7,893 responses.")

While the change in terms of diversity in publishing was not "compelling" or statistically significant, there were some bright spots of progress, (i.e, intern populations are much more diverse than publishing in general) but clearly our industry can do more and better.

The full article on the results (and the rest of the slides) are well-worth checking out!

Illustrate and Write On,