Thursday, July 30, 2020

Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast: A Conversation with Alex Slater

Agent Alex Slater of Trident Media Group speaks with Theo Baker about his career journey, his passion for representing historically underrepresented authors, building his own client list, and much more. (49:20)

Listen to the episode trailer here.

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

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The SCBWI Online Summer Spectacular Starts This Friday, July 31, 2020!

There's still time to join in on all the keynotes, panels, socials, and online fun of gathering with your community of children's content creators!

Click here to check out the full lineup and schedule.

And follow along on the official SCBWI Conference Blog here.

We hope you'll join us!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Sticks and Stones and the Stories We Tell: Ten BIPOC Creators Discuss Turning Racism Into Art

In this free-to-all panel from SCBWI, sparked from an idea from renowned illustrator, author, and teacher Pat Cummings, ten also renowned children's book creators share their experience with racism and how they've aimed to transform those experiences into art.

In the opening minutes, Lin Oliver also introduces SCBWI's brand new Chief Equity and Inclusion Office, April Powers.

Lin Oliver (top left) introduces April Powers (center), SCBWI's Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, while sign language interpreter 
In her introduction, Pam Cummings said,

“Talking about the problem is one thing, but how do you use it? How do we get constructive with this? How does this turn up in our work?”

Answers and stories and so much more are shared by Crystal Allen, Floyd Cooper, Lamar Giles, Rafael Lopez, Meg Medina, Linda Sue Park, Christian Robinson, Shadra Strickland, and Lisa Yee.

It's well-worth watching.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

In Support of SCBWI's Trans Members, Youth, and their Families

From SCBWI's Instagram Feed

“ SCBWI strives to provide a safe space for all creators of content for children. Today, we specifically choose to unequivocally acknowledge that Trans youth, their families and Trans creators are an important part of our organization whose stories must be told. We choose to support your truth. As a nonprofit that supports creative people everywhere, we value the contributions that Trans people have added to the story of our human family everywhere around the world. Your stories matter. You matter to us. As always, SCBWI welcomes you. #TransLivesMatter ”

July 9, 2020
As posted to SCBWI's social media, as well as the SCBWI website here.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

BookBub Curates "35 Authors Using Pinterest for Book Marketing & Inspiration"

Diana Urban has done another roundup of how authors are using social media - this time, how 35 Authors use Pinterest, with lots of YA authors included. Some standouts:

Dhonielle Clayton shares inspiration for the hairstyles of her characters in The Belles

Sarah J. Maas mixes inspiration and fan art on the boards for her books.

Marissa Meyer pins links to blog posts she's written as a guest at different outlets, making this board a media page.

Tomi Adeyemi has boards with writing prompts and advice

The inspiring roundup is well-worth checking out.

Are you on Pinterest? Feel free to leave a comment with how you use Pinterest and include a link!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Tiff Liao: DW 2.6

Tiff Liao: DW 2.6
Straight Through the Heart: How to Make Readers Fall in Love with Your Characters 

Tiff Liao, senior editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, does so much more for her writers than just make sure they make it to pub day. “Character drives plot - not the other way around,” she tells us in DW 2.6. “If we don’t care about the character, we don’t care about what happens to them.” Tiff encourages her writers to develop characters that readers will fall in love with. “Your goal as a writer is to find the universal through your specific story.” Empathy does not mean that your reader should always love your character - your goal is to create a character that is interesting enough for your reader to engage with. “If we don’t care about the character, we don’t care about what happens to them.” 

So: the question is how? How do you get your reader to fall in love? One, might seem initially obvious: building intrigue. Characters with the most intrigue are immediately interesting because they have conflict immediately built into who they are. In order to achieve this, Tiff asks herself three questions when opening a manuscript: Who is your character? What does your protagonist want? What does your protagonist need? 

Readers are more likely to fall in love with characters who have dimension -- real, living, breathing characteristics, instead of flat personalities on the page. Tiff advises adding: quirks, flaws (humanizing qualities to make them more relatable), charm and talents. She advises to stay consistent, as your reader must believe it is all encompassed under one persona. 

This Thursday, please join us in a special free webinar we are opening up to both non-SCBWI members and members - Sticks and Stones and The Stories We Tell: Children’s Book Creators and Random Acts of Racism. 

All the best, 
Your loyal HQ admin assistant 
Avery reader on IG 
@averyfastreader on Twitter 

Phoebe Wahl's Moving Essay "Want More Body Positive Books? Start Doing Better by Fat Characters"

In the Winter 2020 edition of SCBWI's quarterly magazine, the SCBWI Bulletin, Phoebe wrote:

“As a chubby child, I was hungry for representation of bodies like my own in the books I consumed. And all too often, my hunger either went unsatisfied, or was fed only with shame (along with this, I want to acknowledge that where I didn't see my body positively represented, I DID see my whiteness, and many other privileged facets of my identity, something many other children don't get.) At eight years old, I was writing in my diary about my weight being something that kept me from being deserving of love. Would that have been different if I had encountered as many fat princesses being wooed in fairytales as thin ones? How would my assumptions that I was lazier and less athletic have been challenged had I read about more fat adventurers and superheroes? Our culture drills a very clear message into children, especially those socialized as female; that their worth is conditional. Based on a set of sexist, white supremacist, albeit ideals of health and beauty. And children's books, unfortunately, do their part in that messaging, through both overt stereotyping, covert coded language or visuals, and complete invisibility altogether.”

It's a powerful message, and, for me, brought up the intersectionality of the work of diversity in Children's Literature: How do we all stand up for each other, and how, in our work for children and teens, can we do better in representing the marginalized, the under-represented, in giving voice to those whose voices haven't been heard, in letting every child see themself in what they read, in empowering every child to dream bigger and better, to empower every child to be their full authentic self and celebrate the diversity of everyone else being their authentic selves?

Phoebe's article was great, and I saw so many parallels with my own journey of being so hungry for representation of boys who like-liked other boys.

"Want More Body Positive Books? Start Doing Better by Fat Characters" is well-worth reading in full.

Access to the Bulletin archives and the current issue is available to SCBWI members only - log into the website and navigate to Publications >
The SCBWI Bulletin >
top right of the screen click MENU >
JANUARY 2020 (it will open up the full issue in the browser window, and you'll find Phoebe's article on page 25.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, July 9, 2020

#KidLitForMasks - Add YOUR Selfie to Spread Awareness that #MasksSaveLives

It's all over social media. There's a Publishers Weekly article explaining how it started, with Margaret Peterson Haddix wanting to do something positive and constructive. Margaret wrote in a Facebook post to launch the movement, “it’s time for authors to use their clout and influence again en masse to encourage mask-wearing to stop the spread of coronavirus.”

Here's Margaret's launch image of herself wearing a mask:

#KidLitForMasks and #MasksSaveLives
Author Bryan Patrick Avery word-plays off the title of his book "Super Puzzletastic Mysteries," writing "It's no mystery, masks save lives. Please wear one."

"Ninjas are cool. Ninjas wear masks. Be Ninja cool. Wear a Mask." Charlene Chua illustrates it for us!

Author Karol Ruth Silverstein put little masks on every pain-scale face on her cover but one - the one for her main character, Ricky, in her award-winning debut novel "Cursed".

More illustration Mask fun from illustrator Priscilla Alpaugh
And Meg Medina calls it like it is, with this selfie and the words "Be smart."
Search the hashtags online and discover your favorites. And consider joining in as part of #KidLitForMasks to spread the word that #MasksSaveLives

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Deborah Halverson: DW 2.5

Deborah Halverson: DW 2.5 

Submissions Studio: Writing Queries, Strategizing Submissions, and 10 Ways to Translate “No” to “Yes!” 

Deborah Halverson knows the kid lit submissions process all too well. Beginning her career at Harcourt, and moving on towards becoming an author herself, she is now a freelance editor with her own business called When prompted to do this workshop, it was no surprise that Deborah would knock us off our feet with actionable steps both experienced and beginner writers can take when tackling the submissions process.

It all begins with a hook. A one-sentence description of your story. This implies your story’s fresh approach, marketability, and audience. Introduce your character, state your theme, assert your core plot conflict or goal, and add context. Max: 45 words. She advises against books to film; you want to show that you’re well versed in the market of children’s books. “When you’re writing, we tell you show don’t tell. When you’re writing a query letter, tell -- don’t show.”

A bulk of the presentation included tangible tips for writers to practice when receiving editorial feedback from agents and editors. Sometimes, writers receive feedback that may be perceived as "too general" and become overwhelmed, to the point of not knowing how to fix their project or proceed. This is where Deborah's advice comes in handy (see below slides). 

Halverson suggests giving agents a month to six weeks before checking in -- “a nudge email”
“I submitted on [this date] - I’m just checking in… I’m continuing to submit elsewhere, but I’m hoping this manuscript struck a chord with you.”

Remember: Setting your manuscript aside is not putting it away. “Setting it aside is your way to deal with it emotionally,” Halverson reminds us. A lot of writers will tell you that their first book sold was not their first book written. As Lin reminds us with a quote by the great Sid Fleischman: "Nothing is wasted in writing but the paper." 

Until next Digital Workshop, children's book lovers! 
Avery Silverberg
( on IG/@averyfastreader on Twitter) 

Through The Window: A Discussion about Jewish KidLit and LGBTQ KidLit between Heidi Rabinowitz and Lee Wind

I was honored to partner with Heidi Rabinowitz for this discussion, as part of the Through the Window diversity exchange. Here's the description of that program:
Through the Window is a diversity exchange created by the Association of Jewish Libraries to fight antisemitism and other forms of bias through education and allyship. Jewish organizations swap content with other marginalized communities to give both groups a look through the window at our common humanity.
I'm also really delighted that Heidi created an opportunity for us to "use our privilege constructively to boost Black voices," and we've both done so with some recommendations of powerful works by Black creators, which starts the episode off.

Listen to the podcast here, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you're curious about the current state of Jewish KidLit, or LGBTQ KidLit, and where these communities (and people and books) overlap and intersect and the allyship that grows from that, it's a great listen.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, July 2, 2020