Thursday, December 31, 2020

3 Gifts You Can Give Yourself For The New Year (We Don't Have To Call Them Resolutions)

2021 Happy New Year! (Image from here.)


Consider giving yourself these for the new year ahead:

1) Read something that inspires you. Repeat.

2) Create something regularly. Maybe this is every day. Maybe this is once a week. But give yourself the opportunity to work your creative muscles and write and/or illustrate in a regular way so it becomes a healthy habit.

3) Take your creativity seriously - whatever that means for you. Maybe it's a "please don't disturb" sign on the back of your chair so you get a break from family duties so you can focus on your work in progress. Maybe it's joining others in the community of children's book writers, illustrators, and translators at an upcoming SCBWI event, like the 2021 Winter Conference, happening online Feb 19-21, 2021. Maybe it's saying "I'm a writer" when someone asks what you do, rather than saying "I want to be a writer." The act of writing makes you a writer. Just like the act of illustrating makes you an illustrator. And the act of translating makes you a translator. Taking yourself seriously as a creative person, as a creator of works for children and teens, is the first step towards being taken seriously by others, and towards your work reaching readers.

You don't have to call them resolutions. But you can, if it helps.

Here's to a healthy, safe, and creative 2021 for all!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Twisty Road To Being Published - Erik Talkin's Guest Post on Cynsations about "Finding the Book You Are Uniquely Qualified to Write"

As described in this guest post over at Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations blog:

“Erik Talkin thought of himself as exclusively a YA and MG writer–urban fantasy, sci-fi, punk rock, and now he finds himself the author of a sensitive picture book on hungry kids. Funny old world.”

Read about Erik's two nearly-published moments, and then how he aimed to "straddle" his day-job expertise and his desire to write for kids and teens with a picture book manuscript, “Lulu and the Hunger Monster.”

It's his first published book for kids. And it asks the question, what are you uniquely qualified to write about? Another version of this question is, how can you make the story that you're writing uniquely written by YOU? (With your unique author voice.)

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Listen to the Latest SCBWI Podcast: A Conversation with Marietta Zacker


Co-Founder and Agent at the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency Marietta Zacker speaks with Theo Baker about agenting, rejection, marketing, advice, and 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,

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Struggling with Including (Or Not Including) Pop Culture References in your Teen Novel?

This Twitter thread from author Emery Lee was really eloquent, explaining

“I feel like writing YA for teens isn't just about giving teens what they want (though that is part of it) but also giving them what they might need.
It's taking life lessons you may not have realized at 15 and filtering them through issues and culture relevant to teens now.” —Emery Lee

The whole thread is well-worth reading, as it digs into the use of pop culture references - the dangers and opportunities, and how, ultimately,

“Good YA isn't dependent on the author's age, music taste, or app usage. The emotional resonance means more. *that's* my point.”—Emery Lee

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Will the Pending Merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster Make Publishing Less Diverse?

This Los Angeles Times opinion piece by indie publisher Chad W. Post, argues just that, saying the current ecosystem is one where "the most monied companies determine what is read."

The Authors Guild agrees the merger is bad for authors, stating

“there would be fewer competing bidders for their manuscripts, which would inevitably drive down advances offered…. The history of publishing consolidation has also taught us that authors are further hurt by such mergers due to editorial layoffs, canceling of contracts, a reduction in diversity among authors and ideas, a more conservative approach to risk-taking, and fewer imprints under which an author may publish.”

Chad discusses another troublesome dynamic of how indie publishers and the soon to be "big four" interact:

"For the conglomerates, the most financially prudent way to acquire authors who aren’t sure things is to treat independent publishers as farm clubs that identify and develop talent ripe for exploitation. Let the presses with the thinnest profit margins take the risks, seek out the undiscovered — the books readers didn’t know they wanted, the authors who change the way we talk about writing — and then, once they’ve proved these books can take off, just poach the authors. Simple. A winning formula."
But the case is being made that the winners aren't authors, or diversity of voices, or even readers. 

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Are You Finding the Passion In Your Nonfiction? Check Out "Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep: 50 Award-Winning Children’s Book Authors Share the Secret of Engaging Writing"

SCBWI board member and author of over 100 nonfiction books for young readers Melissa Stewart has a vision to change how nonfiction is understood - by students, teachers, librarians, and yes, even we writers and illustrators!

As the recent cover copy of the book edited by Melissa and published by NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) describes it:

In Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep: 50 Award-Winning Children’s Book Authors Share the Secret of Engaging Writing, some of today’s most celebrated writers for children share essays that describe a critical part of the informational writing process that is often left out of classroom instruction. To craft engaging nonfiction, professional writers choose topics that fascinate them and explore concepts and themes that reflect their passions, personalities, beliefs, and experiences in the world. By scrutinizing the information they collect to make their own personal meaning, they create distinctive books that delight as well as inform.

The book includes essays from many SCBWI members as well, featuring the perspectives of:

  • Sarah Albee
  • Chris Barton
  • Donna Janell Bowman
  • Mary Kay Carson
  • Nancy Castaldo
  • Jason Chin
  • Lesa Cline-Ransome
  • Seth Fishman
  • Candace Fleming
  • Kelly Milner Halls
  • Deborah Heiligman
  • Susan Hood
  • Gail Jarrow
  • Lita Judge
  • Jess Keating
  • Barbara Kerley
  • Heather Lang
  • Cynthia Levinson
  • Michelle Markel
  • Carla Killough McClafferty
  • Heather Montgomery
  • Patricia Newman
  • Elizabeth Partridge
  • Baptiste Paul
  • Miranda Paul
  • Teresa Robeson
  • Mara Rockliff
  • Barb Rosenstock
  • Laura Purdie Salas
  • Anita Sanchez
  • April Pulley Sayre
  • Steve Sheinkin
  • Ray Anthony Shepard
  • Anita Silvey
  • Traci Sorell
  • Tanya Lee Stone
  • Jennifer Swanson
  • Stephen R. Swinburne
  • Don Tate
  • Laurie Ann Thompson
  • Pamela Turner
  • Patricia Valdez
  • Sandra Neil Wallace
  • Laurie Wallmark
  • Jennifer Ward
  • Carole Boston Weatherford
  • Lee Wind (full disclosure - the author of this post)
  • Paula Yoo
  • Karen Romano Young

A very cool part of the project is that "100 percent of the proceeds will be divided among the National Council of Teachers for English (NCTE), We Need Diverse Books (WNDB), and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)"

And some behind the scenes information from Melissa:

“The idea for this book traces back to the 2017 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, when I was fortunate to participate in a panel titled ‘The Secret of Crafting Engaging Nonfiction’ with two of the most talented children’s nonfiction authors of our time—Candace Fleming and Deborah Heiligman.
“During our discussion, moderated by educator and children’s nonfiction enthusiast Alyson Beecher, we dove deeply into what fuels our work and why we routinely dedicate years of our lives to a single manuscript. As we compared our thoughts and experiences, we came to realize something critically important—each of our books has a piece of us at its heart. And that personal connection is what drives us to keep working despite the inevitable obstacles and setbacks.
“Several other nonfiction authors attended our presentation, and afterward they praised our insights. That conversation helped us all understand our creative process in a new and exciting way. And it eventually led to the essays in this anthology, which are our way of sharing an important—and often unrecognized and underappreciated—aspect of nonfiction writing with educators and students.”
More information about the book is available on Melissa's website here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Registration is Open for #NY21SCBWI

Have you explored the SCBWI Winter Conference schedule, offerings, and opportunities?

There will be the Golden Kite Awards Gala,

a State-of-the-Industry In-Depth Interview with Jean Feiwel

Keynote Conversations with: 

Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Matt De La Peña and Christian Robinson

Jerry Craft and Victoria Jamieson, hosted by Weslie Turner

Patricia Maclachlan interviewed by Lin Oliver

There will also be a behind the scenes tour of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing with Laurent Linn and Paula Wiseman

Genre Breakout Sessions with editors, including

Picture Books: Andrea Welch, Joanna Cardenas, Elizabeth Bicknell

Middle Grade: Tricia Lin, Krista Vitola

Young Adult: Stacey Barney, Alexandra Cooper

Nonfiction: Alyssa Mito Pusey, Shelby Lees

Fly-on-the-Wall Acquisitions meeting with Wendy Loggia and a team from Delacorte Press

and another Mock Book Production meeting with Yaffa Jaskoll and a team from Scholastic Books

There's an Agents Panel, with Kirby Kim, Kevin Lewis, Erica Rand Silverman, and Saba Sulaiman, and so much more!

Illustrators - make sure to check out the portfolio showcase opportunity, as well as the Monday Feb 22 Illustrators' Intensive.

We hope you'll join us for this virtual conference hosted on zoom with video recordings available through March 31, 2021. Get all the details here

Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Latinx KidLit Book Festival!

The Latinx KidLit Book Festival is a virtual celebration of Latinx KidLit authors, illustrators, and books for all readers and educators. The festival will open its virtual doors (via YouTube) from December 4-5, 2020, and present two free days of keynote sessions, Q&A events, and panels with your favorite Latinx authors and illustrators of picture books, middle grade, young adult, graphic novel, and poetry. The sessions are geared towards readers and educators everywhere. Everyone is welcome!

Check out the amazing schedule here!

Delighted to share that SCBWI is one of the event's sponsors.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

SCBWI is Participating in GivingTuesday in Order to Benefit Creators With Disabilities

For the first time ever, SCBWI is participating in GivingTuesday in order to benefit creators with disabilities. GivingTuesday was created in 2012 with a simple idea in mind–to encourage people to do good–and has since grown into a global movement inspiring hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

This December 1, we ask that any donations you give to the SCBWI be tagged with #GivingTuesday (in the PayPal or check memo) if you’d like them dedicated to scholarships, grants, and accessibility resources for people with disabilities. While we gratefully accept donations any time of year, we know that 2020 has been particularly challenging for many of us. If giving financially isn’t feasible for you right now, we hope that you will consider giving your voice, time, talent, extra belongings, teamwork, and kindness. Click here for more ways to get involved this GivingTuesday.

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating generosity and consider making a donation to the SCBWI in support of our members with disabilities. For more ways to support our members, we invite you to peruse and suggest additions to our disability resources page. (Please send suggestions to Kiana Martin at–thank you!)

And, as a great reference, SCBWI’s Statement of Disability (borrowed from We Need Diverse Books) is:

“We subscribe to a broad definition of disability, which includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction). Furthermore, we subscribe to a social model of disability, which presents disability as created by barriers in the social environment due to lack of equal access, stereotyping, and other forms of marginalization.”

Illustrate and Write On,