Thursday, October 21, 2021

How Far Do You Read Into a Book to Decide if You'll Finish It (or Not)?

This piece in Shelf Awareness, Robert Gray: A Reader's Dilemma: To Resist, Finish, Adjourn or Abandon rounded up a bunch of different strategies.

The funniest? Librarian and author Nancy Pearl's "Revised 'Rule of 50'" that, Gray explains, was updated when Pearl was "In her 50s and 60s."

“I could no longer avoid the realization that, while the reading time remaining in my life was growing shorter, the world of books that I wanted to read was, if anything, growing larger.... When you are 51 years of age or older, subtract your age from 100, and the resulting number (which, of course, gets smaller every year) is the number of pages you should read before you can guiltlessly give up on a book. As the saying goes, 'Age has its privileges.' And the ultimate privilege of age, of course, is that when you turn 100, you are authorized (by the Rule of 50) to judge a book by its cover.”

The whole piece is fun... and interesting to consider. How far will you read before you decide to finish or not?

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

SCBWI's New Digital Workshop Series Starts October 21, 2021


A new series of SCBWI's free-for-members digital workshops are happening - and you can sign up for the first now

On October 21, 2021 at 1pm Pacific, Author Laura Taylor Namey presents "Come Create... Strong Emotional Relationships Between Your YA Characters."

On October 28, 2021 at 1pm Pacific, Author Debbi Michiko Florence presents "Come Create... Fully Developed Characters."

On November 4, 2021 at 1pm Pacific, Illustrator Joe Cepeda presents "Come Create... Illustration Spreads: From Manuscript to Thumbnails."

On November 11, 2021 at 1pm Pacific, Author Bruce Hale presents "Come Create... Powerful Pro Presentations."

On November 18, 2021 at 1pm Pacific, Author Tiffany D. Jackson presents "Come Create... Page Turning Plots."

and On December 2, 2021 at 1pm Pacific, Illustrator LeUyen Pham presents "Come Create... and Design Characters."

Get all the details, and register for the next one, here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Leila Hirschfeld over at BookBub rounds up "15 Ways Authors Support Each Other on Social Media"

“Inspired by how authors have stepped up to build community and spotlight their fellow writers work," Leila Hirschfeld put together this BookBub Partners post, 15 Ways Authors Support Each Other on Social Media. It has lots of examples and ideas, including:

#1 Host book clubs featuring other authors’ titles

#7 Signal boost debut authors and encourage others to do the same


#10 Run giveaways of fellow authors’ books

How many are you currently doing? See any new ones to add to what you already do to support your fellow kid lit creators?

Read the full piece here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Nyle Vialet Urges us to "Stand Up to Censorship in Schools"

In this Publishers Weekly piece, Stand Up to Censorship in Schools, Nyle Vialet, editorial project manager at Wise Ink Creative Publishing, considers the recent controversy of a Pennsylvania school district banning books that “are about, or written by, people of color.”

Nyle goes on to say,

“Banning books and resources that are connected to people of color and racism not only ensures the embedding of white-centric thinking in a new generation of children, but it ensures censorship of minority stories and voices.”


“It has been hard work to get to the point where minorities can see, read, and hear stories from people of color, and attempts to silence these voices should not be taken lightly.”


“Make no mistake: books are power, and this ban is a fight over who gets to hold it.”

It's an excellent article. Read it in full here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Eugene Yelchin on Writing a Memoir

Mulit-award winning author/illustrator Eugene Yelchin shares about his new middle grade memoir, The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain in this Publishers Weekly profile: Four Questions for Eugene Yelchin.

Here's just a taste:

PW: How was the process of writing directly from your life different from writing fiction?

Eugene: It was easier because I knew the story before I began writing! I knew how things came out. But there was no plot, so I had to impose a plot on my memories. I had to organize real events into cause and effect to make the memoir read like a story. That’s the only way to tell a story: something happened so something else happened. My early drafts were hundreds of pages long and included everything I thought was interesting, things my brother thought were interesting, things my wife thought were interesting. But I had to leave a lot of those things out because they didn’t fit into the cause-and-effect structure.

Also, when I work on a character, I try to be extra careful not to confuse what the character wants and what the character needs. Most of us know what we want, but rarely know or understand what we need. Yevgeny wants to uncover his family’s secrets and his country’s secrets, but he’s too polite, too well-behaved to demand truthful answers. He lacks the courage to fully confront the adults in his life. Instead he attempts to piece together his small discoveries like a puzzle. Only by the end of the book does he mature enough to demand answers.

It's a fascinating interview – read it in full here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Putting Translator Names on Book Covers - Is a Change Coming? #TranslatorsOnTheCover

Our friends at the UK's Society of Authors (as well as the US' Authors Guild) are asking authors to sign an open letter, aimed at changing how Translators are credited in publishing. 

Penned by Jennifer Croft (translator of Olga Tokarczuk’s International Booker Prize-winning Flights) and Mark Haddon (author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), the letter reads:

For too long, we’ve taken translators for granted. It is thanks to translators that we have access to world literatures past and present.

It is thanks to translators that we are not merely isolated islands of readers and writers talking amongst ourselves, hearing only ourselves.

Translators are the life-blood of both the literary world and the book trade which sustains it. They should be properly recognised, celebrated and rewarded for this. The first step towards doing this seems an obvious one. From now on we will be asking, in our contracts and communications, that our publishers ensure, whenever our work is translated, that the name of the translator appears on the front cover.

And, it's something to consider asking for in your contracts as well.

This was also covered by BBC radio - you can listen here.

Big thanks to writer and translator Avery Udagawa for the heads-up on this important story!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Writing About Disabled People Requires We Listen to More Than Just the Style Guides

In this recent Publishers Weekly article, How the AP Stylebook Considers Language on Disability, disabled Canadian journalist John Loeppky summarizes the April 2021 AP "revision and expansion" of guidance on writing about disabled people -- and the social media-vented frustrations of disabled people about the guidelines, which led to the guidelines being updated once again. 

John writes,

“This whole situation reminds me that it is a moral imperative to go beyond the style guide—to take it as our duty to shepherd the stories of those we are writing about, even if they are fictional, with the utmost of care and attention.”

and offers some examples of writers continuing in huge numbers to use problematic language, including,

“‘Wheelchair-bound’ (as opposed to ‘wheelchair user,’ the preferred term)”

And urges us,

“We can’t allow style guides to be the ultimate deciders of writer morality. We have to ask better of ourselves. As writers, I’d like to think our responsibility is to subject and audience. No audience is served best when the term wheelchair bound is used.”

The full article is well worth reading.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Emily Jenkins Shares Three Tips for Writing Funny Picture Books Over at the Highlights Foundation

Wanna get your creative flow flowing?

Check out Emily's craft suggestions for writing funny picture books. Some of them are really liberating, like #2:

“Put some outrageously long words in there, just to see what they do.  Picture books don’t have to have limited vocabulary.  In fact, one of their jobs is to to expose children to new vocabulary.” —Emily Jenkins.

Check out the examples, and the rest of Emily's suggestions, here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Join Me (Lee Wind) and Author Lexie Bean for an Instagram Live Interview about “The Ship We Built”

Join myself and the author of "The Ship We Built" Lexie Bean for an SCBWI Equity and Inclusion Book Club discussion!

To join in:

1) head over to follow SCBWI’s Instagram account at

2) on September 30, 2021 at 10am Pacific, if you’re following SCBWI, the SCBWI profile picture will appear at the top of your Instagram Feed with a colorful ring around it and the word Live. Tap or click the SCBWI profile picture to view the live broadcast.

To really get the most out of the book club discussion, you’re welcome to read Lexie’s amazing book, “The Ship We Built” and add your questions in the comments during the live event. (Alternatively, you can put questions here as comments to this blog post ahead of time.)

Of course, you don’t have to have read the book to tune in. (But you’ll want to read it after hearing the discussion!)

Here's the synopsis:

Sometimes I have trouble filling out tests when the name part feels like a test too. . . . When I write letters, I love that you have to read all of my thoughts and stories before I say any name at all. You have to make it to the very end to know.

Rowan has too many secrets to write down in the pages of a diary. And if he did, he wouldn’t want anyone he knows to read them. He understands who he is and what he likes, but it’s not safe for others to find out. Now the kids at school say Rowan’s too different to spend time with. He’s not the “right kind” of girl, and he’s not the “right kind” of boy. His mom ignores him. And at night, his dad hurts him in ways he’s not ready to talk about yet.

But Rowan discovers another way to share his secrets: letters. Letters he attaches to balloons and releases into the universe, hoping someone new will read them and understand. But when he befriends a classmate who knows what it’s like to be lonely and scared, even at home, Rowan realizes that there might already be a person he can trust right by his side.

It is a beautiful book.

We hope to see you there!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Listen To The New Season of SCBWI's Podcast Conversations!

We're delighted to announce a new season of SCBWI podcasts, now available for FREE for everyone! (You can tune in wherever you do your podcast listening.)

The first two episodes have already posted, so go listen to the great conversations Theo Baker had with Mac Barnett and Jane Yolen.

If you check out SCBWI on instagram, you can hear short excerpts from each discussion - a taste of the full episode!

Coming up are in-depth, hang-out discussions with Jacqueline Woodson, Dan Santat, Sergio Ruzzier, Kate Mesner, Grace Lin, Derrick Barnes, and many more!


Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Nonfiction Author Steve Sheinkin is Interviewed Over at Shelf Awareness

Steve Sheinkin's nonfiction for young readers has won numerous awards, and now with the publication of his latest, Fallout: Spies, Superbombs, and the Ultimate Cold War Showdown, he chats with Lana Barnes over at Shelf Awareness about researching and writing nonfiction for teens.

A couple of standout moments:

“it's easy to find exciting true stories to tell. And the research, the nerdy detective work, is actually fun. Kids often accuse me of doing homework for a living, and I admit it. But the thing is, I get to pick the assignment, and that makes all the difference. The hardest part is figuring out how to work the needed background information into a story without killing the momentum.”


“I always start with libraries and good old-fashioned books. Just find a nonfiction book on a subject you're interested in (in this case, the Berlin Wall), and take notes on the people and storylines that are most intriguing. Then you can start to narrow the search, to hunt for more details on those figures, using other books, online sources, newspaper archives, interviews--whatever it takes.”


“I really believe true stories can be just as much fun to read as novels, and I'm trying to prove it. In terms of takeaways, my number-one goal is always to make readers curious. I hope they'll come away wanting to know more, inspired to dig deeper into whatever part of the story they found most compelling.”

Read the full interview here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Cover Letter Inspiration - Benedict Cumberbatch Reads "The Best Cover Letter Ever Written"

This is pretty amazing!

Posted by Letters Live, here's the setup:

In 1934, a New York copywriter by the name of Robert Pirosh quit his well-paid job and headed for Hollywood, determined to begin the career of his dreams as a screenwriter. When he arrived, he gathered the names and addresses of as many directors, producers and studio executives as he could find, and sent them what is surely one of the greatest, most effective cover letters ever to be written; a letter which secured him three interviews, one of which led to his job as a junior writer at MGM.

Fifteen years later, screenwriter Robert Pirosh won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his work on the war film, Battleground. A few months after that, he also won a Golden Globe.

To read Pirosh's amazing cover letter, here's Benedict Cumberbatch (originally performed at Freemason's Hall, London). Click here to watch the under-two-minute video.

Working on your own cover letter? Imagine how it would sound if Benedict read it... 

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, September 9, 2021

What's The Future of Author Events? Online? In-Person? Hybrid? - Shelf Awareness Reports on Last Week's ABA Children's Institute Panel

Reporting over at Shelf Awareness, Alex Mutter writes about the American Booksellers Association's August 31, 2021, Children's Institute panel discussion, Ci9: The Future of Events.

Moderated by Brein Lopez, manager of Children's Book World in Los Angeles, California, the panelists were: Lara Phan, director of account marketing at Penguin Random House; Erica Barmash, senior director of marketing and publicity at Bloomsbury; and Melissa Campion, senior director of author events at Macmillan.

The recap of the discussion touches on hybrid tours as distinct from hybrid events, adjusting sales expectations for online events, and even what times work best for what kinds of events. Lara Phan shared data drawn from 1,700 online events Penguin Random House authors did between March 2020 and March 2021 that led them to conclude:

“For children's events, afternoon sessions at around 2 or 3 p.m., which on weekdays would be around the time that virtual schooling concluded, did well, and Mondays and Saturdays were solid choices for days of the week.”

If you're wondering about the future of your author/translator/illustrator events, the full article is well worth reading.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Movement to Dismantle the Dewey Decimal System

As reported recently in their article Move Over, Melvil! Momentum Grows to Eliminate Bias and Racism in the 145-year-old Dewey Decimal System by Christina Joseph over at School Library Journal

"a growing number of school and youth librarians" are calling out the systemic bias in the, well, system.

The article explains the folks trying to change things claim that,

“Dewey’s approaches to categorizing books were racist and sexist. For instance, Black history is not part of American history; ‘women’s work’ is a separate category from jobs; non-Christian religious holidays are situated with mythology and religion; and LGBTQ+ works were once shelved under ‘perversion’ or ‘neurological disorders’ before landing in the ‘sexual orientation’ category.”

It's a fascinating article that goes into just some of the efforts being made to re-examine, and in some cases, come up with ways to, as one school librarian put it, “do better for my kiddos.”

Click here to read the full piece over at School Library Journal.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Nova Ren Suma Shares a New Technique for Authors Revisioning Our Revision

Nova Ren Suma is the #1 New York Times Bestselling author of The Walls Around Us and A Room Away from the Wolves, both finalists for an Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Novel. 

On her Instagram feed recently, Nova posted this advice, which I share here with her kind permission:

When feeling intimidated or overwhelmed about a novel revision, here’s a re-visioning revision technique I just tried out on myself late last night:

Before starting a deep revision, before re-outlining or anything else…

1) Write/revise a new opening paragraph or two.

2) Then, leap all the way to the end and write a brand-new final paragraph, imagining you made all the changes you and your editor (or readers) want, even the ones that feel like a tangled nest of questions at the moment.

It feels like manifesting the future from dust into something tangible. Magic.

Certainly worth trying! Thanks, Nova!

Learn more at Nova's website here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Have You Checked Out the 52 Grants and Awards SCBWI Offers Members?

Check out the SCBWI Awards and Grants page on the SCBWI website, with all the current opportunities organized into seven categories: 



PAL Published

Independently Published


Community Grants 

SCBWI Partnered Grants & Awards

Just one of the opportunities listed at the SCBWI Awards and Grants page

Each grant listing also includes information letting you know if is is currently taking submissions. SCBWI Awards and Grants is a great page to bookmark as you pursue your career in children's and teen literature!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Laura Davis Weighs the Hard Choices of Writing Memoir

In this Publishers Weekly opinion soapbox piece, Writers Who Make Hard Choices, Laura shares the “agonizing soul-searching” that went into deciding to tell her truth while at the same time knowing it will hurt people she loves.

Laura considers how her first book launched the incest survivor empowerment movement, and the importance, with her new book about to publish, of “offering this story to the unknown readers with whom my journey may deeply resonate.”

If you're working on a memoir, Writers Who Make Hard Choices is well-worth reading.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The Authors Guild Answers: When Should Authors Create an LLC or S Corp?

Check out this FORMING AN ENTITY webinar recording on the Authors Guild site.

Here's the description:

Your writing career is a business, but is it beneficial to incorporate? Many authors are best served by operating as sole proprietorships, yet there are many circumstances that can make it advantageous to form an LLC or S corp. Entertainment lawyer Daniel Sheerin will join us to discuss the legal requirements and ramifications of forming an entity as an author, and we’ll hear about the potential tax benefits of doing so from accountant Robert Pesce, treasurer of the Authors Guild Foundation. Moderated by Erin Lowry. 

This webinar addresses questions such as:  

•At what income threshold is it worth it to form an entity?  

•How much more complicated will my taxes be?  

•Does incorporating protect me personally in the event of a lawsuit?  

•When is an LLC or S corp better for an author? 

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Are Your Characters Dealing With Trauma?

In this article in Electric Lit, “Shadow and Bone” Helped Me Combat My Imposter Syndrome, Meera Vijayann poses the question/opportunity:

“The tendency of writers to focus on the future of their characters without examining their present is a missed opportunity; because it is well-documented that children do not merely outgrow their trauma. Their personalities are shaped by it, and usually, their futures are ruined by the effect it has on their minds.”

Meera considers how 

“Time and time again, throughout the Grishaverse trilogy, Alina peels away her trauma layer by layer, until all that’s left is the person she was truly meant to be.”

and writes, 

“I’m hopeful that Bardugo’s audacity to redefine feminine strength will shape young adult fiction. In refusing to write around trauma, instead writing directly through it, she allows Alina Starkov to become consumed and haunted by it and eventually, develop the strength to fight back and overcome it. It is healing through confrontation. It is a different kind of pain, and a necessary one that we need more of our literary heroines to go through.”

The characters we create model so much for young readers... and Meera's analysis is fascinating to consider. Read the full article here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Where Are The Fat Children In Picture Books? - Ashlie Swicker Asks Over at BookRiot

6 year olds giggling - in a laughing at others way - when Ashlie read them the word "fat" in Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar sparked the piece in BookRiot. 

Where are the Fat Children in Picture Books? is important reading - Ashlie shares not just the impact of fat-shaming culture, but also the need for joyful inclusion. Here's an excerpt:

“Many people honestly do not believe fat children deserve representation. They believe fat kids need to be FIXED. We live in a time where there is a War on Childhood Obesity. And for all the shaming and warnings about how large children are unhealthy, nothing is changing in the data. It’s almost as if humiliation and mockery will not change outcomes. To anyone who wants to fight that fat kids can’t be in books because they need to be healthy, I am here to tell you that thin does not equal healthy. We could get into the ickier questions about our national obsession with health as an inherent moral value, but this isn’t even the moment. If we want to teach kids to treat their bodies well, we must first teach them to love and appreciate their bodies, no matter how they look.” 


“There need to be more fat children in picture books. There need to be fat children celebrated in picture books. There need to be fat children dancing, eating, running, and playing, and they need to be prominently and warmly featured in picture books.”

As creators of children's literature, we should pay attention - the full article is well-worth reading.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Laura Shovan on Creating a Mock Cover to Focus on Your Writing Project

 Over on Instagram, Laura shared:

“A few years ago, I started doodling a book cover for each work in progress. There's one for The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, one for Takedown. I remember showing @saadiafaruqi my sketches for A Place at the Table.

These are nothing like the actual covers of my books, created by professional designers and illustrators. I'm amazed at how well a good book cover can capture the feel of a story.

These doodle covers are for fun. They're a way to focus on whatever it is I'm working on. Does anyone else create mock covers for their writing projects?”

I followed up to ask Laura if there was an example she could share of a doodle along with a completed professional book cover for one of her titles that was out in the world...

Laura shared both the cover and the spine(!) doodles for Takedown, side-by-side with the published book's cover and spine. The published book's cover illustration is by Kevin Whipple.

Laura commented, "so funny that both versions have the blue and red striping."

This seems like an excellent left-side/right-side of the brain exercise to focus on what a project is really about...

Thanks, Laura!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Censorship on the Rise Worldwide - Ed Nawotka Updates International Censorship for Publishers Weekly

SCBWI member Lawrence Schimel – and the censorship his children's books showing families with two moms and two dads has faced in Hungary – is featured in the article Censorship on the Rise Worldwide.

Some quotes from the article:

Schimel, an American living in Madrid, has published dozens of LGBTQ-themed works for children and adults. “It’s important for all families, not just those who are LGBTQ, to see and read these books which show just how normal these families are,” he said. What a Family! is now sold in Hungary with a sticker, warning readers that it depicts families “outside the norm.” It was originally published as two books in Spanish, and Orca Book Publishers is releasing it as two books in the U.S. in September.


in July, the government of Belarus moved to dissolve the local branch of PEN after the freedom of speech organization released a report showing 621 instances of human rights violations, including arrests and imprisonments, against culture workers in the first six months of 2021.


It has long been known that the Chinese government keeps a close eye on which books are distributed there and maintains control of the issuing of ISBNs. Officially, censorship is not a state policy. Publishers have long held that if a book does not become too popular or influential in China, it will be tolerated. But unofficial policy is flexible, and recent trends have shifted toward a narrowing of what is considered acceptable.

Read the full piece here

Thanks to SCBWI member translator Avery Udagawa for sharing with me, so I can share with you. 

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, August 5, 2021

The History of Book Blurbs - Nikki DeMarco Walks Us Back on the Practice over at BookRiot

What’s in a Blurb?: the History of Book Blurbing takes us back to Walt Whitman who gets the credit of being the first to use a quote from a review on the cover of the second edition of Leaves of Grass:

“I greet you at the beginning of a great career.” 

Leaves of Grass, now going into its second printing in 1856, had that line from [Ralph Waldo] Emerson’s letter written in gold on the spine of the book alongside the title and author’s name. 

Pretty fascinating - especially as how it's such a common practice of publishing today.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The SCBWI 50th Anniversary Summer Conference Begins Online Tomorrow! (With Pre-Conference Intensives Today)


Inspiration, information, and expertise will be shared by over 100 conference faculty...

Check out the full schedule, and the list of faculty, here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

SCBWI Highlights Self-Published Member Titles in July

Each month, SCBWI features books written and illustrated by members. And every month “highlights a new theme that will foster discussions, activities, and enjoyment!” July's focus is self published titles in these categories:

Early/Leveled Readers
Graphic Novels
Picture Books
Chapter Books
Middle Grade
and Young Adult

Check out all the lists here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Wisdom from Uri Shulevitz

Uri Shulevitz is a Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator and author, and his "Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children's Books" is highly recommended - cited by more than ten authors and illustrators as an "Essential Reference Book on Writing and Illustrating for Children & Teens," an article I pulled together a few years ago for "SCBWI The Book."

Early in the "Writing with Pictures," Uri offers a number of illustrations in sequence to help us understand readability, pacing, progression, and so much more about how we read picture sequences. As he writes on page 29,

When the actor-stage relationship is clear, when the picture code is consistent, when the progression is appropriate to the action, the picture sequence will "speak" to the reader. The more clearly the picture sequence speaks, the more enjoyment the reader will be able to get from it. And giving a feeling of satisfaction is essential in children's books.

There's so much more... "Writing with Pictures" is certainly worth checking out from the library or grabbing a used copy for yourself.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Looking for Inspiration for Instagram? BookBub Spotlights 9 YA Authors "Running Fantastic Book Promotions on Instagram"

As part of Shailee Shah's curated list of "25 Authors Running Fantastic Book Promotions on Instagram," there are spotlights on Elise Bryant, who offers "a behind-the-scenes look at her author life"; Tahereh Mafi who "shares blurb[s] and excerpts from her upcoming releases amidst stunning lifestyle posts"; Kalynn Bayron, who "gives her followers sneak peeks into the publishing process of her books"; and Ransom Riggs, who "regularly shares posts and old photographs surrounding the lore of his series" and uses Instagram Live events; and more...

Check out the full roundup here, and be inspired with what you can do!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, July 15, 2021

A Creative Prompt


It only looks like a blank page now. Give it 12 minutes...

For your writing/illustrating practice, if you're looking for a jump-start, consider:

What would you create if you could go back in time and give the picture book or middle grade or YA title you create to your younger self? What would have made an impact on you, then? What does that inspire you to create, now?

Start with 12 minutes brainstorming, or freewriting, or sketching, and see where it takes you.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Are Enewsletters a New Literary Genre?

Molly Fischer, writing for The Cut, asks us to consider just that in The Sound of My Inbox.

a few highlights:

A newsletter reshapes a writer’s relationship to their readers. The first-person informality that has been present since the earliest days of web writing achieves its business apotheosis in the newsletter: from personal essay to personal brand.


Substack, crucially, made it easy to charge subscribers, then attracted further scrutiny by offering a handful of established writers six-figure advances. In late June, Facebook entered the fray with a newsletter service called Bulletin. Consumers of digital media now find themselves in a newsletter deluge.

Check out the full article here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, July 8, 2021

People of Color in Publishing and Latinx in Publishing Release their "Publishing Racism Survey" (blog post 2 of 2)

If you haven't yet, you can download and read the full survey report from the People of Color in Publishing or Latinx in Publishing websites.

The Racism in Publishing report is packed with statistics and first-person accounts that everyone in the industry should read. It also includes two end sections: the first is "Take Action Now", the intro for which reads, in part:

Our recommendations below can be employed by everyone, but we wrote them specifically with our white colleagues in mind. One of the most frequently recurring comments in our survey was that the additional labor expected of BIPOC employees is not also expected of white employees. That needs to change.

If you are a white employee in publishing, please review the list below for ways to be an anti-racist accomplice. The recommendations in this list were provided by survey participants as well as members of the POC in Pub and Latinx in Pub planning committees.

And then there's a really helpful resource list, covering Organizations and Programs, Statistics, Books, Videos, and Articles. There's even a way to suggest additional resources you know about it they're not listed.

One of the many takeaways is that there's lots of ongoing work to dismantle racism in publishing – and the responsibility of that work is something all of us should take on – it should not be seen as something just BIPOC folks in the industry are responsible for. Happily, this report offers a lot of insight and resources for white folks in the industry “to be an anti-racist accomplice,” and a window into the realities of racism lived by our BIPOC colleagues.

And, to riff off the famous words of Rudine Sims Bishop, it offers a mirror to BIPOC folks in the industry, to know they're not alone in the racism they've experienced.

There's a vision here as well (maybe that's the sliding glass door) - and perhaps we can all walk through it as we do this important, ongoing work together. As the report advises its readers, 

Dismantling racism in publishing requires your conscious, active involvement for the rest of your career.

Get the full report at People of Color in Publishing or from Latinx in Publishing websites.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

People of Color in Publishing and Latinx in Publishing Release their "Publishing Racism Survey" (blog post 1 of 2)

You can download the full survey report from the People of Color in Publishing or Latinx in Publishing websites.

From the introduction:

People of Color in Publishing and Latinx in Publishing are both grassroots organizations founded with the shared goal of uplifting racially marginalized people in publishing. In July of 2018, we conducted an anonymous survey gauging the extent to which BIPOC book publishing employees experienced racism in the workplace. 

We received over 200 submissions and more than 50,000 words in written responses from professionals who had worked in various departments at indie presses and the Big 5... we found that every single participant shared a specific experience of racism.

Racism is so socially normalized that, in some forms, it is not recognized as racism. Many participants prefaced their statements with a variation of "not sure if this counts" or "not sure if I'm being oversensitive.” A word to our participants and fellow BIPOC colleagues: Your words count. You are not being oversensitive. You are not alone.

To our white colleagues: read these words attentively and share them widely. We ask that you do not approach any of your BIPOC colleagues to discuss this information, but instead call on your white colleagues. We have included an Actionable Takeaways and Resources section and recommend creating your own living list as well...

The entire report is well-worth reading.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Get Your Book Included In SCBWI's Shout Out to Member Titles Published Each Month! (Free for current members!)

Happy Book Birthday is an SCBWI program that invites all members to promote their newly published work (traditionally and independently published) in the same month the book is released. 

The graphic for June 2021 - click here to explore this selection of books published by SCBWI members last month

On the first day of each month, all submitted book covers will be displayed on the Happy Book Birthday page on and advertised through social media.

It's super easy to participate!

Just gather the following information:

1.) Book release date
2.) Title of book
3.) Name of author and/or illustrator
4.) Chapter Book, Graphic Novel, Middle Grade, Nonfiction, Picture Book, or Young Adult?
5.) Image of book cover – jpg or png ONLY – no PDFs or Word docs
6.) Summary or statement about your book, 25 words or less
7.) Link to your book’s purchase page

And send it by the deadline to

Congratulations on getting your book published - now you have to let folks know about it, and this is one easy way to start!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Kyle Lukoff's Speeches Responding to the Controversy over His Easy Reader Series "Max and Friends"

Author Kyle Lukoff, photo by Erin Jones-Le

As Kyle explains:
The thumbnail version of what happened, for those who don’t know, is that first a young trans child in Utah brought a copy of my early reader “Call Me Max” to school and asked his teacher to read it. She did, and it sparked a tremendous controversy in the district about the appropriateness of a book written for first or second graders being read to third graders. Not surprisingly, their fears then targeted something called “Equity Book Bundles” and the idea that their children might learn about race and racism.

About a month later a similar situation developed in Austin, Texas. A fourth-grade teacher read “Call Me Max” aloud, and in the resulting hullabaloo an administrator sent a letter to every parent in the district, apologizing for the incident, assuring them that no other children had been “exposed” to the material, and promising that counselors had been dispatched to help children process the experience of reading an extremely basic and anodyne trans 101 early reader.


And from that keynote speech for ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom Awards 2021 are these words as well:

Children should be allowed to learn about their bodies, and what will happen to their bodies as they get older. Some people are trans, and that is a perfectly fine subject for children to learn about. It is wrong to remove children’s books about LGBTQ people from a children’s library, and it is right to fight back against any attempts to do so.

I also believe that I am correct in my conviction that blithely giving children books where other human beings are depicted as exotic, or extinct subjects of the distant past, or an animalistic dress-up opportunity, is a bad practice! I know that other people might think it’s okay for children to have some unexamined exposure to racism, whether backgrounded or foregrounded, and that there is plenty of time in their development to undo early prejudices or trauma. I think that approach is misguided, and I want to have no part in it. I do not have longitudinal studies to back up my belief, but I don’t know of studies that contradict it. But I wish that I had been given less as a child to unlearn as an adult.

And an earlier speech, given by Kyle and also posted to his blog, My speech at the FAM Rally in Salt Lake City includes this:

...sometimes being trans in America today feels like seeing these blocks rise up all around me, knowing that they are not natural outcroppings or inevitable outgrowths. They are made by people, and organized by people, and put in place by people. Most of them are not easy to avoid.

Because we know that there are more imposing blocks than the ones that would keep my books from finding readers. Higher ones. Removing books about trans kids from a school is followed by telling trans kids that they can go to school but they can’t use the right bathroom, or play on teams with their peers. Denying trans kids a reflection of themselves in books is a lower block, and denying us access to healthcare that allows us to see ourselves reflected in a mirror puts us square in the middle of the highest columns, hemmed in from all sides with no way out.
Read both speeches here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, June 24, 2021

What's Up With Your Subsidiary Rights?

The Harry Potter Wizarding World store in New York opened this month.

While not all of our work will end up as inspiration for amusement parks, movie franchises, and manhattan retail experiences, it does offer us the opportunity to consider some questions:

How deep and fascinating are the worlds we create? The characters we bring to life? How big can we dream?

How can what we create mean so much to readers that they want to be part of it beyond reading our words, our translations, our pictures?

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Lesléa Newman Reframes the "Submission" Process as an "Offer"

What if we thought of sending our work to an editor or agent as an offer? 

An offer that can be accepted or declined.

Rather than a submission that can result in an offer or be rejected?

Even the language of submission has a power differential attached to it that implies we creators have very little agency in the matter.

But if we think of it like Lesléa does, as an offer, then we keep our power. An offer can be declined, an offer can be accepted, but it is our offer of a work we've written, or translated, or illustrated.

(Frankly, this is a much healthier framework for many of the creative arts. Offering our work rather than submitting it.)

Lesléa Newman

I heard Lesléa speak about this in an excellent Highlights Foundation course taught by Lesléa Newman and Rob Sanders, "Writing the Rainbow", all about LGBTQ picture books. Learn more about Lesléa at her website here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, June 17, 2021

A Public Typewriter Goes Hybrid - "The World's Smallest Publishing House Is Still Accepting Submissions"

The Literati bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan has a public typewriter on the floor. An old fashioned one, with clacking keys and ringing carriage returns. It's there for anyone to type on.

And then, it was retired in the pandemic.

Now the typewriter is back(!)

On the plus side, in the meantime the nice folks at Literati Bookstore created an online version where any and all of us can leave our own missives to the world.

(It's pretty confounding and oddly liberating to NOT be able to delete, or go back. It's all forwards!)

Take the virtual public typewriter for a spin...

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

P.S. You can also check out what folks have written/published on the Public Typewriter on Instagram here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

And the Winners of the SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards Are...

Presented annually, the SCBWI Crystal Kite is a peer-given award which recognizes great books from 15 SCBWI regional divisions around the world. We would like to congratulate our wonderful 2021 winners for books published in 2020, listed here by division. Atlantic (Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Wash DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland)

Meg Medina (Sonia Sánchez, illustrator)


Australia, New Zealand

Meg McKinlay (Matt Ottley, author)

California, Hawaii

Ernesto Cisneros


Ellie Arscott (Sara O’Leary, author)

Europe, Latin America, Africa

Helle Norup

Mid South Division (Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana)

THE OLDEST STUDENT: How Mary Walker Learned to Read
Rita Hubbard (Oge Mora, illustrator)

Middle East, India, Asia

Rachel Ip (Anneli Bray, illustrator)

Mid West Division (Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio)

OLD ROCK (is not boring!)
Deb Pilutti

New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island)

Valerie Bolling (Maine Diaz, illustrator)

New York

Jackie Azúa Kramer (Cindy Derby, illustrator)

South East Division (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama)

Kelly Jordan (Jessica Courtney-Tickle, illustrator)

South West Division (Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Southern Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico)

Fleur Bradley (Xavier Bonet, illustrator)

Texas, Oklahoma

Lindsay Leslie (Ellen Rooney, illustrator)

United Kingdom, Ireland

A.M. Dassu

Western Division (Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Northern Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota)

Faith Pray

Check out 14 of the winning books at the SCBWI page here. (And more about the Last Garden is here.)

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,