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,