Thursday, April 27, 2017

Round Two Voting For the SCBWI Crystal Kite Awards Is Open Now (And Closes On April 30, 5pm Pacific)

Members, this is easy:

First, log in at Make sure you are on your "My Home" page (if not, go there.) Click the link (bottom left column) "Vote In The Crystal Kite Awards." Now, cast your vote.

Note that you must be a current member to vote prior to voting opening, you get one vote in this round, and you may only vote for a book that is in your own division.

 US Divisions 
· California, Hawaii 
· West (Washington, Northern Idaho, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota) 
· Southwest (Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Southern Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico) 
· Midwest (Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio) 
· New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island) 
· New York 
· Texas, Oklahoma 
· Atlantic (Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Washington DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland) 
· Mid-South (Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana) 
· Southeast (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama)

 International Divisions 
· UK, Ireland 
· Middle East, India, Asia 
· Canada 
· Australia, New Zealand 
· Other International

Good luck to all the finalists!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Debbie Ohi offers some advice on how to support an author or illustrators new book (especially if you can't afford to buy it.)

Debbie offers a dozen suggestions in this blog post, Want to support an author's or illustrator's new book but can't afford to buy it? Here's what you can do., ranging from Read the book, and Read it where people can see you enjoying it, to Reserving it at the library, Reviewing it, and Talking about the book (both in person and online.)

And then there are a number of additional great suggestions from the comments, including asking your local or school librarian to help (they can put the book on display) and showing up at the author/illustrator's events!

All in all, great advice to heed and pass on...

Thanks, Debbie!

Illustrate and Write On, and support your fellow Children's and Teen Book Creators!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ellen Oh on the Power of Representation

Posted over at the Nerdy Book Club, Ellen writes of how:

"When you’re little, you don’t know what you’ve been missing if you’ve never seen it before. I didn’t know that the hole in my heart that had been filled with self-loathing and a wish that I could have been born white, had formed because of a lack of representation. I didn’t know that seeing yourself in the pages of a book would be life transforming. That book was The Joy Luck Club."

The piece is also a celebratory lead-in to telling us about Flying Lessons and Other Stories, the new anthology of short stories from #WeNeedDiverseBooks that Ellen edited.

Ellen's essay is a great reminder of how powerful it can be to see yourself in the pages of a book. And how we, writers and illustrators, can give that gift to our young readers.

Check out the full essay here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

It's a new season of Podcasts - and the first one is a conversation with Linda Sue Park!

SCBWI Members, make sure to check out the new season of podcasts.

The first episode is available today, a behind-the-scenes, in-depth conversation with Newbery Award-Winning Author Linda Sue Park!

In a one-on-one conversation with Theo Baker, Linda Sue speaks about poetry, revision, her process, first versus third person, and the evolution of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement.

It's well worth your time. Listen to the trailer here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Character Development Through Music - An Excellent Exercise By Alison Green Myers At The Highlights Blog

I thought this exercise was great in how it took the idea of music and your character beyond the simple, 'what's your character's playlist?'

The idea of identifying the song that your character can't stand,

the song that breaks your character's heart,

the prompt a simple lyric can be to reveal your character through their emotion,

and music as a way to reveal how your character interacts with the world around them...

With some nice examples from Julie Murphy’s Dumplin, Meg Medina’s Burn Baby Burn, and Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Echo. Great stuff!

You can read the whole piece here.

Thanks, Alison and Highlights!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

It's National Poetry Month!

Here in the U.S.A., April is National Poetry Month.

Here are five ways to consider joining in the fun:

1. Write a poem. Try an Ekphrasis. or an Triolet. Or a Pantoum! (There are many more poetic forms listed here.)

2. Read "Tide Of Voices: Why Poetry Matters Today" by Mark Doty.

3. Celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day (on April 27, 2017)

4. Watch a poetry-themed movie (here's a list)

5. Share a favorite poem. With chalk on the sidewalk. On social media. In person, with a friend.

For lots more suggestions, see the full list of 30 ways to celebrate national poetry month at

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Silhouette foreground: An Art Trick, and More Tips, For Illustrators

From this Creative Bloq list of ten top tips for book illustrators, come these three suggestions:

Silhouette foreground
A good art trick is to mask over your foreground to create a silhouette. Does the foreground-background contrast make for an arresting composition? Think about it.

Add but don't deviate
Don't paint things that are obviously different to what's described in the book, but remember you're bringing the story to life. You may need to add things to complete a scene.

Think like a designer
You may receive a template indicating where the text will be - you may not. You must create your image with this in mind. Mock up the page or cover with text to see how it looks.

The points are brief, and worth checking out.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Crystal Kite Round 1 Voting Is Now Open!

SCBWI Members can vote for their favorite book in their division until April 14 (5pm Pacific time.)

Log in and find out all the info on voting here.

The second and final round of voting will take place from April 18 - April 30.

Winners are announced in May in a press release and on the SCBWI website/social media. Winners receive a crystal, engraved kite award, an opportunity to present at a regional conference, a silver sticker for their winning book, and one winner will be chosen to present at the LA Summer Conference. At this year's Summer Conference, the Crystal Kite Keynote will be given by Kat Yeh, who won the 2016 Crystal Kite Award in the New York division for The Truth About Twinkie Pie.

Who will win in your division this year?

Vote now!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Illustrators! Have You Applied For the Don Freeman Grant?

Two grants of $1,000 each will be awarded annually. One grant to a published illustrator and one to an pre-published illustrator. The money may be used in any way to help you complete your project. Acceptable uses include: purchasing art supplies, enrollment in workshops or conferences, courses in advanced illustrating or writing techniques, travel for research or to expose work to publishers/art directors, or childcare.

The deadline for this year is coming fast: March 31, 2017

Get all the info here, and good luck!

And writers, the SCBWI Work In Progress grant applications are due March 31 as well.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Innovations In Book Marketing: Bill Konigsberg's Free Short Story That Bridges His Novel and Its Sequel

I thought this was a really cool approach, so I reached out to Bill to learn more.

Lee: Your novel “Openly Straight” published a few years ago to a lot of acclaim. Now you have a sequel coming out March 28, “Honestly Ben.” Tell us about the short story you wrote that bridges the novels.

Bill: "Openly, Honestly" was my editor's idea, but as soon as she said it, I thought it was brilliant. The basic concept was to bridge "Openly Straight," which is told in Rafe's point of view, to "Honestly Ben," which is told from the point of view of his love interest, Ben. She gave me free reign to figure out what the story was, and I immediately knew I wanted it to be multi-perspective--alternating between Rafe and Ben. Then I had the idea that I wanted whatever Rafe was doing in Boulder, Colorado, to relate in an odd way to what Ben is doing at his home in New Hampshire over Christmas break. My first idea was that Rafe and his friend would dress a soldier statue as a goat, while, on the very same day, Ben and his brother would be dressing a pet goat on their farm as a soldier. That didn't pan out, but something that satisfied my desire to have them feel psychically connected as they pine for each other did.

Lee: Was it conceptualized as a marketing idea - something to give away for free that would spark interest in both novels?

Bill: It was, I suppose. It's been four years since "Openly Straight" came out, and while the book has lots of huge fans, there are just as many if not more people who read it and liked it but don't remember it that well anymore. And more who simply don't know the book. This was a way to get new fans acclimated to Rafe, and old fans ready to hear from Ben.

Lee: Did it go through an editing process like the books?

Bill: It did. Scholastic (my publisher) is nothing if not super-professional. I'm pleased with how it came together for sure. It's funny and there are touching moments. It was so much fun to write in Rafe's voice again. He's so funny, and in a totally different way than Ben is.

Lee: How does this differ from offering a free excerpt of a novel (which I see you’ll also be doing with “Honestly Ben”)?

Bill: It's pretty similar, I suppose. For me as an author, it's far more work intensive, but it was truly a labor of love. I truly love these characters. In fact, who knows? Maybe if this book is as successful as the first, we'll make it a trilogy!

Lee: Any lessons you’ve learned from getting word out about your books that you can share with SCBWI members and readers?

Bill: I never want to sound negative, but I will say that it's incredibly challenging to get people's attention. To do any sort of campaign that "moves the dial" in any significant way has been tricky if not impossible. The thing I've done that has worked the best is to write a book in "Openly Straight" that creates word of mouth. It's four years after its release, and it is still selling because fans are telling their friends. And I don't say this to toot my own horn; my novels "The Porcupine of Truth" and "Out of the Pocket" have failed to get this level of attention, and I think in part that's because they don't have the same kind of great elevator pitch that "Openly Straight" has. And a good, catchy title. That helps, too.

Thanks so much, Bill and congrats on the new book!

Bill Konigsberg is the award-winning author of three novels. The Porcupine of Truth won the PEN Center USA Literary Award and the Stonewall Book Award in 2016. Openly Straight won the Sid Fleischman Award for Humor in 2014, and Out of the Pocket won the Lambda Literary Award in 2009. When not writing, Bill teaches in the Your Novel Year online certificate program at the Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. He lives in Chandler with his husband, Chuck, and their dogs, Mabel and Buford.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

PW rounds up a baker's dozen of children's and YA agents heading to Bologna

The article is a fascinating snapshot of 13 agents and agencies' take on what's going on in the children's and YA marketplace, both in the US and internationally.

While it's good to know about the movements (like #ownvoices) and trends (like middle grade adventure), it's also fascinating to see that, as with everything in this industry, there's a huge amount of subjectivity: YA is either "hot" or "fatigued," depending on an agent's unique perspective.

Overall, it's well worth reading!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Registration For The 2017 SCBWI Summer Conference Opens Today (10am Pacific)

What a lineup for #LA17SCBWI!

Get all the details, and register, here.

We hope to see you in L.A.!

Illustrate, and Write, and conference on!