Thursday, December 8, 2016

Are you all FOMO about #NY17SCBWI? You can still join us!

Okay, FOMO stands for "Fear of Missing Out" (if you didn't know that, don't worry about it - we're always learning, and I just learned it this week. Now we both know it!)

The SCBWI Winter Conference is on track to sell out again in 2017. You don't have to miss out, but if you're interested in the intensives or the portfolio showcase, you need to act fast!

There are only 25 spots left in the Writers Roundtable.

There are only 2 spots left in the Professional Authors Forum.

The portfolio showcase is SOLD OUT (and a waiting list has started) but...

and here's the cool work-around,

there are still 28 spots for the illustrator's intensive. And if you sign up for the illustrator's intensive, you automatically get a reserved spot in the portfolio showcase.

#NY17SCBWI is going to be epic. We hope you'll join us. Find all the conference information here.

Illustrate and Write On!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ever thought about writing merchandise tie-ins?

The brilliant Cynthia Leitich Smith hosts author Danica Davidson on the Cynsations blog, with Danica's story of writing Minecraft and Barbie tie-ins. (How Danica went from a "Tales From The Crypt" writing sample to being hired to write "Barbie's Puppy Party" is wild!)

Check out Danica's guest post here, and see if writing merchandise tie-ins is something you're interested in doing...

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Voice - a fun exercise that almost looks like procrastination (but isn't)

First, choose a song that's pretty popular. Our example will be singer-songwriter Barrett Strong's "I heard it through the grapevine." Treat yourself to the version you're familiar with

I like this live performance by Marvin Gaye, who made the song famous

Now, go to youtube and do a search for that song - but don't go right to that same version. Try to find different versions, other artists who made the song their own, who let you hear the song anew. Which ones feel "karaoke," and which ones feel original?

It's the same song, but different approaches, different arrangements, different voices make each unique (or not...)

Here's a sampling of some of the videos I found of "Heard It Through The Grapevine"

Gladys Knight and the Pips:

 Creedence Clearwater Revival:

John Legend:

Fantasia Barrino:

 Leo Moracchioli:

 Donna Summer:

 The Slits:

Ella Fitzgerald:


Birds of Tokyo:

 Now, think about the story you're working on. What are you bringing to the story that's uniquely YOU? How is what you're creating more than 'karakoe?" The answer... that's your voice.

Illustrate and Write On!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


“If you poured water on a great poem, you would get a novel.” 

-Gloria Steinem, from the New York Times Book Review, “By the Book” interview from Sunday November 1, 2015.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Poem About Gratitude (and a cool poetry resource)

Amid the tumult. Amid the noise.

Take a minute, and write a poem about what makes you grateful.

A haiku. A sonnet. Something that rhymes. Or something that doesn't. An acrostic. A fib. A pantoum...

Consider making it a Thanksgiving day activity for those you're sharing the holiday with. (And if you live in a country where Thanksgiving isn't a thing, maybe do it just because!)

Play with words. Have fun. And let your art, and the feeling of gratitude, inspire you...

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Butt-In-Chair Inspiration

Thanks to Bruce for including this gem of a quote in his new newsletter (which also contained a great piece by Martha Brockenbrough, "Object Lessons: How To Deepen Your Story With Metaphor")

More on David here and Bruce here and Martha here. (And I made the above meme on, a really fun and easy-to-use tool that lets even us writers create professional-looking visuals.)

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

#KidLitSafetyPins - our community stands against bullying and marginalization

The climate in the US, in the aftermath of Donald Trump's election as our 45th President, is loud and confusing. There are many people who feel unsafe. And there are many people who want to stand up as Allies to help keep others safe.

In response to this, a Safety Pin movement has sprung up. It started in Britain in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, and has come to be a way to communicate that the person who wears the safety pin is an ally to those who are in some way under-represented and marginalized.

Members of our Children's Literature community have joined in, creating images of their beloved characters wearing safety pins, and sharing messages of support. Here are a few, by Peter Reynolds, Dan Santat, Stephanie Olivieri, Salina Yoon, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Tom Angleberger, and Raina Telgemeier...

An important note about #KidLitSafetyPins was shared by author Kate Messner in a recent Facebook post,

Teacher & librarian friends... If this is something you plan to share with students, please also take time to talk about what it means to have someone's back when it comes to fighting bullying and bigotry. Wearing a safety pin (or putting up a poster) doesn't really help unless it's accompanied by a promise of action. Speaking up and standing beside people who are being targeted requires courage, commitment, and planning. Here's a resource that I think is great for talking with middle grade kids and older.
And, of course, children's literature is a great resource to have these conversations with younger people as well!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Kathleen Burkinshaw wins the Honor Book Award for the SCBWI Marketing Grant

I caught up with Kathleen to find out more...

Lee: Congratulations on The Last Cherry Blossom being the Honor Book Award-Winner for the SCBWI Marketing Grant! Please tell us about your book.

Kathleen: The Last Cherry Blossom is about a 12-year-old girl's life with her family in Hiroshima during the last year of WWII. She discovers a shocking family secret right before her world becomes a shadow of what it had been. It is through her eyes the reader witnesses the horror and destruction from the atomic bomb. 

Lee: Tell us how you plan to use the grant to spread the word about your book.

Kathleen: My hope is to present my mother’s story to various Japanese societies, middle schools, and nuclear disarmament organizations. I also would like to add my book to school reading lists and being able to visit additional schools, so I have sent proposals to School Library, Social Studies, and Reading Associations for their conferences (in some instances I also have to pay a membership fee to submit a proposal). I'm also working on a teacher's guide that could be downloaded from my website. I recently had to hire someone to help me with website development. And of course, I will also be utilizing SCBWI's Book Blast page opportunity. I am very excited to say that I have also been involved with the Green Legacy Hiroshima program through the United Nations office in Hiroshima. I have partnered Green Legacy and UNC Charlotte, so that a sapling from the seed of a tree that survived the atomic blast in Hiroshima may be planted in front of their Education building. This ginkgo sapling will be dedicated to my mother's family and to all the atomic bomb victims of August 6th and 9th. My husband and I had to travel down to Atlanta to pick up the sapling and bring it to UNCC. 

Lee: Is there something the grant enables you to do that you couldn’t do otherwise?

Kathleen: Because of this grant I will be able to travel and present to Peace Action Staten Island, New York, and do a presentation at the Japanese Embassy in Washington DC in Spring 2017! The actual dates are still being worked out. The grant will help me with travel expenses, since I live in Charlotte, NC. 

Thank you, Kathleen. And congratulations again! 

You can learn more about Kathleen and her novel The Last Cherry Blossom here. 

Illustrate and Write On, 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Caleb Krisp's "Five Habits of Highly Ineffective Authors"

This is snarky and funny good wisdom – Caleb Krisp on MyBookCorner, the "Five Habits of Highly Ineffective Authors."

Here's the first habit:
1) Limit your writing time to those moments when you are seized by a great burst of inspiration that bathes you in a golden light of free flowing creativity. These moments, when the words seem to flow from your very finger tips, may only strike a few days out of every month. Or a few minutes in every day. Or perhaps once or twice in a lifetime. But if you are patient and wait for lightning to strike, you'll finish your novel in no time. Assuming you are immortal.
Check out the full article here. 

Illustrate and Write On, 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Book Blast 10 Plus Club! (And members' chance to win $100 gift card, which could buy some great books!)

This is cool!

In the words of SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver,

The SCBWI Book Blast has been running since October 10 and, to date, we have had over 25,000 visitors browsing and buying the great children's books created by our membership.

Book Blast will be open until Friday, November 18. We want to encourage every SCBWI member to go on to browse and shop for books.

To add a little incentive for you to do this, we're establishing the 10 Plus Club Giveaway.

To enter all you have to do is browse the pages, pick 10 books and leave a comment in the Guestbook. Once you've left 10 comments, email us at BBfan (at) scbwi (dot) org by Sunday 11/13 with your list of the 10 books (just the title will do) you've commented on.

You will then be eligible for the drawing. The drawing will be on Tuesday 11/15. Five lucky winners will receive a $100 VISA gift card.

Join with our community in supporting Book Blast, and have a chance to spread book love and win some money, too!

So go on over and browse SCBWI Member's books and leave some comments in the Book Blast guestbooks! Have fun, and good luck!

Illustrate and Write On,

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Advice for writing "scary" from R.L. Stine (of Goosebumps fame!)

R.L. Stine photo from here

"I think you have to create a very close point of view. You have to be in the eyes of the narrator. Everything that happens, all the smells, all the sounds; then your reader starts to identify with that character and that’s what makes something really scary.

 ...The other big elements are shock and surprises! You don’t want a linear plot. You want to have twists in there that the reader will stop and say, 'Oh, I didn’t realize that.'"                    –R.L. Stine, from an interview at GalleyCat"

Want more R.L. Stine? check out this MTV interview Rachel Handler did where she visited Stine in his home, "What Scares R.L. Stine?"

Illustrate and Write On–and Happy Halloween!