Thursday, April 23, 2015


The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators 

invites you (yes, YOU!) to attend

the Spring 2015 Inside Story 

May 5, 2015 at 7PM 

This celebration takes place twice a year so that booksellers, librarians, teachers, and other children's book lovers can hear two-minute "stories behind the stories" of new and upcoming books by our very own SCBWI-WWA authors and illustrators. 

(With permission from Steven Henry.)

This season's presenters are: 

Laurie Ann Thompson, Dana Sullivan, Toni Yuly, Rori Shay, Dori Hillestad Butler, Margaret Read MacDonald, Kevan Atteberry, Kelly Jones, Jeanne Ryan, Sara Nickerson, Kathryn O. Galbraith, Craig Orback, Stacey Campbell, Julie Paschkis, Karen Kincy, Carly Anne West, Brenda Z. Guiberson, Tom Robinson, Martha Brockenbrough, Shannon Grogan, Steven Henry, Katherine Pryor, Derek Sullivan, Andrea Gabriel, Suzanne Selfors, Doug Keith

We hope you can join us!
Deb Lund
SCBWI Inside Story Chair

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

World-building with Janet!


With YA Fantasy Author Janet Lee Carey
Are you creating worlds for fantasy novels, sci-fi novels or games? Considering terrain, ecosystems, beings, cultures, societies, and languages? There’s a lot to cover, but when you design a world from a central theme, adding history and conflict, you create the tension your story world demands. Come to this dynamic PowerPoint workshop, and be ready to discuss ideas and do an interactive world-building activity.

April (THIS WEEK!)
World Building Workshop

 Friday April
24, 2015
 1-3 PM
Location: Meeting Room, Mukilteo Library, 4675 Harbour Pointe Blvd. Mukilteo, WA 98275

World Building Workshop

Date: Saturday, May 23, 2015
Time: 1-3 PM
Location: University Bookstore, Bellevue, 990 102nd Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98004
Sign up at
Price includes workshop, refreshments, handouts and a signed copy of In the Time of the Dragon Moon, choices of other books by Janet Lee Carey or How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Nonfiction Intensive with Michelle McCann

On Sunday morning, Michelle gave an in-depth presentation about all things nonfiction to a packed room (we had to get more chairs!). Here are just a few of the many great tidbits participants gleaned from her presentation...

Reasons to write nonfiction:

  • Satisfy your curiosity
  • Be a lifelong learner
  • Reuse your fiction skills
  • Sell to a hungry market (You are 8 times more likely to get published if you write nonfiction!)

Brief history of the kids nonfiction book market:

  • textbooks, informational texts
  • In 1988, Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman won the Newbery and nonfiction got sexy.
  • Then, DK came along and made nonfiction look cool.
  • Now, Common Core State Standards are mandating more time spent reading nonfiction texts, so publishers are hungry to acquire it.
  • Nonfiction was the fastest growing area of children’s book publishing for 2014 and is projected to be again for 2015!

Where to sell nonfiction writing: magazines, trade, mass market, and educational market.

Good nonfiction  has the same elements as good fiction:

  • appropriate for the audience and age group
  • promotes a sense of kid power through the knowledge it imparts
  • has a strong opening hook
  • fully fleshed out characters and settings
  • fun, interesting, and well-organized text
  • a beginning, middle, and end
  • a climax
  • an uplifting resolution

How to strengthen your nonfiction voice:
  • Write!
  • Don’t second-guess yourself.
  • Choose topics your passionate about.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Crystal Kite Keynote: Nina Laden

Crystal Kite winner for Once Upon a Memory, author and illustrator Nina Laden’s career has been long and full. Inextricably bound up with love and family, luck and loss her inspiration comes from journaling, working in her studio and nature. The text for Once Upon a Memory began with a feather found on the beach. Persistence, experimentation, partnership, community, darkness and light carry her work forward. Her wisdom for us: Let go. What matters most is love.

“If life is like a merry go round, it’s boring: round and round and round. But my life has been a roller coaster: up, up, up and down, down, down.”

On working with other illustrators:
“This has been a very strange trip...”

Thank you, Nina, for your books and inspiration. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sharon Flake Keynote: Flying Scared: Or How To Get Published In Spite of Yourself

Sharon Flake is an award-winning author with millions of books for kids in print, including The Skin I'm In and Unstoppable Octobia May.

"I think I was born scared."

When we're not our true authentic selves the world misses out.

What are you willing to sacrifice? Because your dreams will cost you something.

To write you need a healthy dose of fear and hutzpah. That's something Sharon certainly possesses.

As a published author Sharon Flake is brave.

What are you willing to tolerate to be the best writer you can be?

In this business you have to jump in and swim like hell if you're going to make it to the other side.

"I'm a writer not in spite of myself but because of myself."

This industry is not for wimps.

Carter Hasegawa: The Candlewick Editorial Process

First, Carter introduced us to the history of Candlewick, the company culture, and some of their extremely well known authors, illustrators, books, and series. 

He then explained their relatively simple acquisitions process: there are no big meetings, editors don't need to get buy-in from sales and marketing, and there aren't a great many hoops to jump though for a Candlewick editor to acquire a manuscript. Their guiding statement is simply,
“We only sign the un-put-down-able.”
Some other tidbits included:
  • For picture books, Candlewick solicits input from the author about the choice of illustrator. They paginate and layout the text before sending to the illustrator. 
  • For nonfiction, an important aspect is the source material used. He looks for strong, primary sources, and offered Action Jackson as an example of a perfect picture book biography.
  • Candlewick likes narrative-based work, whether in novels, picture books, fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. If you are not writing a narrative story, they are probably not the right publisher for you. 
  • Candlewick editors are always looking for picture book texts, picture book biographies, and character-based stories. Carter loves unusual sci-fi with great world building. He also likes boy books along the lines of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe). “Show me the book that no one else wants,” they often say. They are looking for something unique and special.

2015 Art Portfolio Show

The Rollin Thomas Portfolio Awards

"Be well, create lots." ~Rollin Thomas

Grand Prize Winner: Corinna Luyken

1st Runner Up: Dalton Webb

2nd Runner Up: Alice Chu

Booster Award: Michaele Razi

Congratulations, everyone!

Thank you SCBWI WWA Advisory Committee

Many do not realize that the regions of SCBWI are run by dynamic teams of volunteers and our region has one of the very best.

Thank you, AdCom!!!

Nina Laden: Conceptual Journaling (From the Mixed-Up Journals of Nina Laden)

After accepting her Crystal Kite Award for Once Upon a Memory, author-ilustrator Nina Laden welcomes a packed room ready to work on conceptual journaling.

To Nina a journal is so many things.

So why journal? Because if you do not write it/draw it you will forget it.

Fancy vs. Not Fancy Journals? For Nina, it's too hard to figure out what to put in the fancy journal. So they sit empty.

Size does matter. A journal can be too small or too large. You have to find a size that's comfortable.

The only rule: You can never tear the pages out.

A journal does not need to be neat.

Nina's favorite quote: "If you are afraid of making a mistake you won't make anything." There are no mistakes in journaling.

Time to play...

The room busy journaling.

Michelle McCann & Amber Keyser: Down and Dirty: And Author and an Editor Talk Teens, Sex, and the Edge in YA

Editor Michelle McCann (Beyond Words / Simon & Schuster) and author Amber Keyser worked together on Amber's upcoming non-fiction YA, THE V-WORD, an anthology of essays about first-time sexual experience.

Amber reads from Judy Blume's FOREVER to a packed room.

The discussions turns to: Where are kids learning about sex? How? Is it accurate?

Kids today have a access to a great deal of info about sex (including porn) without receiving good information.

Michelle turns to the crowd, to those attempting to write sex scenes: How do you get past writing those parts that make you uncomfortable?

It's mentioned that there is a discomfort when you begin to think about your own kids and writing something for them and their friends, which brings up discomfort in the writing process.

Where's the line between erotica and other books? The line is wavy.

Amber shares an essay from THE V-WORD.

What's acceptable? What can we do? What can't we do?

It's editor to editor specific right now. If there's going to be sex in a book, it needs to be there for reason. It needs to move the story forward. It can't be shoehorned into the story.

As the author you can choose how to handle sex in your story. You can fade to black with not much is shown. Or can you can take the Judy Blume in FOREVER approach and say it all.

Local Success Story Panel

Rebecca Van Slyke, Laurie Thompson, Kelly Jones, Toni Yuly, Dan Richards, Shannon Grogan,
Lois Brandt

Some takeaways from the panel on what lead to their successes:

Going with my heart. ~Lois Brant

I wouldn't be sitting here without the SCBWI. Shannon Grogan

Failing at every other creative endeavor I've ever done helped me immensely. ~Dan Richards

People have helped me more than anything and having an intense desire. ~Toni Yuly

Friend and family were critical as well as the writing community. ~Kelly Jones

I owe everything to this organization (SCBWI). ~Laurie Thompson

Deadlines were helpful in inspiring creativity. ~Rebecca Van Slyke

Sharon Flake: Creating a (Non-Stereotyped) Authentic Voice

Sharon Flake is an award-winning author with millions of books for kids in print, including The Skin I'm In and Unstoppable Octobia May.

You have to walk carefully when you write about someone outside your cultural and ethnic group. Look to people you know to vet your work.

Sharon Flake has an amazingly strong voice. She grew up in a family of storytellers, though she didn't know it at the time.

Sharon was influenced greatly by community and family. "Those voices were loud...Those voices were loving...Those voice were help-you-when-you-can...Those voices were quiet..."

Sharon Flake Storytelling
If you're telling a story, get to the point fast. Don't waste time. Don't tell things that aren't important. BOOM! Sharon actually tell us, Boom. Get to the point!

Voice is not just what people say but what people do.

Sharon doesn't think we create voice but reveal it. She knows very little about the story she's going to write. She's very comfortable flying blind. As she writes, the voice is being uncovered.

So, how do you crate an authentic teen voice? Sharon says we know you can go and listen to teenagers. You can read others work. You can trust your gut. Sharon suggests watching your words because no matter what, your character has to sound 15.

"I will not tell a typical story about any of my characters."