Friday, August 30, 2013

Weekend on the Water's fearless leader

 The indefatigable and superhuman Jolie Stekly, retreat director for Weekend on the Water, dishes on this year's upcoming event:

What is the biggest reason to come to this year's WOW retreat?
Personally, I'm so excited for this year's retreat faculty. Usually it's the faculty that gives each retreat a new flavor. Those who have been involved with our local chapter might remember Patricia Lee Gauch's visit about 10 years ago; she was also part of the first Weekend on the Water six years ago. Patti is an icon in this industry, and she has worked with legends. Legends! Not only is she packed with genius knowledge, she's also immensely generous with it. She truly has a desire to help writers grow, and her energy is infectious. If you've ever had the desire to work with her, this is your chance. Who knows if and when she will be in our area again?

Don't let me leave out Linda Urban! She came too highly recommended to be ignored. Both Patti and Linda have been a dream for me, as the retreat director, to work with. Their discussions about planned workshops have me excited for the retreat to get here already! Patti and Linda really want to deliver a great experience. They have both discussed workshops that will encourage each writer attending to go farther with his or her work. 

My guess is that attendees will walk away from this retreat feeling like they had a breakthrough in their stories, and maybe even personally as writers. 

How should a first-time attendee get as much as possible from the experience? 
First, if you are thinking of applying for the first time, don't be intimidated. Go for it! Then, if you're accepted, don't stress about it at all––just look forward to it. It will truly be a retreat. You'll feel like you're getting away and being pampered in so many ways (personally and writer-ly). Each year, I have found each group of attendees to be so wonderful. And great connections are made, often resulting in wonderful friendships and even critique partners. It's usually hard to say goodbye, and many apply again in following years. Attendees really love participating in the peer critiques, so I'd highly recommend that option. 

Will a picture-book author get as much out of it as a novelist? How so?
Yes. Picture-book writers who have attended in the past have loved the experience just as much as the novelists. Patti and Linda will be focused on the craft of writing for kids, and it applies to all formats. 
A huge bonus this year is that Patti has offered to have a sit-down with the picture-book writers for an informal discussion. I have no doubt that she will share amazing insights.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

John Skewes interview in PW

By John Skewes
John Skewes, author and illustrator of the Larry Gets Lost series published by Sasquatch Books, takes his turn in the spotlight in this recent Publisher's Weekly interview. The honor comes in the wake of Sasquatch Books' announcement that they will launch a new children's imprint, Little Bigfoot, next spring.

Exciting news for John and Sasquatch Books, not to mention kid lit in this corner of the world!

Patti's watery adventure

Perhaps you read the information about Patti Lee Gauch, who will be half of the faculty for our upcoming Weekend on the Water retreat. Did her reference to adventures on the Great Lakes pique your curiousity?

Ours, too. So we pried a story out of her:
"My father had a small 30 foot cruiser when I was a teen, and, because he had learned to navigate with a compass, he went across great stretches of water by direct reckoning. He took chances, too, though he didn't always mean to. 

"Once in crossing over from Lake Huron to Georgian Bay, we ran into a fierce storm. Within what seemed like minutes, giant waves were slanting at us like rain, smashing over the bow.  Dishes fell off the shelves. My mother hid in the bunk room, scared for her life. After an hour of this pounding, there was only my father and me trying to get through 12 or 15 foot waves. Relentless. Talk about human beings feeling small.

"Our map said there was a bay somewhere through the slanting rain and waves, called Smith Bay.  My father dead reckoned for it, though we could barely see. It seemed impossible. I felt this was the endless storm — when suddenly, we could see a wilderness shore, then a kind of corner in the bank of trees. We headed for it,  wallowing in the giant waves as we changed direction — my mother crying — when as suddenly, we were in a bay, quiet, almost flat, the wind having almost disappeared. Almost no sound. I crawled up on the bow to help my father with directions. When I looked up on a distant bank to my right, there was a small, white-steepled church: it looked homemade. 

"I found out later that it was the church of a lingering Indian tribe. I felt, as a seventeen year old, that they had somehow saved us."
Consider attending the retreat in November to hear more from this acclaimed author and editor, who can help us all learn how to add adventure and meaning to our own stories.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Something in common with Yoda

Written by Patti
Meet Patti Lee Gauch, editor and author and teacher extraordinaire, who will be one of two faculty members at SCBWI Western Washington's annual Weekend on the Water retreat this fall. Your humble blogger has had the pleasure of working with her rather extensively and can never shake the idea that Patti has a great deal in common with Yoda, from her calm authority, compassion, and wisdom to her Jedi control of The Force when it comes to writing and editing.

Written by Patti
We asked Patti to give us some insight on what's bringing her back to the Northwest and what you might hope to learn from her if you're so lucky as to be among retreat participants. (Retreat applications are being accepted now; don't delay.)

What has helped lure you to the Pacific Northwest and our weekend retreat for a second time?
What has lured me back to the Northwest, quite frankly, is its quality of writers. I have always regarded a conference that is after growing its authors and artists as the best kind of conference. Too many conferences are quick and light and on to the next conference. The program at your conference lets writers see and hear new ideas — then to use them, with professionals looking over their shoulders.  I like that. And I like looking over their shoulders!

Edited by Patti
Edited by Patti
Since I will be talking about writing novels, participants might like to know that my biggest novel client was Redwall's Brian Jacques, who many people think was the forerunner of J.K Rowling,  though I worked with Frindle's Andrew Clements, Newbery Honor winner Janet Lisle, popular New Zealand writer Joy Cowley, and so on. Of course, I love the work that I have done — and do —  with Chautauqua and Highlights Foundation workshoppers, among them many having published.

Our event theme this year is "going deeper." What does going deeper into writing or a story mean to you?
I find that most writers, even published ones like Rick Riordan, work on a single level, call it the storytelling level. Getting the narrative down. Making it exciting. But, while both writers are immensely successful, writers like John Green do more than that. His characters come to life. They have a history that may not even make it into the book,  but that inform it. That drives the narrative. These writers know how to enlist their characters in the storytelling, so the voice becomes true and powerful. They know about going "far enough." Maybe of all the questions I would ask a writer, published and not published, is: Do you go far enough?  Does each scene resonate with your passion for the story and the character and the moment to bring it to life? Do you know what going "far enough" means? Isn't that that the only way to bring the reader — and editor — to the heart of your story?

At a conference like your Weekend on the Water retreat, I like to bring a mandate with me: for each writer to come to a new place in their writing, to begin to see their story in a new way, and to know — maybe suddenly — the way to get to the heart of it.

What's the most memorable thing you've ever done in or with water?
Patti and her husband Ron, on the water
I have lived on the Great Lakes most of my life, so my stories may be more dramatic than some.  Having had the adventures on the lakes that I did, it seems to be the adventures I remember.... My father had a small 30 foot cruiser when I was a teen, and, because he had learned to navigate with a compass, he went across great stretches of water by direct reckoning. He took chances, too, though he didn't always mean to. Once in crossing over from Lake Huron to Georgian Bay, we ran into a fierce storm...
Editor's cliffhanger: Patti protested that the story she had in mind was too long, but if you go to the retreat see if you can get a Great Lakes boating story or two out of her.

Read more about Patti, her books, and her teaching abilities at her own website, the Penguin website, and in this 2010 interview by our own Martha Brockenbrough.

Kid Lit Drink Night: TONIGHT!

WHERE: The Roanoke Inn on Mercer Island, starting at 6:30 pm. That's the place to be! Come on over! We'll be there!

Lois Harris September book events

Lois V. Harris will read her picture book, Maxfield Parrish: Painter of Magical Make-Believe, in the area at two upcoming events:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2013 Weekend on the Water Retreat!

2013 retreat banner

SCBWI Western Washington invites you to apply for its Fall 2013 "Weekend on the Water" Retreat, taking place Friday, November 8, to Sunday, November 10, 2013, at the lovely Inn at Port Ludlow, a premier Northwest destination about 90 minutes northwest of Seattle. This intimate, craft-focused retreat will give you the opportunity to focus on a current work-in-progress with the guidance and expert insight of our two retreat leaders, as well as to connect with a network of talented local authors, which will include exchanging manuscript pages with several peers. 

Pull out your work-in-progress and get ready to dig in with an outstanding editor/author duo: Patricia Lee Gauch and Linda Urban. The legendary Patricia Lee Gauch, author and iconic editor of many children’s book luminaries, is returning to the Pacific Northwest for this event. Those of you who have worked with Patti before will want to come running back for more, and if you’ve never had the pleasure of learning from Patti, you won’t want to miss this opportunity. Patti will be partnering with award-winning author Linda Urban. When we asked former retreat faculty whom they would love to learn from, at the top of their list was Linda Urban. So we had to invite her join us, and we’re thrilled she said yes!

Selected writers will spend the weekend working with Patti and Linda. Our focus will be on examining works-in-progress to identify opportunities to go far enough with our work; stretching and going beyond to create amazing books. Both Patti and Linda will take a close look at specific areas of craft, giving us exercises to challenge us and take our writing to the next level. There will be an opportunity for small group interaction with Patti and Linda, as well as optional peer critique groups. For the picture book writers, Patti has offered to set aside time to meet and discuss picture books specifically. The weekend will include time for individual writing, walks, kayaking, resting, and networking.

Retreat fees range from $540 to $580, depending on whether you are a member of SCBWI International (members receive a $40 discount). Prices include all workshops and activities, optional peer group critique, two nights’ lodging with one roommate, six catered meals, Internet access, and endless inspiration from the spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains and the serene Ludlow Bay. Private rooms are available for only $165 more.

The application and submission deadline is fast approaching: September 13, 2013. You will not be considered for the retreat if you don’t meet the deadline. No exceptions.

View complete information, application details, and deadlines for WEEKEND ON THE WATER by clicking on the link below:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dana and Ozzie take Costco!

Dana Sullivan and his trusty sidekick, Ozzie, will share their adventures from the pages of Ozzie and the Art Contest at a special appearance this Friday. Here's the full announcement from Dana's fab blog, Sticky Love. He writes:

"Ozzie and I will be at the Issaquah Costco on Friday, August 30, from 12:30–2:30pm, selling (I hope) and signing books! Pennie, the book buyer for Costco and a friend of mine, gave me this sweet advice: 'Market the hell out of your book, because we won't keep it if it doesn't sell.' So, if you've got some time mid-afternoon next Friday, think about a trip to Costco (or your local indie bookstore or at Sleeping Bear's site) The Costco Connection wrote a very cool article about me in their August  issue, which you can read here (Vicki shot the photo). AND our local Newcastle News printed this extremely nice piece about me and Ozzie. Thanks to all of you who have bought my book. Hope to see the rest of you at Costco!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

SCBWI email alert!

Attention, SCBWI-WWA members:

With the advent of some changes in how mass emails are distributed to the users of Gmail, there is a danger that SCBWI WWA messages will be treated as junk and you won't get them. This is particularly important because of impending announcements from our Regional Advisors and Advisory Committee regarding this year's programming and upcoming special events. We don't want you to miss them.

Especially if you use a gmail account, watch out that emails from don't get filtered into the wrong folder. For instructions on how to bypass this problem, please click here for specific instructions.

Even if you don't use gmail, be sure to add our email address above to your personal address book, or white-list it, to ensure our emails aren't caught by a spam filter.

Thank you!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Critique Group Week: Meet Writers in the Rain!

The last, but certainly not least, critique group of the week is Writers in the Rain. They've created a system that works for them, and they know exactly when to order fries with that....

FROM LEFT: Angela, Martina, Suma, Fabio, Eileen, Brenda

1. How many members do you have? 
Our critique group is called Writers in the Rain. There are six of us: Brenda Beem, Fabio Bueno, Martina Dalton, Angela Orlowski-Peart, Eileen Riccio, and Suma Subramaniam. All of us have finished books, and two have been published. The other members are on the verge of publishing or querying.

2. How long has the group been together?
We signed up for critique groups at the 2010 SCBWI-WWA conference. Angela requested a list of Young Adult writers looking for critique groups from the critique coordinator and sent out a call for partners. Several writers answered, but only the five of us lived close enough to form a group that would meet in person. We exchanged emails, met for coffee, and developed an instant connection!

3. Do you focus on single or multiple genres?
Our novels are YA and upper-middle-grade in multiple YA sub-genres. Some of us are branching out into New Adult and adult books.

4. How often do you meet? Where?
We meet weekly. The group used to meet at the King County libraries, but they close at 9pm, and we didn’t have enough time to critique everybody’s pages. Since then, we’ve been meeting at pubs, restaurants, sports bars, and coffeehouses.

5. What has been your group's biggest challenge(s)? How have you resolved it/them?
Probably time management. Giving everyone's pages a detailed critique is a complicated task. Sometimes, we lose track of time. We solved it by using a stopwatch and allowing everyone
thirty minutes. In addition, we became more efficient in our critiques. Grammar and punctuation corrections, for example, are usually just marked on the pages.
Another challenge is finding a location to meet that is relatively quiet and that stays open late. We stopped going to one establishment because we had to pick up our feet while the waitress vacuumed under our legs!

6. What is the format of your meetings?
Because we are not only the critique partners, but, most importantly, good friends, we always start on catching up while ordering food and drinks. Each of us brings up to five printed pages to the meetings, and we hand them out. One member reads aloud, and the rest have copies to make notes for discussion. Then we critique and brainstorm. The discussions focus not only on voice, pace, grammar, dialogue, and description, but we also analyze character arcs, plot points, continuity, and even mundane details, like names and shoe brands a character would wear.

7. What is the key to a successful group dynamic?
The most important thing is that we truly like each other, and have a deep respect for each others’ work, writing skills, and knowledge.
We listen to the advice we’re given, and also give the best writing advice we can.
We trust each other.
We are always learning and growing as writers.
And we write, and write, and re-write.

8. Any quirky group rituals? Inspirational rituals? Favorite snacks?
We have a ritual: “fries on me.” Every time one of us celebrates a milestone in their journey—an award, publication, full requests, a new book cover, sterling reviews—the person celebrating buys a basket of french fries for the whole group.
We definitely enjoy a good laugh. We take our writing and our meetings seriously, but that doesn’t mean that we can't appreciate the idiosyncrasies in our own stories. After reading so many pages at one point of the night we may get a little punchy. As you might expect, somebody gets the giggles. It's contagious! We go from the quietest table in the restaurant to the most raucous.

A super shout out to SCBWI for getting us all started on our paths! Thank you.

We would love to hear from you! Please connect through our web sites!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Meet Captain Underpants on Bainbridge!

Thanks to this heads-up from Jennifer K. Mann, you are now in the loop!

Captain Underpants himself, the illustrious Dav Pilkey, will make a rare appearance at Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island on Sunday, September 8 at 3pm. Get more information.

Don't miss the Sketch-Up TODAY (as in almost now)!

Washington Park Aboreteum, 10:30 a.m. (yes, this morning) -- more details here!

Fabulous Fall Preview

--> Ready for another great fall of SCBWI Western Washington programming? Mark your calendars now for delights that’ll take the wistfulness from the maple leaves starting to turn red all around us: 

Octabulous October

Agent visit Oct. 17-18

On Thursday, October 17, agent Jill Grinberg visits Seattle to deliver a keynote tentatively titled, “Query Building: Give an Agent a Snapshot of You and Your Story” that evening on from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., with time for sharing your Good News beforehand and Q&A afterward. She’ll stick around the next day, Friday, October 18, to deliver a two-hour workshop on “The Dynamics of Character” and also provide 10-minute consultations on queries or synopses, with submissions sent in advance, to a limited number of lucky members who choose to register for these extra options.

Art Show Open House Sunday, Oct. 27

Watch art happen and buy signed books from your favorite local illustrators at the Washington State Convention Center this afternoon as we formally kick off SCBWI Western Washington’s first-ever major public art display. Details are being finalized now, so plan to attend and look for details soon — including information about and congratulations for all the artists whose work has been accepted into this juried show! 

Nifty November

Inside Story Sunday, Nov. 3

On Sunday, November 3, excited Western Washington authors and illustrators will share their newest books with teachers, librarians, booksellers, readers — and you. Our Fall Inside Story will be held at 4 p.m. at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park.

Weekend on the Water, Nov. 8-10

Our annual weekend retreat returns this fall with former Philomel editor extraordinaire Patricia Lee Gauch and acclaimed author Linda Urban. This beloved event, which will take place at the Inn at Port Ludlow, will open for applications very soon. Keep an eye on your inbox and this blog!

Delightful December

Details are still being finalized, but we’ll celebrate the holidays and a great 2013 at a winter open house on an early December evening at the Washington State Convention Center. This event will celebrate the work of dozens of our illustrator and author/illustrator members, whose work will be on display to the Center all autumn.  (See October for more information.)

And more: 

KLDNs and Sketch Meet-Ups and…

Of course, we’ll keep scheduling informal gatherings, too, from our popular Kid Lit Drink Nights to our new series of Sketch Meet-Ups — and who knows, maybe something for NaNoWriMo in November. You know which spaces to watch for news. (This one and our Facebook page, for starters.)

A reminder about event registrations and fees

Don’t forget that one change for this fall is that we will not be selling discounted “passports” to our whole season’s events at once, though we will still be asking you to register and pay a discounted rate in advance, when possible, for the October 17 presentation by agent Jill Grinberg. SCBWI members will be able to register and pay in advance for $8. (Watch for an email from us about registration.) All tickets sold at the door, space permitting, will be $10 for SCBWI members and $12 for nonmembers.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Register now: SCBWI Oregon's annual retreat

SCBWI Oregon presents their annual retreat on November 21-24, 2013. This year's theme is "In a Cabin in the Woods: Retreat...Revise...Relax...the 3 Rs of Writing and Illustrating." 
Faculty: 2 editors, 2 agents, 2 authors, 1 author/illustrator. 
Early bird registration ends August 31
For more details visit the SCBWI Oregon web site. 

Critique Group Week: Ten-plus years together!

 This fab five includes core members who've been working together for over a decade––and they're still going strong!

1. How many members?
We currently have five regular members: Helen Landalf, Marjorie Nye, Julie Reinhardt, Anne Marie Heckt, and our newest member, Dana Mongillo.

2. How long has the group been together?

Helen Landalf and former member Pam Wilkinson (who has since moved to California) founded the group well over 10 years ago. The group’s composition has changed over years, with many members coming and going.

3. Do you focus on single or multiple genres?

Right now all of us are writing YA, but over the past year, we have also critiqued each other’s poetry, picture book texts, and chapter books.

4. How often do you meet? Where?

We meet twice a month at member’s homes. Sometimes we meet at Chocolati Café in Greenwood.

5. What has been your group's biggest challenge(s)? How have you resolved it/them?

Our biggest challenge is that we love to chat – which is great, but then we run out of time for critiques. We’ve resolved this by designating the first 15 minutes of our meeting as chat/catch-up time. Then, at 4:30 on the dot, we move into critiques.

6. What is the format of your meetings? What seems to work best for the group (writing exercise to start, then single/double critiques, etc.)

We run our meetings like The Great Critique. Each member who wants a critique reads up to 6 pages of their work aloud. Everyone else follows along and writes comments on a copy of the pages, and then we take turns giving feedback.

7. What is the key to a successful group dynamic?

Our group works because we genuinely care about each other, as people and as writers, and want everyone in the group to be successful. We are careful to give positive comments as well as critical ones, and we give honest feedback with the intention of helping each writer improve her work.

8. Any quirky group rituals? Inspirational rituals? Favorite snacks?

Once in a while, we go on a writing retreat together. This can be as simple as hanging out for an afternoon in a neighborhood coffee shop or as involved as spending a writing weekend together on Vashon or Whidbey Island. We are all incurable tea fanatics!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kirby Larson joins Highlights Foundation Whole Novel faculty

Here's a wonderful opportunity for children's fiction writers, as announced by Kirby Larson:

With the push toward Common Core Standards, historical fiction may be the next "hot trend." 
Or maybe not. 
But if you have a passion for the genre, please consider attending the Highlights Foundation Whole Novel Workshop, with a focus on historical fiction. Faculty includes editor Tamra Tuller (a spring conference faculty member), of Chronicle Books; acquiring agent Linda Pratt of Wernick and Pratt; Tracy Barrett (whose books about Sherlock Holmes' great-grandkids made a recent Best Mysteries for Kids' list); and Kirby Larson, who is just publishing her fifth novel of historical fiction. Teaching assistants include Augusta Scattergood (Glory Be) and nonfiction writer Nancy Castaldo.

The setting is lovely, the food divine, and the week's workshop provides lots of time for one-on-one with a mentor for your novel. 
What are you waiting for? Sign up!

Northern Network meeting

From Rebecca Van Slyke:

I can't believe it! I blinked and summer is almost OVER! But that means that it's almost time to get together again and talk about books, writing, illustrating, and all things KidLit!

Our first meeting this fall is Wednesday, September 4 at 7pm in the Bellingham Barnes & Noble.

Let's kick off the meeting by sharing our news. What have you been reading? What cool things have happened to you this summer? We want to cheer you on! Next, what topics would you like to discuss this year? Come prepared to shape this year's meetings and get the most out of your Northern Network of the Western Washington SCBWI.

We'll continue to meet on the first Wednesday of the month, September-May (breaking for April, as that's conference month), at 7:00pm at the Bellingham Barnes & Noble (4099 Meridian St.). We meet in the cafe area. Please plan on attending. Meetings are free, and friends are welcome, too. For questions, call me, Rebecca Van Slyke, at (360) 354-5797 or send me an email at

See you in September!

SCBWI-Inland NW Conference

Monday, August 19, 2013

UW World Series job opening

Thanks, Wendy Wahman, for the heads-up on this peachy job opening at UW. Click here for details, and you could find yourself immersed in one of the great performance series in the area.

Critique Group Week: Meet the Tighty Writeys!

They're tight, they write, and sheesh, they're a prolific bunch! Let's hear how this group gets along, with a behind-the-scenes peek at their monthly methods....

1. How many members do you have?
We currently have nine regularly attending members: Curtis Manley, Jeanie Mebane, Laurie Thompson, Lois Brandt, Kevan Atteberry, Susan Greenway, Arlene Williams, Dana Sullivan, Dan Richards

2. How long has the group been together? 
Some of us have been critiquing together in various forms for almost 10 years. Our group has come together from combining the surviving members of two dwindling groups several times until we finally got to a stable number of committed children’s book authors and illustrators. It took a long time, but it’s been worth it.

3. Do you focus on single or multiple genres?
Although we all write and/or illustrate for children, we have critiqued members’ work ranging from board books to adult, short stories to novels, fiction and nonfiction, even poetry and illustrations. We also critique each other’s query letters, cover letters, outlines, titles, portfolios, teaching materials, etc. Anything goes!

4. How often do you meet? Where? 
We meet two evenings every month in the café of a local grocery store on the Eastside. The store is happy to have us because we often buy dinner, snacks, drinks, and even celebration supplies! Many of us grab some groceries after the meeting, too. It’s fairly
quiet in the evenings and we’re usually the only ones there, so it works out well for everyone.

5. What has been your group's biggest challenge(s)? How have you resolved it/them? 
 As I mentioned above, finding that stable core of committed members was the biggest challenge, and being willing to evolve, combine with other groups, and add new people is how we finally resolved it.

6. What is the format of your meetings? What seems to work best for the group (writing exercise to start, then single/double critiques, etc.)
As people arrive, they put the work they are bringing to have critiqued in the middle of the table. Each person with something to be read brings enough printed copies for everyone (or close, anyway). We usually chat and catch up on everyone’s writing news for the first few minutes, then we dive into the pile. The work gets handed out to everyone in the group and someone who hasn’t seen it before volunteers to be the reader. They read it out loud, while everyone else follows along and makes notes. Then we go around the table and give our feedback. We aren’t formal about it, and we interrupt each other and get into discussions all the time, but it works for us because we’re all comfortable enough with each other to make sure our opinions get heard. We work our way through all the pieces to be read and then say goodnight!

7. What is the key to a successful group dynamic?
Well, first and foremost is Curtis! He does all the organizing for us, sending out the reminder emails and taking a tally of who is coming and who has work to be read. He keeps us on track and is the glue that holds us all together, in addition to spearheading some of the group mergers. Thank heaven for Curtis!
Second is a spirit of flexibility and openness. We’re always willing to try something new and experiment with new methods to fit the situation. For example, we’ll email full manuscripts to each other for whole novel critiques or if someone couldn’t make it to a meeting (to get critiqued or to give feedback). Lately, our illustrators have been showing their sketches and dummies on iPads instead of bringing printed copies. Sometimes we don’t actually critique work, but will brainstorm ideas for a plot point or character or title together instead, if that is what the group member needs to get unstuck. I guess we only
have two rules: Be encouraging but honest, and come (if possible) even if you don’t have work to share.

8. Any quirky group rituals? Inspirational rituals? Favorite snacks?
Most of us drink hot tea. And we always dive in if anyone brings chocolate.
Thanks to Arlene, we’ve started a recent tradition of having a little celebration party with gigantic cupcakes and sparkling cider whenever anyone has major good news.
We also are on email with each other sharing news, asking questions, and cracking jokes almost every day.

9. If there is anything you'd like to add that would bring your group to life for Chinook readers, please spill the beans!
When we started, almost none of us were published or agented. Now we all are either agented or published, or both. We’ve come a long way together, and we’re committed to one another’s success.
(Dana insists our group’s name is the Tighty Writeys, but the rest of us aren’t so sure....)

Lois Brandt's NaNoWriMo class

Hello, NaNoWriMo! Lois Brandt is teaching her “Write a Novel in a Month” class at Bellevue College North Campus starting in October. See details below. 
Write Your Novel in a Month  
Saturdays, October 12th – December 7th
10:00 a.m. – 12 noon
(No class 11/30)
Is writing a novel one of your life-long dreams? Join this eight-week Bellevue College class as it hooks up with 100,000 writers worldwide for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The first classes prepare you for the novel-writing process, with practice in characterization, setting, plot, voice, and dialogue. Then we're off and writing our 50,000 word manuscripts. During the last class we plan for revision. This is a great way to write your novel in a supportive environment.  Cost: $189.  
Contact Lois for more information.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Critique Group Week: Meet the Wallingford Writing Group!

 Because it's almost fall, and because that means hunkering down and getting those revisions just right or that first draft completed, it's time to start thinking about who is going to be honest with you. As in, who's going to tell you that your plot has gone off the rails, or that your main character is boring? I hereby dub this coming week Critique Group Week, a special late-summer treat for everyone in SCBWI-WWA. We're featuring four amazing groups of dedicated folks who demand a lot from themselves and each other. If  you're curious about starting your own group, or have had a group that's plugging away, see if these success stories can help inspire you when the weather starts to be anything but inspiring!

The Wallingford Writing Group

[from Brooke Fisher]
Although things in life are often too big or too small, as we learned from Goldilocks, sometimes you get lucky and find just the right fit. Our five-person writing group, which has been meeting twice a month since late 2010 at a Wallingford coffee shop, feels just right.

With a focus on picture books, early readers and middle-grade, our members have a variety of experience levels. Two members have taken Peggy King Anderson’s class; two completed the UW certificate program for Writing for Children; and two are currently completing the UW certificate program. We attend the SCBWI Spring Conference and share the “important stuff,” such as professional manuscript critiques, rejection letters and relevant market info. We are supportive and strive to help each other succeed.

We bring different strengths to the table, which benefit us all: naming characters, plot, poetry, developing characters with strong voices, humor and dialogue, and sending out meeting reminders!

In addition to our meetings, we gather for writing retreats every few months, meeting at a member’s house to share an enjoyable afternoon of food, writing tips and encouragement. The goal of each retreat is to submit at least one manuscript.

Fun Facts:
* One member read 1,000 picture books in just a few months.
* One member has published poetry in seven children’s magazines, including Highlights High Five.
* One member received a 2011 Honorable Mention in the Barbara Karlin Grant contest for unpublished picture book writers.
* Combined estimated rejection letters since we’ve been meeting: 30

Wendy Wahman reading

The fabulous illustrator Wendy Wahman will be appearing from 3-4pm this coming Wednesday, August 21 at the Barnes & Noble store in Silverdale, WA, as part of a Back to School fundraiser for the Kitsap Humane Society (ongoing, 11m-4pm). Wendy will be reading, signing and leading drawing games!

Get your paws over there!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August Sketch and Meet-Up

Attention: Illustrators and Other Interested Parties!

This month's Sketch and Meet-Up will be at the Washington Park Arboretum next Thursday, August 22. 

Meet at the Graham Visitor Center at 10:30am. Be self-contained for your beverages and lunch (there's nowhere to buy food). Bonus: There is a rest room and lots of free parking!

Hope to see you there!

Kid Lit Drink Night

It's been a dry summer, but we're gonna end that by hoisting some beverages and discussing the state of literature for kids. Come to the Roanoke Tavern on Mercer Island on Wednesday, August 28, starting at 6:30 pm. Let's get some writers this time! (Last month the cops had to toss a few of our illustrators. Show up if you want to hear the details.) Consumption of alcohol is optional, boisterous activity is mandatory.

Dana Sullivan

Learn to get free money

Turn writing skills to fund-raising by learning how to write successful grant applications in a two-day workshop being held by North Seattle Community College. The details:

September 9 - 10, 2013  8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
North Seattle Community College 
CFRE accredited course: 15 contact hours or 15 continuing education points
Cost: $498 with a $25 early sign-up discount

Participants completing the workshop will receive a Certificate of Completion accredited by CFRE, a grant funding CD, a bonus fundraising CD, and expert grant training instruction from industry leaders. Visit the sponsor's website or call (877) 414-8991 for more info or to sign up.

Got art skilz and teaching cred?

Seattle's Franklin High School is looking for an art teacher to bring arty goodness to its diverse and sometimes challenging population of kids from low-income urban families. The candidate must be certified, have experience with drawing and ceramics, and know his or her way around the inner-city teaching experience. See the job posting here (enter Franklin in the Search filter). It's open through August 20 and replaces a teacher who has retired. The job will be filled soon thereafter.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Eddie Gamarra's timely food for thought

Now that the national SCBWI conference just ended, this post landed on FB today. It has a little something for everyone, and it also reaffirms the role that SCBWI plays in the development of careers. An informative and compelling piece from someone In the Biz, as they say....

Upcoming: Mazama Festival of Books


Mark your calendars now! The second annual Mazama Festival of Books is coming, September 7-8.

Featuring YA author Dia Calhoun and paper-cut artist Nikki McClure. For more details, author lineup, locations, etc., click here.

Get your carpools ready, pack your sunscreen, and get set to enjoy a bounty of authors and bibliophilia!


Pam Withers book launch next Monday

Prolific YA author Pam Withers is having a book launch at University Bookstore this coming Monday August 12, at 7pm 

Although she's written 15 young-adult books to date, this latest is for parents. It involves kids' literacy, and is called Jump-Starting Boys: Help Your Reluctant Learner Find Success in School and Life

Come out and support Pam and her book, which is sure to help a lot of families and bring more books to more kids!

Martha Brockenbrough's new book deal!

Congratulations are in order!

The ever-industrious Martha Brockenbrough shared the announcement today that her new YA novel, The Game of Love and Death, has been bought by Arthur A. Levine Books!

The story features two teens from different rungs of 1920s Seattle society, who are brought together by forces beyond their control. There's jazz, there's heartbreak, and there's a city we all recognize in its infancy. Publication is slated for 2015.

What wonderful news to start the day!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Interview with agent Tricia Lawrence

Thanks aplenty to Lynn Hooghiemstra, who interviewed the always-fabulous Tricia Lawrence and wanted to share her conversation with everyone. Click here for the complete interview.

Meg Lippert's iPad app released

Congratulations are in order!
Meg Lippert, Director of Storytelling for LEARN WITH HOMER, has been writing for this educational iPad app for the past year.  Designed for children 3-6, the app includes phonics lessons and engaging science units integrated with folk tales, fables, poetry, folk songs, and original stories. It's in the i-tunes app store: LEARN WITH HOMER. A free download link is available on the website. It's already garnering rave reviews, including this one from   

Meg herself writes, "It's an ambitious, exciting project with enormous potential and has been a lot of fun for everyone involved in creating it!"

Wendy Wahman's book trailer selected for festival


The first of two book trailers illustrator Wendy Wahman ever made, for A Cat Like That, was just selected for Minneapolis, Minnesota's Walker Art Center's "CatvidFest,"(Internet Cat Video Festival) from over 7,000 entries.

The Festival was created to share a sincere love of cats and cat videos from crowd-sourced content within the context of a leading contemporary art museum.

 And again––Meow! [The sound of paws clapping]

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Update re: Rollin's Memorial

Jonathan Standridge, a friend of Rollin Thomas, has let us know that there will be a memorial service in Spokane on Saturday, August 10. If you'll be in the area, you can contact him for more information at jds51134 (at) aim (dotcom). 
 Some SCBWI WWA members plan to email Jonathan art or words that might be shared at the service or with Rollin's family. We're also discussing other ways we can best mark the significance and memory of members like Rollin and Ruth Maxwell (who left us recently, too) -- stay tuned.

SCBWI Conference blog updates!

Didn't get to join the fray in LA?

Have no fear, the SCBWI Blog Team (represented by our own invincible Jolie Stekly, Martha Brockenbrough, Jaime Temairik, and Kim Baker, plus others) s are on it so you won't miss everything...except the libations and a few elbows to rub.

Fret not: I bring tidings of great joy. The SCBWI Conference blog is going strong and all you have to do, my little armchair attendees, is CLICK RIGHT HERE. Then start reading. It's that simple.

We'll be posting as they churn out the blog posts, so sit back, enjoy, and picture those palm trees swaying outside....

To get things going, how about THIS POST, recapping a success panel featuring our very own Kim Baker, author of Pickle? High five, Kim!

5th annual Bainbridge Student Writing Contest

The fifth annual Bainbridge Student Writing Contest is coming!

Hosted by Suzanne Selfors, who will be joined by fabulous guest judges Kevin Emerson, Martha Brockenbrough, and George Shannon, this year's theme will be "Creatures, Monsters and Beasts."

Contest Guidelines:

* This short-story contest is open to all local students, grades 1 - 12.
* Entry forms are available at Eagle Harbor Books, Bainbridge Island (or see below). 
* Deadline to enter is September 13
* Finalists will be announced at the bookstore on Sunday, September 15 at 3pm. Everyone who enters will receive a Certificate of Achievement in Creative Writing. Eight finalists will each receive a $50 gift certificate to Eagle Harbor Books.

Please spread the word, and good luck and good writing to all entrants!

A note from Rollin