Sunday, September 29, 2013

KLDN at Noble Fir a Literary Hit!

Just a few of the folks at the Noble Fir.
Last night the bravest members of our Western Washington paddled their way to the Noble Fir in Ballard to convivialize, drink and share their dirty limericks. After long (and rather heated) debate, the judges finally split the prize for dirtiest and funniest limerick three ways, between Edie Pagliasotti (newly moved here from the L.A. area), Kelly Bjork (newly moved here from Bellingham) and Bill Arnim (who's not technically a member, but is RA Dana Arnim's current arm candy and really cute). Their prize: a weekend for three at Mike's Beach Resort in the lovely Polsbo, during the annual Ooh La La Lutefisk festival. Congrats to the winners and a hearty, "Better luck next time, suckahs!" to the losers. Thanks to all for coming.

Here is the only limerick that we can publish:

Last night the Kid Lit crew got together
(Despite all the terrible weather)
Each one brought their ditties, that were dirty and witty
But must remain unpublished forever.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Chance to win big

Regular attendees to last fall's Professional Series Meetings may recall those red raffle tickets that earned a few lucky winners a bit of a prize and a chance for free attendance at SCBWI WWA's annual spring conference...

Guess what? The puny fee it will cost you to get into our October kick-off event, an evening with agent Jill Grinberg on Thursday, Oct. 17, will also get you one of those fancy red tickets and, yes, a chance at a free conference. Really, even without that winning chance, $8 for SCBWI members ($10 at the door, $12 for guests) is not such a terrible price to pay for:
  • Reconnecting with your kidlit community.
  • Seeing great work from local illustrators at our Keep It Simple Art Show.
  • Hearing useful info from super agent, with the chance to ask questions.
  • Checking out the snacks supplied by our beloved Snackmeister.
AND the chance to win free registration to the 2014 conference? Wow.

Sign up in advance and save yourself a few bucks. See you there!

Beverage opportunity & book release celebration

Barbara Jean Hicks announces the release of A SISTER MORE LIKE ME from Disney Press on Tuesday, October 1. If you're near Bellingham that afternoon between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m., join her  to celebrate during happy hour at Fireside Martini and Wine Bar on Bakerview Avenue. (Yeah, not a kiddy venue, but she says, "It seemed appropriate to celebrate a book tied to 'The Happiest Place on Earth' during Happy Hour!"). Wear your princess crown or other royal accoutrements, since Barbara promises a free autographed book to the person voted to have the Best Princess Presence.

(Ed. note: Where's Chadwick Gillenwater, aka our last conference's Little Bo Peep, when we need him? Oh yeah, Indiana...)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Double-header Sunday

Eat real sasquatch droppings? Or win great sasquatch prizes! Do both when you join Martha Brockenbrough and Suzanne Selfors this Sunday, Sept. 29, at 3 p.m. at Queen Anne Books in Seattle, where they'll be holding a "Bigfood Hairy Deal" Party. Listen to thrilling tales from their new books, FINDING BIGFOOT and THE SASQUATCH ESCAPE. Who knows who (or what) you'll see you there...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Illustrator opportunity

Author and member Karen Robbins (SHOE PRINT ART) sends along this potential credit opportunity for an illustrator:
Tiffany Johnson at is in need of an illustrator to draw some images for a two-sided, one-page coloring sheet to be given to children around the world when they distribute shoes to them. These children have never had a pair of shoes and don't know the dangers of not wearing shoes. The coloring sheet will also be placed on the organization's website so their 850 partners will be able to download and use it with children around the world. There's no payment, but it might be a nice credit. She needs the art ASAP. 
 If you're interested, contact Tiffany at Tell her you're a member of SCBWI and that Karen sent you. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

A peek at agent Jill Grinberg

Jill. (Photo by Ali Smith)
Are you signed up to hear agent Jill Grinberg speak at our fall kick-off event in October? (It's not too late, if not.) You can learn more about Jill here, but in the meantime, we asked her a few questions about her upcoming talk:

Q. What about this opportunity to speak to NW writers made you want to take the time to come?
A: One of my Pacific Northwest-based writers,  Kirby Larson, has spoken so highly of SCWBI Western Washington over the years. I was delighted and honored to be asked to speak at this year's event.

Q. What question do you typically not get in Q&A sessions like the one we'll have, but that you think writers should be asking?
A. There is understandably a lot of focus in Q&A sessions on how to "position" oneself as a writer to attract an agent. But I think it would be helpful to broaden that conversation, to include discussion of how and why the positioning of book and author plays a crucial role throughout the publishing process. The fact is the query letter is the first step in a long line of positioning.

I think asking about the bigger picture —and exploring it together—will give new and interesting context to the query letter.

Q. You're someone with a lot of experience in the business and very notable clients. What's your current outlook on opportunities and market demands?
A. My current outlook is positive. There's no denying the market is more competitive than ever. And the growing importance of the digital realm has obviously brought significant changes to the industry. But my job as agent is to help authors navigate this shifting landscape and find the opportunity, and I do believe the opportunity is there.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Get Wild at Kid Lit Drink Night Next Saturday!

The weather's turning and it's time to fortify ourselves against the cold and dark by gathering our writerly and illustratorly selves together in good cheer! That gathering will be Saturday, September 28, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Noble Fir in Ballard. The Noble Fir has the reputation as the favorite and best-attended gathering spot for our KLDNs, so please come find out why. And don't forget the best dirty limerick contest! All entries must be read aloud by the writer, decisions are final, judges are allowed to be fickle and capricious and sore losers will be required to come up with a dirty haiku on the spot. See you next Saturday! (Hosted by Brenda Winter Hansen, who owes me a drink)

New SCBWI Spark Award for self-published works by members

Check it out! As SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver notes:
“It is time that SCBWI recognize that there are new models for publishing. The Spark Award is one way we can reward those authors and illustrators who are pursuing independent and self-publishing in a legitimate and high quality way.”
Given the number of Western WA members (with a variety of publishing backgrounds and experience levels) who've had success with this route, while learning things at the same time, we have to agree.

The deadline for this year is December 31, and yes, entries do have to be published in the calendar year they're submitted. More details.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Storytime with Dana and Ozzie Friday Morning at Third Place Books!

Dana Sullivan will be worrying all night about reading Friday, 10 a.m. at Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park. Come help him with the big words and the little kids. Maybe bring some of your own (words AND kids). This is Dana's first reading so he asked veterans Deb Lund and Wendy Wahman what to do. One told him not to yell at the parents and the other told him "no biting." You guess who said what. He hopes to see you there! (he also thinks it's weird to write in the third person, in case you were wondering)

Hey, guess what? Ozzie and the Art Contest made the ABC (American Booksellers for Children) list of 2013 Best Books for Children! "Whoo too!" said Dana.

Illustrators: Deadline extended

Want to give your art an international audience? Try Bologna!

SCBWI members receive an extended deadline to send their application packets to be considered for the prestigious Bologna Illustrators” Exhibition at the 2014 Bologna Book Fair. While all other entrants face an October 4, 2013, deadline, SCBWI members' applications for the Illustrators’ Exhibition only need arrive at the fair office by November 30. To be eligible for the extended deadline, you must be a current SCBWI member and write "SCBWI member" on the outside of the application packet.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Learn to make liars

How do you create characters as rich as Micah, the main character of Justine Larbalestier's LIAR? Find out from Justine's agent. There are still a few seats left in the "Dynamics of Character" workshop being presented by agent Jill Grinberg on Friday, October 18, from 3 to 5 p.m. The cost is only $45.

Not a Larbelestier fan? Jill also represents a list of superstar clients that includes Scott Westerfeld, Garth Nix, Jennifer Holm, Matt Holm, Catherine Gilbert Murdock, and our own Kirby Larson. She'll bring her experience and insight as their agent to this session. Register here, or if you've already signed up for another October event, use the link and code in your confirmation email to modify your registration to add this workshop.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Scoop: new diversity scholarship announced

Literary agent Barry Goldblatt, who last visited us in Seattle during January's ALA conference, just announced that he's founded the Angela Johnson Scholarship in honor of his first client. This talent-based grant will be for writers of color who wish to enroll in the Vermont College of Fine Arts' MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program. The $5,000 scholarship will be awarded to up to two new students annually.
Award-winning author Angela Johnson

According to the press release, Barry hopes both to help attract more writers of color to this leading MFA program and to acknowledge the publishing community's — and readers' — need and desire for more diversity in authorship and content.

“There is growing awareness in children's publishing that we are not as diverse in what we publish as we would like to be,” said Barry, who has represented many VCFA faculty and graduates over the years. “I hope that this scholarship will enable some worthy writers to enroll and complete the program—a program I have the highest respect for—and then sell their resulting work to a good publisher.”

He chose to honor his first client and MacArthur Fellowship recipient, Angela Johnson, one of the most prominent and recognized African-American authors for children and young adults, by naming the scholarship for her.

Art show reception with Andy

Local illustrator Andy Musser, who was selected for an illustration mentorship at the SCBWI International Conference in Los Angeles in August (and stay tuned for more about that honor), invites you, yes you, to a casual art show reception at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, at the Kirkland Performance Center. He says, "My series of musician paintings will be on display until the end of October, and I'd love if you'd come help me celebrate!"

Monday, September 16, 2013

And now, the long list....

What's that? The sound of pages rustling with anticipation?

The web-o-sphere is fairly bubbling over this morning with the National Book Foundation's announcement of the first-ever long list for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Thank goodness, this link leads right to them all, and gives you a chance to browse inside each one.

Thus begins the rolling out of various categories for the National Book Awards. The finalists in all categories will be announced on October 16. Which gives you plenty of time to catch up on your reading.


Be a bookseller for a day (or an hour)

As part of the festivities for Small Business Saturday, a.k.a. the Saturday after Thanksgiving (and Black Friday), author Sherman Alexie is spearheading a campaign in which authors can help support their local bookstores on November 30.

The gist is for PAL authors to spend an hour, a short shift, or a day, hand-selling books at their favorite indie — attracting attention from all those holiday shoppers, supporting a local business, and getting happy attention for their own titles. In Sherman's words:
Here's the plan: We book nerds will become booksellers. We will make recommendations. We will practice nepotism and urge readers to buy multiple copies of our friends' books. Maybe you'll sign and sell books of your own in the process. I think the collective results could be mind-boggling (maybe even world-changing).
SCBWI is all for boggling minds and supporting Indies First, so ask your nearest indie bookseller today if they're interested in volunteers for that busy shopping day. Be patient with them if they're still figuring out how to juggle volunteers and make it work for them, or even if it won't work for their situations. Either way, be sure to stop by one of those bookstores as a book-nerd shopper that Saturday, as well as an author and potential bookseller!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Illustrators: Catch this Graphic Arts workshop on the cloud

How can cloud computing and Adobe Creative Cloud help children's illustrators or book designers? Find out in a Graphic Arts Guild workshop on September 25, 2013, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

The session, called "Stormy Weather or Silver Linings: What the Cloud Means to Your Business," will be held in the Seattle Design Center Plaza Building. Learn more at

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Launch party alert!

South Sounder Jennifer Shaw Wolf (BREAKING BEAUTIFUL) will launch her second YA mystery, DEAD GIRLS DON'T LIE, on Tuesday, September 17, at the Olympia Barnes and Noble at 7:00 p.m.

Jennifer's new book keeps readers on their toes in another dark, romantic story of murder and secrets: Jaycee and Rachel were best friends. . . before that terrible night at the old house. Before Rachel shut Jaycee out. Before Jaycee chose Skyler over Rachel. When Rachel's found dead, Jaycee is sure it was no random crime — but she must figure out who to trust before she can expose the truth. 

Get more details and help her celebrate with give-aways, coffee, tea, and cake from the famous Olympia bakery, Wagners. Yay, Jennifer!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Great news for Jillian!

 Looks like some serious congratulations are in order!

Jillian Coats, who writes as J. Anderson Coats, was just awarded one of two 2013 Scanduzzi Children's Book Awards for her young adult novel, The Wicked and the Just. Check out the article featuring all the winners of this year's Washington State Book Awards. The exciting announcement was made today by the Seattle Public Library's Washington Center for the Book.

Well done!

Register now for October events

Here's the skinny: Four fabulous events, and very little time to get in on the action! Read and register now!

1) You've heard, perhaps, about Weekend on the Water?
(Registration ends this Friday, September 13. Hurry!) Click here to apply.

2) Fall Meeting: Our Keep It Simple Art Show, our showcase of local illustrators, plus super-agent Jill Grinberg. Thursday, October 17, at SPU. To register in advance for this and the other October events (below), click here.

3) One-on-one consultations with agent Jill Grinberg. Friday morning, October 18. Register here.

4) Workshop with agent Jill Grinberg. Friday afternoon, October 18. Register here.

PLEASE NOTE: We no longer offer a pre-paid season passport for our events, but you can now register in advance for the events you choose to attend. The SCBWI member cost for the meeting and keynote is only $8 in advance online ($10 at the door), and $12 for non-members. IN THE INTEREST OF SAVING TIME AND MONEY, YOU ARE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO REGISTER FOR THE MEETING IN ADVANCE.

Kindling Words About to Spark

The Kindling Words East and West events, which are so popular for children's writers, illustrators, and editors that registration proceeds in part by lottery, have announced their 2014 registration request dates. And check out the workshop leader for KW West: Laurie Halse Anderson!

January 30- February 2
The Essex, Essex Junction, Vermont

KW East registration will be by lottery. Submit your  registration request via email to on this Sunday, September 15, 2013, from noon to midnight EST only. These registration emails MUST include:
Subject line: KW East 2014 Registration
Status: whether you are an Author, Illustrator, or Editor.
Contact Information: Name, address, telephone number
Publication: Title, date and publisher of your most current or best known book

Names will be drawn and potential registrants informed as soon as possible. Instructions to enroll will be sent at that time. PLEASE do not contact them to find out the status of your registration.

Kindling Words West 2014
April 27-May 3
Thunder Mountain Lodge, Breckenridge, CO (a new venue!)
Workshop Leader: Laurie Halse Anderson (yes, you read that right)

Registration will open October 1 (first come, first serve until filled)
Details on our website soon.

Hey look! We've got a handy events calendar!

Now you can check out kidlit events in our region at a glance with our new SCBWI WWA events calendar. It's right here on our blog. See that tab near the top? Click it.

From there you can change the view to a list (Agenda), see just a week at a time, or view a future month.

 Click an event to see details in a pop-up box. You can even get maps to the location!

You can also click to a full-screen view that color-codes the events: little blue boxes in the event indicate an official SCBWI event, green is a bookstore event, and red is an Advisory Committee meeting. (If you go to the full-screen version, Google may ask if you want to add this calendar. Say yes to be able to access it.)
Cool, huh?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Your Wurst Weekend Ever

You can get this shirt!
Join our own SCBWI illustrator E. Sattler at the Great Wallingford Wurst Festival this weekend as she serves up the Wurst! 

Great people watching for writers and illustrators! Great food! Great t-shirts and limited edition pints glasses designed by the mysteriously named E.!

You can drink out of this glass!

Great music! The Dudley Manlove Quartet (cover band of awesomeness) plays Friday night in the biergarten followed by Folsom Prison (a Johnny Cash cover band) on Saturday. No cover charge! 
More information and exclamation points at

Call for authors: NaNoWriMo opportunities

[Here's a message from a local librarian with a great idea for PAL folks in our chapter, with a time-sensitive response needed. Dawn had attached a sign-up grid to her email, but we can't reproduce that here, so just email her and explain why you couldn't quite follow directions. We're sure she'll still be thrilled to hear from you.]

Dear esteemed Northwest authors,

For the last few years I've heard teens (and adults too) buzzing about how they would like more author activities and more opportunities to work on creative writing. One thing I've heard from both authors and teens is that they would like to see some National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) programs. While I have no budget this year, I am now fulltime and have gotten approval to try out an idea I've been formulating. I'm hoping to conduct a series of NaNoWriMo Write-Ins, where community members can come into our libraries for two- (or three-?) hour writing sessions, ideally with a published author. My goal is to try and have each of our libraries host at least once during November, and to have a session every day that we are open that month. While this may not be an enticing opportunity for all of you, I'm hoping it is of interest to some.
If you think you might like hanging out a library and writing a few hours at least one day in November, please let me know. If you are interested, please let me know by next Friday, September 13, 2013.

 Click here to sign up!

Please also let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. I'm hoping to build this experience into stronger relationships and support for our local authors, and potentially come up with lots of great ideas for future programs and events with you!

Dawn Rutherford, Teen Services Coordinator
Sno-Isle Libraries
7312 35th Ave NE
Marysville, WA 98271

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Dana Sullivan's Book Illustration classes

Dana Sullivan, author/illustrator of Ozzie and the Art Contest, will be teaching Intro to Children's Book Illustration classes at Pratt Fine Arts Center later this month and at Kirkland Arts Center in October. Both classes will take you from idea through story-boarding to final dummy and the submission process. Dana says, "These are excellent classes for writers who want to explore their messy side."

Pratt: 6 Wednesdays, Sept. 18––Oct. 23, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Info and registration.

Kirkland: 6 Tuesdays, Oct. 1 - Nov. 5, 7 - 10 p.m. Info and registration.

Friday, September 6, 2013

How do you take your tea, Linda?

Linda Urban is coming!

Yes, the same author who conjured up the picture book Mouse Gets Mad and a veritable bounty of middle-grade novels (A Crooked Kind of Perfect, Hound Dog True, The Center of Everything). We're so excited that she's going to grace this year's Weekend on the Water with her presence that we want to let you all inside her head. Get to know the writer who creates such memorable characters with such specific talents and troubles. She's certainly made the rounds: We've compiled a Greatest Hits of some of Linda's previous interviews, so peruse at your leisure, and enjoy this whirlwind tour!

Learn about Linda's process, some incredibly useful advice, and her take on revision. Publisher's Weekly asked about her previous life working in a bookstore. In another interview, she's getting to the heart of the middle-school voice.

Whether it's taking risks in order to be true to her characters, or drinking PG Tips (milky and sweet, naturally!) to get through her writing day, Linda Urban is at the pinnacle of her craft.

We can't imagine learning from anyone better.

Nonfiction kidlit class starting in October

Lois Harris will teach an evening class in writing nonfiction for children at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon on two Thursdays, Oct. 3 and 10. Learn more about this bargain $49 class, called "Break into Children's Publishing by Writing Nonfiction," on the college website or by calling 360.416.7638.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Oranges, soup, sassiness, and writing on a slant

What do these things have in common? They're all topics on which editor Patti Lee Gauch waxes poetic. Patti's an outstanding teacher who will join award-winning author Linda Urban as faculty for our Weekend on the Water retreat in November (applications accepted only until Sept. 12 - don't delay!) She's also generous, with some excellent information for writers on her website, including the full texts of several craft talks she's done. Check out this preview below, go download her talks for a mini-virtual-workshop of your own, and apply now to hear her wisdom applied specifically to your work this fall!
Patti in a workshop setting
The Narrative Power in Objects:  It has always intrigued me that simple objects should have so much narrative power in good fiction.  Almost a transcendent power.  T. S. Eliot called an object that conveys,  better than description,  the emotional content of a character or situation in story an “objective correlative.” But, personally, that term is not down-to-earth enough for me.  I prefer Tolkien’s “Tree and Leaf.”  In his essay of the same name, he says to the writer, ”understand the (ultimate) power of basic earth objects or elements – and use them.” Fire, a piece of wood, a stream, a stone, a tree, a leaf, the elemental stuff of our world. When I think of Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, I think of a ripe peach, an orange, a goldfish man, a moon. Poets know the power in the concrete object, but I say the prose writer, knowing these elements and using them, brings a resonant power and authenticity to narratives of all kinds. When I read Kate Di Camillo’s The Tale of Despereaux, a fantasy, and see how she dances around “soup,” for goodness sakes, I am amazed. The Queen died for loving it. The kingdom was governed by the rules for it! The tiny mouse Despereaux, whose story this is, was brought to his knightship by events caused by it. Soup. And Di Camillo knows this source of power! In loving this element – soup – she uses it sufficiently, repeating it, playing with it, elevating it to the status of character in its own right!  She does the same for “the needle” and “red thread.”
The new writer is tentative in using objects; the experienced writer knows the absolute power of the object: tree and leaf.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thursday art walk: Andrea K. Lawson group art show

Bring your umbrellas and check out some art for First Thursday. Here's a worthy SCBWI-related destination for those venturing out tomorrow:
Local SCBWI illustrator Andrea K. Lawson is part of a group show called "Turning Point," featuring 2007 graduates of the Artist Trust Edge. The show has its grand opening Thursday, September 5––TOMORROW!––at the Corridor Gallery in the Tashiro Kaplan building (206 S Washington St, Seattle 98104). For more details and information about Andrew and her work, click here. There will be an opening reception from 5–9pm.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Weekend on the Water welcomes Linda Urban

Linda Urban (photo by Julie Thompson)
How do your favorite books from childhood stay with you long after you've read them? For author Linda Urban, who joins our esteemed faculty at this year's Weekend on the Water retreat, they never quite left. In her interview below, she remembers a classic favorite that may just have you scouring for a copy if you haven't read it lately––or ever!

So: The Pacific Northwest. In November. What is it about our Weekend on the Water retreat that sold you? (I mean, I guess it IS going to be indoors...)
The location, of course, is a draw, but the truth is I'll go most anywhere to be around other writers.  There is an amazing energy that develops when people who are passionate about books and writing get together. I never fail to be inspired.

With books like Mouse Is Mad and The Center of Everything, you have shown that you can write successful books for children of all ages. Does the picture book versus the YA or MG novel compete in your brain for domination? Do you secretly enjoy writing one over the other?
I am a middle grade fiction writer––that's where my head is, that's where my heart is, and that's where my natural voice lies. I've written dozens and dozens of picture books, but most are lousy or formulaic and deserve their spot in the "Not So Much" drawer.  Mouse Was Mad surprised me, as did Little Red Henry––a picture book I have coming out with Candlewick. They feel more like gifts I stumbled upon than something I truly understand how to make.

What are three of your favorite books from childhood?
Thank you for asking for three OF my favorites, because there were far more than three. All the Ramona books, of course, and all the Little House books, too. Charlotte's Web. Little Women. Tuck Everlasting.  A Weekly Reader selection called The Winnemah Spirit by Carolyn Lane.

The book I want to tell you about, however, is a picture book called Andrew Henry's Meadow, by Doris Burn. Do you know the story? Andrew Henry loves to build things, but his inventions are not appreciated by the rest of his family. One afternoon, he packs up his tools and heads off through the woods and the swamp until he comes to a beautiful little meadow where he builds himself a house.  How I loved the illustration of that house––stone and wood and thatch, bungalow-like and sized for one. It was Andrew Henry's very own solitary place where he could build whatever he wanted without criticism or embarrassment. It was beautiful. 

A page turn later, another child appears at the edge of the meadow.  Alice Burdock shows up with bird cages and field guides, her passion for all things avian having been thwarted by her farmer father. Andrew Henry builds her a house, too. A tree house, with plenty of feeders and places to hang her binoculars. It is exactly perfect for Alice. 

As you might guess, more children follow and Andrew Henry builds each one a house of his or her own, a house that is perfectly suited to his or her passion for boats or mud pies or dress-up or tuba-playing. The meadow becomes a small village for kids and the things they love. I spent hours as a kid staring at those pictures, choosing one house or another as my favorite, wondering what sort of special place Andrew Henry would build for me if I emerged from the woods with my books and notepads and typewriter.

Of course, the families of the children worry and eventually the village in the meadow is discovered.  You'd think that this might be a disappointment for the reader, having this special, secret place exposed like that, but you'd be wrong. What I loved about this two-page spread in the book is that everyone––the kids, the parents, the siblings, the pets––are jubilant! Nobody is scolded, nobody feels guilty. It is all pure joy.

Can you tell that this is still one of my all-time favorite books? I think that is because it has such resonance for all of us who want to be recognized for the things that make us special––particularly when those things fall into the sometimes risky world of making art. Really, it is why retreats like this one are so important. So many of us who write for children are parents and have jobs and commitments that force us to put aside our writing. Most of the time we do this willingly. We love our families. The lucky ones of us even love our work. But when we can, for a day, for a weekend, we put all that other stuff aside and make time and space to honor our creative selves. And dang, if something powerful doesn't happen. We appreciate ourselves more––our distinct voices, our unique passions, our only-we-can-tell-them-stories. And if we're lucky, we bring that magic home with us afterward, just like Andrew Henry does.

How should Weekend on the Water, attendees approach this small-group event? As a writer, what would you do to get the most out of it? 
I think it is always a good idea to enter a retreat or a conference with an intention––a small statement of what you hope to get out of the experience. Maybe your intention will be to be open to new ideas. Maybe it will be to learn one new skill or technique. If we're clear about our intentions when we enter a setting like this, it can be very grounding. We stop comparing ourselves to others, we halt the inner critic in her tracks. All we need to do is be true to that intention and let the rest fall where it may.

You work in multiple genres. Do you work on multiple projects at once, or are you sequential? If you are having a hard time with something, do you take a break and switch over?
Most of the time, I am project monogamous.  Sometimes, I can work on a short piece -- a picture book or poem or essay -- while a novel is resting or with my editor, but this is not always fruitful.  What does seem to be a useful way to pass this time is reading and seeing films and going for walks and enjoying all those other well-filling activities.  All of it feeds my writing -- some in obvious ways, some more covertly.

Of course, this is about to change.  For the first time, I am working on a novel that will have a sequel and even as I revise the first, I am making notes and writing scenes for the second.  I know other writers do this all the time, but for me it feels wild and dangerous.

BONUS: What's your favorite drink of choice while working?
I write most often with sweet milky tea (PG Tips) at my side.  Sometimes, if I get in a rare evening session, I like a porter or in this still-hot-end-of-summer, a glass of Riesling, but too often this just makes me sleepy.

Kirby Larson's book launch

Fetch a friend and come to Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park on Sunday, September 15! At 5:30 p.m., you can help Kirby Larson celebrate the launch of her latest book, Duke, a WWII story about a boy who loans his beloved dog to Uncle Sam. You'll learn about Dogs for Defense, which recruited thousands of family pets; hear a short reading; and enjoy doggy-themed refreshments and swag.

But wait! There's more.

Third Place Books is generously donating 10 percent of the evening's book sales to Reading with Rover, a nonprofit organization that encourages struggling readers by pairing them up with a patient, four-legged listener. And you'll be able to meet a real Reading with Rover team! Contact Kirby for more info or to RSVP (not necessary but appreciated).

Fall illustration classes starting soon

Craig's latest title
Local illustrator Craig Orback, most recently the author of Boy's Camp, will be teaching more illustration classes starting later this month in Bellevue and Seattle:

Level 1: Basics
Bellevue Community College, 8 Saturdays, Sept. 28 - Nov. 16, 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Get more info.
North Seattle Community College, 8 Mondays, Sept. 30 - Nov. 25, 6:30 - 9 p.m. Get more info.

Level 2: Intermediate
Bellevue Community College, 8 Saturdays, Sept. 28 - Nov. 16, 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Get more info.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dana Finds an Illustrator, You Find a Fun Book

See more of Hank at Storywoods
This Friday night at 7 p.m., Secret Garden Books will host the West Coast launch of Rebecca Dudley's cute-as-the-dickens picture book, Hank Finds An Egg. Rebecca is a Chicago SCBWI member with roots in Seattle that won't let go. Hank is a furry creature who finds an egg in the forest and works very hard to return it to its nest.

Modelmaker, photographer, storyteller Rebecca
When Suzanne from Secret Garden heard that Rebecca and our own Dana Sullivan were  friends, she gushed, "YOU'RE friends with the creator of this AMAZING book?! Can you get her here?" Suzanne's getting her wish — whereas if you attend, you can get lo-fi 3-D viewing glasses. Plus 30 lucky book buyers will receive a Rebecca-made keepsake! And if you have questions for Dana's interview of Rebecca that'll take place that evening, email them to Dana at

Ozzie will try to interview Hank. Send questions!
A few raves for Hank Finds An Egg:
“An artist to watch.” – Publishers Weekly starred review.   "A quietly magical little book.” – Booklist starred review.  “Beautiful from start to finish . . . something special, no question.” – School Library Journal.   “Destined to become the [book] that kids who are three today will look at with their own kids 30 years from now.” – The New York Observer.   “Hank Finds an Egg is that rare picture-book pleasure: a wholly original take on storytelling.” – The New York Times. “Ozzie’s cuter, I don’t care what everybody else thinks!” – Dana Sullivan

September events

Friday, September 6
Rebecca Dudley (Hanks Finds an Egg)
Secret Garden Books, 7 p.m.

Saturday, September 7
Patrick Flores-Scott (Jumped In)
University Bookstore, U-District, 1 p.m.

Sunday, September8
Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants)
Eagle Harbor Books, Bainbridge Island, 3 p.m.

Thursday, September 12 
Jasper Fforde (Song of the Quarkbeast: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 2)
University Bookstore, U-District, 7 p.m.

Friday, September 13 
Young Adult Panel featuring Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young (Just Like Fate) and Kendare Blake (Antigoddess)
Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, 7 p.m.

Sunday, September 15
Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young (Just Like Fate)
Elliott Bay Book Co., 3 p.m.

Kirby Larsen (Duke)
Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, 5:30 p.m.

Friday, September 20
Dana Sullivan (Ozzie and the Art Contest)
Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, 10 a.m.

Ally Carter (United We Spy)
Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, September 25
Susan Cooper (Ghost Hawk)
Bellevue Library (1111 110th Ave NE, Bellevue), 7 p.m.

Thursday, September 26
Susan Cooper (Ghost Hawk)
Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, 7 p.m.