Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Party alert: Seattle Central Library turns 10

The Seattle Public Library will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Central Library with a week of free concerts and programs from May 15 to May 23. One special event on Saturday, May 17, will celebrate, honor, thank, and feature local and regional writers.
Authors Gone Wild: A Celebration of Bookish Proportions 
7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Seattle Central Library Living Room, Level 3 
The evening will feature entertainment and readings by Seattle7Writers and the band The Rejections (and Trailing Spouses), as well as book signings. Masters of ceremonies will be Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, and Erik Larson, author of In the Garden of Beasts. Get more information.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Happy birthday, Catherine (called Birdy)!

The month of May is the 20th anniversary of local member (and delightful past speaker) Karen Cushman's classic, Catherine, Called Birdy. Find all sorts of celebration and reminiscences throughout the coming month on Karen's blog.

Sex in the library (and the Secret Garden Bookshop)

Authors and librarians Mary Jo Heller and Aarene Storms share their new book, Sex in the Library: A Guide to Sexual Content in Teen Literature (Voya Press) on Tuesday, April 29. The event, which will be held at Secret Garden Bookshop in Ballard at 7:00 p.m., addresses the development of library collections dealing with sex and sexuality for teens. The book provides no-holds-barred and no-body-parts-left-out reviews of more than 100 books to be considered for collections (including, maybe, one at home). Bring your questions.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Writing for Children Class still open

There are just a few spots left in Clare Hodgson Meeker's late spring class, "Writing For Children: Intro to Story Structure," beginning May 3 for six consecutive Saturdays. Each session runs from 10–noon at Richard Hugo House in Seattle starting May 3. 
Through discussion and weekly writing exercises, the course will explore narrative structure in all genres, from picture book to young adult, and discover how great stories in each genre are created. Special guest and bestselling mystery author Elizabeth George will join us for one class to talk about her approach to plotting in her new YA novel series. Bring your story idea or work in progress and take the next concrete step toward publication.  
Click here  for more info or to register. 

Call for MG nominations

The Washington Library Media Association's annual Sasquatch Award committee is looking for books. Nominate good solid middle grade fiction AND stellar non-fiction for grades 4-6 (not too teen!), variety of genres and boy/girl type books, copyright 2012 OR 2013. If folks have books to nominate, send them via email to Erin Ostrander at

This year's Sasquatch Award winner happens to be our very own Royce Buckingham, for his book The Dead Boys. Congratulations, Royce! Read all about it here.

From Erin Ostrander: They don't have to be WA-based authors or have WA interest, but I've got a soft spot for our wonderful local talent from working with local authors and illustrators for 14 years––I was super-thrilled to have Royce's book, The DeadBoys; Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings; and Clete Barrett Smith's Aliens on Vacation all on the list this past year!

Crystal Kite second-round voting now open

A huge congratulations to our chapter's Crystal Kite Award finalists!

They are:

Jennifer Bradbury, A Moment Comes

Martha Brockenbrough, Dinosaur Tooth Fairy

Nina Laden, Once Upon a Memory

Stephanie Shaw, Bedtime in the Meadow

Cat Winters, In the Shadows of Blackbirds

You've got until April 30 to cast your vote for the Western Division winner!

To peruse their beautiful covers and, more important, to vote, click here. (You must be a current SCBWI member.) Tell your friends, and support the great work being done right here in WWA!

Winning images, all in one spot!

See the complete portfolios that won our 2014 Juried Portfolio Art Show! Portfolio creation and the selection of images and ordering is an art of its own, as these winners demonstrate. What can you learn from their presentations?

Second runner-up: Corrina Luyken
First runner-up: Jessixa Bagley
Grand Prize Winner: Julie Bayless

Each winner  received one of four cash prizes from our new Rollin Thomas Memorial Award, and we'll keep our fingers crossed that the additional attention of the judges might soon turn into career opportunities. Congratulations to all three.

Whatcha wanna do? Send us workshop ideas!

Your SCBWI Western Washington Advisory Committee will soon plan our region's events for next season, and we need your suggestions. Now's the time to nominate yourself or another experienced workshop leader or lecturer to lead educational topics for our Professional Series or a future conference.

You can also forward topic suggestions, even if you're not sure who should present them, by email. (And ignore the alligator. He gets that way sometimes. You actually need to click the link in the text above.)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

SCBWI WWA Illustrator Exhibit Coming!

The Washington State Historical Society has invited us (you know, SCBWI WWA) to put on a show! From November 2014 through January 2015, select illustrators will be part of an exhibit hanging in the WSHS gallery in Tacoma. Details like the submission process and dates, framing, etc. are being worked out, but for now, WATCH THIS SPACE and your email inbox for more info. Start thinking NOW about what event or icon from Washington state's history would make a killer illustration. A visit to the WA State History Museum wouldn't be a bad idea to get those creative juices flowing. Plus, starting May 17, you can see a new interactive installation featuring some of our favorite local kid lit illustrators.

Caption and Cartoon Contest Conquerors!

Thanks to all the writers and illustrators who entered the Creative Contest at last weekend's conference, especially the ones who made us laugh! Our winners all turned down trips to Disneyland, a vintage Mustang convertible and even the chance for a pair of "Wild Thing" pajamas in favor of books either written by, edited by, published by or just thumbed through by our illustrious faculty. Herewith the winners. Congratulations all!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

YA book launch: Between Two Worlds

Member Katherine Kirkpatrick will launch her YA novel BETWEEN TWO WORLDS (Wendy Lamb Books) at Third Place Books in Bothell on Saturday, April 26. Publisher's Weekly gave the book a starred review, calling it an "engrossing work of historical fiction." Show up that evening at 6:30 p.m. for snacks, book trivia, and prizes. She'll also be making a blog tour as part of the launch; see the full schedule here.

In a recent blog post, Katherine wrote, "There is nothing more depressing for an author than to sit at a table with a forced smile in front of a pyramid of books, facing a room full of vacant chairs. I’m happy to say I’ve found a middle path, a joyous way of celebrating new books that comes in second to my mother’s former parties." She goes on to explain SCBWI WWA's twice-yearly event called Inside Story, adding, "I am so grateful to Laura McGee Kvasnosky and George Shannon for creating this wonderful community forum where we can give ourselves a boost."

(The next Inside Story will be held on May 6, from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m., at Mockingbird Books, too.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lin Oliver and Tomie de Paola THURSDAY

We're a wee bit out of breath from last weekend's fabulous conference, but it's red-alert time!

Time to rhyme! Oliver and de Paola's book.

Tomorrow, at University Book Store in the University District, SCBWI co-founder and executive director Lin Oliver, along with rock-star illustrator Tomie de Paola, will present their collaboration, Little Poems for Tiny Ears. Authored by Oliver and illustrated by de Paola, these two should be a humdinger of a partnership.

Dynamic duo: de Paola and Oliver.

The party gets started at 7pm, and again, we're just being cautious, but getting there early is probably your best bet. Just saying....

Joint-chapter Illustrator Retreat

Attention: SCBWI Western Washington and Portland Illustrators!

Mark your calendars for our first-ever joint-chapter Illustrator Retreat!

WHEN:  October 3-5, 2014

WHERE: Dumas Retreat Centre in Federal Way, WA
Kelly Murphy

Sergio Ruzzier

FACULTY: Join acclaimed illustrators  Kelly Murphy and Sergio Ruzzier for a chance to hone your craft, enjoy excellent company, and relax in the beauty of Puget Sound!

REGISTRATION: Registration will begin in the early summer, so watch your inboxes for more information. 

QUESTIONS: Contact Jennifer Mann (

#SCBWIWWA14: How Justin Chanda edits picture books

Justin Chanda, publisher at Simon & Schuster, loves picture books. He talked about how he takes a good manuscript and makes it great. Picture books have an economy of language––less is more! If you are writing in rhyme, be careful because rhyming must be done so precisely. All picture books, however, must have rhythm. (Read your books as they are meant to be read: out loud!) To make sure you have the right page turns, be sure to paginate your manuscript, at least for your own knowledge of where effective page turns might be. And his biggest editorial note: “Let the art carry this!” Remember that it’s a PICTURE book, and it’s the blending of art and text that make picture books great.

SATURDAY: Questions asked, pictures answer

Josh Tuininga, an artist featured at our recent SCBWI Artists Showcase at the Convention Center, is celebrating the release of his first picture book, Why Blue?

The book launch takes place at Mockingbird Books in Greenlake this Saturday, April 19 from 2-4pm.

To learn more about Josh and his book about how children ask the big questions, ie, "Why is the sky blue?", click here.

#SCBWIWWA14: State of the State of Publishing with Justin Chanda

In a lively hour, S&S publisher Justin Chanda offered up these insights:
  • Ebook sales are leveling off and have not sucked the life out of publishing. 
  • Apps are not books!
  • Picture books are chugging back to life with strong, identifiable characters and shorter text. Funny books are working well.
About diversity: Authors are given a great responsibility to reflect the world kids live in. We have far to go, but publishing is progressive. So while working to move forward, let’s celebrate what’s out there, too.

Write your book. Don’t write to trends or worry about the Common Core. Publishers are experts at bringing books to kids, and story always comes first.

#SCBWIWWA14: Holly McGhee on 10 Picture Books that Stand the Test of Time

Holly McGhee, agent and president of Pippin Properties, presented a list of 10 (of the possible hundreds of picture books) that stand the test of time. Check out the books we discussed. Why do you think they are evergreen?
  • THE CARROT SEED by Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson
  • BREAD AND JAM FOR FRANCIS by Russel Hoban and Lillian Hoban
  • GORKY RISES by William Steig
  • OWL BABIES by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson
  • THE VELVETEEN RABBIT by Margery Williams
  • SPINKY SULKS by William Steig
  • BLUE HAT, GREEN HAT by Sandra Boynton
  • THE FIVE CHINESE BROTHERS by Claire Huchet Bishop and Kurt Wiese
  • CAPS FOR SALE by Esphyr Slobodkina

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Slip on south for more conference goodness in May

Missed out on our conference last weekend, or just want even more inspiration and knowledge? Our neighbors to the south, SCBWI Oregon, are putting on a conference on Saturday and Sunday, May 17-18. A looong list of agents, editors, and other faculty includes four agents, three editors, art director Lucy Ruth Cummins and our own Martha Brockenbrough. Special opportunities, including portfolio reviews, are still available. (First pages opportunities still may be, too, if you act very quickly.)

The conference is being held in Wilsonville this year. (Not far south of the I-5 and I-205 junction.) Get more details now.

Two Speckled Eggs launch event

Local member and SCBWI Western Washington Illustration Coordinator Jennifer Mann will celebrate her authorial debut on Tuesday, April 22, at Seattle's Secret Garden Bookshop. She'll be launching Two Speckled Eggs, which she both wrote and illustrated, and which celebrates geek pride and unexpected friendships, among other things. The fun starts at 7:00 p.m. See you there!

#SCBWIWWA14: The Art of Picture Book Pacing with Alexandra Penfold

In a Saturday master class, agent Alexandra Penfold of Upstart Crow Literary shared her gold on picture book pacing. As a former editor at Simon & Schuster's Paula Wiseman Books, she had plenty to share.

She began her talk by saying, “Effective pacing is the heart of a picture book.” She discussed in depth the importance of each building block of a picture book: word count, word choice, specificity, joyful language, page turns, and rules of threes. (Did you know sets of threes are more satisfying to our brains – easier to remember and somehow funnier?)

Then, Alexandra dove deep into the behind-the-scene evolution of picture book text. She walked us through four books: the text at submission, at acquisition, and in the final book. We studied each building block, the progression of changes, and discovered how essential these blocks are for creating perfect pacing.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

#SCBWIWWA14: Juried Portfolio Show Winners

As usual, conference faculty nearly came to blows over the judging of our annual portfolio show, as the quality of the entered portfolios was terrific and the selection of standouts was difficult. Nonetheless, they came to agreement, and conference attendees cheered at this year's winners:

Second runner-up: Corrina Luyken
First runner-up: Jessixa Bagley
Grand Prize Winner: Julie Bayless

(Watch this space and/or our SCBWI Western Washington website for images from their winning portfolios.)

In addition to glory and potential fame, each winner also received one of four cash prizes, our new Rollin Thomas Memorial Award. In the spirit with which Rollin taught and cheered on fellow illustrators, a fourth Rollin Thomas award was presented, after a random drawing from among all Juried Portfolio Show entrants, to Rowena Russell.

In Rollin's memory, congratulations!

#SCBWIWWA14: Franny Billingsley sends us off

"Fear is one of the most powerful tools writers have." With this idea, Franny kicked off the talk that closed out our 2014 conference and sent off attending writers and illustrators.

She addressed the intersection of character and plot (and of inner and outer story arcs), invoking Robert McKee's concept of a mind worm. She shared Kathi Appelt's view of the two great human motivators. (Can you guess? Hint: One is fear.) And she showed how her points played out in her celebrated YA fantasy, Chime.

By the close of her talk, attendees were newly inspired to force their characters out of their comfort zones. It's a message that resonates with other things they heard all weekend long about the bravery needed to create and the vital importance of stepping outside of our own comfort zones to create and market wonderful stories for young readers.

#SCBWI-WWA14: Franny Billingsley breakout session

National Book Award nominee Franny Billingsley (2011's Chime) urges writers to put the characters (and therefore your readers) into as concrete a world as possible. Put your reader somewhere they want to be, she says. Into your book, which is akin to a pleasant dream-state. How to keep your readers there? Deploy concrete, sensory details. And these aren't vague, dreamy details; they're vivid. Like a really clear continuously shot movie. No fallback words like "beautiful." Or "bad." Perhaps her most pertinent nugget? "Gather your senses, keep your senses alert."

Now go back to sleep, perchance to dream....

#SCBWIWWA14: Susan Hawk on beginnings

Plenty of voice. Apparent stakes. Some conflict (or the promise of action) -- but keeping it in balance with other elements and not starting it too soon. A logical unfolding of events. Succinct sentences. A sense of intrigue.

These are just some of the elements that (might) go into the tasty soup of an excellent story opening. While acknowledging that not every great opening will have every element, agent Susan Hawk illuminated this tricky and crucial aspect of writing with loads of examples.

#SCBWIWWA14: Claudia Gabel on Action

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Katherine Tegen Books executive editor Claudia Gabel put "character" and "plot" in a cage fight in her breakout session about actions that speak as loudly as words. And the winner? Well — it's a draw. They need to be equals.

She went on to stress the importance of outlines and did her best to convert pantsers to plotters -- at least to the extent that writers consider an outline as a map or blueprint for where they're going. With tips and examples, she made a strong case that what most readers remember about a story, long after "the end,"  is not voice, perhaps not even character, but what happens. Take note.

#SCBWIWWA14: Crystal Kite Winner Kimberly Baker

The spirit of the Local Success Panel continued as local success Kim Baker accepted the crystal trophy awarded her middle-grade laugh-fest, Pickle. After her standing ovation, Kim saved our lives (possibly) with her keynote address called "This Speech Could Save Your Life!"

Facing down AV issues with humor and aplomb, Kim

Among the lifesavers she threw out, and that the audience gleefully caught (between choking on giggles): Protect your noggin. (She also mentioned that putting your truth into your work isn't necessarily autobiographical. There are fictional truths to be borrowed from your emotions.)

Shurikins were mentioned, too. So be brave (and remember, protect your noggin.)

#SCBWI-WWA14: Local Success Panel

Local successes! From left, Jennifer K. Mann, Alysson Valentine, Dana Sullivan, Elizabeth Rose Stanton

Let's hear it for our local success panel! These are four hardworking, fabulous individuals whose first books have been published within the last year (some within the last few weeks, even!). The books are: Jennifer K. Mann's Two Speckled Eggs, which she just penned AND illustrated; Alysson Valentine's How Not to Find a Boyfriend; Dana Sullivan's Ozzie and the Art Contest; and Elizabeth Rose Stanton's Henny.

First books are, as Mann says, "a long takes a lot of faith." Stanton concurs. "If it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone." Sullivan points out that, despite feedback from editors and agents, "it's always your story." Valentine encourages everyone to keep working. "Everyone who keeps at it, they've all gotten published. Every single thing I write is actually helping me be a better writer."

Some stories are about luck, that serendipity that brings a writer/illustrator on a collision course with an agent or editor, and others are about hard work and perseverance. These four are stellar examples of how, with deliberate and dogged pursuit of a creative goal, it IS possible to publish. No one every said it was easy; but oh, the rewards are very, very sweet.

Just look at those books up there on the dais. That's how sweet it could be. Not just for them, but for every last one of you out there, toiling away! SCBWI is, as Sullivan says, "a great first step."

Now keep taking those steps! Good luck, and good work to all....

#scbwawwa14 Master Class: You've Got a Contract, Now What? with Justin Chanda

Justin Chanda
Justin Chanda (photo by Kim Baker)

Justin started his talk by breaking down what the different departments and people at a publishing house really do. It pays to know who does what, but ultimately, everything should go through your editor. He or she is an author or illustrator's in-house champion and coordinates the efforts of everyone involved. Ground rules? Behave like a professional, and be nice!

He shared some of the super-secret behind-the-scenes nitty-gritty details about the children's book market and how he decides where to spend a limited marketing budget and which books to spend it on. (Hint: Your book has to make money to get money.)

Finally, he gave tips for how authors and illustrators can promote their books effectively. Top recommendations included using social media well, hiring a freelance publicist, doing school visits, and reaching out to our own personal networks. 

One nugget resulted in both gasps of surprise and face palms from the audience: "Tell your editor EVERYTHING you are doing to promote your book. Send your complete schedule of events for the month ahead." This includes trips you are taking, storytimes you are leading, appearances you're doing, school visits, etc. "They can't help you if they don't know what you're doing."

Justin exudes both positivity and passion for our industry, and he generously shared his wealth of knowledge with attendees.

#SCBWI-WWA2014: Breakout session, Claudia Gabel

Claudia awaits her introduction.
Executive editor at Katherine Tegen Books, Claudia Gabel, talked about First Pages in Reverse. Claudia is not only an editor, but she's also an author (the In or Out series, Romeo and Juliet and Vampires, co-writer of Elusion).

(Dang, the talent is just dripping off the walls in here this weekend!)

In looking at what makes a good first page, we can examine our writing with multiple perspectives.

Comparing first pages, the first drafts versus the revised ones, it was apparent which was the more effective path for a writer to take. Claudia focused on the immediacy of a scene, the proximity of the reader to the character(s) experiencing the emotion in a moment, and the promise of forward momentum. The stakes are higher when the opening moment is fraught with tension, even danger. She showed us that the invitation to turn that first page and enter the realm of the novel was so much more clear to the reader when that initial moment works well.

Consider this when thinking about your own first pages: action vs inaction, character's voice vs description, forward vs stagnant.

Now get out there and make your own first pages sing! 

#SCBWI-WWA14: Keynote Speaker Renata Liwska

Keynoter and illustrator Renata Liwska interviewed by her husband, Mike Kerr.

Our first keynote of the day is Renata Liwska, illustrator of gorgeous books like The Quiet Book, The Loud Book, The Red Wagon, and, most recently, Once Upon a Memory (among many others), positively bubbles over with excitement. She is effusive about her process, in how she compares her taste in her projects to a nice espresso ("nice...and buttery!"). She says she goes inside her head, thinking about what makes her laugh, or cry, or a specific memory from childhood. The Warsaw, Poland native (who now calls Calgary home) grew up with images and moments that she deliberately wanted to put into her books. Her Catholic upbringing had particular visual resonance for her, the groups of children she walked to and from the religious classes with. She noticed animals, woods, and a particular (and creepy-sounding) man who wore a sock on his hand. Needless to say, they ran away from him!

Renata sees the sweetness in things, and animates her figures with the remembered sighs and emotions from her girlhood. She preferred the pictures in books to actually reading them. Imitation, even the ornamental lettering, was a favorite pursuit. "You go back, you try to capture those emotions," she said, smiling. Ironically, it wasn't until later in life, after her choosing pictures over words, that she found out she was far-sighted.

Her images have such close ties to her growing up "on the other side of the Wall," but ultimately, she utilized her rich tapestry of an imagination to create some of the most memorable picture books and illustrations for children in circulation today. For a list of her books, and more information about Renata, click here.

#SCBWI-WWA14: Agent/Editor Panel

Justin Chanda, publisher/editor (Simon & Schuster imprints)
Claudia Gabel, editor (Katherine Tegen Books)
Susan Hawk, agent (Bent Agency)
Holly McGhee, agent (Pippin Properties)
Alexandra Penfold, agent (Upstart Crow Literary)
Lauren Rille, associate art director (Simon & Schuster)

From left: Justin Chanda, Claudia Gabel, Susan Hawk, Holly McGhee, Alexandra Penfold, Lauren Rille.

This is no ordinary group of people. They're all extremely talented at what they do. They are passionate, voracious, and are experts in creating children's books and nurturing those who strive to put their ideas onto the page. And they're HERE. In PERSON! Down the line they went, discussing their areas of expertise (MG vs YA, picture books vs graphic novels). What's the submission they'd love to find on their desk? Your best work, carefully directed at the places you've researched. Stories that inspire an emotional response. Manuscripts/dummies with NUMBERED PAGES (seriously, people!). Show them your point of view, your unique voice. They want to want you. Maybe it will take a long time, but once you've found your groove, they want to help. No, really. They are on the prowl. So read. A lot. Think. A lot. And do your research. A whole lot.

Inspired yet? More to follow from the Redmond Marriott. Stay tuned!

#SCBWI-WWA14: Editor & agent panel about to begin

Simon & Schuster vice president Justin Chanda is one of the vivacious faculty at our conference this year, and he gave a useful master class on Saturday revealing all the secrets you'll need to know once you've gotten The Call. The editor & agent panel will be the first event this morning. Stay tuned for a report!

#SCBWIWWA14: The ballroom's abuzz!

Name tags have been picked up, portfolios set up for the art show later, coffee slurped, newbies oriented by the capable Jolie Stekly, and our fearless leaders, region co-advisors Dana Arnim and Brenda Winter Hansen, are aflutter on the stage. After a great day of master classes and roundtables on Saturday, our region's biggest annual event is about to begin in earnest. You should be here! But we'll try to save you some tidbits (or remind you of the great time you're about to have, if you're here). Keep reading! And if you'd like to see photos as we post them on Flickr, try this link. They're also rotating on the blog here! (Look for the sidebar in the upper left.)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

#SCBWIWWA14: Franny Billingsley's master class on character

Why is it that we can hear the same advice over and over, but every time it takes on a new shade of meaning or resonates differently, depending on the project we're working on at the time? That's what I'm thinking as Franny discusses the importance of what a character wants... and why she wants it. Her examples and anecdotes and the depth to which she takes this fundamental narrative issue are enlightening. You can see the wheels turning in participants' minds as she talks. And even a glimpse of the handout ensures it'll definitely be a keeper!

#SCBWIWWA14: Conference 2014: Off to a great start

The chatting is winding down, the noise level down to a low hum, with little pockets of creative people still finishing late snacks and talking about their projects and kids' books. That's right, our biggest Kid Lit Drink Night of the year is winding up, and as usual, it got our annual Writing and Illustrating for Children Conference off to a merry start.

Next stop: Saturday morning master classes, which a record number of people will be taking advantage of. Stay tuned here for brief glimpses of those juicy sessions soon, or follow on Twitter at #SCBWIWWA14.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bringing the conference to YOU

Even if you aren't able to make the conference this weekend, you can follow along and learn from the comfort and serenity of your very own domicile.

Here's how:

1. All weekend long, your intrepid SCBWI WWA Advisory Committee and Blog Team will be sending updates and pithy observations via Twitter: check in and out of our conference at #scbwiwwa14. Our goal is to trend like nobody's business!

2. All photographs of the conference taken at the conference that don't appear on the blog or the aforesaid Twitter thread, can be viewed at our flickr account. So stop in and browse and see who you know, and comment!

3. Read books by our visiting authors/illustrators, or peruse the client list of our agents/editors. You'll see into some pretty facile minds, and will no doubt find multiple moments of inspiration. For the complete list, click here.

4. Check out the Chinook Update blog for a more in-depth perspective of various panels and keynotes and master classes throughout the weekend. We have many hands on deck to make sure we can pass along some fun and useful information.

So, wherever you are this coming weekend, we're here for you! Check out all the happenings and know that we're typing our little pinkies to the bone so you can be part of the action.

NOTE: We will begin our updates/tweets/etc. by Saturday afternoon during and following our first master-class sessions, and not before. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Plan to donate books

Coming to the conference this weekend? Plan to buy a few books to donate to kids who need them, bring gently read titles from home, or both.

Each year, we put smiles on hundreds of young readers' faces, and you can help! As usual, SCBWI WWA will collect books for children of all ages during the conference and deliver them to organizations who pass them along to young readers — many of whom have never owned a book of their own before.

Books for toddlers through middle grade will be donated to Eastside Baby Corner, while books for upper middle grade readers and YA will go to Teen Feed.

P.S. Buying new books at the conference for donation is a great way to support everyone: not just young readers in need but also our conference book store, Secret Garden, and authors and illustrators whose work you buy (thus helping ensure a strong market for your books). Plan on it!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A travel journal for your character?

Learn to create a travel journal for your kidlit character — or yourself — in a spring class led by member Margaret Nevinski with artist Dorothy Matthews and book artist Susan Callan. The course, called, "Paint It, Write It, Book It: A Travel-Journal Adventure," will include capturing local sites in small watercolor sketches and text. Participants will leave with a personalized, hand-bound travel journal. It'll be held on Bainbridge Island Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, May 2-4, 2014,  over several sessions. Get more info here, under the Programs and Classes link, or call 206-842-2306, ext. 116.

Ed publisher call for submissions

SCBWI WWA ex pat Chris Eboch, now in New Mexico, sends along this opportunity with Susan Tierney, now acquisitions editor at Schoolwide, an educational publisher of reading, writing, and grammar curriculum products. They're looking for submissions of books, stories, and articles for which the author holds rights and that support K-8 reading and writing for a digital classroom library. They're interested in practically any fiction or nonfiction except preK and older YA, and they'll accept (1) previously published materials for which the author holds rights or (2) completed manuscripts of original, unpublished work.

Email only to, with author contact information;
website address, if any; title of the work; word or page count; targeted age/grade level; and a brief synopsis or outline in the message body. For previously published works, indicate the publisher, date of publication, and if applicable, whether an illustrator holds rights to the artwork. Attach the completed work (Microsoft Word only) and a résumé or list of writing credits. Indicate if the submission is unpublished, self-published, or previously published, and if so, by whom. Place “Manuscript Submission, SCBWI” in the subject line.

They'll pay a royalty based on the number of times a title is accessed, and they'll respond in six months, if interested. Chris notes that out-of-print works will get the first look, under the assumption that they will need less editing.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Early readers still like picture books!

On PW’s ShelfTalker blog, Elizabeth Bluemle recently posed the question, “Are We Rushing Kids Out of Picture Books?” She’ll soon be speaking on a panel in San Antonio, TX, about booksellers' experiences with adults (that is, parents and grandparents) who seem to be pushing kids into chapter books at younger and younger ages, and she’s seeking thoughts from commenters on how to reverse this trend. She'll summarize the panel later in this upcoming week, but meanwhile, both her initial post and the discussion in the comments are well worth a read.

—Contributed by Kjersten Hayes

Last chance to sign up for the conference!

Still on the fence? There are just a handful of seats left, and this weekend is your very last chance to register for SCBWI WWA's 23rd annual Writing and Illustrating for Children Conference coming up in two weeks, April 12-13.

Inspiring keynote speakers!
Gems of wisdom from multiple breakout sessions!
Great portfolio art show!
Hob-nobbing with your tribe!
Submission opportunities for closed houses!
Seeing old friends and making new ones!
Delicious books at the bookstore!

Why would you want to miss it? Registration closes forever on Monday, so register now.

Friday, April 4, 2014

"Making it" panel discussion

No, not *that* kind of making it — the writing kind. The Skagit Valley Writers League will present a panel featuring SCBWI Western Washington members Lois V. Harris and Barbara Hicks and Oregon SCBWI member Amber Keyser on Thursday, April 10, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. They'll discuss research, writing, and some of the other elements needed to succeed in kidlit. The event, which costs a suggested $5 donation from those who aren't members of the Skagit Valley group, will take place at the Burlington Senior Center. Attendees are asked to RSVP via this website, where more info is also available.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

KidLit Drink Night next Friday!

Come one, come all, to our annual pre-conference Kid Lit Drink Night on Friday, April 11. Even if you're not planning to attend the conference (and why the heck not?*), you won't want to miss rubbing elbows and lifting glasses with faculty and your fellow tribe members at the Marriott Redmond Town Center starting at 7:00 p.m.

This is always our bubbliest KLDN of the year, usually with visiting booksellers and famous (or infamous) local authors and illustrators, as well as most or all of our conference faculty, so plan to be there. Plenty of non-alcoholic beverages will be available at the no-host bars for all you squirrels who aren't into concoctions such as Nut Brown Ale. We're looking forward to it!

* Really? You're okay with missing the likes of author Franny Billingsley and publisher Justin Chanda? Not to mention editor Claudia Gabel, illustrator Renata Liewska, art director  agent Susan Hawk? A very few seats are still available; get registration info here.

Your chance to be weird with Kelly

Eastern Washington member (and former SCBWI WWA conference speaker) Kelly Milner Halls will be bringing her unique brand of weird science to Seattle in two events early next week. Monday evening, April 7, she'll appear at the Northeast Branch of the Seattle Public Library at 6:30 p.m., to discuss several of her quirky nonfiction books, including Ghostly Evidence, Alien Investigation, In Search of Sasquatch, Mysteries of the Mummy Kids, Tales of the Cryptids, and more.

Then on Tuesday evening, April 8, she'll be at ROAD Apparel at 5:00 p.m. to consider the elusive Sasquatch. Go get weirded out!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ann Brashares' pants

Author Ann Brashares' pants will be traveling to Seattle — with her in them — in April. She'll read from her new YA book, The Here and Now, on Wednesday, April 9. The free event will be held at McClure Middle School in Seattle at 7:00 p.m., and the public is invited, as this is Ann's only Seattle event on her current book tour. Call your friendly Secret Garden Bookshop for more info.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Crystal Kite voting starts today!

Don't miss your chance to vote for SCBWI's peer awards, the Crystal Kites. First-round voting will be open two weeks only, through 5:00 p.m. on April 14.

Go here to log in as a member first, if you're not already logged in. Then you can hit the link above or get there by clicking Awards & Grants on the menu and then Crystal Kite Award. Choose your favorite book of 2013 from the list. You're welcome to remind member friends about voting on social media, too. (But those of you with nominated books, remember that you're not allowed to lobby for a specific title.) Yay for so many great books from our region last year!

NOTE: It takes several web pages to display all the books; be sure you click through the whole list before voting. You can also change the sort so they're displayed alphabetically by author's name instead of by title.