Sunday, April 23, 2017

Upcoming Webinar and Class

SCBWI Montana invites everyone to participate in their upcoming webinar with author and writing teacher, Darcy Pattison. Darcy has helped whip many an SCBWI WWA writer's manuscripts into shape at past events (Novel Metamorphosis FTW!), so we're excited about another opportunity to learn with her. Learn to see the overall structure of your novel with simple tools. Darcy will help confirm that your major plot points fall in the right places, and events lead to a dramatic climax. A single chapter is easy to write, but to make a novel work, sequence and events are crucial for the reader to stay engaged. Sign up and learn simple exercises to help see your novel from a drone's eye view.

Darcy Pattison
Webinar: A Drone’s-Eye-View of Your Manuscript
By Darcy Pattison
Thursday, May 11, 2017, 5:00 p.m. PST

Learn to see the overall structure of your novel with simple tools. Author and writing teacher Darcy Pattison helps you confirm that the major plot points fall in the right places and events lead to a dramatic climax. A single chapter is easy to write. But to make a novel work, you must sequence the chapters in the right order and with the right events to make readers refuse to put the book down. Come and learn simple exercises to help you see your novel from a drone's eye view.

For more information and to register, click here.

Probably not Al.

And Al Rubeck will be giving a two-part class, May 9th and 16th, at Green River College on writing for children. Find registration information here. Al Rubeck has been published in Teen, Nuthouse, Highlights, and Jack and Jill magazines.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

SCBWI Books for Readers seeking nominations!


SCBWI members, now is the time for you to nominate organizations or causes in your region that have readers in need of books. Books for Readers is our new promotion designed to provide kids and young adults access to all types of books created by SCBWI members. 

Two recipient organizations and/or causes will be chosen from all the nominees by a panel of judges comprised of members of our Board of Advisors, and our national headquarters staff. 

Submit this entry form by Sunday, April 30 for your nominee to be eligible for the promotion. 

Thank you for taking the time to help. 
Get those nominees in by April 30!

Friday, April 21, 2017

SCBWI Western Washington Call for 2017-2018 Presenters!

Want to give back and help the writing community learn and grow? SCBWI Western Washington is seeking workshop presenters for our 2016-2017 year. Our chapter holds monthly meetings from October through April, and hosts an annual conference every other spring. We welcome fresh and compelling workshop ideas for any of these events!

Workshops may address topics relevant to potential attendees that include (but aren’t limited to) specific elements on the craft of writing and illustrating for children, book marketing, or the latest industry trends. As a presenter, you’re expected to share information and experience, but may not use our events as a platform for commercial sales, self-promotion, political discussions, or to criticize competitors or public figures.

What if you've sent a proposal before that wasn't accepted? Try again! Your proposal may have just not fit into that season's balance of topics. We aim for variety, and a lot of good proposals fall by the wayside (no matter how much our advisory committee tries to fit everything in). Resubmit, and/or try another focus. We want to hear from you! Click here for full details and an application.  
Deadline: May 22, 2017!

**Important note!** Did you submit a presentation proposal already to an email address that isn't We probably never received it. We apologize for the error, it was totally Dana 2's fault. Don't worry, we're giving him the old heave-ho tout suite.

Thank you so much for keeping our SCBWI chapter so vibrant and amazing.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Upcoming events for April and beyond...

Book events! Book events! Book events! Get your calendars ready.

April 22nd
Mark Maciejewski launches his middle grade debut, I AM FARTACUS, at University Bookstore! Yay, Mark!

April 25th
Special storytime at University Bookstore with Brenda Guiberson and Jessixa Bagley!

April 29th is Independent Bookstore Day
Celebrate independent bookstores on the last Saturday in April by popping into your neighborhood store for fun and events. OR...
Do you like a challenge? Do you like adventure? Do you like discounts on books?? If you're booklover enough to go hard, grab a stamp card, a couple of friends, and some snacks. Try to visit all 19 stores participating nearby. Get your card stamped. Stay hydrated. If you make it, there are riches to be had. Sure, there will be glory, AND you'll get 25% off at all participating stores for the whole year. Even if you only make it to 17 or 18, there are contests, barbecues, authors posing as to be had.

May 2nd
Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler) and Lisa Brown introduce GOLDFISH GHOST at University Temple, through University Bookstore. Ticketed event, but one ticket gets you a book and admission for your whole family, maybe even your goldfish.

May 11th
Jenny Han will be at Third Place, Lake Forest Park for ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN.

May 13th 
Suzanne Selfors launches her newest middle grade novel, SPIRIT RIDING FREE: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS at Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo. A Netflix animated series called Spirit Riding Free will launch the same week.

May 18th
Kate Beasley is at Third Place, LFP for GERTIE'S LEAP TO GREATNESS.

May 25th
It's a threefer! Head up to Village Books for an author panel with Kevin Emerson, Suzanne Selfors, and Garth Stein at Village Books!

May 27th, read hard.
Drew Dewalt will be at Secret Garden for THE LEGEND OF ROCK PAPER SCISSORS.

May 27th, read harder.
Martha Brockenbrough and Lish McBride talk YA and probably weird stuff (in a good way) at Liberty Bay Books.

Double-check times and whatnot with bookstores before you set out for events. If you snap a great picture, tag us at @scbwiwwa on Instagram (We're on Instagram now!) and/or Twitter, and we'll try to repost. If we missed something, or you have an event coming up, let us know!

Support book culture.
Support independent bookstores and libraries.
Support authors.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

SCBWI Crystal Kite Award finalists announced!

The second round of voting for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award is open now through the end of the month, but don't delay in casting your vote! Members can vote by signing in and clicking on "Crystal Kite" on the left sidebar.

The four finalists for the West region are.....*drumroll*......

Kate Berube of Portland, Oregon for HANNAH AND SUGAR!

Ben Clanton of Tacoma, Washington for NARWHAL, UNICORN OF THE SEA!


And Jennifer Longo of Seattle, Washington for UP TO THIS POINTE!

A picture book, a graphic novel, a middle grade novel, and a YA novel! What a rounded group of wonderful books. Read all four! You can find more information and vote on the SCBWI website. 

Congratulations, finalists!
Confetti, cupcakes, and cheers all around. 


Monday, April 17, 2017

New class with Katherine Grace Bond--right around the corner!

We had some technical difficulties, so forgive the late notice. We swanted to let you know about a new class starting week with the warm and wise Katherine Grace Bond.

Through her teachings I started to open up, with not only my writing, but my heart. --Cassy Hollan
  Sharing your work is an act of courage.

  If you've been in my classes, you know there is never any forced sharing.

  You share work when you feel it will benefit you and the work.

  What I find is that it benefits the group as well.

If you are ready to help other writers with your work, consider signing up for the WIP Smart Master Class. 

WIP Smart: Works-in-Progress Weds 12:30-2:30, 4/19-5/31, Notewordies, Kirkland
This master class focuses on your work-in-progress: novel, picture book, poetry—it’s up to you. Each session is an in-depth look at significant portions of student WIPs, submitted in advance. Lessons are built around the manuscripts. You get intensive feedback; everyone learns from your book.

Katherine Grace Bond is a YA author and poet, who has been creating mayhem with writers young and old for the last 25 years. She’s the author of THE SUMMER OF NO REGRETS, LUKE’S JOURNAL, THE LEGEND OF THE VALENTINE, and many other stories. She’s also the founder of EpicWrite, combining live action role-playing, writing, and storycraft. She has been a Jack Straw Writer, and the recipient of a 4Culture grant for her work-in-progress (a time-travel novel in verse), and is looking forward to a residency at Camac Centre d’Art in Marnay-sur-Seine, France.

See more information about this, along with Katherine's other classes, here

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Our 2017 Art Show Winners!

A jury of faculty judges reviewed all of the portfolios for our 2017 SCBWI Western Washington Juried Portfolio Show.  We heard over and over how impressed faculty and attendees alike were with the overall level of artistic talent. While voice, flow, and execution came through across the portfolio show, our jury found that the following artists especially stood out in their presentations.

Congratulations to the 2017 SCBWI Western Washington Juried Portfolio Show Award winners! Take a look at their work.

Booster Award winner: Faith Pray

2nd runner up: Margaux Meganck

1st runner up: Alexander Mostov

Grand Prize winner: Tracy Subisak

Kazu Kibuishi Keynote: Failing Safely--Learning from Mistakes

Kazu Kibuishi never set out to be a graphic novelist.

His career started when he was only five years old, two years after arriving to the states from Japan. Once he had relieved the cash register in his grandparent's restaurant of all its quarters for video games, he was left with nothing to do to ward off boredom. Nothing to do but draw cartoons. As a child, he drew on Garfield and Mad magazine for American references. He drew movie characters, and studied Bill Peet and Jim Davis. He assumed that liking cartoons meant, inevitably, that you were a screw up and assumed he wasn't as smart as the other kids until a high school English teacher encouraged him with an A+++++ on an essay. It was the first time he envisioned himself as a writer, and for the millionth time, we send silent thanks for the good teachers of the world that foster and encourage creativity.

He attended film school at UC Santa Barbara, and thought he'd end up a find editor someday, but he drew cartoons at the school paper  It drew him back into comics while supporting his burrito habit, and was so influential he now encourages all collegiate inspiring comic artists to do it. He noticed people using his cartoons beyond the paper, on picket signs at protests, and began to think of art as an ecosystem, with a balance between creators and readers. Alternatively, aspiring graphic novelists can post webcomics, like Kazu did with his Copper series after college while working as a graphic designer at an architectural firm.

Kazu thought of Copper as a hobby, but it grabbed the interest of the esteemed comics dynamo, Scott McLeod, who made a point of finding Kazu at a con to offer encouragement. It also led Kazu to editing the Flight series, later repackaged as the Explorer series by Abrams.

Kazu didn’t know what middle grade fiction was when he pitched Amulet to his esteemed agent. Now working on the eighth book in the acclaimed and beloved series, he embraces the publishing adventure and the chaos of book production.

He still practices drawing characters all the time, and compares the practice to shooting free throws. Graphic novels are especially labor intensive, as anyone who's attempted one can tell you. Kazu's best advice for being able to go the distance?

Learn to draw fast. Work on your free throws. Make the books so we can all enjoy them.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Nonfiction that Reads Like Fiction with Stephanie Pitts

Stephanie Pitts, editor with G.P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, feels that there are many nonfiction opportunities within the school and library market, thanks to Common Core, STEM, and STEAM.

The most common type of nonfiction in picture books is the straightforward biography. Stephanie cautions that rather than a birth to death timeline of someone's life, writers should choose a particular time, or important event, in their character's life. If it resonated with the author, it can resonate with readers.

Like in fiction, writers should make sure that their characters, whether main or secondary, are well developed and interesting. Stories should have conflict, shape, and direction.

What does a nonfiction picture book look like if it's not a biography? Many authors choose to focus their stories on fascinating historical events and periods.

The approach to middle grade nonfiction is similar, with more depth within characters and details. There should be strong voice and style. Writers can find a marketable topic that shines a new light on a subject. Something should need to be overcome. Regardless of the approach, writers should immerse themselves in research and think about the best conceptual approach. Consider the organization of information. Stephanie says many nonfiction middle grade and YA pieces are leaning toward the narrative, and away from the sidebar, more textbook-like structure. Seek to go beyond informing to engaging. 

Candace Fleming's books always include backmatter on how she chose and researched a topic-- a valuable model for aspiring nonfiction writers.

Dispelling myths is an essential factor in writing nonfiction for kids and teens. Fun fact: No part of the Lizzie Borden rhyme is true. Want to know the facts? Check out:

Go forth, engage readers, dispel myths, and shed light on new information!


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Patricia Hruby Powell keynote: Fun, folly, and the benefits of breaking the rules

Patricia Hruby Powell has lived a magical life: as everything from a dancer who toured internationally to a substitute librarian, and her books turn nonfiction into heart-filled verse.

She talked to us about empathy. If you're not rich, you can read about a rich person and know what it's like. If you're not poor, you can read about poor people and understand. This is what books do for us.

She asked us to imagine two paths: one that involves rule-breaking, and one that involves rule-following. "And imagine everything in between the two things."

"I know myself to be a rule-breaker," she said. She told us stories about how this has manifested in her life.

She once broke into an abandoned creamery by crawling underneath a barbed wire fence. She and her friend found a set of keys, along with assorted vats and mechanisms. She once got caught in the creamery on Good Friday. She was supposed to be in church, where her mother was the choir director.

As an adult, she ran a touring dance company. No one was telling her what to do. And in a way, she regrets it. "They could have been so much cleaner if there had been somebody there to monitor me."

After her dance career, she went to library school because she thought it would allow her to write. But that's not what being a librarian involves. Her next career was as a storyteller. When she was a dancer, she told stories. When she was a storyteller, she danced. Storytellers told her that didn't fit the rules. "Storytellers don't like that. They told me I got in the way of my stories."

"If you're a rule follower, you might get published more quickly."

It took her awhile to realize how brilliant editors were (hers in particular—Melissa Manlove).

"If you're not a rule follower, it might work for you to stick to your guns and keep honing your art," she said.

She got feedback from editors but was too stubborn to take it. One of the things she learned on the way was that a publishing house doesn't want your manuscript' a particular editor there wants to see it. "There's a lot of luck involved in getting published."

If you're developing your art and doing something different from other people, "Just keep going," she said. "Late success can be really valued!"

Along the way, it's vital to replenish. She replenishes her creative self and solves impasses by swimming, by going on adventures, even by dreaming. "You can find ideas and solutions to your
impasse in so many different activities."

Sometimes you need getaways. When she was 19, for example, she went to the Greek islands. She didn't come back for two-and-a-half years.

She also makes rock sculptures with family and she reads.

"Even if you think you don't like great works, plod through them. You will find immense wisdom."

Museums can also be sources of inspiration, along with weird music and dance concerts, orchestral performances, rock bands, Bach. "The layers bring me closer to god-ness," she said.

The longer you work, the greater a chance you have to get lucky, she said.

And remember the power of empathy. "What happens to everyone else in the world helps shape us. We are all interconnected. Feel awe. Feel a sense of wonder."

Kazu Kibuishi: Creating Stories as an Experience

Kazu Kibuishi, writer and artist, is the mastermind behind the New York Times bestselling Amulet graphic novel series, published by Scholastic.

Kazu threw a lot of the typical writing tools out the window (like the three act structure) and thought about the experience design. He wanted the story to feel like a ride.

Kazu liked writing essays in high school and he often organizes his book that way.  He creates a one page, bulleted synopsis, that almost entirely changes, but it helps to guide him. He lets himself follow the characters and see what they are going to do.

Kazu writes his books out of order. He goes to the scenes that are clearest in his head. He only lets himself think of one scene at a time so they don't muddy together. Instead each gets focus and he tries to make each a really good short story.

When looking at dialogue, if Kazu can't tell who is saying what, he's doing it wrong.

Cool fact: The font in the Amulet series is based on Kazu's handwriting (all except the first book which he hand-lettered).

While Book One was like a rollercoaster, Book Two was like the park itself.

Kids love to sort stuff out. Kazu tries not to answer everything, instead he tries to get kids to ask questions instead.

As the series continued, Kazu kept pushing the environment.

And while Kazu takes questions, he also gives a live painting demonstration.

David Small & Sarah Stewart: The Collaboration Tango: Creating a Picture book

David Small and Sarah Stewart are longtime collaborators on picture books and life. In this session they discuss each of the six picture books they've produced together.

So much of this session is the endearing interaction between these two book creators, so I will share some tidbits of information gleaned from their back-and-forth.

Sarah wrote The Money Tree after returning to Texas for her mother's funeral. Stories can come from the great, big, overwhelming, momentous, profoundly troubling moments.

David: Why did you make me illustrate a book a book about a character who does nothing?

Sarah: She's not doing nothing. She's reading.

Sarah: What happened that made you change something that wasn't quite right to something just right?

Having thought he'd done his job and that he had a solid dummy, David sent it off, but received feedback that it was not quite right. David recalled a comment of Sarah's about wanting it feel more like a library: safe. He also was struck by the work of Arnold Lobel and he took the art that had been bleeding off the page and tightened each so it were contained. Safe.

David: What's so interesting about THE GARDENER?

Sarah shares that the book was inspired by Lydia Grace Finch, a true gardener and artist. At six years old (during the depression), Lydia was put on a train to live with an uncle she'd never met, where she made gardens on the roof.

There was a darkness during the depression and David didn't want the darkness to creep it's way to Lydia as he was doing the art. He left lightness around her and he discovered that was what the story was all about, which made him look at the story differently. David has since used that halo effect in other stories, but it came first in The Gardener.

David and Sarah live in Amish country and have Amish friends. This story was inspired by one told to Sarah by one of those friends.

Sarah shares that David broadens and deepens this story with his work.

David: Speaking of books that are hard to illustrate.

Sarah: I'm sorry. No, not really.

David says this is the hardest book he's ever illustrated, partly because he knew all the backstory, a story based on his wife's life and her near drowning as a child and the woman who saved her.

It's pretty clear now that people inspire Sarah Stewart's stories, and The Quiet Place is no different. And Sarah shares, "And oh can David Small paint."