Saturday, July 29, 2017

Weekend on the Water Retreat Coming Up!

Save Oct. 13-15 for a creative explosion!

Mark your calendars for October 13-15, the dates of this year’s fall retreat. We’re mixing it up with a whole new approach (including a sweet new location!) We’re calling it “Inspiration and Motivation for Creatives Retreat: Weekend on the Water,” and it’ll also be full of connections — between your work and your life, and among you and your tribe. It’ll including programming for creatives of all stripes — illustrators as well as writers, from seasoned pros to beginners — and it'll launch you high into NaNoWriMo or the 2018 of your creative dreams.

One example of this year’s potent opportunities: Every attendee can create their own Insight Book in a session led by local artist and author Wendy Wahman

What’s an Insight Book?
It’s art and writing, collage and doodling, improvisation with yourself. Anyone can make one — you need not be an artist. You start with nothing in mind, then a line or a color triggers an aha! One line, written or drawn, leads to another.

Non-artists surprise themselves by making art. When you’re done, you a hold a book in your hands. Your book. Your insights. A new door to your creative heart.

What’s it look like?

What people who’ve done it have said:
“This was a great exercise for Residency – getting out of my head and putting my hands to work, working with the random arrangement of lines, listening to the shapes, finding the colors of the text. I took the text I'd written in my book from our workshop and put it into lines and verse for a poetry class a few days later, and it is a wonderful start to a piece called Forest for the Trees. It is always exciting to me when work can cross genres, and when a bigger piece is born from a seemingly small prompt. And, I hope this becomes a habit.”     Samantha Claire Updegrave, Whidbey Writer’s MFA Residency

“I was lucky enough to take part in Wendy Wahman’s workshop on Insight Books last month. Not only is she a talented author/illustrator and a great presenter, but she did something that, in the middle of an intensive writing residency, was pivotal. She encouraged us to play. The result was a beautiful book and a wonderful sense of inner peace.”    Mureall Hebert, Whidbey Writer’s MFA Residency

Want to learn more?
See more examples and praise on Wendy’s website

Watch this space for more details about retreat opportunities. Registration will open in mid-August. In the meantime, plan to attend and get psyched for a weekend like none you’ve ever enjoyed!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Inland Northwest Conference

The Inland Northwest SCBWI region is just over the mountains, and their conference is around the corner! Early registration discounts end Tuesday! Grab a friend and get ready for a road trip.

Whether you’re a salty skipper or just looking to test the waters of children's publishing, even if you’re feeling a little lost at sea, the Inland Northwest SCBWI conference is for you. 

On September 16th at our beautiful new location in the Montvale Event Center, two literary agents, a children’s book editor, and a panel of published authors will provide information, options, and new directions to help you navigate your journey. 
So climb aboard! Visit our website for more information and registration, but don’t delay!  Early-bird pricing won’t last forever and personal manuscript/portfolio consultations fill up fast.

Early-bird registration until August 1:
SCBWI Members Early-bird  119.00
Non-member Early-bird 145.00     
After August 1:
SCBWI Member 155.00
Non-member 185.00

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

SCBWI launches new Books for Readers program


Our first SCBWI Books For Readers book drive is about to launch.  We have selected two amazing organizations that will receive a library of books created and donated by you, our SCBWI members. The two worthy organizations that will receive this wonderful gift are The Refugee Dream Center in Providence, Rhode Island and Kinship House in Portland, Oregon. 

The Refugee Dream Center provides advocacy and services for families new to the US.
Member Mary Wagley Copp nominated RDC and said of the organization:

“A goal of the RDC is to have a lending library. Many of the newcomers [to our country] have never had access to books and they are delighted to see them, hold them and learn to read them….”
Member Ruth Musgrave enlightened us about Kinship House. The organization provides mental health services for kids and their families during the transition through foster care and adoption:   

“If anyone needs to build dreams, it is a child in foster care. It would be an unforgettable gift of love and so much more to help Kinship House get books directly into the hands of foster care children....”

Today through September 8 we begin the drive to build these libraries through the generous donation of your books. Please participate! Our SCBWI community can play a role in giving these kids and their families the gift of reading. 


Now you can be part of this endeavor with a generous donation of your books to SCBWI’s Books For Readers. Below is the basic information. 

It’s easy! Select up to 4 new copies of any or all of your published books and send them to us by September 8.

Mail them via Book Rate to:
4727 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 301
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Attn:  SCBWI Books for Readers    

We welcome books for all ages from board books through Young Adult, fiction and non-fiction, hardcover or paperback.  That’s all you have to do. We will assemble the two libraries and your generous gift will be acknowledged in the marketing and promotion of the event.

Thank you for helping kids gain access to books.

Go here for more information.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Honors and Awards for Marin Younker, Andy Musser, & Ben Clanton!

We are behind on our celebrating! We forgot to share a few member triumphs. Without further adieu, behold the awesomeness.

​Yay, Marin!

The Virginia Library Association awarded a 2017 Jefferson Cup honor to Bleed, Blister, Puke, and Purge: The Dirty Secrets Behind Early American Medicine by J. Marin Younker. The winners were Cat Winters' The Steep and Thorny Way (Young Adult Readers) and I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy (Young Readers). 

Since 1983, the award recognizes books for youth and teens in the areas of American biography, history, or historical fiction with the intent to promote America's past, as well as quality writing.

More about the award and 2017 titles here.

Way to go, Andy!

Andy Musser won a Portfolio Honor at the 46th Annual SCBWI Summer Conference this month!

Congratulations, Ben!

And a mere couple days ago, Ben Clanton won an Eisner for Best Publication for Early Readers for Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea! 

We love good news! WE WANT EVEN MORE. We love to celebrate our community. Share it with us at and we'll share it with the group.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Picture Book Illustration class with Craig Orback


Children's book illustrator Craig Orback is offering a group class starting  September 9th. Work on your own picture book project (create a dummy book to send to a publisher or agent), and/or create new portfolio pieces.

Craig will be available for one online feedback session each week for attendees. Send your work on a Monday and Craig will have a detailed response back to you by Friday, if not sooner. The class can join in with feedback online as well. Craig will be working on a new picture book biography on "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz for Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, and will share progress/sketches with you. 

An art room at Daniel Smith art supply in Bellevue (near Bellevue Colleges north campus) is 

The class dates will be Saturdays, 2:00-5:00, September 9th, 23rd, October 7th, 21st & November 4th 

If interested, please send 1/2 the payment ($120) now, and bring the rest on the first day of class. Or send the full amount ($240) now to:

Craig Orback
2001 120th PL SE #9-304
Everett, WA 98208

Email Craig at if you have any questions.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Upcoming Events for July and August

July 23
Lynn Brunelle has some craft projects for Big Science for Little People at University Bookstore.

July 28
Chris Colfer visits Jackson High School to talk about The Land of Stories: Worlds Collide. This is a ticketed event, via UBS.

July 29
Play Truth or Dare with YA authors like J. Anderson Coats, Lish McBride, Breeana Shields, and more at the new Brick & Mortar Books in Redmond.

August 1
Suzanne Kaufman gets Confiscated! Help Suzanne launch her newest picture book at Secret Garden!

August 3
#1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot rolls into the U district University Bookstore for Royal Crush, the third installment in her middle grade Princess Diaries spin-off.

August 16
Danielle Davis talks about her middle grade debut, Zinnia and the Bees, at the Seward Park Third Place Books.

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

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Apply now for our Fall 2017 Inside Story!

Inside Story is our region's biannual celebration of new books. It was started in 1999 by Laura Kvasnosky and George Shannon. Their goal was to create a community of people who share a love of children's books -- writers, booksellers, teachers and librarians. 

Mark your calendars for our Fall 2017 Inside Story, to be held on Saturday, November 4, 2017 at the downtown Bellevue Library (1111 110th Ave. NE) from 2:00pm until 4:00pm.

* Meet and greet local authors and illustrators.
* Hear 2-minute "behind the scenes" stories from each author or illustrator. 
* Answer trivia questions and win prizes.
* Purchase autographed books. 
* Mingle with your fellow children's book lovers.

If you are a Western Washington SCBWI PAL member with a NEW book out this summer or fall, apply NOW to be a presenter. You'll find the application here.

In order to present at this Inside Story, you must be able to answer YES to each of the following:

1) You are a CURRENT SCBWI member at the PAL (published and listed) level and your profile at is updated to reflect this.

2) You live in the official Western Washington region.

3) Your publisher is on SCBWI's list of PAL publishers (Found here.).*

*Exception: If your self-published book is a continuation of a PAL published series and/or a Spark Award winner, you are still eligible to participate in Inside Story.

4) Your book is brand new (released between May 2017 and November 2017) and has never been published before. (Reprints/new editions do not qualify for Inside Story.)

5) Your book is readily available through normal trade channels (e.g., Baker & Taylor).

Deadline to apply: Friday, September 15, 2017.  

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Featured Illustrator: Alexander Mostov

Alexander Mostov is our Featured Illustrator for July/August! 
He was the 1st Place Runner-up at the 25th SCBWI Western Washington Conference for Writers and Illustrators this past spring. Alexander is a full-time freelance illustrator living in Seattle working for a variety of clients including local and national magazines, advertising agencies, publishers, and motion graphic studios. He originally graduated with a degree in architecture but quickly realized it didn’t satisfy his creative pursuits.

Can you briefly explain your creative process, favorite mediums, etc?
I work in several different mediums and am constantly experimenting with new ones. For commercial work, I usually work in a 2-step process where I first create ink drawings on bristol board and use a light table to create graphite and charcoal textures on top of them. I then scan all of these drawings onto my computer and use Photoshop to color and collage them until I am happy. I also work in gouache, which is probably my favorite medium, especially for achieving a naive, “kid-friendly” aesthetic. Recently I have begun playing with colored pencil and pastel pencil as well.

Where do you find your ideas? Do you have a process?
Books, movies, people, and increasingly the internet. I am constantly consuming images, both illustrations and photos. Pinterest is a valuable tool for me, and I would recommend using that or some other platform to organize and record inspiration. Also, I try to keep one of the pocket size Moleskine with me at all times in case an idea comes to me.

How do you deal with creative blocks?
Whenever I have an idea for an illustration, I sketch it on a little scrap of paper laying around. I have a collection of these scribbles in my apartment and studio. If I am stuck on a project, I look through the old scraps of paper and more times than not something from those will be usable. Additionally, walking and listening to music is usually helpful.

Who are your illustrator heroes?
I am a big fan of Miroslav Šašek and his ‘This is...’ series. I find the way he alternated between contrasting brush techniques very inspiring. I also love the work of Russian Folktale illustrator Ivan Bilibin, although his style is very different from my own. My favorite children’s book illustrators include Jan Brett and, of course, Ezra Jack Keats. There are also many contemporary illustrators I am regularly inspired by including Eleanor Davis, Carson Ellis, and Christian Robinson.

Did you have any favorite children’s books as a child?
Yes! My mom and grandma read lots of children’s books to me growing up. Reading was a big part of my early education. A few that stand out as favorites are Caps for Sale; The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear; Goodnight Moon; and Animalia.

Which literary character would be your BFF?
It would have to be Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes.

What’s inspiring you and your work right now?
I have been reading a lot of books by Murakami recently. He writes in a style of magic realism that I find comparable to my style and subject matter. I am always so disappointed by the cover artwork on his books, which I find to be a huge missed opportunity for whimsical illustrations. I am always buying new plants (to the chagrin of my girlfriend/roommate), which provide inspiration as I incorporate a lot of plants in my drawings.

Any words of wisdom you want to share?
One valuable lesson I have learned is to focus on pushing through and getting projects finished. Like many illustrators, I am a perfectionist and could spend an infinite amount of time trying to make one drawing perfect. I find it to be much more useful and productive to create as much as possible. You usually end up learning more that way. Also, you are probably more concerned with those nitpicky details in your drawings than anyone else will be.

Thank you, Alexander!

You can view Alexander’s portfolio at