Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The 2013 Crystal Kite Member Choice Award Winners!

It's very exciting... Here are the winners!

Domestic Divisions


Katherine Applegate for "The One and Only Ivan" (HarperCollins) 

West (Washington/Oregon/Alaska/Idaho/Montana/North Dakota/South Dakota)

Kim Baker (Author) for "Pickle" (Roaring Brook Press, illustrated by Tim Probert) 

Southwest (Nevada/Arizona/Utah/Colorado/Wyoming/New Mexico)

Jean Reagan (Author) for "How To Babysit A Grandpa" (Alfred A. Knopf, illustrated by Lee Wildish) 

 Midwest (Minnesota/Iowa/Nebraska/Wisconsin/Illinois/Michigan/Indiana/Ohio)

Aaron Reynolds (Author) for "Creepy Carrots" (Simon & Schuster, illustrated by Peter Brown) 

New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island)

 Jo Knowles for "See You At Harry's" (Candlewick Press) 

New York

Kate Messner for "Capture The Flag" (Scholastic) 


 Lynne Kelly for "Chained" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) 

Atlantic (Pennsylvania/Delaware/New Jersey/Wash DC/Virginia/West Virginia/Maryland)

Ame Dyckman (Author) for "BOY + BOT" (Alfred A. Knopf, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino) 

Mid-South (Kansas/Louisiana/Arkansas/Tennessee/Kentucky/Missouri)

Sharon Cameron for "The Dark Unwinding" (Scholastic) 

Southeast (Florida/Georgia/South Carolina/North Carolina/Alabama/Mississippi)

Augusta Scattergood for "Glory Be" (Scholastic) 

Continental Divisions


Dave Cousins for "Fifteen Days Without A Head" (Oxford University Press) 


Neil Malherbe for "The Magyar Conspiracy" (Tafelberg Publishers) 

Middle East/India/Asia

Benjamin Martin for "Samurai Awakening" (Tuttle Publishing) 

Australia/New Zealand

Meg McKinlay (Author) for "Ten Tiny Things" (Fremantle Press, illustrated by Kyle Hughes-Odgers)
and The Americas (Canada/Mexico/Central & South America)

Jennifer Lanthier (Author) for "The Stamp Collector" (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, illustrated by Francois Thisdale)
Look for interviews with the winners and more about their regions in the coming months here on SCBWI: The Blog.

Congratulations to all the winners! 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jeri Chase Ferris on "Noah Webster and His Words" - The 2013 Golden Kite Interviews

Jeri Chase Ferris won the 2013 Golden Kite Award for Non Fiction for her picture book biography, "Noah Webster And His Words"

Jeri Chase Ferris, Golden Kite Award Winner

I was happy to connect with Jeri to find out more...

Lee: Can you tell us about finding out you'd won the 2013 Golden Kite Award for non fiction for "Noah Webster & His Words"?

 Jeri: Lin Oliver phoned in the evening and, after a brief hello, asked if I was sitting down. I sat with a feeling of doom, knowing she was going to say someone had died. But no! After hearing the incredible news, I had a song-and-dance-fest with my Scottie. It was a wonderful evening indeed. But I spent the entire next day hovering by the phone, waiting for it to ring, waiting for a voice to say, “Uhhh, sorry, we called the wrong person.” It didn’t ring. NOAH really did win the Golden Kite!!

Lee: Why Noah Webster? What drew you to telling his story?

Jeri: I like to write about people who’ve done great things for America but aren’t as well known as they should be (or as I think they should be) and Noah definitely fit. Everyone knows one thing he did, right? He wrote Webster’s Dictionary. But very few people, aside from SCBWI members, of course, know what else he did for America. After the Revolutionary War, when we were the brand new United States of America, we had no president, each of the thirteen states had its own money and its own laws, and Noah feared our fledgling [adj: one that is new] nation would fall into thirteen pieces. So he did something, many things, about it. I was drawn to him because of his quirkiness, stubbornness, determination, and more than a touch of self-righteousness. (He always knew he was right.) And Noah was a master at promotion, a lesson for all of us. He traveled all over those thirteen states, lecturing, giving away free copies of his books to teachers and ministers and newspaper editors. One can only imagine what he would have done with a website and facebook page!

Lee: How do you organize your research materials (especially when there's lots of material out there on someone's entire life) to find the through line of the story you want to tell?

 Jeri: My biographies are whole-life stories rather than one outstanding event as some great picture book biographies are, so I have a chronology to follow as framework. But within the chronology I must find what makes my character unique, special, different, worthy of a book. In Noah’s case it is stated in the opening line – “Noah Webster always knew he was right, and he never got tired of saying so (even if, sometimes, he wasn’t) and in the closing lines – “Noah’s words did unite America. He always knew he was right!” Noah was driven by his belief that the way to hold our country together was through unified spelling and language. He devoted his life to that cause, despite setbacks and ridicule, and he succeeded.

Lee: Deciding what to tell and what to leave out seems a huge challenge in any biography, but even more so for one limited to 32 pages! You used both the timeline and the "More About Noah Webster" end section to tell us about parts of Noah's life that didn't make it into the main narrative. Did knowing you could include things in that way free you up?

 Jeri: Well, having a great editor helps. Kate O’Sullivan, my editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, began with the word count on the first page of my manuscript. When the ms. came back with her comments, she had crossed out “2000 words” and written “not anymore!” with a smiley face. And she wasn’t kidding. But knowing I would have a time line and room for author’s note freed me to concentrate on the basics, and some fun stuff (who knew Noah Webster was into singing, dancing, and flute playing?) along with the most important deeds he accomplished for America. The additional info would still be available for all to read, but didn’t bog down the story.

Lee: The opening lines, "Noah Webster always knew he was right, and he never got tired of saying so (even if, sometimes, he wasn't). He was, he said, "full of CON-FI-DENCE" [noun: belief that one is right] from the very beginning." Were the word definitions always within the text? It's a great device that functions on so many levels.

Jeri: Yes, the definitions were always in, but I started a bit differently and not as well. I began with numbered definitions, for example: “confidence: 1. Belief that one will act in a right way, 2. Being certain.” Then I spoke to people at Merriam-Webster who suggested I use the parts of speech in the definitions, which made it much more usable and fun. So now it’s: “con-fi-dence [noun: belief that one is right].” And it’s been great to see reviewers pick up this idea and use it in their reviews of Noah!

 Lee: Writing a birth-to-death biography has the challenge of ending with someone being, well, dead. This could be a huge bummer. But "Noah Webster and His Words" has a really up, empowered conclusion. Can you speak about how you approached the ending?

Jeri: That up-beat, empowered conclusion flowed naturally from all that Noah did, his enormous legacy, his never-give-up attitude, and tied back to the opening line perfectly. I love the satisfying feeling it gives.

Lee: When did you first join SCBWI, and can you tell us how that's helped you on your journey as an author?

Jeri: I joined SCBW in 1987 when I was beginning my first biographies, with the encouragement of Caroline Arnold, my non-fiction teacher at UCLA. SCBWI has been my anchor, my rock, my pathway, my font of wisdom ever since. When I lived in LA I was walking distance from the Century Plaza, and attended just about every conference, schmooze, and workshop SCBWI provided. Now, in northern California, I’d be lost without SCBWI and our conferences and critique groups. We cannot and should not do this alone.

Lee: Any advice for other writers working on non fiction projects for kids?

Jeri: Choose a person you admire because you’ll be living with him/her for many moons to come. Choose a person who made a difference. Choose a person who’s done something great, something unique, something exciting for kids to read about. Choose a person who has not already been written about over and over again – or if you do choose such a person, find something unknown or unexpected and focus on that aspect. Dig up those primary sources! Find letters, journals, old photos, newspaper articles. Find the family of the person. Go to museums and archives and libraries for first-hand information. Go to the places your subject lived and worked. And have fun! When you enjoy [verb: take pleasure in; have a good time] your writing, your reader will too. 

Thanks so much, Jeri, and congratulations!

If you'd like to see Jeri receive her Golden Kite Award and attend her Non Fiction workshop, "Primary Sources! How To Find Them and How To Use Them," then you need to join us at the 2013 SCBWI Summer Conference.  You can find out all the conference information and register here.

To learn more about Jeri and her books, visit her website.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Great Resource For Learning (And Understanding) How To Rhyme: Lane Fredrickson's Rhyme Weaver

A screen shot from Rhyme Weaver

SCBWI member and rhyming picture book author Lane Fredrickson writes

When I initially decided to try writing a rhyming picture book, I wasn’t really sure how to go about it, or what the rules were. I joined a critique group and SCBWI (The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), took some poetry classes, went to workshops, and even got a degree in English along the way. A lot of people tried to discourage me from writing in rhyme. If you are considering writing a rhyming picture book, some people will tell you that editors don’t like them, and that they are difficult or impossible to sell, and that agents won’t represent picture book authors. But mostly, people will tell you that you have to write “perfect” rhyme and meter to publish.  I wasn’t sure what “perfect” rhyme and meter were when I first heard this.  And there seemed to be a lot of conflicting opinions bouncing around about the elusive “perfect” rhyme and meter. It took a long time for me to realize that writing a picture book with rhyme and meter was not that difficult; there just wasn’t a really good resource that laid out all the details I needed to know in a way that was easy to understand.

Lane created that very resource.  If you've ever wondered what exactly Iambic Pentameter means, her site explains it all simply and with lots of silly graphics (making it pretty kid-friendly, too.)

Oh, and it's always fun to drop in words like acatalectic about someone's poetry, or be able to discuss the 46 examples of Headless Anapestic Tetrameter in Dr. Seuss' "The Cat In The Hat"... and know what it all means!  (I plan to use Elision at least once today, how about you?)

If you want to rhyme, check out Lane's RhymeWeaver.

Illustrate and Write and Rhyme On,

Friday, April 19, 2013

#la13scbwi 2013 Summer Conference Registration Selling Fast - Don't miss your chance to participate in the Intensives!

The Monday (August 5th) Intensives are three hour and fifteen minute sessions that offer some amazing - and unique - opportunities to go deep into your craft with powerhouse editors, publishers, agents, illustrators and authors.

For Writers, there are 24 intensives to choose from, including:

Morning Writer Intensives

Bonnie Bader: How To Hook Readers From the Beginning of Your Book So They'll Never Let Go (part one)

Bonna Bray: It's Character Building!

Ginger Clark: From Offer To Out of Print: A Step By Step Guide To The Publication Process

Julie Hedlung & Sarah Towle: Writing and Submitting Interactive Apps and Ebooks

Ari Lewin: Novel Workshop

Carolyn Mackler: Realistic Teen Fiction: A Love Story

Melissa Manlove: Piece, Part, Whole: Picture Books

Krista Marino: Plot Revision: How To Shake The Problems Out Of Your Muddled Plot

Andrea Pinkney: The Chapter One Pact

Jen Rofé: The "So What" Factor

Steve Sheinkin: Writing The NonFiction Page-Turner

Joanna Volpe: Teen Series: How To Raise The Stakes With Each Book

Henry Winkler: Improv Your Character To Life

Afternoon Writer Intensives

Bonnie Bader: How To Hook Readers From the Beginning of Your Book So They'll Never Let Go (part two, which makes this a six and a half hour intensive!)

Laurie Halse Anderson: Weaving Magic From Truth: The Research, Writing, and Ethics Of Historical Fiction

Jill Corcoran: How to Write A Query Letter

Matt de la Peña: Authentic Dialog

Emma Dryden: Revision Precision: Techniques and Approaches To Revising Your Work

Deborah Halverson: How to Build Your Own Teenager: Techniques For Writing Believable MG/YA Characters

Ari Lewin: Executing Your Fantasy Novel

Krista Marino: Important Firsts: The Importance of The First Line, First Page, and First Chapter of Your Book

Molly O'Neill: Where Does Voice Come From?

Andrea Pinkney: Making Multi-Cultural Writing Real

Jen Rofé: The "So What" Factor

Namrata Tripathi: Developing Your Dummy: An Intensive for Author/Illustrators

Andrea Welch: Ten Essential Picture Book Elements - How Does Your Manuscript Measure Up?

For Illustrators, there's a day-long program, "Where Your Illustration Style Fits In Children's Publishing" that explores the genres and gives illustrators the opportunity to have pre-conference assignments reviewed in a First Look Panel and have their work seen in the Lunchtime Showcase!  The day includes:

Jannie Ho and Tom Lichtenheld: Before Picture Books: Books For Toddlers

Jessie Hartland and Dan Santat: Picture Books

Carson Ellis and Jarrett Krosoczka: Beyond Picture Books: Chapter Books, Illustrated Middle Grade & Graphic Novels

First Look Panel with Giuseppe Castellano, Allyn Johnston, Steve Malk and Kristen Nobles

Panel: Breaking Boundaries: Transcending And Redefining Genres with Donna Bray, Jarret Krosoczka and Steve Malk, moderated by Laurent Linn.

For details on all the intensives, visit scbwi.org here.

Check out the main conference Schedule (an incredible jam-packed three days),  bios on the Faculty, and find all the additional conference information here.

Space in the Intensives is selling faster than any other year - so if it's something you'd like to do, register now so you get a spot!

We hope to see you there.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Operation Teen Book Drop 2013 is Today (Thursday April 18, 2013!)

Ask yourself what book would you have loved to find (for free) when you were a teen? 

Now you can make that happen for someone else!

The Readergirlz are doing (and inspiring) awesome again with their Operation Teen Book Drop!

This year, in addition to rocking out and dropping our favorite YA titles in public spaces for lucky readers to discover, we're also directing supporters of teen fiction everywhere to consider a book donation to 826NYC to help grow their library.
Just choose a great YA book, print out the snazzy bookplate (designed by Lindsay Frantz), attach, and leave it somewhere out in the world where a teen will find it!

Find out more at Readergirlz and #rockthedrop with them and their partners Figment, I Heart Daily, Soho Teen, and 826NYC to celebrate YA lit.!

Illustrate and Write On,

ps - And don't forget - today is also the day Registration opens for The 2013 SCBWI Summer Conference (#LA13SCBWI) at 10am Pacific Time.  Go here to find out more and register!

Friday, April 12, 2013

The 2013 SCBWI Summer Conference Schedule Is UP! Get Ready, Registration Opens April 18, 2013!

The Schedule is UP!

There's a panel on World Building in YA novels and we get to hear Laurie Halse Anderson and David Wiesner back to back... and that's just a little bit of what's happening on Friday!  And throughout the conference's three days there are over 80 workshops to choose from!

The Faculty is ANNOUNCED!

(It includes agents Jenny Bent, Mela Bolinao, Ginger Clark, Jill Corcoran, Steven Malk, Jennifer Rofe and Joanne Volpe, editors Bonnie Bader, Donna Bray, Gill Evans, Allyn Johnston, Arthur A. Levine, Arianne Lewin, Melissa Manlove, Krista Marino, Molly O’Neill, Namrata Tripathi and Andrea Welch, and art directors Giuseppe Castellano, Laurent Linn,  Kristin Nobles and Cecilia Young, and even more stars of children's literature!)

The Monday Intensives will be AMAZING, there is a portfolio showcase as well as individual manuscript and portfolio consultations!  There are Friday night socials (Illustrators, International, LGBTQ Q&A and Nonfiction) and there's the Saturday night gala, THE BLACK AND WHITE BALL...

Three days, plus a fourth intensive day on Monday August 5, packed with business, craft, inspiration, community and opportunity!  There's so much information to pour over and get excited about.

Go now to the conference information pages at scbwi.org  Check it out.  Make sure your membership is current so you get your registration discount.

And get ready for an incredible #LA13SCBWI! (That's twitter-talk for The 2013 SCBWI Summer Conference!)

Remember, registration opens Thursday April 18, 2013 at 10am Pacific Time.  The Intensives - and in fact, the entire conference, sell out year after year, so make sure you get your spot!

We hope to see you there.

Illustrate and Write On,

ps - Want to share about the part of the conference you're really excited about?  Or tell us what you're going to wear to the Black and White Ball?  Leave a comment here!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Poet and Author Greg Pincus Shares 30 Poets 30 Days

It's the 5th year Greg Pincus celebrates the USA's National Poetry Month (April) by sharing previously unpublished poetry by children's literature stars on his Gottabook blog.

This year's poets include:

Greg's done something pretty genius by taking an event that already existed and bringing people to his online home for thirty days in a row - not to read his own poetry, but to read other poets' works, and to celebrate poetry for kids!

Of course, once people are at his site, they see his poetry, and get excited about Greg's debut novel "The 14 Fibs of Gregory K." (out this October from Arthur A. Levine books.)

It's like a master class in how to build a platform.

But that makes sense, because Greg's also a social media guru for writers and illustrators.  (He does his social media stuff here at The Happy Accident.)

So go check out some amazing poetry for the whole month of April.  And get inspired, both by the poetry, and what you might do to build your own platform!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Amazon buys Goodreads - three views of what that means

The recent purchase of Goodreads by Amazon has made for some fascinating analysis:

Andrew Rhomberg at Digital Book World looks at the social strength of goodreads and predicts the major changes we can expect in the aftermath of this acquisition.

Jordan Weissmann at The Atlantic focuses on the 'superfans' that Amazon just acquired, with some wild statistics about how 19% of Americans do 79% of our non-required book reading (and many more figures and charts.)

And on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, host Scott Simon discussed the purchase with Wall Street Journal reporter Greg Bensinger, looking at issues of privacy and how some goodreads members have said they're not going to stay hooked into the social network once it is part of amazon.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Brooke Bessesen explains Authors For Earth Day

At the 2012 SCBWI Summer Conference there was a booth set up for a project called, Authors for Earth Day.  

Here's Children's Book Author/Illustrator Brooke Bessesen...

Brooke says:

Our 2013 A4ED Team is 19 authors/illustrators strong—nearly double last year, which was double the year before. And this year we have A4ED school visits scheduled in the THREE countries: one in Australia, one in Canada and the rest across the United States.  
Brooke, we're cheering you and your fellow Authors For Earth Day on!

To find out more about Authors for Earth Day and how you can be part of it, visit authorsforearthday.org 

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Creativity Tool: Rainy Mood

Rainymood is pretty much what it says - a website offering free ambient rain sounds.

As award-winning author Malinda Lo put it, it's great

"If you ever want to write a depressing scene."

Consider adding it to your creativity tools.

Illustrate and Write On,

ps - Thanks to Malinda for sharing this with me!

pss - The day may have been sunny, but this post was written while listening to Rainymood.