Monday, December 2, 2013

Elizabeth Wein: The Pre-#NY14SCBWI Conference Interview by Martha Brockenbrough

In this wonderful two-part interview by Martha Brockenbrough, Elizabeth Wein shares about structure, writing historical fiction, and gives us some wonderful tips - and tricks - to doing our research!

Part One

Part Two

Their conversation is just a glimpse at the amazing insights and information we'll be getting at the upcoming SCBWI Winter Conference in New York, February 21-23, 2014. It's an event that will be full of craft, business, inspiration, community and opportunity.

We hope you'll join us - find out all the conference info and register here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Jean Feiwel: The Pre-#NY14SCBWI Conference Interview by Lee Wind

Check out this remarkable conversation I had with Publisher Jean Feiwel about her newest imprint at Macmillan's Children's Division, Swoon Reads - and how it's a crowd-sourced venture!

Jean will be on the must-see panel at the 15th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference, THE FUTURE OF AUTHORSHIP, with Paul Aiken (Executive Director of the Authors Guild), Jane Friedman (Editor, Publisher and Professor), Abbi Glines (Self-Published and Traditionally-Published Best-Selling Author), and Tim Travaglini (director of children's acquisitions for digital publisher Open Road Integrated Media.)

To hear that panel and take part in all the craft, business, inspiration, opportunity and community that SCBWI offers, join us at the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City, February 21-23, 2014. Details and registration here.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Emma Dryden: The Pre-#NY14SCBWI Conference Interview by Martha Brockenbrough

Make sure to check out Martha's wonderful interview with Emma Dryden. 

They talk about plot, reading and so much more, and it's packed with gems like these:

"the most common oversight I see writers making is not writing to the hearts of their characters and not allowing their characters to be the emotional and psychological heroes of their own stories." - Emma Dryden


"Writing is a lifelong process of learning, deepening and evolving craft..." - Emma Dryden

While the full-day plot intensive Emma is moderating the Friday before the conference is sold out, there's so much more to the 15th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference that you can still attend, including:

Keynotes by Jack Gantos, Kate Messner, Elizabeth Wein, and Sharon Draper,

THE ART OF THE PICTURE BOOK PANEL with Peter Brown, Raul Colon, Marla Frazee, Oliver Jeffers and Shadra Strickland

BANNED BOOKS PANEL with Ellen Hopkins, Author, Joan Bertin, Executive Director, National Coalition Against Censorship, and Susanna Reich, Chair, Children’s and Young Adult Book Committee, Pen American Center

THE FUTURE OF AUTHORSHIP PANEL with Paul Aiken, Jean Feiwel, Jane Friedman, Abbi Glines, and Tim Travaglini

Your choice of two out of twenty-four special Breakout Sessions discussing craft, marketing, illustration and more,

Plus a Portfolio Showcase, a Saturday Gala dinner, and the magic mix of Craft, Business, Inspiration, Opportunity and Community that makes SCBWI Conferences such amazing and worthwhile events!

You can find out more details and register here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Get Ready - and Get All The Info - For #NY14SCBWI!

Get Ready!

SCBWI's 15th Annual Winter Conference promises to sell out (as it's done for the past few years) so here's the information you need:

We'll be in New York, New York February 22-23, 2014 (with the optional Pre-Conference Intensives February 21.)


It's an amazing lineup of keynote speakers and panels, including Keynote Addresses by:

Sharon Draper

Jack Gantos

Kate Messner

Elizabeth Wein

Keynote Panels: The Art of The Picture Book with

Peter Brown

Raul Colon

Marla Frazee

Oliver Jeffers

Shadra Strickland

Moderated by Arthur Levine

and The Future of Authorship with:

Paul Aiken

Jean Feiwel

Jane Friedman

Abbi Glines

Timothy Travaglini

and Banned Books with

Joan Bertin and

Ellen Hopkins

AND 24 hands-on Breakout Sessions with editors, art directors and agents on Seven Essentials You Need to Know About...(on craft and marketing topics ranging across all genres)

Intensives on February 21 (optional) Our pre-conference intensives are highly sought after and fill up fast. This year, they include:

I. Writers' Roundtable: This intensive gives writers two opportunities to share their first pages with a group of agents and editors.

II. Writers Intensive Plot and Structure in Fiction: Limited to a maximum of 50 students, an incredible faculty (Sharon Draper, Emma Dryden, Kate Messner, Jill Santapolo, Harold Underdown, Elizabeth Wein and Jane Yolen) provide seminar style instruction on the nemesis of all writers----plot.

Participants bring a synopsis of a work-in-progress for critique and workshopping.

III. The Illustrator Intensive: World Building
Step-by-step construction of compelling scenes that will not only convey but enhance a narrative. Faculty includes Pat Cummings, David Diaz, Tomie DePaola, Brian Floca, Brett Helquist, Arthur Levine, EB Lewis, Lily Malcolm, Holly McGhee, Cecilia Yung and Paul O. Zelinsky.

There will be a PORTFOLIO SHOWCASE Friday, February 21.  Illustrators, don't miss out on a golden opportunity to have your work seen by the top art directors and editors in the business! For those enrolled in the Illustrator Intensive this is included. For those who are not, you can still display your art for a fee of $50.

SATURDAY NIGHT PARTY Back by popular demand, we are holding our Saturday night party with buffet and drinks for everyone to network with their regional advisors, old friends and new ones!

GENERAL INFORMATION Conference Tuition: Basic tuition includes all conference workshops & events on Saturday and Sunday, February 22 and 23, the Gala Party on Saturday night (includes cocktail, food, and a drink ticket), and bagels, tea and coffee before the first session each morning. Tuition does not include the pre-conference intensives on Friday, February 21.

Early Registration (Before January 15):
$400 SCBWI Member Registration
$500 Non-Member Registration

Regular Registration (January 15 and thereafter):
$440 SCBWI Member Registration
$540- Non-Member Registration

Intensives:$225 each

Portfolio Showcase $50 Fee to participate in Friday Night Private Portfolio Showcase. No fee to those enrolled in the Illustrator Intensive.

Venue Information: GRAND HYATT NEW YORK 109 East 42nd Street (at Grand Central Terminal) New York, NY 10017 (212) 883-1234 Special SCBWI Room Rate: $249, single or double occupancy (limited rooms available so book quickly! ) Includes free in-room internet. Click here to book.

How to register: You can register online at or by phone (323-782-1010). You must be a current SCBWI member at the time of registration to be eligible for the member's discount.

Full conference schedule and more details will be available in the coming weeks at

We'll be tweeting the conference with the hashtag #ny14scbwi and blogging about it here at the official scbwi conference blog.

All of us at SCBWI - and your Team Blog - hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

...And That's A Wrap!

On behalf of all of us on Team Blog, we hope you've enjoyed our reporting on the 2013 SCBWI Summer Conference.  Check out the more than 70 conference posts below to get a taste of the craft, business, inspiration, opportunity and community the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators is all about!

'Bye For Now (right to left: Lee, Suzanne, Martha, Jolie and Jaime)

Start planning now to join us at the next International SCBWI Conference, our 15th Annual Winter Conference, February 21-23, 2014, in New York City.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee Wind, Suzanne Young, Martha Brockenbrough, Jolie Stekly and Jaime Temairik

Monday, August 5, 2013

Exclusive Photos From the Monday Illustrator's Intensive

Paul O. Zelinsky, way, way, WAY undercover.

Mentees with Mentor David Diaz, taking a break from the Illustrators' Intensive.
Rodolfo Montalvo, Maple Lam, Jen Betton, Linda Dorn, Corinna Luyken, David Diaz, Karen Raz, Andy Musser, Brooke Boynton Hughes, Lisa Anchin

Thanks to Author/Illustrator and SCBWI Board Member Pat Cummings for the photos!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Conference Attendees Lisa Marnell and Cindy Lin

Many SCBWI International conference attendees come back and back and back.

Lisa Marnell and Cindy Lin tell us why...

First Time Conference Attendees Hilarie and James Cornwell

The main three days of the 2013 Summer Conference just ended, and I asked Hilarie and James Cornwell to tell us about their experience at their first SCBWI International conference...

You can visit them on Facebook at "Hilarie and James Cornwell."

The Amazing Carson Ellis and some other guy: Making the Transition to Children's Book Illustration from Related Industries

Super agent Steve Malk and one of his many amazing clients, Carson Ellis, start out by sharing some of their favorite illustrators who weren't always illustrators. Unlike the British illustration world where many illustrators can take classes or even masters programs on children's book illustration, many American artists start out in different majors or fields.

A few of the best children's book illustrators and their original vocations:

Marc Simont, famous as an editorial illustrator

William Steig, editorial also

Bill Peet, animator

Claire Keane, animator (and generations of awesome artist in the family)

Jen Corace, amazing fine artist

Nikki McClure, amazing fine artist, waaaaaaaaay cooler than Steve

Jon Klassen, animation/film

The Provensens, animation and advertising

Carson did a lot of album art for her husband's band as well as art for galleries—art that looked a lot like children's book illustration but dirtier, as well as editorial illustration. All of which she still does, but she now considers herself squarely in the children's book illustrator role.

Steve saw one of Carson's covers for The Decemberists, and was twitterpated. He felt like she needed to be making children's books and he didn't want anyone else representing her work but him.

Carson's art that Steve first saw and said holy frijoles about. Steve thought this screamed children's book and he loved that it reminded him of art in the tradition of Edward Gorey.

So, what if you aren't schooled in illustration but are an oil painter or a video game artist? Here're a few of Carson and Steve's tips:

Read as many children's books as you can

Do some soul searching: How much do you love children's books? To Steve this is the most important ingredient, what works for all of the crossover artists mentioned above is their deep and abiding love for children's books. "It sounds intangible, but you really have to have it, it's what guides you through this business... We're all book nerds."

According to Carson if you love to draw and want to make money off of it, there are many different ways to do that in other fields, if you're getting into children's books to make money or for more creative autonomy, then you probably have a good chunk of what you need to be successful in the field, but you don't have the most important part which is love of the medium.

Be honest with yourself, it's okay to not love children's books!

Okay, you're still with us? Next thing to do is:

Work as much as you can and as hard as you can. 
Richard Scarry

Carson says: Work and work and work and compulsively draw and when you turn around and see what you've done and it's starting to look like children's book illustration, you'll know you are on the right track. Steve says: There's no excuse to not be working. Reillustrate a favorite fairy tale or kid's book cover. Getting published is a tough job and you'll be put through your paces, editors and art directors want to know you have a good work ethic.

Develop a portfolio that's specific to children's books
Tomi Ungerer

Steve will defer to the art directors in the room, but when you're forcing an AD or editor or agent to make the leap for you, visualizing your work that does not speak to typical children's book art, you're making it that much harder on the people that want to hire you.

Henry Winkler/Lin Oliver: Comedy Comes from the Heart

Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver are both inventors of many creative works in film, television and literature. Together they are creative partners and co-writers of the much loved series HANK ZIPZER: World's Best Underachiever. Individually they are hilarious. Together they are a riot.

To no ones surprise this session is standing room only and begins with a round of applause.

Together Lin and Henry wrote 17 books of the HANK ZIPZER series.

It's now being made by the BBC into a live television series. They are now writing some Little Hanks for the younger readers. So cool!

Henry was lucky because there was a lull in his acting career and his agent suggested he write a children's book about his learning difficulties. He felt he was too dumb, so how could he do that? Finally his agent suggested it again and he introduced Henry to Lin. Henry feels so lucky to work with her and you can feel the love.

They have written about 24 novels together. Lin has also written many others. While Henry has been in many movies and television shows.

Their first rule is that they have to make themselves laugh. You're writing your own kind of humor for yourself. Don't try to be funny for kids, on the kids' level. The fact of the matter is that we are all the same. So if you're connected to your material, if you think it's funny, someone else is going to think that too.

When something feels authentic, that's what makes Henry laugh while Lin loves character humor. They go hand in hand. Humor doesn't have to come from a joke, it can come from character.

The best is when you can make a reader laugh and cry at the same time. At the same time the funny thing happens there is also some pathos in it.

Right along with humor comes the risk of embarrassment, the risk of losing face.

A title is a really important thing. An overtly funny title gives the readers a cue it's a funny book and it's okay to laugh.

Let me interrupt this blog post to let you know that these two are extremely lovable and wise. Wow!

It's important that the character you put in comedic jeopardy be loved and cared for by your reader.

Mean humor can make readers uncomfortable, it's like mockery. But if you love a character and something funny happens, we laugh right along with them.

"We have learned that kids know when it's authentic. Write what you know is true."

It's important to go on the journey. You have to follow the story, even if it deviates from the outline.

Specific details are always funnier than generalizations.

Go with your impulse. It's extremely important and valuable.

About Those Manuscript Critiques

Kim Turrisi
A ton of work goes on behind the scenes to make these conferences sing. One offering that means a lot to attendees are the manuscript critique sessions.

The hilarious and hardworking Kim Turrisi makes those happen. This year, she read 372 submissions--10 pages plus a synopsis for each novel, and the entire manuscript for each picture book. That adds up to thousands and thousands of pages.

With each, she matches the writer to the most suitable faculty member. She's just as invested in our success with these as we are.

And she has good things to say about much of what she reads. "The quality of middle grade and YA is improving every year. I read some really fun and good ones that I have no doubt will be sold or get representation from this conference," she said.

What's more, there's a special prize that some fortunate critique recipient will receive. Faculty are allowed to nominate the manuscript they deem most promising for the Sue Alexander award, named for the late SCBWI legend. The nominees go before a panel of judges, and Kim sends the winner on a trip to New York to meet agents and/or editors, depending.

Jennifer Shulman

Jennifer Shulman, a New Yorker, is one of this year's nominees--and the YA manuscript that wowed editor Donna Bray was one that had been sitting in her drawer for several years.

"I decided on a whim to pull it out and get a critique this time," she said. 

What's it like seeing an old manuscript? "It’s like running into an old friend who’s cooler than you remember and more screwed up that you remember," she said. 

This is her fourth conference and she's signed up for a critique each time. "Donna Bray was very positive and very helpful." And she felt like Donna's comments on the manuscript's weaknesses aligned with ones she'd identified.

Her game plan for now is to finish what she's working on, and then "dig back in at the start [of the old manuscript] with all of her great advice in my head."

Meanwhile,  Kim said, if you plan to get a critique at a future conference, remember to follow those guidelines. It's great practice for when you to submit to agents and editors, who don't want to work with people who can't follow instructions.

Jon Scieszka: Moving Beyond Writing for Boys or Writing for Girls

Jon's session kicked some butt and dropped some names on the topic of boy vs. girl writing.

It's a prickly subject for all groups—creators, publishers, consumers—but Jon tells the conference audience they are the people that will be able to change what's going on with the wacky gender divide in children's reading (and readers).

Jon: "I had a very particular view of how the world works, mostly through wrestling. I grew up with all brothers, I lived in MANWORLD."

"But when I became an elementary school teacher I had a strange wake up call, I was now in WOMANWORLD. Everybody wanted to hear from everybody else, people cared about other opinions and feelings, things weren't decided by wrestling."


"I learned how to teach from these great, female teachers, but in class when I'd say the same things they did, the kids would respond to me as a man in a completely different way."

He felt, at the time, boys in his class all thought reading was only for girls, since only girls (mom, lady librarians, mostly lady teachers) are reading to them or seen reading books.

Jon saw this as a two-prong problem, besides not having many examples in their lives of grown men read standard-looking fiction books (papers and magazines, yes), the fact that boys develop later than girls—they're (as Jon calls it) crazy for longer, that wild energetic boy energy that may not be conducive to readying and therefore they may not be ready for reading in kindergarten/1st grade—this makes for a huge reader population divide in early elementary. And today's educational system is exacerbating the problem, pushing reading/testing earlier and earlier. Even in second grade boys reading is dicey. And if they are not reading, they feel bad about themselves and Jon sees them either pretending they read or pretending not to like it.

Jon understands this mentality because of all his time in MANWORLD. So Jon had the boys in his class reading anything they were willing to try, the sports section of the paper or Calvin and Hobbes, not required reading or books that they'd ultimately be tested on, which turned those boys into readers.

To call attention to this problem Jon established with the simple first mission of having the site be a place to recommend good books for real boys, and to change the definition of what reading is: graphic novels, wordless books, short stories etc.

Publishers are chasing the gender extremes of super girlie pink books or super farty dude books making the girl/boy book divide more divided, but Jon wants to know what happened to the real girls and boys like those portrayed in A Wrinkle in Time? It's up to us to do something different. Just because Wimpy Kid is a huge hit, doesn't mean the next eight ripoffs will be, it's up to us to write and illustrate unique things for real boys and real girls.


Check out Jon's latest book with Mac Barnett, Battle Bunny, which you probably heard while you slept because Jon and Mac have been breaking into hotel rooms and reading to our subconsciouses.

Jeri Chase Ferris' Workshop: Primary Sources! How To Find Them And How to Use Them

Jeri Chase Ferris leads her workshop

Jeri Chase Ferris is this year's Golden Kite-Winning Author for nonfiction for her picture book, "Noah Webster & His Words."  She's also written eleven other biographies of people from 1776 to 1936 who did great and important deeds for America but have been overlooked in history.

Jeri starts out by saying,

"Kids want to know history -- they just don't know it yet."

She reviews the difference between secondary and primary sources, pointing out that in nonfiction we can't say "her smile was tinged with sadness" unless we have proof for that.

One anecdote is how for one of her books, What I Had Was Singing: The Story of Marian Anderson, all the secondary sources (including the Encyclopedia Brittanica) claimed Marian Anderson was born in 1902.  But when Jeri was doing her research, she came upon Marian's birth certificate.  She was actually born in 1897!  The encyclopedia had to correct their entry.

Jeri points out that with the Common Core, students will be looking at two or three books on the same person or event to compare how the authors treated the subject, and they'll also be comparing the facts... we need to get to the truth!

She discusses photo research, interview techniques, on-line research sources, "digging around in musty stacks" and so much more.

Here are just a few nuggets:

"I write about dead people, but I still need to interview family members and get quotes."

"I want experts to point out my mistakes before reviewers do."


"It's our passion that's going to make our nonfiction timeless."

Jeri is passionate not only about her own writing, but also passionate about sharing her expertise.  The session is packed with great research tips, information and resources, and ends with an burst of applause.  Her final words inspire

"Go forth and research with a passion!"

Writing Biographies for Children

Angelica Carpenter, Alexis O'Neill, and Susan Goldman Rubin
People who attended the nonfiction biography breakout session were lucky enough to hear from three nonfiction experts: 
  • Angelica Carpenter, a librarian who writes biographies about Victorian authors;
  • Susan Goldman Rubin, who started as an illustrator, but switched to writing about art when her when her house burned down and she couldn't draw anymore; and
  • Alexis O'Neill - who got her start writing nonfiction biographies for magazines.
They divided the session into three segments: research, writing, and elements of book proposals.

Research: The first thing to do is research which books have been written on the subject already, Angelica said:
  • is a good place to start;
  • The U.S. Library of Congress is free (search on juvenile);
  • Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (you can sign up for a seven-day free trial; and
  • - a librarian's search tool
Research isn't easy. Most primary source materials haven't been digitized, so you can't find them online. But you can find library catalogs and tell what's out there. Your library might be able to borrow microfiche from other libraries.

One more pro research tip: Make friends with a librarian (and bring her flowers on Valentine's Day).

Angelica Carpenter takes notes in Word in chronological order. If you've entered your dates consistently, you can find them.  You have to put a source on every entry in your notes and pictures. She also makes travel notebooks with planning information in them before she goes, and she adds things she picks up on her adventures to these.

Writing: Susan Goldman Rubin doesn't like to be as neat and thorough as Angelica Carpenter. She doesn't do it as she goes, which leads to "three-martini evenings."

"We so want you to think of biography as a wonderful genre for writing," she said. "There's a real need for biography."

You're looking for lively anecdotes that bring a character to life (not to mention people who kids are going to care most about). Biographies can give a student the impetus to know more about the period their textbooks cover, which is especially important in the common core age.

Most of all, "Be passionate. Passion is everything," Susan said. 

Alexis starts her research at home. But then she goes out into the field. "You have to live and breathe your subject to fully understand." It also opens up other avenues of research. She's also hired freelance researchers (one in Nebraska was $25/hour).

Also, "don't trust everything you read." Sometimes misinformation is out there and repeated.

Primary sources--letters, papers, interviews--are vital, Susan said.

Pro tip: "Save your butt and document everything," Alexis said. She writes the date she read her material, where she got everything. If there's a museum that thinks you got something wrong, they won't carry your book or recommend it.

They also gave great advice on negotiating photos and structuring proposals. 

The Five Mentees for the SCBWI Board Illustrator Committee's Mentorship Program

Selected from all the portfolios submitted to this year's Portfolio Showcase,  here are the five mentees for the SCBWIBICMP - how's that for an acronym?

Linda Dorn

Brooke Boynton Hughes

Corinna Luyken

Andy Musser

and Rodolfo Montalvo

Congratulations to all!

The 2013 SCBWI Summer Conference Portfolio Showcase Awards!

Priscilla Burris presents the awards from this year's portfolio showcase...

The Grand Prize Winner is Maral Sassouni!

Here are three of Maral's images, and you can check out her online portfolio here.

And there are two Honor Award Winners,

Lisa Woods


Brooke Boynton Hughes

Congratulations to all!

Richard Peck's Golden Kite Luncheon Keynote: "Writing at Eye Level, Not Grade Level"

When Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser were trying to figure out who they could get to top last year's Golden Kite Luncheon Keynote Speaker -- Richard Peck -- they came up with only one name...  Richard Peck!

Calling us "people of the story," Richard Peck talks about writing, the passage of time, language and story.  He has all 1,200 plus of us laughing, and thinking, and it's as if every sentence was crafted to be embroidered on a pillow, or carved into a wooden plank, or perhaps even tweeted.

Here are just a few of the golden nuggets he shared:

"We learn to write from better writers than we are."

"Books are written on our level not grade level."

"We who write those pages they read in search of themselves."

His speech is profound, and thought-provoking, and ends with these words,

"No civilization lasts... but there are always survivors, and we... we write their biographies."

Everyone leaps to their feet to give Richard a standing ovation!

The Sid Fleischman Humor Award Goes To...

This year's winner of the Sid Fleischman Humor Award is the iconic Mo Willems, for his chortle-guffaw- and laugh-filled Goldilocks and the Three Narhwals - whoops, make that Goldilocks and the Three Accountants - what was it again?  Ah... Goldilocks and the Three Mosquitoes!

While Mo wasn't able to attend in person to accept his award for Goldilocks and the Three Zombies, he did send a video.  A really, really funny video.

Goldilocks and the Three Robots is a book that stays with you, in the wackiest and best possible way.  Well, except for that title.

Congratulations, Mo, for your Sid Fleischman Humor Award for Goldilocks and the Three (wait for it...) Dinosaurs!

Find out more about the legendary children's book author and Newbery Award-Winner Sid Fleischman here.

Golden Kite for Fiction: Joanne Rocklin

This year's Golden Kite winner for fiction is Joanne Rocklin for her fantastic book, THE FIVE LIVES OF OUR CAT ZOOK. Even if you're a dog person, this story will touch your heart and quickly become one of your favorites.

About the book:
In this warmhearted middle-grade novel, Oona and her brother, Fred, love their cat, Zook (short for Zucchini), but Zook is sick. As they conspire to break him out of the vet’s office, Oona tells the stories of his previous lives, ranging in style from fairy tale to grand epic to slice of life. Each of Zook’s lives have echoes in Oona’s own family life, which is going through a transition she’s not yet ready to face. Her father died two years ago, and her mother has started a relationship with a man named Dylan—whom Oona secretly calls “the villain.” The truth about Dylan, and about Zook’s medical condition, drives the drama in this loving family story.
 About the author:

Joanne Rocklin is the critically acclaimed author of several other books, including ONE DAY AND ONE AMAZING MORNING ON ORANGE STREET, which won the California Library Association's Beatty Award, the FOCAL Award of the Los Angeles Public Library, and the California Book Award Gold Medal from the Commonwealth Club. It was also voted best middle grade by the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. STRUDEL STORIES was a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and an American Library Association Notable Book, and FOR YOUR EYES ONLY!, was a School Library Journal Best Book and a Bank Street Best Book. Her early readers THREE SMART PALS and THIS BOOK IS HAUNTED will soon be e-books, the latter also to be released as an App.

 Congratulations, Joanne!

Golden Kite for Nonfiction: Jeri Chase Ferris

This year's Golden Kite winner for nonfiction goes to Jeri Chase Ferris for NOAH WEBSTER & HIS WORDS.

Jeri has written 12 biographies, this is her first picture book biography.

Jeri defines the word "appreciation" for the crowd before giving her generously offered thank yous.

Originally her manuscript listed her word count on the first page, which was over 2000. When she received it back from her editor, that number was crossed out and next to it read, "Not any more."

Noah was a master of self-promotion. He travelled all across the 13 states, speaking, and giving free copies of his book to librarians and teachers. One only knows what he could have done with Facebook and Twitter.

Everyone knows the one book he wrote that took 20 years (it reminds me of my current work) but he was also a major reason the States stayed united. Language was the tie.

Golden Kite for Illustration: K. G. Campbell

Lovely speech by the charming K.G. Campbell who thanked SCBWI and others for his success with Lester's Dreadful Sweaters.

K.G. ended with words of encouragement to all of those out there in the audience as yet unpublished:

"As you can probably tell, I'm not originally from here, I grew up in Scotland. Those that know us know the Scots are usually dour and pessimistic, we're happiest when we're congratulating ourselves that things turned out as miserable as we expected."
A Scotsman being decidedly undour

"When I first thought about being an author/illustrator I was bracing myself from the very beginning for failure. For the bitterness of undiscovered genius and boxes of unsold books. But now I feel like Matt de la Peña, like I'm an impostor here, why me? How did I succeed?"

"Just years ago I was sitting where you are sitting now, attending conferences, listening to great creators like Marla Frazee and trying to make the most professional work I possibly could."

"If it can happen to a pessimistic Scotsman patiently awaiting disaster, it can happen to you, too."

And holy buckets! K.G.'s next books out include one with Kate DiFreakingCamillo

and Ame FreakingDyckman