Friday, February 19, 2021

New Member of Team Blog: Lakita Wilson

 Today's the big day! It's the beginning of The Official SCBWI Winter Conference 2021! This is my first time writing for Team Blog, thanks to Lee Wind and his lovely invite, but it is not my first time musing about book conference tea. I love it all. The workshops, the critiques, the keynotes, and the fashion (Oh yes, my friends, there are lots of bookish inspired accessories and costumes to take in at any SCBWI conference you attend).

This little baby writer had no idea the fun she was about to have!

Hanging out with bookish friends, writer Doreen Spicer-Dannelly,
 illustrator Kim Holt, and editor, Emma Dryden

My name is Lakita Wilson, and I write middle-grade and young adult fiction and non-fiction.  In 2017, I decided to enter the On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Contest. I uploaded my manuscript and got back to querying agents. The next few months were full of rejections (boo). One rejection left me deflated and feeling low (think of that one helium balloon left over from last weekends birthday party--lingering in a purgatory space of not quite reaching new heights, but not exactly popped and thrown out yet). While I sulked on the couch (or in a bathtub of bubbles--depending on who I tell this story to), my cellphone rings. It's Lin Oliver!

Lin Oliver: Hello, Lakita. This is Lin Oliver calling to let you know you have been selected as one of the 2017 On-The-Verge Emerging Voices winners. 

Me: Are you sure? Lakita......Wilson???

Lin Oliver: Yes--Yes, I'm sure. 

Me: But, no agents want me.


*note to conference attendees. If someone offers you an award--take it. Do not spend your entire phone call convincing them they have made a huge mistake. *

Well. Lin Oliver managed to convince me that I did in fact actually win the award for my middle grade manuscript, BOOKS LIKE ME. And the following August, I flew out to L.A. to attend the Annual SCBWI Conference. Here's a photo of me with fellow winner Anuradha D. Rajurkar, who has a YA Novel, AMERICAN BETIYA coming out this year.  

Here I am at the 2017 SCBWI conference in L.A. 
 If you look closely, you can still see little sparks of shock behind my wide smile. 

After I received my award,  Martha Brokenbrough (3rd from the left) 
and Adria Quinones (not pictured) led me over to someone and
 said "We have someone we want you to meet. The person? Arthur Levine. What?!  

At the conference, I met so many writers, so many illustrators, and attended a break-out session hosted by Namrata Tripathi, who was introducing her brand new imprint, Kokila. Kokila's mission to center from the margins and make space for storytellers to include their authentic experiences helped boost my confidence that I did belong at the conference--and that I did belong in this industry. 

My journey was not easy. I still faced plenty of agent rejections after winning my award. However, with SCBWI opening doors for me and introducing me to industry professionals, and after a two-year run in grad school, studying the craft of writing for children and young adults, (Thanks VCFA!)  I finally landed my dream agent, Melanie Castillo at Root Literary ( @wellmelsbells).  

Me, with my beloved Revisionaries in our first semester at Vermont College of Fine Arts

Do you recognize the green glasses? It's Debbi Ohi, another one of the newbie Team Bloggers!
 After I helped her find her missing glasses in the library, we chatted about books and other fun stuff.

Since graduating from my MFA program and landing an agent, I've had the awesome opportunity of working with a variety of publishers. I've written for educational publisher's like Capstone and Lerner. I've worked with an awesome book packager (the project isn't announced yet, so I'm not sure if I'm allowed to give specifics on this), I'm currently working on a WFH project, and my agent has sold a few original projects to one of the top 5 publishing houses (A little birdie told me that the announcement for one of these projects is coming in a few weeks. So, follow me here to check it out)

I do believe that dreams come true. But I also believe that before the dream is realized, you have to put in a hard days work. Attending this conference is just one of the ways you can invest in your writing career. Persistence and believing in you and your work are other great ways. I finally believe in myself, and I believe in you, too! I can't wait to (virtually) meet everyone! :-)

Would you like to talk about books with me during and after the conference? Follow me here:

Twitter: @LakitaWrites

Instagram: @LakitaWrites and @LakitaReads 


  1. Great to know more about you, Lakita! Thanks for sharing, and for being part of SCBWI Team Blog for #NY21SCBWI!