Sunday, August 7, 2022

Thanks for joining us for #scbwiSummer22

On behalf of all of us on SCBWI Team Blog for the 2022 SCBWI Summer Conference, "Thank you!" for sharing the experience here on the official SCBWI Conference Blog! 

Our hope is this taste of the conference experience helps you on your creative journey, and that the business, inspiration, opportunity, craft, and community that SCBWI offers feels like it's yours -- because it is! SCBWI is here for you, and thank you for helping make this community so wonderful.

And remember, all the conference keynotes and breakout sessions are available as video recordings for those who registered through September 11, 2022 here.

The members of SCBWI Team Blog for the 2022 SCBWI Summer Conference, clockwise from top center: Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Jolie Stekly, Don Tate, Jasmine Paul, Jaime Temairik, and Lee Wind. Screen shot magic by Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

Keep up to date with all the conference bloggers who are also creators of children's, tween, and teen lit:

Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Don Tate

Jaime Temairik

Jasmine Paul

Jolie Stekly

Lee Wind

And stay tuned for information about the Winter 2023 conference which will be in person in New York City! Save the dates: February 11 and 12, 2023.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

From Page to Screen: Hollywood Options and Opportunities for Writers of Kidlit: David Bowles

Have you dreamed of your book on the big screen? David Bowles shares his experience and opportunities for writers of KidLit.

Ever wonder why book adaptations remove some of the scenes from the book? Movies and TV need scenes to keep moving forward. Therefore, not every scene makes it to the bring screen. 

If you desire your book, to become a movie, it must be a good book. Book sales can be indicative of making it to Hollywood. Producers act as investors for the film, so they are looking for a return on their investment. 


Authors and writers should learn the screenplay format. Final Draft is the most commonly used software throughout Hollywood. Practice the software to ensure, you can fulfill the requirements of Hollywood. You can also adapt your book into a screenplay.

 Are you sure the book would make a great movie? David offers some books should remain books.

They Call Her Fregona

David Bowles is the award-winning author and translator of more than two dozen books for children and teens, among them They Call Me GüeroMy Two Border Towns, and The Sea-Ringed World. His work has been published in multiple anthologies, plus venues such as the New York Times, School Library Journal, Translation Review, and the Journal of Children’s Literature. In 2019, David co-founded the activist movement Dignidad Literaria to fight for the literary and cultural dignity of Latinx people in US publishing and education. He presently serves as the vice president of the Texas Institute of Letters.

Missed this workshop? Check out the video archives here.

Enjoyed this recap? RT the post on Twitter so others can check it out. 

Illustrated Notes From #scbwiSummer22 (Part 2)

Wow, so many wonderful illustrated notes being posted! If you missed it, check out Part 1 of the SCBWI Summer Conference Illustrated Notes post series.  I've also been posting some in specific session round-ups (do browse the other posts in the SCBWI Conference Blog!) but here is a selection of a few more in Part 2. 

Did I miss yours or did you see a post with illustration session notes you loved? Please post about them in the comments!

From Raissa Figueroa's session:

From the Debut Author Panel with Colleen Paeff, Dustin Thao, Winsome Bingham, Pamela Harris, moderated by Martha Brockenborough:

From Vashti Harrison's session about Picture Book Illustrator's Digital Toolkit:

From TeMika Groom's live-drawing session (see the blog post for more art created by attendees!):

Saturday, August 6, 2022

The LGBTQIA2+ Social, hosted by Lee Wind

For a little over an hour, a group of 30 or so children's literature creators gathered in a safe space on zoom to talk about their book projects, and meet others who identify as Queer or Allies and who want to include Queer characters and themes in their work.

After introductions all around, there was a Q and A where we discussed agents, critique groups, writing outside your own experience, and more. We ended with Queer Kid Lit book recommendations from the group, that are represented in the graphics below!

Book recommendations 1 of 2 shown: I am Not Okay with This, Bye Bye, Binary, My Seventh Grade Life in Tights, This Poison Heart, Be Dazzled, Alan Cole is Not a Coward, The Gender Wheel, Gender Queer, Loveless, Heartstopper.

Book recommendations 2 of 2 shown: Melissa, Zenobia July, The Marrow Thieves, Too Bright to See, Last Night at the Telegraph Club, I Kissed Shara Wheeler, Alice Austen Lived Here, Adventures with My Daddies, Maiden and Princess, Bunny Bear.

Translators' Zoom Social, hosted by Avery Fischer Udagawa #scbwiSummer22

Did you know that the SCBWI has a member category for Translators? Children deserve to explore their whole planet through books, and translators bring them books written in many languages, in many places. Like writers and illustrators, translators work as independent, creative contractors who benefit from networking, professional development, and a supportive community. 

We had about thirty attendees; the shot above includes those who were okay with turning on their video for the group photo. 

Thanks to the translators for welcoming me to their Translators' Zoom Social tonight even though I'm not a translator. After Avery talked about useful translator resources and translation news, attendees introduced themselves. So many different languages and translation projects going on! Everyone was super-friendly and welcoming.

Sadly, Nanette McGuinness was unable to join us as speaker, but everyone sent her best wishes:

I asked host Avery Fischer Udagawa for resources where people could find out more about translation, and here are just a few:

Translation in SCBWI - "A great place for translators to check out resources and ways to connect."

SCBWI Podcast: The Art Of Translation with Laura Watkinson - "The first episode of the SCBWI Podcast featuring a translator has aired, featuring Laura Watkinson."

"Translators have been among this year’s co-bloggers with Lee Wind at SCBWI The Blog, including myself back in March and Lawrence Schimel in June (here are posts with the label "Translation" on the blog). Regional blogs have also been offering meaty translation content."

Some examples:

A Conversation With Translator Takami Nieda - SCBWI Japan Translation Group

Translation: Claire Storey -Words & Pictures, The SCBWI British Isles Online Magazine

"In industry news, a reminder that the ALSC will now require naming the translator on the cover page, and ideally on the cover, of books considered for the Batchelder Award!"

Batchelder Award Criteria Change: Name The Translator

Revisions to Batchelder Award Aim To Raise Recognition Of Book Translators

"Finally, September, World Kid Lit Month, is a time to celebrate translations for children/teens and is fast approaching! Nanette McGuinness will co-blog with Lee Wind at SCBWI: The Blog during #WorldKidLitMonth."

Avery Fischer Udagawa grew up in Kansas and studied English and Asian Studies at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. She holds an MA in Advanced Japanese Studies from The University of Sheffield. She has studied at Nanzan University, Nagoya, on a Fulbright Fellowship, and at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies, Yokohama. She writes, translates, and works in international education near Bangkok, where she lives with her bicultural family. She serves as SCBWI and SCBWI Japan Translator Coordinator. Find her on Twitter: @AveryUdagawa.

Wrap Up and Awards!! Congrats—whoo!!!!


Congrats to all winners!!!
(in no particular order)

BIPOC Scholarship Winners: Jasmin Benward, Jennifer Moudahi, Torian Colon, Anita Debro, SB Doro, Jasmine Fang, Duachaka Her, Ellen Huxtable, Anna Lapera, and Sola Oulwande.

General Conference Scholarship: Marianne Blackstone Tabner, Susan Burdorf, Emily Holewczynski, Jennifer Marion, Sydelle Pearl.

Student Illustrator Winners: Rebecca (Sunnu) Choi, Riley's Desk

A. Orr Fantasy Award: Christina Gessler. The A. Orr Grant is a new award for middle grade fantasy and science fiction authors. Sponsor Michele Orr, through her foundation Voice Garden, has been a member of SCBWI for several years and when her sister Alice Orr Sprague passed last year from a short struggle with cancer, Michele wanted to honor her memory.

Emerging Voices Winners: Paul Ruffins, Jhizet Panosian.

Romy Natalia Goldberg: Website ~ Instagram ~ Twitter

Nyrryl Yrrah Entia Cadiz: Website ~ Instagram

Portfolio Showcase Award, Unagented Honor: 

Natalia Zalogina: Website ~ Instagram ~ Twitter

Portfolio Showcase Award, Agented Honor (tie) 

 Sally Walker: Website ~ Instagram ~ Twitter

Lisa Fields: Website ~ Instagram ~ Twitter

Unagented Grand Prize Winner:

Nyrryl Yrrah Entia Cadiz: Website ~ Instagram

Agented Grand Prize Winner:

Rob Sayegh: Website ~ Instagram ~ Twitter

Congrats to all the winners! You can browse the winning portfolios at the SCBWI Portfolio Showcase; winners are now listed at the top of the page.

Closing Keynote: Donna Barba Higuera

Our SCBWI Summer 2022 closing keynote speaker is the delightful Donna Barba Higuera whose The Last Cuentista won the Newbery Award. Her middle grade and picture books reinvent history, folklore, and or her own life experience into compelling storylines and today Donna shares some of those stories.

But first, SCBWI has been a huge part of Donna's journey and she has heard a lot of keynotes throughout the years. So as excited as she was to do one, she looked to past speakers for guidance. Dan Santat’s How To Give a Keynote advice states that you should open with a joke, so Donna baked up one for us:

Two muffins walk into an oven. 
One muffin says to the other, "Ahh, this oven is hot!" 
And the other muffin replies, "Ahhh, a talking muffin!"


Donna talks about her family, her wonderful parents and grandparents and the wonderful stories they told her. So many of the stories in Cuentista she heard in her grandmother’s house. They were different from other stories Donna’s peers were being told, Donna’s grandmother cooked differently from other grandmothers, she drove a rusty truck, didn’t have fancy dresses. But it's all of these differences that make Donna's voice today so exemplary. Besides her family folklore, these are some of the books Donna remembers loving as a kid:

Plus this book(?!?) (plus adorable school photo of Donna at that age she was really into that book)…

So not a big surprise that Donna loves the Twilight Zone, Star Wars, The X Files, and more recently the Dr. Whos. Donna is also a huge Trekkie: “These people had a huge influence on my childhood. I saw situations with people and actors that I’d never seen before.” 

In addition to sci-fi, Donna loved Mexican folklore, like Popocatépetl and Iztaccîhuatl the story of a princess and warrior that fell in love and in a pre-Romeo and Juliet fashion have a tragic ending but become neighboring volcanoes. Quetzacoatl and El Conejo is about a god who comes to earth and meets a selfless rabbit who is rewarded for his selflessness by becoming part of the moon (look for it tonight!)

Is Mexican folklore too strange or weird? Donna says no, look at all the strange and weird stuff we have in our current and favorite stories as mentioned above. Donna took those parts of herself, her love Mexican folklore stories and her love of sci-fi and combined them into her own work. 

Donna feels like she’d have no books in the world if it weren’t for her writing family: Donna is also an optometrist and one of her patients happened to mention her local Western Washington SCBWI. Soon after, Donna went to a local event and happened to have her first pages with her now editor, Arthur Levine. Arthur may not even remember having this meeting but Donna does! And that the advice was a little brutal, but from it she learned to slow her story down and she now always makes sure her young readers love her main characters within the first few pages before giving them all the dramatic plot 'goods'. 

Donna talks about meeting her husband at another SCBWI first pages event, and at ANOTHER SCBWI event she met Lin Oliver as well as editor Nick Thomas, who loved the first pages she shared there that eventually became Lupe Wong:

Donna touches briefly on book bans: 
I have something to say to people who want to erase these stories. You are challenging those with dreams of escape or who want more. You are challenging them because you don’t understand them. We are all people with folklore and cuentos of our parents, grandparents and ancestors. For those of you who are trying to remove books from our schools... I dare you to erase those from children’s imaginations, no one can steal our imaginations...

Donna's advice to book creators this weekend: 
Slow down, take your time, it’s an amazing journey. Some of you are going to meet people today, even virtually, who will become your friends for decades. Help each other along the way, and keep nurturing your dreams and the child in yourself. 

And if you ever see Donna at an event, please say hi:

Disability Reset: Karol Ruth Silverstein

Karol Ruth Silverstein (she/her/disabled) has been an active member of the SCBWI for over 20 years. Her debut young adult novel, Cursed (Charlesbridge Teen), was loosely drawn from her experience of being diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at thirteen and won the prestigious Schneider Family Book Award in 2020. Karol has identified as disabled since the age of 21 and is active on the Writer’s Guild of American West’s Disabled Writers Committee.

Karol asks us to change how we think, talk, and write about disability starting with our word choices. She's aware she does not need to convince this audience on the importance of language, that when we consistently use stigma-enforcing language it reinforces and internalizes that stigma in its readers.

As Karol revised her Cursed manuscript, she herself was reticent to call her main character disabled, but as she looked at all of the things the character was living through on a daily basis, Karol realized that it was an accurate description, even if the character herself wouldn’t have used that word for herself.

The preferred term is 'disabled' and Karol shares many examples of how the world is often treating people and viewing and describing things through an ableist lens:

Karol says as long as we continue to ‘cringe’ at using the word ‘disabled,’ that a child with a disability perceives that not mentioning it means there is something wrong with being it. Karol wants us to #saytheword rather than all of these euphemisms, the word we should be using is disabled. 

She also understands that we don’t know what we don’t know—but that a person's best course of action is not to argue or make excuses, but to admit it, apologize, and do better—Lizzo being a great example of this when she apologized and then rerecorded one of her songs to omit a derogatory term.

Children's book creators have both a responsibility to model good behavior in some or all of our characters while also creating authentic characters. Karol always wants to be a part of the solution, so for her she tries to model the good behavior and only let characters exhibit inappropriate language/ignorance if it’s necessary to the story.

The words lame, crazy, and insane are all also problematic in regards to mental health and something to move away from, a mistake Karol made herself in one of her books. She sees now those word choices could be deemed lazy writing anyway, and it was something she wanted to rectify in the reprints. See how fully replaceable crazy and insane are in the paperback edit of Karol’s book:

Cultural competency readers for all: 

Karol has arthritis, as does her main character in Cursed, but Karol still had a teen reader with arthritis as well as a doctor specializing in its treatment read her work for a present-day lens on what teens today are experiencing with diagnosis and treatment. Disability is tough to read for because each disability is so different. She recommends contacting hospitals and parent groups and that authors or their publishers should pay for a reader like this once a book is under contract.

In closing, Karol urges everyone to also check out Stella Young’s TED Talk. It's linked here as well as in the handout for Karol's session that will be available when the recorded version of the session is posted in a few days.

Hear more from Karol on Twitter @KRSilverstein, Instagram @KRSilverstein2019 and at