SCBWI Writers: Don’t Miss This Opportunity! 

Are you taking advantage of your SCBWI Membership?
SCBWI offers several awards and grants for members. I know this because in 2013, I won a Work of Outstanding Promise (WOOP) grant that allowed me to research a new manuscript. [stay tuned for more news on this project]

Work-In-Progress (WIP) Awards assist children’s book writers and illustrators in the publication of a specific project currently not under contract. 

​The Work-in-Progress Awards for writers showcase outstanding manuscripts from SCBWI members. Selected works will receive a special platform to be showcased to the most prestigious publishing houses in the field. They choose one winner in each of the following 6 categories.
-Picture Book Text
-Chapter Books/Early Readers
-Middle Grade
-Young Adult Fiction
-Multicultural Fiction or Nonfiction
The works submitted by winners and honorable mention recipients will be made available on a secure webpage and presented to a hand-selected group of editors for their consideration. Although this is not a guarantee of publication, the opportunity to have your work presented to acquiring editors, along with an SCBWI endorsement, is a unique opportunity.
Deadline: March 1- March 31, 2016
You must be a current SCBWI member when your work is submitted and when the award is announced in September.
You may not submit a work that is under contract.  If the work becomes under contract before the award is announced, you will become ineligible.
Each member may submit only one manuscript to the WIP awards each year. (The Cushman grant is an exception, you can apply for this grant in addition to the primary WIP)
The grant is open to authors with a current work-in-progress.
Illustrators can apply for one of the Don Freeman Grants
1. You must submit your application electronically in the form of ONE PDF.
1. A first page that contains:
Your name
Manuscript Title
Grant Category
A double-spaced synopsis, max 250 words
2. The first 10 pages of your completed manuscript.
Your manuscript must be double-spaced and cannot exceed 10 pages. Please use an 11 or 12 point standard font.
3. Title the PDF with your name (first_last.pdf)
Your application can be no longer than 11 pages total.
Put the category you are applying to in the subject line of the e-mail.
Put your full name and the name of your manuscript in the body of the e-mail.
Send the PDF as an attachment to your e-mail
E-mail your completed application to: [email protected]
View 2015 Work-in-Progress Award Winners
Questions?  [email protected]

Looking for A Writerly Connection, STAT?


I’ve been invited to speak at the Rochester Writers’ Conference on October 17, 2015 in Rochester Hills, MI and I’m excited to share the podium with an impressive line-up of authors and professionals. With lectures and workshops (including how to avoid bad sex scenes which is a topic I don’t often see in my children’s lit world!), there will be something helpful for everyone in attendance. Check it out here. But be quick; the open spots are disappearing faster than sugar donuts at a coffee break.

“How do I publish my children’s book?”

Here are the two questions I find most often in my email inbox or am asked when I see people out in the world:

  1. “I want to write and/or illustrate children’s books. Where do I start?” or
  2. “I’ve written (or illustrated) a children’s book. How do I get it published? 

  I often respond by saying “That’s a big [long, involved, twisty-turny] question” and then begin. But in the future, I am going to direct curious minds to two great resources. The first is a link to a webinar SCBWI-Michigan produced called “Children’s Book Industry 101.” Its a great overview to how the industry works and how to jump into it — all for an hour of your time and $10. Here is the link:
The second resource is the video below that illustrates the benefits — tangible and intangible — of joining the SCBWI tribe. Check them both out and you’ll be one giant leap ahead. And let me know what you think!

How to Keep Your (and My) Eyes On the Real Prize

If I start thinking about how many eyes (read: opinions) are needed to bring a book to a child, I can get overwhelmed to the point of resorting to cleaning the refrigerator.   


But, it is important to step back and remember to write for (NO! Not Santa!) this little girl. Me. The little girl who wanted to tell Santa about my Christmas list and who wanted to please my parents (who wanted me to be a “big girl” and sit on Santa’s lap for a cute picture), but I was scared of him and he smelled bad. So while it looks like a Hallmark moment, in my memory, it is full of layers. If I focus on writing for this little layered girl, I stop thinking about infographics and gatekeepers and suddenly, writing a story for that girl feels like what I really want to do. Does this ring true for you?

The Michigan Reading Association Summer Literature Conference Is Almost Here!


When I accepted the invitation to speak at the 2015 Michigan Reading Association Summer Literature Conference on Mackinac Island, July 8th/9th seemed so far away. But now, here we are on the almost-eve of the conference and I’m really excited. Aside from the obvious way the Island captivates (no cars allowed!), it will be a treat to be surrounded by lit lovers at every turn. I’m looking forward to sharing my talk, The Intersection of Fiction and Nonfiction, with teachers and librarians and the mind-expanding discussions that always follow. Safe travels to all who are headed to the place where time forgot but fudge survived. 

Let me know if I’ll see you there! 

Hook of the Book Illustrators (and Authors) Day

PictureLet’s go!

Our Michigan SCBWI chapter has been busy creating a stellar spring conference for illustrators (and anyone interested in how art influences storytelling). Although I am drawing-challenged, I am particularly excited about the opportunity to learn how art moves story forward.  Here’s a link to the registration and more information. Maybe I’ll see you there? May 16th in Dexter, MI

Drowning in Your To-Do’s? Try This Approach.

It’s not about time management, it’s about energy management.”
                                                                         — Kat Cole, CEO of Cinnabon 

Having just returned from five days away from my busy life at home to attend the extremely busy SCBWI International Conference in NY, I am a bit wacked to spend time posting on my blog this morning. But on my flight last night, I read the brilliant quote above and decided I would heretoforward adopt it as my mantra. I thought you might like it, too. 

Kat says managing our energy means doing more of the activities that fill up our tanks and less of those that deplete it. For me, that means:

  • more writing/less talking about writing
  • more strategizing with others about how to make their dreams come true/less pouting about how hard it seems  
  • more letting go of words and actions that don’t feed my intentions/less hanging on because I might need them some day. Hey! That applies to shoes, too!

Try this re-framing and let me know how it works for you. But only if that fills your tank…

Connection Isn’t Only Social Media


Do you ever have that feeling that something amazing is about to happen? I do. In fact, I’ve been carrying around that feeling for seven days now. Every hour or so, the skin on the back of my neck tingles and I can feel how I’ll feel the moment the amazing thing is revealed. Weird, eh? 

This has happened before and I wish I could correlate it with an actual amazing thing, but alas, that isn’t the case. Most of my amazing things seem to happen out of the blue. Boom!  I open my email and there is the offer for the contract three months after the possibility was dangled. Boom!  There is the “yes” on a research grant although I’d had no confirmation that the application was received. Boom!  There is the invitiation to speak at a great conference I’d never set my sights on. 

But during this current round of feeling like something amazing is about to happen, my view has changed. I’ve realized that events about me are happening without my present knowledge and this could be the cause of the feeling. Really weird, eh?

Maybe a teacher is using A Warm Winter Tail in his classroom and the children enjoy it. Or a conference planner is searching for nonfiction writers and my name pops up (thank you, the wonder of google). Or maybe an editor opened an email with my manuscript that she didn’t know she needed until that moment. Of course, my view is only positive. Because, why not? 

This is happening to you, too. Events are being played out about you without your present knowledge. (Only positive events, though.) Because despite living in a transparent world, we don’t know everything about everything that happens — yet. But, the magic is that we are all connected somehow. After five decades on this wonderful planet, I’m pretty sure about this. And that connection causes ripples like wind across a snowcovered field and it also causes tingles on my neck.  

Amazing, isn’t it?  

Floyd Cooper (and Tara Lazar) Helps me Get It


Remember that PiBoIdMo adventure I posted about recently? I love it because it gives me permission to throw ideas out there without mental-censoring. And the posts Tara Lazar has lined up by creative people are always inspiring. Today’s post, however, did more than inspire. It shifted my thinking on a point that has stuck in my throat since I started writing picture books:

You must leave room for the illustrator” <finger wagging>

In picture book writing speak, this means that we don’t need to AND SHOULD NOT write in details (such as “the cinnamon-haired girl with the polka dot dress”) that can be illustrated. The marriage of art and words are what make a picture book effective. I understand this cerebrally, but have secretly rebeled because who knows my story better than I? Despite my appreciation — okay, slathering jealousy — of artists, I’ve always felt the story started with me and my direction is the right direction so maybe I can and should sneak in few sign posts along the way. 

But the amazing artist, Floyd Cooper wrote today about his Muse and how he lost and found it again. He said he is most inspired by, “a text that sings, that embraces my imagination and injects it with energy.” That makes sense to me, but when he said, 

“Good story inspires great art.”

I finally Got It. It isn’t about leaving room for the illustrator. It’s about writing story good enough to inspire great art. My throat (and intention) is now clear and I’m looking forward to seeing how this impacts my writing. How about you?