Member Monday: Kites Are Flying!

It’s the first Monday in March but it is certainly not kite flying weather in Maine. We’ve had two late snow falls and while I was eager for snow in December, now I’m ready for spring. There’s nothing like the SCBWI Golden Kite Announcements to give me that warm fuzzy feeling inside.

A huge congratulations to the winners: Ruta Sepetys, Between Shades of Gray; Candace Fleming, Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart; Kate Messner, Over and Under the Snow; and (fellow Mainer) Melissa Sweet, Balloons Over Broadway.

“But that is not all,” said the Cat in the Hat…

Last Wednesday, the voting on the Crystal Kite nominations closed and this week– uour finalists were announced! To vote: SCBWI Members should sign in, go to their member home area, and follow the “what’s going on in my region,” link. Next click on the Crystal Kite tab on the far right. Votes are based purely on personal opinion and no campaigning of any kind is permitted. Votes close on March 16th.

Congratulations to the regional finalists for New England:

At The Sea Floor Cafe
Leslie Bulion
Peachtree Publishers

Red Sled
Lita Judge
Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster)

Jo Knowles
Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature
Beth Krommes
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Wink the Ninja Who Wanted to Nap
Julie Phillipps
Viking Children’s Books (Penguin Young Readers Group)

Island’s End
Padma Venkatraman
Penguin Group

Celebrating all these great books for kids lifts my spirits– a little like flying a kite on a warm spring day.

SCBWI Member Monday-Crystal Kite Award Season

It is member Monday here at Creative Chaos and we are in the thick of the SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice nomination season. 

From the SCBWI website: 

To be eligible for the 2012 Crystal Kite Awards, be sure to update your member profile with the publication information about your book published in 2011 by a P.A.L. publisher by January 31, 2012. Simply log in at SCBWI, click on "Manage Profile" and the "Publications" tab. Enter your book published in 2011, and click the box that reads "Yes, I would like to submit this publication for Crystal Kite Awards nomination." Once voting has begun on February 1, 2012, no books will be able to be added to the competition.

Did you hear that?! January 31st is THE LAST day to get your book nominated for this award, so get over to as fast as your little clicking fingers can click and nominate your 2011, PAL published book. 

What? Did you say, “Why bother?” First– Stickered books, sell. Second– I can tell you that while it feels a bit like running for homecoming queen/king, being recognized by your peers is a very satisfying feeling. These are people who care about what you do, who will listen when your spouse/partner/friends have had enough of your hand wringing over plot or composition, people with whom you can start a conversation at one SCBWI conference and finish it at the next. We have such a wonderful and unique community in the children’s book world– take advantage of it. Third– think of how long this journey has been. Don’t tell me you haven’t dreamed of accepting an award. (I have. Usually I compose the acceptance speech in the shower. Trust me the speeches are short, witty, and intellectual.) Finally– you get gloves with the award so you don’t get finger prints on crystal!

Here are the important dates:

  • Tuesday, January 31st – Last day to make sure your book is posted in your profile.
  • Wednesday, February 1st – Round 1 Voting Begins.
  • Wednesday, February 29th – Round 1 Voting Ends.
  • Friday, March 2nd – Round 2 Voting Begins.
  • Friday, March 16th – Round 2 Voting Ends.
  • Monday, April 30 –  2012 Winners announced.

If you need more info, click through to the FAQ page and good luck!

Disclamer: SCBWI information on their website  is accurate and true. Any opinions here are my own and not necessarily the opinions of SCBWI.

Important SCBWI info for Illustrators

This month I finished the first draft of a YA manuscript, so I basically made the month of December a no-blog month. However, SCBWI news has been piling up. Today, information for illustrators. First, congrats to all those who took on the Tomie dePaola Award challenge. I've seen some beautiful pieces. Today, a call for art for the bulletin and next, info about the Bologna Book Fair from Bridget- the SCBWI International Illustrator Coordinator. Whether or not you travel to Italy, your work could. Read on!
I'm busily reading and reviewing quite like a squirrel gathering nuts for winter. Exciting book reviews will start again on Wednesdays after the New Year.


Ever since Tomie dePaola insisted the I be added to the SCBW, the society of children's book writers and illustrators have been trying hard to serve their illustrator members. Now Sarah Baker, head of all-things-illustration-and-design at SCBWI headquarters in Los Angeles, has an exciting new initiative. A new column called Art Spot will feature one artist who submits a black and white spot illustration to the National Bulletin. In addition to a feature article about their work, and their experience, the artist will receive $100. Since the bulletin is viewed by industry professionals around the world including editors and art directors, the winner will enjoy wide publicity of their portfolio. 
Sarah is looking for art work that is well-designed, and well-executed. Remember that spot art should engage the viewer and lead them to read an article. There are many regular features in the Bulletin. Become familiar with the table of contents and see if you can link your artwork to regular features. Make sure your artwork is child-friendly. Since the artwork will be black and white, consider how your use of value adds to the piece. Good Luck!


PAL illustrator members of SCBWI across the world, even if you can't make it to Bologna yourself, don't miss this chance for your work to be visible at the international Bologna Book Fair, We will be showing a select number of illustrator's promotional pieces 
in our special Illustration Portfolio Display at the SCBWI stand at the Bologna Book fair and also online in our SCBWI Bologna 
Illustrators' Gallery. 

Deadline for email submissions: February 14, 2012.
Full details on how to apply are on
If your work is selected, we'll contact you with details about snail mailing a quality print-out of the piece.

If you are coming to the fair, then how about promoting your work at our SCBWI stand?
Duelling illustrator sessions, on-the-spot illustrations to a read-aloud story, and other live art demonstrations have been particular 
popular events at our past SCBWI stand.
To apply for a Showcase slot check out

Why not book a slot, or share a space alone or with another PAL,then send out announcements ahead of time, and invite your publishers there to come and watch? There are no children at the fair, but publishers, agents and foreign rights people may well enjoy a break from their busy schedule to be reminded that it all starts with a good idea and a pencil, pen, brush and paint or even your laptop!

And if you aren't yet published but are going to be in Bologna for the Fair, how about booking ahead for 5 minutes of feedback on your 
portfolio from a publishing pro at the Stand?

Disclamer: SCBWI information on their website  is accurate and true. Any opinions here are my own and not necessarily the opinions of SCBWI.

SCBWI NY Conference Info!

Most of us are enjoying the amazing temperatures this fall. This weekend I walked in the woods, read in the sunshine, chose pumpkins, and picked apples. (Come on, Anna. How many pies do you really think you're going to make?) It is hard to believe that registration for the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City begins next Monday, October 17th!

You won't find the final schedule on the website yet. It will be posted in the next few days, but here are the basics. The conference starts on January 27th with optional writing and illustration intensives. The 28th and 29th are full of fabulous keynote speeches, presentations from various publishing houses, and some sort of display event for illustrators. The conference will take place at the Grand Hyatt New York and special rates are available. I suggest you get your reservations early.

If you are an illustrator, I urge you to get to work on a piece of art for the Tomie dePaola Award. This year's contest requires an illustration of text from the traditional Chicken Licken, "The Sky is Falling," story. Download the guidelines and text here. The deadline is December 15th. The winner will be announced on January 2nd and will receive a $1,000 gift certificate for art supplies, plus full tuition, transportation and accommodations to the New York Winter Conference held in Manhattan. The winning piece of art will also be featured at the annual winter conference in New York.

Leave a comment if you are planning to be there!

SCBWI WIP Grant- Tips from 2011 Winner Skila Brown

I'm thrilled to have with me today writer and VCFA MFA Candidate Skila Brown. Skila was the 2011 winner of the SCBWI WIP Grant. Google Skila and you'll see that she has plenty of freelance credits for articles on parenting and adoption. I know her as a writer of snappy picture books, a talented poet and an amazingly loving, intelligent and hardworking person.

What can you do with an SCBWI WIP Grant?

  • Purchase of necessary materials
  • Travel for research
  • Conferences, courses and/or workshops in advanced writing techniques
  • Child care
  • Rental of work space
  • Supplemental basic support
  • Other items deemed necessary to complete the project.

If you are like me, you've researched grants and found them just as the deadline approaches. For the SCBWI 2012 WIP Grants- completed application and accompanying materials must be postmarked no earlier than February 15th and must be RECEIVED BY March 15th. The Grants are available to both full and associate members of the SCBWI. They are not available for projects on which there are already contracts.

With what project will the WIP grant help you?
My middle grade novel, Caminar. It is the story of a boy who, after surviving the massacre of his village, journeys up the side of a mountain, and must decide what being a man during a time of war really means. Caminar is a coming-of-age novel told in verse and set in Guatemala during the year 1981.

For what types of expenses will the grant money be used?
I will travel to Guatemala this winter to revise the story while I'm there, enhance the setting, and hopefully find survivors who are willing to read and vet my manuscript.

What do you think keeps people from applying for grants/awards?
A grant application sounds so intimidating, doesn't it? I mean, there are people who write them professionally for a living! There's also that kind of hopeless feeling of "there are so many people applying…I will never get picked…why bother…" I also think some people wait until the last minute, look at what is required in the application packet, and then realize they don't have the time or energy to spend on it.

You are a mom and a student at Vermont College of Fine Arts. In what ways did this make the application process more challenging? Did your studies or family help the process at all?
Honestly, being very busy and juggling many things forces me to think and plan ahead. I am not a procrastinator. In this regard, it really made the application process easier for me. I read the application instructions months in advance and allowed myself plenty of time to get it right.

This was not my first time applying for an SCBWI grant. I applied once before for a different grant, with a different manuscript. That story wasn't as solid or unique, but also – I waited until right before the deadline, rushed through the application, and didn't put as much thought into it as I could have. All mistakes I knew not to repeat.

When you dropped the materials into the mailbox, did you feel confident? Why or why not?
I felt confident that I had done the best job I could do on the application packet, but certainly had no expectation that I would win! A teeny hopeful part of me was longing for a runner-up position. When I got the call from SCBWI this summer and was told I was the winner, I absolutely could not believe it.

Are there any tips or hints that you would give to other SCBWI members who are interested in completing the application materials?
Start early. Allow yourself plenty of time to review the materials. Craft a thoughtful and deliberate synopsis. Have someone read over your materials for the sake of clarity. Be specific in why you are requesting funding and how you would use the money. Then put it out of your head and get back to writing!

Fabulous advice, Skila! Fair winds and following seas on your Guatemalan journey. Thank you for sharing your grant writing wisdom.

I’m sick.

The good thing about working from home:
You can still work even though you look and feel like death warmed over.
The bad thing about working from home:
See above.

I wish I had jamarattigan ‘s chicken noodle soup but instead I have gathered the following arsenal from the grocery store:
1. three (3) huge boxes of Puffs
2. one (1) large carton of OJ
3. two (2) cans of Progresso Chicken Noodle soup
4. one (1) box of Sinus Decongestant and Pain Reliever
5. one (1) box of Little Debbie Chocolate Fudge Brownies 
6. one (1) bag of cough drops

A huge shout out to all those New England SCBWI folks who recently were honored by an SCBWI Grant and a special wahoo! to Kirsten Cappy who received a letter of merit in the unpublished category. Most New Englanders know Kirsten as the person who put together the Portland, Maine Mugglefest, the engaging LL Bean scavenger hunts for Melissa Sweet, and many more highly creative publicity ideas for children’s authors. She’ll be giving a workshop in April at the NESCBWI conference.

Silly me, I didn’t even realize that you were writing and submitting Kirsten. Congrats!!!