Dealing with Grief and Loss Through Writing


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By Michael Thal

My hearing loss wasn’t gradual. I went to sleep one night with good hearing and awoke deafened. Six years later the virus returned making my “good” ear clinically deaf and leaving me with a severely dysfunctional left ear. Grief for my lost hearing hit hard.

According to David Kessler and Elizabeth Kubler Ross in their book, On Grief and Grieving, there are five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Channie Amato, LMFT, puts it in perspective, “The stages don’t occur in an orderly progression. Grief affects each individual differently.”

Normally a highly-motivated individual, I sank into depression. I was a teacher who couldn’t understand a word his sixth-grade students said, and as a father of two young daughters, I needed to set a positive example. Prior to my hearing loss I never raised my voice to my girls. Now I was screaming at them daily. Things needed to change, and fast. Continue reading


Need Help Finding a Critique Partner or Group – Peer2Peer Critique Day Can Help


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Writers and illustrators, if you’re ready for the first step to taking your work in progress public, Peer2Peer Critique Day (formerly known as Critiquenic) returns Sunday, June 3 to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

It’s an opportunity to connect with other SCBWI members, and you may even find a critique group or partner to continue with after the event.

Peer2Peer Critique Day is free, but registration is required and is open until Sunday, May 27 on the SCBWI Los Angeles website. It’s for current SCBWI members only. If you’re not yet a member, you can sign up here.

The event runs from 10:30 AM to 3 PM. Bring a lunch or purchase food at the Skirball’s café.

Critique Day coordinator Daka Hermon gives us the scoop on how to prepare and what to expect:

critiquenic2Erlina Vasconcellos: How will Peer2Peer Critique Day be structured? Do participants meet individually or in groups?

Daka Hermon: When registering, the attendees will choose a category: illustrations, picture book dummy or text, chapter book/middle grade, or young adult/new adult. Upon arrival, attendees will be placed into groups. The size of the groups will vary based on attendance, but it’s normally about five to six members.

EV: Writers and artists are notorious introverts. How are you hoping to coax them away from the solitude of their desks and creative caves?

Continue reading

Toot Your Horn!


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SCBWI members’ publishing news is something to celebrate! Check out whose book is coming to a platform near you or around the world:



Los Angeles Is, by Elisa Parhad, illustrated by Alexander Vidal, Cameron Kids, ages 0-6, Board Book, ISBN: 978-1-944903-23-7, released 04/24/2018. Continue reading

Great News!


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SCBWI loves celebrating our members’ successes and noteworthy news, and there are many! Read on to find out who’s got something to shout about. Digital high-fives welcome in the comments!



“The Jackpot,” a memoir by Karen Gorback, has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul My Amazing Mom (March 2018).

Joan Bransfield Graham’s poetry is featured in two recent Lee Bennett Hopkins anthologies: “Teacher” in School People (Feb. 13, Wordsong) and “Great Indian Fruit Bat” in World Make Way (March 27, Abrams, a book in conjunction with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.)

Shireen Hakim blogged for NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month), a motivational writing community site with 250k followers. She wrote her tips for getting traditionally published, based on her experience writing and publishing her children’s refugee story, Rabbi the Rabbiti.

Continue reading

Target Marketing: Writing for the Whole Family


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by R.S. Mellette

While the publishing world argues over what’s Middle Grade, what’s Young Adult, and what’s New Adult, I’m asking; whatever happened to “good for the whole family?”

Target marketing has been around long enough that most people think it’s the only way it’s ever been, but if you take a longer view of commercial art, you’ll see that excluding the majority of your potential audience is a brand new concept. Yes, I said “excluding.” If you write, or edit, or make acquisitions, or shelf for one specific age group, then you are limiting your audience. And by “brand new” I mean since the turn of the previous century. Continue reading

Community Corner with Susan Lendroth: From the Sue Alexander Grant to Publication


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By Susan Lendroth

In 2010, I submitted the picture book Not So Loud, Natsumi! to the Sue Alexander Grant contest sponsored by SCBWI-LA. Little did I realize the winding road my story and I would take over the next eight years from contest entry to manuscript submission to eventual publication. Continue reading

#KT250 Winning Entries, 2nd Quarter 2018


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#KT250 is a Kite Tales quarterly community contest! We’re proud to announce this quarter’s winners and share the first 250 words of their unpublished manuscripts. We encourage agents, publishers, and mentors to reach out to any they find intriguing!

To find out how YOU can enter for next quarter, check out contest info here. Entries are now being accepted for next quarter!


GRAND PRIZE WINNER: Continue reading

The Sue Alexander Grant is Open. Why Should You Submit Your Writing?


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By Karol Ruth Silverstein, SCBWI-L.A. Contest Coordinator

It’s time once again to polish up those manuscripts and submit to the Sue Alexander Grant, the winner of which receives a guaranteed spot and free tuition to the SCBWI-L.A. September 2018 Working Writers Retreat.

The WWR is an intense critiquing weekend with critique sessions, revision time, and parties ­­— including karaoke! The retreat culminates in a first-pages pitch session with four acquiring editors and agents.

I recently caught up with last year’s Sue Alexander Grant winner, Andrea Custer, for her insight on the retreat, how it influenced her writing, and why you should apply for this grant to attend.

KAROL RUTH SILVERSTEIN: Did you put in a lot of work on your manuscript before submitting it to the Sue Alexander Grant or did you have a polished manuscript ready to go?

ANDREA CUSTER: I workshopped it with my critique group as I was writing the first draft. They are an amazing group, quite astute, and so I had the benefit of their comments early on and had already revised the first half of the manuscript based on their feedback. Submitting it for consideration for SAG was actually a bit of an impulse! I saw the reminder on Facebook that the submission deadline was coming up, and thought why not go for it? I had about a week to re-read, polish, and get it ready. I found out I’d won on my birthday! It was the best gift I’ve ever gotten.

KRS: What was your favorite part of the retreat? What was most valuable? Continue reading

And the 2018 SCBWI-L.A. Mentorship Contest Winners Are…


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By Karol Ruth Silverstein, SCBWI-L.A. Contest Coordinator

SCBWI-L.A. is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2018 Mentorship Contest. These two lucky writers will each enjoy a six-month mentorship with their respective PAL member mentors. To all those who applied but were not selected, please know that our mentors considered the competition very steep. Your applications definitely made it difficult for them to choose their mentees.

“I am so honored by and grateful for everyone who submitted to be my SCBWI mentee,” mentor Andrea J. Loney said. “Everyone put a tremendous amount of thought, passion, and heart into their applications and it showed. So I encourage everyone who submitted to keep going, keep writing, keep critiquing, keep sharing, keep networking, keep revising, and once again, keep writing. I’m looking forward to seeing your words in the world.

And now for our lucky winners: Continue reading

SCBWI SoCal Regional News, Second Quarter 2018


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By Beverly Plass, Co-Assistant SoCal Regional Advisor

Into the Woods: May 4-6, 2018

Our weekend writer’s retreat sold out in one week! YA and middle-grade writers will gather in scenic Idyllwild to spruce up their manuscripts with the guidance of professionals. And what better theme for this year than “Into the Woods?” Attendees will participate in four critique-group sessions led by an editor, agent, or published author, hear speaker presentations on the craft of writing, and mingle during meals and a happy hour.

Our faculty includes: Continue reading