Why Write a Novel in Verse?


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by Sherry Shahan

While cleaning out my office I unearthed a shoebox filled with letters from a friend who served in Vietnam during the tumultuous 1960s. I spent hours poring through his astonishingly truthful accounts of this war. I knew I had to do something with his letters; after all, I’d kept them nearly 50 years.

Since letters inspired me to write Purple Daze: A Far Out Trip, 1965 (Authors Guild Back-in-Print Edition, 2020), it made sense to incorporate journal entries, notes, and letters into the narrative. I then began writing sketches about other high school friends and some of our more histrionic experiences. Once I began scribbling, memories assaulted me twenty-four-seven. Continue reading

Toot Your Horn


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TOOT HORNSCBWI members’ publishing news is something to celebrate here at Kite Tales! Check out whose book is coming to a platform near you or around the world. Horn-tooting and digital hi-fives welcome in the comments!


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Working From Home Tips: An Illustrated Guide


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Working from home is the new reality for many. It’s also a privilege that I am certainly grateful for. After all, even though events have been canceled or postponed and book launches are being impacted, for a lot of us in the writing and illustrating industry, we’re likely the best equipped to work from home.

Processed with VSCO with k1 presetFor the last three years, Emma Trithart, an L.A.-based illustrator, hand letterer, and graphic designer, has been with a digital agency that is primarily “work from home”. Just before the stay-at-home orders were announced in California, she posted her illustrated guide So You’re Working From Home (Very Specific Tips From One Person’s Individual Experience] on Instagram.

“Being used to office life, it was a bit of an adjustment… but now I love it,” Emma said. “I figured I could impart this little chunk of experience from my own life on others who might be struggling to get used to working from home.”

Whether you’ve gotten used to working from home or are still adjusting to the New Normal, here is Emma’s guide: Continue reading

#KT250 On Hiatus, But You Can Still Engage With Us!



Hey SCBWI members! We LOVE celebrating your work with our Kite Tales exclusive #KT250 contest, but due to circumstances beyond our control, which we know you are all feeling right now, we need to put this one on hiatus for a bit. Look for updates on Facebook and Twitter for when the contest is running again.

In the meantime, please check out the SCBWI-L.A. region contest page for any current contests, grants, etc. You can also connect with us, and each other, on our Facebook and Twitter accounts, so join and follow. And many of our LitMingles are still meeting online.

It’s 100% okay if you aren’t up to writing right now. But if you are, don’t forget, SCBWI is offering virtual, FREE writing workshops! Keep an eye out for registration info as they go live and the recordings will be available online to all members for one month after each workshop. Regional webinars are also still ongoing.

And as always, Kite Tales posts and archives are available for your perusal!

If you have other ideas for/know of other ways to connect with the SCBWI writing community, please share them on social media or here in the comments.

Thank you for your understanding and stay safe out there, friends!

For more fantastic content, community, events, and other professional development opportunities, become an SCBWI member today! Not sure if there is a chapter in your area? Check here.

#KT250 original photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash.

Ask an Editor: Is It Historical Fiction or Narrative Nonfiction?



“Ask an Editor” is a forum wherein SCBWI members submit questions that are answered as part of our quarterly Kite Tales blog.

Dear Editor – My YA book is set during World War II using some real characters, but the story is made up. Is this considered historical fiction or narrative nonfiction?                                           —John, Pasadena

Dear John – Defining the genre of your book is an important step because agents often list which genres they’re seeking. Based on what you’ve stated, your book should be pitched as YA historical fiction. Let me explain.

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An Interview with Kirsten W. Larson, Nonfiction Author


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by Ann Rousseau Smith, SCBWI CenCal News Liaison

Kirsten W. LarsonKirsten W. Larson, former NASA employee, is the author of numerous nonfiction books and magazine articles for curious kids. Her most recent book is a nonfiction picture book biography. Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane (Calkins Creek, February 2020) explores the failures and successes of self-taught engineer Emma Lilian Todd as she tackles the challenges of designing an airplane in the early 1900s.

Kirsten agreed to take a few moments from her busy schedule promoting her book to answer a few questions on the origins of her riveting new book. Continue reading

Interview with Poet Renée LaTulippe


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Top poet, author, and teacher Renée LaTulippe shares what it’s like working from Italy during the pandemic and her advice for children’s writers.

CHRISTINE VAN ZANDT: Welcome to Kite Tales! I’m currently enrolled in your online ten-week Lyrical Language Lab. Your instruction (from Italy!) during the pandemic has been seamless. How has teaching this course been different?

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Keeping Creative During Quarantine


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Photo by Prateek Katyal on Pexels.com

Times are strange. Staying inside and shifting to work from home might be new for some, but for those of us used to camping out at our computers for long hours writing and editing on sunny weekends it can feel like an extension of the routine. Both of these realities can be jarring, and sometimes alienating. Especially when it seems like the world is falling apart. Here at Kite Tales we want to let you know: you’re not alone; we’ll get through this; and take some time for healing, whether it be writing or just watching your favorite movie.

In that spirit, we wanted to help provide you with some resources that you can access online. From webinars to virtual meetups, there is a great community of kidlit writers and illustrators sharing thoughts and inspiration.

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Though The Show Mustn’t Go On—The Contest Still Can: Announcing The 2020 Writer’s Day Contest Winners!


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

The SCBWI-L.A. is thrilled to be able to bring good news to some of our members at a time that’s been so difficult for all of us. 

Let us begin by expressing a hearty thank you to our anonymous judges for selecting the 2020 honorees. As usual, manuscripts were submitted in four categories: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Picture Book, and Other (which includes poetry and non-fiction). If you’d like to contact any of the winners to request their manuscript or discuss publication, please let us know in the comments below!

This year, the first-place winners in each category will receive a manuscript critique from one of our faculty members plus free tuition to either the rescheduled 2020 Writers Day event or to next year’s Writer’s Day.


Here are the 2020 honorees: Continue reading

Interview with Best-Selling Author-Illustrator, Grace Lin


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New York Times best-selling author-illustrator Grace Lin won the Newbery Honor for her middle-grade novel Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, the Theodor Geisel Honor for her early reader Ling and Ting, and a Caldecott Honor for picture book A Big Mooncake for Little Star. Her new middle-grade novel, Mulan: Before the Sword, is an original prequel to Disney’s live-action Mulan story.

CHRISTINE VAN ZANDT: Welcome to Kite Tales! On the West Coast, changes to our lives and livelihoods have been happening at an ever-increasing speed. What’s life like on the East Coast? Continue reading