Interview with Middle-Grade Author M.G. Hennessey


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Local author and SCBWI member M.G. Hennessey’s new middle-grade book, The Echo Park Castaways, addresses LA’s child-welfare system. The four main characters share the same foster-care home and the story is told from three viewpoints.

CHRISTINE VAN ZANDT: Welcome to Kite Tales! This is such an important topic but you convey the issues in a way a middle-grade reader can understand. Did you write it in an alternating fashion as it’s published, or did you write each character’s piece separately?

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What Are Kids Reading? Here’s What They Wish We’d Write


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by R. S. Mellette

LA Comic Con 19On the last morning of the 2019 Los Angeles Comic Con, Sarah Parker-Lee saved the day. She handed out fliers to every kid in sight, begging them to attend our panel, “What Are Kids Reading? What Do You Wish We’d Write?”

Out of fifty or so invited, four kids showed up, along with a handful of adults. A fifth kid had to come because she was a friend of Andrea J. Loney, who was on the panel. The idea was, we authors would switch places with kids in the audience, to make them the panelist. If no kids showed up, I didn’t have a B-plan – so hats off to Sarah!

Once we had the bright, talkative, reading, kids on the panel, everyone knew we had to share their thoughts with Kite Tales readers. So, what are kids reading? What do they wish we’d write? Continue reading

Finding An Audience at L.A. Comic Con


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by Chris Robertson

Spiderman… Batman… Superman… Elephant and Piggy…Paddington Bear…The Very Hungry Caterpillar? What the…?

5 Comic Con LA (1) (1)You may think that kid-lit does not have a place at L.A. Comic Con, right?  Well, maybe 10 – 20 years ago you would’ve been right. But now, given the overwhelming popularity of Comic Cons, there certainly is a place for kid-lit authors and illustrators.

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The 1, 2, 3’s of the SCBWI-L.A. Working Writer’s Retreat


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by Jennifer Rawlings, 2019 Sue Alexander Grant Award Winner

Jennifer Rawlings photoI remember where I was sitting, red club chair in my living room, when I opened the email from SCBWI-L.A. letting me know that I had won the Sue Alexander Grant. I cried when I read the email. I was so happy that someone liked the words that I had typed in secret. I had not told anyone, not even my husband, that I was writing a YA novel.

Needless to say, he was pretty surprised when I told him I had won an award for a book he knew nothing about. Continue reading

Attention PAL Novelists: Be an SCBWI Mentor in 2020!


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

MENTORSHIP1The SCBWI-L.A. Mentorship program alternates between picture book writers, illustrators and novelists. And this year, it’s the novelists’ turn again.

Many folks can attest to the value of having a mentor—but there’s tremendous value in being a mentor as well. From learning more about your own craft to reaffirming your love of storytelling to the simple satisfaction of giving back to the SCBWI-L.A. community, being a mentor can be incredibly rewarding.

We caught up with the SCBWI-L.A. 2019 Mentor Bethany Barton, currently mentoring author/illustrator Emily Asaro, and asked her the following:

KAROL RUTH SILVERSTEIN: What motivated you to be an SCBWI-L.A. mentor? Continue reading

Creating Magic with Juxtaposition


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by Jessica Chrysler

FairyMom_and_BabeFall brings fond memories for me. Even though I grew up in sunny Southern California, there were a few special trees in the neighborhood that would change color and drop their leaves. I’d dreamt about how endless forests of these trees would look and had read fairytales about how spirits would change the colors of the leaves. I’d wonder how they’d lived with all the other creatures in the wood, and if they would all gather into little caves, sleeping together through the long, cold winters. For a kid that never experienced the seasons, this magic seemed so real, even if just beyond my reach. But I was able to capture some of that magic when it came time for Halloween. Continue reading

Great News!



GREAT NEWSSCBWI 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!  




I Am a Thief! by Abigail Rayner, illustrated by Molly Ruttan, received a starred Kirkus review: “Hilarious and sweet, with a gentle, affirming moral.” Published by NorthSouth Books, it is now available. 




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Meet April Halprin Wayland, Author, Poet, and Beach Retreat Instructor


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2020 April Halprin Wayland - photo credit Morgan Eagle!! (1)

(Photo: Morgan Eagle)

April Halprin Wayland will be joining us for our picture book retreat, January 10–12, 2020, in San Simeon, California. She writes poetry and picture books, including More Than Enough: A Passover Story and the Sydney Taylor Gold Book Award winning New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story. She was named UCLA Extension Writers’ Program Outstanding Instructor of the Year, and blogs with five other children’s authors at April will be presenting four sessions during the retreat weekend, which is open to the public, and will include time to write, join small critique groups, stroll on the beach, and enjoy a beachside campfire in the evening.

ANN ROUSSEAU SMITH: Welcome to the Kite Tales blog! Most people love origin stories. Can you tell us a little bit about your first published picture book?
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Secrets to Writing Rhymes that Sell


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By Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh

Can-You-Hear-a-Coo-Coo cover

Rhymes are naturally easy for the brain to process. Their innate musicality makes their messages easier to absorb. They have a calming effect because rhymes set up an expectation and fulfill it each time a verse is completed. And kids love them.

So why are rhyming books so hard to sell?

Well, there are common pitfalls to rhyming. But there are secrets to salable rhyme, too!

The pitfall: Something rhymes just for the heck of it.

“That’s the way” and “What a day” rhyme, but if they don’t tell the story, then the rhyme is doing what I call “treading water.”
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#KTWRITEON with Author Fran Wilde: What’s (Hidden) In A Name?


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Welcome to the Kite Tales Writing Prompt: #KTWriteOn. Each writing challenge is crafted by a kid-lit publishing professional to help spark ideas and creative energy. This prompt was created by author and director of the Genre MFA Program at Colorado University, Fran Wilde. She’s sharing a part of her master-level lecture on worldbuilding, for all genres from literary to historical to fantasy and sci-fi, with us today! Dig in!

Hello SCBWI! Thanks so much for having me here.

As I’m writing this, it’s that liminal back-to-school moment when everything seems new and teetering on the edge of discovery. I love it, AND I remember how my nerves kind of went scrunch every year because I was so excited and maybe a little anxious all at once.

Naming, categorizing, and timelines are part of what school’s all about. When we walk into Maurice Sendak Elementary or Ursula K. LeGuin Middle School, we’re tasked with sorting things into different containers. That’s because names — category names, place names, object names — have so much power.

Valley Green Inn

One of my favorite worldbuilding and brainstorming exercises (it can work as either or both) has to do with place-names, the feelings they invoke, and the deeply layered stories they can tell.

When considering a setting for a story, or creating a new one, sometimes place names get left for last. With this exercise, we’re going to unpack the stories these names can tell, either as layering details or as historical timelines all their own. Continue reading