The Sue Alexander Grant Is Open For Submissions March 30-May 11, 2020

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by Jennifer Rawlings

I know applying for the Sue Alexander Grant is scary, but ignoring your dreams and goals is even scarier.

Not only did I not tell a single soul I was applying for the Sue Alexander Grant, I wrote an entire novel in secret. That’s right. Not even my husband knew I was writing a YA Novel—I just wanted to do the work then hope and pray someone liked it.

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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

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Author Jessica Brody on Transformative Stories, Structure, & Character Voice in Retellings

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Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, as you may have heard, SCBWI L.A.’s 2020 Writers Day has been postponed due to the Coronavirus. Please check your emails for the announcement which provides more details. Despite this news, the below interview (edited lightly following the news of the event’s postponement) provides fantastic information – so, please, read on! 

WD2020_Jessica BrodyJessica Brody, author of the plotting guide Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, is slated to be a keynote speaker at this year’s Los Angeles SCBWI Writers Day! Along with several popular titles, including 52 Reasons to Hate My FatherA Week of MondaysThe Chaos of Standing StillBetter You Than Me, and the Unremembered trilogy, Jessica has also written Sky Without Stars (and the sequel Between Burning Worlds) a sci-fi reimagining of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, and books based on Disney franchises like Disney Princess Lego and the Descendants.

While Writers Day has been postponed (previously scheduled for March 28), here are some great tips and tricks from Jessica!

FARRHA KHAN: We’re excited to have you join us at Writers Day this year! Your keynote on The Transformative Power of Story sounds inspiring. Could you share a bit about what you will be exploring? – Without giving away too much, of course! 

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#KTChat With Author Margo Sorenson: How to ‘Write What You Know’ Without Oversharing

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by Margo Sorenson

Margo in colorEditor’s Note: Award-winning author Margo Sorenson, who has published more than 30 books for young readers and has been an SCBWI member for over 30 years, will be available to chat with you on Twitter this Friday (March 20) from 12 pm to 1 pm (Pacific Time). Keep on reading for her tips on how to write what you know without oversharing, and get your questions ready for this Friday’s live Twitter chat!

We’ve all heard the maxim, “write what you know,” but how can we leverage our true-life personal experiences in our writing without making our manuscripts shameless (blush!) tell-alls? In our upcoming live Twitter chat this Friday, March 20, we’ll explore some ways to use our past histories without incurring the possible wrath of family and friends or the excruciating embarrassment of having all our “deepest secrets” aired to (gasp!) young readers—but still keep our artistic integrity and creativity intact.

Acclaimed author Virginia Hamilton once wrote, “Writing is what you know, what you remember, and what you imagine.” Feelings and emotions are integral in writing, and when we stop and reflect, we really do know our emotions. Creating a main character that will resonate with young readers is often jump-started by tapping into these feelings. Those emotions we remember as kids—joy, fear, shame, love, and betrayal, among many others—will make our characters seem real and true to readers. However, it is key to separate “our real selves” from those strong, self-revelatory feelings that make us so vulnerable. That way, we can avoid turning our manuscripts into cringe-worthy “oversharing.”

How do we do that? Continue reading

Interview with HarperCollins Senior Editor, Maria Barbo

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Unfortunately, as you may have heard, SCBWI L.A.’s 2020 Writers Day has been postponed due to the Coronavirus. Please check your emails for the announcement which provides more details. Despite this news, the below interview (unedited from the original) provides fantastic information – so, please, read on! 

MARIA BARBO (Senior Editor at HarperCollins) acquires high-concept series and standalones for young readers of all ages—focusing mostly on middle grade and select picture books, chapter books, and graphic novels. She is particularly interested in projects with authentic voices, strong hooks, and fresh perspectives that use humor, magic, or illustrations to help young readers learn to navigate their world. She works with award-winning and bestselling authors such as Natalie Lloyd, Jim Benton, and Lisa Greenwald. Prior to joining Harper, Maria worked at Scholastic Inc, earned an MFA in painting, and lived in Spain via the Fulbright Program. When she’s not working, you can find her playing soccer or practicing her handstands.

CHRISTINE VAN ZANDT: Welcome to Kite Tales! We’re excited to have you as a Keynote Speaker at SCBWI L.A.’s 2020 Writers Day event. Your topic, “It’s TOTALLY Personal: Character Motivation is Everything” sounds amazing, as does the breakout session, “Master the Middle of Your Novel.” Does character motivation differ in picture book, middle grade, or YA?

MARIA BARBO: Thank you, Christine. I’m excited to meet everyone in L.A. I’d say the basic guiding principle across all age levels is that your main character’s motivations, their deepest desire, is what drives the plot forward. What do they want? Why do they want it? And which of their personality traits is going to get in their way? Continue reading

Interview with Best-Selling Middle Grade Author, Ridley Pearson

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Ridley Pearson is a #1 New York Times best-selling author of more than 50 award-winning books for readers of middle grade and young adult. His novels have been published into two dozen languages and adapted for television network and the stage.

CHRISTINE VAN ZANDT: Welcome to Kite Tales! Your best-selling Peter and the Starcatchers series is co-written with Dave Barry and includes illustrations, but that still must be a very different process from writing your new DC Comics Super Sons graphic-novel series. How does it feel to use words so sparingly?

RIDLEY PEARSON: Words are like coins; you can spend them freely or carefully. One of the projects Dave Barry and I co-wrote was to retell the Peter Pan story through the artwork of Disney Legend Mary Blair (artist). We were given 1,500 words, max. Despite an abundance of glorious artwork from the 1930s there were pieces of the story unrepresented by the archival artwork. Dave and I learned firsthand the importance of every single word. Continue reading

Harold Underdown on Revising with an Editor’s Eye

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WD20_UnderdownHarold Underdown is an independent editor and publishing consultant, with over 30 years of experience in children’s publishing. He’s the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Children’s Book Publishing and has worked as an in-house editor for Macmillan, Orchard, and Charlesbridge. The collegiate atmosphere of publishing is what drew him to editing and developed his passion for helping writers bring out their vision.

He will be sharing his expertise at Writers Day on March 28 and leading a pre-conference revision workshop for those lucky enough to have grabbed a spot. (You can sign up for the waitlist here.) He’s also been generous enough to share some tips with us at Kite Tales.

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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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The Return of Down The Rabbit Hole: An SCBWI-LA Field Trip

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by Dawne Knobbe

dtrh Santa catalinaWe’re excited to announce that Down the Rabbit Hole, an SCBWI Los Angeles field trip, is back and will be held on May 17, 2020! This Sunday field trip began in 2005 with SCBWI-LA offering members a new experience – an adventure designed to help participants discover a deep and truthful essence of their characters while bonding with other creative souls.

Since 2005, our character-focused adventures have explored many Southern California settings. We’ve ventured by train to both Carpinteria and San Juan Capistrano and then by ferry to Santa Catalina. We’ve boarded the Queen Mary, and explored the Huntington Gardens and The Getty.

If you’d like to know more about what’s in store for you Down the Rabbit Hole this year, keep reading!

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#KT250 Winning Entries, 1st Quarter 2020

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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 hereEntries are now being accepted for next quarter!

GRAND PRIZE WINNER: Continue reading

Prolific Author-Illustrator Mary Ann Fraser on Hooking Agents, Editors, and Readers with Narrative Nonfiction

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This year’s Los Angeles SCBWI Writers Day is all about discovering that “eureka” moment by learning tricks and techniques to make your manuscripts shine, digging deeper or simply polishing work to perfection, and attending in-depth workshops with industry pros in areas where we all can use insights and practice. Author and illustrator of over seventy books, Mary Ann Fraser’s workshop, Ready, Aim, Write: Creating On-Target Nonfiction, is all about “carving a gripping informational story out of facts. You’ll learn how to form an irresistible hook to tempt agent and editor alike.” You’ll also get hands-on reading AND writing done in this workshop! We just couldn’t wait until March 28th, though, so we’re bringing you a little sneak peek. Read on for a great Q&A with Mary Ann!

SARAH PARKER-LEE: Thanks for joining us, Mary Ann! Your workshop sounds super fascinating! Nonfiction and fiction are often seen as opposite ends of the kid lit world, or that writing for one means you can’t write for the other. Writers can also feel intimidated because they don’t think they’re “experts” on new subject matter that might interest them, even if they’ve written nonfiction before. What do you say to writers looking to bridge these perceived gaps or who feel intimidated?  Continue reading