Toot Your Horn!

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SCBWI 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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Ask an Editor: The Difference Between Story Arc and Structure

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

Hello Christine – I hear the words “story arc” and “story structure” but am not sure I know the difference. Can you explain? Thanks.

—J.R., Los Angeles

Hello J.R. – Arc and structure (hopefully) work seamlessly together. Let me try to explain.

Story arc (also known as narrative arc) is the trajectory that your story takes over its full progression. The arc provides structure—which makes these terms a bit confusing. Some story arcs and structures can be shown on a graph.

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How Does a Contest Submission Get to Be ‘Most Promising?’

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by Anonymous SCBWI Contest Judge

Years ago, I’d sit among other eager writers, waiting to hear if my submission had won “Special Mention” or even better, “Most Promising.” Watching the elated winner claim their award, I’d wonder why my story didn’t capture the prize.

Now as a contest judge who’s “been there,” I hope that sharing my insights on how to take a story from good to impressive will help another aspiring writer.

Judges respond to stories that engage us. I may love some genres more than others, but when judging, I set aside personal preferences and look at the caliber of the work.

I read contest submissions multiple times to answer two key questions:

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SCBWI CenCal Writers’ Day 2020: The Winners Are…!

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by Ann Rousseau Smith, SCBWI CenCal News Liaison

This year’s Writers’ Day consisted of three separate webinars. On Saturday, September 26, after a fabulous presentation by Erin Siu, associate editor at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group’s imprints, Square Fish, and Feiwel & Friends, the winners of our writing contest were announced.

Thank you to all our anonymous judges, who were chosen from outside our region. The judges’ comments are included in the list of honorees below. Most Promising will receive free entry to next year’s CenCal Writers’ Day. Special Mention will receive half-off Writers’ Day admission.

Congratulations to all our contest participants, including our winners!

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Am I Too Old to Be an Illustrator?

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by Lon Levin

When are you too old to become an artist? 

I always envisioned myself with white hair and a beard wearing drawstring pants and sandals wandering through my studio filled with large paintings sipping on some nice wine. A true Impressionist’s fantasy.

I had trained to become an illustrator. I graduated from Art Center in the late 1970’s and couldn’t find enough work to continue down that path. I thought I may not be good enough so I turned to art direction which I thought suited me better. 

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Hope in the Mail: An Interview with Wendelin Van Draanen

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by Ann Rousseau Smith, SCBWI CenCal News Liaison

Wendelin Van Draanen, a member of the SCBWI Central-Coastal California region, has written more than thirty novels for young readers and teens. She is the author of the 18-book Edgar-winning Sammy Keyes series, and wrote Flipped, which was named a Top 100 Children’s Novel for the 21st Century by SLJ, and became a Rob Reiner directed Warner Brothers feature film.

Her first non-fiction book, Hope in the Mail: Reflections on Writing and Life, is part memoir, part writing guide, and part publishing insight.

ANN ROUSSEAU SMITH: Congratulations on your newest book Hope in the Mail: Reflections on Writing and Life! You have written many novels, why a non-fiction book, why now?

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#KTWriteOn with Children’s Librarian Amber Morrell: Author Visits in the Time of Remote Learning

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Welcome to the Kite Tales Writing Challenge: #KTWriteOn. Each writing challenge is crafted by a kid-lit publishing professional to help spark ideas, creative energy, and get your work moving out into the world.

This exercise was created by Amber Morrell, an author of middle-grade fantasy from Orange County, CA, where she’s a member of SCBWI SoCal. She’s also a children’s librarian and professional storyteller: “With poems, puppets, and songs, I create narrative experiences for children of all ages.”

Today, Amber’s bringing us an exercise that challenges authors to rethink their school visit presentations in a time when almost everyone is learning from home, online. If you’ve never done a visit before, or aren’t there yet in your career, you’re still going to learn a lot about keeping kids engaged, and we can all use that! Write on!

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Smart Research—Or How to Approach Research for Your Manuscript

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by Colleen McAllister

Stuck in an endless hole of research? Overwhelmed by what you still must learn in order to write your manuscript? Is it stopping you from moving forward?

Here’s how to refocus and make a directed approach that will break you out of your standstill. 

When I worked as a Hollywood film executive, part of my job was researching topics our CEO was interested in. I had to cover the topic quickly, gain a thorough working knowledge of it, then regurgitate what I learned in an interesting, easy-to-digest way. Topics ranged from the concept of Biohacking, to researching a video game company, to “futurists” and what they’re thinking about!

I usually had a few hours to turn my research around and zero knowledge of these topics beforehand. Under time pressure and a desire to impress my boss, I learned how to do comprehensive research in no time flat. Here are some tips to help you do the same!

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#KTChat with Janie Emaus: Perseverance, Potato Latkes and #PitMad—After Mere Decades, I Was an Overnight Success

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by Janie Emaus

Perseverance plaque that sits above Janie's desk.
A plaque that sits above Janie’s desk for inspiration.

Editor’s Note: Author Janie Emaus will be available to chat with you on Twitter this Friday (October 2) from 12 pm to 1 pm (Pacific Time). Keep on reading for her story of perseverance, #PitMad and success, and get your questions ready for the live Twitter chat!

PERSEVERANCE

I believe it’s the most important factor in my long writing career. I kept the valuable parts of each rejection (of which there were hundreds), tossed away the rest and put my butt back in the chair.  

Last November my determination paid off.

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