What to Take on Your Writer’s Journey: #1 Find Your Communities of Writers

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by Rieko Mendez

Editor’s Note: This is the first of three installments on What to Take on Your Writer’s Journey. Look for the next article next month, that explores the question of “Why Must You Write This Book?” 

I write YA fiction and started writing seriously in the last five years. As a writer, there are craft books, workshops and conferences to hone your writing and I recommend using them. Here though, I want to share what I found crucial in my writing journey—what upped the game so to speak. 

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Interview with YA Cowriters Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz

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Jessica Koosed Etting, a Los Angeles native, and Alyssa Embree Schwartz have been BFFs and cowriters for about twenty years. In addition to their TV and film career, their four-book YA series, Georgetown Academy, has over 1.4 million downloads online.

In their recent YA book, Fade into the Bright (2021, Delacorte Press), eighteen-year-old Abby and her older sister Brooke receive a brief letter from their estranged father, telling them he’s tested positive for Huntington’s disease. Both sisters decide to undergo the required six-month pre-testing genetic counseling, then learn whether they have this fatal gene. Abby does; Brooke does not. Trying to process this information, Abby escapes to Catalina Island to spend the summer after high-school graduation with her little-known aunt.

CHRISTINE VAN ZANDT: Welcome to Kite Tales! Fade into the Bright is amazing! What made you choose to write about Huntington’s?

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SCBWI CenCal Writers’ Day 2021: The Winners Are…!

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By Ann Rousseau Smith, SCBWI CenCal News Liaison

This year’s SCBWI CenCal Writers’ Day Creating with Hope! was a hybrid event. Saturday, October 30, was an in-person event with several author speakers. Day two, Sunday, November 7, was a webinar featuring Megan Ilnitzki, editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, and an illustrator’s gallery. Our fabulous writing contest winners were announced at Sunday’s event.

Congratulations to all our contest participants, including our winners!

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Ask an Editor: Understanding Categories

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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.

Hi Christine – What determines book categories? For example, how are middle-grade books different than YA books? Thanks. —Jamie, Los Angeles

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Interview with Author-Illustrator LeUyen Pham

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Southern California author-illustrator LeUyen (pronounced Lay-Win) Pham is the 2020 Caldecott Honor winner and a NYT, Indies, and USA Today best-seller. Her successful collaborations include illustrating Julianne Moore’s Freckleface Strawberry series and Shannon Hale’s The Princess in Black chapter book series. LeUyen was also co-collaborator on Hale’s popular Real Friends middle grade graphics series. And there’s much more—over a million books in print more!

CHRISTINE VAN ZANDT: Welcome to Kite Tales! You wrote and illustrated your latest picture book, Outside, Inside (Roaring Brook Press, 2021). The book beautifully addresses how weird it was when everyone suddenly had to be inside. Even though the pandemic isn’t mentioned until the back matter, the way we felt during that time is clearly communicated. Was it harder writing this book than some of your others?

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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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Interview with Author Moni Ritchie Hadley

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Moni Ritchie Hadley is the author of the picture book, The Star Festival (2021, Albert Whitman). A half-Japanese military brat, she bounced back and forth from the USA to Japan as a child. Daydreaming was a favorite pastime. She received a BA in Psychology at UCLA and later became a home/hospital teacher for the LAUSD, where she taught students with medical needs. Also published in Highlights magazine, The Star Festival is her picture book debut.

CHRISTINE VAN ZANDT: Welcome to Kite Tales! The first printing of your debut picture book, The Star Festival, sold out almost immediately—wow! Were you expecting that?

MONI RITCHIE HADLEY: I wasn’t even aware of this until I noticed that my publisher’s site (Albert Whitman) listed my book as “sold out.” My book released on April 1st; the second run was ordered on April 2nd. “Sold out” is relative to size of printing, and that can vary greatly between publishers, but it was a pleasant surprise that my book exceeded expectations!

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SCBWI CenCal’s Bounce Back Writers’ Retreat

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By Ann Rousseau Smith, SCBWI CenCal News Liaison

Need a boost to your creative juices? Join us for a weekend of writing and revising beside the sea on January 21 to January 23, 2022.

Our get-away-to-write retreat will be held at the Cavalier Oceanfront Resort in San Simeon, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

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The Power of a Listicle

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by Sherry Shahan

Simply put, a ‘listicle’ is a catchall phrase for a short article arranged as a list. Each numbered item expands on the topic in simple, succinct sentences. Rarely is an individual item given more than a paragraph. 

Young readers are drawn to listicles because they offer information in easily digestible chunks—as opposed to trying to absorb concepts plopped on a page in an inky mass. 

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