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#KT250 is a Kite Tales quarterly community contest, but unfortunately this quarter we did not have enough entries to complete the contest. So instead, we’re offering you some tips as you prepare your work for any kind of contest submission and re-posting all our winning entries from this year! We’re so grateful for all who participated and made our first contest year so special. We can’t wait to see what you do next year!

And if you have any news to share about your entries, we’d love to hear it in the comments or via our “Great News” feature!

To find out how YOU can enter, check out contest info here. Entries are now being accepted for next quarter! (Please re-submit if you submitted for 4thquarter 2018 and would like to be considered for the coming quarter.)


DON’T RUSH! Is that submission deadline zooming towards you? Youcouldsubmit your first draft so you can make the deadline ORyou could slow down, make your entry the best it can be, and apply next time. Your idea is probably spectacular and you want your copy to reflect that. Waiting can be hard, but think of it as an investment in your career. You always want to put your best draft forward, and that’s rarely your first draft.

CRITIQUES ARE YOUR FRIENDS! To get to your best draft, you need to send your work through the critique-wringer, consider those notes, and make adjustments when you agree. Remember, if enough people pick up on the same potential issue, it probably needs some attention. But don’t be discouraged! Nobody writes a perfect first draft. Even best-selling authors put every book through this process. Get tips on finding a critique group here and here. And find more insights from authors, agents, editors, and SCBWI members on both giving and receiving critiques here. We even have events for critiquing!

EDIT EDIT EDIT! A well-written, polished entry is every contest coordinator’s dream! Winning entries are not just a reflection on the writers, but on the organization running the contest. If your entry is filled with typos, unintentional grammar mistakes, and improper formatting, it’s a sign to judges that this isn’t your best work and they may move on to another entry. For tips on editing, check out our feature “Ask An Editor.” For an SCBWI-approved list of freelance editors, check out this year’s THE BOOK beginning on page 167 (must be an SCBWI member to access) and ask other members for their recommendations.

FOLLOW THE RULES! Nothing can derail a contest entry quicker than not following the rules. Make sure you read contest rules thoroughly, fill out forms correctly, and then double-check everything before hitting “submit.” Log in to your SCBWI member account to find #KT250 contest rules here.

DON’T GIVE UP! If you didn’t win this time around, and a contest allows you to submit again, do it!Take a good look at your original submission and try to improve it if you can. If you’re not sure how, see #2 and #3 on this list. And if you feel your submission was the best it can be but was just not a good fit for that particular contest, find another one and submit, submit, submit! Learn from your losses, but don’t give up on winning! We’re rooting for you!



Prizes: Gift certificate to Los Angeles’s The Last Bookstore, work featured in Kite Tales


Nikki Barthelmess for The Stories We Tell Ourselves, Young Adult, Literary Fiction

Author Bio: During the six years Nikki Barthelmess spent in foster care, she found solace in books, writing in her journal, as well as through teachers who encouraged her. She writes YA contemporary and picture books. Nikki hopes to use words to connect with kids who are looking for their voices, including those who are or were in foster care.

First 250 Words: 

Mrs. Viola peers down at my transfer application form. The scribbled forging of Grandma’s signature catches my eye. I force myself to look at my school guidance counselor, rather than at the yellow slip of paper.

“Are you having problems in French?” Viola’s glasses slip to the bottom of her nose, her long fingers intertwined on her desk where she sits in front of me. “It’s only a few weeks into the semester. I’m sure you can make it work if you stick with it.”

I shake my head as I tap my fingers on the wood in between us. “I’m not having a hard time in French.” Viola’s eyes crinkle at the edges, like she’s trying to be sympathetic. Or look like she is. I stand up straighter, still unable to meet Viola’s eye. Instead I stare at the wall behind her, decorated with posters sporting the usual guidance counselor clichés like “The future starts with you.”

“French is great.” I clear my throat, glancing at the open door behind me. The hallway’s empty because class is still in session. “There’s this summer program in Mexico, through my church, that I’m hoping to do.” The lie slips off my lips easily, almost too easily. “I figured now would be a good time to brush up on my Spanish.”

Viola pushes her glasses back in place with her index finger. “If you ask me, you’d be better off staying in French. You could practice Spanish at home, with your familia.”

Learn more about Nikki or contact her to request her manuscript via: Her website: http://nikkibarthelmess.com/; Twitter: @nikkigrey_; Instagram: @n1kk1grey; or email.



CATE TOURYAN for The One Thousand and One Knights of Siroun Haroun, Middle Grade, Fiction Autobiography/Biography

Author Bio: When not editing or teaching technical writing, Cate Touryan writes short stories and creative nonfiction and tries not to check her email compulsively for good news (or any news) from her agent on her first novel. She has found that the best way to live each day is by taking walks with her dog (and her mom) and by faith.

First 250 Words: 

When my name was Siroun Hartoun — which was last year in third grade — Emily Swanson handed me the remedy to my misery along with a wadded-up Kleenex. She did this in a show of gallantry as I was being led down the corridor to the principal’s office for the second time.

“You didn’t use this already, did you?” I spluttered, sopping up my nose.

She fished in her coat pocket. “I don’t think so. But it’s the only one I’ve got.”

She held a notebook to her chest as we marched by her locker. “You know, Siroun,” she said with a sigh as we rounded the corner, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”

Emily Swanson was in the fifth grade, so that was good enough for me. The next time Joey Crabtree started to annoy me, reaching across the table to swipe my glitter-smeared Valentine, I stabbed him in the hand with my pencil.

This time the principal called my mother in. Emily Swanson, home with the flu, missed this, my third death march. “Don’t joke about death marches,” my father said at dinner. “They are a real and terrible thing.” He glared at my little brother as well, who pretended to smoke a sarma.

Well, it was a real and terrible thing to be hauled off to the principal’s office — a third time in two weeks. No snickering kids in the corridor this time. Just the fast click of heels and snap, crackle, pop of bubble gum.

Learn more about Cate or contact her to request her manuscript via: Website:
www.catetouryan.com; Twitter: @CateTouryan; or Facebook: @CateTouryan



MARGARET MCGLYNN for Storm Witch, Young Adult, Fantasy

Author Bio: Author-illustrator Margaret McGlynn grew up in northern New Jersey and remembers spending summers as a witchy mermaid in Bermuda. She worked for over ten years as a graphic designer for Disney Channel. She has an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children and Young Adults program, with a certificate in picture book writing.

First 250 Words: 

All Willa could do was try to float free of herself.

She sat with the other condemned ones, all men, in the cart outside the jail. Around her was the reek of fear and urine. She shivered. None of the men liked her, but no one was talking to anyone, so it didn’t matter.

Likely, they thought she really was a witch. That’s what God-fearing people whispered about cunningwomen like her, until their cow needed a poultice, or their baby had a fever, or their young man eyed another girl, and then they came, full of gentle hope. People called Willa groaty, the Marblehead word for a woman who spoke plain, who would not just listen to what men had to say.

The cart lurched, started rolling. Her shoulders bumped against the hips of the men around her, but she didn’t look up and meet their eyes. When the cart stopped, there would be the tree, and the rope.

Near a week ago Willa had been free, tending her herb garden with little Zeke playing nearby, walking down to the harbor to manage the drying of the cod, no one speaking to her. Months since anyone had come calling for a healing, not since that foolishness began over in Salem last January.

And then the men came to take her to court.

Learn more about Margaret or contact her to request her manuscript via: Website: margaretmayomcglynn.com; Twitter: @margaretmcglynn; Instagram: @margaretmayomcglynn; or email.


To find out how YOU can enter for next quarter, check out contest info here. Entries are now being accepted for next quarter!


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.


Sarah Parker-Lee is a Los Angeles Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators board member & the Managing Editor of Kite Tales, a book reviewer for Dwarf+Giant, a content creator for non-profits fighting injustice all over the interwebs, & is available to edit your writerly endeavors. She writes YA alt. history, sci-fi, & is the creator of Dogs & Zombies: Dog’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. Twitterings: @SarahSoNovel


#KT250 original photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash.

Photos by Kaitlyn Bakersydney Rae, and rawpixel on Unsplash

Author photos provided by their corresponding authors.