Great News!



SCBWI 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!


Joan Bransfield Graham’s poem Nurse: Healing Hand was featured in Lee Bennett Hopkins’ I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending, which debuted July 2. Kirkus called her poem a “standout.” Continue reading


#KT250 Winning Entries, 3rd Quarter 2019


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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 We’re proud to announce this quarter’s winners and share the first 250 words of their unpublished manuscripts.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

Agent Laurel Symonds on the Creativity, Business, and Work-Life Balance of Kid Lit


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Agent Laurel Symonds began her publishing career in the editorial department of HarperCollins Children’s Books/Katherine Tegen Books in New York City and joined the Bent Agency in 2018. She’s also had positions in the marketing department at a small publishing house, in a library, and as a bookseller at one of the nation’s best independent bookstores. She’s looking for authors and illustrators from across the picture book-YA spectrum, especially underrepresented stories and voices. And! …She’s here to share some of all this kid lit wisdom she’s gathered before she sits on faculty for this year’s Working Writers Retreat.

SARAH PARKER-LEE: Your decades’ worth of experience with marketing, editing, bookselling, and publishing gives you a lot of insight into both the creative and business sides of kid lit. We can’t wait to learn from you at the retreat! What is one thing from each side you think authors and illustrators should know but often don’t? Continue reading

Interview with Best-Selling Middle Grade Author Robert Beatty


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Robert Beatty is the successful author of the New York Times best-selling Serafina series and of Willa of the Wood. His fourth Serafina book, Serafina and the Seven Stars (Disney-Hyperion) was released on July 9, 2019. I met up with him when he stopped in Los Angeles for the opening-day book event at the Grove’s Barnes & Noble.

CHRISTINE VAN ZANDT: Welcome to LA! Serafina and Willa are some of my favorite middle grade characters. Your books spin fantasy and historical fiction together seamlessly. Much of Serafina takes place at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and includes real-life characters such as the Vanderbilts. How did you choose this location?

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Here are the Winners of the Fiercely Competitive 2019 Sue Alexander Grant!


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

SAG_WinnerThe 2019 Sue Alexander Grant drew nearly 60 manuscripts, making the anonymous judges’ decisions all the more difficult. In fact, in the final scoring, the winning manuscript edged out the runner-up by a single point!

We’re thrilled to announce this year’s winner: Continue reading

Interview with Amanda Isabel Ramirez, Assistant Editor and 2019 SCBWI CenCal Writer’s Day Faculty Member


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By Ann Rousseau Smith, SCBWI CenCal News Liaison

AmandaAmanda Isabel Ramirez, Assistant Editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, is on the faculty of the SCBWI CenCal Writers’ Day, Saturday, October 12, 2019. She has worked with award-winning authors, including Neal Shusterman, Andrew Smith, Katherine Rundell, and Tim Federle. She has also written numerous articles for such publications as The Celebrity Café and Puckermob. We are very excited she is joining us in October.

ANN ROUSSEAU SMITH: Welcome to the Kite Tales blog! Our theme for Writers’ Day is “The Creative Life for Me.” As a writer and editor, what can you share about living the creative life?  Continue reading

Agent Jennifer Tran on Querying and the Agent-Client Relationship


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Jennifer-Chen-TranAgent Jennifer Chen Tran is on faculty for this year’s SCBWI-L.A. Working Writers Retreat (WWR).

She joined the Bradford Literary in 2017, and represents fiction and nonfiction. She’s interested in diverse writers and #ownvoices from underrepresented/ marginalized communities, strong and conflicted characters who are not afraid to take emotional risks, stories about multi-generational conflict, war and post-war fiction, and writing with a developed sense of place. In non-fiction, she loves books that broaden her world view or shed new light on “big ideas.”

Originally from New York, Jennifer was an associate agent at Fuse Literary and served as Counsel at The New Press before becoming an agent at Bradford Literary. She obtained her Juris Doctor from Northeastern School of Law and her B.A. in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis.

She took some time to answer our questions about her work, how first-time authors can shine, and her wishlist.

ERLINA VASCONCELLOS: What are the biggest mistakes made by first-time authors? 

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#KTWriteOn With Illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi: Sequential Art


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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 illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

By Debbie Ridpath Ohi

I’ve always been a fan of sequential art – art forms that use images for the purpose of graphic storytelling. Back in childhood, the first comic I created was about a baby named Boppy, and I shared it with my family. Sadly, I didn’t keep any samples. I kept working on different comics over the years, just for the fun of it. I loved the challenge of trying to distill the essence of a story or story scene in just a few panels. My focus was on the story, not the art, and connecting with readers. You can see samples of my early webcomics at Waiting For Frodo, Will Write For Chocolate, and My Life In A Nutshell.

When I read sequential art nowadays, I read more graphic novels than regular comics – I like the longer form. I may work on my own someday. Who knows? But meanwhile, I have found sequential art is also a wonderful way to brainstorm ideas for character, plot, and dialog.

Here is a writing prompt for you all. Take a look at the following:

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Too Much of a Very Good Thing? Or: The KITE TALES Team is Changing!


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Sometimes doing a good thing, even a very good thing, is not necessarily the best thing for us. It’s hard to know when boundaries need to be placed, when risks need to be taken, when the unknown is better for us than the relative safety of routine. It’s hard to change. But as writers and illustrators, we must be protective of our time, our creative mental space, and recognize when a good thing, even a very good thing, could be getting in the way. Continue reading

SCBWI-L.A. Twitter Banner Contest Winner: Illustrator Gela Kalaitzidis


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HS_Gela_2In SCBWI-L.A.’s latest Twitter Banner Contest (a bi-annual event), illustrators were asked to submit their most creative response to our prompt: EXPLORE. The winning contestant’s artwork is featured on the Los Angeles Region SCBWI Twitter Profile until the next contest with a feature article published here on Kite Tales. Illustrator Gela Kalaitzidis won! Read on to learn more about Gela, her tips and tools, and her own illustration prompt for anyone looking for some inspiration.

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