Debut Author and Illustrator Jennie Palmer: A Speedy Path to Publishing


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Jennie Palmer. Photo by Serena CreativeThe book industry is filled with tales of people who toil on a story for years before being published. Author and illustrator, Jennie Palmer, isn’t one of them.

Palmer had taken classes on the art and craft of picture books at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she was an illustration major. After graduating, she put that knowledge aside when she became a production designer whose credits include work on the television show Blue’s Clues and 12 years designing floats and balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

And then came the idea for a picture book about witches – a glimmer of an idea that solidified as she was cleaning up after her family’s weekly pizza night.

In 2014, she attended her first SCBWI Summer Conference with an outline. She didn’t have a dummy or a portfolio, but three years later that story, The Wompananny Witches Make One Mean Pizza, would be published by Abrams.

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Illustrator Gallery: Ellen Jin Over, PhotoShop, & Art Directing for Animation


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Ellen Jin Over is an art director, visual development artist, and illustrator. She’s also our featured artist in this quarter’s Illustrator Gallery! Her work has appeared on televisions all over the world for the last 20 years. Spirit Riding Free, now on Netflix, is her latest project. Before that, she was art director on Disney’s Tinkerbell movies for nine years.

She didn’t always know what she wanted to do with her life until her senior year in high school pushed her to figure it out. “I got lucky that my long-forgotten childhood obsession of drawing and making paper dolls suddenly came back to my mind one day and I decided to major in art. After studying illustration at Otis, I stumbled upon a job interview for a position in an animation company.” The rest is history! Her program of choice is Adobe PhotoShop, something we tend to think of for editing photos, not creating illustrations, but Ellen does beautiful things with it! She tells us more in the interview below.

Sarah Parker-Lee: How did you choose to use Photoshop over other programs?

Ellen Jin Over: Photoshop has been around for 30 years. When I was going to school in the early 90’s, that was the only computer software that was available for students at Otis School of Art and Design. It was mostly for graphic designers. It just happened that illustrators like me found it useful to create images too…Photoshop started to be used more in some animation studios for digital paintings [in the] late 90’s.

There are many painting software today such as Painter, Coral Painter, Illustrator, etc–some for professionals and some for “regular Joe” doodling. I just have not found any other software that is comparable to Photoshop. It’s fast and easy.

SPL: Do you only work digitally or do you do any hand drawing? What do you think are the benefits of each? Continue reading

Ask an Editor: What is Style? Recent Updates to the “Chicago Manual of Style”


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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.

Dear Editor – I’ve heard there were “style changes” recently. What does this mean?

—Trying to be Stylish, Los Angeles

Dear Stylish:

What is “style”?

“Style” is the way writers express thought in a written work; this includes text and documentation and any tables and illustrations. “Style” is often used to mean the consistent use of capitalization, spelling, hyphenation, abbreviations, punctuation, ellipsis points, parentheses, quotation marks, the way numbers are treated, grammar, syntax, usage, and much more.

Where can someone learn about style? Continue reading

Author & Screenwriter Holly Goldberg Sloan on Writing Multiple POV’s & Unreliable Narrators


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By Karol Ruth Silverstein

Holly Goldberg Sloan is the author of five children’s novels, including New York Times bestsellers Short and Counting by 7s, and the highly acclaimed young adult novel, I’ll Be There. She has also written a number of successful family feature films, including Angels in the Outfield, The Big Green, and Made in America. Her latest movie is Pure Country: Pure Heart, and will be released by Warner Bros on August 1, 2017. The mother of two sons, Holly lives with her husband, Gary Rosen, in Santa Monica, California. She spoke with Karol Ruth Silverstein about transitioning from film to kid lit, writing from multiple points of view, and the inspiration for her work.

Karol Ruth Silverstein: First, thank you so much for doing this interview! After a successful career as a screenwriter and director, what prompted you to get into writing childrens books?

Holly Goldberg Sloan: I stumbled into writing books. I was on vacation in Mexico. I was working for DreamWorks at the time on an animated project. I couldn’t get email, so I was not able to get the studio notes I was waiting for. I had a lot of free time. I started writing a story. When I got home to Santa Monica I kept working on it. I felt free writing with no plan, no deadline. Six months later that story became the novel I’ll Be There, which was published in 2011 by Little Brown.

KRS: All of your novels are told through multiple points of view and not major characters, but dozens of different characters, some of whom only appear briefly. Can you explain why youve chosen to use this literary device? Continue reading

Great News!


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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!



Snowed by Maria Alexander has been nominated for the 2017 Anthony Award for Best Children’s YA Novel. The World Mystery Convention, aka Bouchercon, has bestowed Anthony Awards on iconic mystery writers since 1980. Snowed also recently won the 2016 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel. The book was published November 2, 2016 by Raw Dog Screaming Press. (Snowed.jpg, used previously)

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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! Leave a digital high-five in the comments!

Sleepy Toes, by Kelli McNeil, illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld, Scholastic, ages 0-5, Board Book, ISBN: 978-133-803-07-23, released 3/1/17.




A Squirrel in Trouble, by Farida Mirza, Oxford University Press, ages 4-6, Picture Book, ISBN: 978-0-19-940485-8, released 5/1/2017. Continue reading

Author & SCBWI Volunteer Marilyn Cram Donahue on Community, Publishing, & Giving Back


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By Marilyn Cram Donahue, Schmooze Coordinator for the Inland Empire

Once a month, I lead a group called The Saturday Morning Schmoozers in Redlands, for the SCBWI SoCal Region. Members share their manuscripts and we offer opinions and encouragement. I also volunteer as a career advisor for Pomona College, which connects me with aspiring young writers. And I work with a community group interested in memoir writing. A highlight of volunteering for SBWI was hosting a workshop on screenwriting techniques with Michael Mahin. I love this busy schedule! Writing can be a solitary job, and these volunteer activities keep me in touch with people who love pen and paper as much as I do.

When people ask me how I started writing, Continue reading

Authors Judy Enderle and Stephanie Gordon on Founding the Working Writer’s Retreat, Making the Most of Critiques and Writing with a Partner


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wwr2016_judystephSince they met during a UCLA writing class in 1979, Stephanie Gordon and Judy Enderle have led prolific careers as writing partners, publishing more than 20 picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels like Smile! Principessa! and Where Are You, Little Zack?  They have also published books individually and under the joint pen names Jeffie Ross Gordon and J.R. Gordon.

They were also the co-editors of the Fox Broadcasting Children’s Network magazine, Totally Fox Kids, and story editors and writers for the first season of the Fox children’s television program Rimbas Island. They have been lecturers, teachers, and editors for Boyd’s Mills Press, and are still famous for saying, “yes.” Today, they also run the manuscript critique and editing business Writers Ink.

Enderle and Gordon have crafted writing communities, founding SCBWI’s Southern California chapter (which would later be segmented to include the Los Angeles Chapter) and were the first Regional Advisor Chairpersons, taking SCBW(I) from six chapters to sixty and international, as well as launching the Working Writer’s Retreat. The retreat returns this year, Sept 15-17, with Enderle and Gordon again serving as faculty.

We asked them about their careers, working with a writing partner, and making the most of a critique. Continue reading

Volunteer as a STAR Reader, Keep Kids Reading


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Most folks in kid lit were big readers, and writers, as soon as they could string together sentences, myself included. But literacy among children isn’t a given. Kids’ book sales have been rising, which is great news, but there are still huge populations of kids who are underserved and overlooked when it comes to literacy. And that isn’t just bad for kid lit sales, it’s bad for society at large. According to the NEA, “…poor reading skills correlate heavily with lack of employment, lower wages, and fewer opportunities for advancement…And deficient readers are less likely to become active in civic and cultural life, most notably in volunteerism and voting.” Nobody wants that! So I decided to do something about it, and there’s an easy, fun way that you can too: Continue reading

SCBWI Summer Conference 2017 Wrap Up: Attending the Pro Track for the First Time


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By Helena Ku Rhee, Kite Tales Contributor


Lin Oliver, left, and Judy Blume chatting it up during the Golden Kite Luncheon & Awards Presentation.

As in years prior, SCBWI’s annual summer conference was spectacular. We laughed, we cried, and at the end, we were inspired to rush home to create good art. A highlight for me was attending the pro track for the first time. With my debut book coming out in 2018, I knew I could benefit from sessions such as Rubin Pfeffer’s “Be Empowered, Publishing is Your Business” and Linda Sue Park’s marketing overview.

I was amazed to be sitting in the pro sessions with industry veterans. Hello, Laurie Halse Anderson! My first thought was: After publishing 20+ books, don’t these veterans already know everything? And my second thought was: If such luminaries are here, maybe I don’t belong! But later on, I discovered that artists in all phases of their careers were in attendance – from the pre-published to the many-times-published. I have to admit, before I got my first book deal, I didn’t think I was allowed in the pro track so I never even thought to attend. But I admired the forward thinking of the aspirants in the audience. Continue reading