Break Out of Your Comfort Zone: 5 Writing Prompts to Kick-Start Inspiration

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By Colleen McAllister

Has your writing become generic without your permission? The habits and routines that help us write with regularity and consistency can take us down stale story paths without us realizing.

Here are some ways to break out of your comfort zone and breathe new life and specificity to your work.

Character Backstory Challenge

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#KTChat with Anne Bollman: From Awkward to Confident — Breaking Through Barriers in Illustration

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by Anne Bollman

Editor’s Note: Author and illustrator Anne Bollman will be available to chat with you on Twitter on Wednesday, September 29, 2021, from 12 pm to 1pm (PDT) for a live #KTChat.

It was 2018 and I had a dream of becoming a children’s book author and illustrator. I had almost a decade of experience illustrating for products, from greeting cards to dinnerware and even obscure things like doggy-poo bags. I had written a book about a dog (my favorite thing to illustrate), created a dummy, completed rough sketches of the entire book and illustrated a few spreads. I met an agent at a trade show, showed her my pitch and within a month I had signed with a publisher. My dream was coming true! 

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Interview with Author Erin Dealey

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Erin Dealey is the author of more than a dozen children’s picture books. Today, she shares information about how her journey has evolved over the years.

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Inspiration on a Budget: 5 Activities to Spark Creativity Without Breaking the Bank

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By Colleen McAllister

Stuck at home, staring at the same walls, unable to figure out how get inspired without getting in debt? Here are five things you can do to feed your creativity but don’t require you to open your wallet to do it.

Virtual Visits

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Ask an Editor: Building an Author Brand

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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 I’m just starting out and keep hearing I need to “build an author brand.” What does that mean and at what stage of my career should I start working on that? Thanks. —Starr, Los Angeles

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SCBWI Big Five-O Summer Conference: Creativity Takes a Community

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by Rieko Mendez

Is your brain exploding after the SCBWI The Big Five-Oh Summer Conference? Mine is! The conference had over one hundred faculty — a diversity of voices, seasoned and new — and I am still combing through the volume of handouts available to hone our craft. True to the tone that Lin Oliver sets for SCBWI, I connected with the authenticity and generosity of all the faculty sharing their experiences and insights. While professional, their sessions felt like fireside chats in their homes. What hit me was that creativity takes a community and SCBWI is a tremendous force of community. I am grateful.

From Malinda Lo’s presentation on Vision at SCBWI’s Big Five-O Summer Conference
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Announcing the Winner of the 2021 Sue Alexander Grant!

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by Brenda Scott Royce, SCBWI-L.A. Contest Coordinator

Christine Van Zandt, 2021 Sue Alexander Grant winner

We’re thrilled to announce this year’s Sue Alexander Grant winner—Christine Van Zandt—for her nonfiction picture book, Butterfly Dreams. The book’s inspiration came in May 2020, when Van Zandt and her daughter bought their first milkweed plant, “unaware that a mother monarch had sent us home with a surprise—actually 26 surprises,” she says. “Soon, our plant was covered in adorable caterpillars. We excitedly watched them grow, . . . until all perished.”

The sad turn of events led Van Zandt to research monarch declines, plant milkweed, and educate others by writing this lyrical story. 

Here’s what our judges had to say about her manuscript: 

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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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2nd Annual #KTIllustrates Contest: Call for Entries

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It’s that time of year again! Kite Tales invites all our illustrator members to participate in our annual KTIllustrates Contest: we give you a prompt and you show us your best take.

The illustration can be in any medium, for any age range, and any genre. It can be conceptual or literal, spot or spread, as long as it keeps the idea of the prompt as it would apply to children’s books. (If you’re inspired to create a cover illustration instead, go for it!) All are welcome, as long as the final entry follows the guidelines posted on the entry page.

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