Meet April Halprin Wayland, Author, Poet, and Beach Retreat Instructor


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By Ann Rousseau Smith, SCBWI CenCal News Liaison

2020 April Halprin Wayland - photo credit Morgan Eagle!! (1)

(Photo: Morgan Eagle)

April Halprin Wayland will be joining us for our picture book retreat, January 10–12, 2020, in San Simeon, California. She writes poetry and picture books, including More Than Enough: A Passover Story and the Sydney Taylor Gold Book Award winning New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story. She was named UCLA Extension Writers’ Program Outstanding Instructor of the Year, and blogs with five other children’s authors at April will be presenting four sessions during the retreat weekend, which is open to the public, and will include time to write, join small critique groups, stroll on the beach, and enjoy a beachside campfire in the evening.

ANN ROUSSEAU SMITH: Welcome to the Kite Tales blog! Most people love origin stories. Can you tell us a little bit about your first published picture book?
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Secrets to Writing Rhymes that Sell


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By Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh

Can-You-Hear-a-Coo-Coo cover

Rhymes are naturally easy for the brain to process. Their innate musicality makes their messages easier to absorb. They have a calming effect because rhymes set up an expectation and fulfill it each time a verse is completed. And kids love them.

So why are rhyming books so hard to sell?

Well, there are common pitfalls to rhyming. But there are secrets to salable rhyme, too!

The pitfall: Something rhymes just for the heck of it.

“That’s the way” and “What a day” rhyme, but if they don’t tell the story, then the rhyme is doing what I call “treading water.”
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#KTWRITEON with Author Fran Wilde: What’s (Hidden) In A Name?


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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 director of the Genre MFA Program at Colorado University, Fran Wilde. She’s sharing a part of her master-level lecture on worldbuilding, for all genres from literary to historical to fantasy and sci-fi, with us today! Dig in!

Hello SCBWI! Thanks so much for having me here.

As I’m writing this, it’s that liminal back-to-school moment when everything seems new and teetering on the edge of discovery. I love it, AND I remember how my nerves kind of went scrunch every year because I was so excited and maybe a little anxious all at once.

Naming, categorizing, and timelines are part of what school’s all about. When we walk into Maurice Sendak Elementary or Ursula K. LeGuin Middle School, we’re tasked with sorting things into different containers. That’s because names — category names, place names, object names — have so much power.

Valley Green Inn

One of my favorite worldbuilding and brainstorming exercises (it can work as either or both) has to do with place-names, the feelings they invoke, and the deeply layered stories they can tell.

When considering a setting for a story, or creating a new one, sometimes place names get left for last. With this exercise, we’re going to unpack the stories these names can tell, either as layering details or as historical timelines all their own. Continue reading

What Does It Mean to Have a Book Optioned?


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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 – What does it mean to have a book optioned?

—Ivy, Los Angeles Continue reading

#KTChat with Author Henry Lien: 7 Exercises to Generate Unique Story Concepts


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by Henry Lien

Peasprout Chen Vol 1 - Henry Lien - MacmillanUnique story concepts are some of the rarest and most powerful tools in a writer’s arsenal. As an author, I’ve focused my career on unique concepts. For example, my Peasprout Chen series is an Asian middle grade fantasy about a boarding school that teaches a sport combining figure skating with kung fu. The New York Times described Peasprout Chen as “Hermione Granger meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets the Ice Capades meets Mean Girls.”

Below are seven exercises that I use in my own writing, as well as in courses I teach for the UCLA Extension Writers Program and Clarion West Writers Workshop, to generate original story concepts. These exercises are intended to shock your subconscious out of learned behaviors, lead you into unmapped territories of your own creativity, and help you generate story concepts that only you could have come up with. Continue reading

Attending the Annual Summer Conference For the First Time as a PAL Member


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by Karol Ruth Silverstein

With my debut YA novel Cursed on bookstore shelves, there was no way I was going to miss SCBWI Annual Summer Conference this year. Attending as a published author for the first time was definitely a different experience.SummerCon'19-LA Region GroupKarolRuthSilverstein

Here are my 5 takeaways: Continue reading

Four Reasons Why Cons Are Not Cons


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by R. S. Mellette

LA Comic Con 2018 -6As we prepare for the Los Angeles Comic Con on October 11-13, I’m hearing from some PAL members, “But I don’t write science fiction…”


Last year for the first time, I organized the SCBWI PAL booth at the Los Angeles Comic Con. I had no idea what to expect. The adventure started with a mass of people RUNNING through the aisles. They were not going to see a film star. They were not going to be the first to watch a new Marvel movie trailer. They were going to buy clothes – Hot Topic was having a doorbuster sale. That’s when I realized, this weekend wasn’t going to be what I expected. Continue reading

What Cassandra Federman Wants You to Know About Writing and Illustrating Your First Book


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author-shot.jpgAuthor/illustrator Cassandra Federman was born and raised in Massachusetts, where she spent her childhood reading comic books, playing action figures, drawing superheroes, and participating in all things nerdy (before that became cool). She is also the SCBWI Los Angeles 2017 Mentorship Contest winner. Her book This is a Sea Cow hits shelves on September 1, 2019. Today she’s here to share some of her recent experiences and takeaways on her path to becoming published.

SARAH PARKER-LEE: What things do you wish you’d known/learned before you started this new chapter of illustrating? Continue reading

Toot Your Horn!


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TOOT HORNSCBWI 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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Editor Joanna Cárdenas on the Importance of Community for Creators


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wwr2019_JoannaCardenasKokila Editor Joanna Cárdenas is on faculty for this year’s SCBWI-L.A. Working Writers Retreat (WWR). She has worked on critically-acclaimed award-winning books such as The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez and The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya. Prior to joining Kokila at the launch of the Penguin Random House imprint last year, she was an editor at Viking Children’s Books.

Joanna is also on the steering committee for Latinx in Publishing, a nonprofit organization that promotes literature by, for, and about Latino/a/x people, and is a co-founder of the Representation Matters Mentor Program for aspiring editors of color. She’s here today to share her advice for authors, talk about Kokila, and tell us about what she’d like to see in her inbox.

Farrha Khan: We’re excited to have you at this year’s Working Writer’s Retreat! As an editor, what are you hoping to accomplish at these kinds of events? And what are you excited to see or learn?  Continue reading