By Susan J. Berger Continue reading
by R.S. Mellette
While the publishing world argues over what’s Middle Grade, what’s Young Adult, and what’s New Adult, I’m asking; whatever happened to “good for the whole family?”
Target marketing has been around long enough that most people think it’s the only way it’s ever been, but if you take a longer view of commercial art, you’ll see that excluding the majority of your potential audience is a brand new concept. Yes, I said “excluding.” If you write, or edit, or make acquisitions, or shelf for one specific age group, then you are limiting your audience. And by “brand new” I mean since the turn of the previous century. Continue reading
By Karol Ruth Silverstein, SCBWI-L.A. Contest Coordinator
It’s time once again to polish up those manuscripts and submit to the Sue Alexander Grant, the winner of which receives a guaranteed spot and free tuition to the SCBWI-L.A. September 2018 Working Writers Retreat.
The WWR is an intense critiquing weekend with critique sessions, revision time, and parties — including karaoke! The retreat culminates in a first-pages pitch session with four acquiring editors and agents.
I recently caught up with last year’s Sue Alexander Grant winner, Andrea Custer, for her insight on the retreat, how it influenced her writing, and why you should apply for this grant to attend.
KAROL RUTH SILVERSTEIN: Did you put in a lot of work on your manuscript before submitting it to the Sue Alexander Grant or did you have a polished manuscript ready to go?
ANDREA CUSTER: I workshopped it with my critique group as I was writing the first draft. They are an amazing group, quite astute, and so I had the benefit of their comments early on and had already revised the first half of the manuscript based on their feedback. Submitting it for consideration for SAG was actually a bit of an impulse! I saw the reminder on Facebook that the submission deadline was coming up, and thought why not go for it? I had about a week to re-read, polish, and get it ready. I found out I’d won on my birthday! It was the best gift I’ve ever gotten.
KRS: What was your favorite part of the retreat? What was most valuable? Continue reading
by Stan Yan, Author and Illustrator
This is the first part in a two-part series where I will discuss my “missteps” in crowdfunding my picture book, There’s a Zombie in the Basement, because sometimes you have to risk going against conventional wisdom to bring your book into the world.
In 2013, my primary job was drawing zombie caricatures at conventions. One day, my 3-year-old son wouldn’t come down to my basement studio, fearfully pointing at my zombie artwork on the walls. This inspired my foray into kidlit, which taught me some lessons.
Ignored Step #1: Don’t Self-Publish. Continue reading
Gary Schmidt is a two-time Newbery award-winning author and professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received both a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and a Newbery Honor for The Wednesday Wars. He lives with his family on a 150-year-old farm in Alto, Michigan, where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, and feeds the wild cats that drop by. He’s trading the Michigan cold for warm L.A. as faculty for this year’s SCBWI-L.A. Writers Day. Today, he’s sharing his experience and advice on writing emotionally heavy subject matter for kids, balancing multiple projects, and the historical fiction we all should be reading.
SARAH PARKER-LEE: You’ve shared that you weren’t a big reader as a kid until one particular teacher not only taught you to read, but taught you that you were capable of reading and understanding, that you weren’t “stupid.” How do you try to impart this same encouragement to your young readers?
GARY SCHMIDT: A good question. I think I come to the writing with the assumption that I’m going to ask the reader to do some work — and trust that they will be willing to do that. In Okay for Now, I have a character so emotionally hurt that he won’t articulate what he would like to say — and so many of his sentences end before he gets to the point — and often, he tells the reader that his story is none of their business. Or in What Came from the Stars, the reader is confronted with an alien language and has to figure out meanings — just like the characters. In Orbiting Jupiter the narrator is a naïve twelve-year-old kiddo, but the story he wants to tell is that of a very much older fourteen-year-old kiddo. In all those cases, the reader has a lot of work to do to figure out what is going on, and so has to become invested in doing part of the work of the novel. Succeeding at that involves a kind of competence that is, it seems to me, an article of trust between the reader and the writer that involves encouragement.
SPL: Many of your books aren’t as lighthearted or full of the typical middle-grade humor we often come to expect for that age group. Any tips on writing about heavier subjects for a middle-grade audience? Continue reading
Welcome to our newest feature, “Ask an Editor,” where our wonderful SCBWI members send in questions which may be answered in an upcoming Kite Tales blog. You can remain anonymous if you wish.
Have a question to submit? Log in to your SCBWI account, then either click on the “Ask an Editor” image at the left or follow this link http://losangeles.scbwi.org/ask-an-editor/ and fill out the form. It’s easy! Continue reading