Posted by: Laura Bowers | September 25, 2014

This Weekend’s Baltimore Book Festival

main_logoWho’s going to this year’s Baltimore Book Festival? This year, it’s going to be held at the Inner Harbor due to the restoration of the historic Washington Monument in Mount Vernon. As much as I love the historic area, I always look forward to any chance to be at the Inner Harbor!

* Warning: Parking will be extra crazy on Sunday since there’s a 1:00 Ravens game!

If you’re going and would like to show support for our regional members who will be appearing at this year’s festival, here’s their information:


Our regional illustrator coordinator, Susan Detwiler, will be selling hardcover copies of Fine Life for a Country Mouse on Saturday, September 27th from 1-5 p.m. at the McDonogh booth, near the Science Center. (Click here for more information.)


Jeri Smith-Ready, author of This Side of Salvation and other young adult novels, will be speaking in the Simon & Schuster Children’s Author panel on Sunday, September 28th at 3:00 p.m. at the Literary Salon. (Click here for event details.)

I scanned the schedule for The Authors’ Tent–a marketplace of local and regional authors signing and selling their books–and saw a couple of familiar names from our region:

Authors’ Tent at Bicentennial Plaza

Liz Dejesus, Friday and Sunday; First Frost, Glass Frost, The Jackets, Night Gypsy

Kathy MacMillan, Friday: Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together

Katrina Moore, Sunday: So Long, Gnop-Jiye

The full list can be found here.

My apologies to those I might have missed. If you’re also signing books this weekend, please leave your date and location in the comments and I’ll add it to this post!

Hope those who this weekend have a great time!

Posted by: susandilldetwiler | September 24, 2014

A Bonanza for Picture Book Creators

I hope you didn’t miss the conference On the Road to Sparkling Children’s Literature last weekend; it was quite a wonderful event! And if, like me, your focus is on picture books — writing or illustrating or both — the offerings from our visiting faculty were extremely valuable. Here’s a little taste:

Emma Ledbetter, Associate Editor, Atheneum BFYR, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
Lights, Camera, Picture Book!

Emma’s talk was delightfully stimulating and gave us insights into the workings of a successful picture book. She compared the best ones to a cinematic experience, and went on to explain how creating a picture book is also like a puzzle, that the pieces can be rearranged to improve the pacing. She used examples to show how pacing is key; that if the flow is right it can have a musical quality, a rhythm, and creates the atmosphere of the book. I found her example books to be VERY helpful and inspiring. Her warm, buoyant personality and bright passion for the picture book as an art form stood out as special; she was very accessible and down-to-earth.

Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

I Don't Like Koala by Sean Ferrell, illustrated by Charles Santoso

I Don’t Like Koala by Sean Ferrell, illustrated by Charles Santoso

Ella Kennen, Agent, Corvisiero Literary Agency
Make It Soar! Writing Books for the Young Child

I found Ella to be a wonderful, inspiring speaker, and quite fun. I loved the way she reinforced her talk with graphics and the use of key words to help us remember the main elements of the presentation (theme+character+context=story, for example). She gave us some great advice about the nuts-and-bolts of a good story, such as her declaration that we should be MEAN to our main character, because that’s what creates conflict, which is necessary for plot, and that the story arc can be a roller coaster shape. Ella Kennen is also the blog manager at Rate Your Story. Check it out!

Kirsten Hall, Founder, Catbird Agency
How to Make a Picture Book — and Sell It!!

Kirsten is very enthusiastic about creating and promoting picture books, and she electrified the authors and illustrators in the room with her presentation. The boutique kid lit agency she founded is really hot — if you read Publishers Weekly Children’s Bookshelf you’ll see her name nearly every week — and her ideas about book development and ways to get your picture book noticed are brilliant. Plus, she loves humor and is extremely easy to talk to. Kirsten gave us concrete, workable suggestions for ways to make our books stand out and sell, such as the Pitch Sheet. The examples of books she’s helped create and place with publishers were terrific. There is also a completely upbeat way about her approach which encouraged us all. In fact, several members of the audience had a turn to stand in front and pitch their book dummies, and then Kirsten and the rest of us engaged in a rousing group critique/advice session; quite a bit of talent was in the room! There was spontaneous applause.

The Jacket by Kirsten Hall, illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova

The Jacket by Kirsten Hall, illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova

Jumping Penguins by Marije Tolman

Jumping Penguins by Marije Tolman

As always, I came home from the conference a bit tired but completely pumped and ready to work on my next picture book!

Posted by: Susan Mannix | September 19, 2014

Pre-Conference Wrap-Up

Good morning! We are on the eve of our fabulous conference On the Road to Sparkling Children’s Literature.


Are you psyched? I hope so, or I’ll have to bring back my good friends, Hans and Franz.

If you haven’t seen Laura’s post from yesterday with tips and links to preparing for the conference, hurry over there and give it a read. And remember to follow us on Twitter at #SparklingLit.

Anyone coming Friday night and/or are staying on Saturday night: If you are interested in meeting and socializing with other conference attendees, the Hilton Garden Inn has a lovely bar/grill area that will be open later than usual! There is also a nice sofa area by a fireplace as well as a large conference table in the lobby. I’ll be leaving some SCBWI stickers at the check-in] desk for those who would like to identify themselves.

Okay, so we covered all our bases, except one…how to get there! The conference will be held at the Claggett Conference Center, 3035 Buckeystown Pike,  Buckeystown, Maryland. You can find directions here.  For those of you staying at the  Hilton, go here for a map and directions.

Have fun this weekend! Soak it all in, folks, and learn. Enjoy and support each other!

Happy conferencing!












It’s heeeerrrrrreeeee!


Go here for information on the Saturday faculty and sessions and here for that day’s schedule. If you’re attending on Sunday, head over to our website for details and then prepare any materials or writing samples for your particular intensive.

Laura’s blog post on perfecting your book pitch is a must read and on the subject of pitches, read my writing challenge from way back when What’s Your Pitch?. Larissa’s advice for pre-conference polishing is a gem, as well as a workshop for those of you looking to survive your first critique. It also gives some timeless conference tips.

So, get excited and get ready! For our first-timers – relax, have fun and take it all in. I promise you’ll leave energized, inspired and assured that, yes, you are where you belong! We’re all looking forward to meeting you, as well as seeing old friends.

Wow. I seriously can’t believe the  “On the Road to Sparkling Children’s Literature” is THIS SATURDAY. Anyone else shocked at how quickly this month is going? Hands? Hands?

Photo: Anankkml,

Photo: Anankkml,

If you’re not feeling prepared, never fear, here’s some conference tips for you to read:

Susan Mannix also did a bang-up job of recapping links to all our posted interviews with conference speakers and presenters in Tuesday’s post. Go here if you missed it!

If you’re attending David Teague’s Collaboration, Inspiration, and the Sound of your Own Voice intensive on Sunday like I am, (can’t wait!!) then be sure to bring one copy of an excerpt from a work in progress—an entire scene, ideally, in the range of three to five pages long, capable of standing on its own.

Also, for those of you who are coming in on Friday night and/or are staying on Saturday night: If you are interested in meeting and socializing with other conference attendees, the Hilton has a lovely bar/grill area that will be open later than usual! There is also a nice sofa area by a fireplace as well as a large conference table in the lobby. I’ll be leaving some SCBWI stickers at the check-in desk for those who would like to identify themselves. Don’t be shy–some of my best writing buddies are ones I’ve met at conference!

And finally, we have several Twitter volunteers who will be tweeting throughout the conference.

Once I find out what hashtag will be used, I’ll be sure to have Susan Mannix announce it on tomorrow’s post.

ETA: Jennifer just let me know that the hashtag they’re be using is #SparklingLit. Thanks, Jennifer!

Okay, that’s about it! If you have any questions or concerns, please post it in the comments below. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone who does! We’re looking forward to seeing you this weekend and I hope everyone has a great conference!

Happy writing and drawing. :)

Posted by: Susan Mannix | September 16, 2014

Conference Interview Round Up

T-minus 4 days until our conference “On the Road to Sparkling Children’s Literature” !!! Are you excited about our amazing speakers coming to  the Claggett Conference Center in Buckeystown, MD? Just to be sure, I am here to pump you up!


No, Hans and Franz will not be appearing (now wouldn’t that be a hoot?), but our faculty totally has them beat. We had a number of terrific interviews here at ATEB when many of them checked into the Cyber Cafe for a chat. Check out the links below to reread them:

Reiko Davis

Kirsten Hall

Ariane Szu-Tu

Emma Ledbetter

Calista Brill

Miranda Paul

Sarah Sullivan

John Micklos

Marc Tyler Nobleman

David Teague

Grab a cup of your favorite beverage, put you feet up and enjoy these interviews. I’ll be back later in the week for a pre-conference wrap up.

Happy writing and illustrating!!


Posted by: Shelley Koon | September 12, 2014

Chatting with Agent Emma Ledbetter

Registration is now closed and we’re in the home stretch for this year’s fall conference, On the Road to Sparkling Children’s Literature! Sooooooo Excited!

One of the best reasons to get excited about conference are the fantastic presentations by agents, editors and authors and, lucky us, we happen to be chatting today with one of our presenters!.

Emma Ledbetter, Associate Editor for Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, will be presenting Lights, Camera, Picture Book!  Emma’s background includes internships at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Nickelodeon, and Nick Jr., and a B.A. in Art History from Yale University (with a focus on the art of Little Golden Books). Emma works on a variety of children’s books, with a particular passion for picture books of all stripes and voice-driven middle grade novels.
In her talk for picture book writers, she’ll explore how to work on your manuscript with the full vision of your final book in mind—from the technical details of a book’s format and layout, to pacing and the page turn, to thinking beyond your text to the art and design of the book—all important factors which contribute to the cinematic experience of reading a picture book and keeping young readers engaged from start to finish. Please bring a story that you’re working on and some extra paper with you, as well—if there’s time, we’ll work on “pacing out” your own book dummies. Read More…

Posted by: Laura Bowers | September 11, 2014

Sad and fab As The Eraser Burns news!

Let’s get the bad news out of the way, shall we?


It is with a droopy heart that I must announce that Larissa Graham has retired from our As The Eraser Burns blogging team in order to focus more time on writing and her family. Larissa’s posts have always been informative, poignant, and insightful so she’ll be dearly missed! (Here’s a couple of my favorite posts by Larissa on characters: Part One and Part Two.)

We do have a fabulous bright side, however: Our new blogger is our very own regional illustrator coordinator, Susan Detwiler! I know, right? How awesome is that? I’m thrilled she said yes because ATEB has been lacking in picture books and illustrating posts for some time. Susan will fill that void beautifully since she’s both a picture book writer and illustrator. Last Friday, Susan Mannix posted our interview with Susan about her recent release, Fine Life for a Country Mouse.

Click here if you missed it!


Now all we need to do is figure out a way to not confuse Susan Mannix and Susan Detwiler. :)

Happy writing and drawing, everyone, and don’t forget–the conference registration deadline is TODAY, so hustle on over to our SCBWI website if you haven’t registered already!


Posted by: Laura Bowers | September 10, 2014

Happy Book Birthday to Laura Gehl!

Congratulations and a super mighty woo-HOO for regional member Laura Gehl for this Tuesday’s release of One Big Pair of Underwear!

One Big Pair

Count and share with…underwear! Come along on a zany adventure with hilarious pictures from the New York Times bestselling illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site.

What’s one thing that two bears, three yaks, four goats, and six cats have in common?

They hate to share.

But look out—here comes a pack of twenty pigs ready to prove that sharing makes everything twice as fun!

This seriously silly picture book with artwork by the New York Times bestselling illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site irresistibly combines the concepts of counting and sharing.

Read More…

Good morning all!

Today we’re chatting with Reiko Davis BUT I have a quick announcement to make before we get to the good stuff (see how I keep you all in suspense….).  This Thursday, Sept. 11, is the last day you’ll be able to register for our fall conference On the Road to Sparkling Children’s Literature. There’s still time if you want to hop on over and register – go ahead, I’ll wait!…

Done?  Great!  Onto our chat!

Reiko DavisReiko Davis is an agent at Miriam Altshuler Literary Agency and will be presenting Landing an Agent” at On the Road to Sparkling Children’s Literature. As to what she looks for as an agent? In fiction, she loves beautiful writing, but a book always has to have a compelling story to draw her in. She’s interested in both literary and commercial fiction. She loves a strong narrative voice, smart, funny heroines, narrowly located settings (towns in the South and Midwest, small communities), and stories that cross borders (in culture, geography, or tradition). For children’s books, she loves young adult and middle grade fiction—whether contemporary, historical, or fantasy.

Read More…

Posted by: Susan Mannix | September 5, 2014

Happy Book Birthday to Susan Detwiler!

TGIF everyone. Laura and Susan here tag teaming our incredible Illustrator Coordinator’s new book. She’s so amazing it takes two!  Congratulations and a major woo-HOO to Susan, for today’s release of FINE LIFE FOR A COUNTRY MOUSE!


Susan has illustrated several award-winning books for children and serves as the Illustrator-Coordinator for our region. She was educated at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Susan grew up in Maryland the eldest of five children, although she insists she was not bossy. Her large extended family is very close. When she isn’t drawing, Susan likes to sculpt at the beach, make pies (especially apple) and sock toys. She loves animals and was always fascinated by the pet mice that belonged to her two sons. She and her artist husband live in Baltimore with their dog. You can learn more about her from a previous ATEB interview and by visiting her website at

Time to hand the reins over to our master interviewer, Laura “Oprah” Bowers. Don’t expect tears or stunning confessions, just a great read. Take it away Laura! Read More…

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