Upcoming SCBWI MD/DE/WV Events

Grab your calendar and a fresh cup of coffee, folks, because this is going to be a long post about the many events and other fun stuff we have coming up for SCBWI! Starting with…

September As The Eraser Burns Theme: “Harvesting Ideas – Where Do You Get Them From?”

  • Got any tips for harvesting ideas, or what has inspired your books? We want all the juicy details!
  • We have modified our submission guidelines so for our latest update, go here.

September 12th Write-In/Sketch-In for Children’s, YA Writers, and Illustrators

  • When? 1:00 to 4:00
  • Where? The Owings Mills Branch, Baltimore County Public Library, Owings Mills MD
  • Details: Work on your latest project surrounded by fellow authors and illustrators, with refreshments, hourly door prizes, and lots of moral support!  This free program is co-sponsored by BCPL and the MD/DE/WV Region of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  Please RSVP by September 9 by clicking here to help us plan for refreshments. Questions? mddewv@scbwi.org

September 15th: Deadline for SCBWI Write This! monthly prompt

  • Write This! is a monthly prompt for writers appearing in the monthly SCBWI INSIGHT … and it sounds pretty darn fun. Submissions are to be 50 words or less. Want to get in on the action? Go here for more information.

September 21st: Deadline for both the Jack Reid Scholarship and March 2016 Conference Post Card Competition

  • Two scholarships, one for a writer and one for an illustrator will be awarded, and the winner of the postcard competition will have their work featured in our and receive the choice of a year’s membership in SCBWI or a portfolio review at the conference.
  • For entry requirements and other details, please visit this page on the region’s web site.
  • Note:  Betsy Bird, of the SLJ Fuse#6 Production blog will be our keynote speaker at the March 19-20 conference.  (What??? How cool is that!)

September 25 – 27th: The Baltimore Book Festival where there will be a table for MD/DE/WV authors and illustrators!

  • When? 11:00 – 7:00
  • Where? Baltimore Inner Harbor
  • For more event information on the festival itself, go here.
  • NEW!! We have four authors/illustrators on a Picture Book Panel on the Inner Harbor Stage from 4:00 – 5:00 on Friday, September 25th! “So You Want to Write a Children’s Book” will include:
  • Schedule for the MD/DE/WV table:
    • Friday, September 25th
      • 11:00am – 3:00pm:
        • Kathy MacMillan
      • 3:00pm – 7:00pm:
        • John Micklos
        • CAP Saucier
    • Saturday, September 26th:
      • 11:00am – 3:00pm:
        • Ann McCallum
        • Kathy MacMillan
        • Jane Matyger
        • Barbara Beck
      • 3:00pm – 7:00pm
        • Rebecca Evans
        • Erin Hager
        • Kathy MacMillan
        • Laura Bowers
    • Sunday, September 27th:
      • 11:00am – 3:00pm
        • CAP Saucier
        • Elaine Allen
        • Barbara Beck
      • 3:00pm – 7:00pm
        • Barbara Beck
        • Rebecca Evans
  • Full author/illustrator bios will be coming soon in a future post!

September 26th: Author’s Book Club with Anna Egan Smucker

  • When? 1:00 to 4:00.
  • Where? The Huntington Museum of Art in Huntington, WV
  • Details: Hear Anna talk about her upcoming book on that regional favorite the pretzel, bring your work in progress for instant feedback, and see the museum’s exhibit of original comic book. drawings, Presented in partnership with West Virginia Writers, Inc. Attendance is free.  For more information or to register, please visit our regional website.

October 16-18th: Berkeley Springs Weekend Retreat 

  • A member is allowing us to use this home dedicated to creative retreats in a beautiful setting only 90 minutes from Silver Spring.  With the cost of about $100, there is a lot to find inspiring about this weekend escape. For more information or to register, (hurry, there’s only eight spots left,) visit our regional website.

October 18th: 3rd Annual Creativity Kick-Off

  • When? 2:00 pm.
  • Where? The Crofton Community Library in Crofton, MD
  • Details: A group will meet to share information about Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) at the Crofton, MD library. Smaller groups will split based on the challenge each participant is participating in. Within each group, writing exercises and tools will be shared to help complete the November challenges. At this posting, the time and place are tentative, as we’d like to have several events occurring simultaneously. To volunteer to host a separate event or to sign up for the Crofton event, email Sarah Maynard at sarahmdm@gmail.com. For more information, visit our regional website.

November 15th: Illustrator’s Live Figure Drawing Workshop

  • When? 1:00 to 4:00
  • Where? Chesapeake Center for the Creative Arts, Brooklyn Park, MD
  • Details: Work out your figure drawing skills with live models.  Adult and child models will present both long and short poses for gesture drawings and full sketches.  Cost: $10 for SCBWI members, $15 for nonmembers. For more information or to register, please visit our regional website event page.

If I’ve missed anything or if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. Happy writing and drawing!



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Guest Post: Ann McCallum


Ann-McCallum-head-shot-for-homepage-300x272Hello everyone! We have the pleasure of another guest today, the lovely Ann McCallum. Ann has some thoughts on inspiration she’d like to share with us.

Great Ideas DO fall from Trees

GREAT IDEAS don’t fall from trees—or do they? Actually, my best ideas don’t come to me when I’m sitting at my desk with a skyscraper-sized computer screen in front of me. They don’t come to me when I’ve got an open notebook and I’m staring at the walls of my office. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Sue Poduska on the Summer Conference

Happy late August to all of you; I hope your summer has been as pleasant as mine. Today I am pleased to offer you this guest post from our own Sue Poduska, Co-regional Advisor, who attended the 2015 SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles and posted about it in her blog. Take it away, Sue!

LA – Worth the Trip


This is a little long, but it was a really great conference.

Knowing that not all of us can make the trip does not in any way keep me from getting excited when I go to the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles. The atmosphere is infectious, the people are wonderful, and I learn so much. Over 1200 writers, illustrators, editors, agents, and others gathered to learn and draw energy from each other.

I can truthfully say I enjoyed every single event I attended, though I did need to take a breath a couple of times. Keynotes included:

  • Mem Fox, who not only was riveting with reading her books to us, but shared a lot about her process,
  • Meg Wolitzer, who can do it all,
  • Adam Rex, who knows how to make a picture book,
  • Dan Santat (What can I say?),
  • Jane O’Connor, a lively talk on creating characters,
  • Varian Johnson on doing the work,
  • Molly Idle, who says “Yes, and …?” a lot,
  • Deb Halverson, who knows an awful lot about the market,
  • Stephen Fraser, who shared many shining examples of great literature,
  • Shannon Hale, who wants boys and girls alike to enjoy enjoyable things,
  • Dan Yaccarino, and
  • Kwame Alexander, who slam dunked it.

And then we all said “Whew!” and collapsed.

Seriously, though, I also attended wonderful breakouts by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer, Bonnie Bader, and Kristy Dempsey; intensives by Paul Fleischman and by Arthur Levine; a very informative discussion about LGBTQ issues; the marathon regional advisor training; and the sparkling and shining Saturday poolside party.

Here are some of the keys to the kingdom I gathered.

Mem Fox

Mem Fox


Mem Fox on picture books:

  • “Great art communicates before it’s understood” (TS Eliot)
  • A deep sense of rhythm can’t be taught. It must be caught.
  • It’s only the comfort of the right words in the right place that bring children back again and again.
  • It looks easy, but time is not the only consideration.


Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer on adding humor to nonficition: Some subjects aren’t as funny as others, so you may need to work to find an angle to add humor. Sacajawea: Lewis and Clark would be lost without me. Sonia Sotomayor: I’ll be the judge of that. Lincoln was a funny guy and told jokes. The Beatles were hilarious in their interviews. Cultivate your own sense of humor.

Dan Santat

Dan Santat


Dan Santat on creativity:

  • Think about why you like things.
  • Study the fundamentals, but be flexible.
  • Learn by imitation, but be careful.
  • Start improvising.
  • Immerse yourself fin life and culture.
  • Think about craft first and foremost.



Varian Johnson on doing the work: Show up for work even if the muse doesn’t.

Stephen Fraser

Stephen Fraser

Stephen Fraser recommends the following middle grade novels as reference for various reasons:

  1. Charlotte’s Web (EB White) – Carefully crafted writing
  2. Stone Fox (John Reynolds Gardner) – Drama
  3. Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles (Julie Andrews Edwards) – Imagination
  4. The Clockwork Three (Matthew J. Kirby) – Inventive and mixes genres
  5. Heart of a Samurai (Margi Preus) – Bringing history alive
  6. Holes (Louis Sachar) – Take two years or more if you need it to write a great story and for its humor (Don’t be afraid to be funny.)
  7. James and the Giant Peach (Roald Dahl) – Having fun unapologetically
  8. Junonia (Kevin Henkes) – Writing to the emotional age
  9. Missing May (Cynthia Rylant) – Place can be a character
  10. Sarah, Plain and Tall (Patricia MacLachlan) – Make each word resonate
  11. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) – Let joy spill out
  12. Harry Potter (JK Rowling) – Don’t be afraid to write a long book. Good books can be enjoyed by all ages.
Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander


Kwame Alexander on taking the creative leap:

  1. You’ll never make it if you don’t keep shooting.
  2. Work harder.
  3. You must have a good game plan.
  4. Loss is inevitable.
  5. Grab the ball. Take it to the hoop.
  6. Real teammates cheer you on.



There was way too much at the intensives to even begin to share. I highly recommend them to attendees.

Hope you enjoyed this little peek at LA.

Sue Poduska, besides being MD/DE/WV SCBWI Co-regional Advisor, writes books for children and also loves to read them. She owns a suite of review sites for children’s literature, gradereading.net.


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“Summer Beach Reads – What is Your Favorite Children’s Book?” by David Teague

I was thrilled when I received this submission for our August monthly theme! Many of you remember David Teague when he was a faculty member at our conference last September. He gave some great presentations and is an all-around good guy!


David Teague is the author of the picture books Franklin’s Big Dreams (illustrated by Boris Kulikov) and The Red Hat (illustrated by Antoinette Portis), and he co-wrote the middle grade titles Saving Lucas Biggs and Connect the Stars with his wife, New York Times bestselling author Marisa de los Santos. Forthcoming in 2016 is Henry Cicada’s Extraordinary Elktonium Adventure.  David lives with his family and their Yorkies, Finn and Huxley, in Wilmington, Delaware, a mere thirty-three miles from The Free Library of Philadelphia.

Summer Beach Reads – What is Your Favorite Children’s Book?

June, 1977

When I was twelve, on the first Monday of summer vacation, as the shady streets of my town stretched out before me like a game-board painted jewel-green with promise, and all I had to do was spin the spinner and start down the nearest path, that’s exactly what I did.

On my bicycle.

And I ended up at the public library, gazing at a table near the door where the librarian had kindly arranged all the Newbery Medal Winners to date for kids like me who needed something great to read on the first day of summer.

I scored big:  The Twenty One Balloons, by William Pene DuBois, the medalist in 1948.  Even in 1977, it seemed intriguingly exotic, illustrated in Industrial-Age black-and-white that appealed to the kite-flyer, model-railroad builder, and airplane-launcher in me, the me that was best and happiest during the wide-open days of summer.  The book was short but brilliant, perfectly plotted, so imaginative I sometimes wondered if its flights of fancy were even allowed, or if the author maybe got yelled at once in a while for letting his imagination run away with him.  Ideal for shade-reading in the back yard, ideal for any reading anywhere, actually, The Twenty One Balloons was absolutely perfect for disappearing into on a summer afternoon.

Which I did.  Until my dad, who was a chemistry teacher, and also off for the summer, spotted me reading it and happened to mention that he’d read it too!  And remembered a whole lot about it . . .

He said something like: “How about those twenty ball-and-socket hose joints with a hundred-and-fifty-pound breakaway limit each, containing the one-way gas valve, for inflating their escape balloons with hydrogen?”  And:  “The Krakatoans thought they had it all figured out, but greed had clouded their minds.”

I had thought these very same thoughts.  Maybe not in those words, but I’d definitely thought them.

I’ll always remember saying to myself, “Dad wants to talk about my book.”

So we talked.  And although I know some of what my dad had to say about the book, I have almost no idea what I said.  Something about the diamonds, probably, as plentiful as glass, because that image has certainly stuck with me.  But I do remember my father listened to everything I had to say.

I love The Twenty One Balloons, because there is no other book like it, but I also love it because, for a few moments one summer, when I was twelve, my dad and I were astonished by it together.

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Friday Five: Summer Reading – Books I never get tired of

When I was younger, my mom never understood why I would read some books over and over and over again, since I knew exactly what was going to happen. But to me, my favorite books were like comfort food and sometimes, I don’t want to guess how things will turn out. I don’t want surprises. I just want to be taken on a familiar ride with characters I love and a surround myself in a setting that feels like home.

The Sweet Valley High books? Oh my gosh. Back then, I read them to death. A Horse Named Mr. Ragman? Read it at least a zillion times. The Horse Masters? It needed a new cover by the time I was done with it.


So every summer, I pick at least one book to reread, taking a familiar trip home and indulging in some comfort food. So because our theme for August is summer reading, for today’s Five for Friday, here’s my–

Five of my Favorite Books for Summer (Re)Reading

Continue reading

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Summer Writing Prompts

“I enjoy, in the summer, getting back to writing in my own voice.” –Mike O’Brien

I really like this quote, since summer is such a lovely time to relax, renew, and think about what truly makes you happy, as a person and as a writer or artist. It’s also a great time to grab a journal, kick back on the porch with your favorite beverage of choice, and scribble out a story just for fun.

Imagine that. Writing for fun!

With that in mind, here’s some fun first lines just screaming to be used as …

Summer Writing Prompts

Continue reading

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chippingsparrowMy good friend Holli Friedland is the owner Social Squids, which offers writing for newsletters, web content, blogs, and graphics. She knows all aspects of social media, and can help her clients get their businesses and messages noticed. This goes for books, too!



I have posted Social Squid’s recent newsletter, Microblogging With Twitter to our SCBWI MD/DE/WV Facebook page. It is all about how to make use of Twitter, including:

  • the benefit of retweeting
  • using hashtags
  • taking advantage of trends
  • how to get more attention using photos

Take a look!

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This Blog Wants You!

Hello friends! I hope you enjoyed the guest post by Kitty Felde about Book Clubs for Kids. What a great idea!

Our area is teeming with talented writers and illustrators. All of us here at ATEB would love to hear from you. If you have a topic you’d like to write about, send it our way! Go to the Submission Guidelines/Monthly Themes  tab for all the information you need to contribute to the blog. As a quick reminder, below are the monthly themes for the remainder of the year (Can you believe there are only five months left in 2015?):

August:  “Summer Beach Reads – What is Your Favorite Children’s Book?” How did it impact you as a kid and now as an adult? Or, what is your favorite craft book?

September:  “Harvesting Ideas – Where Do You Get Them From?” Tips for harvesting ideas, or what has inspired your books, we want all the juicy details!

October:  “NaNoWriMo/PiBoIdMo – Get Ready to Go.” Plotting, Outlining, Scrivener How-to, Research, and any other ways you prepare for the big event.

November:  “Off the Wall.” With many writers digging deep this month, now’s a great time to share ways to break through writer’s block, stay motivated, and resist distraction!

December: “Revise, Revive, Reinvent.” December is a great time to let those November projects breath. So let’s prepare for January by sharing ways to Revise your manuscript, ways to Revive your creative spirit, or Reinvent your career through goal setting!

Happy writing, illustrating and hopefully a little blogging! :)

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Guest Post: Book Club for Kids by Kitty Felde

Mid-week greetings everyone! Today we have a guest post from SCBWI member Kitty Felde, who is the founder of an amazing program Book Club for Kids. Makes me almost want to be in middle school again! Here’s Kitty telling us all about it –

I’m an SCBWI member, but also the creator and host of a free new podcast called the Book Club for Kids. It’s the place where middle grade readers meet to talk about the books they love!

The show was inspired by conversations I had with young readers at the LA Times Festival of Books. These were kids trapped in mom’s carpool, forced to listen to public radio, desperate to hear young voices or conversations about things that interested them. I created Book Club for Kids and it became one of the most popular events at the LA Times Festival of Books

First we started on radio. For nearly a decade, I hosted a talk show in Los Angeles where we would set aside half an hour to listen to middle school students talk about the book of the month. (I believe Book Club for Kids was the reason I was named Journalist of the Year three years out of four by the LA Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.)

A live, on-stage version of Book Club for Kids became an annual tradition for half a decade at the LA Times Festival of Books. Every spring, we’d spend a full hour onstage with half a dozen young readers, discussing one of the books nominated for an LA Times Book Award. The author would listen from the back of the tent, and then was invited onstage to participate in the discussion, answering questions from the kids and the audience. We’d even have a “celebrity” reader to kick off the conversation.

Here’s a couple of video clips from a couple of LA Times Festival of Books appearances:

Book Club for Kids tackles “How I Live Now”

Book Club for Kids tackles “Black Juice” by Margo Lanagan

As you can see, the show moved to cable TV. Here’s a link to one of the programs:


Now that I’m here in Washington, DC, Book Club for Kids has become a podcast.


The show features a conversation with a trio of young readers about the book of the month, a short conversation with the author with questions from kids from around the country, and a reading from the book by a “celebrity.” Past shows have featured the FBI’s special agent for weapons of mass destruction, two LA mayors, and Washington DC Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Here’s a link to our latest show featuring Newbery winner Kwame Alexander and LA Laker Tarik Black:


Already, the show has gotten some buzz: it made the front page of DC’s local newspaper:


Book Club for Kids has also been invited to participate onstage at Virginia’s Fall for the Book this autumn.

Want to help grow the show?

ITunes gives new podcasts about six weeks to establish a name for itself. Apple measures this three ways:

• How many SUBSCRIBERS there are to a podcast

• How many RATINGS there are for that podcast

• How many REVIEWS there are for that podcast

Here’s how YOU can help!

• SUBSCRIBE to the Book Club for Kids podcast

• Rate it – like you do on Yelp, give it some stars

• Review it – write a sentence or two about the show

If you’re one of us adults who hate technology and haven’t yet downloaded a podcast, no worries. There’s help on our Facebook page!

Questions? Email us at BookClubforKidsPodcast@gmail.com.

Please share this on your own social network!  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest!

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Illustrating Children’s Books


If you want to be an illustrator of books for children, how do you go about it? I recall that I hadn’t a clue as an art student regarding the path to that goal, and it took several years of trial and error — and a dose of good luck — for me to find my way to publication and (semi-)regular assignments from art directors. Continue reading

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