Happy Thanksgiving!


“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual… O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.” – Henry David Thoreau

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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The passing of our Critique Group Coordinator torch!

Happy Tuesday, all! I’m taking a break from my frantic NaNoWriMo-ing to send out a major welcome to our new regional SCBWI Critique Group Coordinator.

shelleyBut first, my deepest gratitude to our former coordinator, Shelley Koons, for doing an amazing job!

For the past two years, Shelly has worked hard and given us fantastic tips on how to run a successful critique group with her 13 Reasons PDF and posts like this one, and this one, and here’s another, and this one for when critique groups go bad, yikes.

So again, many thanks, Shelley, you will be missed!

Mark KarkAnd with that, allow me to introduce Mike Karg, our new regional critique group coordinator! He’s a picture book writer, veterinarian, wanderer, tinkerer, and dreamer.  He has contributed to As The Eraser Burns before with this great post as well as this one. Mike also visited us for some Coffee & Conversation, but first, here’s an essay that he’s written so everyone can get to know him better! Continue reading

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Illustration Inspiration Two

In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming

In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming

Illustrators, I wrote about a couple of ways to get your creative juices flowing in Tuesday’s post, and want to continue that discussion. I mentioned looking at books by illustrators you admire, but there are also other ways to motivate and inspire, and they involve going outside your comfort zone by trying new techniques and media. Continue reading

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Inspiration of the Visual Kind

Hello, my creative tribe!

It is November, the month of new ideas for children’s books, and in keeping with that theme I’d like to explore some ways illustrators might come up with new ideas, rev their creative engines and be inspired. Continue reading

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Wednesday Ramblings

Good Wednesday evening all! We are well into November and the year is winding down, but we’re just getting busy!

What are you up to this chilly weekend? You’re invited to join in the first-ever Live Figure Drawing Workshop! Sketchers will unite this Saturday, Nov. 14, from 1 to 4 at the Chesapeake Center for the Creative Arts in Brooklyn Park, Md. That’s 5 miles S. of Baltimore, 20 miles from Annapolis, and only about 40 miles from Montgomery County.

So grab a friend, and come on out. There will be live child and adult models, in action and in a series of poses, under the direction of Illustrator Coordinator Rebecca Evans. It’s your chance to ask her anything. Refreshments will be served, offering even more chances for fun and reality-TV style drama.

Cost is $10 for members, $15 for nonmembers.  All are welcome. Please register at https://mddewv.scbwi.org/events/illustrator-live-figure-drawing-workshop/


Speaking of November, how many of you are participating in NaNoWriMo or PiBoIdMo (or both!)? I chose not to, although I still feel a little like the kid who willingly stayed away from the insanity of prom, but kinda wished she had gone after all. For all of you cool people who are participating, here’s a huge round of applause:


If you have time to surface from your writing frenzy, let us know how you’re doing in the comments section. We want to hear from you!

For those of us who aren’t NaNo-ing and may have a spare minute or two, how would you like to contribute to the blog? You can write on our monthly themes or choose an entirely different topic. Below are the themes for the last two months:

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!

As always, we love contributions from our fellow SCBWIers!

Happy writing and illustrating, friends.

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30 Ways to Gather Picture Book Ideas for PiBoIdMo!

Yesterday was all about NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. Today’s topic is about the lovely Tara Lazar’s awesome PiBoIdMo, Picture Book Idea Month, that starts on November 1st!

piboidmoWhat is it?

From Tara’s Website: Why, it’s Picture Book Idea Month!

Tired of watching novelists have all the fun in November with NaNoWriMo, I created PiBoIdMo as a 30-day challenge for picture book writers.

The challenge is to create 30 picture book concepts in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript (but you can if the mood strikes). You don’t need potential best-seller ideas.

When is it?

November 1 – 30th, with registration beginning on October 25th! Tara will also have guest posts by picture book writers and illustrators like Floyd Cooper, Tammi Sauer, and Peter Brown sprinkled in throughout the month for added inspiration. And woo-HOO, you can also win prizes such as signed artwork, critiques from the pros and bling! We love bling!

Sounds cool, got any tips for where to get ideas?

Well, picture books are not my forte, although I do have a draft with lots of tiaras and tutus and pink … written just so I can give book talks wearing a tiara, tutu, and pink. But I’ve done my best to gather 30 ways to help spark your creativity, and get your brain churning. Enjoy!


Continue reading

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NaNoWriMo … yes or no?

November is almost here and you know what that means, right? The writing challenge season is about to begin! Tomorrow we’ll talk about PiBoIdMo – Picture Book Idea Month, hosted by the lovely Tara Lazar. Today’s topic is all about …


What is it?

From the official website: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.

On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

Continue reading

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Anna Egan Smucker’s ABC Event Recap by Susan Nicholas

Pretzels and Paintings

by Susan Nicholas

Writing always makes me hungry. It helps me think better. At least that’s what I tell myself when I nibble my way through story revisions. Today as I sat down to write this article I grabbed a bag of pretzels. After tossing a few in my mouth I laughed at the irony of my snack choice.

51ulQo4ts3L__SY486_BO1,204,203,200_On September 26th, Anna Egan Smucker shared her twisty path to publication for Brother Giovanni’s Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born at the Huntington Museum of Art in West Virginia. I was one of fifteen writers who attended the Author’s Book Club co-sponsored by the SCBWI MD DE WV and West Virginia Writers, Inc. Continue reading

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Preparation for Illustration

Happy Friday, everyone!

sketchbookIn the interests of getting ready for next month’s NaNoWriMo/PiBoIdMo, I thought there might be interest in one of the aspects of children’s book illustrating: specifically, the research an illustrator does for a non-fiction  picture book. Continue reading

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Cover Reveal – Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Steveson

The sun has been shining for two days in a row and I just don’t know what to do with myself! We definitely needed the rain – I was one of those complaining about it; the ground was like concrete to our horse’s legs and feet. But, gee whiz, did we need to get it all at once? We came off relatively unscathed in our region compared to our friends down in South Carolina. Let’s all remember to send send thoughts, prayers and good wishes to them as they recover from epic flooding.

I stole today’s blogging duties, because I just had to be the one to do this post. My friend and former Maryland resident, Nanci Turner Steveson, had the cover reveal on her debut novel just yesterday!

11224373_10155874131025080_4946775690712909551_nNanci writes for Middle Grade readers and is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She studied under the mentorship of award winning authors Kathi Appelt, Patty Lee Gauch, and Bethany Hegedus. Additionally, Nanci has won several educational scholarships through The Highlights Foundation. Her first Middle Grade novel, Swing Sideways (HarperCollins Children’s) is scheduled for publication in May 2016, followed by Frost, in winter 2017.

And without much further ado…here is the cover:

COVER SwingSideways_final

I love it and CANNOT wait to read this book. It was largely written in Adamstown, just around the corner from where we have our annual conference in Buckeystown, MD. Speaking of…Nanci is tentatively scheduled to be a faculty member this coming March! How cool is that?

For the full cover reveal, go to Mr. Schu Reads blog where you’ll learn more about this talented author and her debut novel.

Congratulations, Nanci!!

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