SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Award: Round two voting ends on Sunday!

Crystal-Kite-logo1-1024x393The annual Crystal Kite Award is a peer-given award to recognize great books from 15 SCBWI regional divisions around the world.

Round two voting for our division has begun for this year’s Crystal Kite! Here’s instruction on how you can vote for your favorites: Continue reading

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It’s Springtime!

Hello friends! Spring is finally here and all I have to say is…

I know I’m overreacting: we barely got a lick of snow this winter. No matter. There’s nothing like seeing the flowers blossom and fields transition from brown to green.

The season will be in full bloom next month and we’ve got a couple of great events in our region: Continue reading

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Are you ready for some May Mid-grade Madness?

Can you believe it’s almost time for another round of May Mid-Grade Madness? For those who are unfamiliar, MMM is a yearly challenge where brave souls dare to write a mid-grade novel rough draft in the span of four … yes, four days! We started MMM several years ago, after cooking up the crazy idea over coffee:

Are you interested? Awesome! It truly is a fun challenge and the sense of accomplishment I had received after completing my 20k in 2012 was amazing. Simply amazing. So here’s the full scoop from Kara and be sure to join our Facebook Group as well!

I have a confession to make. I hate first drafts.

Every sentence feels like it’s sending me off in the wrong direction. Worse, every sentence feels like a confirmation that I’m not a novelist and I never will be. I question every plot turn and piece of dialog. And all it takes is one moment of indecision and I start avoiding my book for weeks, waiting to come up with the perfect solution to my problem. What can I say? My inner critic has bossy mean girl tendencies.

Once it’s time to edit, I’m in my happy place. I love looking at a piece of writing, finding a better structure, livening up a scene, and taking all that telling and changing it to showing. It’s just six months or a year of spinning out my first version of the story that gives me fits.

Speed writing challenges were made for people like me. The idea of NaNoWriMo, in which writers churn out a novel during the month of November, or our own May Midgrade Madness, in which we distill the same challenge into a weekend with a drastically lowered word count, is to get your whole story on paper as quickly as possible, so that there’s no time for your inner critic to strip you of your momentum.

May is nearly here, and we will once again be offering our support to writers who want to set aside a long weekend to speedwrite their first draft. Begun in 2012 by Laura Bowers and Susan Mannix, May Mid-grade Madness challenges participants to pick any four days in May, and use them to write a full draft (or 20,000 words of one) in that time.

Those are pretty much the only rules. Planning, character sketching, etc. are allowed (indeed, encouraged) in the days and weeks leading up to the writing marathon. Bragging on Facebook and twitter (#MGMad) are encouraged after you’ve finished! And if you brag with a screencap of your word count, you’ll be in the running for a prize or two.

In the two years I’ve managed the MMM Facebook page, only four people have managed to complete 20,000 words in their allotted time, but many more have given their projects much needed kick-starts. And just dedicating four consecutive days to your writing can really pay off.

Over the next few weeks, the May Mid-grade Madness Facebook page will be sharing resources for those brave souls willing to give a weekend rough draft a try. It’s easy to join us: just set aside any four days in May and commit to writing 5000 words a day. Then join our Facebook page and tell us about your plans.


Thanks, Kara! So what about you, are you tempted to tackle this crazy challenge? I must admit. I had absolutely zero interest because it doesn’t fit in with my short or long term goals this quarter plus I have a zillion other things going on.


That feeling I got back in 2012 when I finished my 20,000 with only minutes to spare …

It was a great feeling.

So whatever. I’m in. I don’t know whether I’ll be a finisher or someone who gets a huge kick-start, but you never know until you try!

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From Dreaming to Doing SCBWI Conference Thoughts

Raise your hand if you had an amazing time at our regional From Dreaming to Doing SCBWI Conference! (Mine is up. Way up!) The presenters this year were amazing and I walked away feeling informed, inspired, and ready to do more doing than dreaming.

So many thanks to our co-regional advisors, Kathy McMillan and Sue Poduska as well as the planning committee, volunteers, presenters, attendees, Curious Iguana Bookstore, and staff at the Bishop Claggett Center. Continue reading

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Color Wonder: Hooray for Spring! Book Release

Hello friends! We are having picture-perfect Spring weather, aren’t we? How appropriate that we are celebrating the latest book release by area member Chiêu Anh Urban!

Get ready for an inventively visual experience that allows readers to mix and match the colors of vibrant flowers right before their eyes! Turn the wheels to create and change the bold colors of spring in this deceptively simple and thoughtfully layered novelty book that teaches the joy and wonder of color.

Kirkus Review (January 2017) had this to say – “An upbeat, four-line rhyme… cute cartoony illustrations with vivid colors…  Toddlers will enjoy the repetition…The vibrant insects and colors…bring together a colorful springboard book.”

Chiêu Anh Urban is a published author, illustrator, graphic designer, and format designer who specializes in developing innovative formats and interactive books for the very young. Chiêu’s forthcoming projects include the second book in her color-mixing novelty series COLOR WONDER: WINTER IS HERE! (Little Simon, Oct. 2017), QUIET AS A MOUSE (Sterling, Nov. 2017), and 123 GO! (FSG, 2018) .  She is the creator of COLOR WONDER: HOORAY FOR SPRING!, AWAY WE GO! and the author of RAINDROPS: A SHOWER OF COLORS. Head over to Chiêu’s website and blog to learn more about her.

Congratulations, Chiêu! Best of luck with your latest release!

Posted in Member News, Publishing News | 2 Comments

Introducing WIN: The Working Illustrator’s Network

Attention illustrators! Have you heard about WIN yet? If not, read on for the full scoop as explained by our SCBWI MD/DE/WV illustrator coordinator, Rebecca Evans:

Introducing WIN


(WIN) The Working Illustrators Network of the SCBWI MD/DE/WV Region exists to connect all illustrators on a regional, local and professional level, through a variety of available means. The basic topics we will attempt to address are the circumstances we face as professionals: everyday, beginner, or experienced, in our careers.  Continue reading

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It’s Here: From Dreaming to Doing!

Happy almost Conference Day! Seems like yesterday we were opening registration and rolling out the first of our faculty interviews.  I’m so excited for all of the attendees, because each of you are on your unique journey that I hope finds your dreams fulfilled. This conference is an important step!

Please read (or reread) Laura’s terrific roundup of all things conference: Everything From Dreaming to Doing Conference: Tips, Links and More!

Also, try to take the time to catch up on our faculty visitors to the Cyber Café, especially if you are receiving a critique or portfolio review:

Last but not least, don’t forget to go over the email that our co-RA Sue Poduska sent out last week and print out all pertinent information.

Have a magnificent weekend!

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Keynote Speaker Spotlight on Bruce Coville: From Dreaming to Doing

Hey Folks!  From Dreaming to Doing is just two days away! Are you pumped? You better be with our amazing Keynote Speaker, Bruce Coville!

Mr.  Coville has published over 100 books for children and young adults, including the international bestseller My Teacher is an Alien. His works have appeared in a dozen languages and won children’s choice awards in as many states. He is also the founder of FULL CAST AUDIO, an audiobook company devoted to producing full cast, unabridged recordings for family listening. Mr. Coville lives in Syracuse, New York with his wife, illustrator and author Katherine Coville.

Mr. Coville will be giving two presentations this weekend. His Saturday Keynote  is “The Dance of Plot and Character”  ~ Writers are concerned about plot. Writers are concerned about character. But what we should really be concerned about is the ways in which plot and character intersect – how plot reveals character, and how character drives plot. In this presentation, Bruce Coville will focus on these dual, intertwined aspects of storytelling, as demonstrated in his famous “Puddle Story.”

On Sunday, he will be presenting “The Light Fantastic” ~ Fantasy is one of the most beloved branches of children’s literature. In this session veteran fantasy writer Bruce Coville (Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher) will provide an in-depth look at the hows and whys of writing fantasy, starting with an “annotated storytelling” of two chapters from the first book in his acclaimed Magic Shop series and concluding with a series of concrete tips to apply to your own writing.


How lucky are we?

Have a great Wednesday, friends. I’ll be back tomorrow with some last-minute links and tips. See you then!


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Everything From Dreaming to Doing Conference: Tips, Links, and More!

We are now one week away from the From Dreaming to Doing SCBWI Conference, only one week away! I’ve tried to figure you how many years I’ve been attending our region’s annual conferences … wow, around fifteen, give or take? But I do know that I’ve loved each and every one. Why? Because everyone there understands the significance of this scene from Wonder Boys so well: Continue reading

Posted in Conference Information, Critique Group Tips & Info, Regional News | 1 Comment

Guest Post by Erin Hagar: Why Author Critiques can be a career-maker!

We’re getting closer to our 2017 From Dreaming to Doing SCBWI Conference! Many of you have submitted manuscripts for a critique with your fingers crossed, hoping you’re assigned to an editor or agent. But what if you’re paired with an author instead? Presenter Erin Hagar explains why that can still be a career-changer below. Continue reading

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