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Archive for the ‘Picture Book Writing Contests’ Category

ALL ABOUT PLATFORM BUILDING V2

This month’s ALL ABOUT PLATFORM BUILDING guest blogger is award-winning author, writing teacher, and the sweetest person ever, Susanna Leonard Hill. Thank you Susanna for sharing your story with us.

IF YOU BUILD IT, WILL THEY COME?

AND WHO WILL THEY BE?

by Susanna Leonard Hill

Once upon a time, there was a writer (that was me) who wrote stories for children.  Although she dreamed from girlhood of picture books with her name on the cover (and not because she wrote it there with a crayon), she was pretty sure she wasn’t good enough to get published.  (Due to word count limitations we’re going to skip a bit…)  Blah, blah, blah, some other stuff happened and one day in 2002 her dream came true and life was good.

“Now then,” said the Powers-That-Be, “go forth and build a platform!”

Tools

“Uh…,” I said.  “Have you seen me with tools?  This is not a good idea.”

Apparently they weren’t talking about that kind of platform.

“Uh…,” I said.  “Have you seen me with technology?  This is not a good idea.”

Apparently they did not care.

BUILD was the directive, so by golly I had to try.

Let’s just be clear on one thing: I had NO idea what I was doing or how to do it!

To save you from landing in the same predicament, I will share with you Susanna’s Rules for Practically Painless Platform Building.

Rule #1: Eat Something Chocolate 

chocolate

Really.  It’s good for you 🙂  Construction is hard work.  You must be properly fueled 🙂

Rule #2: Know what platform is.

It is helpful before you begin construction to have some idea of what it is you are hoping to build.  Otherwise your go-cart might turn out to be a lawn mower… or in our case, your platform might turn out to be a mineshaft. 🙂

So what is platform, anyway?

Basically, it’s your visibility as an author:

  1. Who you are –

Well, that’s obvious.  You’re you! 🙂 Whether you’re a stay-at-home dad of 7 who loves to bake Lebkuchen and play the tambourine, or a NASA engineer who is consumed by competitive crochet in your down time, it’s you as an individual that people want to know.

  1. Your personal and professional connections –

Friends and family, coworkers, critique partners, your dentist, your son’s trombone teacher, etc.  You might also include people you know through the Internet, but that overlaps into the third category a bit.

  1. Finally, the part people tend to think of more as “platform” – the work you do specifically related to being an author, and your online presence –

Any form of media where your writing is available or where readers can get to know you, including bookstores, newspaper articles, radio interviews, school/library visits, book signings, online booksellers, and anywhere you are active in social media – your website, blog, newsletter, FB, Twitter, etc…

Do not feel that #3 is the only part that matters.  All three of these elements are equally important, and #1 is arguably most important because it colors everything else.  But you likely feel pretty comfortable with #1 and #2, whereas #3 might be the place you feel a little out of your depth. So that’s the focus of the other rules.

Rule #3: Find Your Comfort Zone

Some love to travel.  Some love to stay home.  Some love to dress to the nines.  Some love to loaf in pajamas.  Some like it hot… well, you get the idea.

You’ve got to be comfortable with what you’re building, and not all social media options are created equal.  Scout around.  Sample the choices.  Hold it up and see how it looks before you nail it in place 🙂 Do you love the brevity and variety of Twitter?  Or would you prefer the option to discourse at greater length on a blog?  Or do you like the happy medium of Face Book?  Do you see the world through a camera lens? Then how about Instagram? Pinterest? YouTube?

There are lots of options out there.  Don’t make yourself miserable forcing yourself to participate in something that doesn’t suit your personality and style.

Rule #4:  Don’t Wear Yourself Out!

We are all busy.  We have spouses, and kids, jobs and homes and cars and pets and aging parents and yoga/running/swimming/watching basketball on TV – you know, exercise :), and some of us have to bake Lebkuchen and practice the tambourine…  There are only so many hours in the day!

Cookies

Choose 2 or 3 at most of the social media options and limit time spent on them each day.  That way you can give your best to the options you choose, avoid burnout, and still have time to write, which is, after all, the whole point of all of this!

Rule #5: Figure Out What You Have To Offer (and yes! you have something to offer!) Preferably Before You Start Blogging 🙂

Okay.  So now we get down to the nitty-gritty.  What’s going to be the focus of your tweets, your FB posts, your blog?  What are you going to put out there for the world?

I tried everything.  I think literally actually everything.

Trial and Error, thy alias is Susanna!

Try to avoid that 🙂

Platform, platform, platform… We’re supposed to reach our audience of readers.  Well, obviously that’s impossible in the case of picture book writers – our readers are pre-reading listeners.  They tend not to frequent FB, twitter, or phyllis coverblogs of any kind 🙂 The actual readers of our books – the mouthpiece through which our audience hears our stories – are parents, teachers, grandparents, librarians etc.  Those are also the people who buy our books, since most 3-8 year olds are hampered in the cash flow and transportation departments 🙂 So really, our platform efforts should be directed toward these adults.

I tried writing posts on dogs, gift-wrapping, song-writing, Mondays, book drives, how useless I’d be as a pioneer… all topics that should appeal to parents, teachers and librarians, don’t you think?

Alas, they apparently appealed to no one!  Just go back and look at my early posts… and how there are no comments on almost all of them!

So I stumbled along, trying this and that, until one day I hit on the idea of Would You Read It Wednesday (primarily for writers, but with hopes of attracting teacher and librarian feedback), and then Perfect Picture Book Friday (intended as a resource for parents, teachers and homeschoolers…but which seems to appeal to writers seeking mentor texts), then contests for writers (an opportunity for writers (of all ages) to write stories for kids that could be read by parents, kids, teachers, etc.), Short & Sweets (for writers but hopefully also for teachers and kids), Oh, Susanna! (intended for writers, teachers and parents… but writers were the only ones who ever seemed to have questions), with a few author and illustrator interviews and a mini-series on self-publishing thrown in for good measure.

And by gum! 4 years down the road it appears I’ve got a nice little platform of people I adore, who make my blog a wonderful community where I’m grateful to spend time. Can't Sleep

And yeah… if you noticed that the platform I intended to build for parents, teachers, librarians and such turned out to be a platform for writers, well, maybe that’s because I am a writer and that’s the way I think.

I choose to believe that many of the writers who make my blog and FB page and twitter…area…whatever you call it 🙂 … such a great place to hang out are also parents, teachers and librarians.

As Gilda Radnor said on Saturday Night Live, it’s a dessert topping AND a floor wax 🙂

Happy Platform Building! 🙂

Thank you so much for having me, Alayne.

Note from Alayne: Pardon my intrusion. Because I am interrupting, I want to say make sure you scroll to the bottom of this post for Susanna’s bio and links to her website, blog and more. Now for my reason for the intrusion. . . .

I had no idea what Lebkuchen is, so I looked it up. For those of you who also don’t know, Lebkuchen is a centuries-old German gingerbread specialty that is traditionally baked during the winter holiday season.

Also for those of you who don’t know Susanna and all the wonderful things she does for the writing community, I want to give a basic description of some of the things she mentioned in this post.

Oh Susanna is the children’s literature world’s version of Dear Abby, except not about relationships (well, not yours – character relationships would be OK). It is an advice column/question forum for those of us in the children’s book world, as it were 🙂 People can ask Susanna questions about writing, reading, teaching writing and so on.

Short & Sweets was started as a way for writers to keep their writing oars in during the happy, busy, outdoor fun summer months. Susanna offered fun exercises that writers could do together.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Is a group effort. Using a set format, bloggers share picture books they want to recommend to others. Susanna then shares that link on her blog in her extensive list of picture books, categorized by theme.

Would You Read It Wednesday? This is a weekly feature that offers a chance for writers to try out pitches for their Picture Books, Early Readers, Middle Grade, or Young Adult Works-In-Progress.

Contests and Picture Book Writing Course Susanna also has Holiday writing contests with excellent prizes. And then there is her Making Picture Book Magic writing course, which, as a graduate of the course, I can personally recommend. You can find more information on all of the above on her website – links follow Susanna’s bio.

slh wyomingAbout Susanna

Susanna is the award winning author of nearly a dozen books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis (A Book List Children’s Pick and Amelia Bloomer Project choice), No Sword Fighting In The House (a Junior Library Guild selection), Can’t Sleep Without Sheep (a Children’s Book of The Month), and Not Yet, Rose (a Gold Mom’s Choice Award Winner.)  Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, and Japanese, with one hopefully forthcoming in Korean.  Her newest book, Alphabedtime!, is forthcoming from Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Books, in Summer 2016.  She lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley with her husband, children, and two rescue dogs.

Links:

Website: http://www.susannahill.com/HOME.html

Blog: http://susannahill.blogspot.com

Face Book Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/SusannaLeonardHill

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusannaLHill

Making Picture Book Magic (online picture book writing course): http://www.susannahill.com/MAKING_PICTURE_BOOK_MAGIC.html

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Summer SparksThis week my guest post CAUSE AND EFFECT is being featured in the Summer Sparks challenge hosted by Tracey Cox. There is some great information, so I hope you will give it a look.

Also, here is the link to the top viewed post on my blog this year. USING CHARACTER-DRIVEN PICTURE BOOKS AS MENTOR TEXTS TO IMPROVE YOUR OWN WRITING, by Marcie Flinchum Atkins

I want to share that I have been taking an excellent course on chapter book writing. Emma Walton Hamilton’s Just Write for  Middle Grade and Chapter Book Course is a 14 week experience that will help anyone turn their writing dream into a reality. Offering several worksheets per lesson and providing thorough information on each chapter book element, Emma methodically walks her students from the beginning of their book to the end. I highly recommend this course.

Finally, in case you missed it, I have started a picture book manuscript critique service.

Next week my ALL ABOUT SUBMISSIONS series will feature guest blogger Vivian Kirkfield. She will offer her thoughts on “getting in the backdoor” with your manuscript.

Happy writing!

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My friend, Renée LaTulippe, is hosting Poetry Friday this week. Poetry Friday is a weekly meme in which lovers and advocates of children’s poetry share their own kids’ poems, poems by major kids’ poets, interviews, videos, and more. Join the fun! Click here to learn more about Poetry Friday and to find the hosting schedule.

Several months ago, if I had heard the words Poetry Friday, I would have ran in the opposite direction. But because I am one of the lucky few to beta test Renee’s new online class, I have mustered the courage to share a little of my poetry today. Before the ‘reveal,’ I want to introduce Renee’s course, THE LYRICAL LANGUAGE LAB: PUNCHING UP PROSE . . . WITH POETRY! 

Renee's course

I highly recommend this 4 week course. Editor, writer, and children’s poet, Renée LaTulippe, teaches the fundamentals of poetry for picture book writers, whether they plan to write in rhyme or not. The course covers basics such as meter, rhyme, and types of poetry, as well as techniques to bring poetic and lyrical language to one’s writing, both rhyming and prose. Renée will begin monthly classes in April 2014.

For the chance to win a FREE course and learn how to punch up your prose, just go comment on Renee’s giveaway post!

As you will see by some of my poems, I sometimes struggle with scanning beats or understanding stresses. But thanks to Renée’s course; her individual comments on each course participant’s work; her audio demonstrations of beats; and her great homework assignments, it is all starting to click for me. I finally have confidence that I can write rhyme, improve my poetry, and succeed in writing lyrical prose. Before this class, I had given up on writing rhyme and never dreamed of writing lyrical prose. Now, I dare to continue trying. The quatrains that I am sharing today show some of my first attempts in the course. They are from lessons two and four. The course offers 21 lessons. I thought it would be nice to show Renée’s excellent approach to helping her students understand what works and what doesn’t work and why. Therefore, I have included some of my poems that worked, some that didn’t quite work, and Renée’s comments on all.

LESSON FOUR

Alayne’s Anapestic Quatrain One

I see ice on my sill. Is this Texas?
It’s so cold, it’s so gloomy and dark
We had sunshine just yesterday noon
When we took a long walk in the park

Alayne’s Anapestic Quatrain Two

How I wish I had written The Elf on the Shelf
It’s a marketers dream to extreme
I am pleased my elf Blizzard arrived just in time
For some fun and some tricks – she’s a scream

Alayne’s Anapestic Quatrain Three

Can we mourn for a stranger, someone we don’t know?
Can a heart fall and break when a hero lets go?
Can a tear leave the eye on its own – will more flow?
I say yes, we are humans, our endless love grows

Renée: Well done, Alayne! You used headless and catalectic meter to good effect in the first quatrain with anapestic trimeter; a perfect mix of anapestic tetrameter and trimeter in the second; and perfect anapestic tetrameter in the third. WHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Alayne: Holy Moly! I got them all right, Renee LaTulippe????? A first. I know they aren’t the best poems in the world, but just to get my stresses right puts me on top of the world and gives me SO MUCH HOPE! It must be very rewarding as a teacher to see a student grow.

Renée:YES!!!! Alayne, it is exciting and rewarding indeed! And don’t worry about content now – we’re just working on stresses. It’s a big hurdle to get over, and you guys are all SAILING THROUGH!!!

LESSON TWO

Alayne’s Iambic Quatrain One

I have some friends who help me out
When I am feeling down
If not for them, I’d sit and pout
Instead, I am a clown

Alayne’s Iambic Quatrain Two

Although I’ve tried, I can’t write rhyme (Or: Although I’ve tried, I cannot rhyme)
I can’t hear stresses or the beat
I’m working hard and taking time
To study both iambs and feet

Alayne’s Iambic Quatrain Three

I write, not clean. You all know that.
Cobwebs are dangling. Soiled dishes are stacked
It’s time to feed my starving cats
My house is filthy, but my subs are tracked

Renee’s Comments for Lesson Two Iambic Quatrains

I hate to tell you this, but your first quatrain is PERFECT. Yup! That means you have to stop saying you can’t write rhyme! PERFECT.

The second quatrain is ALMOST perfect – just the last line is off because you have put a stress where it doesn’t belong on the second syllable of IAMB. The stress has to go on the FIRST syllable. You could fix that line with: to STUDy Iambs, MEter, FEET.

The first and third lines of the third quatrain are also correct. Lines 2 and 4 are where things get sticky. Line 2 starts with a stressed syllable instead of unstressed, and there are some extra beats. In Line 4, “my house is filthy” is correct, but then you have extra beats with “but my.”

Renee’s possible fixes.

I write, not clean. You all know that.
The cobwebs cling, the dishes stack.
It’s time to feed my starving cats.
A filthy house–but subs are tracked!

For the chance to win a FREE course and learn how to punch up your prose, just go comment on Renee’s giveaway post!

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sub six series 2

When submitting a manuscript, you want to submit your best work. One way to make your story shine is by learning from others. Marcie Flinchum Atkins shows us how to study other authors’ picture books to improve our craft. Thanks, Marcie, for this lesson in using character-driven picture books as mentor texts. Click on the images of the printables to get PDFs.

Using Character-Driven Picture Books as Mentor Texts to Improve Your Own Writing

By Marcie Flinchum Atkins

What is a Mentor Text?

A mentor text is a stellar text that is used as an example of good writing technique. If you study a mentor text, not just reading it as a reader, but reading it as a writer, you can improve your own writing. It’s like learning from the experts.

Professional athletes watch the techniques of others in their field. Artists look at the paintings of others artists and study HOW they created that work of art. Writers should be no different. We can read for pleasure, and we should. But reading with a writer’s eye is critical in improving at your craft.

The Most Important Thing

We can read and read and study phenomenal books for kids, but if we never apply what we’ve learned to our writing, then it’s not much help. Let me give you an example, when I teach kids about using sensory words in their writing, we spend time looking for how authors incorporate sensory language into their writing to help the reader really feel like they are experiencing the story. However, the most important piece of this lesson is giving kids time to actually try it out. After we’ve learned about it, we take a piece of writing that they are already working on and we try to find places to add sensory details. This is the application part.

As a writer for children, we need to do this too. If you are having trouble creating endings for your picture books (I have this problem), the first thing to do is to study a lot of different ways to end it by looking at real books. But the MOST IMPORTANT thing is to TRY IT OUT in your own manuscript. You may have to try many different ones before you nail it, but you must try it.

Character-Driven Picture Books
In this particular “Mentor Texts for Writers” session we are going to take a closer look at character-driven picture books.

What is a character-driven picture book?

The focus of the picture book is on the character and, in most cases, something unique that that character has/does/is.

If you want a great definition and examples of character-driven picture books see Pam Calvert’s website: WOVEN WITH PIXIE DUST.

Why Character-Driven Picture Books?

I read a lot about what agents and editors want because I’m still looking for an agent and/or an editor. Something that I keep seeing over and over again in their wish lists is CHARACTER-DRIVEN PICTURE BOOKS.

I have some character-driven picture books in my work-in-progress stack, but I know they are not quite there yet. So I set out to study them—what makes them character-driven and what were some of the common characteristics.

The Process:

1) Look for books in the area where you need work. In this case, character-driven picture books.

How did I find the picture books I wanted to study?

Trust me, I don’t have the time the go to the library and scan the shelves. I do a little bit of online research and I ordered them on my library’s online catalog.

Book Cover Mosaic

I did scan my kids’ bookshelves. I asked my friend Google: “character-driven picture books.” This led me to a few.

Amazon.com Amazon has this awesome feature that shows you what other books people bought who bought the same book you searched for. Sometimes it’s not helpful, but most of the time, it’s a goldmine.

Screenshot of Amazon

I narrowed my study to ONLY books that were written and illustrated by two different people because I’m a writer only. There are a ton of great character-driven picture books by author/illustrators (OLIVIA by Ian Falconer and MR. TIGER GOES WILD are just two great examples from author/illustrators). But so much of their books are revealed through the pictures, so I knew if I wanted to study writing technique, I’d need to look at books written and illustrated by different people.

2) Read those books.

First I read them just to read them—mostly to myself or to my own kids. I made some notes about things I noticed about them as a genre.

Things that I noticed:

  • Many of the character driven books are author/illustrator books
  • Girl characters outweigh boy characters by a LOT (note to self: hole in the market). There are some boy characters, but many of them upon reading them are not about the character, they are all about action. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
  • Some of them have turned into franchises or multiple book deals and branching into other areas. For example, Fancy Nancy has multiple books and now is in beginning readers. Pinkalicious has brought about Purplicious and many others.
  • Many of them are stand alone titles and are really good all by themselves.

3) Pick a handful of the ones you thought worked really well. You probably will not LOVE all of them. But really delve deeper into the ones that you wouldn’t mind reading again and again.

I have provided a printable form as a guide for some of the things you might want to notice.

screenshot of character analysis chart blank

Screenshot of Explanation Slide

Here’s one that I filled out for LITTLE HOOT by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Screenshot of Little Hoot analysis

4) The form I created is only ONE way you could study your favorite texts. Here are some more ideas:

Photo of Ribbit with sticky notes

5) Apply what you learned to your own writing

REMEMBER: This is the most important part. There are a number of ways you could apply it to your own writing, but a lot of it depends on where you are in your writing.

  • BRAINSTORMING. If you are just thinking about a new book but haven’t drafted it yet, this is a great time to brainstorm more about your character.
  • ANALYSIS OF A CURRENT DRAFT. If you have been noodling around with a character-driven picture book draft(s), and you can’t put your finger on what’s working or not working, it might be time to analyze your draft to see where you can improve.

I’ve created a printable for you to insert your own idea or analyze your own draft.

Screenshot of brainstorming chart blank

If you want some suggestions for character-driven picture books (written by different authors and illustrators), here is a list.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

BIG MEAN MIKE by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Scott Magoon

DESMOND AND THE NAUGHTYBUGS by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Anik McGrory

FANCY NANCY by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

LADYBUG GIRL by David Soman, illustrated by Jacky Davis

LITTLE HOOT by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jen Corace

MY NAME IS NOT ISABELLA by Jennifer Fosberry, illustrations by Mike Litwin

PART-TIME PRINCESS by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Cambria Evans

PINKALICIOUS by Victoria Kann, illustrated by Elizabeth Kann

PRINCESS IN TRAINING by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Joe Berger

PRINCESS PEEPERS by Pam Calvert, illustrated by Tuesday Mourning

THE RECESS QUEEN by Alexis O’Neill, illustrated by Laura Hauliska-Beith

RIBBIT! By Rodrigo Folgueira, illustrated by Poly Bernatene

SPOON by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Scott Magoon

TALLULAH’S TUTU by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

VAMPIRINA BALLERINA by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by Le Uyen Pham

THE VERY FAIRY PRINCESS by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, illustrated by Christine Davenier

If you’d like a printable PDF of this list click here.

I’d love to know how this exercise worked for you. Leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail (MARCIE [AT] MARCIEATKINS [DOT] COM).

What are your favorite character-driven picture books? I want to study more of them (preferably ones written and illustrated by different people). Leave a comment below to tell us your favorite character-driven picture book.

Want More Information on Mentor Texts?

If you want more information about how I use mentor texts in my classroom, you can visit my website and/or sign up for my teacher useletter. I also do workshops on teaching with mentor texts in the classroom.

If you want more information about using mentor texts as a writer, you should watch the webinar I did with the WOW Nonfiction Picture Book group. I also created a resource page to go along with that webinar with links and printables.

Bio:

marcie 15 for web small

Marcie Flinchum Atkins teaches fourth graders how to write by day and writes her own books for kids in the wee hours of the morning. She can also be found wrangling her own kids and reading books with them. She blogs about making time to write and using mentor texts at www.marcieatkins.com. Marcie holds a MA and MFA in children’s literature from Hollins University.

REVISING OR POLISHING YOUR PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT

CONTESTS AND OTHER SUBMISSION OPPORTUNITIES FOR BOTH WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS BY SYLVIA LIU

ANNOUNCING THE NEW SUB SIX BLOG SERIES: ALL ABOUT SUBMISSIONS

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sub six series 2

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Read more about the Sub Six Series: All About Submissions Here

AdobePhotoshopExpress_2014_01_03_18-53-56 (2)

Guest Post by Sylvia Liu

Contest and Other Submission Opportunities in 2014

Besides submitting work to agents and publishers, don’t forget to submit to contests, grants, or mentorship programs. These are great ways to get your work noticed and perhaps published, to improve your craft, or to help pay for your writing or illustration habit.

Here’s a list of contest and submission opportunities in 2014, for both children’s book writers and illustrators, with deadline dates ordered chronologically. When a range of dates are listed, applications are accepted only within that window. If a date is in parentheses, it is the date for last year’s contest because the new date has not been announced (but it is likely this year’s deadlines will be on a similar timeline). Click the links to find out application information.

A great resource: Be sure to check the SCBWI Event Calendar for local mentorship programs and awards. Just in the month of January, the following SCBWI regions have mentorship program or scholarship applications available and due soon: Southern Breeze (conference tuition for illustrators; AL, GA, FL, Feb. due date), Carolinas Mentor Program (Jan. 10 due date), California North/Central Digital Mentor Picture Book Program (Jan. 10 due date),

JANUARY

Jan. 1 – Jan. 31           Highlights Fiction Contest

  • What: best short story (up to 800 words) with a holiday theme
  • Who is eligible: anybody, published or unpublished
  • Prize: three $1,000 prizes or tuition to any Highlights Foundation course

Jan. 15- Feb. 3                        Rate Your Story

  • What: best manuscripts in three categories: Picture Book, Novel/Novella, Everything Else
  • Who is eligible: free to RYS members (Basic members can submit 1 MS to each category, Pro members can submit 2 MSs); $5/MS for anyone else
  • Prize: First place gets $50, a professional critique, and free Pro membership, 2nd & 3rd prizes available

FEBRUARY

Feb. 28           Sustainable Arts Foundation 2014 Spring Grant (application available Jan. 15)

  • Award: Five $6,000 awards and five $2,000 awards for writers or artists who are also parents
  • Who is eligible: applicant must have at least one child under the age of 18

MARCH

March 1 – March 31:  SCBWI Work In Progress Grants, includes:

General WIP Grant

  • Award: seven $2,000 grants in each category (Picture Book Text (Barbara Karlin Grant), General Fiction, Contemporary young adult novel, Multi-cultural fiction, Nonfiction research (Anna Cross Giblin Award)
  • Who is eligible: SCBWI members

Karen and Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award

  • Award: $500 and free tuition to any SCBWI conference
  • Who is eligible: SCBWI members, authors over age 50 who have not been traditionally published

Don Freeman Illustrator Grant

  • Award: two $1000 grants to illustrators (1 to a published illustrator, 1 to a pre-published illustrator)
  • Who is eligible: SCBWI members

March 15-April 15:  Student Illustrator Scholarship to SCBWI Conference

  • Award: 2 scholarships to the national LA SCBWI conference in August 2014, including the portfolio showcase and the illustrator intensive
  • Who is eligible: full time graduate or undergraduate students studying illustration

APRIL

April 15: Student Writer Scholarship to SCBWI Conference

  • Award: two scholarships to the national LA SCBWI conference in August 2014, including an SCBWI advisor to help navigate the weekend
  • Who is eligible: full time students over 18 at an accredited academic institution

MAY

May 5  Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition

  • Award: cash prizes, work seen by editors & agents, etc.
  • Who is eligible: anyone writing for all genres, including kid lit (fees are involved to apply for this competition)

JUNE

 

JULY

(July 31)       Unfortunately, THE CHEERIOS CONTEST WILL NOT RUN THIS YEAR  Cheerios 2014 Spoonful of Stories Contest

  • What: a national search for a winning picture book story
  • Who is eligible: unpublished writers (very strict – can’t have published in kidlit market, including magazines)
  • Prize: $5000 and publication & distribution in Cheerios boxes nationwide

AUGUST

Aug. 31           Sustainable Arts Foundation 2014 Fall Grant

  • Award: Five $6,000 awards and five $2,000 awards for writers or artists who are also parents
  • Who is eligible: applicant must have at least one child under the age of 18

SEPTEMBER

(Sept. 30)       New Voices Award, Lee & Low Books

  • What: a national search for a winning picture book story
  • Who is eligible: unpublished, unagented writer of color (can be published in kidlit magazines)
  • Prize: $1,000 plus standard publication contract

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

(Dec. 13)        Tomie dePaola Illustration Contest

  • What: annual search for a winning illustration following a prompt given by Tomie dePaola
  • Who is eligible: SCBWI members
  • Prize: trip to the winter New York SCBWI conference, award presented, and lunch with Tomie dePaola

Sylvia Liu is a former environmental attorney turned writer-illustrator. She is working on several picture book projects and is being mentored by illustrator David Diaz as part of this year’s Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program. Her art and infographics have been published on Huffington Post and other venues. She is inspired by aliens, cephalopods, bunnies, and pigs who want to fly. Check out her portfolio at www.enjoyingplanetearth.com, her blog at  www.sylvialiuland.com, her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ArtbySylviaLiu, and her Twitter handle is @artsylliu.

CONTEST ADDITION AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT SYLVIA’S  LIST FROM ALAYNE

On JANUARY 11, SYLVIA’S LIST WILL BE POSTED ON kidlit411. It will be updated on that site throughout the year. Kidlit411 is an exciting new website that my friends Elaine Kiely Kearns and Sylvia have put together with a little help from their friends. They are building it up to be “the” place to go for kidlit information. I hope you will check it out. They have done a beautiful job. Just before I published Sylvia’s post, I thought of another contest. Pockets Magazine Fiction Contest – March 15 – August 15. BEST OF LUCK TO ALL WHO COMPETE OR APPLY FOR THE FABULOUS OPPORTUNITIES. MORE ABOUT THE SUB SIX SERIES: ALL ABOUT SUBMISSIONS

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sub six series 2I am excited to announce the Sub Six Blog Series: ALL ABOUT SUBMISSIONS. We will launch the series tomorrow with guest blogger Sylvia Liu in a post titled CONTESTS AND OTHER SUBMISSION OPPORTUNITIES FOR BOTH WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS. Sylvia will be sharing a list of writing contests and illustration contest. Her list also includes opportunities to apply for grants, mentorships, scholarships and so on.

Each month, the Sub Six Series will feature a different guest blogger who will share his/her thoughts and knowledge on various subjects (see list below). Some months, we will be offering some bonus posts. January is a bonus month with three posts instead of one.

Our titles are not quite worked out, but I can give a basic idea of what will be happening in the coming months.

January is a busy month. I hope you will bear with my many posts. And I hope you will find them beneficial.

We start the month on January 4 with Sylvia Liu’s list of contest and submission opportunities for both writers and illustrators.

Polishing a manuscript before submission is crucial because you want to submit your BEST work. On January 6, I will post a list of things to look for when revising or polishing a manuscript. This post will link to my interview about revising manuscripts on Meg Miller’s  blog for the ReviMo challenge.

Improving your craft is another way to submit your best work. At the end of January, guest blogger Marcie Flinchum Atkins will be showing you how using mentor texts can improve your picture book writing. She will even be offering some worksheets that you can print out and use.

February will spotlight Marcie Flinchum Atkins and her tips for submission organization.

March brings Elaine Kiely Kearns. Her topic will be about things such as, how to choose an agent, knowing when to nudge, and so on.

In April, Yvonne Mes will be helping us learn how to submit without feeling like throwing up. Can you relate?

May is another bonus month. On May 4, Kristen Fulton will share her secrets for submitting nonfiction works. Then later in the month, we will feature Jan Godown Annino who will cover the topic What Critique Pals and I Know about Submissions.

In June, Vivian Kirkfield will be sharing what she has learned about submitting to niche publishers, and she might share one interesting way to get your foot in the door.

July – I will be covering queries and cover letters.

Sylvia Liu  will be returning in August to share her knowledge and experience with submitting as an author/illustrator.

September – December, we will be answering questions that writers have asked about submissions. The questions will be answered by a group of writers who are experienced in submitting to agents and editors.

The Sub Six support group submitted hundreds of manuscripts in 2013. I will be posting the actual numbers in February. I would like to invite anyone that is ready to start submitting to join us in 2014.

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hummingbirdBefore I get into the Trapped Hummingbird: Self-Created Fear portion of the post, I want to offer a quick blurb on picture book writing courses. One of the winners in the Grandparent’s Day writing contest mentioned that she is looking for more writing courses after completing a course through the Institute of Children’s Literature. Here is a short list of courses that are getting a lot of buzz. Please feel free to share additional courses in comments.

Susanna Leonard Hill’s MAKING PICTURE BOOK MAGIC course.

Mira Reisberg’s PICTURE BOOK ACADEMY

This one is FREE! Pam Calvert’s PICTURE BOOK UNIVERSITY

SELF-CREATED FEAR

Fear is a common stumbling block for writers and, for many people, in life. Before you continue reading, stop and take a moment to list some of your current fears. Once you have your list move on to the next paragraph.

The fears you have listed would most likely be nonexistent if you had no memory of your past and you did not have the ability to imagine your future. We all have our natural reactionary fear when we are in true danger, but I doubt that the fears you have listed are such. Look at your list, and consider the following questions for each fear. Is this fear something I have created in my mind based on past experiences or an imagined future? Is this fear keeping me stuck in place or leaving me feeling anxious?

One of the biggest fears that stand in our way as writers, and in life, is fear of the unknown. Most of us cannot possibly know the outcome of something, yet we create frightening scenarios in our mind that seldom come to be. Living a fearful life blinds us to new perspectives and opportunities. The darkness of our fear overshadows the light of our spirit.

TRAPPED HUMMINGBIRD

One morning, when I opened the garage door, I discovered that a hummingbird had been trapped in the garage overnight. Even though the now wide-open garage door left a huge escape route, the poor hummingbird could not find her way out. Why? Because she would not change what she was doing. She fluttered along the ceiling until exhaustion forced her to stop and rest on the garage door’s support brackets. Within moments, she commenced fluttering again – using up all her energy.

We opened the upper portion of a garage window that was only about a foot away from her resting place. Yet, with two good routes to freedom, she could not find her way out. She continued her exhaustive fluttering – resting routine over and over. I tried to lure her lower with a hummingbird feeder, so she could see the expansive escape route of the garage door. I went outside the window with the feeder and talked to her. My husband and I tried every way we could think of to guide her out of the garage. I believe she was so full of fear that she could not see the light emitting from her path to freedom. Finally, we decided to leave her alone, trusting she would eventually find her way out.

That evening she was gone. I believe she spent some time alone in peace where her fear subsided, and she could finally see the light and reclaim her freedom.

This story had two messages for me that I would like to share with you:

  1. My husband and I had to let go of our fears that the little bird would suffer injury or death. Then we had to let go of our efforts to control the situation. We had to let things unfold naturally.
  2. We only had goodness in our hearts and wanted nothing but the highest good for our little winged friend. Yet, her fear would not allow her to trust us. If she could have trusted, all her exhaustive struggling would have been unnecessary, and she could have found freedom with ease and much sooner.

What fears are creating struggles in your life? Holding you back? Slowing you down? Preventing you from trusting?

Read about other writers’ fears at Marcie Flinchum Atkins “WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER: FEAR.”

BONUS INSPIRATIONAL WORDS

This morning, I opened up Facebook to find some comments by Debbie Bernstein LaCroix. I thought her words would be perfect for this post. With her permission, I have included the comments below.

Here’s the thing… sometimes you have to take risks. Sometimes those risks will pay off, and sometimes they don’t. But if you want to be successful, it means trying new things and stepping outside your comfort zone. Later this week I will have a success story with Usborne that started 3 years ago. I totally took a leap of faith, and got nothing. Until 2 weeks ago… With writing, I take risks every time I send out a story. And most of the time, it comes with a rejection. It would be so much easier to quit. But I want to build and foster imaginations, so I don’t. When I share an idea with someone, it has the risk of failing. Some of my ideas end up horribly. Some of them take over 10 years to complete (The Children’s Museum)… but it’s all about knowing that you can do it, and not giving up. It’s OK to be scared. I am, a lot. But I know I have things to do. And I can’t do them if I just sit back and do what is easy. So here is my question to you, what risk will you take tomorrow?

(additional comment)

Just adding, I have a lot of people bringing me in to do author visits. For this, it’s a risk, an unknown. But the rewards for each are different… in building relationship, upping sales, fostering the love of reading or what ever their goal is. Just heard back from one that a Kindergarten teacher is really happy that I am going to be speaking to her classroom. She says they always get forgotten or ignored. Sure, speaking with the younger kids is a little more of a challenge in some ways. But they love to learn about where books come from too. Anyway, glad this consultant took a risk and that I can help make them happy.

To learn more about Debbie and Usborne visit the following.

Debbie’s Website

Debbie’s Blog

Usborne Books

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