Showing posts with label SCBWI meetings; writers and illustrators' monthly meetings; writers and illustrators working together. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SCBWI meetings; writers and illustrators' monthly meetings; writers and illustrators working together. Show all posts

Let SCBWI Work for You

Ron Hirschi has written 72 books for children, which
are listed on
Goodreads. Hirschi visits kids in schools
around the country to build awareness about nature.
Seya's Song is one of Hirschi's most popular children's books.
Hirschi also writes books for adults.

By Linda Wilson   @LinWilsonauthor

    One of the best things that ever happened to me in my journey as a children’s writer was to become a member of the worldwide, professional organization, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI. I learned about SCBWI from the award-winning nature author, Ron Hirschi.

    I met Hirschi while working as a correspondent for the Dayton Daily News during a break from teaching elementary school. I had written an article about him during one of his nature visits at an elementary school in Dayton, Ohio. Before I let him go, I asked his advice on how to become a children’s writer. He said the best recommendation he could give me was to join SCBWI. That was back in March, 1992. I’ve been a member ever since. 

The cost for membership in SCBWI is reasonable, and there are countless benefits for both new and experienced children’s writers. 

Your Local Chapter

    SCBWI New Mexico—my chapter—consists of the state of New Mexico and western Texas. And thanks to the dawning age of Zoom, our chapter has expanded. Now our members also come from North Carolina, Oregon, New Zealand, India, and more. All are welcome.

    The SCBWI-New Mexico E-lerts newsletter, written and compiled by member Jennifer Bohnhoff, published every Friday, is the go-to place to learn about our members, activities, and events. Here is a sample of ways members can participate:

  • Enchantment Show, typically an annual event: Authors and illustrators have an opportunity to join together to write and illustrate an impromptu story. The coordinator begins by matching an artists’ illustration to individual authors who have signed up. The authors create a story to match their interpretation of the illustration sent to them. All work is turned in by a deadline, and authors and illustrators meet for the first time. This year the theme was “The Journey.” The stories and illustrations are mounted in frames. This year's project is currently being displayed at the Albuquerque Main Library.
  • Virtual Coffee House: Regularly scheduled Zoom meetings on Wednesdays, at 4:00 PM, take place for anyone wanting to have a casual conversation about topics on craft, publishing in general, and other topics of interest. Participants are given the chance to set accountability goals to help motivate and stay on task.
  • Third Saturday Critique Zoom Meetings: On the third Saturday of each month a group of writers gather together on Zoom to critique each other’s work. Five pages, double-spaced or entire picture books are sent by Wednesday of that week. The stories are critiqued on Saturday, from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM. 
  • Announcement of Events: All types of events that members are involved in are announced, including events from other SCBWI chapters, Highlights webinars, and much more.
  • Writing Workshops: Workshops in person and online are announced, such as the current workshop "Advanced Plotting: Keep Those Pages Turning," offered by Chris Eboch, editor and author of over 100 books for children, which include nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. 

Your National Organization: The Global Community for Children’s Book Creators

Visit the global SCBWI website and discover all that the organization has to offer. If you have the interest and have taken the time to read this post, dear reader, then you possess the heart and soul of what writing for children is all about. Children need and love our stories and artwork. SCBWI is there to help.

The quote that appears on the global SCBWI welcoming page explains SCBWI’s role best: 

“The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators provides the resources, professional networking, and community-building opportunities that support writers, illustrators, and translators throughout their careers.”

What SCBWI has Done for Me

    While working as a substitute K-12 teacher, like many authors, I wrote articles on the side. To begin, I taught myself how to write by studying how-to books that I borrowed from the library and purchased. On the night my first article, “Stories Put Worlds in Touch,” Albuquerque Journal, June 5, 1989, about the stories a blind storyteller shared with her audiences, was accepted I couldn’t sleep. I wondered if I had captured the storyteller’s truest profile and gave her the credit she was due. Fortunately, the article turned out to be a success in the storyteller's eyes. Her dream was to purchase a Xerox/Kurzweil Personal Reader, which I mentioned in the article, a purchase she couldn't afford at the time. She called to thank me. A relative had read the article and purchased the reader for her. That was the beginning of the many, many rewards I’ve received from being a writer.

When I decided I wanted to learn how to write for children, I lived in a small town and had only the library and internet to help me. I began by writing a few children’s novels. Well, we all know where our first attempts sometimes land—in the drawer. (Those attempts are still there. Maybe one day, with the knowledge I have now, I’ll find a way to resurrect them.)

    It wasn’t until I moved to Albuquerque and was able to attend SCBWI-New Mexico meetings that the real learning began. I took a few creative writing courses while attending SCBWI meetings; and best of all, I joined a critique group. The rest is history. The combination of the SCBWI programs and critique groups I've taken part in has given me the tools I needed to create my books.

    I wish you all the best in your own writing journey. Be assured that SCBWI is there to guide you along the way.   

My next picture book, my fifth,
will be a teddy bear story,
including the true story
of Norman D. Bear, a program
in Dayton, Ohio that I took part in.
The program provided teddy bears
for children caught in
difficult circumstances.

Linda Wilson is the author of the Abi Wunder Mystery series and other books for children. Her two newest releases are Waddles the Duck: Hey, Wait for Me! (2022) and Cradle in the Wild: A Book for Nature Lovers Everywhere (2023). You’ll find Linda on her Amazon author page, on her website at, and on Facebook.

Click the links for free coloring pages and a puppet show starring Thistletoe Q. Packrat. While you’re there, get all the latest news by signing up for Linda’s newsletter.  Connect with  Linda: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram

Tips on Joining Writer's Organizations

Kathy Schuit of SWW created the coloring
book for my picture book, A Packrat's
Holiday: Thistletoe's Gift

Two of the most useful and important organizations I belong to are SouthWest Writers and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI. In this post I’d like to sing the praises of Southwest Writers. Next month’s post will delve into some of the many benefits membership in SCBWI offers children’s writers.

SouthWest Writers (SWW) is based in Albuquerque. Membership is open to everyone anywhere. Meetings are offered in person and on Zoom. Examples of workshops are the upcoming “Let’s Make a Scene,” with Charlene Bell Dietz, Saturday, August 12th, 12:30-2:30; SWW members: $20, non-members: $30 and Saturday, September 9th, same time and price, “How to Speak in Public and Live to Tell the Tale,"  offered by Brenda Cole. An additional helpful list of past workshops over the years is offered on subjects helpful to authors. Check the SWW website for additional information. 

The organization is made up of professional writers who are both approachable and helpful. SWW offers classes, such as the upcoming “SHOW Don’t TELL,” by Kathy Louise Schuit, to take place in September; an annual contest; critique groups; the monthly award-winning newletter, SouthWest Sage, and more. Helpful to me is the SWW Pro Services Directory where I discovered the multi-talented Kathy Schuit, a writer/artist/illustrator. Kathy compiled and illustrated the terrific coloring book pictured above to compliment my picture book, A Packrat’s Holiday: Thistletoe’s Gift.

As a member, I was contacted for an interview by KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe), the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kat has a speculative fiction blog at and writes about memoir at  The updated interview below appears in the July 2023 edition of Sage. I was delighted when Kathy contacted me again for an update, since in her email she said she was curious how I was able to publish two picture books, Waddles the Duck: Hey, Wait for Me (2022) and Cradle in the Wild (2023), in a short amount of time.

I highly recommend this terrific organization for all it has to offer to authors of books for any age.

Here is the updated interview with a link to the original interview:

Q: Waddles the Duck was inspired by a family of mallards that came to live in your swimming pool. Did you also have a personal experience that inspired Cradle in the Wild?

A: My picture book, Cradle in the Wild, was inspired by an idea I found in a craft book that I used when my two daughters were in grade school. The idea is to gather natural materials that birds use to build their nests, such as dried leaves, grass, bird feathers, soft parts of weeds and flowers, small pieces of bark — virtually any type of materials birds might find in the wild. In the spring, we would scatter these natural materials on the grass and watch for the birds to discover them and carry them away. The birds didn’t always discover our materials. I remembered how disappointed we were when they didn’t find our contributions to their nests. The two young sisters in the story were disappointed, too, when the birds didn’t come. So, they brainstormed about what they could use to attract the birds. I love to sew and especially love colorful fabric and sewing incidentals. My collection of ribbon, yarn and lace gave me the idea of adding these colorful snippets to the natural nesting materials, and the story was born.

Q: What topics does Waddles the Duck and Cradle in the Wild touch upon that would make them a perfect fit for the classroom?

A: Waddles: The main message I want readers to come away with is to realize that feeding waterfowl foods that are nutritious for them (such as waterfowl pellets available at pet stores, dandelions, wheatgrass, chopped lettuce leaves, and cracked corn) are far better for them than feeding waterfowl bread. The boy in the story must discover a solution to finding a good home for a mallard duck family that has taken up residence in the family pool. He realizes that the ducks wouldn’t survive for long due to the chemicals in the pool and the lack of natural food that ducks ordinarily find in their natural habitat. I’ve purchased little rubber ducks and plan to have them float in a tub filled with water to demonstrate to students what happens in the story.

Cradle: I’ve presented a program for Cradle that has worked well with students and adults a number of times now. I begin by passing around a collection of about ten bird’s nests that I’ve gathered over the years and discussing birds while the students are feeling the nesting materials, especially the soft fuzzy insides that birds use for protection of their eggs and hatchlings. I show the adults a terrific book — Bird Watch Book for Kids: Introduction to Bird Watching, Colorful Guide to 25 Backyard Birds, and Journal Pages, Dylanna Press, 2022 (Amazon) — which suggests taking water, sunscreen, etc. on bird-watching trips with their children. The book encourages children to keep track of the birds they see in the book’s journal pages. I show the parents a bird guide for adults to keep on hand and tell them about bird-sound apps they can save on their phones. I either read or tell the Cradle story, then give them a craft I’ve put together in a Ziplock bag for them to make a bird nest of their own at home.

Q: Tell us about the journey to choose the evocative and poetic title for Cradle in the Wild.

A: Creating the title Cradle in the Wild was just one of those inspirations that came to me one day. Many times I write title ideas in a notebook over many days and weeks. Sometimes nothing works. Then if I’m lucky the aha moment arrives and I’ve got my title.

Q: You released two books in less than one year. How did you accomplish this?

A: I have to chuckle at this question because, though these book ideas marinated for quite some time before they made it to the page, I wrote both books during COVID when we were all stuck at home. While doing that, I thought I needed a special COVID project, too, so I erected a bird feeder close to my kitchen window. So, while writing the books I enjoyed watching many kinds of birds frequenting my feeders.

 Q: In your last interview for SouthWest Writers, you shared what you wish you’d known when you began your writing/publishing career. What did you learn from publishing Waddles the Duck and Cradle in the Wild?

A: I learned something about marketing from writing these two books. As a self-published author, for a few years I tried to make sales by placing ads on my social media, I wrote blog articles, I became the newsletter editor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and more. Though I enjoyed doing all of that, I made very few sales. Once I accumulated the five books that I’ve published (a chapter book and four picture books), I began selling at book fairs. It’s a lot of work, but I started meeting readers and selling books. Since I don’t have a publisher backing me up and helping to distribute my books, I’ve decided my biggest reward is coming from meeting local readers. This is how I plan to spend my time from now on — sharing my stories with parents, grandparents, and their children in venues where they can also purchase my books.

Q: What writing projects are you working on now?

A: Sometime in 2023, I’m hoping to finish the second book in my chapter book trilogy, Secret in the Mist: An Abi Wunder Mystery, which is a ghost/mystery story. I’m also working on creating a new Tall Boots book which will be a side-by-side Spanish/English bilingual book, and after that making my other picture books bilingual. And for a new project, I want to write a book about turtles/tortoises. The working name of my character is Twiddles.

Here is the link to Kathy Wagoner's original interview of moi in SWW Sage

Sources: If you wish to contact Kathy Schuit, please send her an email:, and visit her website:


Alamo Canyon in
Alamogordo, NM,
with my writing partners
Sweet Pea (l) & Peanut

Linda Wilson is the author of the Abi Wunder Mystery series and other books for children. Her two newest releases are Waddles the Duck: Hey, Wait for Me! (2022) and Cradle in the Wild: A Book for Nature Lovers Everywhere (2023). You’ll find Linda on her Amazon author page, on her website at, and on Facebook.

 Click the links for free coloring pages and a puppet show starring Thistletoe Q. Packrat. While you’re there, get all the latest news by signing up for Linda’s newsletter.  Connect with   Linda: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram


Spring Cleaning at One SCBWI Chapter

"Hide and Seek," by Alan F. Stacy
Our New Mexico Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI-NM, chapter held its first “Write & Sketch” monthly meeting in early March 2020, pre-pandemic. We are currently looking into ways to continue meeting online for now. But in the future, for SCBWI chapters and other writing organizations looking for a way to meet and still get some work done, this post is for you.

Prior to “Write & Sketch,” our monthly meetings were called “ShopTalk.” Our facilitator would organize the evenings based on themes members were interested in. For example, a panel of four presented an evening’s discussion on “Diversity,” which I described in my November 27, 2019 post Diversity: Is Research Enough?; and turned out to be one of our last themed get-together's.

Our new facilitator decided to try something different. She took a look at what other SCBWI chapters are doing, gave us some examples, and opened up for discussion. How did we want to reshape our monthly get-together's, if at all, as some chapters don’t hold monthly meetings? In a nutshell, here are a few examples of what she found:

Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Region hosts six events:

  • Writer’s Day March: A one-day conference featuring speakers, intensives, writing contests and awards.
  • B-I-C Retreat April (even years): A three-day, two-night retreat featuring your butt in a chair working on your craft.
  • Critiquenic June: Free, informal critiquing sessions for writers and illustrators, held after a picnic lunch.
  • Working Writer’s Retreat Sept/Oct: A three-day, two-night retreat featuring editors, speakers, and intensive critiquing.
  • Illustrator’s Day Oct (odd years): A one-day conference featuring speakers, juried art competition, contests, and portfolio reviews/display.
  • SCBWI-Los Angeles’ members host smaller events throughout the year called LitMingles. LitMingles are informal get-togethers, often held monthly, where general topics are chosen for group discussion.

New England: Alternate every other month between free ShopTalk meetings and paid presentations.

New York-Manhattan Metro: Write & Sketch; Roundtable discussions every other month on social and equity topics in children literature; and 3-4 times/year formal paid workshops.

Oregon: Write Directions social hours at a coffee shop to network for 45 minutes-1 hour.

Others: Only conferences and no monthly meetings.

SCBWI-NM Takeaway
One of our concerns is to reach out to beginning authors, as well as PAL authors—those who have traditionally published books, and indie or self-published authors. Out of the other chapters’ ideas, we came up with three ways we might meet our members’ needs.

  • Write & Sketch
  • Periodic field trips for inspiration
  • Periodic low-fee workshops presented by our members and others in the community, such as local authors, editors, agents, and librarians.
  • Conference and retreat: In addition, our chapter holds a fall conference each year, Handsprings, and every other year a writer’s retreat at the Hummingbird Music Camp in Jemez Springs, New Mexico.
Our Write & Sketch Maiden Evening
Our first experiment with Write & Sketch was a great success. Our Chapter Regional Advisor arrived early and arranged the tables and chairs in the room in groups. The meeting began by members sharing their news. When it came time to work, our facilitator set her watch for an hour, and left time afterwards to talk about how we did.

My Table
I sat with two artists and two other writers. During our hour it was gratifying to look up and see the concentrated expressions on everyone’s faces, and all the work we were getting done. Most surprising and delightful were our table's results:
  • Debbie, one of the artists, experimented with colors with her portable paint set and her water brush, to decide on the hair color and other features of characters she was working on. Debbie says water brushes come in a range of sizes; the smallest brushes can make a mark as delicate as a pen stroke, but her brush was a bit larger than that. 
  • Alan, the other artist, drew in his sketchbook from a prompt provided for the evening: to create a character and then have him hide or hangout somewhere. Alan ran with the prompt and came up with the illustration he named, “Hide & Seek;” which he thought was fun and which he has graciously shared with us.
  • The writers edited and revised our current writing projects; such as a book about a therapy dog and my mystery/ghost series.
A Bright Future
Plans to visit a Jim Henson Muppet exhibit at an Albuquerque museum and other activities, of course, had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). But once the danger passes, I think our members are excited about our new plans and look forward to sharing social and work time with new ways to be excited and inspired . . . together.
Enjoying a sunny day in Alamo Canyon
Alamogordo, New Mexico

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter, and is working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook. Website coming soon.

Do You Have a Side Hustle?

By Terry Whalin  @terrywhalin Do you have a side hustle? Almost every writer has one but maybe you aren’t calling it a side hustle. I’m talk...