July 2016

PLEASE NOTE: Next month we will be away at the SCBWI LA Summer Conference and as a result the August Insight edition will be sent out on August 12th upon our return to the office. The August edition with have a full conference wrap up for those of you who were unable to join us this year. For those of you joining us at the conference, don't forget to tweet using #LA16SCBWI during the conference. 

SCBWI Book Blast Coming this Fall

The Book Launch Party is back for 2016 with a new name. Running from October 10 through November 18, under the new title of SCBWI Book Blast, this member benefit will be available to all SCBWI members.
Book Blast is an online catalog that features books that have been published in the current calendar year, written and/or illustrated by SCBWI members, either indie or PAL. Each author or illustrator will design a digital page, based on one of six easy-to-use templates we provide, telling readers about their book.  As before, the page will provide not only information about the book and its creator, but an opportunity for the Book Blast audience to click and purchase the book immediately. We hope that the Book Blast will provide our members with an opportunity to reach consumers, libraries, bookstores and other organizations who want to discover the latest bestseller or a hidden gem created by an SCBWI member.

If you have published a book in 2016, watch out for the announcement of SCBWI Book Blast. The templates will be available as of September 1, which gives you over a month to design yours for the October 10 launch.

SCBWI Exclusive with . . .
Jessica Sinsheimer, Agent, Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency  
Jessica Sinsheimer has been reading and campaigning for her favorite queries since 2004. Now an agent at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, she's known for #MSWL, ManuscriptWistList.com, #PubTalkTV, and for drinking far too much tea. Always on the lookout for new writers, she is most excited about finding picture books, YA, MG, upmarket genre fiction (especially women's/romance/erotica, thrillers, mysteries) and on the nonfiction side-psychology, parenting, self-help, cookbooks, memoirs, and works that speak to life in the twenty-first century. She especially likes highbrow sentences with lowbrow content, smart/nerdy protagonists, vivid descriptions of food, picture books with non-human characters, and justified acts of bravery. You can follow her on Twitter at @JSinsheim.
How did you decide to become an agent?
It actually wasn't one conscious choice. I've always loved reading, writing and editing---so when my college roommate finished her internship at an agency, and said they needed someone, I was curious enough to try it out. Much as the Very Professional (and Mad Men-esque) atmosphere of that office terrified me, I still loved the work so much that I looked forward to going in every day. After several internships-at a publishing house and a magazine---I had the ridiculously good luck of landing with Sarah Jane as her assistant. I think what really propelled me forward was that I kept asking questions.
I was always trying to see how every piece fit together, and how best to maneuver with that information, once I could see the big picture. Sarah Jane was always encouraging me to take on my own work, but I was scared, actually, of tak
ing that step. I was so worried  that I'd do something wrong and ruin an author's life! But then in 2008 I read a manuscript---Falling Under by Gwen Hayes---that I loved so much, I couldn't stay away. I HAD to have that book! The deal was pretty stressful as first deals go---two similar offers from two Big Five houses, negotiated over the phone. But I made it! 

Read More
On the Shelves    

Bookbug in Kalamazoo, Michigan, has
been a community staple for years.
Joanna Parzakonis tells us why this independent store is thriving.
What sets Bookbug apart from other bookstores?   
In some ways, we are distinguished in the very same way that any/all thoughtful independent bookstores are distinguished, that is: our inventory is a direct reflection of our unique selves and of our community. Every staff member of the store has meaningful input into which books are placed on our shelves, which events we host and how we evolve to better reflect the needs of our community. For being a relatively small space (2,500 feet), our inventory is quite deep and our event calendar is in-step with stores much bigger in size and/or market, so I guess that distinguishes us also. 
Illustrator Info 
Vashti Harrison
The Return of Draw This! and More Tips for Illustrator Members

One of our May Draw This! winners, Vashti Harrison, was contacted by both indie and traditional publishers as soon as she was featured on our homepage, Twitter, and Facebook as a winner. She's on her way to being published for the first time, and it was participating in an SCBWI contest that tipped the scales for her. We had just decided to end Draw This!, as we were beginning to see the numbers of participants dwindling, but upon hearing the great news from Vashti, we decided to bring it back. Helping launch our members' careers is what we live for here at SCBWI, so we're thrilled to keep this feature going.

Our next prompt is: ADMIRE. Click here for Draw This! guidelines  

4 Art Tips

There are many other ways that participating in SCBWI features, awards, grants, and contests can help get illustrator members the exposure you need to get discovered. 

Best Advice Ever
Karen Cushman

Karen Cushman is the author of many award-winning historical fiction novels, including The Midwife's Apprentice (winner of the 1996 Newbery Medal), Catherine, Called Birdy (a Newbery Honor book), The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (winner of the John and Patricia Beatty Award), and Will Sparrow's Road (Clarion, 2012). Her first fantasy novel, Grayling's Song (Clarion), was released on June 7. Karen lives and writes on Vashon Island in Washington. 
One spring in 1976 or so, while I was thinking about writing but afraid I had nothing to say, Philip and I drove from San Diego to Los Angeles for the Times Book Festival. Happenstance led us to an event with Ray Bradbury, who talked passionately about writing and writing what you love.

"Fall in love and stay in love," he said. "Write only what you love, and love what you write."
I loved the Middle Ages, funny books, and feisty girls.  How could I write about that? But I finally acted on his advice and out came Catherine Called Birdy. Thank you, Ray Bradbury. I owe you.

We want your photos and good news! Tag us on Twitter/Instagram/ Facebook with pictures relating to kids or kids books. Funny, touching, interesting, revealing, you get the idea. Use #scbwitribeshare and we'll choose new snaps each month to share.      
SCBWI hit the ground running at the American Library Association's annual conference in Orlando this month. Check out an inside look! 
Marilyn Hilton and editor Namrata Tripathi

Sean Qualls and Laurie Ann Thompson signing at ALA 
The ever gracious Matt de la Pena signed books for hours. 
Celebrating diversity at ALA

Write This! May Winners 
We have decided to move Write This! to a bi-monthly schedule. Thank you to all that have participated, and voiced your compliments. Write This! will return in the AUGUST INSIGHT with
a new prompt.
Here are the winning entries from the May prompt. Congratulations to the May winners.

The May prompt was: "Many of our most memorable experiences of childhood or teenage years center around being left out. In 100 words or less, show us how it feels to be left out. Practice voice!"

Winner: Allison Kashon
I wasn't going to go until I did the calculations.  Based on quantifiable data -event duration, rotations every 2.92 minutes, less than 1% absenteeism---I had a 92.0376% chance going into the Evening Under The Elms Cotillion.  What didn't I account for?  Height differentials?  Pubescent development status?  Should I have added variables for blemishes?  How would I quantify them?  By size?  Density?  Rupture status?  Should I calculate an olfactory offense factor using Clay's breath as a baseline?  What about Sharee's prosthesis?  What're the odds on those two having partners while I'm stuck ladling sherbet punch under the stupid mirror ball?

Winner: Jarred Ratzlaff
There were eight of us in the beginning, bright-eyed, cute as can be. As the hours ticked by the silver metal crate began to close in all around me. Faces and hands. Everywhere. They would peer into our enclosure and admire us, ooh and ahh over us. Pet us. Tickle our bellies. But soon enough my warm, wiggly, and cuddly brothers and sisters were gently lifted up and removed. Taken where? I don't know. All I know is that I am alone. I am the only one left.