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In This Issue
Clocks, Measures, and Drawers
Hugs and Hurrahs
National Conference Photos
My Chautauqua Experience
Book Review: The Clique Summer Collection #1 Massie
Have You Published Anything? A Dialogue
Facing Forward, Looking Up
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Dear MichKids:

Here it is, my first official newsletter as the new editor. I owe Kris Remenar a big ol' hug next time I see her, for three reasons. First, she did a wonderful job as the newsletter editor. Second, she made the transition incredibly smooth. And third, she's getting married! I hope you join me in wishing Kris the very best in her career (I'm betting we'll be hearing good news about her in an upcoming Hugs and Hurrahs column) and in her new life.
We also need to say farewell to our assistant editor and the Opportunities column editor. Please help me wish Susi Walter the best as she ends her tenure. We already have our next column editor lining up information and opportunities for our members, and we'll be introducing her in the next issue. In the meantime, all our best to Susi as she spends more time on her writing. Thanks to her for all her years of sorting through the "slush pile" of information so you don't have to.

Our last farewell goes out to Liza Martz, who has been the co-moderator of the MichKids listserv for years. Liza and Debbie Diesen have made MichKids a wonderful resource for our chapter, a place where our members can share good news, ask for and provide advice, and find lots of information about their craft and SCBWI services. Best of luck in your future endeavors, Liza. Thank you for all the time you devoted to a largely behind-the-scenes but crucial job.

In this transition issue, you might miss Neal Levin's popular Kiddie Litter cartoon. Rest assured, Neal is still contributing, and will be back in the next issue. If you have art you would like to contribute, use the Quick Links column to the left to contact me. This is a great place to showcase your talent.

As always, this is your newsletter. My goal is to include articles that are of interest to our membership. Is there something you'd like to know? Got an idea for a great topic? If you'd like to contribute articles or art, if you have great news to share, or if you have any questions, please contact me by clicking on my name in the Quick Links column to the left. I'm looking forward to collaborating with such a talented and generous group of people.

Jennifer Whistler, editor

P.S. If you update your email with the national chapter of SCBWI, please remember to let our subscription mistress Kristin Lenz know. You can reach her through the Quick Links column on the left.  Don't miss a single issue!
by Lindy Rymill

I love clocks, measuring devices of all sorts, and unusual cabinets, with column after column of odd, little drawers.


I think my love for these things stems from my wanting--in my lifetime--to measure up, evaluate, and store, by compartmentalizing that which I've learned, so I can call upon it in a moment's notice. It somehow makes me content. Like I'm gaining ground. Learning. Getting smarter. Enjoying life with all its experiences, good and bad, because each gives opportunity to enrich my thinking and open my mind.


I also love to create from found materials: create dinner from leftovers, a card from junk mail, or a piece of writing from nothing more than reflection. I love to connect the dots.


Writing, though, is just an act. Producing something worthy of others' attention requires not only that you share something valuable, but you'd better have some skill. It's hard to express only the meat, not the superfluous. Passion alone (to write) won't do it for you. You need courage. Lots of courage. To excavate your innermost feelings, examine your thoughts, and express your perspective about what's important. I think sometimes, the better you get at something, the more you realize you know nothing at all. That can paralyze you.


Maybe the things I love could help me to write better. Reminding me not only does it take time to become inspired and reflect, it takes risk: will my words measure up?  And discipline, to find a drawer, a compartment, a seemingly just-right place to put my writing so it can be found again by me, or someone else who seeks it.


I love clocks, measures, and drawers.

Lindy is a former SCBWI-MI RA, author of GOOD KNIGHT, and Her journal "Life: I'm not sure..." will be published, or burned, upon her death.



Lori Eslick tells us that she and Laurie Keller are doing a picture book presentation at the Hackley Public Library in Muskegon on April 10 at 2:00 p.m. Lori also has art on display at the Muskegon Museum of Art in an exhibit titled "Mirror, Mirror: Art inspired by Fairy Tales" now through May 2. Also at the Muskegon Museum of Art, Lori will be auctioning her artwork on May 1 at Fresh Art Live, an auction to benefit the museum. See the pieces on Lori's website at Fresh news, indeed!

The Friends of American Writers chose Joan Donaldson's new YA novel On Viney's Mountain as their 2010 winner for YA literature. She will receive the award and cash prize in Chicago on April 21st. Friends who hand out cash are the best kind to have, Joan. Congrats! 

Nancy Walker recently won 5th place in the Writer's Digest Children's/Young Adult category for Yachay's Wish, the story of a motherless Quechua boy from Bolivia whose broken heart is mended by the llama he is given to raise. Nancy is now reworking this short story as a chapter book. Nancy, our wish is that both you and Yachay have great success.


Jack and Jill magazine bought Monica Harris's decipher puzzle, "State Sacks," for their May/June 2010 issue. Way to keep moving up the hill, Monica!


Amy Young's latest book, The Mud Fairy (which Amy both wrote and illustrated) was released by Bloomsbury USA on March 2, 2010. This is "fairy" good news, Amy!

Lisa Wheeler's new book is coming out in April. Dino-Baseball, illustrated by Barry Gott (Lerner/CarolRhoda), is the third book in the her dino-sports series. The Rib-Eye Reds battle the Green Sox in this action packed game. Dino-mite, Lisa!


In March, Abrams Books for Young Readers released Over At The Castle, the latest picture book by Boni Ashburn (illustrated by Kelly Murphy), which is a follow up to her previous book, Hush, Little Dragon. Can't keep news like this quiet!


Kalamazoo Valley Museum recently chose poems by Janet Heller in their recent competition for poems about Kalamazoo and items in their museum. Janet read "Losing My Father," "On Eating Raspberries from Our Garden in January," and "Snow Woman in Portage" at Artifactory, a special event held in February at the museum.  Janet is quite a gal from Kalamazoo!



  • April 15-17 The Festival of Faith & Writing will be held at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Speakers of interest to children's writers include: Avi, Tonya Bolden, Kate DiCamilla, E.B. Lewis, Sally Lloyd-Jones, Sharon Flake, Donna Freitas, Jenny Han, Lisa Samson, Gene Luen Yang, Sara Zarr, and many more! For a complete list of speakers and more details go to
  • May 1 Our Annual SCBWI-MI Spring Conference, The Tortoise and the Hare: Journey to the Finish Line, will be held in Lansing, Michigan, at the Lexington Lansing Hotel. The day will be filled with sessions on craft (picture book, middle grade, and young adult). Speakers include: Jay Asher, YA author of the New York Times bestseller Thirteen Reasons Why; Beth Fleisher, agent at Barry Goldblatt Literary Agency; Donna Gephart, mid-grade author of As if Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President! and winner of the Sid Fleishman award for humor; Ruta Rimas, assistant editor at HarperCollins; Jim Tobin, author, and Dave Coverly, illustrator, of the picture book Sue MacDonald Had a Book. Dave is also the author/illustrator of three Speed Bump cartoon books and a nationally syndicated cartoonist whose Speed Bump cartoons appear in more than 200 newspapers; and Lisa Yaskowitz, assistant editor at Dutton Children's Books. You will find registration information at our website:  All other questions, contact Janice Broyles here or Rachel Anderson here.
  • May 14-16 The annual Ann Arbor Book Festival. Author lectures and signings, writing workshops, spelling bees, poetry slams, book art displays, children's activities, and thousands of books for sale, at various downtown locations. For more information email, or, or visit the website at
  • October 8-10 Our annual fall SCBWI-MI Conference, Magic to Reality,  will be held at the magical Yarrow Golf & Retreat Center, in Augusta, MI. The magical theme will continue throughout the weekend. Friday night all are welcome to participate in the fantasy-costumed folk festivities. Speakers include: Patrick Collins, art director at Holt; Darcy Pattison, author; Cinda Chimes, author; Susan Chang, TOR Editor; and Amy Lennex, Sleeping Bear Press editor. If you have any questions please contact conference coordinators, Monica Harris here, or Randy Bulla here.
  • National Geographic is accepting unsolicited queries, book proposals, and complete manuscripts through email only. Please submit electronically here or research their website at
  • Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul is accepting submissions of nonfiction stories between 300 and 1200 words. There are different book topics and guidelines. Stories that resonate with teenagers, written in a voice the teen can relate to are best. Payment is $200 plus ten copies of the book. Please research the website at
  • Bumples is an interactive e-zine that targets ages 4-10. Editors  are seeking stories of illustrated fiction, mysteries, fantasy, sports, poems, and serial adventures. Every story is accompanied by a factual article, puzzle, or  game. This is a new online magazine and the publisher, Jennifer Sheehan, is open to ideas and suggestions. Pays 20 cents per word and 3 dollars per line of poetry. See their website at Submit complete manuscripts online here.
  • Focus on the Family Magazine publishes Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and is expanding their magazine from 24 to 32 pages. "They have a greater need," says editor Suzanne Gosselin, "for fantastic freelance children's writers." Please see their website for details and how to submit at

Literary Database is sponsoring a Flash Fiction Contest!
Enter your best flash fiction online, 250 words or less. Please visit for details and entry instructions. There is no entry fee and the first prize is $50 and a copy of Literary Database 2010. Two runners up receive a copy of Literary Database 2010. Deadline is May 1, 2010. Good luck!


Hope Clark's website,, has resources for every kind of writer. Visit her website to see the variety of researched items and advice she offers free to writers. Hope lists markets, contests grants, scholarships, articles, freelance jobs, book publishers, magazine publishers, and more! She also offers a free Funds for Writers newsletter and other newsletters that may be of interest.

courtesy of Monica Harris

Just to pique your interest in the Spring conference, get a load of Jay Asher. Co-RA Monica Harris had the chance to rub elbows with both Jay and Austin Powers. Groovy, baby!

Jay & Monica at Lin Oliver's place
Jay Asher
"Austin Powers" & Monica at the Blue Ball
Jay Austin

By Susi Walter

It was mid-February 2008. My husband, John, battled and won against a serious case of Hodgkin's Lymphoma. After six months of chemotherapy, and emotional and financial struggle, we were ready to get on with our lives.

I decided to apply for a scholarship for a week-long intensive children's writers workshop at Chautauqua Institution in New York. It's sponsored by the Highlights Foundation. The deadline was the next day. I drove to the post office to overnight my application. The clerk told me it would never make it in time because of Martin Luther King day. I sent it anyway. I'd worked so hard, and I prayed on the way home, that anything's possible through God. After all John and I had gone through with his illness, this was asking for a small miracle.


On March 25, as I swooped dust balls out from between the fridge and the cabinet (you know that annoying space?), an old Chinese fortune cookie ticket whooshed out. It said, "A vacation on sunny shores awaits you."


Later that day, I received an email from Highlights that read, "This year we do have some discretionary grant money from an entirely different source."


Highlights offered me a partial grant. John was happy, yet hesitant, when I told him my good news. The trip was still going to be expensive. Things were shaky at John's job and he was already on 32 hours per week. I told him, "Even if you lose your job, I am STILL going."


This may sound selfish, but I knew I was meant to go.


I sent a manuscript ahead of time so that I could be matched up with the most compatible mentor for my writing. I sent a few short stories about spiritual signs, geared toward young adults in order to help them find their life's path.


My reader, Kim Griswell, who is an editor for Highlights Magazine, gave me thorough feedback. Kim showed me several detailed ways of how to improve my writing, how to sell the manuscript, and marketing techniques. She said I should quote experts (using the "fair use" laws found at to back up my findings and then ask the experts to read my finished manuscript. If they approve of what I've written, then I could ask them to write a blurb for my published book jacket, in order to help sell the book. I received all of the encouragement and inspiration that I needed to believe in myself from those sessions with Kim.


Each day at historical Chautauqua was mystical. Every morning we gathered at the Hall of Christ to listen to a different featured speaker. After lunch, we were busy with three back-to-back sessions of different workshops/lectures of our choice. We were treated to gourmet meals every day. We had our opening and closing banquets at the famous Athenaeum hotel. It reminded me of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.


We mingled with Jerry and Eileen Spinelli, Harold Underdown, Peter Jacobi, Stephen Roxburgh, Patti Gauch, and the many members of the Highlights family, just to name a few.


The attendees were from all over the U.S. and abroad. Everyone was unique and fascinating in their own way, all with a common goal of writing and/or illustrating for children. I met Cari Weber, an award-winning photographer, writer, and SCBWI member. We became close friends, supported each other throughout the week, and we keep in touch. It was meant to be.


At the closing banquet, each speaker rose to the podium one at a time and honored Kent Brown for 25 years at Chautauqua for helping aspiring writers and illustrators. Laughter roared and tears were shed. Christine French-Clark, Editor-in-Chief of Highlights, presented Kent with a large check worth over $62,000 in donations from people whose lives Kent has touched. The donations are "seed" money for Kent Brown to build a conference center near the home office in Honesdale, PA. He said, "I feel humility for taking the credit for something that so many had a piece of." Kent sent us off with these words, "You are like an airplane; speeding down the're going too fast to stop, so you must fly!"


The Highlights Foundation and its contributors are very generous with helping those in need. Of the 106 attendees, 30 of them had scholarship or grant assistance. I felt so lucky to have been one of those people. For more information about scholarships to Chautauqua or to enter their Annual Fiction Contest, go to


Susi Walter is the former assistant editor of the SCBWI-MI News, a freelance writer, and writing workshop leader in Macomb, MI. She feels blessed for having her Chautauqua experience in 2009.

reviewed by Krysten Hager

In Lisi Harrison's summer spin-off series, we see Massie push her mean-girl attitude too far at horse camp and get kicked out. Massie is the series' resident mean girl/alpha female. Massie comes home expecting to spend her summer by the pool and shopping, but her parents have other plans for her. They expect her to get a summer job to pay them back for the camp fee.

Unfortunately, she had already made rude remarks to other girls who had to get summer jobs, so she has some backpedaling to do to keep up her image. However, Massie isn't one to let a setback get her down, so she informs her parents she'll find her own jobby. She thinks she finds the perfect jobby (she uses the term "jobby" as in, "it's a job/hobby," because an actual job would be beneath her) by selling Be Pretty cosmetics. Unfortunately, Massie misunderstands the brand's belief in inner beauty and tears her customers' self-esteem down to get them to buy more products.


In the beginning, I thought the girls were portrayed unrealistically since who would buy products from someone who thought you were hideous? Then I thought back to all the times I, or a friend, had talked about a salesperson playing on my/their insecurities and walked out of Saks with a bag full of products that will probably never be used. Due to that, I bought into the girls using their parents' credit cards to buy everything used on them (even I have bought a tube or two of primer for my face because apparently putting on makeup is like painting a wall and I need to be primed...).


However, the unbelievable part came when Massie is honored at a dinner for being the top seller. For some reason, the owner of the company decides not to watch the video that is made of the customers describing Massie's techniques. In front of a room full of people, the girls share how Massie showed them all their flaws and how to correct them. Without spoiling the ending, I'll just say that my surprise was over her mother's reaction to finding out how mean her daughter was by preying on these girls' insecurities.

In the end, even with all that's been revealed, the parents remain proud, which is not the reaction young girls reading these books should see.


There has been an argument about this series (even Naomi Wolf has written about these books as well as other YA novels and their impact on young girls) and the image it shows for young women. For one, the chapters often read like magazine ads with scores of actual products that the girls use. However, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of ramifications for their actions.

We'd all prefer to see young people read something of substance, but that's probably not what they're going to gravitate to when there are books like these with fun covers and juicy storylines. The argument remains is it better to have kids reading this kind of book than not reading at all? I guess as long as the demand is there, there will be books to supply it.


Krysten Lindsay Hager enjoys catching up on the latest middle grade and YA books, but still feels the need to justify reading books for a much younger age level to her local librarian.


Editor's Note: You're a writer, Krysten. No justification needed!

by Rachel Anderson

Whenever I meet new people our conversation eventually gets around to things we love to do and I mention that I write books for children. But after I get those words out the next question is always the same.


"Have you published anything?"


I used to reply something like this. "Not yet, but I'm trying."

OR "I've submitted, but no contract yet."

OR "The publishing industry is depressed like everything else these days."

And they look at me with something akin to pity. Not published? Poor Rachel. But now I'm smarter and I put response into a dialogue they can easily understand. Let's take golf, for example.


"What are you doing with your retirement time?" she asks.

"I write children's books," I answer.

"Have you published anything?"


"You play golf, right?" I ask.

"Yes, twice a week if I'm lucky," she replies.

"And you're working on your game every time you play, right?"

"Well, yeah. Of course."

"But you're not a pro."

"No. I'm not a pro."

"But you'd like to be if you could."

"Well, yeah. Of course!"


"I write children's books, but I'm not published - yet," I explain.

"So you're practicing your skills every time you write," she replies.

"Well, yeah. Of course."

"And you want to be published."

"Well, yeah. Of course!"


And now my new friend and I are on the same page. Try this dialogue the next time someone asks you, "Have you published anything?" Simply replace the word "golf" with their favorite pastime.


Rachel Anderson isn't very good at golf but loves to write in Gaylord.

by Elizabeth McBride
You set your goals for 2010, and it's already time to check and see how you are progressing toward meeting them! But that 'check-up' isn't limited to a tally of number of pages written, assignments completed, submissions made, or even manuscripts  accepted; it should also include a review of how well you are supporting your own efforts. How does your approach to what you are doing help or hinder your achievement of your goals? 

Start by asking yourself how you are measuring your progress. Are you looking at the goal ahead of you, or at the distance you have created between yourself and your beginnings? There is a fundamental difference in the scope and breadth of these two perspectives. If you train your focus forward toward your goal, new possibilities are more easily recognized as opportunities, and such recognition may be the advantage you have been waiting for.  

No mountain climber reaches the top by gazing back to see how far he has come. The successful climber deliberately places her focus on the summit, while continuously looking for the best pathways opening up ahead of her as she progresses.

There is also a difference in your thinking when you are pursuing something, rather than trying to get away from something! Climbing toward your goals means moving toward your possibilities. If you want to grow in your skills, build your thoughts around that growth and what it will look like when it comes to fruition, rather than the fears or limitations you want to leave behind. Be specific, write it down; know how you will recognize your progress. Let go of thoughts about where you've come from; you are there no longer. We cannot climb efficiently when we are carrying the weight of our fears or regrets on our backs. Most beginnings involve some faltering steps. Equipping yourself for the future you imagine means focusing on what lies ahead.

As you review your progress toward meeting your goals, don't just look at outcomes, check your outlook as well What ideas, opinions, or assumptions about yourself and your possibilities, your talents, or your realities need to be left behind in order to climb more freely and efficiently toward your mountaintop?  Set down the things that hold you back. Turn around, face forward, look up - and enjoy the climb!

Elizabeth McBride is facing forward and looking up in Grand Ledge.