Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 2, 2018

Agent of the Month – Liza Fleissig – First Page Results

Before we start the first page results, I wanted to share a picture of the beautiful flowers I received from my friends at the New Jersey SCBWI, wishing me a speedy recovery from the surgery I had last week. It will take a while to get back on my feet, but these flowers and the get well cards and emails I’ve received has helped cheer me up. Thank you so much. I feel very special.

Liza Fleissig, with her partner Ginger Harris-Dontzin, opened the Liza Royce Agency (LRA) in early 2011. A cross-platform company providing development, representation, and strategic career management for clients in all media, their goal is to represent clients in all stages of their careers, from the most established to those developing their craft, as well as debuts. Both former partners in NYC based litigation law firms, Liza and Ginger bring a combined 40 years of negotiating experience to the field. This background, along with connections rooted in publishing, movies and television, allowed them to focus and build on a referral based clientele.

From picture books through adult projects, fiction and non-fiction, screenplays to stage works, LRA welcomes strong voices and plot driven works. Their inaugural books became available in stores January 2013.  Their first was an Edgar nominee, another was an Indie Next Pick, and two others were optioned for film. LRA’s success began right out of the gate.



Munich, Germany, June 1943,   Heinrich Seidl preferred to have his prey vulnerable. Defenseless and cut from the rest of the herd. Kathi shivered, hearing his voice even before stepping off the trolley onto the busy street.  The early June morning suddenly losing its warmth.

“What poor soul is he running into the ground this time?,” she muttered.  The war widow with three children? The old man with palsied hands? Or just some unfortunate person
who didn’t respond quickly enough with the obligatory Heil Hitler! salute for Herr Heinrich Seidl’s fanatical standards.

At 7:00AM the self appointed neighborhood Blockwart was already at his malicious best. Of course the son-of-a-bitch had to be having his tantrum smack dab in front of  Aunt Klara’s hat store where Kathi worked. She had no choice, but to walk by.

Schorchi, the eleven-year-old caretaker’s son, stood cowering under the man’s rage, biting his lower lip in an attempt not to cry.

“Was ist das?” Seidl roared. What is this? “Was ist das?”

Kathi looked up to see what he was pointing at. Oh, dear Lord! That damned flag. Sometime during last night’s thunderstorm  the wind must have torn it loose from one of it’s fastenings and the Hakenkreuz hung like a forgotten dishrag. The evil black spider, as Kathi referred to it, lay dormant – hidden by its blanket of white and blood red cloth.

As if  Schoschi has anything to do with it. Leave him alone, you big ape! Go pick on someone your own size. Kathi wished she had the courage to say those words,  but knew she never will, never could. People tend to look the other way if they have a gun pointed at their heads or worse

at the head of a loved one, and like most Germans she, Katharine Maria Graf, wasn’t any different.


The Lies We Lived (YA) by Sally Buchanan Suehler

This first page is rather confusing upon first reading. Who is Heinrich Seidel? A line here to introduce him would be helpful. And although the first line is intended to be powerful, isn’t prey always vulnerable? Isn’t Heinrich in a position to make anyone he wants defenseless? Kathi’s reaction to the situation doesn’t seem to ring true—she’s surprisingly relaxed and blasé about the whole situation, even when it’s clear that Heinrich is in front of the store where she works (and that she will need to walk by him), and that the boy, Schorchi, is someone she knows. If we are trying to create tension and drama in this opening scene, Kathi’s relaxed demeaner undercuts that entirely. Or is Heinrich not someone to be feared? If not, then why does he have “fanatical standards”? I also wanted a better sense of Kathi as a YA character. Her language feels and sounds rather adult; despite the time period, for example, it seems unlikely she’d call someone a “son-of-a-bitch” or later “Oh, dear Lord! That damned flag.” I do think there’s a good sense of conflict set up at the very end of the page, where Kathi wants to say one thing but will act another way entirely because she is afraid of the consequences. This definitely piques interest and keeps the reader interested.


Barbara Senenman – Santa Bunny (Alt. Title – Ho-Ho-Uh Oh!) – Picture Book 

(Illustrator’s Note – Santa reads a newspaper for holiday characters. Sample Headlines: Louie and Louise Leprechaun Learn Ballet. Hanukkah Harry Sings Solo.)

“Ho, ho, hum! All I do when Christmas is finished is exercise the reindeer and check on elf progress,” Santa said to Mrs. Claus.

A headline caught his attention.


Ernest the Easter Bunny broke his foot while bowling. Unless somebunny hops forward, children won’t be getting their goodies. Interested?  You must like children, be a judge of who’s a good egg, and travel the planet in one night. Own transportation is a plus. Easter will be here soon! Interviews at Ernest’s burrow.

Santa showed Mrs. Claus the article.

“I could do that.”

“You want to be the Easter Bunny?”

“It’s something different.”

“Traveling the world bringing children presents is something different?”

“No chimneys.”

Santa chose his best suit and flew to Ernest.

He squeezed through the burrow entrance.  Many waited for a chance to be the Easter Bunny.  Finally, it was Santa’s turn.


Santa Bunny (PB) by Barbara Senenman

Funny concept for a picture book! It needs to be clear from the onset that Christmas is over. Even what Santa says to Mrs. Claus does not make this clear (he’s saying it as a general statement). Also, you want to be sure to use your illustrator notes wisely—the one here is confusing, i.e., what are “holiday characters”? And what is “a newspaper for holiday characters”? It’s not immediately clear. Why can’t Santa just be reading a regular old newspaper? Regardless, you don’t want your illustrator notes to be too long and you only want them to include vital info. Dialogue needs to be super crisp and clear. Santa’s first utterance is rather long and the voice seems to need more work so that it’s more compelling. The Easter Bunny article is cute and well-written, though why does the Easter Bunny have to be Ernest the Easter Bunny? I’d think this would confuse kids—we’re talking about the Easter Bunny, correct? Also, what does it mean that “Many waited for a chance to be the Easter Bunny”? This seems a bit like filler and probably isn’t necessary, especially as it’s a bit confusing. Most kids will think of the Easter Bunny as the Easter Bunny, just like they think of Santa as Santa… Finally, while there is an interesting set-up that’s created here, the conflict hasn’t yet been made clear. It feels like there’s too much leading up to things here (reading the paper, etc.) which is taking up a lot of space. You could probably get to Santa going to the Easter Bunny’s much faster and also get to what the conflict is going to be much faster too.


THE LITTLE ISLAND by Kirsten Bock, Picture Book

Once there was an island.

A patch of sand in the middle of the wide sea.

She wasn’t much to look at: a thin beach, some crumbling dunes, and a scraggly clump of trees.

Every day, the island listened to the swish swish of the rolling sea.

She watched the sun sparkle on the dunes.

She visited with the occasional bird who landed in a tree to rest.

But every evening, the island gazed at the busy, bustling mainland and she felt like something was missing.

One day, a small boat appeared. It carried an even smaller girl.

The island blushed as the girl looked around. She waited for the girl to row right back to the mainland.

But the girl didn’t mind.

Instead, she ran along the waterline. She danced beneath the dunes. She napped in the trees’ shadows.

As dusk crept in, the little girl whispered her deepest secrets into the breeze.

And the island whispered back. “I’ve been missing friends!”

That night, as the island gazed at the mainland, an idea rustled through her branches.

The next morning, the island got to work.

She shined her sand until it glistened in the sunlight. She grew her trees tall and straight, adding fruit to their branches. She sang a joyful tune that rang out across the glassy sea.


The Little Island (PB) by Kirsten Bock

An unusual approach, featuring a character that’s an island rather than a person, which makes it intriguing. Some of the language is unclear here. What is “an even smaller girl”? Smaller than what? The boat? One would assume a person is smaller than the boat which is carrying them, so this is a bit confusing. And why is the island blushing? (And how does an island blush anyway?) This puts a romantic spin on the story which I am sure you are not intending for a picture book. The main problem here is that there’s no conflict set up for the main character, which is the island. Is the island lonely or sad or wanting a friend? Or does the island feel like less of an island because it’s so scraggly looking? And how does it know it’s scraggly looking if there’s no other island in sight? One might assume any one of these, but because nothing is firmly established from the beginning, it’s unclear. The result is that the story lacks tension and feels a bit aimless because we’re not being directed anywhere in particular. Other than that, I would recommend that you keep in mind that a picture book will be illustrated, so you don’t need to spend quite so much text and story space describing things since they will be clear in the illustrations.


Patrick Thornton Title: I’M COUNTING ON YOU – Middle Grade contemporary novel

“So I guess you’ll be man of the house again,” Stan, my best friend since kindergarten says with his usual goofy expression.

“Very funny.” Kind of funny, I guess, since I’m a girl. But I don’t laugh. “I gotta go. Thanks for hanging,” I tell him.

He tilts his head sideways and jerks on an imaginary noose. I don’t laugh at this either and his face goes serious. “Your dad’s going to be okay.” Then adds. “Your mom too.”

“Yeah,” I say wishing I knew that to be true.

“Okay. See ya tomorrow.” I give Stan a little wave as I go inside then up to my room.

The chart I made matching up the two time zones—here in Virginia and there in Afghanistan where Dad will be—is on the wall. I’ll use it to know what time it is for Dad when I’m getting up in the morning or having dinner or whatever.

For now, I just want to turn my brain off. I want to put the war—what could happen to Dad, what could happen to all of us—out of my head.

“Think fast!”

I jump like I’ve been electric shocked and look up just in time to grab the video game case flying at me before it hits me in the chest.

“Nice catch.” Dad stands in my bedroom doorway wearing his National Guard uniform, all brown and green camouflage. There’s an MP patch on the shoulder.  People say I look like him. I got his dark, curly hair (mine’s a little longer and most of the time under a baseball cap). Got his dark eyes too. I’m in pretty good shape from lots of sports. Guess you could say I’m the girl version of my dad. I love that. I’m hardly any version of my mom. My bed creaks when he sits down next to me. In my hands is the new Xbox game we’ve been waiting for.

“Practice up,” he says pointing at the game. “So I don’t embarrass you when I get back.”


I’m Counting on You (MG) by Patrick Thornton

A great topic for a MG novel. Where are the friends hanging out? This is unclear. It’s a small detail but since it’s the beginning of the story you really want to paint a vivid picture in readers’ minds. In general, the approach here strikes as a little heavy-handed, and the story is maybe trying a bit too hard to garner sympathy from the reader, which feels too obvious/forced. For example, “For now, I just want to turn my brain off. I want to turn the war—what could happen to Dad, what could happen to all of us—out of my head.” This is telling the reader what to know rather than allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. Also, her voice (we don’t know her name yet, maybe we should?) seems rather depressed and a little generic. Remember, we need the protagonist and especially the narrator to come alive off the page and voice is a great way to achieve this. Yes, she is heading into a sad situation: her dad is leaving for Afghanistan, but if the voice isn’t compelling, which is a direct reflection of her character, then you will not get readers interested in the story you are trying to tell. Also, it’s worth noting that the girl’s voice seems slightly adult for this MG character. For example, “‘Yeah,’ I say, wishing I knew that to be true.” Not many kids speak like this. The end of the page is great, establishes Dad and a challenge he’s posing to his daughter while she’s away which is both fun and yet touching.


Thank you LIza for taking the time to share your expertise with us. It is truly appreciated. Have a nice holiday and keep in touch.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 1, 2018

Book Giveaway: The Art of Remmy by Mary Zisk

Author and illustrator Mary Zisk new book titled, THE ART OF BEING REMMY is out. Mary has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Mary!


In this funny, illustrated, coming-of-age novel, when mid-sixties attitudes kept girls in their place, 12-year-old Remmy Rinaldi questions what is fair and challenges the rules that restrict her. She discovers what friendship really means and helps others find their true callings while following her own Spark of an Artist.

It’s 1965. 12-year-old Remmy Rinaldi and best friend Debbie have ambitious resolutions for the brand new year (besides meeting the Beatles, of course). Debbie loves all things French, including a new boy she targets as her future boyfriend. Remmy is determined to win the art awards at the end of seventh grade to prove to Dad that, in spite of his mysterious objections, she is destined to be an artist (and not some secretary stuck behind a typewriter).

Remmy’s rival and all-around goofball Bill insists that all great artists are men and Remmy can’t possibly beat him in the art contest. Remmy takes his challenge even if it means going behind Dad’s back with a super secret plan. In the meantime, Remmy may be losing Debbie’s friendship to a devious Rat Fink. Can art bring Debbie back or just make things worse?

Remmy persists in fighting for her dream—until tragedy strikes. Will she recover from loss, or admit Dad is right and give up in defeat?

The novel includes:
• 70 illustrations
• 10 photographs
• Author’s historical notes with personal anecdotes
• Comments on the modern women’s movement with timeline of women’s achievements from the 1960s to the 1980s
• Artists Appendix with 23 bios

“The Art of Being Remmy” really is a fun and original novel, enhanced by quirky graphic illustrations. The story of Remmy’s drive to be an artist, while handling the drama of junior high, is a real page turner. I even teared up a bit at the end! Teachers may find it fits well with STEAM curriculum. —Roxie Munro, author/illustrator of “Masterpiece Mix”


In 2009, I confidently attended my first NJSCWBI craft day with a picture book manuscript in hand. But my confidence quickly fizzled as we kidlit wannabees listened to agents and editors talk about how badly the recession had hit the children’s book market. Very few picture books were being published, they said, and no agent would even represent a picture book.

But, they said, there was growing interest in middle grade novels. Hmmm…

That day, I had a one-on-one critique with an editor about my picture book. When we were finishing up, she asked if I had any questions. I told her I had won a Draw-the-Beatles contest when I was 12, and had seen the Beatles in concert. Could there be a novel in that? Yes, she thought the idea had legs. The Art of Being Remmy was born.

I attended every NJSCBWI conference, retreat, and craft weekend to learn how to write a middle grade novel with an inciting incident, story arc, character development, and conflict.

As I worked on Remmy, and went more deeply into conflicts and motivations, I thought carefully about what affected me at age 12. What emerged were feelings about restrictions placed on me by 1960’s society: why weren’t there baseball teams for girls, why couldn’t I wear pants to school, why did girls demur to boys’ leadership, why were girls assumed to follow certain careers (nurses, teachers, secretaries) followed my marriage and motherhood? In other words, I had attitudes that would be reflected by the feminist movement of the later sixties and seventies. But would feminism be off-putting to a middle grade audience (and their parents and teachers)? To be true to myself, I needed to take that risk.

At the 2012 NJSCBWI Conference, I had four critiques and got four different opinions on Remmy:

  • “Work on voice—like a girl talking to her best friend.”
  • “Focus on characterization—your characters feel a bit stock. Bottom line: it’s your job to entertain.”
  • “Is this a historical novel or a novel that takes place in a historic time? There’s a difference.”
  • “Make your novel shorter and characters younger. Forget boyfriends. Add touches of fantasy.” (Whaaa?)
  • “I lived through the sixties. Why would I want to read about it?” (an agent pitch)

My head was spinning like a boardwalk Tilt-a-Whirl. But there was a hopeful note. At the end of each critique, I said “I’m thinking of illustrating my novel.”

“Hmm, that could work,” they all said.

So I literally went back to the drawing board to approach my novel illustratively. I kept drawing and writing and revising and characterizing and revising and plotting and revising. I set up a Flickr gallery of sample illustrations and sent out submissions. The gallery got many views, but only a couple of nibbles for the novel.

In April 2013, I took Remmy to a Highlights Foundation Middle-Grade Whole Novel Workshop. Author Alan Gatz (Refugee) was my mentor, gave me 6 pages of notes and helped me restructure my plot. I revised and confidently submitted Remmy again and again. No luck. I grumpily admitted defeat and put Remmy away in the virtual drawer.

I returned to Highlights in 2015 to learn about Voice from master editor Patti Gauch, which encouraged me to rescue Remmy from her virtual prison. With the help of my writers’ group, I restructured, re-voiced, and revised Remmy and sent her back out into the world again. But the world didn’t want her.

Remmy spent nine months silent in the drawer until I went back to Highlights in June 2017 for a mentoring workshop with author Kathryn Erskine (Mockingbird, The Incredible Magic of Being). I went with an ultimatum for myself: give up on Remmy (and even writing), or self-publish—something I swore I would never do. Being at Highlights brought back my publishing ambition. Kathy generously offered to give me notes. With those notes, I spent the fall of 2017 brutally cutting chapters and other darlings (I still miss the bowling alley scene). I rewrote and revitalized my novel one more time.

Then, with the new year of 2018, I had a big decision to make. If this novel was going to match my vision, I needed to illustrate the entire book. No more samples for editors or agents to convince them of what my novel could be. I was now the publisher.

I would need one full-page illustration for each of the 34 chapters. So I tested myself. Based on the experience of doing one new illustration, I would make my final decision to self-publish or not. I chose a chapter when Remmy creates an image to enter in a Draw-the Beatles Contest. I drew the Beatles’ faces floating past the Empire State Building (an artistic reference to Van Gogh’s The Starry Night). I loved the process and I loved the result. I committed to self-publishing The Art of Being Remmy. (See more illustrations at

Guiding me through decisions about the cover illustration and design, and that all-important first chapter was my ideal reader—that 12-year-old girl at the library looking for a great book to entertain her and inspire her dreams. In recent history, Girl Power has blossomed and the feminist movement is strong and persists. I know that today’s girl can be inspired by Remmy’s story—the story I had to write.



Mary Zisk is a graphic designer (mostly of magazines), an author/illustrator, and an artist with a passion for capturing foreign destinations in watercolor. She is the author and illustrator of the picture book, The Best Single Mom in the World: How I Was Adopted (Albert Whitman, 2001) and the middle grade novel, The Art of Being Remmy (Cabin Studio Books, 2018). Mary lives in New Jersey with her daughter and four white fluffy rescue mutts. She blogs about her many eclectic collections at

To learn more about Mary, please visit

Thank you Mary for sharing your new book and journey with us. Wishing you lots of sales and many more books.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween


Dow Phumiruk, MD. featured on Illustrator Saturday. Check it out. See her portfolio site at or her blog at She’s represented by Deborah Warren at East West Literary Agency.

Alice Faegan featured on Illustrator Saturday. Check it out.

Brett Curzon featured on Illustrator Saturday. Check it out.

Sawsan Chalabi being featured on Illustrator Saturday – this coming Saturday 11/3/18. Check it out.

Sarah Beise was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Check it is out.

Gillian Reid was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Check it out.

 Scott Buroughs was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Check it out.

Jim Nelson was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Check it out.

Cheryl Nobens was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Check it out.

John Seckman was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Check it out.

Nicole Allin was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Check it out.

Sandy Steen Bartholomew was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Check it out. 

Sarah Beise was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Check it out.

Susan Miller was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Check it out.

Carrie Ann Bradshaw was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Check it out.


Talk tomorrow,



Please contact me to be part of the 2018 HOLIDAY BOOK EXTRAVAGANZA. I always need the BOOK’S JOURNEY, so start writing that up. Other things I need is a picture of the cover, your bio, your picture, and if it is a picture book, at least 4 .jpgs of interior art (at least 500 pixels wide).

Email kathy.Temean (at) and put 2018 HOLIDAY BOOK EXTRAVAGANZA in the subject area. Look forward to discovering your books. Reminder: These spot fill up fast.

Click banner for 12×12 site.


Little GOLDen Book members of 12 x 12 will be able to choose one of two agents to submit their manuscript to each month.

Amy Stern of the Sheldon Fogelman Agency will be accepting picture book submissions from 12 x 12 GOLD members November 1-15. Alexandra Penfold of Upstart Crow Literary Agency will be accepting picture book submissions from 12 x 12 GOLD members November 16-30. Amy’s profile appears first, followed by Alexandra’s. Please read BOTH and then decide who would be the best fit for your work.

Amy Stern

A little bit about Amy:

“Amy Stern has been at the Sheldon Fogelman Agency since 2010, working her way up from agent assistant to taking on her own clients. After developing her passion for children’s and young adult work while studying creative writing and English at Bryn Mawr College, she got masters’ degrees in children’s literature and library science at Simmons College, where she learned how to critically analyze children’s books. Her eight years in publishing have taught her how to read them with an eye for marketability as well.

Amy is interested in a wide range of books for audiences between birth and 18 years, but is particularly keen to find projects that respect the agency and humanity of the child reader through portraying characters that reflect their lives, no matter how mundane or fantastical they may be.”

We asked Amy what she’s looking for in picture books. Here’s what she had to say:

“More than anything, I want a story featuring a character that I can get to know even within a short text (it hopefully goes without saying that a picture book should be less than 800 words!), and I want to see that character grow over the course of the story in an organic way. I like things that are weird, but I need that weirdness to be grounded in an understanding of the structure of picture books; it can’t just be haphazard. I want to read manuscripts that tell a coherent story but leave room for the art to make that story whole.”

Here are a few resources for Amy:

Alexandra Penfold

Photo credit: Donny Tsang

Alexandra Penfold

A little bit about Alexandra: 

“Alexandra Penfold has been working in publishing for over a decade. Formerly an Editor at Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, she specializes in young picture books, middle-grade fiction, and young adult. Prior to becoming an editor, Alexandra was a children’s book publicist. She worked on media campaigns that appeared in USA TodayNewsweekUS News and World Report, and NPR’s All Things Considered. She’s the co-author of New York a la Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple’s Best Food Trucks and the author of two forthcoming picture books. She is currently a literary agent with Upstart Crow Literary representing children book authors and illustrators as well as select adult projects.”

When asked what’s she looking for in picture books today, Alexandra said,

“I am looking for picture books that move me. I want books that make me laugh, think and feel. I want stories the demand a second reading immediately after the first. If you’re choosing to set your story in rhyme there has to be a strong reason for it and the rhyme should be serving the story rather than vice versa. I am especially looking for author-illustrators and for diverse voices.”

Alexandra was a 12 x 12 Featured Agent in 2014 and 2017. You can see our previous profiles HERE and HERE.

Here are some updated resources for Alexandra:

Please note Little GOLDen Book Members may only submit to ONE of these agents. Please choose the agent who is the best fit for you and your manuscript.

Submissions will only be accepted for Amy Stern from November 1st – November 15th at 6pm ET/3pm PT.

Submissions will only be accepted for Alexandra Penfold from November 16th – November 30th at 6pm ET/3pm PT.

Please double check the times on your submissions. Anything received before or after the submissions window is open will be disqualified and you will not be able to submit again this month.

Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 29, 2018

Book Giveaway: Kindergarrrten Bus by Mike Ornstein

Author Mike Oenstein has new book titled, KINDERGARRRTEN BUS. Kevin M Barry illustrated the book for Sleeping Bear Press. It is available in bookstores now. Mike has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Mike!


Yo ho ho! It’s the first day of kindergarten. Just imagine all the fun things to learn and experience! And who better than a pirate captain to drive the bus to school? He’s ready to share all the rules one needs to know to ride the bus and to get along with mates at school. But with the anticipation of the first day of school there also comes a bit of anxiety. And it turns out that being a big, blustery pirate captain is no guarantee against feeling insecure and a little frightened in strange and uncomfortable situations. Who can help a rough and tough pirate captain get over his fears and back to driving the school bus? Using humor and pirate-speak, Kindergarrrten Bus addresses some of the concerns and anxiety that many children feel on their first day of school or at the start of any new undertaking.


The idea for Kindergarrrten Bus came to me one afternoon about six years ago when I was waiting for my daughter to get dropped off by the school bus. I was with my son who was about four years old at the time. We were goofing around as usual and talking about the fact that he would be taking the school bus to kindergarten soon. I asked him what he would do if the bus door opened up and the driver was a pirate. I said, “Ahoy, boy! What, it be ye first day of kindergarrrten?” in my best pirate voice. He smiled and rolled his eyes like I was a big doofus. I wrote the idea down on a piece of paper along with those exact words I had said.  They would later become the first words of the book.

That’s how I write. I guess you can call me a disorganized writer. I have ideas and lines to different potential manuscripts written on pieces of paper in my desk dating back decades. When I jot them down they seem like great ideas at the time. Some I’m motivated to start working on immediately. Others I let marinate for a while.  Hopefully I’ll get to all of the ones worth getting to. Thoughts and ideas can come at any time and in any place.  The idea for my other picture book, The Daddy Longlegs Blues, crept up on me (and up the wall) when I was in an outhouse.

I left Kindergarrrten Bus marinating in my desk for a few years. A lot happened during that time. My son went to kindergarten. His bus driver was not a pirate. Neither was his bus driver in first, second, third or fourth grade. I do recall one of them having a beard though. Life was busy. I wrote intermittently. I had met an agent at a seminar who showed interest in a manuscript that I submitted for critique. We stayed in touch and kept revising and submitting and revising this manuscript. We are still actually working on it! I decided that I needed to put that manuscript down for a while and work on something new. I went through my desk for inspiration and saw the words “Ahoy, boy!” I got excited. I remembered that before my son started kindergarten, my wife and I were concerned about how he would adjust because he was shy at the time. I thought about all the experience I had working with kids who suffered with tremendous anxiety, as well as the fact that I was an anxious kid growing up myself. I decided that I wanted this to be a theme. But it had to be fun and entertaining first. I fell in love with picture books because my mother and sister would read them to me in their own fun portrayal of the characters’ voice. So, I imagined being the pirate when I was working on the book.  As I wrote the words I would hear his voice in my head. Sometimes I would say them out loud. I wanted this to be as fun for the reader as it was for the child listening.

I became very focused. I wrote and edited at the same time. I printed out updated copies and took them wherever I went. I thought about it and wrote down lines and ideas whenever I could. After about three months I decided to send it to the agent. She got back to me quickly and said she really liked it. She only requested a few minor changes for grammar. I had learned a lot from her about editing and writing a story through all the work we’d been doing on the other manuscript. She is incredible. Her name is Anna Olswanger.

Anna sent the book to Sleeping Bear Press and it was accepted. They did not ask me to make any changes to the manuscript. They only requested that I write an authors’ note about anxiety which I happily did. They kept me in the loop every step of the way. When I was told that Kevin M. Barry was contracted to illustrate, I went to his website and knew he was the right illustrator. When I saw his sketches for the book I was even more excited. Sleeping Bear Press’s vision, Kevin’s vision and my vision for the book were in sync. In less than two years from the day I took that crumbled up piece of paper out of my desk, a copy of Kindergarrrrten Bus was in my hands. I could not be happier with how it came out!


Mike Ornstein wishes he were still in kindergarten, but he had to grow up . . . sort of. He now lives in Westchester, New York, with his family. When he’s not working with children and adults in the mental health field, he enjoys coaching baseball and softball and laughing and being happy! He is also the author of The Daddy Longlegs Blues.

Thank you Mike for sharing your book and its’ journey with us. I love the the delightful illustrations and story. So much fun.


Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 28, 2018

The Spark Award: Children’s Book Non-Traditionally Published

The Spark Award is an annual award that recognizes excellence in a children’s book published through a non-traditional publishing route.

2017 winners: Flying Through Clouds by Michelle Morgan and The Santa Thief by Alane Adams, illustrated by Lauren Gallegos.

2017 honor winners: Bad Monkey Business by Michael Hale and Petals by Laurisa White Reyes.  Congratulations!

Deadline: SPARK 2018 OPENS NOVEMBER 15, 2018. DEADLINE IS DECEMBER 15, 2018. You may only submit one title each award period.

Award: The winner and honor recipients (if applicable) will receive: a Spark seal to display on their book;  commemorative plaque; the opportunity to have their book featured and autographed at an SCBWI conference of their choosing during the year the award is won, featured in the SCBWI online bookstore and publicized through SCBWI social networking sites. The winners will also get the opportunity to attend any conference of their choice tuition free (other than for extras such as critiques and intensives).


1. You must be a current SCBWI member with membership current through April of the following year to apply.  If you are a member now but your membership is scheduled to expire before that time, you will need to renew your membership in order to be eligible for the award.

2. Both the author and illustrator (if the illustrator’s name appears on the book) must be members to apply.

3. You must have published a book intended for the children’s or YA market in one of the following categories: Board Book, Picture Book, Chapter Book, Middle Grade, Graphic Novel or Young Adult.

4. The book may be fiction or nonfiction.

5. The book should have been self-published either through an established self-publishing enterprise or individually self-published.  The book cannot have been previously published in any print or digital form prior to the self-published form.

6. SCBWI reserves the right to disqualify books published by enterprises that we believe, in our discretion, operate in a predatory or unbusiness-like manner.

7. The entry must be submitted in traditionally bound form, contain an ISBN number, and Copyright date of the current year.

8. All applicants must include a cover letter with your name, the name of your book, the genre of your book, the publishing method for your book (including the name of any editor/copyeditor/designer who was retained in the creation of the book), your book’s ISBN and a synopsis of your book.

 9. Applicants must submit one copy of a printed and bound copy of the book and a cover letter to SCBWI via a traceable mailing method (i.e. FedEx, UPS, US or International Mail with tracking number). Please do not double package your book.

Send copies to:
SCBWI Spark Award
4727 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 301
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Please note that books submitted will not be returned.

10. One winner and up to two Honor Book recipients will be chosen in two categories:

Books for older readers: This includes: middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction.

Illustrated Books: This includes: board books, picture books, readers, chapter books and novelty books.

There will be two rounds of judging. The first round will be judged by an SCBWI panel; the second round will be judged by a panel selected from industry editors, agents, authors, illustrators and/or booksellers.

11. Books entered in the Spark Award are not eligible for The Golden Kite Award or Sid Fleischman Award. Self-published authors may only enter their books in one of these awards.

12. Judging will be based on a number of criteria, including but not limited to: quality of writing and concept, quality of illustrations (if applicable), professional presentation, editing and design, appropriateness of content for the targeted age group of the book.

13. Books are evaluated by a panel of English-speaking judges. All books entered must be written in English or be submitted with an English translation.

SCBWI reserves the right not to award a SPARK AWARD in any given year.



Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 27, 2018

Illustrator Saturday – Anni Betts

Anni Betts is a professional illustrator. She creates vibrant, cheerful drawings for books, magazines, advertising, greeting cards, calendars and more. She loves making the world a more colorful place, and specialize in drawing animals, plants, people, and lettering.

Originally from Illinois, Anni received a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After several years as a graphic designer, she segued into full-time illustration and working for herself. She now lives in the United Kingdom, in the beautiful and historic city of Durham, England. Working from her cozy home office with a lovely view of the scenery of the North East, full of rolling hills and fluffy sheep.

When not illustrating, Anni can be found going for long walks and exploring the UK with my archaeologist husband Kamal, adorable son Emmett, and her super dog Logan. She also enjoys reading, entertaining, and sewing her own colorful clothes.


To describe my process, I’ll use the example of one of the illustrations from my recent Narwhal Nation calendar:

First I draw little tiny thumbnails to get the composition of a drawing right. I find that I need to be able to see the whole composition in one look in order for it to work right.

Then I scan that, and print it out larger. Then I put that on a lightbox with another piece of paper taped on top, and draw a very tight sketch over the initial thumbnail.

Then this is what I usually send to a client, and they can ask for any changes at this point. Once the sketch is finalized, then I scan that in, print it out, and put it on the lightbox again with a piece of bleedproof paper taped on top. Then I ink the lines using Micron pens. It’s a little bit tedious and mindless, so I often save this step for when I’m somewhat braindead at the end of a day, or in the evening with the TV on in the background.

Then I scan that inked drawing in, and do all of the color digitally. I make the inked drawing its own layer that is a layer mask, so that I can make the lines colored. Then I have layers below that for the fill and for shading and highlights and any textures that I want to add. In the end I flatten it all down and send clients the final artwork that way.


And that’s pretty much it! Fairly simple.

Book Covers: 


How long have you been illustrating?

I started working for myself as an illustrator in 2006, so it’s been almost 13 years. Before that I was a graphic designer and always found excuses to illustrate the things I was designing, so if you count that it’s been longer!

What and when was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

The first official, professional illustration job I had was doing a lot of textbook illustrations for Loyola Press in Chicago. It was a great introduction to working as an illustrator and made me realize I wanted to do that full time, and that if I got enough work I could make a living at it.

What made you choose to get your Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign?

I always wanted to make a living doing something art-related, and I felt like graphic design was a good way to do that and still have a full-time job. I picked the University of Illinois partly because it had a good graphic design department, and partly because I’m from Champaign, and my parents were both employed by the university, so tuition was half off! Hard to argue with that. Luckily it did give me a really good grounding in design concepts that I think still influences me today.

Do you feel that is where you developed your style?

That is definitely where my style started to develop. Although I was officially learning graphic design, I had a couple of teachers who encouraged my illustration and my working it into my design projects. I also was initially influenced a lot by the Arts and Crafts movement and art nouveau, all of which I studied in design history, so that contributed too.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I’ve always wanted to illustrate for children, I guess because it’s a genre where so much is illustrated, and where things can be extra colorful, fun, happy and whimsical.

What caused you to move to England?

My husband is an archaeologist, so as an academic he has to move where the jobs are. He found his dream position here in Durham, England, fortunately got the job, and since we both had always thought it would be fun to live abroad, we made the move! It’s very nice that because I work for myself, and can do what I do anywhere, it was an easy move to make.

Did you start out creating greeting card and expanding to advertising, magazines and books?

Actually it was kind of the opposite — I started out doing textbooks, ads, and magazines mostly, and eventually got to the point where now I’m doing greeting cards, children’s books and products, which are more what I always wanted to do.

Was The BabyFiles your first illustrated book?

No actually the first book I illustrated the entirety of was for Loyola Press way back when I was starting out — a little book called the Christmas Play by Carol Lynn Pearson. It was in a different style than what I do now, which was more driven by the art director’s vision for the book, but it was a great experience with illustrating a whole book.

How did that come your way?

The Baby Files was created by a woman named Alisa Yikngling, who wanted to fill a gap in the baby book market by making one that would be appropriate for same-sex parents and adoptive parents, as well as everyone else. She found my work online and got in touch and I ended up designing the book as well as providing the illustrations. Funnily enough, she happens to be another person originally from Illinois who now lives in the UK!

I love the socks you designed. How did you think of doing that?

Thanks! I wish I could take credit but I didn’t invent the idea — they are the brainchild of Hannah Lavon, who started Pals Socks which are mismatched socks that look like animals who might normally be foes but are now friends. She contacted me to do the first “Artist Series” of socks, and then I got to illustrate several pairs. It was a really fun challenge to turn my usual style into something that could be woven into a sock and to adapt to the shape of socks.

How did you get to illustrate Breathe Like a Bear with Rodale books?

The art director for Rodale Kids, Eric Wight, contacted me about illustrating Breathe Like a Bear because he and the author, Kira Willey, felt my style would be a good match for the book. At the time I was in the middle of maternity leave for my first baby, but they were nice enough to wait until I was back at work to start the book. It was definitely one of my favorite projects I’ve ever worked on, Kira’s writing is great for kids and Eric was such an easy-going and positive client. I feel lucky to have worked on that one!

How did you connect with Lisa Diffenbaugh to illustrate her book, Little Lamb: The First Christmas? 

Lisa found me online, and felt that my style would work well with her story since I draw so many animals and the main character of her book is a little lamb. She was my first experience illustrating for a self-publishing author, and it went really well because she had a good vision for her book but at the same time wanted me to bring my style to it. Not only was it a nice book to illustrate, but last Christmas when it came out my son was very into lambs and sheep, so he really enjoyed me reading it to him! It’s so fun to be able to read my kids something that I illustrated.

What types of things are you doing to get your children’s illustrations noticed?

Not as much as I should! I mostly rely on the advertising I do on various portfolio websites like Workbook, the iSpot, and Directory of Illustration. I also find that new work comes to me through Pinterest and especially my Etsy shop. And then I try to update my blog (though I should do it more often!) and send out e-blasts to past clients now and then.

Have you made a picture book dummy to show art directors?

I haven’t. I haven’t really sent out a bigger mailing like that in many years. It’s something I always think about doing, but lately I just haven’t had the time!

Do you have an artist rep. to represent your illustrations? If so, who and how long. I not, would you like to find one?

I worked with a rep for a few years, but then she retired and I decided to go back to being solo. It’s been going well enough so I haven’t really looked into getting a new rep.

Have you done any book covers?

Yes, I did the covers for a series of murder mystery novels by Denise Swanson, for Penguin, over the last several years, which has been fun. There was an element of “mystery” in each one, like a dagger plunged into something or a bullet hole in a window.

When did you decide to become a full-time freelance illustrator?

After I got my degree in illustration in 1998 (I can’t believe it’s been that long!), I worked for eight years as a graphic designer. I enjoyed the work, especially when I could illustrate what I was designing, but I started to get a little bored with it mainly because in design there are more restrictions like staying within corporate style guidelines, and the facts of readability and what’s trendy or not. It just started to feel a bit repetitive. I loved illustrating more because it’s a bit more of a challenge and I can invent anything I want in a picture. So by 2006 I had saved up enough money to live off of for about a year, so I quit my job and started working for myself as an illustrator. It took a while to get enough work where I was really making a living, but in the end I’m glad I did.

Would you illustrate a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

Yes, I’ve done a few books for self-publishing authors now. It’s mainly a matter of feeling like the story is a good fit for my illustration style, and of the author having a budget for professional illustrations. It’s a big outlay up front for someone just starting in children’s books, so a lot of authors might not have the money for illustrations, but for those who have the ability to invest in creating a very professional book it hopefully pays off for them.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own book?

Yes that’s always been my ultimate goal, but I haven’t done it yet! It used to be because I was waiting for the perfect idea to hit me like a bolt of lightning. Now I realize that’s not going to happen, I’ve just got to think really hard and come up with some good ideas, but now I’ve been so busy with commissioned work I don’t have the time to do that! But now that I have kids and am always reading them picture books and seeing what they like and don’t like, it’s definitely giving me ideas. Hopefully I can write something soon!

Have you worked with educational publishers? Which ones?

Yes, I’ve worked with several. I started out doing textbook illustrations for Loyola Press, and then I’ve also done various illustrations for McGraw-Hill, National Geographic, Houghton Harcourt, Cambridge Press and recently I did a teacher planner for Scholastic which should be out for next year, I think.

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines? Which ones?

A little, I’ve done a story for Storytime magazine here in the UK, and something for Spider magazine, but that’s about it so far. It’s something I should get more into!

Have you ever thought about illustrating a wordless picture book?

Yes actually. I like the idea of pictures telling the story and that the person reading it can make up the narrative. A lot of times in the past when I was reading stories to my son (who is two now) I ended up paraphrasing or making up the narrative anyway, because his attention span used to be fairly short, sometimes too short for what’s actually written on the pages! So a wordless book could be fun in that the story could get more wordy as the audience gets older.

What do you think is your biggest success?

That’s a tough question! Maybe Breathe Like a Bear, because not only did I enjoy working on it, but when I read reviews of it it sounds like a lot of people have used the book to help calm down their children who have anxiety issues or other behavioral problems, and they say the book really made a difference for them. It feels really good to be a part of something that’s helping kids.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I’ve always been a drawer, and I like fairly precise lines, so I’ve always used mechanical pencils and technical-type felt tip pens for my drawings. I guess I’m just someone who doesn’t like the smooshiness of paint, and I also like doing drawings and digital coloring because it’s instant gratification. I don’t have the patience for letting paint dry or building up layers of other mediums!

Has that changed over time?

No it’s pretty much how I’ve always been.

Can you tell us a little about where you create your art?

I work from home, so up until recently I’ve had my office in the extra third bedroom in our house. All I really need is a desk and space for printers and a scanner, but I also have a lot of fun art supplies and all of the various papers and envelopes that I use in making my Etsy prints. There’s a nice view of some distant sheep-covered hills and it’s quite sunny too. However I just had to give the room up to be a baby room now that I had a second child, so at the moment my office is in my bedroom! It’s not ideal, though really I don’t use a ton of space for what I do, so it’s OK. We’re moving soon so eventually I will get my office back in the new house!

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

Not really. I should! I’ve just been so busy with commissioned work for the last couple of years, and then all of the extra time I used to have is taken up with having kids, so I haven’t had much time for doing purely personal, portfolio-expanding work. Luckily the jobs I’ve had in the last few years have all been fun and exciting, so they generate plenty of samples that I can use for my portfolio.

Do you take pictures or research a project before you start?

I usually do a bit of image researching online, if it involves drawing things that I don’t usually draw. Sometimes if I’m drawing people and I need a certain pose, I take photos of myself in that pose. It means there are a lot of weird photos of me in the Photo Booth app on my mac!

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Oh definitely! I couldn’t do what I do without the internet. I can’t imagine how it would have been in the days of physically shopping a portfolio around to potential clients. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it from the northeast of England! Luckily I started as an illustrator after the internet was the go-to source for everything, so I’ve always advertised online and sent final art via email or uploads. And lately I find that clients are looking for illustrators outside of the official channels like portfolio sites, and instead finding me through social media or my Etsy shop. All of that is thanks to the internet!

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

I use Photoshop to do all of the color work on my illustrations. I draw the lines by hand in ink, then scan them in and do all of the color digitally. I love that I can pick specific colors, that they can be very intense, and that editing is so much easier than with traditional media. I used to do all of my color work with watercolor and colored pencils, but I could never get the exact colors I wanted and it was so hard to make any changes later. I find that most clients expect to be able to ask for minor changes once the color art is done, so it’s good to be able to do that easily.

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet when illustrating?

Yes I use a Wacom tablet for all of my color work.

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

Writing and illustrating my own series of children’s books is probably my biggest dream.

What are you working on now?

I’m just coming off of maternity leave, and luckily I have a few projects lined up — a calendar, a couple of board books and the next in a series of children’s books that I’ve been working on for a self-publishing author here in the UK. It should be a busy next few months!

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

I can tell you the materials that I like to use. I always sketch on cheap standard printer paper, which I keep on a clipboard, using a mechanical #5 lead pencil.  There’s something sort of freeing about drawing on very inexpensive materials, because then I can just sketch lots of little thumbnails until something looks right. When I ink my drawings, I use Pigma micron pens, and I’ve always used Paris Bleedproof paper by Borden & Riley, although NO ONE seems to sell it here in the UK, so I will probably have to switch to something else. But it’s been really tough to find something that’s as bleedproof as that! And that’s about it since the rest of the process is digital!

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

One thing I think is important is to figure out what you really love drawing/painting/illustrating, and then create the best portfolio of that kind of work that you can, rather than worrying what other people are doing, or what you think maybe you “should” be doing stylistically. Then be prepared to work really hard and for a while to make it to a place where you’re successful — but if you love what you’re doing that journey shouldn’t be too bad!

Thank you Anni for sharing your talent and expertise with us. Make sure you share you future successes with us. To see more of Anni’s work, you can visit her at: Website:

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Anni. I am sure she’d love to hear from you and I enjoy reading them, too.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 26, 2018

Agent of the Month Liza Fleissig – Interview Part Three

Liza Fleissig, with her partner Ginger Harris-Dontzin, opened the Liza Royce Agency (LRA) in early 2011. A cross-platform company providing development, representation, and strategic career management for clients in all media, their goal is to represent clients in all stages of their careers, from the most established to those developing their craft, as well as debuts. Both former partners in NYC based litigation law firms, Liza and Ginger bring a combined 40 years of negotiating experience to the field. This background, along with connections rooted in publishing, movies and television, allowed them to focus and build on a referral based clientele.

From picture books through adult projects, fiction and non-fiction, screenplays to stage works, LRA welcomes strong voices and plot driven works. Their inaugural books became available in stores January 2013.  Their first was an Edgar nominee, another was an Indie Next Pick, and two others were optioned for film. LRA’s success began right out of the gate.


How do you like to communicate (email vs. phone)? And how often do you communicate during the submission process?

Most communication is by email only because it gives me the flexibility to respond at any hour of the day or night. But, there are definitely times that email won’t suffice and/or a phone call is easier.  That said, all clients have access to my private cell. As for the submissions process, as you might expect, communication is more intense, but even then it ebbs and flows depending on where we are in the process. If we are discussing strategy of submissions, there can be a flurry of communications. If we are in the process of waiting – ah … that painful time waiting – we might not speak for a couple of weeks. However, I am ALWAYS reachable for hand holding J

What happens if you don’t sell a book? Would you drop the writer if he or she wanted to self-publish that one book?

What? Not sell a book? Sigh… yes that can happen depending on where the pendulum is swinging. But to drop a writer over that? NO WAY. Taking on an author means we believe in the writing, — we don’t all of a sudden not like the project just because of industry push back. So, there are several options: put in a drawer and wait out the market while turning to something else; revise with an overhaul based on resonating feedback; keep on the back burner and wait to see if another book can break out first (making author’s work in more demand); and yes, even help facilitate a hybrid arrangement or have the author self-publish.

Self-publishing is not a dirty word and serves tons of different purposes. For our authors specifically, it is usually a pet project that might not be as commercial as their other projects and/or for their loyal readership, so it’s a chance for them to try something new on the side. But, even in those cases, we are always happy to rep their subsidiary rights. A perfect example: we just sold Jenny Bardsley’s Puritan Coven series to Tantor Media in a 3 book audio deal. Those books are self-published and may I add, ROCKING SALES.

How many editors do you go to before giving up?

It depends. Since we don’t go very wide, we’ve sold books in a week and we’ve sold books in a year (though the average is probably closer to 4-8 weeks). So, depending on how we hit out the gate, we might go to one editor and get it sold in an exclusive submission, or it might take 30 editors before we find the right home. And again, giving up is all relative. We never really consider “giving up” an option as much as shelving a project until better timing and circumstances present. Any book we take on we love and believe in regardless of market conditions.

What do you think of digital books?

LOVE THEM. What a wonderful way to get books out in the world at a price point most people can afford. So, while I personally love the feel of a book in my hands, I am grateful for the opportunity to reach a wide audience. It also doesn’t hurt that readers can carry more than one of my books away on vacation when they buy digital. Can you say binge read anyone??

Do you handle your own foreign/film rights contracts or does your firm have someone else who handles those contracts?

We work with various co-agents for all subsidiary rights, though often the deals originate through LRA.

Do you see any new trends building in the industry?

There are always trends, but by the time you talk about them, they have faded. So write what you know, write what you love, write what matters to you, and you can BE the industry trend.

Any words of wisdom on how a writer can improve their writing, secure an agent, and get published?

Conferences, writing groups, critique groups, retreats… ANYTHING that keeps the pen rolling. Even the most seasoned writers continue to improve with every revision, so working on your craft never gets old. And, when combined with a strong platform, that makes for a killer package and the rest will fall into place. It also never hurts to be gracious and support other authors. They will remember you when it’s your turn.

Any new book contracts you can share with us?

VERY excited to share that we recently sold to Running Press Kids/Hachette Erica George’s YA debut, WORDS COMPOSE OF SEA AND SKY, with poetry contributed by Jamie Gelman! We also sold a poignant middle grade novel in verse in a pre-empt, and another woman in stem PB bio. You’ll have to stay tuned to find out more details when announced later this year.

Would you like to attend writer’s conferences, workshops, and writer’s retreats, etc?


Thank you Liza for your thoughtful answers to the interview question. It has given writers more incite to you and your agency.


Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 25, 2018

SCBWI Golden Kite Awards

Instituted in 1973, the Golden Kite Awards are the only children’s literary award judged by a jury of peers. More than 1,000 books are entered each year. The Golden Kite Awards recognize excellence in children’s literatures in five categories: Young Reader and Middle Grade Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Book Text, and Picture Book Illustration.

Click here for the 2018 winners!


MAY 1 – JUNE 30, 2018 (for books published between January-June 2018) 

JULY 1 – NOVEMBER 15, 2018 (for books published between July-December 2018)

1. Authors/Illustrators must be a current member through February 2019 to have a book submitted to the Golden Kite Awards.

2. Only books written or translated into English are accepted.

3. Please Submit FOUR copies of your book.  All submissions MUST BE in completed, bound form.  NO GALLEYS.

4. You may submit your book to ONE category only, except in the case of Picture Book Text and Picture Book Illustration.

5. If submitting to both Picture Book Text and Picture Book Illustration BOTH author and illustrator must be current members and EIGHT copies must be submitted.

6. The book submitted must be published in the previous calendar year (2019 winners published in 2018).

7. Individuals and Publishers can submit for the Golden Kites.

8. Self-published books are not eligible, however you may enter your book in the Spark Award for self-published books.

9. Categories include: Picture Book Text, Picture Book Illustration, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Nonfiction for Younger Readers, Nonfiction for Older Readers.

10. One Golden Kite Award Winner and one Honor Book will be chosen per category.  Winners and Honorees will receive a commemorative poster also sent to publishers, bookstores, libraries, and schools; a press release; an announcement on the SCBWI website; and on SCBWI Social Networks

11. Winners and publishing houses will be notified in January, 2019.


Submission Guidelines for Publishers will be sent out directly. Please contact the Golden Kite Coordinator if you have not received the guidelines.

Click here for submission Guidelines for INDIVIDUALS

Questions? Contact the Golden Kite Coordinator:

SCBWI reserves the right not to confer this award in any given year.

Talk tomorrow,



Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 24, 2018

Book Giveaway: Sam Wu Is NOT Afraid Of Ghosts

Authors Kevin and Katie Tsang have new book titled, SAM WU is NOT afraid of GHOSTS! It hit bookshelves today. She has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Katie and Kevin!

Sam Wu Is NOT Afraid Of Ghosts


Don’t call him scaredy-cat Sam, because Sam Wu IS NOT AFRAID of ghosts! Except . . . he totally is. Can he conquer his fear by facing the ghost that lives in the walls of his house? 

After an unfortunate (and very embarrassing) incident in the Space Museum, Sam goes on a mission to prove to the school bully, and all his friends, that he’s not afraid of anything—just like the heroes on his favorite show, Space Blasters. And when it looks like his house is haunted, Sam gets the chance to prove how brave he can be. A funny, touching, and charming story of ghost hunting, escaped pet snakes, and cats with attitude!

“Reluctant readers and fans of the Wimpy Kid series and its ilk will appreciate the book’s dynamic type, graphics galore, cartoonish illustrations, and ironic footnotes.” —Kirkus


We love writing the SAM WU books together together, but co-writing definitely has its challenges sometimes! We’re very glad that our marriage has survived our co-writing adventures. Before we write a new Sam Wu, we usually spend a month just outlining and plotting the book, so we both have a very clear idea what it is going to look like. Then, when we are ready to write, we have a very particular system. We put our working document on one big screen, and we both sit in front of it while one of us types and one of us inputs vocally. Sometimes very vocally! We take turns, and switch roles to make sure we both get the chance to be the ‘driver’ or the ‘navigator’. We also have a codeword for when one of us doesn’t like an idea or a line, we quickly learned that we need to stay positive while working together. And we never delete anything! Instead we put anything that we cut or aren’t sure about into another document we call our ‘sandbox’. The sandbox usually ends up almost as long as the finished book!

We also have a rule that there is no fighting while writing on SAM WU — if we start to argue we put a five minute timer on and have a time-out to cool down until we can both come back to the book in a more rational head space. It helps keep us in a positive place while working on the books. And our favorite part of the writing process is when we get to review the illustrations and the design lay-out. We’re very lucky to work with such a brilliant designer and such a talented illustrator (Nathan Reed). We hope that kids enjoy reading Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts and  that it will give them a safe place to face some of their own fears as well.


Katie and Kevin Tsang met in in 2008 while studying at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Since then they have lived on three different continents and travelled to over 40 countries together. In 2015 they got married in Palm Springs, California. Kevin was born in Copenhagen and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. Some of Sam Wu’s experiences are based on Kevin’s childhood. He currently works as a healthcare technology consultant.

Katie was born and raised in Southern California and also writes YA as Katherine Webber. Katie and Kevin currently live in London. Sam Wu is NOT Afraid of Ghosts is their first joint novel.

Thank you Katie and Kevin for sharing your book and journey with us. This looks like such a fun book. Good Luck with it.

Talk tomorrow,


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