Your September 2021 SCBWI Houston Newsletter
Upcoming Meeting: Monday, September 13 7-9 PM
Next Meeting: Monday, October 4 7-9 PM
Please join us on the first Monday of every month from 7-9 p.m. on Zoom until meetings are resumed at the Tracy Gee Community Center,
3599 Westcenter, Houston.
This month:
Explore Indie Publishing with Chris Eboch.

Next Month, October 4. Illustrator Charlene Bowles
Yahoo Listserv has ended. STAY in the loop by joining the new listserv NOW.
The listserv has proved to be a great way to keep in touch, start critique groups, announce good news, etc. With us not meeting in person in the near future, let's keep in touch virtually.

In an effort to prioritize our public health and safe community building during the Covid-19 pandemic, we have canceled all 2020 Dinner Table quarterly events and look forward to bringing this program back in 2021. Stay safe and keep creating with open hearts and minds!

Kate McCormick's New Picture Book to be Published This Month.

Kate McCormick's new picture book, Happy: The True Story of a Stray Dog Who Became A Hero will be published in September by TCU Press. Based on the true story of Happy, the stray dog who alerted his new family of a house fire next door. Illustrated by Tina Ochenante, the book has been receiving a happy helping of attention from local media, The Bellaire Buzz, The Memorial Buzz and the Tanglewood/RiverOaks Buzz. Read the coverage online here.

And the article includes a great shout out to the Houston SCBWI as a great resource for budding writers.

Appearing at
Book Fair

Marsha Ralston has been invited to participate in a book fair at the Barnes and Noble in McAllen, Texas. The event will be held September 18.

The self-published book, illustrated by Katie Risor, is about migrant protection protocols, certainly a very hot topic these days.
On a recent episode of the Bent Biblios Podcast, listen along as author Lynne Kelly discusses her novel, Song For A Whale, and why the story of the Blue 52 Whale resonates with so many people.
Ghost Hunters: Spirit Fire
Releasing soon
Susan McCauley's Ghost Hunters: Spirit Fire (Book 3 in the Ghost Hunters series) is going to be released on September 7, 2021. There is a virtual book launch here on September 7 from 7-9pm CST. She'll have her premiere book signing for the new book at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA on Saturday, October 2. All signing dates can be found on her website. Be on the lookout for the Ghost Hunters this October at Brazos Books as well as Barnes & Noble stores around
Alda P. Dobbs was recently featured in Publishers Weekly, along with nine other Indie Debut Authors. Read what they had to say about Alda as well as the other talented authors here. Additionally, Alda was interviewed on the podcast, Talks with Roger.
Vicious Beasts
or Misunderstood Creatures?
That is up to you! Be prepared to play with a little character
design among fellow creatives.
3rd Saturday Creative Social September 18, 10 am to 11 am

Caroline Leech Offering Services as Creative Writing Coach and Mentor
Houston YA author Caroline Leech has worked with numerous Houston and Austin SCBWI members over the last few years, doing full or partial manuscript critiques, as well as presenting conference/monthly meeting workshops. She is currently building up her business to offer other services, including ghostwriting, developmental and line-editing, and query/pitch critiques. She is also taking on new clients who would like coaching on a single writing project and also writers who are looking for a mentor to help them develop their craft and career longer-term. For published PAL authors or forthcoming debut authors, she specializes in coaching writers in their public/virtual presentation skills and workshop development (for schools or adult audiences) and would love to help you plan the most fantastic book launch event.
In gratitude for all the help and encouragement she has received over the years from the SCBWI Houston and Austin community, she is offering a 10% discount on any project/coaching plan contracted before the end of 2021 to currently-paid-up members of our two chapters.
Visit her new website at for more information or email her at to set up a time to talk with her about what help she can give to you.
Illustration Sessions with Amal
Class Offered: Writing Picture Book
Biographies that Shine
Class description: A well-crafted and marketable picture book biography requires the research of a scholar, and the style and sparkle of a storyteller. In this six-week masters-level class, we will dive deeply into the craft of writing a stellar picture book biography, from idea to publication. Unlike theory-driven classes, we will mine stacks of mentor texts for concrete examples of craft elements in action. In addition to class time, students will be invited to a private Facebook group, and will be provided resourceful handouts, and a one-on-one phone or Zoom session with me. More information and registration details can be found by clicking image below. Class times: Sundays 4pm-6pm CDT — Sept. 5 - Oct. 10. 

Taught by Austin SCBWI member Donna Janell Bowman, author of many books for young readers, including STEP RIGHT UP: HOW DOC AND JIM KEY TAUGHT THE WORLD ABOUT KINDNESS, ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S DUELING WORDS, KING OF THE TIGHTROPE: WHEN THE GREAT BLONDINI RULED NIAGARA, and the forthcoming co-authored autobiographical picture book with Olympian Billy Mills, WINGS OF AN EAGLE: THE GOLD MEDAL DREAMS OF BILLY MILLS. In addition to earning starred reviews, Junior Library Guild Selection, and inclusion on Best-Books-of-the-Year lists, Donna’s books have earned awards and honors from the National Council for the Social Studies, National Council of Teachers of English, American Library Association/Association for Library Service to Children, and more.
SCBWI in no way endorses the above advertisements/services,
and encourages readers to thoroughly investigate
any service before signing up.
New Webinars from Austin chapter:
We humans need stories. We are hard-wired to interpret our own lives and experiences through the experiences of others, and a well-told story with a fully developed character provides us with a template for living. As writers, we know that creating that “fully developed character” is one of our greatest challenges. Psychology tells us that our views of life are formed by early “wounding”, and that the adult bases life decisions on revisiting the “wounded child”. Thus, as writers, it behooves us to understand the nature of our characters’ backstory wounds as they manifest in our characters’ story arcs. This workshop by author Janet Fox will explore the nature of backstory wounds and how to develop and use them to create fully rounded characters, using a range of exercises, templates, and take-aways.

September 14 7-8:30

$10 SCBWI Members $55 Non-members
Nonfiction has been gaining traction in recent years in children’s publishing, especially as authors and publishing houses have broken out of the traditional “textbook” model and have looked to create informational and fact-filled texts that are engaging, interactive and just plain fun. A particular advantage of taking a more creative approach to nonfiction is that you can potentially position your book for both the trade and educational markets and interest a greater variety of editors and ultimately readers.
In this interactive workshop we will look at the nuts and bolts of proposing a nonfiction project, focusing on writing a polished proposal, and accompanying query, for middle grade and YA crossover nonfiction. We’ll also talk a little bit about strategies for presenting nonfiction picture books in newer and more original ways than the traditional “PB bio” format that has filled—some would say overfilled—the market in recent years.

October 19 7-8:30

$10 SCBWI Members $55 Non-members
Monday, September 20, 2021 @7:00pm EST

Get published! If you enjoy writing about new topics, both fiction and nonfiction, consider writing for the educational market. Participants will learn about this market and how to approach publishers with a work-for-hire package. Get publishing experience with books and other resources for children (K-12) without the slush pile. A limited number of written critiques are available.
$15 SCBWI Member $25 Non Member
Hosted by (Region Info) – Eastern Pennsylvania

Finding the Perfect Agent: Webinar with Saritza Hernández
September 23, 2021
from 7:30– 9:00 pm Central Time

Now that you’ve got that polished manuscript or picture book dummy, it’s time to take the next step in your publishing career. In this webinar you’ll learn how the “art” of finding the perfect agent is as creative a process as your storytelling. With expert advice, top-industry literary agent Saritza Hernández will cover the basics of researching, vetting, and collaborating with the agent who will best represent your work.
Following the webinar, participants will have the opportunity to query Saritza, who is otherwise closed to submissions.

$15 for SCBWI members
$35 for non-members
Hosted by (Region Info) – Nebraska

North Texas SCBWI Fall Conference

The North Texas SCBWI fall conference is Saturday, September 18, 2021. This not-to-be-missed event is easier to attend than ever before – the entire day will be delivered online! That’s right, you’ll get access to our fabulous faculty and workshops from the comfort and safety of your home. No suitcase to pack, no road trip to plan.

Can’t make it? No problem. You’ll have an entire month to watch and rewatch all 3 tracks!
We’ve divided the event into three tracks, each lead by an experienced faculty member: Picture Books, lead by Jackie Kruze, editor at Clearfork Publishing; Novels, lead by independent editor Mary Cole; and Illustration, led by Patti Ann Harris, Creative Director at Scholastic, Inc. All faculty members are also offering a limited number of critiques!

$75 SCBWI Members
2021 SCBWI SoCal Writers and
Illustrators Day ONLINE: October 2

Want to improve your craft as a children’s book writer and/or illustrator? Please join us as industry experts share tips for deepening your characters, perking up your plot, snazzing up your use of voice, and/or taking your artwork to the next level. Learn about agents, editors and self-publishing in today’s world.

Join us for a fun, inspiring day of 
  • Written Critiques
  • Portfolio Showcase
  • Portfolio Critiques
  • First Pages Panel
  • Pages Contest by category: Picture Book, Middle Grade, Young Adult
  • Plus … a possible lunch hour with one of our faculty members (members chosen randomly per lunch breakout room)
  • Virtual happy hour with faculty and attendees to wrap up conference!

NatGeo Explorer Academy:
Discovering a World of Wonder.
Series blends fact, fiction, and breathless adventure to deliver a unique reading experience. Read about it in this excerpt from
The Future of School Author Visits
Top Reviewers or Bot Reviewers: the Goodreads Bot Problem

Amazon's Goodreads has a problem. What is happening and
what are some alternatives for honest rankings? Read more here.
SCBWI Indie Support

SCBWI is happy to announce the launch of new member benefits to support authors and illustrators who publish their books independently. Your SCBWI membership now gives you access to resources to help distinguish reputable self-publishers from the scams; new publications that discuss self-publishing tools, technologies, and marketing practices; a self-publishing guidebook that will be out this fall; grants and awards for self-published books and more!
Check out the full list of benefits HERE. 

If you’d like to receive ongoing notification about SCBWI’s self-publishing programs and publications, please log into your member profile and check the “Independently Published” box.

SCBWI BookStop is Here

There's an opportunity out there for every SCBWI member to connect readers with their book and it's called SCBWI BookStop, our annual promotion where we assist you in promoting your book to readers everywhere. Independent and traditionally published books published in 2019, 2020, and 2021 will be eligible for the promotion. The eligible 2021 books may either have been published or will be published, in this calendar year.

We're in this together. Through the talent, creativity, and connections you've built with readers through your website, in-person and virtual events, and your social media outlets, as well as good old word-of-mouth, you have a strong foundation to promote your book. Our website sees thousands of visitors throughout the promotion period. Our tremendous following on social media, email marketing to librarians, booksellers, homeschoolers, and parents/caregivers will help in directing people to the BookStop website.

Here's the schedule for SCBWI BookStop. Please note the cost of a BookStop page is $25.

September 7
  • The templates will be available for all members to create their pages
  • Books published in 2019, 2020, and 2021 will be eligible for the promotion
  • To take full advantage of the marketing we do to launch the promotion, your page needs to be completed by Monday, October 11
  • You may still create a BookStop page all throughout the promotion period from October 18 - November 30
October 18
  • BookStop goes live to the public
  • You may still create a BookStop page all throughout the promotions period from October 18 - November 30
November 30
  • End of BookStop promotion period

2021 Version of The Book now available.

THE BOOK is updated with invaluable, up to date market surveys, and several new articles including Bringing Your Backlist Forward, Putting Together a Winning Virtual Presentation, and Beware Author Self-Publishing Scams. Whether you are published or pre-published, there are many helpful articles to jump-start your career and/or provide the encouragement and knowledge you need moving forward.

THE BOOK is one of your most invaluable member resources that should be within reach at all times. Check out each section for information and insights: Preparing & Submitting Your Work, Published and Listed (PAL), Self-Publishing, SCBWI en Español, SCBWI Market Surveys, SCBWI Directories and Resources, Publicizing Your Published Work, SCBWI School Visits, and SCBWI Legal Questions.

To view THE BOOK, just log into your profile page and click on PUBLICATIONS, then on The Book in the dropdown menu. You must be logged in to download or order THE BOOK.
SCBWI YouTube Featuring The Vault Let's You Relive Wondrous Moments with Best-Selling Icons of Childrens Publishing -- Or Experience Them For The First Time
We are so proud to introduce you to the all-new SCBWI YouTube featuring the Vault which launches today with a treasure trove of exclusive never-before-seen videos that put you smack in the middle of the greatest children’s book creators of our time. Culling the best moments from SCBWI conferences---from the early days in the 1970s all the way up to this year, the Vault holds the advice, teachings, and musings of the biggest and brightest names in children’s publishing over the past 50 years. Even if you never got the chance to be there originally, you can now have a front row seat to all the SCBWI conferences---the profound, the moving, the funny, the goofy, the heart-stopping moments that are at the center of this brilliant creative community.
It's easy to step into our new YouTube channel and watch featured video clips from award-winning creators including:

Kwame Alexander Laurie Halse Anderson Judy Blume
Bruce Coville  Karen Cushman Paula Danziger                                      
Sid Fleischman Gordon Korman Meg Medina
Vanessa Brantley Newton Linda Sue Park
Jerry Pinkney David Small Jerry Spinelli
Shaun Tan Richard Jesse Watson

Before Newbery medals, before National Book Awards, before the adulation, there were young writers and illustrators on the path to legend status. The awards and praises of the book industry and book lovers worldwide were heaped on the giants of the industry seen here. All of them shared the stage at our conferences over the years. You’ll be inspired, captivated, and enamored.
And that’s just the beginning! Each week we will be bringing you stunning archival footage to watch and share with your friends, family, and colleagues. SCBWI is giving its members and book lovers everywhere an opportunity not found anywhere else, to witness the history of contemporary children’s books in the making.
SCBWI members will see exclusive clips pulled from the vault just for them in Insight, the monthly e-newsletter, and in Pro Insider the e-newsletter for published members. You can follow all the fun on our social media – Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook – with sneak previews and only-on-this-platform content. Subscribe to our YouTube channel here so you don’t miss out.  And check in regularly, to keep the inspiration flowing. 
For anyone interested in children’s books, for anyone who values creativity, for anyone wanting a direct hit of inspiration and joy, SCBWIYouTube featuring the Vault is the place to be. See you there, friends.
#SCBWIYouTube | #SCBWIvault   
Renew your membership at

Suggestion Box
Have an idea on how to improve Houston SCBWI?
Leave a suggestion in our new Suggestion Box!
SCBWI Emergency Fund
Information and Procedures

The SCBWI Emergency Fund has been established to provide assistance to SCBWI members of at least
six months’ standing in times of emergency or hardship. The emergency or hardship could involve,
for example, matters of health, family issues, or natural disasters that are in any way restricting
or preventing an SCBWI member’s ability to work as an author or illustrator.

The fund is also running low due to the high number of applications.
If you wish to donate to the fund, you may do so on the website or by mail:
 Please send a check to:
 SCBWI Emergency Fund
6363 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 425
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Your contribution will be announced in the following SCBWI Bulletin. Dollar amounts will not be listed. If you wish to remain anonymous please indicate so in your letter.
There is a $1,500 cap on any given grant, and no member may receive the grant more than twice.
SCBWI does not expect to be reimbursed for grants made from the Emergency Fund.
Applications for assistance can come from the individual member seeking the aid or from someone noting their member friend or associate is in need of assistance. Applications are confidential and not shared outside the organization.
Members should fill out the application, which can be found here. The applicant will receive an electronic confirmation and all communications will be by email unless the applicant indicates no access to a computer.
To learn more about the Emergency Fund, please click here to read the FAQ.
Don't Get SCAMMED!

Are you aware of Writer Beware? It's a good site to check on complaints about publishers. This 2019 roundup covers the year in review. If you're not familiar with how "vanity publishers" scam authors, be sure to study the links under SAVE YOUR CASH and ADVICE YOU CAN USE. It also touches on how awards can take advantage of authors.

Use the SEARCH THIS BLOG function to look up specific publisher and agent names.
FREE On-demand webinars from SCBWI MD/DE/WV!
Creating Your Portfolio with Rebecca Evans
• Formatting Your Manuscript for Submission with Kathy MacMillan
• A Conversation with Picture Book Authors 1 (Read Local Challenge webinar featuring
J.H. Diehl, Amy S. Hansen, and Rebecca Evans)
• A Conversation with Picture Book Authors 2 (Read Local Challenge webinar featuring
Ann McCallum, Karen Leggett Abouraya, and Lezlie Evans)
 • Conversation with Picture Book Authors 3 (Read Local Challenge webinar featuring Veronica Bartles, Sue Fliess, and Megan Wagner Lloyd)
• A Conversation with Middle Grade Authors 1 (Read Local Challenge webinar featuring
Laura Shovan, Leah Henderson, and Barbara Carney-Coston)
• A Conversation with Middle Grade Authors 2 (Read Local Challenge webinar featuring
R.D Henham and Deborah Kalb)
• A Conversation with Young Adult Authors (Read Local Challenge webinar featuring
Kathy MacMillan, Linda Budzinski, Meg Eden, Pintip Dunn, and Christina June)

We are pleased to offer these free webinar recordings, available anytime
SCBWI Podcast Goes Public
In a bold expansion to new platforms, SCBWI has made the first season of its popular podcast, SCBWI Conversations, available to the public. Our library of in-depth, insightful episodes feature the best of editors, agents, authors, and illustrators in the children’s book industry. As of today, we have over nine thousand listeners on six continents who have joined us since our public launch in May. The most current season will remain exclusive content for SCBWI members only. It is available for streaming from our website here
An Ongoing and Updated List of Webinars
The Nevada SCBWI chapter has a new feature listing and updating webinars of interest to our members. Be sure to bookmark this page to stay abreast of new opportunities...

Austin's Cynthia Leitich Smith Is Compiling
an ever growing list of Texas children's-YA
authors and Illustrators.
Howdy! Texas is bursting with talented children’s-YA book creators.
Once again, my Cynterns and I are updating the ever-growing list of 
Texas children’s-YA authors and illustrators at:
It’s a popular resource for event planners, gatekeepers and Texas book lovers.
Please share widely and/or reply to with new 
listings or updates to existing listings.
Those who currently live in Texas or have previously lived in Texas are 
eligible for inclusion.
Please reply with byline, official website URL, preferred titles to 
highlight, and current city and/or state of residence.

Chapter Events

Monthly Meetings
When: Meetings are held on the first Monday night of each month (first Tuesday if first Monday is a holiday), 7-9 pm. Fiction, Nonfiction and Illustration critique groups meet from 6-7pm.
What: All regular monthly meetings are open to all at no cost or obligation. To suggest speakers or topics and/or to be added to our monthly meeting reminder e-mail list, contact Program Coordinator via our Contact Us page.
Where: The meetings are held at the Tracy Gee community center, located at 3599 Westcenter Dr, Houston, TX 77042. Please note: Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, meetings will be held online through Zoom until further notice.

Our Staff

Regional Advisor:
Asst. Regional Advisor:
Lynne Kelly
Illustrators Coordinator:
Monthly Program Chair:
Cheryl McCosh

Listserv Coordinator:
Twitter Coordinator:
Newsletter & Website
Art Credit
Header Design:
Join our conversations on the SCBWI Texas discussion boardPlease send your author/illustrator news for the next newsletter to Bruce Foster by the 25th of the month at

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