SCBWI Local Chapters

Chapter Newsletter

February 2022

Illustration by Marissa Valdez


Alda P. Dobbs And Her Amazing Year

The accolades for Alda P. Dobbs' debut novel keep arriving. Last week the TLA named Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna one of three recipients of the Belpré Children’s Author Honor Books. Published by Sourcebooks Young Readers, an imprint of Sourcebooks Kids, it has already been highlighted in Publishers Weekly, among many other honors. And now Alda is announcing the sequel, The Other Side of the River, will be published this fall, September 6, 2022. Read an excerpt HERE when you sign up for

Alda's quarterly newsletter.


In Other TLA News, Charles Trevino's

Seaside Stroll Named to the

Texas 2x2 Reading List

These beautifully illustrated, often witty and instructive volumes are the best of recent books meant for children aged two to grade two. Librarians serving on the Texas Library Association Children’s Round Table 2X2 Committee read through hundreds of books before narrowing down the list to these selected 20. Charles has been a treasured member of our chapter since its founding in 1991 and served as the Regional Advisor for three years. Seaside Stroll was illustrated by Maribel Lechuga. Another familiar author's new PB was also named: Tami Sauer's Not Now, Cow, illustrated by Troy Cummings. While Tami is a member of the Oklahoma chapter, she has many friends and fans here in Texas and has led wonderful workshops for our chapter. See the full list.


Charles Trevino


Tami Sauer

Tonya Duncan Ellis Wins Grant

Tonya Duncan Ellis won the first ever SCBWI Independently Published Book Launch Marketing Grant. She will receive a $2,500 check to be used for the promotional activities for her book, SOPHIE WASHINGTON: LEMONADE DAY.

SOPHIE WASHINGTON: LEMONADE DAY is the twelfth book in Tonya's bestselling, self-published chapter book series and is endorsed by the National Lemonade Day organization. Lemonade Day's aim is to teach youth to start and run their own businesses and give back to the community. Founded by a Houston entrepreneur in 2007, the event has now touched over a million children nationwide.


Sheila McGraw Leaps from Children's Books

to Adult Mystery

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Coming February 15th, hot on the heels of her acclaimed picture book Of Love and Pies, Sheila McGraw hops out of the kiddies' sandbox and into the grownups' hot tub with her latest mystery novel, Sketchy Characters. After all, not everything is kids and crafting -- the adults need a good read too. Enter the Goodreads Giveaway to win one of twenty copies. Published by Whitebird Publications.

A devastating hurricane.

A frantic search for a missing friend.

A brutal double murder…

When chaos blows up Marilyn’s life and she’s forced to go on the run from ruthless killers, she can’t dodge a cast of sketchy characters that ooze into her orbit. There’s a crooked lawyer and his wealthy clients, an internet scammer, a pair of suspicious hipsters, and a serial killer targeting the artists at Marilyn’s life-drawing group. Throw a couple of good friends and a sexy and protective detective in the mix, and it's not all bad. Even so, it’s survival of the smartest and most resilient. As the action moves full speed, and the twists and turns keep coming, Marilyn must tackle the circumstances of her new, near-impossible normal.


Former Houston Chapter Member, Leigh Lewis, Returns to Houston with a New NF Book

Leigh Lewis, former member of Houston SCBWI from 2014-2018 who moved to Ohio, is coming back for a Meet-and-Greet at Antidote coffee shop (in partnership with Brazos) on February 12 from 12-1pm. Her debut middle-grade, Pirate Queens: Dauntless Women Who Dared to Rule the High Seas, was just released by National Geographic on January 11, 2022. Pirate Queens contains the true tales of six female swashbucklers, from Ching Shih, the most powerful pirate in history, to Grace O'Malley, who obtained a pardon from Queen Elizabeth after robbing the English at sea for years, to Sayyida al Hurra, who dedicated her life to avenging the exile of her people. Each pirate's story is written in a different verse form, and the book is filled with fascinating facts and gorgeous illustrations. All are welcome!

View a trailer from Nat Geo below. To order a copy from Brazos Bookstore, Click Here. 

Trailer from Nat Geo

Former Houston Member Jorge Lacera Illustrates Two New Books

Releasing March 22, 2022, Pruett and Soo, Two Lions Publisher. Written by Nancy Viau, illustrated by Jorge Lacera. Pruett is from Planet Monochrome, where everything is black, white, or gray; everyone follows the rules and walks in straight lines; and they never, ever ask or answer questions. But then Soo arrives from Planet Prismatic. She’s bursting with brilliant colors! She zigs and zags all over the place! When she asks Pruett questions, he finds he wants to reply…and his whole world starts to change.

Last fall saw the release of XO, Exoplanet, by Deborah Underwood and Jorge Lacera. Jorge and his wife/partner Megan relocated to Canada after a couple years here. They were both presenters at the 2019 Houston SCBWI Conference.

Varsha Bajaj's First BookBaby Being Rereleased


18 years after the book was published in 2004, How Many Kisses Do You Want Tonight? is being rereleased with a brand new cover by Hachette Books. It has always been in print and has always earned royalties. Fun fact: Varsha sold this manuscript SCBWI Houston’s Editor’s Day in 2001 and was unagented at the time!

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Third Saturday Art Event: Pets!

This month’s theme: Pets

Come and draw our furry or feathered family! February 19th Draw-A-Long: 10am – 11am CT (via zoom)

Critique Session: 11:10am -11:40am CT (via zoom)

Attend this cute and lovable session in February and draw-a-long with us as we all sketch our furry and feathered friends. During our creative time together, I will post an inspiration board of a variety of different pets so we can draw while being surrounded by cute. 

(Illustrators and Authors are both welcome)

Following the drawing session I will host the critique session where we can help each other with our current illustration work.

Come to one or both sessions.

At right is a sketch done at a previous Third Saturday

Draw-a-Long. Shelley Fitze created this during our September draw-a-long (topic that month was make a monster - Texas theme). She is one of our writers that enjoys drawing with us. She titled this image "The rare backyard Texas Possalope".

Come along and exercise your hidden artistic talent too!

drawing by Shelley Fitze during our September draw-a-long.jpg

Best Diversity Children's Books of 2022 List

On her blog site, Here Wee Read, Charnaie Gordon included several notable Texans

in this excellent and extensive list of upcoming diversity titles. Included are Houston native and previous chapter presenter Van G. Garrett for Kicks; Kelly Starling Lyons, also a Houston native and previous chapter presenter with THREE entries, My Hands Tell a Story. She Persisted: Coretta Scott King. and Ty’s Travels: Lab Magic; Tonya Engel, Houston illustrator also with three books, Impossible Moon. My Hands Tell a Story. Because Claudette; Liz Garton Scanlon, Austin chapter member for Frances in the Country; Chris Barton, Austin chapter member for Moving Forward; Kelly Rowland (yes, THAT Kelly) for Always with you, Always with me; and 2019 Houston Annual Conference Keynote AND a headliner at the 2022 Winter National Conference, Vanessa Brantley-Newton for The Queen of Kindergarten! All told, a great year for diversity titles.

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Sarah Allison Announces Debut PB

Sarah Allison is announcing that her debut and independently published picture book, Audrey-Saurus will be released March 11, 2022. Audrey-Saurus is spirited, silly, and totally obsessed with dinosaurs! Join her as she adventures her way through each day, and does things exactly her own way! The illustrations are by Lauren Mocelin. The book is currently available for pre-order online at Brazos, Barnes & Noble, Blue Willow, and Amazon. Hardcovers are available at Threadfare in Garden Oaks/Oak Forest.

Lisa Chow.jpg

Lisa Chow Assumes Duties as Editor of Houston Newsletter

I'd like to thank everyone for all the support and contributions from you all during my term as Editor of this newsletter. It has been a joy and a privilege to serve our tribe in this capacity, but it is time to step aside and hand the reins to our newest volunteer, Lisa Chow, who will be taking over next issue. I, for one, can't wait to see what her fresh eyes bring to this newsletter!

Lisa is an artist, illustrator, designer and story maker living and working in her hometown; Houston, Texas. By day, she designs rainbow worlds and paints mischievous characters. In the evenings, she designs pillow forts and paints thirty toes with her two daughters and one bemused husband. Since we have not been meeting in person the past couple years due to the pandemic, many of us have not had an opportunity to get to know Lisa. Please visit her website to see more of what makes Lisa, well, Lisa! Going forward send your submissions to Lisa at

Best success, Lisa! Thank you all, Houston Friends and Tribe! See you all online. Looking forward to in person meetings soon!

Editor Emeritus, Bruce Foster

Webinars and Workshops

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SCBWI Winter Conference February 11-13 2022:

Back with programming that is

innovative and inspiring.

Please join us for:

  • A rare presentation from Caldecott medal-winner, Brian Selznick. Open to the public
  • Dynamic keynotes and industry panels
  • A half-day of programming for illustrators offered at no additional cost
  • Breakout sessions led by acquiring editors and agents with the opportunity to query
  • The career-launching Portfolio Showcase
  • Online socials and peer critiques

SCBWI members $150

Non: $250


Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Stephanie Garber

Brian Selznick

Kelly Yang

Paula Yoo


Michelle Frey

Farrin Jacobs

Emma Ledbetter

Denene Millner

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Art Directors:

Erica De Chavez

Maria Elias

Kristen Nobles

Lesley Worrell

Cecilia Yung


Chad Beckerman

Jemisco Chambers-Black

Samantha Fabien

Thao Le

James McGowan

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Inland North West PB Webinar Series:

A Picture Book Glow-Up

Saturday, February 19 9:00 AM Pacific Time

MORE THAN FANCY WRITING: Finding that solid hook in your picture book

with Literary Agent, Rachel Orr

These days, a story needs to be more than just beautifully written in order to catch the eye of an agent or editor. It needs to have some kind of a hook. Using examples from recent client sales, Rachel Orr of Prospect Agency will discuss the importance of understanding the market and considering how a picture book is going to stand apart from the crowd. Writers will be encouraged to think about their audience, the takeaway of their story, seasonal sales opportunities, and timing of submissions—all without overthinking it. A brief Q&A will follow.

Saturday, March 19 at 10:30 AM Pacific Time 

Crafting a Successful Picture Book Ending

with Editor, Julie Bliven

Examine and discuss fiction picture books with memorable endings. What makes an ending feel especially satisfying? How does your character’s arc contribute to an ending that feels right? Consider ways to avoid summarizing, to trust your reader, and to strategically build up to an ending that encourages multiple reads.  


Starting January 5, tickets for individual webinars will be offered.

$15 for SCBWI Members

$25 for Non-Members  

Visit our Website

12 X 12 is a year-long writing challenge where members aim to write 12 complete picture book drafts, one per month, for each 12 months of the year. You can find all the details here. But you have to sign up in January or February!

Searchlight Writing for Children Awards is a new rolling competition for aspiring authors writing for children or young adults. Our aim is to create opportunities for emerging authors of children’s fiction to be recognized. There will be three categories: Best Bedtime Story (submissions open 10th May, close 16th August), Best Novel Opening for Children or YA (submissions open 20th August, close 22nd November) and Best Short Story for Children or YA (submissions open 1st December, close 1st March 2022). Whether you’re published, unpublished, never written before or a storyteller to your children… we can’t wait to read your story!

SCBWI-NM member Alexandra Diaz, author of THE ONLY ROAD, a Pura Belpré

Honor and Américas Award winner, is a reader in this competition and

encourages you to participate.

Learn More Here


FEBRUARY 22 - 24, 2022


A Two-Night Mini Online Course

Tuesday, February 22, 2022 (7pm – 8:15pm EST)

Thursday, February 24, 2022 (7pm – 8:15pm EST)

Webinar-style program with closed captioning available and limited interaction

in the chat. Optional short submission of rhyming stanza (no more than 6 lines),

due at time of registration

Optional post-course critique opportunity available for an additional cost.

Take a look at stories that sing with rhythm and rhyme, and learn how to accomplish the structure and skill needed in your own work. This program is a great fit if you’re looking for a short course of two, 75-minute sessions offering limited interaction with the community, but loads of information.

Register Here

MORE Great Webinar Opportunities!

There is a new feature on our website that could be very very useful. Along the right side in the green sidebar there is a new tab called Regional Virtual Events. Here you will find a running list of virtual opportunities being offered by chapters throughout our SCBWI family. For February alone you will find these:

All About Graphic Novels Day. Feb 5 Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia chapter

A Panel Discussing Diversity Issues. Feb 5 California San Diego chapter

Christian and General Mkt Crossover. Feb 7. Pennsylvania East chapter

Wrangling Your Writing. Feb 24. Carolinas chapter

Book Design with Cindy De la Cruz. Feb 26 Western Washington chapter

Be sure to check often as new events are added as they are available.

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.

Houston 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:

Meghan Senkel

Asst. Regional Advisor:

Lynne Kelly

Illustrators Coordinator:

Joe Balat

Monthly Program Chair:

Cheryl McCosh

Listserv Coordinator:

Dotti Enderle

Twitter Coordinator:

Lynne Kelly

Newsletter & Website

Lisa Chow

Header Design:

Marissa Valdez

Join our conversations on the SCBWI Texas discussion board! Please send your author/illustrator news for the next newsletter to Lisa Chow by the 25th of the month at

Copyright © 2022 SCBWI-Houston, All rights reserved. 

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