January 2023


Notes from your Houston SCBWI Co-Regional Advisors

Happy New Year!

A New Year has been rung in and we are over the top grateful for each and everyone of you. There's so much in store for the upcoming year that we can hardly contain our excitement!

First up is our next monthly meeting on January 9th. Not only will it be our 1st in-person, speaker-lead meeting since the pandemic, but also our 1st hybrid meeting! We're excited to kick off 2023 with a two-part series focused on queries. Both January and February meetings will be hosted by agent (and brand new Houstonian) Jennifer Chen-Tran! If you can't make it in-person, the January meeting will be streamed on Zoom live (and barring any tech difficulties!).

IC, Lisa Chow, is also kicking off the year with our first Illustrator Meet up of 2023! Join other illustrators and be inspired by the Lunar New Year Celebrations in Houston's Asiatown! Come prepared by brining your art supplies and WIP's. Keep reading for more information on monthly meetings and meet-ups!

We also have a retreat planned for May 19-21 this year, which promises to be a weekend focused on writing and illustrating, with activities, socials and craft in the mix, too. Be sure to mark your calendars now!

Wishing you all a VERY successful 2023!

Meghan Senkel & Kaye Marc-Charles

Co-RAs, SCBWI Houston

houston-ra@scbwi.org & houston-ra2@scbwi.org



Great News for Member Varsha Bajaj!

2023 is off to a great start for Houston Member & Author, Varsha Bajaj!

Her book, THIRST (Nancy Paulsen books, Penguin Random House, 2022), has made the Bluebonnet Master list for 2023-2024! A New York Times bestseller, it tells the riveting story of a heroic girl who fights for her belief that water should be for everyone. Click here for more information.

Varsha has also been selected to author the books for Kavika Sharma, American Girl's 2023 Girl of the Year! Check out this segment on Good Morning America to learn more about Kavi!

Congratulations on such a great start to 2023, Varsha!

Book Launch


Written by Jacquetta Nammar Feldman

Where: Brazos Bookstore (2421 Bissonnet St) on 2/4/23

When: 3pm on Saturday, February 4

The sophomore middle grade novel follows three family members through Houston's Hurricane Harvey and the 2017 World Series.

Click here to pre-order!

Picture Book Release


Written by Michelle Nott

Michelle Nott's picture book TEDDY, LET'S GO! released Dec. 6, 2022!

She was a member of SCBWI Houston from 2015-2019 during which time she signed with her agent Essie White and her contract with Enchanted Lion Books.

Click here for more information.

Have News? Share It With Us!

Submit author & illustrator news for the next newsletter to Angela Yeh by the 25th of each month via this form. Event submissions for member book launches and signings can be added to our regional calendar! Please be sure to include the date, time, and location.


January 2023 Chapter Meeting

This month, we are so excited to host our 1st in-person speaker-lead meeting since the pandemic! Not looking forward to the drive? This meeting will also be our 1st HYBRID* meeting!

Jennifer will present on what makes a query letter stand out, using actual queries she has received over the years. She will discuss common mistakes and how to fix them, along with different querying styles. She welcomes questions at the conclusion of the presentation.

Jennifer Chen Tran is a literary agent at Folio Literary Management. With over a decade of experience in publishing, Jennifer is passionate about nurturing and championing authors and their creative lives. She represents a wide range of talent, including journalists, physicians, entrepreneurs, thought-leaders, chefs, and graphic novelists, among others.

(Jennifer represented Houston SCBWI member and author Kristen Kiesling's graphic novel THE HARROWING!)

Time & Date

Monday, January 9th

7:00 PM - 9:00 PM CST

In-Person Location:

Tracy Gee Community Center

3599 Westcenter Drive, Houston, TX 77042

Virtual Location:

On Zoom

*This format will be a first for us at the Tracy Gee and while we will do our best, we cannot guarantee the virtual component's success. There may be kinks to work out, so please be patient with us!

Next Month's Meeting

No, you are not seeing double! We are excited to host Jennifer in February for Part 2 of this series! 

For the first half of the meeting Jen will present sample queries from the group with notes for improvement. If you would for Jen to present and critique your queries, please submit them to programming.scbwihou@gmail.com by January 30th. 

Following, members will work in small groups to workshop their queries based on Jen’s advice. Jen will be available for questions and guidance.

Due to the nature of this meeting, it will be in-person only! We hope you can join us!


We're excited to announce a spring retreat planed for May 19-21, 2023!

The three-day event will be held in the beautiful woods of Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas!

Put it on your calendar now for a fun mix of craft, work time, and socials.

Our schedule will allow attendees to Choose their Own Adventure!

Illustrator Corner

Calling all illustrators! We want to feature you! Please submit your completed works to newsletter.scbwihou@gmail.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming newsletter.

January Illustrator Meet up


Wednesday, January 25th



7 Leaves Cafe

9798 Bellaire Blvd 

Suite B

Houston, TX 77036

Celebrate and get inspired by the Lunar New Year!

Come ready to sketch and work and brainstorm. Bring your current WIPs, get inspired by the LNY festivities and take in the sights and sounds of Asiatown.

Click here for more information.


Find many more Regional Virtual Events from the SCBWI website.

Zoom - What You Need in Your Revision Toolkit

with Harold Underdown


1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

This practical workshop will teach you a variety of tools for revision, to use when fixing the big problems or polishing up a manuscript. There will be handouts, resource lists, and, if there’s time, some hands-on work. 2 hours. This event will be recorded and up for thirty days. Only one submission opportunity for an attendee.

To find out more, click here!

Ann Rose

From Query to Published and All the Hard Steps in Between

with Literary Agent Ann Rose

Thursday, January 19th, 2023

7:00 PM – 8:30 PM MST

Ann Rose, literary agent with The Tobias Literary Agency (and Houston SCBWI Member!), will walk through the querying process, from the moment it's opened to signing as a new client.

To find out more, click here.

Direct questions to Susan Wroble at rmc-ra@scbwi.org.

SCBWI Awards & Grants

Book Launch Award

Opens February 1

Closes February 28

Announced April 15

Provides authors or illustrators with $2,000 in funds to help the promotion of newly published work and take the marketing strategy into their own creative hands. 


Click for more information

Crystal Kite Awards

Open February 1

Closes March 21

Round 1 Voting: April 1-14

Round 2 Voting: April 18-30

Announced May 15

The annual Crystal Kite Award is a peer-given award to recognize great books from 15 SCBWI regional divisions around the world.

Click for more information

Coming Up

Work in Progress Award

Opens March 1

Closes March 31

Announced September 15

Don Freeman Grant

Opens March 1

Closes March 31

Announced September 15

Karen Cushman Late Bloomer Award

Opens March 1

Closes March 31

Announced October 15

Monthly Illustrator Awards

Featured Illustrator

Open each month to members. Click for submission guidelines.

Past winners & Featured Illustrator Interviews


Open each month to members.

Click for prompts & submission guidelines 


By Jim Smolski

The smallest ray of sunshine can start a leaf to turn and look with hope. I want to be the sunshine that creates that moment for at least one leaf every day. -Jim

My Query Letter

I know that you are busy,

And funds right now are tight.

I realize that others,

Are submitting what they write.

So, please read my stories.

I feel there is a chance.

You might really enjoy them.

And ask me to your dance.

No matter your decision.

I’ll respect it and will know.

You took the time to read them

And the time to tell me so.

Open Opportunities

OPEN Volunteer Positions

We want to create a chapter that is more involved, engaged, and active, and we need your help to do it!

Open Positions:

Critique Connection Coordinator, Event Webmaster & Ticketing Manager, Membership Coordinator, and PAL Coordinator.

Click here for more information or to apply.

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Suggestion Box

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Our Volunteers

Regional Team

Co-Regional Advisor:

Meghan Senkel

Co-Regional Advisor:

Kaye Marc-Charles

Asst. Regional Advisor:

Lynne Kelly

Illustrators Coordinator:

Lisa Chow

Regional Advisor Emeritus:

Vicki Sansum

Chapter Volunteers

Newsletter & Webmaster:

Angela Yeh

Conference/Retreat Chair:

Annie Harmon

Critique Group Coordinator:


Membership Coordinator


Programming Chair & Evite List:

Cheryl McCosh

PAL Coordinator


Social Media Chair:

Heather Walters   

Chapter Logo and Header Design by Marissa Valdez

Join our conversations on the SCBWI Texas discussion board

Copyright © 2022 SCBWI-Houston, All rights reserved. 

News and other information may be passed on without attribution; original artwork and writing are the property of their creators and may be reproduced only with written permission.

Write to Angela Yeh at newsletter.scbwihou@gmail.com.

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