Arizona SCBWI Bulletin
June 2021
Arizona Region Update
Welcome to our monthly AZ SCBWI Bulletin. Our Regional Team is excited to share updates, resources, and important information with you through this communication channel. Watch for this bulletin to arrive in your inbox on the third Friday of the month.

To read this or past newsletters in a web-based format, visit this Page.
Upcoming SCBWI Events
2021 SCBWI Arizona Regional Conference

September 24-26, 2021

Virtual Event

The event weekend will be filled with content for all KidLit creators. We have programs for writers who focus on picture books, middle grade, young adult, and nonfiction. We will also have a number of sessions for illustrators. There will be add-on critique slots available, the opportunity to submit first pages and first looks, and also mingle opportunities via several topic-specific socials.

New this year will be the Sunday half-day intensives. These in-depth workshops will have limited seating and they are available to conference registrants as an add-on until all the spaces have been filled. The four focused programs will include picture books, novels, illustration, and nonfiction.

*Conference Artwork by Amanda Shepherd*
Meet our Conference Faculty
Trisha de Guzman
Farrar Straus Giroux / Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
Mary Cummings
Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises
Kirby Kim
Janklow & Nesbit Associates
Courtney Stephenson
Associate Editor
Harper Collins
Dan Santat
Author & Illustrator

Monica Brown

Dusti Bowling
Kelly deVos
Dawn Young
Bobi Martin
Registration Open!

Conference Registration opened
for Arizona Members on
June 15, 2021

We are giving priority to our Arizona members for the first week of registration. If you are interested in attending, make sure you sign up quickly. There are only a limited number of critique slots available.

On June 22, 2021, we will open registration to everyone, meaning the rest of the US and also globally.

We are looking forward to seeing you there.

Your SCBWI Arizona Regional Team

Join us in celebrating recent PAL book releases and hearing from the creators at our quarterly (virtual) SCBWI-AZ Author Showcase and Q&A on Saturday, July 24, 2021, from 1:00 pm-2:15 pm (Phoenix, AZ Time). This free event, moderated by PAL coordinators Laura Ellen and Dianne White, will spotlight authors, who will introduce themselves and their books, and provide attendees with the opportunity to get answers to their general publishing questions.
Free to attend, but registration is required.

SCBWI AZ Equity & Inclusion
The next SCBWI AZ Equity & Inclusion Team & Allies Meet-Up will take place on August 12, 2021 at 6:15 PM Arizona Time. This is a free event, but you must register your intent to attend.

CONGRATULATIONS 2021 SCBWI AZ Desert Sunrise Scholarship Own Voices/Lived Experience Creators Award Winners!

  • Writer Award: Karen Chow 
  • Member Illustrator Award: Milani Hunt
  • Member Critique Award: Shazia Rahman
  • Non-member Award: Violet Duncan
Applicants were anonymously judged by a panel of expert judges.
Harshita Jerath writes stories that seek to entertain children. She shares her views about everyday life on her blog, Her debut picture book, THE LEAPING LADDOO, illustrated by Kamala Nair, will be published by Albert Whitman in March 2022. 
Harshita is represented by Beth Marshea of Ladderbird Literary Agency.
She currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband and two boys aged 10 and 12. Find out about her upcoming books at

Instagram: @harshitajerath
Twitter: @hjerath
Equity and Inclusion Member Spotlight Interview:
Meet Harshita Jerath
– author of Picture Book THE LEAPING LADDOO 2022.
Interviewed by Cynthia Harmony

Hi Harshita, it’s so nice to connect with you again. Fun fact, Harshita and I used to be in a diverse critique group that came together through the 12×12 group! Thank you for being our second SCBWI-AZ Equity and Inclusion Member Spotlight! 

Thank you, Cynthia, for hosting me on Spotlight. Much appreciated.

Can you tell us how long have you been a member of SCBWI-AZ and what’s your favorite part about your membership?

I’ve been a member of SCBWI for the last five years.

First and foremost, the SCBWI community gave me a sense of belonging which is very important as writing is a solitary job. It has helped me collaborate with the Kidlit community and form deeper connections. And then, the monthly mingles of my local chapter have provided me with a welcoming platform to connect, learn and grow together with other diverse talents.

Can you share the story behind your upcoming book? 

The story idea of THE LEAPING LADDOO was born while making a large laddoo (pronounced as luh-DOO), a round Indian dessert, for my son’s birthday. And, I thought, what if the laddoo slips from my hand and starts sprinting like the Gingerbread Man? 

Here’s an opportunity from Charlesbridge for unagented BIPOC creators to receive feedback.

Asians Everyday, a Virtual Picture Book Exhibition curated by Grace Lin

Member Successes
SCBWI-AZ Success Story - Sara Fujimura

For a lot of people, it’s hard to justify the expense of a mentorship and the extra travel costs that come along with it. But, if you are serious about your career, there will also come a time when you plateau creatively and need something to slingshot you to the next level. I highly recommend applying for the Nevada SCBWI mentorship program like I did.

By the end of 2012, I knew I had taken myself as far as I could go. Since doing an MFA program was too cost-prohibitive, I took every free or low-cost workshop, online class, and seminar I could find. I definitely made progress using those methods (my query-to-full ratio was pretty high), but I couldn’t get over the last hurdle with my YA manuscript, TANABATA WISH. To make an exponential leap, I knew it required some one-on-one help from a seasoned professional. Enter Nevada author Tera Lynn Childs and her now 23 (!!) YA books and novellas including FORGIVE MY FINS, SWEET VENOM, and WHEN MAGIC SLEEPS. Tera Lynn helped me learn in one year what would have taken me ten years to learn on my own. Yes, the investment was substantial. Not only the mentorship fee but the travel to and from Phoenix. It was worth every penny. Tera Lynn’s strategies quickly transformed me from being a pantser to a plotter and helped me bring a depth to the characters that wasn’t there before. She also made me rewrite the ending of TANABATA WISH at least five times, and it still wasn’t the one that finally made it into the book.

So, was TANABATA WISH picked up by a traditional publisher after our year-long mentorship finished? Nope. After enough “just didn’t love it enough” rejections to wallpaper my living room, I decided to self-publish in 2017. It was a calculated decision, and I don’t regret it. My little book has gone on to do some amazing things (including winning both the 2018 YARWA Young Adult Contemporary category and Best First Book category awards) and taken me to places (like the Tucson Festival of Books) that I never dreamed I could go. And as the graphic novel adaptation script goes out on submission this month with my agent, I don’t think this book’s journey is finished yet.

I can’t control what’s hot and what’s not in American culture or the publishing industry. All I can control is showing up with the best piece of art that I can create. I’ve been writing YA projects featuring biracial Asian teens for a long time now. That’s what my family looks like, as I am the American half of our Japanese-American family. Though I didn’t change one word of my third YA project (featuring biracial Asian skaters) in 2016, suddenly in 2017, it started getting some traction. (Thank you, Kpop sensation BTS!) I participated in PitMad in early December 2017 and signed with my first agent a few weeks after that. We immediately went out on submission, and I signed a two-book deal with Tor Teen in March 2018. And guess what came with it? A lot of the same things that I did with Tera Lynn on TANABATA WISH. We tweaked the plot and added more layers to the characters, and I rewrote the ending multiple times. On March 3, 2020, my little blip of an idea from the second Nevada SCBWI mentor retreat with Tera Lynn launched with Tor Teen as EVERY REASON WE SHOULDN’T. Despite the pandemic, ERWS went on to become one of NPR’s Best Books of 2020.

This summer, I’m coming full circle. My fourth YA book, FAKING REALITY, launches July 13th with Tor Teen. It made sense that Tera Lynn should be part of this journey too. We are tag-teaming my online book launch (darn you, COVID!) with Changing Hands Bookstore in mid-July. So if you want to learn how to break out of your writing rut, hear about the ghosts at the notoriously haunted hotel the second mentor retreat was at, or find out how we get the ideas for all our books, I hope you’ll join us. Keep checking the Changing Hands Bookstore website for the exact date and time.

Thank you, SCBWI—both my Arizona peeps and my Nevada ones. Your continued support has taken me from zero to four YA books in five years. And I’m just getting started. For those of you feeling discouraged about your art right now, go do something outrageous and shake things up (like apply for the Nevada SCBWI Mentorship program!). Keep showing up. Keep doing the work. Find your Tera Lynn. All it takes to get your career going is for that first domino to fall.

Teresa Krager
Ever dreamed of your book being on the shelf of a national bookstore chain?

Recently, I collected every ounce of courage and braved some local Barnes and Nobles in the Phoenix area. My mission was to inquire as to whether they would consider carrying my rhyming picture book, Before Your Birth Day.

Instantly aware of how David felt when he faced Goliath, I marched up to each intimidating ‘giant’, AKA store manager and found that some were welcoming, encouraging, and friendly, while others … let’s just say … weren’t.

My fifth and final stop was the Norterra location at I-17 and Happy Valley Road. When I explained to the manager the purpose for my visit, he promptly looked up my book on his computer and announced that it was already in the store. What!? I was completely dumbfounded!

We located the picture book and I signed it. Then the manager added a special touch, a sticker on the front cover noting, “AUTOGRAPHED COPY.” Oh, happy heart. It wasn’t much. One book on one shelf. But it was a start, a start of a dream coming true.
Before Your Birth Day, by Teresa Joyelle Krager and illustrated by Thalita Dol, makes a perfect gift for a mom-to-be or for that youngster with a sibling on the way. It is a celebration of life in the womb that traces the amazing development of preborn babies. Feel free to contact the author at for a paperback or hardcopy. Also available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Illustrators' Corner
Artwork by Milani Hunt
Milani Hunt - Illustrator

Milani Hunt was born in San Diego, CA. Milani lives with her husband in Tucson, AZ, where there is all beach and no ocean.

Her first job was scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins. Since then, Milani has handled various marketing roles to help save endangered species and to promote University of Arizona specialty magazines to visitors and parents.

Milani loves to draw, paint, sculpt, go hiking and eat ice cream. Illustrating a graphic novel is currently on her TO DO list. Milani once drew political cartoons for the Woman Activist and also drew yo-yo illustrations for Don Duncan, Jr. 

Milani is a member of SCBWI Arizona. Milani was recently awarded Illustrator Winner of the SCBWI AZ Desert Sunrise 2021 Scholarship (Own Voices/Lived Experience Creators).

That's the scoop on Milani~

She is currently seeking representation as an author/illustrator. 

Twitter: @milanihunt
Instagram: @milani_southwest
Illustrator Zoom Meetings

Please mark your calendars for two upcoming SCBWI Zoom Meetings.

SCBWI-AZ Illustrator Meeting: Tuesday, June 22, 6:30 p.m.

SCBWI-AZ Graphic Novel Discussion Group: Friday, June 25th, 6:30 p.m

If you would like to join either or both of these meetings, please RSVP to:

Michael Hale at

and you will be provided with more information and a link to the meeting(s).

 Hope to see you there! Michael Hale - SCBWI-AZ Illustrator Coordinator
Meet the SCBWI Arizona Team
Eric Boyd - North Phoenix/Scottsdale KidLit Mingle Host
Eric grew up in Yuma, Arizona reading sci-fi and fantasy and playing tabletop roleplaying games during the searing summers. Along the way, he fell in love with tales of adventure, the fantastic, and the spooky. He has a B.A. and M.A. in Religion, where he focused on Islamic studies and spent time in Egypt and Indonesia. He shifted gears to become a lawyer and rediscovered his love for storytelling in reading to his own kids. He’s been writing middle-grade fiction ever since. Eric facilitates the North Phoenix/Scottsdale KidLit mingle for SCBWI Arizona and is an organizer of Phoenix’s Shut Up & Write chapter.

Did You Know . . .?
Eric owns over 250 board games? (Please don't make him confess the exact number.) 

Did You Know . . .?
Did you know Eric has studied five foreign languages? (Don't worry, he's not fluent in any of them.)

More at:
Send your Success Stories and Suggestions
Do you have any exciting publishing news that you would like to share? Are there additional sections you would like to see in future issues of our AZ SCBWI Bulletin? Email Tanja Bauerle, Arizona ARA, at:
Serving the Arizona KidLit Community since 1988.