SCBWI Local Chapters

Houston SCBWI Newsletter

September 2022

Illustration by Marissa Valdez



Back to School, Back to Creativity!

I've always felt that Back to School, with its new books, crisp paper, and sharp pencils, was a second kind of New Year: another chance for a fresh start. I know I'm looking forward to more quiet in my house and more progress on my projects. I hope you will take a moment to review your goals and, if needed, recommit to them. If you need a bit of inspiration, take a look at our Member News. Houston's kid lit creators keep on proving that your dreams are possible!

We are also recommitting to the chapter by setting up three single-day intensives for this fall. We're hoping to do a bit of something for each of our members and think we've captured the majority of you with these three workshops which will focus on picture book editing, finding voice in your novel, and a crash course on graphic novels. Save the date and join us for these amazing in-person events! More details are below.

As for chapter news, we are thrilled to announce that Annie Harmon has joined our chapter as our Conference/Retreat Chair. We are thrilled to welcome her to our team and thank her for joining us to serve our chapter. 

We have, unfortunately, missed the window to plan a large conference for Spring 2023. HOWEVER, we are working on a retreat to take place in late spring. We're planning for a fun mix of craft, socializing, and just plain old BIC (butt in chair) time. If you'd like to help plan and execute this event, please email Annie at

Speaking of volunteers, the following positions remain open: Critique Connection Coordinator, Event Webmaster & Ticketing Manager, Membership Coordinator, and PAL Coordinator. We want to create a chapter that is more involved, engaged, and active, and we need your help to do it! Click here for more information or to apply.

Houston SCBWI continues to be your biggest cheerleader. Have a wonderful and productive September writing, drawing, translating, and anything else you might do in service of creating excellent children's literature,

Meghan Senkel

Co-RA, SCBWI Houston

Photo: Meghan Senkel


The fourth book of Susan McCauley's middle grade paranormal mystery series, Ghost Hunters: Swamp Witch, will be released on September 13, 2022.

In this spooky-fun mystery, thirteen-year-old psychic Alex and his paranormal investigator friends face their biggest challenge yet: the hospital haunting.


Where: Village Books

9955 Woodlands Pkwy, Suite F, The Woodlands, TX.

When: Sunday, October 2, 2022 at 2pm.

Let's show Susan some friendly SCBWI faces!

Alda P. Dobbs' book launch celebration for THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER will be at Brazos Bookstore on Saturday, September 3rd at 3PM!

Let's show her some SCBWI love!

Nancy Paulsen at Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books announced she has acquired world rights to Family of Friends, a picture book by Varsha Bajaj that celebrates chosen family when a girl's neighbor steps in to help make her birthday party special when her Nani is unable to attend. Ishaa Lobo will illustrate.

Publication is expected summer 2025. Congratulations again, Varsha! 

Sparrow's Prayer, by Roger Hutchison, with illustrations by Ag Jatkowska, is set for release by Beaming Books on February 14, 2023.

Every living thing does what God created them to do. Each life is, itself, a prayer of thanksgiving. Often, the most powerful prayers do not include words. Lyrical and unique, Sparrow's Prayer is a tale about an unexpected and life-changing encounter with the holy.

Roger Hutchison is an author, illustrator, educator, and director of Christian Formation and Parish Life at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas.

Ag Jatkowska is an illustrator who lives and works in the United Kingdom.

Charlesbridge has licensed iconographic video rights for member Charles Trevino's book, SEASIDE STROLL to Vooks. Vooks is an entire library of storybooks brought to life with beautiful animation, read-aloud narration, engaging music and sound, and read-along text. (

Preorders Available for New Tonya Duncan Ellis Book!

You can now preorder for her newest book, Sophie Washington: Treasure Beach.

In this thirteenth book in her bestselling, self-published, middle grade series, a message in a bottle leads Sophie and friends on a seaside treasure hunt.

The book releases June 3, 2022.

Click here to preorder:  Sophie Washington Treasure Beach

Have News? Share It With Us!

Please submit your author/illustrator news for the next newsletter to Angela Yeh by the 25th of the 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.



This month's topic: World Building - Not Just for Fantasy by Susan McCauley

September 12th

7pm-9pm CT (via zoom Click Here for Zoom Link to Monthly Meeting)

World Building: It’s Not Just for Fantasy Authors

Why is world building important? It not only sets the place for a story, but it creates the geographical, social, economic, political, and cultural world in which your characters live and interact. When done well, your readers will not only relate to the world you’ve built, but you will also cause your readers to more deeply relate to your characters and the world they inhabit.

Susan McCauley is a screenwriter and award-winning author of books for adults, young adults, middle grade, and young readers. Susan has several short stories published, one of which, “The Cask”, was made into an award winning short film. In addition to her short stories, Susan has one novella and four novels in print, as well as a feature length film in development. Susan has another middle grade novel, Ghost Hunters: Swamp Witch, coming out in September 2022 and Merlin’s Apprentice: The Mage in January 2023.

Her debut picture book, Trooper at the Beverly Hills Hotel, will be released in December 2022. Many of her books have appeared on the Horror Writers Association (HWA) Recommended Reading List in the Young Adult and Long Fiction categories. She is a member of HWA and SCBWI. Susan loves travel, animals, movies, theatre, Taekwondo, her family, and books (of course!)

You can find Susan on her website, or on social media: InstagramTwitter, and Facebook


3rd Quarter Social.jpg

3rd Quarter Social

We're excited to host our third quarterly social! Find us outdoors for a cool drink, some chapter-provided snacks, and talk about all things kid lit!  Hope to see you there!

Spaces are filling up fast! Click here for details and to RSVP!


Space is limited to 25 attendees, only those selecting "yes" will be included in the headcount.

September Illustrator Social 👻🎃


Date(s) - 09/17/2022

10:00 am - 11:30 am

Saturday, 9/17 10am-1130am

Zoom link here:  SCBWI ZOOM LINK 


Spooky season is upon us and the Houston SCBWI team wants to make it spooktacular! Join us as we brainstorm Halloween themed illustration (and writing?!) prompts that we will use throughout the month of October. With any extra time, we will get started sketching ideas and sharing examples. Illustrators and writers welcome! 

New Faces at the August Illustrator Social!

Our first in-person illustrator event since the pandemic had a great turn out of seven creators! We were especially happy to welcome new faces, Patrick and Alejandro! Special shout out to Alejandro who drove in from the furthest reaches of our region in McAllen, Texas!

Pictured L-R: Victoria, Co-RA Meghan, Patrick, IC Lisa, and Alejandro

Photo Credit: Alejandro's daughter (thank you!)

Save the date(s)!

Houston SCBWI has a series of in-person intensives planned for this fall, with something for everyone! Each event is a full-day workshop that will take place at the Norris Center at CityCentre.

October 15th

Edit your picture book manuscript with Kelly Bennett

NOW LIVE: Picture Book Revision Intensive

Each attendee will be expected to bring a picture book manuscript (or two) to focus on over the course of the day. We will work through a series of exercises with an eye to revising and polishing the manuscript, including development of a pitch sentence to use when submitting to agents & editors. We’ll finish the day with a What’s Next session where attendees will set goals and create a creativity action plan.

This is a hands-on workshop that will include creating a dummy, so be prepared to cut and paste--and let go of some darlings–-as you edit your manuscript!

Member registration begins Thursday, September 1st! Check your email for the password to access registration.

General Registration begins Friday, September 9th.

October 22nd

Novel writing intensive with Leah Henderson

Their Voice, Their Story: Getting to the Heart of Our Characters

Character and voice go hand in hand. When we understand the delicate dance between them, we are able to craft unique characters and undeniable voice. But often as writers we wonder what comes first, a memorable character or a distinct voice? 

Through a series of exercises, discussions, and examples—with a special focus on rhythm, life experience, and word choice—we will explore why it is vital to delve deep into our character’s world in order to get at the heart of their voice and their story. 

November 5th

Introduction to graphic novels with Jarrett Lerner

Graphic Novel Crash Course

Authors, illustrators, author-illustrators -- are you curious about comics? Do you think you might want to make some in the future, or improve those you're already making? Comics and graphic novels, already hugely popular with young readers, are only growing more so, and publishers are increasingly hungry for stories told in the medium. In this session, author-illustrator Jarrett Lerner will arm you with the information, tools, and techniques you need in order to immediately begin writing, drawing, or writing and drawing your own graphic novels. He'll also provide a brief overview of the current graphic novel market, helping you figure out where your stories might fit.

More information and registration coming soon!!


Date and time

Sun, October 16, 2022

10:30 AM – 6:30 PM CDT


Discovery Green

1500 McKinney Street

Houston, TX 77010

A Texas First: LIT with Families

Story Square's Lit with Families in Houston's Discovery Green will bring families together for a fun family learning event. Journey to Story Square, where alphabet magic spells fun family learning.

This day is sure to dazzle with the bliss of alphabet magic and an unforgettable haven for families with children of all ages. Register for free festival tickets here: Texas Lit with Families

PAL and Independently Published Author & Illustrator opportunities are available for book signings, sponsorships, and vendor tables. Click here for more information.

This is for informational purposes only and SCBWI in no way endorses the advertiser. We can only endorse SCBWI events and opportunities. Before doing anything with another organization, do your research to make sure the opportunity is right for you.


SCBWI SoCal's Fall Harvest Writers and Illustrators Day! 🎃


Date(s) - 10/01/2022

8:30 am - 6:00 pm

Come hone your craft, make connections, and of course, submit to our faculty who will open

their doors to submissions from our attendees.

Held in person at Cal State University Fullerton, or participate simultaneously via Zoom!


  • Jemiscoe Chambers-Black- Associate Agent from Andrea Brown Literary Agency
  • Saho Fujii - Senior Art Director from LIttle Brown Books for Young Children
  • Lori Polydoros - Author
  • Ernesto Cisneros - Award-winning Author
  • Susi Schaefer - Author-Illustrator
  • Tootie Nienow - Author
  • Cyndi Wojciechowski - Illustrator

Plus many more!

For more detailed bios, information, and registration, please check our website.

Find many more Regional Virtual Events from the SCBWI website.

Open Opportunities

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

We want to create a chapter that is more involved, engaged, and active, and we need your help to do it! Click here for more information or to apply.


By Jim Smolski

Dragons Breath

A dragon came to my house.

To tell me of his sorrow.

It seems his fire had gone out.

Did I have some he could borrow.

I asked him to come in.

I would help him stop his crying.

I said your breath can’t light back up.

Despite how hard you’re trying?

He sat down on the big couch.

Dragons won’t fit on little chairs.

His breath is not working right.

And needed some repairs.

I told him all my happy jokes.

To help him to forget.

Stop the tears from falling.

That kept his hot breath wet.

We were having fun

Then I asked, “what made him sad?”

The dragon said he lost someone.

The best friend he ever had.

He said, “he started crying”.

When his friend moved far away.

It made his heart start hurting.

It keeps hurting every day.

That’s when his fire left him.

He could not imagine why.

I said, “you put it out yourself.”

So, let’s give my jokes a try.

We began to laugh together.

Which made the teardrops end.

The dragon got his fire back.

All he needed was a friend.

So, when you have a close friend.

And they move away from you.

Get back your dragon breath. “They did!”

By finding someone new.

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.


Illustrator Corner

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

Suggestion Box

Have an idea on how to improve Houston SCBWI?

Leave a suggestion in our  Suggestion Box!

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 Lisa Chow at

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