Your November 2020 SCBWI Houston Newsletter
Upcoming Meeting: Monday, November, 2 2020 7-9 PM
Next Meeting: December 7 7-9 PM
Please join us on the first Monday of every month from 7-9 p.m. at the Tracy Gee Community Center, 3599 Westcenter, Houston, or on Zoom if instructed to do so.
This month:
How to Write the Best Dialogue

with Lane Riosley
Next meeting: December 7No More Sagging Middles: Strengthening the Midpoint of your Story - Lynne Kelly

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!

Releasing January 19, (and Sure to be a Hit) Illustrated by our very own Marissa Valdez

Ambitious Girl, a picture book by Meena Harris, niece of U.S. Senator and vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris. As the book opens, a girl passing by a storefront television views a strong woman speaking from a podium, against a backdrop featuring such pejorative labels as “too assertive” and “too ambitious.” Galvanized by the speaker’s directive (“Don’t let anyone tell you who you are. You tell them who you are”), the child embarks on an exploration of challenges faced by women and girls and ways in which they can reframe, redefine, and reclaim words meant to knock them down. Illustrated by Marissa Valdez, Ambitious Girl has a 100,000-copy announced first printing.

Farrin Jacobs (v-p and editorial director of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) discovered the work of Marissa Valdez while perusing the Summer Spectacular Portfolio Showcase on SCBWI’s website. “I knew that we wanted a woman to illustrate this book, so that helped me focus my search,” she said. “There was an energy in her work that I loved—and Meena did, too. Marissa has brought so much to the project. It was a true joy for her pieces to come in and to be totally blown away by what she created.”

Read more in Publishers Weekly.
Varsha Bajaj Announces New Anthology
Releasing November 3, the book is related to the Apple + TV series, Ghostwriter. Varsha's story is called Homerun Elephant, about a flying elephant who grants major league skill wishes. The Magic Paintbrush is published by Sourcebooks.
Kristen Kiesling Chosen for the National
Sue Alexander Award

Selected from manuscripts submitted for individual critique at the SCBWI Annual Conference in Los Angeles, the Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award is given to the manuscript deemed most promising for publication. Critiquers at the Los Angeles conference determine the finalists. A three member panel of industry professionals make the final selection.
The winner will have their synopsis presented to an esteemed group of
hand-selected editors and agents. Only manuscripts submitted for conference manuscript critiques by full-time conference attendees are eligible; see deadline and submission guidelines, available each year, mid-May. There is no prior application process for this award.
Sue Alexander was the first member to join SCBWI and was vitally involved with the organization from its inception to her death in 2008. Her responsibilities for SCBWI included, among others, serving as Chairperson of the Board of Advisors (thirty-three years), managing the office (twenty years), coordinating—with Lin Oliver—the August conference in California (twenty-five years), and coordinating the Golden Kite Awards (twenty-five years). She was the author of more than twenty-five books for young people, including World Famous MurielSmall Plays for Special DaysWitch, Goblin and Sometimes GhostSara’s City and award-winners Lila on the LandingNadia the Willful; and Behold the Trees. In addition to her books, she wrote stories for magazines and for the Los Angeles Times "Kids’ Reading Room" several times a year. Sue passed away suddenly at the age of seventy-four.

‘Faces’ Lands at Paraclete
Jon Sweeney at Paraclete took world rights directly from author Roger Hutchison (The Very Best Day) to Faces: A Love Story. The picture book for readers of all ages features illustrations of diverse people, and it’s slated for publication in January 2021. "We need reminders of our diversity and the stories we tell through colors, shapes, scars, ages, and expressions, now more than ever as we live in quarantine," says Sweeney. "And when life returns to normal, we think people will cherish these faces more than they ever did before."

Join Kelly Bennett and Blue Willow Bookshop for the Houston Premier of Norman, One Amazing Goldfish!
Thursday, November 12 at 10 AM virtually at

Fifteen years ago, my SCBWI-Houston friends—the very group that encouraged, supported, critiqued my fishy friend, Norman!—celebrated publication of NOT NORMAN, A GOLDFISH STORY at Blue Willow Bookshop. It’s right & thrilling to officially launch NORMAN, ONE AMAZING GOLDFISH, also illustrated by Noah Z. Jones (Candlewick Press), with y’all! Full circle…as most fishbowl swims go!
- Kelly Bennett
Important Information about Coronovirus

Mary Riser has begun Corona Virus posts on her website: This is information for writers, teachers, librarians and parents. It gives a summary of scientific information about the current pandemic virus, how testing works and why it is so often wrong, how the vaccines are constructed, and how clinical trials work. Mary has masters and PhD in Cell Biology and was a medical school Associate Professor. She has grown viruses, made monoclonal antibodies (like Regeneron treatments), made T-cell vaccines, and participated in clinical trials. The rest of the website is information on children's science books from PB to YA.
Sherry Garland's Cabin 102 Debuts New Cover
Previously out of print, Cabin 102 (Harcourt 1995) is now available again on Amazon. Twelve-year old Dusty is terrified of drowning. He'll make any excuse and even lie to get out of getting in water. His excuses are genius, but he can't get out of a Caribbean cruise with his new family. Things are going badly until Dusty hears someone crying in the cabin next door, Cabin 102. It is a girl named Tahni. Could she be the ghost of an Arawak Indian who died in a hurricane on a Spanish galleon in 1511?

Starting Oct 31, Online. Register for programming now.
Over a two week period, encompassing Texas Teen Book Festival, Children's Program, and Adult Program, register for the sessions of your choice!

Making Waves: A Pacific Illustrator Event
Join Alaska and Hawaii SCBWI for two days of craft-oriented presentations, hands-on intensives, optional critiques, and a juried art show!
– Illustration and literary agent Janna Morishima
– Illustrator Joe Sutphin
– Design Director at Chronicle Books Jennifer Tolo Pierce
– Illustrator Larry Day
– Illustrator Mirka Hokkanen
– Illustrator Lucas Elliott
October 1st the Indiana SCBWI will open registration for their one-day graphic novel conference, "Turning Writer and Illustrator Ideas Into Graphic Novels," which will be held online on January 16th.
The nonfiction workshop presented by the SCBWI and the Smithsonian Institution will be online November 6-7, with recordings of the presentations available for viewing through the 22nd. See the presentation schedule and register here.
Tomie dePaola Masterclass
Released for FREE
All of us in SCBWI and the children's book community lost a dear friend and artist in
Tomie dePaola. Anyone who has been lucky enough to dine or converse with him, or simply to be near his great big gregarious spirit, knows that he was the genuine article: a singular personality, and a master artist.

As we mourn his loss, we also want to celebrate his incredible body of work
and his long and dear friendship with our organization.

We are making available to members his entire Master Class DVD that he shot with Lin Oliver, where the two of them go in depth and discuss the modern picture book, a form he helped to invent and elevate. With outsized generosity, Tomie breaks down the history of the picture book, his approach, his working methods---everything you'd want to know about how he crafts a work of art for children. Tomie was incredibly proud of this Master Class. So please enjoy it, and pull a book or three of his off the shelf.

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.

2020 schedule of meetings

Dec. 7No More Sagging Middles: Strengthening the Midpoint of Your Story -- Lynne Kelly

2021 schedule of meetings: Coming soon!
Our Staff

Regional Advisor:
Asst. Regional Advisor:
Lynne Kelly
Illustrators Coordinator:
Monthly Program Chair:
Sarah Choi

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

Copyright © 2020 SCBWI-Houston, All rights reserved. 

Our mailing address is: