A KidLit Superstar: JANE YOLEN

KidLit Rock Star

I had the wonderful opportunity last week to join the other children’s authors in Florida for their annual gathering in Miami celebrating KIDLIT. It was truly awesome! Thanks to all the hard working SCBWI volunteers there who made it happen, especially Linda Rodriguez Bernfield & Dorian Cirrone–the Co-Regional Advisors.



One of my all-time favorite authors was there, Jane Yolen. Not only has Ms. Yolen written over 300 children’s books, but she remains exceptionally modest and extremely motivating for other authors. She shared some pointers with us. I’ll pass along a few of them.


  • Be ready to share your knowledge and to support fellow authors—as Jane does so well.


  • Inspiration and perspiration are musts. Always have numerous projects in the works. “Rest is not for the tired but the dead.”


  • Editing is the key to writing successfully—be ready to revise. But also be ready to give yourself “a pat on the back” for a job well done.


  • Listen to your heart!

Passion, Perseverance, and Patience will lead to Publishing Success!

Winter Reading List

The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators has a great list of titles for young readers from Picture Books–Young Adult.

It’s back! The SCBWI Winter 2016 Reading List is available for download on the website at scbwi.org/readinglist.

This is our second list and we’re very excited to have over 1,100 books from 328 publishers created, by our PAL authors and illustrators located in 15 geographical regions. They have created some of the best children’s books around from picture books to YA fiction to nonfiction and more. The list is comprised of books by writers and artists from around the world, and from right near your hometown.

We hope that you, your families and friends download the list and discover a book that makes the winter months more enjoyable. And please share the good news with others. Here’s some sample language to use in a social media tweet or post. 

Find a great book for a kid or #youngadult on the Winter 2016 #SCBWIReading List. http://www.scbwi.org/readinglist #kidlit #middlegrade

And look for the new Summer Reading List coming in 2017! 

FROM THE GRAVE is listed on p.36 under the Mid-South!

Download your copy today and START READING!!!

Reflections From The SCBWI Conference



I’ve just returned from the annual Society of Children’s Book & Illustrators summer conference in Los Angeles. Here are four quick reflections on what I carried away from the meetings and encounters there.




What an amazing opportunity to hear and see how creative minds like Don Tate and Drew Daywalt and Jon Klassen work. I thank them for sharing their journeys, their insights, and their struggles through the completion of a project. Thanks too for reminding me to follow my heart—to listen to that inner voice that makes my story, my creation unique and relevant in this ever-changing world. They helped reaffirm that we SCBWI members–our words, pictures, story may be just the one needed by a young struggling mind, searching for answers, for hope, for laughter, for light. They reminded me to believe that I [we] can make a difference in one child’s life.




The conference was overflowing with storytime celebrities around every corner. When I spied Richard Peck at lunch and met Bruce Coville and Arthur Levine at a small group gathering, I was awed. To hear my heroes Pam Munoz Ryan or Linda Sue Park speak is humbling and amazing. I heard agents and editors, writers and illustrators—each helpful and inspiring, all come to life! I felt sometimes as if I’d gone down the Rabbit Hole and might meet Alice on my next elevator ride.




I was reminded by these celebrity book gurus that being creative is scary—over and over again with each new attempt. It would be so much easier to hide away in a safe place rather than expose myself to rejection time after time. That staying strong requires the hide of an elephant—and by the way, I felt an elephant’s hide once with hairs like a bristle brush. And even though every breath an author or artist breathes says “Like me—like my creations, please!” that we must be prepared to hear “No! No! No!” over and over again. The super important point to remember is that the refusals do NOT mean the end—unless we let them. We MUST NOT let them!!!




What an amazing place the SCBWI Conference is! And I’m not just talking about the over-the-top Hollywood art deco glam of the Biltmore where this year’s conference was held. I was able to hang out with pals old and new. To forge friendships while discussing plot and characterization and the word puzzle challenge of picture books. To share critique horror stories over a glass wine and jubilation at lunch for a friend’s starred Kirkus review news. To hug and to laugh and to sigh. To relish shared passions and dreams and struggles. To know that we all are part of a special tribe who place the importance of children’s literacy paramount in our lives. We are SCBWI!