More events added … Spring registration now open!


Great events for Winter and Spring from NJSCBWI. Don’t miss out. Register now. Hope to see you at some of the events.

Originally posted on njscbwi:

Here are three MORE exciting ways for you to move forward on your path to publication. Please see below and simply click on the links provided to find out more …

Registration is now open!

  • NEW! March 30, 2014: Meditation/Yoga for writers/illustrators with Laurie Calkhoven & Mimi Cross. Back by popular demand! Limited space. Only 20 spots available. Click HERE for more details.
  • NEW! Sat/Sun, April 12&13: MG/YA Retreat with special guest editor Heather Alexander (Dial BFYR) and MG author Lizzie K. Foley. Submit up to 75 pages for a 45-minute one-on-one critique with Heather, plus hands-on workshop, peer groups, and more! Important Note: EARLY DEADLINE: Feb. 25 & only 8 spots available. Have your manuscript ready when you register for this event. Click HERE for more details.
  • NEW! Sun, April 27: Picture Book Brunch with Executive Editor Meredith Mundy (Sterling), featuring bonus manuscript critique opportunity. Limited space. 20 spots available for attendees and only 12 spots available for critiques (first-come, first-serve). Click 

View original 241 more words

Interview with Dianne de Las Casas Founder of Picture Book Month

I’m so excited to introduce Dianne de Las Casas one of the founders of Picture Book Month. Diane is also an award-winning author and storyteller. This interview is chock-full of great ideas and insights that I’m sure you’ll find useful as a writer, teacher, or reader. So without further ado…

1. How did Picture Book Month come about? In the fall of 2010, The New York Times published an article stating that picture book were “no longer a staple for children.” Many people in the kidlit community expressed outrage. As a picture book author myself, it spurred me into action. In September 2011, I reached out to several of my friends in the children’s book industry: Katie Davis, Elizabeth O. Dulemba, Tara Lazar, Wendy Martin, and Joyce Wan. Joyce created the incredible logo while I funded the website, and performed the major marketing and PR. Elizabeth created the PBM calendar. Katie dedicated the entire month of November of her Brain Burps About Books podcast to Picture Book Month. Tara spread the word through her initiative, PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month). We all tooted horns for Picture Book Month on social media: Twitter, Facebook, etc.

2. You have quite a few published picture books. What is it about this format that appeals to you? I have 11 picture books published with my 12th picture book arriving in Spring 2014. My 2013 picture books are The Little “Read” Hen and The House That Santa Built. I love the picture book format! You can reveal so much with so little. A standard picture book runs 32 pages. That’s not a lot of space to tell a story. But the best picture book authors and illustrators use that liability as an asset. Words count. Pictures illuminate. In a good picture book, there is a seamless integration of words and art that elevate a story and transform it into a format young children really connect with. Each page turn is a breath, a pause between words and illustrations. Illustrated end papers can yield surprises the reader does not expect. Insides of dust jackets can even transform into posters! (Look at the 10th Anniversary Edition of Tony DiTerlizzi’s The Spider and The Fly.) Picture books are the building blocks for early literacy. They are worlds of wonder in the tiniest of hands.

3. Do you have any picture book author mentors, and if so who are they and what have you learned from them? I don’t have any personal mentors, per se, but I do adore several picture book authors and illustrators, whose work inspires me. I chose the following for how they inspire me.

The Wordsmith: I absolutely adore Tammi Sauer. I believe she is one of the best picture book writers of the 21st century. She truly understands the art and craft of the picture book and can break it down in terms a kindergartener would understand. She is a clever wordsmith and I love every one of her picture books.

The Connector: David Ezra Stein is a Caldecott Honor author/illustrator. His work is amazing. His work is consistently brilliant, even when the style of his art and writing changes. His books just connect with readers.

The Imagineer: Amy Krouse Rosenthal is an author I adore from afar. I don’t know her but I hope to have her as a Picture Book Month Champion some time in the future. I LOVE Wumbers and Spoons is so sweet. She is another clever wordsmith who just possesses a gift for imagination.

The Thinker: Peter Brown is amazing. His new book, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, just blew me away. Creepy Carrots (written by Aaron Reynolds) won a Caldecott Honor. He makes everything look so easy but each detail is well-thought through. His art is bold yet elegant. He inspires me to not just think outside the box, but to throw the box away.

The Comic: Jon Scieszka makes me laugh. He writes books full of outrageous humor. He really gets kids. And he is as charismatic in person as his writing is in his books.

The Creative: Peter Reynold’s The Dot is such a phenomenal book that I have a signed copy of it in my office. It’s one of my all time favorite picture books. I look at it every day to remind me to “make my mark.” Peter uses simplicity (look at his use of white space) and the art of storytelling to inspire creativity in his readers. Less is more in Peter’s world. And it makes me want more of Peter’s books.

4. How might you suggest teachers capitalize on the power of picture books in their classrooms?  Picture Book Month now has a fantastic new Teacher’s Guide written by our education consultant, Marcie Colleen. The guide correlates picture books to the U.S. Common Core and learning standards. Our website also has links to picture book activities. I encourage everyone to read the essays about the importance of picture books by our Picture Book Month champions, which list ample reasons why we should all cherish picture books.

Still want more reasons to include picture books in the classroom? Check out this amazing post by Debbie Ridpath Ohi.  Debbie will be a 2014 Picture Book Month Champion.

November is Picture Book Month! Read * Share * Celebrate!

Thanks you Dianne for taking the time to provide us with your thoughtful and informative insights.

About Dianne de Las Casas

Dianne de Las Casas is an award-winning author, storyteller, and founder of Picture Book Month. Her performances, dubbed “revved-up storytelling” are full of energetic audience participation. The author of 22 books and the 2013 recipient of the Ann Martin Book Mark award, her children’s titles includeThe Cajun Cornbread Boy, There’s a Dragon in the Library, The House That Witchy Built, The Little “Read” Hen, and The House That Santa Built. Visit her website at Visit Picture Book Month at

Authors For the Philippines Online Auction


Please do what you can. Donate or bid. Everything will help.

Originally posted on Writing and Illustrating:

phil_badge1Authors for the Philippines is running an auction to raise money to help the typhoon victims hit so hard by the devastating storm that tore through the Philippines this past week. Even though it is being held in the UK, they are accepting bids from all over the world and payments will go through the British Red Cross, so no need to worry about the money not getting to the victims or paying in pounds. 

The auction starts today, but you can still donate something to help, since they are looking to raise as much money as possible. You will find authors/editors/agents  giving away critiques, books, school visits, and character names. Besides raising money for a worthy cause, it also helps the author/editor/agent donating by getting their name and books out there in the marketplace. I would consider donating and bidding.

  • They’d like as wide a variety of items as possible (because they’d like to raise as much money as possible), so if you…

View original 568 more words

Interview with Marcie Colleen: Author of Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide

In honor of Picture Book Month I plan to do a series on using picture books to support students’ writing.  To launch the series, I thought it would be nice to interview Marcie Colleen, the educational consultant for Picture Book Month and the author of the Picture Book Month Teacher’s Guide.

I met Marcie at a NJ SCBWI event last year.  Her energy and open heart are contagious. She is running her first Marathon tomorrow and has been raising money for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It would be great if people would send her good wishes or maybe even submit a last minute donation.

Without further adieu. Here are Marcie’s answers to some questions I posed about picture books—their power and their influence.

1. How did you get involved with Picture Book Month?  My involvement in Picture Book Month is a true testament to the value of community among kidlit-ers.  Last November Dianne de Las Casas, the founder of Picture Book Month, Tweeted that she was looking for someone who would be able to create curriculum for Picture Book Month, and also tie it to the Common Core.  I am not too Twitter-savvy, but the fabulous Elizabeth Omlor immediately sent Dianne my way.  See?  It’s good to have community!

2. What do you think is the most important reason to use picture books?  Hmmm…that’s a tough question, seeing as I just created a 16 page document with MANY reasons for using picture books!  But if I had to say the most important I would say the “read aloud” aspect.  Not only do picture books create a shared experience between reader and child/children, they also build listening skills.  Picture books ask us to slow down, listen and enjoy.

3. What advice would you give teachers when choosing picture books to use in their classroom?  Choose books that you enjoy!  In fact, I would go one step further: choose books that the kids enjoy.  I am a firm believer that good teachers can make a lesson out of anything.  So why not, at least once a month, let the kids pick the book and build the lesson from there?  Talk about letting the kids have ownership.

4. I know you have been a teacher, so I was wondering how did you use picture books in your classroom?  Well, I taught high school English and Drama.  I wasn’t as passionate about picture books back then…or at least I thought I wasn’t.  However, I did create a Children’s Literature course in which my students would study picture books and pull out the themes and issues within those books.  They then would develop a lesson plan and teach it to the kids at a local elementary school.  I guess you can say, the class was basically a course on creating Teacher’s Guides!

5. Do you have a favorite picture book or author to use in the classroom? If so what or who? and why?  I taught a long time ago…so Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein were my favorites, mainly because they offered so much beyond the words on the page.  My favorites were The Giving Tree and The Sneetches.  But if I were to teach today, I would probably teach a lot of Oliver Jeffers…for the same reasons.  I love layered stories that speak to a variety of readers.

6. When you are writing picture books, do you think about how the story might be used in classrooms?  and if so, how does that influence your writing?  Want to hear the ironic thing?  I don’t.  I have two different brains that I use: the teacher brain and the storyteller brain.  Perhaps this is best because I never want to seem heavy-handed or “messagey” in my stories. In my opinion, writers need to write the stories they want to tell and let the teachers figure out how to teach it.  When the time comes that I am published, I will don that teacher’s cap and create curriculum for my books.  But until then, I strive to write stories that I love with a kid’s enjoyment as my muse.

Thanks Marcie.  For your time and passion.  And Good Luck tomorrow.  I’m sure you’ll do great.

MarcieMarcie Colleen is chasing the picture book writer’s dream. She is represented by Susan Hawk of The Bent Agency. A former teacher, she also creates Teacher’s Guides for other people’s books.  You can visit her website at She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her amazing fiance and adorable sock monkey.

PiBoIdMo 2013 Registration is OPEN!


Don’t miss out another great November of Picture Book Ideas.

Originally posted on Writing for Kids (While Raising Them):

***Registration officially closed on November 7th. You can still join in the challenge by reading the daily posts and keeping track of your ideas, but you will not be eligible for prizes.***

Cue the fireworks! PiBoIdMo 2013 Registration is officially OPEN FOR BUSINESS!



But lemme whet your appetite first. Here is the schedule of 2013 guest bloggers!



Pretty stellar, right? These authors, illustrators and picture book professionals will provide daily doses of inspiration to help you along on your idea journey.

And don’t forget—there’s Pre-PiBo beginning tomorrow, to get you organized and ready. And then in early December, there’s Post-PiBo to help your organize and prioritize your ideas.

Participants who register for PiBoIdMo and complete the 30-idea challenge will be eligible for prizes, including signed picture books, original art, critiques and feedback from one of nine picture book agents. This year’s agents are:

Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary…

View original 510 more words



In case you missed it. I participated in “2 Moms on a Train” Mom Chat on Friday. Just connected with these wonderful women. Once you take a look at my chat – spend some time on their blog.

Originally posted on 2 MOMS ON A TRAIN:

By Kim

It’s Friday and that means we’re back with another TRAIN MOM CHAT;  our new series that spotlights busy moms and gives them a platform to share their thoughts and tips on “mommy-hood”, plus some of their favorite #MomMoments.

This time around, Rosanne L. Kurstedt,  mom of two boys, ages 15 & 12, educator, and the author of a great book that celebrates the relationship between a working mom and her child called: And I Thought About You“.  Check out Rosanne’s website at: to learn more about this busy mom,   AND  be sure to come back to 2 Moms on A Train next week for your chance to win a copy of Rosanne’s book.


  • What is the best/worst thing about being a working mom?     The best part about being a working a mom is showing (not telling) my kids the benefits of taking risks, following…

View original 436 more words

SCBWI Debuts The Spark Award


As many of you know, I have been working hard to navigate the complex world of traditional publishing and that I have also self-published a wonderful picture book, AND I THOUGHT ABOUT YOU. So, needless to say, I am uber excited to see that SCBWI will be recognizing self-published books by presenting Spark Awards to independently-published writers and illustrators. I will of course be submitting AND I THOUGHT ABOUT YOU—so keep your fingers crossed. If you haven’t already, check out my website Enjoy this beautiful autumn day.

Originally posted on Writing and Illustrating:


The SCBWI is pleased to announce the creation of The Spark Award, an annual award that recognizes excellence in a children’s book published through a non-traditional publishing route.  The award is open to current writer and/or illustrator SCBWI members who have independently-published a board book, picture book, chapter book, middle grade, or young adult novel through an established self- publishing enterprise  or individually self-published.  Submissions must be submitted in traditionally bound form, contain an ISBN number, and provide evidence of Copyright registration.

Entries may not have been previously published in any print or digital form prior to the self-published form and SCBWI reserves the right to disqualify books published by enterprises that we believe, in our discretion, operate in a predatory or unprofessional manner.

One winner and one honor book will be chosen…

View original 172 more words