Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Getting Started by Glee Dunbar

Dive in, be kind, and listen.  That became my mantra when I started writing children’s books about a year ago.

As humans often do, I immediately started telling myself the idea was ridiculous.  This is especially true for someone with … (Read More)

New Year’s note to myself by RA, Erica Wood

In sixty days the sun will set at 7:30 pm; darkness and heartache don’t last forever. The slow hibernation following Winter Solstice feels barren but below frosty earth, a sacred process waits. Germination. In the sharpness of your pencil, in … (Read More)

Arts Grants for Literary Projects Provide Much More than Money by Melissa Rooney

Since I was a child, I have wanted to be a children’s picture book author; but, having learned this was unlikely to pay the bills, I ended up with a Ph.D. in Chemistry instead. That didn’t stop me from writing … (Read More)

Why Do You Keep Going? by Mary Jane Nirdlinger

Last week, someone at my day job asked, “Are you still writing?”

I have a love-hate relationship with that question because I suspect what they’re really asking is, “Have you published a book yet?”

I’ve been at this writing endeavor … (Read More)

Post-Conference Thoughts From Your Regional Team

Post-Conference Thoughts From Your Regional Team

Our Carolinas 2022 Fall Conference, Swinging into Kidlit, is over, and now it’s time to jump off that swing and FLY! (Remember that sensation? Leaping off the swing, airborne for just a moment, before (Read More)

How Self-Publishing Found Me And Important Tips if It Finds You by Tomeko Brown

You might wonder why this post is titled, How Self-publishing Found Me. Well, it did. I had always enjoyed writing but never thought about publishing anything until I had to step away from my full-time job. That is when I … (Read More)

Making Most of Your Membership by Becky Shillington, Co-Assistant Regional Advisor

Banner design by Ashley Belote

Membership in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators offers a wide range of benefits, but many of them are often overlooked because we all lead such busy lives. So this month, we’re going … (Read More)

Meditation and the Muse: Simple Daily Practices that Boost Creativity by Christa Hogan

You may already be meditating and not know it.

Ever puzzled over a problem in a creative project only to get zapped by the perfect solution hours later while in the shower, walking the dog, or in the middle of … (Read More)

Super Jane’s Best HOT Tips for Advocating for Yourself by Jane Smith

As creative professionals in children’s book publishing, our happy place is no doubt in the creative work of writing and illustrating. However, we are, each and every one of us, also a business. And it can be really difficult to … (Read More)

Play Your Way to Your Creative Dreams by Christa Hogan

When we were kids, creativity and play were interconnected, innate, and fundamental to life. As adult creatives, however, our brains are always being rewarded for checking items off our to-do lists instead. Inbox zero? Ping! Empty sink and clean … (Read More)

Writing From the Heart to Get Unstuck by Mary Jane Nirdlinger

First, a confession: I am a thinker, not a feeler. My natural instinct is to make lists and figure out plots and put the pieces of the puzzle together. I say things like, “I need to decide what happened.” But … (Read More)

Two Cents on Picking the Perfect Pun (or Idiom) by Kimberly Wilson

Puns and idioms can be worth their weight in gold. If purposeful to the plot and emotional arc, they enhance the story and even give the reader a chuckle. But there is fine line between using these types of wordplay … (Read More)

Four Ways to Stay Inspired on the Road to Being Published By Naomi Shibles

The key to staying inspired on the road to being published is being kind to yourself, and recognizing success in all forms. Here are four ways to push through stalled creative momentum by taking control of your inspiration:


  1. Pivot
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Creating in Community by Erica Wood

The New Year comes rushing in like a story ready to be opened. “Once upon a time” is the casting of a spell, isn’t it? Anything can happen. But what if the existence of so much possibility mires me down? … (Read More)

Revision: What It Is and How To Do It by Mary Jane Nirdlinger


What Revision Is

Revision is not editing, it is re-seeing and re-imagining your work. Revision is different for every writer and each project. Here are some tips that work for me, but you’ll develop your own approach based on (Read More)

Emotional Resonance – Or, what to do when someone says “I’m just not connecting.”

Last month, Mary Jane Nirdlinger wrote her first post about the top craft techniques she learned while obtaining her MFA.  We welcome her back again for another thought-provoking article.


My first (unsold) novel got a lot of positive feedback from (Read More)

MFA Programs: Questions and Answers from Mary Jane Nirdlinger- Part I

When we’re not writing, most of us spend time looking for ways to hone our craft. For me, an MFA was part of that journey and I’m excited to share a series of blog posts to answer some questions about (Read More)

One Story, Many Mediums: How to Take Your Characters out of the Box by Brian Anderson

Characters are the foundation of your story. You build your house on them. But what should that house look like? A picture book, a Y.A. fantasy, a graphic novel? Hard to decide, especially if you want to write a middle … (Read More)

How I Grew as an Educator, Illustrator, and Story Teller by Using Visual Techniques by Demetrios Liollio, or 柳亞澂

A BIG Adventure

Exactly ten years ago this month I began the biggest adventure of my life: moving to Taiwan, or 台灣. This small, democratic island nation consists of Han Chinese and native aboriginal people who are hard-working and compassionate. … (Read More)

Right Down the Middle: MG Fiction Helps Kids Navigate Uncertainty by Bess Kercher

Some years ago, my son made a startling declaration: He hated to read. Once my shock subsided, I responded that I felt sure he just hadn’t found the right book. And so even though he was technically reading-proficient, we began … (Read More)

Tall Praise for the Short Story by Melissa Cole Essig

Ray Bradbury was the master of the short story.

If you’re anything like me, the very suggestion that you consider writing a short story could send you screaming from your safe and cozy writing space in abject terror. Some words … (Read More)

Let’s Get This Pitch Party Started! by Jocelyn Rish

PitMad IWSGPit DVpit PBpitch

Did I drop some Scrabble tiles? Spill a bowl of alphabet soup? Actually, these are some of the Twitter pitch events (also known as pitch parties) that take place throughout the year.

If you’re not familiar … (Read More)

Writing Picture Books: A Book Review by Paulette Hannah

If you are an aspiring children’s picture book writer like me, the first few questions that come to mind are: Where do I begin?  How can I take my ideas and get a picture book published? What can be so … (Read More)

A Grain of Salt for Critiques: Handling and Using Honest Feedback by Micki Bare

Participating in a critique group is an essential part of the creative process for authors. It’s also very scary. No one wants their work shredded by peers. What we do want is to move our work forward on the continuum (Read More)

Bartali’s Bicycle: The Long and Winding Road of Research by Megan Hoyt

I first heard about Gino Bartali on a dreary Saturday afternoon. Snuggled beneath a blanket and clutching a cup of hot tea, I watched a documentary about the secret underground during World War II. This network of ordinary people rose … (Read More)

Writers, Entrepreneurs, and the Business of Writing by Barbara Bell

Writers are some of the greatest entrepreneurs I have ever met.  They come up with an idea, put the work in by creating a prototype on the page, test it within critique groups and in front of audiences. They edit … (Read More)

Double-Unders (Or How I Came to be the New Regional Advisor) by Erica Wood

Jumping rope used to be so fun. On the playground, we played double-dutch while chanting about Cinderella dressed in yella’. But when I signed up for my first real grown-up workout, and a ripped young trainer shouted, “150 jump ropes,” … (Read More)

Humor in Illustration: Adding Comedy to Your Craft by Ashley Belote




When creating an illustration, my goal is to be…FUNNY! I’ve always been drawn to humorous artwork, whether it’s featured in a television cartoon, book, or comic strip. While growing up, my parents were both laughing and joking … (Read More)

Writing with Chronic Illness by Vijaya Bodach

Ironically, just as I was getting excited about diving back into my novel after a summer of frivolous and fun short books, I had a horrible fall that’s left me bruised, battered, and a bit disabled. My right shoulder … (Read More)

Finding Time To Write When There IS No Time by Rochel Vorst

I thought this would be a perfect topic for me.  Here I am, a mom of six, a kindergarten teacher, and I just published my third picture book.

I was planning on writing about “writing on the fly.”

I was … (Read More)

Novel Gardening- Part I by K.A.K Lecky

I have a weakness for British gardening shows. It’s no secret that I’ll take Monty Don over a high-stakes drama any day. Lost in the wilderness of my current novel revisions, it occurs to me that the gardeners and I … (Read More)


Last October I taught an adult cultural enrichment writing class for the first time. I was pleased to have only five students so we could spend most of our class time working on their storytelling. I prefer to lead discussions (Read More)

On Writing Narrative Nonfiction Picture Books by Shana Keller

I am often asked about writing narrative nonfiction. Some of the questions are broad such as What is it? How do I Choose a Topic? Others are more specific like How long should my story be? I have attempted to (Read More)

The Art of Lyrical Prose by Megan Hoyt


When we think about art, we imagine a beautiful landscape from the Hudson River School or maybe a Degas ballerina or a colorful Renoir painting of ladies having tea on a river barge. Maybe we see angular Picasso blues (Read More)

Life—and Writing and Illustrating—in the Time of COVID-19: A Moment of Gratitude for Our Relative Good Fortune by Melissa Cole Essig

My son and I were walking the dog the other day when a jogger bumped into him.


I was outraged, in a way that would have been totally unreasonable a few weeks ago. What was this woman thinking? Why … (Read More)

Resources for Reading and Writing Verses Novels in Coronavirus Times by Debra Rook

Reading and Writing Is Contagious

Coronavirus. Social Distancing. Self-Quarantine. Stay at Home. As the world confronts a new pandemic, the future can be scary and daily life feels overwhelming at times. If you’re like me, books are more than good … (Read More)

Witches Are Our Warriors: Spotting (and Combatting!) Implicit Gender Bias in Your Writing by Melissa Cole Essig

My ten-year-old daughter, like her friends, is all about female heroes. If there isn’t a woman kicking butt in the latest superhero movie, she’s not seeing it. If she’s asked to write about a pioneer of science, you can bet … (Read More)

Introducing Me–Your New SCBWI-C Blog Coordinator

That’s a pretentious headline, isn’t it? Since Kelly asked me to tell you a little about myself and my love/obsession/passion for blogging– it seemed to fit. Without further ado, here’s a little bit about why I think she, Donna, and (Read More)


JULY 15, 2016

SCBWI has amended its policy regarding book sales to include self-published and independently published books to be sold at conferences and other SCBWI sponsored events. 

All members with books in the bookstore may participate in the Autograph (Read More)

 P&P masthead(Read More)

KidLit Drink Night


An interview with the Carolinas crew behind the popular podcast

by Bonnie Adamson

A group of writers and SCBWI members in the Carolinas have parlayed a common love of children’s literature and a talent for witty and insightful commentary into … (Read More)

An Open Letter To SCBWI Members

We, your regional SCBWI Carolinas team, take seriously our fiduciary responsibility to adhere to all the contracts and agreements we have signed. We are honor bound to the members of this region as well as to the mission of SCBWI to (Read More)

Polish Your Manuscript in Your PJs

We're still not sure how many participants took us up on the PJs part, but we KNOW that many came away with a true understanding of how 

  • to identify a high concept–an easily phrased sentence that sums up the story,
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It’s February. Time to Submit to the Art & Writing Contest

This is your opportunity to have your work seen by an art director or an editor at a major publishing house. This is our 7th Annual Art and Writing Contest. This contest is a membership benefit for those SCBWI members on the SCBWI Carolinas roster. Submissions are accepted starting Monday February 1, 2016 through Monday February 29, 2016 at Please read the contest ART or the WRITING rules carefully for complete information.
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Pen & Palette

SCBWI Carolinas's improved blog space.   

Please visit our CHAPTER PAGE for information about our programs and events. 

 … (Read More)


Participants completed a six week course. October 6-19: Story In this section of the challenge participants took a critical look at our manuscripts to determine how they conform to generally accepted picture book criteria for plot and theme. Monday, October 13, 9:00-10:30 pm (Eastern): Webinar with John Cusick, Greenhouse Literary Agency October 20-November 2: Structure In this sesion challenge participants learned how to use a storyboard and dummy to refine the pace and flow on the text.
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▪ Have you read Tips, Tidbits and The Inside Scoop Blog? ▪ Check out our To Tell A Tale Conference Information Page For all the download information. ▪ Brush up on the conference activities, schedule and faculty bios so you can get the most out of the conference. ▪ THE BOOK BASKET PROGRAM. Please bring a new or gently used book for the Child Care Resources Inc., an agency that provides services for Child Care Centers and Family Child Care Homes. The licensed Family Child Care Homes serve children 0-12 years of age in homes. ▪ PARKING: The Crowne Plaza Hotel was chosen for it’s easy access off Tryon Blvd and Exit 5 of I-77. The parking lot surrounding the hotel is for all attendees and parking is FREE.
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One of the biggest reasons I come back to our SCBWI-Carolinas Fall Conference year after year is for the conversations. The presentations are always wonderful, but what can I say? I’m a yacker. I love getting together with all you creative types and hearing about new projects, talking about issues of craft and publishing, and swapping stories. For the past several years, the PAL (published and listed) members of SCBWI-Carolinas have held an authors’ roundtable to offer insights and answer questions. In addition, we’re going to have a conversation with those PAL members who were in the first Mentor Program.
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Everything You Wanted to Know about the Mentor Program…

2014 was SCBWI Carolinas inagural mentorship program. Four mentors worked with four mentees to help bring their work closer to the point of publication. You will have the opportunity to hear from all eight individuals at the panel moderated by John Claude Bemis on Saturday night. According to Stephanie Greene, coordinator of the newly-developed program, "It certainly seemed, from everything both the mentors and mentees said to me, that it was a great success." Here are some comments from the mentors:
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We’re all about children’s books, and especially those books published by SCBWI members who are participating in our conference. We are proud of the number of published authors and illustrators in our region. Writing and illustrating can be a very solitary endeavor. The annual conference Autograph Party gives us the opportunity to shine the spotlight on those who have succeeded in attaining publication.
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you’re an illustrator just starting out, you need to get used to displaying your work. At the very least, putting together a portfolio for others to see is a great exercise in self-editing and refining your voice. If you’re a seasoned illustrator, this is an opportunity to define (or re-define) yourself, to demonstrate how your style is adaptable to a range of projects—or to focus on the type of work that excites you most. And, not incidentally, of course, you may just catch the eye of an art director, editor or agent—though we make no guarantees!
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Recently, I asked Gretchen Griffith about why she wrote The Inside Track. Here is her response: I was mostly interested in developing a guide for conference newcomers because of my own experiences at my first SCBWI conference years ago in Clemmons, NC where I had no idea what to expect, what to say, what to wear even. After a few sessions and many friendly greetings that weekend, I realized my fears were unfounded, my ideas taken seriously, and my clothing the least of anyone’s concern. Yet had I been aware of certain elements of the conference, I would not have missed out on valuable information and on available networking with other authors. Through the years I’ve gained a little insight into making the best of a writer’s conference, so when I was in Charlotte a couple of years ago talking with first timers, I did what other SCBWI members once did for me. I helped them.
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Is this your first conference? Are you new to writing and illustrating for kids? If so, you'll want to join me for “Your Career Starts Here,” on Friday at 4 PM for a nuts and bolts beginner-level session that will answer all those burning questions you have: Like
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It’s All About You: How to ‘Take’ a Portfolio Review

As an illustrator submitting your portfolio for review, you are not so much in the position of a proud parent—it is you, yourself, under the microscope. Your portfolio is you. It defines you. It’s a promise to whomever will listen of what you can do if given the chance. It’s your i.d. card, your resume, and your autobiography all rolled into one.
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First Impressions is a conference session in which images from illustrators are projected onto a screen so a panel of publishing professionals can comment on them “cold,” sharing the thoughts and reactions they might have in response to an illustrator’s samples arriving unsolicited on their desks at work. It’s the illustrator’s equivalent to the First Pages event for writers.
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At every conference we collect new and gently used books for a deserving school in the metropolitan Charlotte area. This year all books will be donated to
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Interview with Emma Dryden

Over the course of three intensive and interlinked sessions—Writers as Atlas Makers, Writers as Architects, and Writers as Re-Envisioners—we will start by exploring various tools and techniques for world building in our work—the external world-building of setting, landscape, and geography, and the internal world-building of our characters’ voices and emotional engagement.
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Illustrators! Let’s Get Intense!

One of the highlights of the conference experience is the opportunity to take advantage of one of three four-hour Intensive Workshops on Friday morning. Each workshop is an immersive experience that explores a subject in depth--and is well worth the nominal add-on fee.
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Where: In the Conference Bookstore, courtesy of Quail Ridge Books and Music When: Before and during the SCBWI Carolinas Fall Conference Why: - To boost our fellow authors and illustrators - To start conversations between those who have published and those who are working on it; - To spark connections between undiscovered sisters of the ink, brothers of the brush, compatriots of the keyboard and sibling of the stylus
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PROMO POSTCARD Opportunity for Illustrators!

ALL CAROLINAS ILLUSTRATORS (members current as of conference dates in September) are invited to submit a packet of 20 promo postcards. One card from each illustrator participating will be added to a gift packet for each member of the visiting conference faculty.
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Count ‘Em, Two Live Chats!

The first will be held on Thursday, July 17, at 9 pm EDT, and is for illustrators thinking about attending the conference. The second Live Chat is for everyone registered for the conference. It will be held on Thursday, September 11, at 9 pm EDT. This will be your opportunity to ask any last-minute questions, from what to wear (layers! the meeting rooms are cold!) to where to grab lunch Friday before the festivities start, and to get a better idea of what to expect from the conference schedule. Everyone registered for the conference as of the day before the chat will receive an invitation with log-in information.
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HERE ARE THE DEADLINES YOU NEED TO KNOW. Refer to guidelines in the Conference Information download for addresses and details on formatting. Please be aware: Intensive Programs fill up fast, on a first-come-first-served basis.
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Spring Writing Retreat!

It was a perfect southern spring weekend in Chapel Hill North Carolina with moderate temperatures and flowers abloom as twenty six writers met for a weekend of writing, talking about writing and hearing about writing. SCBWI Carolinas returned to the Aqueduct Conference Center May 2 for a weekend writing retreat with Jill Santopolo, Executive Editor, Philomel.
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PAL Mentoring Program

SCBWI-Carolinas is excited to announce the first-ever Carolinas Mentor Program for 2014. Our mentors will work with writers on picture books, middle grade novels, and historical fiction. The program will run from February until June, with a monthly exchange of manuscript pages and revision between the mentor and writer.
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The Carolinas web site is new home for good news from Carolinas members!
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