Thursday, October 15, 2020

A YA Novel Becomes a Webtoon: The Transformation of American Road Trip

Today's post is an example of the many different directions our stories can take, and how they continue to evolve and reverberate in the world beyond us. American Road Trip, a 2018 YA novel by author Patrick Flores-Scott, was recently transformed into a Webtoon. What's a Webtoon? Webtoon Producer, Quincy Cho, is here to tell us about the company, their projects, and vision. We'll hear from Patrick about his experience too. Read on!

Here's Quincy:

Please give us a brief overview of Webtoon. 

Webtoon is a platform, and a home, for creator-owned web comics.

What is your job title and what does a typical work day look like?

As a producer, a typical work day involves pitching stories, outlining and writing scripts, getting notes for rewrites, and giving feedback on the artwork.

How does Webtoon find and decide which YA novels to adapt to comics? 

In addition to American Road Trip, we've also adapted The Fever King and The Weight of Our Sky. We first look at story and characters because you need both for an exciting read. Then we look at the message and representation. American Road Trip is about a LatinX-American family doing their best to help a loved one struggling with PTSD and mental health. Similarly, The Weight of Our Sky addresses OCD and the Malaysian race riots in 1969. These adaptations are an opportunity to bring more visibility to underrepresented stories as well as starting dialogue around serious topics that often get swept under the rug.

Who writes and illustrates the comics, and is the original author involved in the process?

For American Road Trip, I had the great pleasure of adapting it to fit the Webtoon format. Patrick has written these incredibly relatable characters that are fresh and unique and in relationships that we don't often see (shout out to Caleb and T's bromance!). Moreover, he explores mental health, PTSD, and the consequences it has on a family in a very real way, so it was very important to me to capture the nuance and tone of the story, especially after he gave me his blessing to adapt the story to how I see fit.

I feel very fortunate to have come across Little Corvus' artwork as they are a wonderfully talented LatinX artist based in Seattle. Because of their shared background with the characters, they not only breathed life into Patrick's work in a remarkably unique way, they brought authenticity and a level of detail to the characters and the world that I'm sure native Seattlians and LatinX readers will appreciate.  

What else would you like us to know about Webtoon, the audience/reach, creators?

Please tune in every Sunday for a new episode of American Road Trip! And if the wait is too much for you, I’d suggest reading the book. I hear it’s a great read~

Here's Patrick:

Tell us about your experience with your novel American Road Trip becoming a Webtoon.

Quincy Cho, a writer/producer at Webtoon reached out saying she liked American Road Trip and that she wanted to adapt it into a comic series. When my editor and agent and I learned what Webtoon is--how big their reach is--we knew this was a terrific opportunity to get the story out to a wider audience. I had no idea how it was going to look, or turn out, but I trusted that Quincy's enthusiasm for the material would lead to something really cool. But I was still nervous about the whole thing. I'm really proud of this story. And I feel such deep affection with the characters. What were these comics people going to do with my baby? 

I wasn't prepared for seeing the first drawings. Like the Avila family in the book, it turned out that Little Corvus, the Webtoon artist, is from the Seattle area. And they perfectly captured the colors and feel of the setting. I was thrilled and I knew this project was in the exact right hands. And the more they shared their progress, the more it was clear that Qunicy and Little Corvus weren't just translating the book, they were making it bigger and deeper and more complex. They created something that stands beautifully on its own of course. But for readers of the novel, I don't think the American Road Trip experience is complete without the comic. And I feel really lucky and grateful that it's out there in the world. 

Thanks to Quincy and Patrick for taking the time to share their experience! Learn more at the links below and experience Webtoons yourself:

Webtoon website:

American Road Trip Webtoon:

Quincy Cho website:

Little Corvus website:

Patrick Flores-Scott's website:

Coming up on the Mitten Blog:

See you next Friday for a post from our SCBWI-MI Equity & Inclusion Team - Books with Barbers: A Fresh Cut for Readers. Until then, you can catch up on any of the previous posts you might have missed from our Equity and Inclusion Corner.

Have a great weekend!
Kristin Lenz

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Indie Trailblazers by David Stricklen


Artwork by Melissa Bailey

You may have noticed our beautiful new Indie Trailblazers Icon on the SCBWI-MI website.

Indie stands for independent publishing. Authors have chosen independent publishing for a variety of reasons. Full creative control, frustration with the query process, and a quick turnaround to name a few.

As your Michigan indie coordinator, I thought that we could do a bit more for the indies who are trying to find their way. The trouble with working on an independently published project is that there is more than one way. The traditional path is well worn but the indie path is like cutting your way through the literary wilderness. That is why we call our indie authors, trailblazers.

There is an obvious need to point inquiring authors in the right direction. A helpful suggestion by someone who has already been down that path (and learned from trial and error) can save time and costly mistakes.

Indie publishing would include hybrid publishing (combines aspects of traditional and self-publishing – you hire your dream team), vanity publishing (publishers do it all for you for a price), self-publishing (the author does it all) and digital. All of these various publishing methods would fall under the indie umbrella. 

In an effort to provide the most current and accurate information for our members we have acquired three award winning or Kirkus review recommended indie authors to be our advisors: 

Melissa Bailey - Picture Book 

David Stricklen - Middle Grade

Melanie Hooyenga – Young Adult

Depending on the indie path that you are considering, you may contact one of our three advisors above that best fits your intended direction. Please keep in mind that they are not intended to take the place of a critique group. They are here to make helpful suggestions regarding the path you wish to take depending on your particular goals.

When choosing one of our indie advisors to answer your questions, you should not only look at their genre but also their process. 

  • Do you plan to completely self-publish? 
  • Are you going to enlist a dream team to complete the different aspects of publishing? 
  • Pay a vanity publishing company? 
  • Are you going to do your own artwork? 
Has one of our advisors already blazed that trail and done it successfully? It is my hope that you find this opportunity helpful as you take the first step in blazing a trail of your own.

You will find information about each of our indie advisors, as well as their published work and their step by step publishing process by simply clicking on the link below to the SCBWI-MI website:

Coming up on the SCBWI-MI Blog:

A new post from our Equity and Inclusion Team, a special book drive, Pinterest tips, Webtoons, a Writer Spotlight, Book Birthdays, and more! The Mitten blog is always looking for guest posts from SCBWI-MI members. Find our Submission Guidelines here.

Did you notice we have a new blog banner? Thanks to our new Featured Illustrator, Wendy Berry! Read her interview here.

SCBWI-MI Happenings:

Virtual Shop Talks and Workshops will continue in the months ahead. Information is posted on the calendar at the SCBWI-MI website. Follow our chapter on social media and subscribe to the MichKids listserv for reminders, updated information, and ongoing conversation. Everything you need to stay connected is here:

Save the date! 

April 23-25, 2021, more details to come.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Featured Illustrator Wendy Berry



This questionnaire goes back to a popular parlor game in the early 1900s. Marcel Proust filled it out twice. Some of our questions were altered from the original to gain more insight into the hearts and minds of our illustrators. We hope you enjoy this way of getting to know everybody.

1. Your present state of mind?


2. What do you do best?

I like to think I’m a good problem solver.

3. Where would you like to live?

I’ve lived in other states, but I’ll always think of Michigan as my home.  It’s not just the location, it’s the people. 

4. Your favorite color?

Blueish purple

5. Three of your own illustrations:


6. Your music?

I love old standards, Louis Prima, Peggy Lee, Hank Williams, but I also like contemporary music and everything in between. I don’t listen to music while I draw though, I listen to books on tape.  Books keep me seated and working a little longer.

7. Your biggest achievement?

Definitely my three boys.  They are good people and I’m thankful for them.

8. Your biggest mistake?

Not starting my illustration career earlier.

9. Your favorite children's book when you were a child?

I used to love “Gus was a friendly Ghost”, by Jane Thayer.  Then when I got into chapter books, it was “Half Magic”, by Edward Eager.

10. Your main character trait?

Optimism, but that might be optimistic to think that.

11. What do you appreciate most in a friend?

A good sense of humor.  Everyone needs someone to laugh with.

12. What mistakes are you most willing to forgive?

That’s hard to answer, I guess I’d want you to be more specific. I hope that doesn’t making me an unforgiving person.

13. Your favorite children's book hero?

Hagrid from the Harry Potter series, because he is sometimes misguided, but always kind.

14. What moves you forward?

Myself, always getting ideas and wanting to bring them to fruition.

15. What holds you back?

Time, there is never enough.

16. Your dream of happiness?

Knowing those I love are happy and safe.

17. The painter/illustrator you admire most?

Chris Van Allsburg, Yvonne Gilbert, Inga Moore, Maurice Sendak, I really can’t pick just one.  If I think too hard about it, I’ll come up with more, Jan Brett, Susan Jeffers, Anton Pieck, Edward Gorey.

18. What super power would you like to have?

Time Travel, going back in time to talk with loved ones that have passed would be wonderful.

19. Your motto?

You should never be bored, if you are then you need to work on your imagination.

20. Your social media?


Friday, September 25, 2020

Hugs and Hurrahs

Another school year has begun for many of us. Although this year looks different from other years, I am happy and grateful that we still get to celebrate some good news from Michigan authors. 

Lisa Rose's picture book, A ZOMBIE VACATION, was published on September 1, 2020 (illustrated by Angeles Ruiz; Apples & Honey Press). 

So happy for you, Lisa!

Lisa Wheeler’s newest picture book, DINO-THANKSGIVING, came out on September 1st, 2020. Illustrated by Barry Gott, it is the third book in the Dino-Holiday series from the CarolRhodaimprint of Lerner Books. 

Congratulations, Lisa!

S. F. Hardy’s picture book, DANCING MONKEYS IN MY SOUP! (illustrated by Stephanie Hider; Shenomenal Ink), was released in English and Spanish on September 1, 2020. A family/educator activity guide is included. 

How exciting!

Melanie Hooyenga’s YA contemporary romance, CHASING THE SUN (Left-Handed Mitten Publications), came out August 11. Book one in the Campfire Series, CHASING THE SUN is a lighthearted romance with space puns, Portland shenanigans, and enough feels to totally eclipse your heart.

Good for you, Melanie!

Sue Agauas’s MG novel, GRANDMA’S SOCK DRAWER (Why Not Now Children’s Books, LLC),  is now available. A note and a key to Grandma’s “most precise treasure” sends Sukey on wild adventures as she races against time to unravel the mysteries of a puzzling inheritance – a sock drawer – from a grandmother she was forbidden to know.
That’s great news, Sue!

Lauren Ranalli’s new book, LET'S MEET ON THE MOON, is a story of staying connected when we can't be together, something many of us are experiencing right now. It's her third collaboration with MI-SCBWI illustrator Emily Siwek. Her favorite review so far comes from Julie T. on Instagram, who wrote "I'm pretty sure it's one of the cutest books I've ever seen!" Through September 30th, all pre-ordered signed copies come with limited edition postcards to send to friends near and far (you can use the discount code SCBWI to get 15% off). 
How appropriate for the times we’re living in, Lauren!


K. J. Long, aka Kelly and Jay, a spousal writing duo, self-published, debut middle grade novel, BRIAR COATS AND THE TUNNEL OF STYX, featuring a main character of color on an underwater adventure, releases as an e-book on October 31, 2020 and will be as a paperback the next day.
Very excited for you, Kelly and Jay!

Patti Richard's is happy to announce she signed a contract with Blue Whale Press for her picture book, O POSSUM'S PREDICAMENT, about a theatrical possum who is tired of playing dead and wants to play Hamlet instead. Publication is set for fall 2021. Patti also sold a poem to Cricket Media called “In Autumn.” 
Happy dancing for you, Patti!

Neal Levin’s poem, “Smells Like Chicken Noodle,” which was originally published in Spider, was posted on the Giggle Verse website in June. His poem “A Vampire’s Dilemma” was published in the July 2020 issue of the Australian children’s literary magazine Touchdown (part of The School Magazine).
Awesome, Neal!

CADY AND THE BEAR NECKLACE, by Ann Dallman (Three Towers Press/Henschel Haus Books) is the winner of a 2020 Midwest Book Award (Young Adult category). The book was also a Silver Finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and has recently won a Michigan State History Award. Dallman was also recently awarded a Member for Members Scholarship from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators/MI Chapter. Readers’ Favorite has given the book a Five-Star Review and it is included in the Top Ten of the U.P. Notable Books List. Her book tells the story of a 13-year-old Native American girl who finds an antique Indian beaded necklace in her new home in Michigan, leading her to solve a mystery that improves her personal and family life.
That’s fantastic, Ann!

Paulette Sharkey’s debut picture book, A DOLL FOR GRANDMA: A STORY ABOUT ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE (illustrated by Samantha Woo; Beaming Books, 2020), was included in Red Tricycle's list of The Best New Kids' Books of 2020, So Far.
Well done, Paulette!

Kirbi Fagan signed with an agent, Kayla Cichello at Upstart Crow
That’s fabulous news, Kirbi!

Arcadia Children's Publishing has just released Diane Telgen’sfirst two middle-grade books, THE GHOSTLY TALES OF MICHIGAN’S WEST COASTand THE GHOSTLY TALES OF PITTSBURGH (signed copies available from her website). These collections combine legends of the supernatural with local history, and are lots of spooky fun! 
 Thanks for sharing your good news!

A big hug and hurrah for all of you! Stay well, everyone! Please send all your good news to Sarah Prusoff LoCascio at for the next Hugs and Hurrahs post.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Book Birthday Blog with Lisa Rose

 Welcome to SCBWI-MI's Book Birthday Blog! 

Where we celebrate new books by Michigan's children's book authors and illustrators

Congratulations to Lisa Rose on the release of her new book, A Zombie Vacation!

Congratulations on the release of A Zombie Vacation! What inspired this ghoulishly fun story?

When I was researching Israel, I discovered that The Dead Sea was losing 1 meter of water per year.  This meant that the hotel I visited 20 years ago at the water’s edge, was now quite a schlep to the beach. I originally wrote this story as an environmental call to action in the form of a Travel Guide to hurry and visit The Dead Sea before it disappears! My editor liked the idea of a story about The Dead Sea, but wanted more of a narrative arc. Thus, my Zombie was born or maybe just unearthed!

Your zombie visits all sorts of places in Israel, like the Sea of Galilee, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and Luna Park in Tel Aviv! Why did you pick Israel as his vacation destination, and how did you decide on which places in Israel he would visit?

Well, since The Dead Sea is in Israel, I decided to make this “a no place like home” story.  I wanted the Zombie to visit others places near to where the Zombie stays. This is a way to expose kids about other places in Israel too.

Your book has a lot of great tie-ins to STEM subjects, like why things float in the dead sea, and the importance of preserving natural resources! Were these tie-ins a goal from the beginning of your writing process, or did they emerge later on?

The environmental element was always an ingredient. However, the STEM tie-ins came later when I was thinking about author visits. Then, I had to adapt even further with the pandemic. I ask the kids to do the STEM activities with me. This way it is more interactive. I didn’t want families to have to go out to the store to participate, so I had an extra challenge of finding items that most families would already have in their house. For example, cups, glasses, water, salt, and eggs.

You’ve created loads of great promotional content for A Zombie Vacation: a positively spine-chilling book trailer and lots of zombie-fied vacation photos, in addition to coloring and activity pages! Do you have any tips on creating promotional material for new books?

Personally, I love to dress up!  When I taught first grade, I was like Ms. Frizzle and had a costume for every lesson. After months of staying at home, I was just excited to do something fun. I think everyone needs a little fun now. So, I think you should just have fun with it! Find what works for you. If you love what you are doing, everyone will love it too. Also, for this book, I did have a very talented technical assistant to help me. In addition, our own Deb Gonzales the Pinterest Queen! It takes a team to write a book AND it takes a team to promote the book!

What has your experience with virtual author visits been like so far?

I have to admit, I’m not very comfortable, yet. Kids aren’t as playful and interactive. I enjoy the off-topic interruptions asking me if I have a second favorite reptile or telling me about their new Batman bed. Also, I learned the hard way that you can't really read the book like it is story time. You should have the book on PDF and present your screen.

Do you have any advice for authors who are trying to reach out to kids in the midst of social distancing and online school?

YES!!! I’m developing a platform called BOOK BOOK LOOK! which is part Netflix and Etsy. It will help connect authors to kids.  More details will be coming soon. I wanted to do this for years. I always thought it was silly for individual authors to advertise. I thought we should have one central location so schools, libraries, and religious organizations could easily search book authors for events. I will share one more thing: It will be free for authors to join and people to use. 

What’s up next for you? Do you have any fun projects on the horizon? Where can readers learn more about you and your work?

I have a very serious non-fiction picture book about the friendship between Marian Anderson and Albert Einstein titled The Singer and the Scientist that will be published by Kar-Ben on April 1, 2021.

A little bit about the book:

A Zombie Vacation
My walk lacked the proper stiffness. I had lost the urge to moan. My skin no longer had its lovely dull, sickly color. I wasn't scary anymore . . .
Where oh where can a tired, stressed out zombie get a little rest and relaxation? Sounds like the Dead Sea might be perfect!
Take a tour through Israel with an unusually adorable zombie who desperately needs a break.

A little bit about the author:

My first picture book Shmulik Paints the Town (Kar-Ben Publishing 2016) was a PJ Library Selection in May 2016 and 2020. It was sent to over 50,000 homes in North America. My chapter book series Star Powers (Rourke Educational Media, 2018) is about a second grade girl who wants to be an astronaut and also uses a wheelchair. I have several stories published with Amazon Rapids, an app designed for at risk readers. I founded the Missing Voice Picture Book Discussion Group, whose mission is to highlight new picture books featuring diversity and little-known subjects on a monthly basis. Look out for more information about Book Book Look! Learn more about me at

Friday, September 18, 2020

Illustration Value and Light with Kirbi Fagan

Coming up from SCBWI-MI:

This Sunday, Sept. 20th, 1-3pm, a FREE community-wide virtual presentation with Kirbi Fagan

Value and Light

“Value” is the backbone of any illustration. In this 6 Part lecture, Kirbi Fagan will go in depth about value and lighting. This information will show you how to improve narrative, style and mood using value. Using examples of techniques from a wide range of imagery including historical artwork, illustration and film, Kirbi will break down difficult art fundamentals such as exposure. This lecture will show you tools to examine and diagnose issues with value using photoshop. This lecture is appropriate for any level artist, beginners to professionals.

Part 1: Basic Lighting
Part 2: Major and Minor Key for narration and mood
Part 3-4: Values for improved readability and making your work “pop”
Part 5: Exposure: A complex topic that will change how you think about value.
Part 6: Using Film Lighting Techniques to inspire your unique voice and style.

Click HERE to join the Zoom webinar, Illustration Value and Lighting or go to the SCBWI-MI website:

Sunday, September 20th 1:00-3:00 pm (Est.)

***This presentation will be recorded and available for a limited time.

Friday, September 11, 2020

The 2020 Members For Members Scholarship Awards

This year the SCBWI-MI E&I Team sponsored our first-ever Members for Members Scholarship Awards. Thanks to generous donations from our members and community we were able to fund five scholarships! Congratulations to this year’s awardees:

Elyse Arring

Stephanie Campbell

Ann Dallman

Rebecca Grabill

Sarah Lynn John

The following is a condensed version of our online interviews.
~ E&I Team Coordinator, Isabel Estrada O’Hagin. 

How did you use your award? 

Elyse: I attended my first national kidlit conference. Prior to the Summer Spectacular Conference, I wrote for middle grade through adult. I had the opportunity to listen to presenters who write picture books, which may not have happened in a traditional conference. The thoughtful and engaging presenters inspired me to try writing a picture book.

Stephanie: I attended the Summer conference, and this award made it possible. After the conference I felt inspired to continue my journey as an author and to never give up because we all start somewhere. After watching Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s webinar, I gained insight on book layout, both words and illustrations. I also was reminded to do what works for me and not to compare myself to authors because we are all unique in our own ways.

Ann: I applied it toward my membership fee that has helped me stay connected with the writing world. I live in the area of Michigan’s UP bordering Wisconsin. So, at times, it is easy to feel disconnected from the writing world, but the MI chapter’s wonderful website and blogs keep me up-to-date with valuable information.

Rebecca: The scholarship enabled me to continue my SCBWI membership, connecting me to this wonderful community of authors and artists who so freely share their wisdom and talents. As the global pandemic shuttered schools and businesses this spring, my plans for school visits, workshops, and the like evaporated. I watched my membership lapse and given the coronavirus pandemic I couldn't justify the expense of renewal over, say, groceries or school supplies. I’m grateful for this award.

Sarah Lynn: Because my membership dues were extended, I was able to sign up for the Summer Spectacular. The conference speakers were inspiring! I scribbled page after page of notes. Their words and life experiences triggered many ideas for my own future writing projects.

How did this new information influence your writing/illustrating of diverse books for children?

Elyse: I felt SCBWI did a superb job of cultivating a virtual conference that was both engaging and helpful. SCBWI showed up—for kids and for diverse creators and readers of all kinds. The commitment to justice and caliber of presenters made me proud to call myself a SCBWI member and deepened my commitment to my own work. I hope to bring underrepresented kids to the page, that they might see themselves in more and more books—that they will grow up knowing that all people are thinkers, and doers capable of courage and magic.

Stephanie: This information informed my decision to write for diverse children’s books because I truly strive for every child’s sense to feel alive when they read my books!

Ann: I taught for 15 years on a reservation in Michigan’s UP and continue to stay in touch with many of my former students. They asked me to write a book about them and for them. “Cady and the Bear Necklace” is that book. It has been recognized for a 2020 State History Award by the Historical Society of Michigan. This was in The Books: Children and Youth category for 2020.

Rebecca: Giving voice to the voiceless has always been a driving mission of mine, more now than ever before. Diversity of class, and the devastation of poverty, diversity of safety and the realities of domestic violence and exploitation of children, diversity of ability whether due to injury or genetics ... these are just a few of the faces of diversity that need to be reflected in literature for children, and some of those I am uniquely qualified to write. This award is helping me to continue a mission already well underway. Together we can change the world.

Sarah Lynn: One of my current WIP’s is a MG sci-fi whose protagonist has Type 1 Diabetes like my son. At the conference, the words of Jacqueline Woodson, Meg Medina and Grace Lin filled me with ideas of how I could bring more of my personal experiences to the page that would help broaden the perspective of children and cultivate more acceptance and empathy.

In closing, our awardees expressed their deep gratitude for the combined support, inspiration, and camaraderie found in our amazing, welcoming community.

We are indeed kindred spirits!

Isabel Estrada O’Hagin (Ph.D.), Equity and Inclusion Team Coordinator and Kalamazoo Shop Talk (KAST) Co-Coordinator, has been a member of SCBWI since 2013. As a pre-published author, she writes stories steeped in Latino culture from the borderlands in Arizona where she lived most of her life. She has written two middle-grade novels, several picture books and is currently working on a YA novel. In 2018 she was recognized as a runner-up in the SCBWI-MI Novel Mentorship Contest. Her publication credits include teacher education articles, book chapters in early childhood music, and serving as editor for a state education journal.  

Thank you, Isabel! Learn more and read quarterly posts from the SCBWI-MI E&I Team at the Equity and Inclusion Corner of our blog. We're excited about their newest initiative. Learn more below: