Friday, January 15, 2021

Leaving No Voice Unheard: Rawk's Commitment

Equity and access are critical elements of a just society that is inclusive to all. However, members of any given group are often not aware of the organizational biases that are part of their history. It behooves organizational leadership and members to analyze the protocol and practices in place that may serve as invisible barriers. Often, these barriers can become stop signs that may lead people to think this group is not for them. If leaders want to change the trajectory of their organization, they can begin by exploring the answers to these questions: Why is it not equitable? Why is it not inclusive, and how do we change our behaviors? 

This blog post is the first of a two-part series to kick-off our 2021 E & I Corner. In Part I, author and illustrator Emmy Kastner describes how Read and Write Kalamazoo (RAWK) reaffirmed their core values, eliminated barriers and biases, and welcomed everyone in their community. Stay tuned for Part II: An Interview with Sonya Barnard-Hollins.  

~ Isabel Estrada O’Hagin, E & I Team Coordinator

Leaving No Voice Unheard: Rawk's Commitment

Story is life force. Our stories must be told and witnessed. Every one of us needs the time and the space and the support to access our voice. A community can only be as healthy and as just as the spectrum of stories it hears. The challenge of inequity is not solved by one promise, but by a collective commitment to witness one another every day, leaving no voice unheard. This is RAWK’s ongoing commitment.     
--RAWK website.

SCBWI-MI member Emmy Kastner co-founded RAWK with Anne Hensley in 2012. According to their website, their mission is to “celebrate and amplify youth voices through the cultivation of reading and writing skills via joy, creativity, equity, and access.” A nonprofit organization, RAWK is committed to nurturing intellectual and creative confidence in youth throughout Kalamazoo County by providing creative writing workshops, summer camps, in-school programs, after school tutoring, and community partnerships. 

Emmy attributes her initial inspiration to the 826Valencia organization started in San Francisco in 2002 that eventually led to an International Alliance of Writing Centers, including one in Ann Arbor/Detroit. After hearing about 826, Emmy recognized the need for such a center in the Kalamazoo area. In conversations with her close friend, Anne, they dreamed up the idea together, and RAWK took off.

After applying for neighborhood grants, they began offering small writing camps for students during the summer. Soon after, Emmy and Anne asked themselves who they wanted to serve and set a goal of figuring out how their resources could be put to better use. Originally more organic in their approach, they became more intentional not solely for the sake of diversity, but to celebrate youth and community. They shifted from a ‘come to us’ to a ‘go to them’ approach and sought out other youth organizations such as Communities in Schools and the Boys and Girls Club and built relationships and partnerships. According to Emmy, it was not about ‘putting up our flag,’ but a sincere effort to work with students, teachers, and librarians (KPL), and that meant going to places where young people gathered. Gradually, RAWK achieved their goals to obtain their own physical space, offer free programming, and support professional staff. RAWK established their writing center located south of Kalamazoo’s historic downtown. They also sponsor Readers' Room, a program on-site within schools.

RAWK’s commitment to equity and access for all means they do not charge fees. All their programming is free for youth who can come to the center and leave with their arms full. ‘Being intentional,’ the organization shifted from pay what you can as that implied that you should pay, to free services and that has allowed them to get rid of barriers. Donations, grant monies, and corporate sponsorships make it possible to offer free programming and books that students can keep. 

RAWK works with preschool through high school age students, all readers and writers who thrive due to the staff and volunteers. During this pandemic, they have adjusted their approach to go beyond in-person opportunities with remote/virtual learning at school or during their summer camp classes. There are plans to publish students’ works in an anthology (usually a public reading at a local indie bookstore). While their storefront is closed, they are eager to hear from their constituents.
During her time at RAWK, Emmy set-up book drops and shelves with thoughtfully curated books for kids to pick up. Believing these efforts last a lifetime—she nurtured young writers with this thought: “You are already a writer and that’s so powerful.” Emmy believes in the power of being heard and connects this to writing. All of their young participants are RAWK rock stars and are able to access the offerings and creative projects. 

Writing is agency and we can empower young people to tell their own stories. 

If you’d like to learn more about RAWK, visit their website:

You can learn more about the International Alliance of Writing Centers at:

Writing Prompt: 

We invite you to share your thoughts on how we can better reframe SCBWI-MI 
intentions with an access mindset.  


One of our first guest posts on the E&I Corner was from Rachel Werner. She recently reached out to share information about a workshop she's teaching this winter at The Loft Literary Center: Reading & Writing Diverse KidLit & YA

To revisit her guest post from last year, How to Pen Diverse Narratives That Work, go here:

In January 2021, Sleeping Bear Press is launching their first Own Voices, Own Stories Award for BIPOC and LGBTQ writers. This award elevates their mission to recognize and amplify new and diverse voices in children’s literature.

Submissions will be accepted from January 1, 2021 through March 31, 2021 with winners notified by August 1, 2021. Awards include a Grand Prize (publishing contract and cash prize) and Honor Awards (cash prize and consulting session with an editor). Please see the submissions section of their website or visit them on social media for more information.

Stay tuned - The Mitten Blog will have an interview with Sleeping Bear Press editor, Sarah Rockett, coming up this month! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Book Birthday Blog with Ian Tadashi Moore

 Welcome to SCBWI-MI's Book Birthday Blog!

Where we celebrate new books from Michigan's authors and illustrators.


Congratulations to Ian Tadashi Moore on the release of his new book, Where All The Little Things Live! 


The Book Cover for Where All the Little Things Live
Congratulations on the release of Where All the Little Things Live! Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired this story, and how it’s connected to your previous book Tamaishi?

Thank you! It’s been a long journey to get finally get to this point. Naio the feather is my one of my favorite characters from Tamaishi. She played a specific side role in that book — a direct metaphor for having “light thoughts” and a symbol of calm and serenity. Initially I didn’t like the idea of some kind of origin story for her — it seemed better to leave her character wrapped in mystery than explain it.

One afternoon while sitting at a book event and the traffic was slow, I started dreaming up ideas on how she came to be.

My first ideas were pretty rough. Over time and iteration, I sketched out the story that it is now. It reminds me that all ideas are valid and valuable, no matter what you think of them at the time.

The main story arc of Where All the Little Things Live takes place before the events in Tamaishi, and as such Naio is much more unsure of herself and far less serene. But we learn how all that changed.

Concept sketches for a few of Ian's characters

You’ve mentioned before that when you speak in classrooms, you’ll often talk about resilience, and finding your own voice. Can you tell us a little bit about how these things factor into your own creative process?
Ian Tadashi Moore reading to a classroom of kids
I think it’s important to remind kids that learning is a process, and it takes persistence. It’s so easy to forget. My ideas certainly don’t leap out instagram perfect, Nor did my desire to write and illustrate books. It was all an evolution, and it took personal persistence. I’ve enjoyed drawing all my life, but I didn’t consider art at all seriously until my 3rd year of college. I had wandered into a graphic design elective. A switch flipped in that class, and for once I thought maybe I could do it “for real”. I ended up figuring out how to get a degree in graphic design in addition to music. Still, this was more of a step than a magic potion.

When I speak of resilience, I talk about my own evolution as an artist, and the evolution of each piece of art. I start with a book I wrote and illustrated back in 3rd grade, which shows how my drawing has evolved. I demonstrate how my book illustrations started from a little frenetic scribbles and evolved through self-critique and iteration.

Imposter syndrome is very real, and the world is filled with immensely talented writers and illustrators. To focus on all of that is overwhelming to me still. I have to revisit old work to remind myself of how far I’ve come and what I’m capable of doing — sometimes when I look at pieces I get this odd feeling like someone else must have drawn it. Even though that thought is completely irrational, it’s how deep the imposter syndrome can go. But I think you can get past it by giving yourself permission to just draw.

It’s important to observe the work of other artists and learn what you can from them, but you don’t have to be like anyone else. You have a voice, and you have to work to hear it and find it — sometimes this takes a long time, and it’s different for everyone. I hope that I can help some students rediscover this, or maybe never lose it in the first place.
This is your third book backed through Kickstarter. Why do you use this process to get your books out there? Would you recommend it to other indie authors?

In 2010, my band at the time wanted to record an album. We were an unknown, cerebral, prog-rock-jazz band. The idea of approaching recording companies was not really an option, but we felt we had something worth recording. We turned to crowdfunding and it worked! Our fanbase found us and we recorded and produced our first (and frankly only) album.
The finished hardcover book for Zōsan

When I decided to write Zōsan in 2015, I remembered this. The circumstances were similar. I’m an unknown author who decided to write and illustrate a book at nearly 40. I quickly gathered that querying and agents would take months, if not years, with no guarantees of success, and I wasn't really sure if I wanted to make anything of a career out of this. But I also realized at that I didn’t intend for my book to be for a broad audience. So what to do?

Back in 2004, I wrote what you might consider my first book. I had compiled artwork by my then 5-year old niece and wrote a short rhyming story about her middle name, Miyume (未夢 “Beautiful Dream”). Back then it was just for us: there were four copies made, hand bound.

With Zōsan, I wanted to make something like that again — a limited run for my sons and future generations.

But then a small development made that more difficult. A friend of mine told me “I can’t wait to read your story”. Except at that time there was no story, really. Zōsan was a picture book illustrating a short Japanese folk song. Her comment made me realize there was a longer narrative. Before long, my 40-word picture book grew into a 5000-word short story.

Despite that, I didn’t want to give up on my printing ideals. It wasn’t something I could afford to just pay for outright. The letterpress printer I was in touch with brainstormed ways to get it done. In the end, she found Charles of Eberhardt Press, who is still doing short-run offset work—a bit of an outlier in the print world these days. The idea was that the offset copies would help cover the costs of making the limited run letterpress book. 

I admit it was a pretty crazy idea. But with Kickstarter, I figured I had nothing to lose. If I didn’t make the funding goal I wouldn’t lose anything besides time, and then I’d try something else. So I shot for the moon… and it worked!

Ian's three books: Zōsan, Tamaishi, and Where All the Little Things Live
After that I wanted to write more. The first Kickstarter success gave me the confidence to do it again when I wrote my second book, Tamaishi.

It’s worth mentioning that my second kickstarter actually failed; The goals were too much, the timing wrong, and the setup not as well conceived. But after a few weeks of reconfiguring, I rebooted and it worked! That helped me print Tamaishi, and now my fourth kickstarter helped me print Little Things.

But whatever your goals, I would highly recommend an indie author try a crowdfunding campaign.

There are many paths to success, and what success means is entirely up to the writer. For me, this was the best path. I think if you’re clear about your goals, take the time to properly convey those goals honestly to your Kickstarter audience, and of course hustle a bit to get the word out, you can achieve your goals on your terms.

What was your experience like working with an independent printer? Do you have any advice to other authors looking to do small print runs, or work with a small business to create their physical copies?

I want to have a personal connection with my collaborators, given the nature of my projects. For Zōsan, I got a tour of their workspaces, talked with them about the love of the craft. I got to know them all as artists and individuals and lucky for me, they were all a good fit. We built mutual trust. That gave me assurance that it would work out well and fostered the relationships that would continue for two more books. No matter what your goals, I think knowing your printer helps.

If your goal is to just get your work in a tangible medium, there are tons of options. My path might not be the right one for everyone.

Small print runs can be achieved through digital printing. I think this is going to be the solution for many. One color digital prints are pretty approachable. Full color printing is significantly more expensive per copy, but if you don’t want more than a couple hundred it still probably makes the most sense.

Even better, print on demand doesn’t even require an upfront cost: upload your book, and you only pay for each copy sold. The print quality is pretty good—Tamaishi is on Amazon KDP—and that whole process makes certain aspects of this really easy.

Eberhardt Press printing the cover for Where All the Little Things Live. Find more of Ian's process on his instagram: @iantm_books
A specially bound hardcover version of Where All the Little Things Live Ian explains the inspiration for this specially bound version of Little Things, made with Windy Weather Bindery: "Part of my dream with my books is to have a few special copies for future generations in my family to have. I had a book in second grade made, hand sewn, of a story I wrote back then. I still have it. When I decided to write in earnest I wanted to make something similar. I found a book binder in Michigan who is making them for me. I’ve had all my books bound this way in small runs."

 Where All the Little Things Live is also the third book you’ve created that includes an audiobook CD. What do you like about audiobooks that motivates you to create them alongside your printed copies?

I have some old cassettes of audiobooks I had as a kid. One was a production of Alice in Wonderland. There were others like “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tinder Box”. All of them used multiple voice actors, incidental music and immersive sound design. I was captivated by all of them, I’m surprised I didn’t ruin the tapes listening to them so much.

Audiobooks let me dive into lots of the things I like to do. They allow younger readers to experience the story without being able to read the words, and the sound design creates a different kind of experience, one left to the mind’s eye.

But I also see it as a historical artifact: a way for my kids and future generations to hear my voice, both literally in terms of the audio recording and figuratively in how I see the world. All of my audiobooks have my voice, my wife’s voice, friends and family and even my two sons. It’s not an entirely happy thought, but I think of these as part of what my sons will have left of me when I’m gone.

Two images: on the left, a closeup of the tape audiobook of Alice in Wonderland. On the right, Ian's son in the recording studio for Ian's audiobooks
From what I’ve heard of your audio book, you do a beautiful job of mixing narration with background music and subtle sound effects! Can you tell us a little about what your recording setup and process looks like?

Thank you!

I have a recording booth setup in my basement for minimal noise, though this kind of sound isolation can be achieved through a few pieces of plywood and some decent acoustic foam padding placement and a decent mic. Software can do a lot now to further clean up the background noise.

When it comes to creating these, it’s a process of layering and listening, a long process where I get to wear a lot of different hats.

I always start with the narrator. I read and record, editing on the fly; you just don’t really know what a sentence sounds like until you try and read it.

Next I use an audio editor — in my case Logic Pro, but there are a number of multi track editors out there — to rough out all the narration.

After that comes character voices. I’ll either record them myself or work with a collaborator. I’m fortunate to have an actress in the house, and many friends who help me out here. I even got my kids involved in the last two books. The characters now fall in line with the narrator. I put in gaps and time the dialogue, using scratch tracks of me if I don’t have other actors’ recordings yet.

As I add in character voices I start working on the sound design. Sound effects add a lot of dimension for the listener. They come from paid services but I also try and record them myself if I can. For instance, I needed a sound of a crab popping out of a shell that was too tight: I recorded myself popping a glass pop bottle with water in it.

At this point there’s more culling of passages that make sense when reading but not when listening. I suppose I could go through the trouble of plotting out a whole screenplay, but I’m more of a panster and this process is so much more active and visceral for me. When listening I can decide if that description is redundant or whether it could be painted with sound instead.

Now I’ve ended up with rough cuts of chapters. I listen to the these… a lot. I listen to them on my drive to and from work, with and without headphones to hear how they sound. I listen to them as I fall asleep, paying close attention to the timing of dialogue, placement of sound effects, the sound balance and whether things are clear or muddy.

Finally comes the music — at least the rest of it. Throughout the rest of this process, I spend some time figuring out a central melody or theme to work with. For Zōsan, it was relatively easy. The story was inspired by a Japanese folk song, so I used that melody. For Tamaishi and Little Things, I played around on the piano to find a theme I liked. I worked out the music for the opening scene and largely leave it alone until I’m mostly done with everything else. By that point I’ve been listening and gathering musical ideas in my head as I listen.

Some the music is me sitting down one day and improvising something along with it. That wouldn’t be as possible before the chapters are roughed out. The dialogue and soundscapes do a lot of the work of shaping the mood; now what’s left is further shaping that emotional tone through music.

I still have a lot of work to do for the music of Little Things, but I love the theme in place now. I has a longing, unresolved chord progression that fits well with Naio’s character. I’m looking forward to getting to the music part of things.

Where All the Little Things Live has also been announced as a winner of the Honorable Mention in both Best Illustration and Chapter Books in the 2020 Royal Dragonfly Awards! What does this achievement mean to you, and the work that you’ve put into your books?

This was a tough question for me. I wondered about why I sought an award at all, but I felt good about this particular book, and I guess I wanted to see if I was kidding myself.

I think as writers—as creatives, really—we all want some degree of validation because it doesn’t always come from within. At least, it doesn’t for me. I had and have a lot of self doubt. Part of that is coming at this “late”, and without much formal training or history.

I thought if I won an award, it might be a way of getting the attention potential readers at in person books events (remember those)? Readers are busy, there are lots of books. I struggle with how to convince them to read mine, like everyone does.

Getting the support on Kickstarter was one way of getting some outside encouragement. People appreciated the work I put into these books enough that they contributed and helped bring them to life. When people take the time and energy to review my books, that’s another form of validation.

So I essentially see these awards as two-word reviews, a signal that the judges who read my work enjoyed it and recognized the time and effort I put into it.

Nothing particularly magic happened after that. It felt great. But I realized I don't like the idea of always looking towards external motivation, e.g. awards. I’d prefer to foster intrinsic motivation. That is, after all, what drew me back to writing and illustrating in the first place. I just wanted to create.

So while I absolutely appreciate the award, and it means a lot to have that external recognition, moving forward I want to remain focused on my personal goals: having a personal project to work on, focus on enjoying the process regardless of reception, and work towards creating books made for my sons and future generations of my family.
What’s on the horizon for you, any new projects in the works? Where can our readers learn more about you?

Finishing the audio book is first — I still have a lot of work to do! After that I want to make more time for creative nourishment. I’d like to take some online writing courses, work on my digital painting and draw more for it’s own sake.

I have a handful of other nascent ideas from children’s poetry to a graphic novel. I’d like to spend more time seeing where those ideas take me. I might return to a collaboration I put on hold with another author. Being able to just focus on illustration felt freeing. But I had to pause that in order to have any hope of finishing Little Things.

Most importantly, I’d like to read more writers’ work. I’m a believer in input = output, and I want to pull in ideas from everywhere again and let them synthesize into my next project. I’ve been so focused on completing this book and I don’t have much bandwidth for that; this isn’t my full time thing, and it’s taken everything I have to finish it.

You can find me in several places: is my linktree of sorts. I have a “create” blog (, my books site ( and a blog there ( I also have accounts on twitter (iantm_books), instagram (iantm_books) and facebook (iantm.books).

Right now it doesn’t feel like I have another book in me waiting to be written. But I said that when I finished Tamaishi, and now Little Things is in print. I suspect eventually I’ll find the words and lines for another book. Meanwhile, I like being able to do it at my own pace.
Two interior illustrations from Where All the Little Things Live. On the left, Naio the feather and Red the balloon floating through the sky. On the right, Naio and Red in small scale next to a huge cloud pillar.
A little bit about the book:

Naio the feather doesn't quite fit in.

She gazes at the clouds each morning, feeling lost and out of place. A sudden icy storm sweeps her into sky, where she discovers the truth of who she is and true nature of the clouds.

A little bit about the author:

Ian Tadashi Moore is a father, designer, musician, and artist from southeast Michigan. He grew up talking to the bugs in the back lawn and plinking melodies on piano keys. He likes the sounds words make and will probably never act his age. He has written and illustrated three books, Zōsan (2015), Tamaishi (2018), and Where All the Little Things Live (2020).
Ian Tadashi Moore reading to a classroom of young students


Friday, January 8, 2021

Featured Illustrator Katie Eberts


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?

Looking forward to the future.

2. What do you do best?


3. Where would you like to live?

I love where I live in the upper peninsula, but if I had to choose somewhere different, the idea of living abroad in London sounds fun!

4. Your favorite color?


5. Three of your own illustrations:


6. Your music?

The Shins, Bleachers, Andrew Bird, Taylor Swift

7. Your biggest achievement?

My first illustrated book was a cookbook called Fresh Made Simple that I worked on with my friend Lauren K. Stein and published by Storey Publishing. I’m really proud of it.

8. Your biggest mistake?

Dropping the ball on marketing my work when times were good. It makes the slow times even slower.

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

The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman

10. Your main character trait?


11. What do you appreciate most in a friend?

Getting together and feeling like no time has gone by, even if it’s been a year or more.

12. What mistakes are you most willing to forgive?

Mistakes made in the moment without thinking.

13. Your favorite children's book hero?

Anne of Green Gables.

14. What moves you forward?

Excitement for the next thing.

15. What holds you back?

Second guessing and procrastination.

16. Your dream of happiness?

A summertime picnic with my friends

17. The painter/illustrator you admire most?

Rebecca Green. I just love her work.

18. What super power would you like to have?


19. Your motto?

Onward and upward! 

20. Your social media?

I’m just on instagram - @katieebertsillustration

Friday, December 18, 2020

Hugs and Hurrahs

We’ve reached the end of 2020. This is our last Hugs and Hurrahs and last post on The Mitten for the year. It’s been an unusual year and it will be a quieter holiday season for me and for most of you, I’m sure, but there’s still a lot to celebrate and be grateful for, including lots of good news from our members.

Deb Pilutti’s book OLD ROCK (is not boring)(Penguin/Randomhouse) was listed as one of the Kirkus Best Books of 2020and a Parents MagazineBest book of 2020TEN STEPS TO FLYING LIKE A SUPERHERO (Henry Holt/Ottaviano) was published on November 17 and received a starred review from SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL. 

Congratulations, Deb!


Linda K. Sienkiewicz's picture book, GORDY AND THE GHOST CRAB (Writers Coffee Bar Press), was released November 18, 2020. Gordy is afraid of the crashing ocean waves and a strange creature he sees skittering across the beach. It doesn't help his fears when his big brother tells him it's a ghost crab that will pinch off all his toes. The story highlights empathy, problem solving, and the value of caring for nature. The book also includes fun facts about different types of common crabs. 

Good for you, Linda!


Nancy Shaw reports that Costco has a special board book edition of SHEEP IN A JEEP (illustrated by Margot Apple; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) with pop-out cardboard figures of two of the characters.

How fun, Nancy!

R. Craig Hupp and illustrator Amelia C. Svec have just independently published their first children's story together, SNOW DAY! A WINTER’S TALE. Little squirrels and rabbits who have been cooped up inside for three days, get out into the snow to play. Snow Day! can be purchased through Amelia’s website.  A Kindle version will follow in January.In 2019, Craig had a regular storytelling session with a pre-K group in Grosse Pointe.  Snow Day! started as a story he told them after a snowy week in January.

That’s very exciting, Craig!


Lori Taylor reports that she had many hurrah moments this year. Before total knee replacement surgery she illustrated a picture book for author Mary J. Grant, MOVING NORTH, in the days after surgery she illustrated and designed Kathleen Jae’s new chapter book, ELANORA AND THE SALT MARSH MYSTERY, and lastly illustrated Carol Trembath’s newest book, FAIRFIES AND THE GLOBAL TREE TO THE RESCUE. Here is a link to see a sample outcome of these projects. Last but not least, her newest picture book, which she wrote and illustrated, THE WHOPPER OF WHOOPEE LAKE (Bear Track Press), is on the printing press. It is a fun whale of a fishing tale for kids 6-8 with all the fun games, and educational matter in the back like her other books. 

Your illustrations look beautiful, Lori, and I hope your recovery goes smoothly!


Jean Alicia Elster’s third book in her Ford family MG/YA historical fiction series titled HOW IT HAPPENS has received thumbs up reviews in the Wayne State University Press peer review process and has been approved for publication by the WSUPress Board of Directors. The contract has been signed, and HOW IT HAPPENS is scheduled to be released in fall 2021!


That’s great news, Jean!


Mary Rudzinski had two articles published in Faces Magazine (Cricket Media) in October (Beautiful Birds) and in November/December (The Island of Birds).  The articles were pitched as a two-part series, and the query was accepted in June.

Well done, Mary!


Neal Levin’s poem “What Noses Know” was published in the October issue of Countdown, one of four Australian literary magazines for children collectively known as The School Magazine. Super Teacher Worksheets published two more of his poems, “A Toad’s Tool” and “Everyday Heroes,” on their website of educational materials for classrooms. His poem “Family Tree” was published in the November/December 2020 issue of Ladybug.

Way to go, Neal!


Kat Harrison’s book, SURGERY ON SUNDAY (Warren Publishing), was featured on the YouTube channel of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York

That’s so exciting, Kat!


Ann Dallman spoke about writing CADY AND THE BEAR NECKLACE (Henschel Haus) on Saturday, Dec. 13 at the First Street Art Gallery in Menominee, MI via a Facebook presentation. The Gallery has been very supportive of her award-winning book. She won several awards in 2020, including: Midwest Book Award (Young Adult), Michigan State History Award (Books/Children & Youth), New Mexico/Arizona Book Award (Multicultural Category), Indie Book Award (Silver Finalist), Top 10 UP Books, Readers' Favorite 5-Star Review, and she received a Members for Members Scholarship from our MI chapter of SCBWI.

Awesome, Ann!


Lisa Wheeler’s book, JAZZ BABY, was chosen as a Jambo Book Club selection for age 0-2.  Jambo is an award-winning children’s books subscription box that delivers 2-3 books each month featuring a child of color as the star.

How cool, Lisa!


Buffy Silverman is thrilled that On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring (Millbrook Press) was named an NCTE 2021 Notable Poetry Book. It was also listed in Evanston Public Library's 101 Great Books for Kids 2020, and Fuse 8's 2020 Fabulous Photography Books.


That’s fabulous, Buffy!


Dave Stricklen’s book RIPLEY ROBINSON AND THE WORM CHARMER made Kirkus’ “35 Great Indie Books Worth Discovering” list. 


That’s so cool, Dave!


Long-time SCBWI member Erin M. Brown just launched -- a place where authors can meet with kids online and talk about their books/present similar to school visits. Authors join by "invitation only" at the start; message Erin if you'd like your book to be considered.

What a great opportunity for authors and kids, Erin!


That’s it for now! Our next Hugs and Hurrahs post will be in March. Please send all of your good news to Happy New Year, everyone! 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Wild Words: a Book Review by Kris Munroe


When you’re shopping for holiday gifts this month, set aside time to check out Wild Words: Rituals, Routines and Rhythms for Braving the Writer’s Path by Nicole Gulotta. It’s full of tips for overcoming obstacles and making the most of opportunities in your writing life.

Gulotta wrote the book while she was a first-time mother looking to continue writing while adjusting to her new responsibilities and time constraints. She realized that her life had seasons, and she started to identify them, accept them, even honor them. Her book is designed to help us look at our own life changes - whether it's a new job, a move or loss of a loved one - as an opportunity for new rituals and routines. She shows us how to identify our own patterns and helps us develop strategies to honor the rhythms of our lives.

Let’s dive into a few of her suggestions. Need more time to write? Gulotta recommends that you look at your life right now, both your weekday and weekend schedule. What open blocks of time do you have? When you get up, before you go to bed, at lunch, when the baby is napping, when you get home or stop work for the day? Pick one or more and use that time to start writing. But where can you write? Do you have an office or a desk? What about a local park or your car? Choose a location and start experimenting. Ask yourself, what’s working and what isn’t?  Don’t be afraid to change if what you thought would work, doesn’t. What if you’ve established a writing routine and your life changes again? The beauty of Gulotta’s suggestions is that they can be used multiple times. So, go back and look at your life again, work through the questions, and make changes. 

Now let’s look at the big picture. Gulotta recommends choosing a word of the year to help keep us on track and achieve our goals. Start by setting an intention and asking yourself: How do I want to feel? What do I need more of in my life? What do I need less of? Consider both your personal and your writing life when asking these questions. Several words may emerge so give yourself enough time to think about each word and the potential impact it might have on your life. Once you’ve chosen a word, commit to it. You’ll be amazed at how it can help keep you on track as well as identify blind spots in your thinking. 

I chose the word uncomfortable as my word for 2020. No, I didn’t have a crystal ball; I was acknowledging and trying to work through the discomfort that I feel when I sit down to write. It ended up having special meaning in my personal life as well; my mother was admitted to hospice care earlier this year and the word was a reminder to cherish this time with her, despite my discomfort at the progression of her illness.

I’ve only touched on the surface of this book. I loved that it contained suggestions for each stage of a writer’s life: generating ideas, first drafts, revisions, finishing a project, publishing, book tours. If a particular section or idea resonates, refer to the References list in the back of the book which contains suggestions for further reading. The best part: you don’t have to read the book in order; it still works if you go right to the section whose title intrigues you.

Kris Munroe, one of the SE-Mitten Shop Talk – Farmington Hills Co-Coordinators, has been a member of SCBWI since 2003. After a long career in human resources, she retired in 2018 and is working on a fantasy chapter book. She’s married and loves to garden.

  • What about you? If you choose a word for your year ahead, please share with us in the comments! I just started thinking about it, so I could change my mind, but my top two words are focus and pivot, which might seem contradictory, but I have my reasons! When 2021 is underway, maybe I'll write a post about why I settled on one word or another. But first, we'd love to hear from you! ~Kristin Lenz

Coming up on the Mitten Blog: 

Hugs and Hurrahs! We want to trumpet your good news! Please email your writing, illustrating, and publishing news to Sarah LoCascio by Dec. 15th. Hugs and Hurrahs will be our final post for 2020. The Mitten blog team will take time off for the holidays and return in the new year to unveil our new blog banner and introduce our new Featured Illustrator.

Dec. 15th is also the deadline to donate to the Books with Barbers Fundraiser.
To see the book wish list and instructions for donating, go here:

And lastly, here's a message from SCBWI-MI Mentorship Coordinator, Ann Finkelstein:

Hi Illustrators!

SCBWI-MI is here to help you with your New Year’s Resolutions. 
Resolution #1: Create a wonderful illustration. 
Resolution #2: Create another one.
Resolution #3: And another.
Resolution #4: And one more.

Now you’re ready to enter one of the illustration mentorships. 
Dow Phumiruk is the mentor for picture book illustrations. 
Brittany (Bea) Jackson is the mentor for middle grade and young adult illustrations. 

The winners receive a year-long mentorship (six exchanges of art and critiques) with Dow or Bea.
The submission window opens May 17, 2021.
The competitions are open to SCBWI members who live in Michigan (all membership levels).

Pretty much everything you’ll need to know can be found on the SCBWI-MI mentorship page of the website. 

For questions, contact SCBWI-MI mentorship coordinator, Ann Finkelstein. 
P.S. Stay tuned for interviews with Dow on April 30, 2021 and Bea on May 7, 2021.