Friday, December 16, 2016

Hugs and Hurrahs and Happy Holidays from The Mitten!

As the end of the year quickly approaches, our thoughts turn to celebrations. Whether you wish your friends and neighbors a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa or other holiday greeting, December is all about gathering together with those we love and being thankful for the year’s blessings. And in 2016, we SCBWI Mitten-folk had lots to celebrate! So, before I tell you all our recent happy publishing news, here are the 2016 good news tallies I’ve collected from all of you talented Michkids throughout the year:

  • YA Contracts/Releases- 5

  • Magazine Pieces, Short Stories, Poems, Cartoons, Testing Pieces, etc.- 39

  • Speaking Engagements/Blog Tours-  11

  • Agent Signings- 3

  • Picture Book Contracts/Releases- 51

  • Middle Grade Contracts- 2

  • Awards/Degree Completion- 32

  • Illustration Contracts/Releases- 3

Those are some pretty impressive numbers kidlit friends, and that doesn’t begin to count all the manuscripts submitted, classes taken and conferences attended. You all deserve a massive pat on the back and extra piece of cake for all of your hard work this year!

And now, let’s end this year with a bang. . . here’s all of your good news from October through December!

Congratulations to Barbara Rebbeck whose novel, NOLA GALS, won a bronze medal in the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards in the Young Adult historical/cultural category. The awards ceremony took place in Traverse City on Nov.12 during the annual Children's Book Festival. This award makes five competitions where NOLA GALS has won recognition.

So proud of you Barbara!

Hats off to Leslie Helakoski! Her picture book, WOOBUR, was recently featured on Princeton University’s creative literacy blog with a fun activity for kids. Here’s the direct link:

You’re awesome Leslie!

Neal Levin’s poem "Owl-oween" was published in the October 2016 issue of Highlights For Children, and his poem "Won't You Be My Frankenstein?" was published in the October 2016 issue of Spider. Neal’s poem "Moon Mice" has been published in the poetry anthology One Minute Till Bedtime, edited by former US Children's Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt (Little Brown).

Way to go Neal!

Congratulations to Jennifer Burd for winning Michigan SCBWI’s year-long mentorship with Deborah Diesen. Jennifer's manuscript is called WHEN YOU SIT IN ONE PLACE.

The runners- up were: Sue Agauas with HOW TO WASH YOUR ELEPHANT
And Jayne Economos with NAN'S MAGIC CARPET. 

Congratulations to all of you!

Hats off to Nick Adkins and the MSUWriting Center/Red Cedar Writing Project. Nick's day job is working for the MSU Writing Center and the Red Cedar Writing Project and with the help of his colleagues they received a grant from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing! This grant will create scholarships for several low income children to attend Writing Camp next summer.

Way to go Nick!

Three cheers for Rhonda Gowler Green who celebrated the launch of her latest picture book, PUSH, DIG, SCOOP, A CONSTRUCTION COUNTING RHYME, at the Huntington Woods Library on November 5th. The Book Beat in Oak Park was on hand to sponsor Rhonda’s launch. Rhonda is also happy to announce that Push! Dig! Scoop! is now in a Finnish edition. Weston Woods Studios has also made a video of her book, The Very First Thanksgiving Day.

Congratulations Rhonda!

Teresa Crumpton is happy to announce that, as of November 1, she has completed her editing mentorship with Inspirare LLC. And her new manuscript-editing company, Author Spark, Inc. has officially opened its cyber-doors.

So excited for you Teresa! 

Husband and wife author-illustrator team, Darrin and Karen Brege are happy to announce the release of two new books- their first picture book, MONSTERS FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL, and the third installment in their GHOST BOARD POSSE series, GHOST BOARD POSSE #3, ICE CAVERN CADAVERS. You can learn more about them at

So excited for you Darrin and Karen!

Monica Harris has been very busy since our last Hugs and Hurrahs! She sold one testing piece to DRC Nebraska and three testing pieces to DRC Wisconsin. 
Monica's 16 Korean leveled reader books are also out. HOP AND BOP and I LOVE MY FAMILY are just two of her 16 titles! You can see the rest of the lovely cover images on Monica's website.  

Happy dancing for you Monica!

Jacquie Sewell is happy to share that she recently signed a contract with Peninsulam Publishing for her picture book about the Mackinac Bridge, tentatively titled MIGHTY MAC, THE BRIDGE THAT MICHIGAN BUILT. This project has been over ten years in the works from idea to contract signing, and if all goes as planned the book should be out by the end of next year. So very happy for you Jacquie!

In October, Lori McElrath-Eslick was a speaker for the TEDxMuskegon.
Lori titled the talk, ART: Make It Your 'Favorite Inch' of the Day! Before and after two major surgeries, Lori talked about her focus on the joy of painting a day, and making it, in her words,"my favorite inch of my day, and wish to encourage all creatives to use your creative gifts, even if it is as small as one inch...each day. For joy. For your heart.”

The TEDxTalk is available at this link:

So proud of you Lori!

My fellow authors Ruth McNally Barshaw, Charlie Barshaw, Lisa Rose and I are happy to announce (now that we can) the launch of the new Amazon App, AMAZON RAPIDS. AMAZON RAPIDS features short stories for kids ages 7-12 written completely in text-message format. These illustrated “conversations” between characters hope to encourage young readers by presenting stories in a comfortable and familiar format. Our current stories are (with more to come):  

Throw Me A Bone
Unfair-y Tale
Zombie's Plot
Not-So-Bad Guys

If Wishes Were Unicorns
Clothes Call

Venus Flytrap vs. Bee
The Best Christmas Tree Ever
Worm vs. Early Bird

Captain Pete and Tweet

It’s been a challenging and fun project that’s for sure, and the final product looks amazing!

Buffy Silverman is happy to announce that a recent monarch butterfly obsession has become a photo essay for Ask Magazine. The photo-essay called, “Magical Monarchs,” chronicled the lives of monarchs that Buffy raised in 2015, and appeared in the magazine’s October issue. Buffy is also excited that her poems, "Life of a Leaf" and "Five Little Bandits" also appeared in the October, 2016 issues of Cricket and Ladybug. 

So happy for you Buffy!

Erin Brown Conroy is excited that her new book, Basic Code Sound SignS, comes out this month (December 2016). Basic Code Sound Signs is a photo book with hand signs to help young children learn the sounds and letters of the alphabet or the "Basic Code" using a special arrangement of the alphabet and hand positions that help children understand how reading English works. 

Three cheers Erin!

Kristin Lenz, Lisa Wheeler, Brynne Barnes, Debbie Diesen, Rhonda Gowler Greene, Patricia Polacco, and Janice Broyles all had books on the MI bestseller top 10 list for November 2016. Read the full story here:

Huge congratulations to all of you!

And last but certainly not least, we’d like to offer a special “Thank You” to the Orion Township Library for organizing an Author Fair with 26 Michigan authors and illustrators! SCBWI-MI members gathered for a group photo. Pictured from left to right are, Kathryn Allen, Amy Nielander, Kristin Lenz, Kris Remenar, Matt Faulkner, Ruth and Charlie Barshaw, Heather Meloche, Alison DeCamp, and Jean Alicia Elster.

What an awesome group!

Well, that’s it for this year ladies and gentlemen. I know I’ve said it many times before, but I’m so proud to be part of this incredibly talented group. Thank you so much for sharing your fabulous and inspiring news!   

And now from all of us at The Mitten- may your holidays be happy, your celebrations cheery and may 2017 bring more wonderful, life-affirming and light-giving stories to life through each of us for the most important people of all- the children.

Blessings friends,

Patti, Kristin and Nina


  1. Thanks so much for pulling all of this together, Patti!

  2. This IS impressive! In fact, we are sharing this with SCBWI headquarters so they can feel the success, too! Congratulations, one and all.