Guest Post: Lori Mortensen on Hooking Readers

By Lori Mortensen

After judging nearly a thousand entries for recent writing contests, I’m reminded once again of the importance and power of effective opening hooks.

Start out swinging, and readers can’t wait to read more. Meander around and readers will quickly lose interest.

The truth is, authors have mere seconds to capture an editor’s heart.

So what makes an effective opening hook?

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2016 SCBWI Bologna Illustrator Interview: Ying Hui Tan

By Angela Cerrito
for SCBWI Bologna 2016
and Cynthia Leitich Smith‘s Cynsations

Ying Hui Tan is a Malaysian Chinese illustrator. Born in a small town, Teluk Intan, she graduated with a degree in 3D Animation at the University of Hertfordshire and currently living in Reading, U.K. She spent the first few years working as a concept artist for games and cartoon series then she decided to become a children’s book illustrator. 

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2016 SCBWI Bologna Author-Illustrator Interview: Nicola L. Robinson

By Elisabeth Norton
for SCBWI Bologna 2016
and Cynthia Leitich Smith‘s Cynsations

Nicola L Robinson is an illustrator based in Nottingham U.K. Her children’s illustration work includes cover art, pop-up books, pen and ink illustrations, hand lettering, illustrations for children’s poetry and illustrations for prints and greeting cards. She particularly loves drawing monsters, dragons, animals and architecture,

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Cover Reveal: Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World about Kindness by Donna Janell Bowman, illustrated by Daniel Minter

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Check out the cover for Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World about Kindness by Donna Janell Bowman, illustrated by Daniel Minter (Lee & Low, 2016). From the promotional copy:

A horse that can read, write, spell, and do math? Ridiculous! 

That’s what people thought in the late 1800’s –

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Guest Post: Henry Herz on The Advantages of Independent Publishers

By Henry L. Herz

Let’s first distinguish between the terms “independent” and “small” publishers.

“Independent publishers” (IPs) are publishers that are not part of a larger corporation (e.g., the Big Five).

“Small publishers” are defined in the 2007 Writer’s Market as those that average fewer than ten titles per year. So, while all small publishers are independent, not all independent publishers are small.

Pelican Publishing,

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Guest Interview: Author Eric Pinder on Writing Picture Books & How to Share With a Bear

By Gayleen Rabakukk

Eric Pinder is the author of four picture books and four adult nonfiction books. His most recent release is How to Share With a Bear, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015). From the promotional copy:

The perfect thing to do on a chilly day is to make a cave. But comfy caves never stay empty for long….

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Guest Post & Giveaway: Sarah Frances Hardy on Writing a Companion Picture Book

By Sarah Frances Hardy

My third picture book Dress Me! (Sky Pony, 2015) is a companion book to last year’s release Paint Me! (Sky Pony, 2014).

When I was thinking about what my next submission to Sky Pony would be, I sifted through my pile of finished, sort-of finished, and not-at-all finished manuscripts.

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New Voice: Reem Faruqi on Lailah’s Lunchbox

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Reem Faruqi is the first-time author of Lailah’s Lunchbox, illustrated by Lea Lyon (Tilbury House, 2015). From the promotional copy:


Lailah is in a new school in a new country, thousands of miles from her old home, and missing her old friends. 

When Ramadan begins, she is excited that she is finally old enough to participate in the fasting but worried that her classmates won’t understand why she doesn’t join them in the lunchroom. 

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Interview: Author Allison Estes & Illustrator Tracy Dockray on Izzy & Oscar

By Allison Estes & Tracy Dockray

From the promotion copy of Izzy & Oscar (Jabberwocky/Sourcebooks, 2015):


Have you ever taught an octopus to roll over? It’s harder than it looks. 

Discover why octopuses make the best pets in this charming picture book about friendship and embracing individuality!


Izzy has always wanted a pet.

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Hollins Launches Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

The annual award will showcase the best picture book manuscript as selected by a panel of judges and will be among the few children’s book honors with a cash prize.

Roanoke, Va. – Hollins University is paying tribute to one of its best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors by establishing a literary award in her name.

Presented annually beginning in 2016, the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature will recognize the author of the best text for a picture book published during the previous year.

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