Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Regional Conference

The San Antonio chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) will hold its annual Regional Conference on Saturday, September 15, 2012, at the University of the Incarnate Word.

Visiting faculty include:
Dan Santat, Keynote Speaker and Illustrator (Sidekicks, Chicken Dance)
Mary Kate Castellani, Associate Editor, Walker Books for Young Readers
Molly Jaffa, Agent, Folio Literary Management
Mary Kole, Senior Literary Manager, Movable Type Management

Award-winning breakout session faculty include author Peggy Caravantes, author/illustrator Carolyn Flores, illustrator Joy Fisher Hein, and author Guadalupe Garcia McCall.

The Conference schedule is packed with informative sessions on the craft and industry of children’s publishing, a portfolio viewing, a networking social, book signings and sales, a silent auction, and more. Don’t miss this chance to meet and learn from professionals and peers in the children’s publishing industry!

Conference tuition is just $125 for SCBWI members, $150 for nonmembers. All are welcome!

For full details and registration information, please visit the Conference registration page (


Recommended Reading: Imagine – How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

by Willa Blair

From the book jacket: Did you know-

That the color blue can help you double your creative output?
Shattering the myth of muses, higher powers, even creative “types,” Jonah Lehrer demonstrates that creativity is not a single gift possessed by the lucky few. It’s a variety of distinct thought processes that we can all learn to use more effectively.

Have you ever wondered how you get your ideas? Where they come from? Why they only seem to appear when you’re busy doing something else or when you’re falling asleep? (And woe to you if you don’t write it down, because you won’t remember that great idea in the morning.)

I’ll give you a hint. Read Jonah Lehrer’s book, Imagine – How Creativity Works.

In it, he describes how Bob Dylan achieved some of his greatest creative genius just at the point when he gave up writing music. How Proctor and Gamble came up with Swiffer. How Shakespeare may have become the greatest writer in the English language.

Lehrer explores how creativity comes about in the brain in a chapter called “The Unconcealing”.  There’s more to creating ideas than just meditating and waiting for your subconscious to spit forth gems. Focus and persistence can work as well, or differently, to help you produce ideas – or they can block insights that come from relating seemingly unrelate-able things.

In another chapter, called “Letting Go,” he delves into relinquishing the possibility of perfection, giving up control, not knowing what is going to happen until it does. Did you know there’s an area of the brain that can inhibit your inhibitions? No alcohol required.

He talks about the advantages of putting yourself in a new environment in the chapter, “The Outsider.” I’ve lived this. When I get home from travel, I often find myself rearranging furniture, cleaning out my closet, starting a new project. Travel – out of town, trying a new experience, being the outsider – can make even the most mundane thing interesting and rife with possibilities. And when you return home, the familiar is strange for a few moments and possibilities open up you that ignore in your everyday life.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of Lehrer’s enjoyable and informative book. Imagine – How Creativity Works is filled with fascinating examples of artists, writers, musicians and researchers who have been recognized as some of the most successfully creative people in the world. Lehrer explains the brain science behind creativity in an entirely understandable way, how environment affects creativity, and what we can do to maximize our own creativity and apply it to the world around us.

If you want to know more, read this book. I recommend it.

The “Opposites Attract” Appeal

by  Gina L. Maxwell, NYTimes Bestselling Author 

Imagine this conversation happening in a romance novel:

Jerry: I love Nascar, Mexican food, and lifting weights.

Terri: Oh my God, that’s crazy! I love all those things, too!

Jerry: Awesome! I’ll get the race on the TV while you order from Tacos & Tamales.

Terri: Then later we’ll hit the gym for a hardcore workout session.

Jerry: Perfect!

Terri: Perfect! 

Sound boring? That’s because it is. Two people who have identical interests and personalities are about as interesting to read about as it is to watch paint dry. And not even a vibrant color of paint. It’s like a bland taupe color. Blech.

Don’t get me wrong. In real life, similar interests are ideal and not the least bit boring. It’s fun to be able to mesh well with your partner. The same humor, same hobbies, and same tastes in cuisine make for one heck of a relationship foundation. But when it comes to the main characters in a romance, opposites are the way to go. Differences cause conflict, and conflict is interesting.

Now, I’m not saying that the characters have to be night and day, although they certainly can be. They might even share the same interests and hobbies, but then you need to make their personalities different. Something to throw at least a tiny wrench into their well-oiled gears.

In Seducing Cinderella, my characters Reid and Lucie aren’t opposites when it comes to interests. Her older brother has trained in MMA since they were kids, so Lucie is not only accustomed to the lifestyle, but interested and supportive. Where their differences come in is their personalities. Where Reid is charming, extroverted, and comfortable being in the spotlight, Lucie is socially awkward and actively tries to make as few ripples in the world as possible. Conversely, deep down Reid is unsure of who he is and what he wants out of life, whereas Lucie is confident in her career and knows exactly (or at least thinks she does) what she wants and intends to get it.

These differences created a great dynamic for their growing relationship and gave them obstacles to overcome as they worked toward that Happily Ever After. In the end, each of them help the other to work past their fears and take the steps necessary for them to be together.

However, they aren’t completely different people either. Reid still isn’t sure he deserves Lucie in the end, but he vows to never stop trying. Lucie doesn’t magically become a one hundred percent confident woman who struts her stuff, but she does feel more comfortable in her own skin and accepts the beauty Reid sees in her. To me, that’s a helluva lot more realistic than two people changing completely to become perfect people in a perfect relationship.

So even in the end of my stories, you’ll still find an “opposites attract” theme. Because, in my opinion, it’s just better that way. *wink*

Creativity Lacking?

by Linda Carroll-Bradd

Creativity lacking? Here’s a hint…

Many of you heard me complain about the writing slump I’d been in for the past year or so (I’m being nice to myself here…work with me). I vowed that when I moved to California and had no day job to distract me, I would start producing new pages again. I’m proud to say I have. I wish I could say that I’d been bubbling with so many ideas that now I finally could get them down on paper.

I love to rely on calls for submissions issued by publishers. And this is for three main reasons.  First, is that a deadline is established and I have a concrete date to work toward. This lets me plan out my writing time and set daily or weekly goals to meet the word count by that last date.  Second, the calls always have a little hint at what they’re looking for—a theme, a circumstance, a time period, sensuality level.  Third, the relatively low word count. I look at a call that is asking for 5,000 word stories and I think, sure, I can write a 20-page story. I’m not intimidated by a story that size. By the time the pages are written, the story has been fleshed out to twice that length.

Here’s a sampling of the calls I found for themed anthologies:

Cerridwyn Publishing is looking for rodeo cowboy stories (15-360K)—due 8/15/12

Still Moments Publishing is looking for stories (5-15K) with the following themes: Christmas Magic due 8/18/12; Winter’s Kiss due 10/1/12; Frost Bite due 10/15/12; A Twist of Tales due 10/31/12; Unexpected Bump due 11/30/12

Ravenous Romance is looking for Alice in Wonderland-related erotic stories (2,500-5K)—due 9/1/12

Avon Impulse is looking for New Year’s Eve stories (15-20K)—due 9/15/12
Pink Petal Books wants stories for an End of Days-Apocalyptic anthology (7-15K)—due 9/15/12

Total e-bound (erotica only, 10/15K)) wants stories with domestic staff due 11/1/12; BDSM due 3/1/13; Wanton Witches (Halloween) due 4/1/13; Frost Bite (vampires) due 6/1/13

Wild Rose Press (Scarlet) is looking for m/m summer themed stories (query first)—due 12/31/12

Paying It Forward

by Patricia Walters-Fischer

Mother Theresa is quoted as saying “Life is a promise, fulfill it.”
When that comes to being an artist, a writer, paying it forward is essential. In the grand scheme of things, artists must stick together and help each other advance in their prospective fields because so few others truly understand what we’re trying to do.

Case in point: when I attended the very first writer’s event, it happened to be a Merritt Conference. The Keynote Speaker was Sharon Sala, a well-known romance writer and agent Paige Wheeler would take pitches.
 I planned to get there early, sit front and center so the agent would see me, recognize me from the crowd, because I’d written the best work of fiction since Austen. 
 Of course, I didn’t get there early and ended up at a table in the back. Discouraged, I started talking to the woman next to me about writing and general topics. She asked me if I would pitch that day and told me to practice on her. So I did. 
 The agent spoke and I knew she wouldn’t know my face from anyone else there that day.

It so happens, the agent sat at my table, directly across from me. And next to me? The Keynote Speaker. 
 Sharon Sala extended a hand to a novice writer when she didn’t have to. She gave me a quick coaching session on how to pitch, what to say, how to say it, and how to breathe and not pass out from anxiety. 
 I’ll never forget that.

And my pitch? Paige Wheeler asked for my first few chapters, but my writing was raw and needed a lot of work. Still, an act of random kindness encouraged me to keep trying, to keep hoping, to keep believing I could make it. 
 After many critique sessions and SARA meetings, I decided to go to the National Conference in Dallas. I didn’t have anything, but non-fiction published. Still, I knew I had more knowledge than when I’d started a few years before. I wanted to learn more, to see what possibilities were out there and what else I could achieve.

At the Wednesday luncheon, I sat with Joni Hahn and these two girls walked up to our table and asked if they could sit. Of course, we said yes. We learned they were sisters and could hardly contain their excitement at attending their first Nationals conference. They asked us how long we’d been writing. We all talked shop and saw each other several other times during the days to follow. 
 I stayed in touch. Asked them about their writing, encouraged them to continue, even if it sucked.

Last weekend, I saw one of the sisters. She’s now one of the editors of Romantic Times Magazine. She walked up to me and said, “Do you know, you were the first person I talked to at a National conference?” 
 We talked about that day, our successes both on the pages and in our personal lives. She adopted out of the foster care system like we’re trying to do. She offered encouragement and support. I told her I’d keep her posted and that I’d planned to write about it.  She told me she wanted to see it when I did.

Not only did it all come full circle, I got to see Sharon Sala again and tell her thank you. I’d named a character in my book after her and she said that had never happened before.

Helping another artist at their craft may seem like an obvious thing to do, but there are many who don’t make the time to be gracious or grateful. A simple act of listening, encouraging, offering advice or simply asking about their works can make or break someone’s spirit.

It’s always the little things that help pay it forward.

So how will you pay it forward today?

Patricia Walters-Fischer : “Worth the Weight” 2009 Fab Five Women’s Fiction Winner,  and Founder of Smart Cookie Parents–(–Launch June 2012)