Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

  •     The mission of the PAL Newsletter is to provide SCBWI-MI's traditionally published authors and illustrators with resources that meet their needs. This will include: 1: An article written by a Michigan PAL author or illustrator on craft or experience. 2: Information regarding marketing opportunities. Let's sell those books! 3: Helpful blogs, websites, or articles for continuing education.   SCBWI-MI wants its PAL authors and illustrators to feel supported and connected to each other and it is our hope that this newsletter helps contribute to that. If you are a PAL member and are not receiving the newsletter, please contact PAL Coordinator, Jodi McKay.
  • 2018-2019 Novel Mentorship Program We’re delighted to announce that SCBWI-MI will hold TWO novel mentorship competitions next year.   You will need a complete draft of your novel to enter either competition.   The Non-PAL mentorship with author Kelly Barson This mentorship is open to full and associate SCBWI members who live in Michigan. Kelly is the author of 45 POUNDS MORE OR LESS and CHARLOTTE CUTS IT OUT. Kelly’s books will make you laugh and cry. They’ll show you the truth. They may even give you a glimpse inside yourself. Kelly teaches classes on writing Middle Grade and Young Adult novels at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Our interview with Kelly will be posted on May 4, 2018 on the Mitten blog. The submission window will be June 4-25, 2018. The PAL mentorship with author Leslie Connor This mentorship is open to PAL SCBWI members who live in Michigan. Leslie lives in Connecticut where she is the author of ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T COOK, CRUNCH, WAITING FOR NORMAL, THE THINGS YOU KISS GOODBYE, DEAD ON TOWN LINE and MISS BRIDIE CHOSE A SHOVEL. Her latest Midgrade Novel, THE TRUTH AS TOLD BY MASON BUTTLE, hit the store shelves in January. Leslie’s books are written with so much heart that they’re likely to break the reader’s heart as well. See our interview with Leslie on the Mitten Blog. The submission window will be April 2-23, 2018.   Submissions: Step 1: Figure out your membership status. If you are pre-published, you are an associate member. If you are published, it depends on the publisher. If your publisher is on this list of traditional publishers, you are a PAL member. If your publisher is not on that list, you are a full member. To check your official membership status, go to and scroll down to the Member Search box. Click Advanced Search and enter your name to look yourself up. If your listed membership status is not correct, contact SCBWI by email at membership [at] scbwi [dot] org and explain the situation.  Authors who have work under contract with a PAL publisher are considered PAL members.   Please contact the program coordinator, Ann Finkelstein at annf1234 [at] gmail [dot] com, if you have questions about eligibility or your membership status.   Step 2: Register for the correct mentorship program. PAL members will register during their submission window: April 2-23, 2018. Non-PAL members will register during their submission window:  June 4-25, 2018. For both mentorships, the submission fee is a nonrefundable $20. One entry per person. To enter, you must have completed a draft of your novel.   The registration platform will go live for each submission window. Click here to register during your submission window.    Submission instructions will be repeated on the last page of the registration form. Submission of manuscripts will be by email to the mentorship coordinator, Ann Finkelstein, at  annf1234 [at] gmail [dot] com   Step 3: Submit your manuscript. All submissions are sent by email to Ann Finkelstein at  annf1234 [at] gmail [dot] com The subject line for your email should read: Submission: TITLE In the body of the email, write: Your name The title of your manuscript Your SCBWI membership status The name you used for SCBWI membership, if different from above Your email address Your phone number Attach your manuscript to the email as a Microsoft Word document. Use the following format: Header: write the title of your manuscript and the page number DO NOT put your name on the manuscript. Leave the footer blank. The footer will be used for your identification number. Use 12-point Times New Roman font. Double space Use 1-inch margins. You will need to submit the first ten pages and a synopsis. Start your manuscript on the first line of the first page. (There is no need to leave several blank lines at the beginning of this submission.) If your first chapter is shorter than ten pages, double space and continue with chapter 2. End your ten-page submission at the end of a sentence. The eleventh page is the synopsis. The synopsis should be one page in length. The synopsis may be single-spaced.   Anonymity. To ensure an unbiased selection process, the manuscripts will be identified by number, not the author’s name. DO NOT put your name or any other identifying mark on your manuscript. Feel free to announce the mentorship on social media. DO NOT mention that you entered the competition on social media.   Selection process. Our super-secret, superstar judges will evaluate the entries based on: Appropriateness of Style, Language and Diction for Intended Audience Are the characters’ voices distinct, consistent, believable and age-appropriate? Development of Theme or Concept Is the theme at least hinted at in the first ten pages?  Does it become clear in the    synopsis? Development of Plot Is the protagonist’s problem/quest defined in the opening of the novel? Is the problem/quest compelling? Is it clear what is at stake for the protagonist if he or she fails or does not   undertake the quest? Are the first 10 pages an appropriate introduction to the narrative arc described in the synopsis? Development of Characters Can you tell from the first 10 pages what each important character wants? Is the protagonist interesting/appealing enough to continue reading? Does the protagonist have clear challenges either in the form of a mistaken belief, an antagonist or a situation that he or she wants to overcome? Does the writer avoid stereotypes? Pacing Is there an appropriate balance between dialog, exposition and backstory? Overall Impression/Originality Are you eager to find out what happens next? Does the novel present a unique or underrepresented personality, problem or point-of-view?   Judges will also make brief comments about how they feel the manuscript could be strengthened. Applicants will receive the judges’ comments but not the numerical scores. The mentor will make the final selection.   The winner of the PAL mentorship with Leslie Connor will be announced in mid-July. The winner of the non-PAL mentorship with Kelly Barson will be announced in early September.   Read more about the SCBWI-MI mentorship and its past winners and mentors.   FAQs: How much does it cost to enter?  $20 (non-refundable) How do I pay the $20? You will be asked for credit/debit card information when you register. Do I have to be a member of SCBWI? Yes. Do I have to live in Michigan? Yes. Can I apply if I only live in Michigan for part of the year? Sure. Will I be notified when my manuscript has been received and is being considered? Yes. Mentorship Coordinator, Ann Finkelstein, will confirm receipt of manuscripts. How long do I have between registering for the mentorship and uploading my manuscript? 24 hours. Exactly what do you mean by anonymous submissions? Don’t put your name on the manuscript and don’t announce on social media that you are entering. Can I enter if I already have a PAL book under contract? You can enter the PAL mentorship only. What happens if I enter the non-PAL mentorship and I’m offered a contract while the evaluation process is going on? Contact Mentorship Coordinator, Ann Finkelstein to receive congratulations and discuss the situation. What if I’m a PAL illustrator? If you’re a PAL member for illustration, but not for writing, apply for the non-PAL mentorship described here. Do I have to write a synopsis? Yes. Please understand that we feel your pain. However, it is essential that the judges know the arc of your novel. What if I have a question that’s not on this list? Contact Mentorship Coordinator, Ann Finkelstein at annf1234 [at] gmail [dot] com.
  • “I’d like to thank you all for coming and listening to me read an excerpt from my latest novel.”   I close my book and look out over the sea of faces, surprised by the turnout. “Does anyone have any questions?”   “How long does a novel have to be if it's for kids?” someone shouts.   Not the question I expected, but, I clear my throat. “Well, it depends on what age you’re writing for.”   “How do I know that?”   “Google!” an unhelpful snarker in the bunch yells out.   “I wrote a book myself,” someone else chimes in. “How do I submit it to agents and editors?”   “I’m writing one, too! Do I pay someone to edit or do it myself? Do I hire an agent and they edit it for me? How does that work?”   “Those are all great questions,” I say. “Well, everyone’s journey to publication is different…”   “Yeah, but what’s the right way?” Someone impatient interrupts. “Do you get an agent first? And how do you find the right agent? Or do you just go straight to the editor?”   An older gentleman stands up. “I was rejected so many times, I figured I’d die before I’d ever see my book out there. Then my grandson showed me how to self-publish. Now I am rejection free.”   “It’s true,” I say. “You can self-publish. Many people enjoy the benefits of the self-publishing world.”   “How do you self-publish?”   “Do you pay for that?”   “My friend wrote a picture book and I illustrated it. Do we both submit it or just one of us?”   “I’m an illustrator too and I have no idea where to begin! Do I just email my artwork to every agent and editor I find?”  
  • Do you wonder how you can get on an art director’s or editor’s radar? Mailing a promotional postcard on a regular basis is the simplest self-promotion an illustrator can do! Maybe you have good intentions to send several postcards a year, but end up falling short. Wouldn’t it be easier if you were pleasantly prodded and cheered on by your peers? Join SCBWI Michigan illustrators in sending quarterly mailings on Feb. 1st, April 1st, July 1st, and Nov. 1st.   NEXT STEPS To participate, e-mail us at saying you are up for the challenge. Once you sign up, you will receive a welcome e-packet about the basics of promotional mailings and next steps, along with a digital badge you can use to share the news of our challenge. Check the MichKids listserv, social media, and The Mitten blog because SCBWI-MI illustrators Kirbi Fagan, Kara Marsee and Deb Pilutti will share printing resources, production tips, encouragement and success stories over the coming weeks. (BE SURE TO CONNECT ON THESE PLATFORMS! For more information on how, click HERE.) You can share your postcards on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag: #4outthedoor. We look forward to seeing what you create! Special shout-out to Kirbi Fagan for creating the 4 Out the Door logo and illustration.
  • This year, Michigan authors and illustrators have partnered with Carsten's Academy of Aquatic Science, a K-8 school in Detroit, to donate their books and free 20 minute Skype visits. As authors, we want every child to have the opportunity to read a variety of books and with our donations we can make sure that the children at Carsten's are given the resources to do just that. If you would like to donate your books, please send them to Jodi McKay by February 23rd. 21 Beacon Hill Rd. Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236 **If you are able to, more than one copy of your book would be very much appreciated.** Skype donations are first come, first serve and the need will be determined by the school counselor. More info. to be announced soon. For information about Carstens:   Feel free to email Jodi with any questions-
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  • Unearth Your Funny Bone: Getting Serious About Writing Humor Editors and agents agree, if you can make your reader laugh, you’ve gifted them publishing gold. But how do you get your LOL to pop? On Saturday, May 5, 2018, SCBWI-MI offers a one-day, jam-packed conference concentrating on finding and nurturing the funny in your kidlit manuscript. Join executive editor Mary-Kate Gaudet, children’s publishing pro Heather Alexander, award-winning author and VCFA mentor Tim Wynne-Jones, stand-up comic Mike Geeter, and VCFA grad Anita Pazner at the Aloft Hotel in the David Whitney Building, in the heart of revitalized Detroit. Registration: An incredible bargain at $115 for members, $140 for not-yet-members includes all programming. Registration opens March 15 at 9:00 AM. (FYI, no early bird rates, just first come first registered until all 100 seats are filled.) REGISTER HERE! Schedule: The clown-car of events begins early and runs till evening. You won’t believe how many information-soaked sessions are squeezed into one day. Yet, there’s still a generous lunch period to explore the awe-inspiring and mouth-watering aspects of Detroit, and time to schmooze with your friends and colleagues. Check-in at registration begins at 7 AM, and the sessions seriously start at 8 AM with a 15-minute introduction. Mary-Kate and Heather jointly tackle humor in its many guises. Tim deals with writing pitfalls in “A Kid Walks Into a Cliché: A Semi-Autobiographical Account of a Life Spent Avoiding the Obvious.” Anita Pazner rounds out the morning with her session on the Comic Toolbox. She’ll show you the tools that screenwriters have known for years, and apply them to current young adult, middle grade and picture book examples. There is something for everyone. You’ve got an hour and a half for lunch, with lots of exciting dining options. Greektown is less than a mile away. There’s tapas or tacos, soul food, coney island, deli, burgers, breweries or wine houses up and down the street. On a writer’s budget? There’ll be inexpensive and abundant food trucks in the park right across the street from the hotel. And, if you’d prefer to tour the area, the Fox Theater is almost next door. Ford Field and the new Little Ceasar’s arena are in the skyline, with Campus Martius and Eastern Market a hop, skip and a jump away. Not interested in traveling by foot? No worries.  You can board the People Mover and circle the area in comfort. Or check out the new transit option, the Q-Line, Detroit’s retro streetcar. Both have stops at the conference location. At 12:30, Mary-Kate resumes the funny with her investigation of humor in children’s books, followed by Heather and her session on increasing the laughs. There’s a short mid-afternoon break because there’s more to come. Tim follows with “Dialogue: Blah, Blah, Blah.” Then special guest comedian Mike Geeter gives you comedy secrets of stand-up pros in his presentation Comedy and You: How to Make Your Humor Funny. A quick wrap-up with door prizes and you’ve got an evening in Detroit, or a drive home where your creative well is overflowing, and your face hurts (in a good way) from all the smiling and laughing you’ve experienced. Lodging: The Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney is located at One Park Avenue, Detroit, MI 48226. Limited double queen and king rooms are available for $199 a night, a substantial discount for conference attendees. Valet parking and overnight parking rates have also been dramatically reduced to make parking easy and efficient. Additional, accommodations in the area available by using your preferred travel app. So come for the day, or make a weekend out of it. REGISTER HERE! Faculty: Mary-Kate Gaudet is an executive editor for Little Brown. In her own words: I edit a variety of licensed, brand, and media tie-ins titles and manage publishing programs with such partners as Disney (Marvel Cinematic Universe), Hasbro (My Little Pony) and Warner Brothers (Teen Titans Go!) I also acquire and edit trade picture books--championing offbeat, yet poignant storytelling--and work with creators such as Liz Climo (Rory the Dinosaur Wants a Pet), Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora (Horrible Bear!) and Refe and Susan Tuma (What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night: A Very Messy Adventure). A graduate of Fordham University, I joined Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in 2012 after having worked at HarperCollins Children’s Books, Sterling Publishing and Denise Marcil Literary Agency. Heather Alexander recently joined Audible Originals as an Executive Editor, where she makes original audio content for kids. She understands that you didn't know that was a thing because she basically gets to invent it, which is the best. Before that, she was an agent at Pippin Properties, and before that, she was in editorial at Dial Books for Young Readers at Penguin Random House. In the '90s, she was in an improv group, and she is thinking about taking a stand-up class but keeps chickening out. For her most mundane observations, follow her on Twitter @heatheralexand. Tim Wynne-Jones has written thirty-five books including adult novels, picture books, short story anthologies, and middle-grade and young adult novels. His collection of short stories, Some of the Kinder Planets, won the Governor General's Award in Canada, as well as the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. His novel The Maestro won Tim his second Governor General's Award and was shortlisted for the Guardian Prize in the UK. The Boy in the Burning House won the Edgar Award and the Arthur Ellis Award and was also short-listed for the Guardian Prize. Blink & Caution won an
  • To Market, To Market: An interactive, at-a-glance resource of book selling events, SCBWI member book launches and signings, and writer/illustrator contests and awards.   These databases are an easily accessed resource-sharing tool for our members that can be added to, viewed, and downloaded and sorted. SCBWI-MI hopes members will find this information useful in their search for local book festivals, fairs and conferences, as well as member signings and launches, and various awards and contests available to writers and illustrators.   All the information on the spreadsheets is supplied by members. Share relevant information by entering the information in the correct column on the spreadsheet.      SCBWI-MI members have access to the following databases: SCBWI Book Signings and Launches Michigan Book Festivals, Fairs and Conferences Awards and Contests   For questions or help contact Dawne Webber at ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  Here's the link to the Awards and Contests sheet:   SCBWI Book Signing and Launches sheet:   Michigan Book Festivals, Fairs and Conferences sheet:
  • The Mitten is the official blog for the Michigan chapter of SCBWI. Please spread the word and share with anyone interested in reading, writing, and creating quality literature for children and young adults. SCBWI-MI members are encouraged to submit blog posts.  What are we looking for? Success stories tips on any aspect of the publishing process - writing, illustrating, promotion, time management, etc. agent/editor interviews photos, personal impressions, and brief overviews of events, such as conferences, meet-ups, book signings, book clubs, festivals, etc. reviews of books on craft We’re also looking for contributions for our ongoing features: Ask Frida Pennabook: Sometimes it's helpful to tap into the expertise of a fellow writer or artist. Got a question? Need advice? Just ask Frida. Hugs and Hurrahs: We want to trumpet your good news! Send 1-3 sentences about your accomplishment. We love to include photos and art, too. Do you have an idea for a blog post or a new feature?  We’d love to hear it! Submission guidelines: Please query Kristin Lenz at Include a 1-3 sentence bio and any links, art, book covers, or photos to accompany your blog post. (All images must be your personal property or fair use/public domain.)  
  • Wouldn't you love to attend a children's book conference without traveling? No airports, hotels, gas stations, or expense reports? No work time lost? Register and view our affordable webinar from the comfort of your home or office — wherever and whenever you have access to a computer. Or join your friends and colleagues who have registered and watch together. "You guided me from ignorantly-intimidated to old-dog-learned-new-trick! Well done! This internet thing might not be so bad."   CLICK HERE TO REGISTER  Children’s Book Industry 101: Terms, Conventions, and How It Works lead by Carrie Pearson and moderated by Leslie Helakoski. Description: A nuts and bolts session for writers and writer/s including standards for traditional publishing (formatting, word counts for categories, conventions, what’s pushy, what’s polite), how the industry works (role of agent vs. editor, publishing houses and what they offer, large house vs. small vs. regional), and how we get paid (advance, royalties).   "You guys absolutely ROCK at putting together great presentations and making them really work! Thank you so much!"   – author, Elizabeth McBride  Illustration credit: Nina Goebel


The strength of SCBWI lies in its individual members. Whether you are a creator, publisher, reviewer, librarian, bookseller, educator, or simply someone with a love of literature and a desire to see the best in the hands of children, we invite you to get to know us better.