Wednesday, April 29, 2015

COSCBWI Meeting April 2015

This month's Central and Southern Ohio SCBWI meeting featured a special visit from J. Patrick Lewis.  The 2011-2013 Children's Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis is a prolific, award-winning children's writer with over eighty books under his belt.  Our chapter was thrilled that he was able to take time out of his busy schedule to spend an evening with us.

J. Patrick began the meeting by talking a bit about his history in publishing.  Prior to becoming a children's writer, he was an economics professor at Otterbein University.  His work was rejected for seven years, and he was strongly encouraged to give up.  The naysayers just made him want to try all the harder, though, so he kept at it, ultimately publishing his first book, The Tsar and the Amazing Cow, in 1988.  He loves speaking at schools and told us several stories of hilarious things kids have said to him over the years.  He even brings back a t-shirt from each school he visits and currently has 530 in his collection.

After his introduction, J. Patrick opened the floor for questions, and boy did our members pick his brain!  He offered great advice for writers hoping to publish children's poetry.  For reading suggestions, he recommended Robin Skelton's The Shapes of Our Singing and Louis Turco's The Book of Forms, as well as picking up a copy of Writer's Market or Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market for submission research.  He also emphasized that if you want to be a writer, you have to be a re-writer, so don't be afraid to rework and revise your precious words. 
Fielding questions about his own writing process, J. Patrick explained that his poems usually go through ten or twenty revisions.  While he doesn't have a critique group, he often seeks feedback from his twin brother.  If his brother says the poem is good, he feels comfortable sending it off.  But if his brother says it stinks (in that brutally-honest sibling way), he works on it some more.  When J. Patrick has a book idea, he starts with a theme and lets the words lead him from there.  He likes to write more poems than will ultimately be in the final book so the publishing house has a variety to choose from.  He explained that not all of his work gets published, and he still deals with rejection.  But perseverance and dedication are the keys to his success, so he reminded us all to never give up and write, write, WRITE! 

J. Patrick wrapped up the meeting by reading his poetry, which was a lovely, mesmerizing treat.

If you want to learn more about J. Patrick Lewis and his books, be sure to visit his website at

You can find out more about Central and Southern Ohio SCBWI and upcoming events by visiting  I hope to see you at the May meeting!  

 Note: Photo taken by Linda Miller, used with permission.

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