Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween 2016

Oh yeah, it's Time to Cram Your Doggy in a Silly Costume Day!

Each Halloween, I have way too much fun dressing up my pup for the big night.  This year, say hello to...


Penny says, "Why yes, I am adorable!"

Penny has quite an Ewok look to her even without the costume.  (Especially when she's due for a grooming!)  So I decided it was time for her to embrace her Star Wars counterpart.

Penny says, "Don't bother me!  I see kids!"
Penny doesn't mind wearing a costume each year; she's too excited about seeing all the Trick-or-Treaters!  Her tail kept wagging our rose bushes all night, and she gave out kisses to go with our bowl of candy.  (Although, the fuzzy-eared hood was not her favorite clothing item.  She earned extra treats for keeping it on her head.  ;) )  I'm not sure all of the neighborhood kids knew what she was dressed as, but we did meet one Stormtrooper who was pretty jealous that we own a pet Ewok.  

Happy Halloween! 

I hope your day is full of sugary treats, festive drinks, and the cutest pets and kiddos in the galaxy!

Friday, October 28, 2016

COSCBWI Meeting October 2016

The October SCBWI meeting in Columbus featured a library tour and discussion with Tracie Steele.  Tracie is a Youth Services Librarian at the Upper Arlington Public Library.  She gave a librarian's insight on writing for children and today's publishing market.

The SCBWI folk in Columbus know the Upper Arlington Public Library quite well--it's where we gather for our monthly meetings!  But many of us were unfamiliar with the children's and teen section, so Tracie began the night with a group tour.  The collection of books housed in the library is impressive, with sections for the littlest bookworms to mature YA readers.  There are even resources for dyslexic children and foreign-language readers. 

Tracie gave some insight into how the books in their collection are chosen and displayed.  The library has selectors who are in charge of picking which books are acquired, and those choices are influenced by reviews, requests, and trends in the community.  The librarians pick the "face-out" and display books for various reasons.  Sometimes they feature books due to popular trends or seasonal topics.  Other times, they showcase books that are new.  And often they just like to shine the spotlight on books that they found to be particularly wonderful.

Tracie made us a great display of popular books and trends!

After the tour, Tracie discussed some trends their library has noticed.  These include an increase in:

-Books with diverse characters
-Gender identity books
-Graphic novels 
-Books that feature characters who are usually under-empowered
-Narrative nonfiction
-Strong themes of empathy
-Historical fiction with magical elements
-Books with unique formats (like emails, ship logs, journals, etc.)
-For older readers, books that tackle deep, gritty issues
-Series, series, series!

Tracie also noted that the popularity of book genres often matches what is popular in movies and TV.  So if there's a big TV show about superheroes/time travel/detectives/whatever, you can bet books about those subjects will be flying off the shelves!

Lastly, Tracie had a very touching reminder for all of us.  She praised the importance of stories in bringing people together and assured us that writers and illustrators make a difference in the world.

A big thank you to Tracie for sharing her time and wisdom with us!  You can discover more about the Upper Arlington Public Library system at

If you want to learn more about COSCBWI, be sure to visit the group website at  I hope to see you at the next meeting!

Monday, October 3, 2016

COSCBWI Meeting September 2016

The September SCBWI meeting in Columbus featured Michaela Schuett.  Michaela has illustrated and author-illustrated several books, including Let's Count Fish!, The Prince and the White Tiger, and the forthcoming I am a Unicorn!  (The Columbus SCBWI members actually got to hear a draft of I am a Unicorn! at a group critique meeting, and everyone was thrilled to learn that it will be printed in 2017!)  Michaela shared her publication journey with us, as well as tips on how to find work in the competitive field of children's publishing.
Michaela started her career in graphic design.  She spent several years in the newspaper and magazine industry before taking the leap into freelance work in 2013.  Her first steps as a freelancer included joining many social media networks and mailing out promotional materials.  In 2014, a doodle she posted on Twitter piqued the interest of an author, which led to her first job illustrating a picture book with Omnibus Publishing.  While working on projects for Omnibus, she was contacted by people who saw her work on Instagram and the national SCBWI website, earning her even more illustration jobs.  During that time, Michaela also submitted her work the traditional way, mailing postcards and submitting her manuscripts to publishers.  As a result, she got an illustration published in Highlights magazine and scored a book contract for I am a Unicorn!  
Michaela credits her success to perseverance and sharing her art in as many ways as possible.  If she had only submitted her work one way (such as traditional postcards), she would have missed out on the opportunities she gained through social media networks--and vice versa.  But by taking advantage of the many avenues available to modern illustrators, she was able to connect with a wider audience.  Michaela also highly recommends taking the time to put together professional-looking promotional materials and a strong website.  You want to make sure you present yourself in the best way possible.  Lastly, she encouraged aspiring artists to be brave and consider every opportunity that knocks on your door--you may be hesitant to answer, but you never know where that opportunity may lead. 

A big thanks to Michaela for sharing her journey and publication tips!  You can find out more about Michaela and her books (as well as her graphic design work) at

If you want to learn more about COSCBWI, be sure to visit the website at  I hope to see you at the next meeting!

Note: Cover image is from