Monday, July 31, 2017

SCBWI Meeting July 2017

The July SCBWI meeting in Columbus featured Kathryn Powers, Illustrator Coordinator for Cen/South Ohio SCBWI.  (That's me!)  Well, it was supposed to.  Then things went kerplooey.

The plan was to do a Photoshop demonstration similar to my "Photoshop 101 Workshop" from 2016, including tips and tricks for how to spiff up author/illustrator photos for websites.  I brought all my tech equipment for attendees to test out.  I doctored celebrity photos to use as my guinea pigs, including giving poor Chris Hemsworth a face full of  greasy pimples.  The room was full of eager SCBWI members...

But technology failed us.  As in, none of the meeting room's A/V stuff was working, and therefore no one could see what I had planned to demonstrate and share on my equipment.




This was actually a perfect example of the biggest downfall of digital art: when technology goes wrong, you're sunk.  (Think of it as if a traditional painter suddenly had every tube of paint they own dry up.  Yeah.  They are not going to be a happy camper.)  Tech issues do happen from time to time for digital artists.  I've had some lovely experiences with my computer screen dying before a deadline; Photoshop crashing in the middle of illustrations; and power outages that have wiped out my work.  But those instances are few and far between.  Overall, I love the digital medium.  This was just an unlucky night for all of us.

The meeting was also a perfect example of why you should always have a backup plan.  (Who is going to be looking into buying their own mini-projector?  Me!)

Membership Coordinator, Kristy Boyce, helped me turn our lemon-situation into lemonade.  (Thank you again, Kristy!)  We talked about all the exciting events happening in our chapter and nearby regions, like our September workshop with agent Danielle Chiotti (; had a Q&A for the 2017 Notecard Contest (which is due August 30--instructions are also on the website); and did a short picture book exercise for members who wanted to stay.  But mostly, we all had fun and tried to laugh at our misfortune.  That really is the best thing about kidlit folk: even when things go wrong, we still have a great time.  :)

Come rain or shine, we have the best time!

We're doing our best to reschedule the presentation, so hopefully we can try again before too long!  (And for anyone reading this who attended the meeting, thank YOU for being so understanding!)

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!

Note: Duck doodle is by me, Kathryn Powers.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

SCBWI Meeting June 2017

The June SCBWI meeting in Columbus featured a group critique of query letters.  This was in follow up to the May meeting with Juliana Lee, who gave tips on crafting query letters based on her experience as a reader at The Purcell Agency.  With summer vacation season in full swing, it was a small group, but a fun and intimate experience! 

Everyone who brought a letter for critique got great, in-depth feedback from the other members.  Here are some of the biggest points we talked about:

1) Be sure to write you query letter in a letter format.  The body of your letter should include a salutation, story pitch, relevant information about your project (i.e. word count, genre, etc.), bio, and closing.  You can also include some information regarding why you are submitting to a certain agent or editor, and it's good to note what you've included if they ask for the first ten pages, a synopsis, etc.  If you're not sure whether you've written your letter in the standard format, it's easy to look up examples online.  (Or ask some writing buddies for advice!)

2) "Comp titles" are a familiar topic in the kidlit industry right now.  (Example: My book is like The Hunger Games meets The Cat in the Hat.)  Some agents and editors like to see this included in query letters; some don't.  As a general rule of thumb, you don't want the comp title(s) to be too popular (like comparing your manuscript to Harry Potter), but including thoughtful and modern comp titles can show that you know the industry and your potential audience.  As always, be sure to do your research on the agent's/editor's preference and do include this information if they ask for it.

3) Don't Give Up!!!!  It was clear as the group chatted and shared their work that many people are all too familiar with rejection from agents and editors.  (I'll raise my own hand to that!)  If you're feeling down, don't be afraid to share your experience with other writers and illustrators.  A good support system is one of the best ways to get through "query hell," and reminds you that you're not alone.  And even better, when you DO get a "YES!" someday, you'll have lots of people who will be ecstatic to celebrate your success.  :)

A big thanks to everyone who attended the meeting, whether it was sharing your work or offering feedback to others.  It was a fantastic night!

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, when yours truly will be sharing Photoshop tips and ways to spiff up author/illustrator headshots!  It's going to be TUESDAY, July 25, and NOT THE USUAL WEDNESDAY, so be sure to mark your calendars now.