Thursday, April 19, 2018

Hollie Mengert: Featured Illustrator

Hollie Mengert is our Featured Illustrator for April! Hollie is  currently a character designer and illustrator for children's literature, with a background in animation in the entertainment industry. Art, in all forms, has always made Hollie tick from a very young age, especially the ability to tell a story with drawings and paintings.

Can you briefly explain your creative process, favorite mediums, etc?
Whether working digitally, or with inks or watercolor, I always start with a sketch. It doesn't matter whether it's my story or someone else's - before going any further I want to get a rough idea down of what the characters are feeling, and what's important for the reader to see and feel. Sketching helps me keep ideas loose and change my mind often. Once I'm happy with a rough layout of background and characters, I start to lay down basic color to fit the mood of what's going on in the story. I block in the environment over the sketch. And then once I feel like I have a good sense of the colors I want to use, I start to block out characters and details. I try to keep my shapes clean, but my details a little messy. I love it when illustrations have texture to them. So I try to keep a rough brush stroke here and there.

Where do you find your ideas? Do you have a process?
Like many artists, I feel like most of my ideas come from everyday life! I try to capture moments and feelings that have affected me, whether positive or negative. I believe stories are most impactful when they are influenced by personal experience. So whether a character is a human, or a horse, or a mongoose, I try to find a common ground between that character and my own life experiences.
How do you deal with creative blocks?
Creative blocks can be so frustrating, and you never know when one will pop up! When this happens to me, I always try to change up my daily routine. Maybe that means going for a run, or getting out of my comfort zone for an activity that I wouldn't normally do.  I think a change of environment can really reset your brain. Sometimes that might mean just sketching something you wouldn't normally sketch. You might find a new idea, or even a new favorite thing to draw.
Who are your illustrator heroes?
Ooh, there are so many to choose from! The ones that come to mind first are Tove Jansson, Aurelius Battaglia , and Mary Blair. I really admire artists who push and play with shape and composition. Some of my favorite illustrations don't include a lot of rendered detail. They have just enough visual information to evoke a particular feeling in a particular part of a story.

Did you have any favorite children’s books as a child?
I had so many. My mom would always ask me to pick out books for story time. And I would come to her with a huge pile and say "a couple books!"... it was always far more than a couple. I loved the 'Miss Spider' books by David Kirk. Not only was it an art style that felt really fresh and different, I also loved his protagonist character: A large spider, with big eyelashes, who was a kind-hearted vegetarian.  It really made me think of spiders in a more sympathetic way. What more could you ask for from a children's book?
What’s inspiring you and your work right now?
Keeping things simple! When I was first learning the ins and outs of art, I tried really hard to make my paintings more detailed and rendered, and it wasn't always best for the piece. Now I find inspiration and joy in trying to simplify what I'm trying to communicate as much as possible. Rather than "what can I add?" I start to look at a painting and think, "what could I remove while still making this communicate well to the viewer?" I find a lot of inspiration in hand-drawn animation and graphic design. Both mediums often require art to be more simple so that it reads well.

Any words of wisdom you want to share?
It's never too late! I didn't find my path to illustration overnight, even though art has always inspired me. If illustration is something you're passionate about, then it is absolutely worth pursuing, no matter where you are in your life. The cool thing is, as individuals we all have unique styles and one-of-a-kind experiences to contribute to this field. The more voices, the better!
Thank you, Hollie!
You can view Hollie’s portfolio at or follow her on Instagram and her blog.

Below: the artist's studio.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Eastside Network's Craft Book Club, May 5th!

Eastside Network is holding its last Craft Book Club on May 5 from 10-noon. We will discuss Donald Maass’ EMOTIONAL CRAFT OF FICTION for the first hour so please read the book beforehand. The second hour we’ll do writing exercises. All SCBWI book clubs have taken place at NoteWordies (636 7th Ave, Kirkland, WA - don’t use Apple maps as it may take you to the wrong location.) Space is limited. RSVP Lily LaMotte at

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Get to Know Anna Goldstein from Sasquatch Books!

Anna Goldstein has been the art director at Sasquatch Books since 2010. She has designed various books for Sasquatch such as A Boat, A Whale and a Walrus, Dead Feminists, A Woman's Guide to the Wild, Frank the 7-Legged Spider, If I Were A Whale, and the Sasquatch and the Lumberjack. She is a multidisciplinary art director who has collaborated with photographers, illustrators, and authors to make beautiful books. At the Publishing Bootcamp on May 12th, she will be sharing how a picture book comes together and the collaboration between publisher, illustrator and author. She will also discuss the basic process of making a picture book including hiring the illustrator. This is a great opportunity for illustrators to connect with a great local art director and learn the ins and outs of publishing.

​​​​​​​​​​What does your role as art director at Sasquatch Books entail?
It's my job to make sure the look and feel of each book reflects the content and voice of the writing and is appealing to their intended audiences. This includes managing 2 in-house designers, hiring and managing all freelance illustrators and photographers that we use for our books, and also designing some books as well. I collaborate and work closely with all these artists and designers, as well as with our editors to bring each book's vision to life.

How did you get started into the field?
I've always loved print design and especially books. After getting a Fine Arts/Painting degree from a liberal arts college, I waited tables and took a bunch of art classes, one of which was a children's book illustrating course through UW Extension. After that I completed a 2-year degree at Seattle Central for Graphic Design. I graduated right during recession, and a year later was lucky to snag a job at Sasquatch Books as the only in-house designer.  Since then the company has grown a ton and so has my position.

What do you look for in an illustrator?
Someone with a ton of creativity and a unique point of view, but also with an open mind and willingness to collaborate and be a team player.

What makes you tick?
Being able to define the unique characteristics of a book and turning that into an executed vision is very satisfying! I love the details of book design, the nuances that make a book into a complete package.

Do you get your hands dirty with art?
I like to get my hands dirty—I love to do my own lettering when I can or figure out other methods other than working on a computer to make a design have depth and texture.

Who are your  favorite illustrators?
Jessica Hische, Owen Davey, Jon Klassen, Ben Clanton, Kyler Martz

Do you have any favorite children’s books?
Home by Carson Ellis, I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, No Such Thing by Ella Bailey

Join us on Saturday, May 12, from 9:30 - 5:00 for SCBWI Western Washington’s Publishing Bootcamp at Seattle Pacific University. Get behind-the-scenes tips and have your very own Four Minutes of Fame with Anna Goldstein! Sign up soon, spaces are filling up fast!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

April SCBWI WWA meeting with David Lasky

Join us on Wednesday, April 11, 7-9pm, Demaray Hall at SPU for 
Windows to the Past: Creating History-Based Graphic Novels with David Lasky

David Lasky has co-created two graphic novels set in the past, the Eisner-Award-winning Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song and Oregon Trail: Road to Destiny (both with co-author Frank Young). In this slide talk he will reveal the stages in his artistic process and recount some of the challenges and difficulties in creating graphic novels that are compelling yet also historically accurate. David was also the colorist of Newbery Honor Book El Deafo, and will discuss his role in the production of Cece Bell's non-fiction graphic memoir.

See you there!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April Network and Book Events

Network Events

Other Side Peninsula Kidlit invites all children’s book writers and illustrators to join us for a Kidlit Drink Night at the Old Whiskey Mill, Water St. Port Townsend Thursday April 5th, 7 pm. Schmooze, network and find like minded children’s book lovers, published or pre-published welcome.

Here’s what’s  happening up north in April (and a sneak peek for May):

Northern Network Sip and Scribe!
*Note: Change of Date!
Due to spring break, we are meeting on the SECOND Wednesday this month.
Come with a current work in progress to… make progress on! Sip a hot beverage and write or illustrate together, then share if you dare! 
Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 7:00 p.m.
The Bellingham Barnes & Noble (4099 Meridian Street)
Questions? Email Rebecca Van Slyke at
[That’s rebecca(underscore)vanslyke(at)hotmail(dot)com.]*Sneak Peek for May 2nd Meeting:Using Mentor Texts to Inform Your Work

Book Events

April 2
Turn This Book into a Beehive with Lynn Brunelle at Third Place Books at LFP.

April 3
Michele Bacon launches her next YA, Antipodes, at Secret Garden Books! With cake!

April 5
Join Newbery Medal winner Katherine Applegate at Third Place Books in Seward Park for her latest picture book, Sometimes You Fly.

April 7
Help Will Taylor celebrate his middle grade debut, Maggie and Abby's Neverending Pillow Fort at University Bookstore

April 8
Head to University Bookstore for a special storytime with illustrator Tim Miller and Snappsy the Alligator.

April 12
#1 New York Times best-selling author of the Divergent series, Veronica Roth, brings the second book in her Carve of the Mark duology, The Fates Divided, to University Bookstore.

April 12

Fans of middle grade urban fantasy should head to Eagle Harbor to celebrate Ben Guterson's Winterhouse. 

April 13
That busy bee Lynn Brunelle launches Turn This Book into a Beehive at Eagle Harbor Books for a book launch geared toward adults.

April 14
Missed Tim Miller's story time at University Bookstore? Catch him at Third Place Books in Seward Park. 

April 20

Head to Browsers for a book party and art show with Nikki McClure! 

April 21
Lynn Brunelle at Third Place in Seward Park this time!

April 21
Fans of middle grade urban fantasy should head to Village Books to celebrate Ben Guterson's Winterhouse. 

April 27
It's quiet uptown, so head to University Bookstore to meet #1 New York Times best-selling author Melissa de la Cruz as she introduces Love & War, the sequel to bestseller Alex & Eliza.

April 28
Help Corinna Luyken celebrate her Pacific Northwest Bookseller Award at Browsers in Olympia. 

April 29
Join Suzanne Selfors and Lynn Brunelle as they kick off Children's Book Week at Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo! Prizes, treats, and more!

Events will be added periodically.  Did we miss something? 

Email us at

Double-check times and whatnot with bookstores before you set out for events. If you snap a great picture, tag us at @scbwiwwa on Instagram and/or Twitter, and we'll try to repost. If you have good news or an event coming up, let us know!
Support book culture.

Support independent bookstores and libraries.
Support authors.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

April Opportunities: Calls for Presenters, Classes, Meet Ups, and More!

The SCBWI WWA Island Network would like you to join us at these upcoming Whidbey Island events:

Twitter Talk & Tweet
Tuesday, March 27
3:00 - 4:30 WiFire, Freeland WA
Can’t join us on Whidbey? Tweet your Twitter Tips! #whidbeykidlit

Saturday, April 7, 2:30-5:00
Anne Belov Open Studio Tour
With Island Bohemians
5030 Blacktail Lane
Langley WA

April 7, 4:30
First Saturday Kidlit Happy Hour (ongoing)
Double Bluff Brewing Co.
Langley WA
Followed by Langley Art Walk

Call for Proposals: 

Washington Library Association annual conference

Here’s your chance to present directly to school and public librarians from across the state! The WLA annual conference is in Yakima Oct. 17 through 20. This year’s conference theme, “Cultivating Communities, Harvesting Ideas,” honors the bridge-building and innovation happening in and outside of libraries, as well as giving a nod to Yakima’s autumnal agriculture. You’ll be surrounded by school and public librarians who are passionate about books and reading. Bonus: Yakima is stunning in October. The WLA conference is bigger and better than ever, and includes the school library division (formerly Washington Library Media Association, or WLMA). Deadline for proposals is Monday, April 16, 2018.
Details on the conference

Looking for an author for library conference presentation:
A panel of librarians are putting together a presentation on Intellectual Freedom to present at the fall Washington Library Association (WLA) annual conference in Yakima (Oct. 17-20). If you already have plans to attend WLA, or if you’d like to, and you’d like to be a panelist for this presentation, please contact Rosalie Olds,
Details on the conference

(Thanks to Linda Johns for the information!)

Humanities Washington is currently recruiting a cadre of speakers to be part of their “Speakers Bureau.”  These folks develop a talk on a humanities topic they have expertise in (see variety of topics below!) and sign up for a two-year period to deliver their talk at mutually agreeable times around the state.  Speakers receive compensation for each talk, but talks are free to the public.  The goal is to provide communities with a roster of cultural experts and scholars who can provide public humanities presentations.

Here is a sampling of current Speakers’ topics: 
Not Just for Kids: How Children’s Literature Inspires Bold Conversations
When Artists Get Together They Talk About Real Estate
Feminism and Popular Culture
Sasquatch: Man, Ape or Myth?
Tourism, Culture and the Politics of Conservation
Pine and Cherry: Japanese Americans in Washington
Writing in the Margins: Transforming the Stories We Tell About Race
The Ancient Fruitcake: What Really, Really Old Food Tells Us About History, Culture, Love & Memory
Coming Home: How the Humanities Help Soldiers Find Meaning After War

As you can see, it runs the gamut.  If you - or a scholar or interesting person you know - would like to develop a talk and audition this spring, the application deadline is April 23, and more info is here.

And if you would enjoy hearing a current speaker, check out the calendar here.

(Thanks to Emily Russin for the information!)

May Classes

Get Your Foot in the Door -- Proposals, Query, and Submission Letters with Lois Harris, including a critique of your correspondence at Skagit Valley College, Mount Vernon campus, May 3 & 10, 2018, 6:30 to 8 PM. Details here, register for 6104 CENGL, $49.

Spring classes with Katherine Grace Bond are now open for registration. They include:
Writing on Location (Bellevue)
The Magic of Writing for Children (Bellevue)
Writing for Children and Young Adult Audiences (Seattle)
WIP Smart (Kirkland)

2. Two retreats are coming; one is free!
Secret Thoughts: An Inside View of Character (Lake Beverly, Everett) is free for anyone who signs up for a spring class or summer retreat (limit 15)
The Full-Bodied Writer (Hood Canal) June 29-July 1. Includes workshops, tons of writing time, manuscript critique, gourmet meals and a massage!

3. Discount Codes are available for summer retreat and for WIP if you register by March 31. The codes are:
MAR31 for $100 off The Full-Bodied Writer Retreat in June
WIP10 for $10 off WIP Smart

And the UW Writing Children's Literature series returns with Picture Books on April 3! Contact the instructor, Jolie Stekly, with any questions.

Plus a few reminders...

Settings Webinar via Montana SCBWI 
Building Worlds: A Setting Toolbox for Fantasy, Contemporary, and Everything In Between, Wednesday, April 4  -  6:30 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time (Webinar will be recorded if you can't attend it live)

$15 Members, $35 Non-members

Join P&L author Kent Davis (A Riddle in Ruby trilogy, Harper/Greenwillow) for a fun, fast-paced, interactive, idea-packed exploration of crafting a singular, authentic, vibrant world for your story. Participants will investigate concepts and exercises designed to discover and hone in on the essential qualities of your setting, equally viable for the most magical of throne rooms or the most realistic of lunch rooms. 
Here's the link for more details and to register.

Picture Book Webinars, hosted by the SCBWI Dakotas region (Members outside of the Dakotas welcome).

Join picture book illustrator/author and graphic novelist Matt Faulkner for an illustration webinar. He will address the core issues in developing an illustrative style that catches the eye and captures the heart! He’ll share information on designing dynamic characters and environments, developing a sketch process that yields an underlying structure for final art, creating a dummy layout that expresses the written narrative, and understanding and applying the essential qualities of color.
DATE: April 9, 2018, 7:30PM-9PM Central
Cost: $15
More information and registration.
In this webinar, picture book author/illustrator Matt Faulkner will focus on constructing the three core avenues to crafting your story: weaving enticing plots, breathing life into believable characters and developing compelling settings. 
 DATE: April 16, 2018, 7:30PM-9PM Central
Cost: $15
More information and registration.

Writing Children's Books
with Rebecca Van Slyke through Whatcom Community College
April 17 - May 8, 2018
Tuesdays : 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
6.00 (Clock hours available!)
Village Books & Paper Dreams in Lynden
Rebecca Van Slyke
Register online, by mail, or by phone:
Whatcom Community College
Attn: Business Office
237 W. Kellogg Road
Bellingham, WA, 98226

Have you ever wanted to write a children's book, but weren't sure where to start? We'll look at requirements for children's books, the process of publication, share our work in a friendly critique-group style, and talk about revision. Come find out what it takes to be a successful children's writer. Feel free to bring a current manuscript. Rebecca Van Slyke is an author and illustrator with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Writing Children's Picture Books
with Jennifer Mann
at Barn on Bainbridge Island, Wednesday nights, May 2-23
In this 4 session class, you will explore the genre of picture books via classic and contemporary examples, with a focus on current publishing preferences and practices. 
Your look at this unique literary form will cover topics such as narrative structure, character development, word choice, the relationship between words and images, developing a story, thumbnails and book dummies, steps to finding an agent and publication, joining critique groups and professional organizations. A portion of each class, except the first, will be devoted to sharing and critiquing student projects. 

More information and registration here

Hugo House Spring Courses
And registration is open for workshops on a variety of writing topics at Hugo House throughout the spring. Check it out

Double check times and dates before setting out. If you have a class or event you'd like to share with the community, let us know with at least a week's notice at 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Query Advice

We've had a couple of questions lately about querying agents. Do you have a revised, critiqued, re-revised, and polished manuscript ready to send out?

1. Research reputable agents. Who reps books that compare to yours in genre and/or theme? Check author acknowledgements and agency websites. See what they're like on Twitter, etc. Ask mentors for recommendations. Subscribe to Publishers Marketplace. Invest time in this process to avoid mistakes.

2. Craft your query/pitch. What makes your project unique? What makes it a fit for this agent? Be specific. Keep backstory to a minimum and show what’s at stake for your hero. Personalize it. Get it critiqued. Revise. Proofread. Repeat.

3. Follow the agency's submission guidelines. Just do it. Set up a spreadsheet to track your manuscript's journey (e.g. Project, agent's name, submission date, response, notes, etc.). Press send.

4. Commiserate with other writers privately— NOT on social media. Agent's will look you up. DON'T show them you didn't get a response from your dream agent or you've been racking up rejections for months before you added them to the list. Act like you're already a professional.

5. Be patient and work on your next project.

6. Start thinking about what you might need to know before you accept an offer of representation. Jim McCarthy has some questions, and here are a bunch more compiled by Victoria Strauss.

Query Resources:

Jane Friedman on improving query effectiveness.

Amy Trueblood shares loads of successful examples.

And here's some classic reassurance from Editorial Anonymous.

Treat yourself to something nice for taking this step in your journey. Celebrate the milestones. Good luck!