I am lucky today. I get to interview the amazing Sylvia Liu today! I’ve known Sylvia for some time now and am so excited to get her new book Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation. I just preordered it (check out the pre-order swag at the bottom of this post! Sylvia is a co-founder of Kidlit 411 an excellent resource for children’s writers and illustrators!
Besides being a writer Sylvia also is an amazing artist. She creates such beautiful and fun illustrations. She had art in the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art New Waves 2012 exhibit; and art and infographics in Huffington Post, Oceana, and World Wildlife Fund! Sylvia is represented by the great Jennifer March Soloway at Andrea Brown Literary Agency!
Dani: Is it easier or harder for you to write a novel than a picture book and does the genre affect the difficulty?
Sylvia: Picture books and novels are very different beasts, but both are hard in their own ways! Writing picture books is like writing a poem, where every word matters, plus you also have to have great characters and a story, all in a few hundred words.
Writing novels is like putting together a complex 3D puzzle with moving parts. For me, genre doesn’t affect the difficulty as much as the theme, plot, and audience. For example, my middle grade contemporary, Manatee’s Best Friend, has a more straightforward plot and is geared for the middle of middle grade, while my sci-fi, Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation, has a twisty plot and is geared to upper middle grade. For those reasons, Hana Hsu was more difficult to write.
Dani: Do you have any fun rituals around writing?
Sylvia: I’m a very visual person, so when I plot my books, I like to draw graphs and put sticky notes on a poster board. This is my plot chart for Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation (don’t look too closely, or you might see some spoilers!). I listed all the chapters/main scenes on outside of the arc and included themes or internal character arcs on the inside.
Dani: What inspired you to write Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation?
Sylvia: I love science fiction in all media, and the cyberpunk subgenre in particular, so when I started writing middle grade, that was the type of story I was drawn to. The idea of a girl finding out about a corporate conspiracy against her classmates whose brains are about to be connected to the multiweb, came from reading about companies like Cambridge Analytica using people’s online data to manipulate us.
Dani: What kind of research did you have to do for this story, or was most of it based on already learned experiences and ideas?
Sylvia: After I came up with the premise, I did some research about the science of connecting brains to the Internet and came across some studies on mice. It wasn’t until after my story was under contract that the news about a certain billionaire’s efforts to do the same came to light. As I built the world, I would find cool research that supported my ideas (like bioluminescent trees). I also consulted with my sister to understand genetic editing.
Dani: What’s next for you?
Sylvia: I’m working on a Chinese myth-based fantasy that I’m excited about!
Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation Pre-order Campaign
Sylvia Liu has a preorder a campaign going on right now. Get the awesome swag in the image above!
BONUS: 20 lucky pre-orders will get a stunning 10×8 inch fine art print by Kathryn Ault Noble. You must submit proof of purchase (or proof of library purchase request) to be eligible for this gift.
Get a Signed Book: https://bit.ly/HanaPBks and get swag plus a signed book!
Pre-order Campaign: http://www.enjoyingplanetearth.com/pre-order-campaign.html (go here to get your swag after buying the book!)
Order from the Publisher or Anywhere Else Here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/669649/hana-hsu-and-the-ghost-crab-nation-by-sylvia-liu/ (You’ll get a book plate with the swag!)
An absolutely wonderful opportunity has arrived for LGBTQIA2s+ kidlit creators. Applications for the Queer Kidlit Mentorships is now open until June 15th. This opportunity is for both writers and illustrators! The amazing Jeanette Bradley has gathered 14 awesome Mentor volunteers for this event! You can apply here: https://queerkidlit.weebly.com/mentors-2022.html This event is brought to you by #QueerKidlit chat Wednesday nights on Twitter at 5:30pm PT/8:30pm ET and organized by Jeanette Bradley.
We have: Adib Khorram, Aida Salazar, AJ Irving, Alex Gino, Chris Tebbetts, Elizabeth Lilly, Jenn Reese, Kaylani Juanita, Keisha Morris, Lee Wind, Megan Dowd Lambert, Rebecca Kim Wells, Rob Sanders and Robin Stevenson! Bios for each of the mentors is here: https://queerkidlit.weebly.com/mentors-2022.html The artwork for our logo was created by the fabulous Anne Appert.
The mentorships are for pre-published writers and illustrators. There are no fees in applying to or receiving a Queer Kidlit mentorship. Sign up here before June 15th: https://queerkidlit.weebly.com/mentorships.html
If you were mentored in 2021 we ask that you don’t apply again until 2023 (if you applied and didn’t get a mentorship, please apply again). Queer Kidlit chats are run by @KatjaBookDragon, @KiannaShore, yours truly and various kidlit creatives!
I want to introduce you to a wonderful new course from the Children’s Book Academy! This course is for anyone interested in writing and/or illustrating graphic novels. Classes start May 9th! I absolutely love Mira Reisberg and her classes. I will be taking this course, and I would love if you could join me! You can sign up for the course here: https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/2022graphicnovels.html There will be submission opportunities following the course they are called Golden Tickets, and just take a peak and see all the fantastic people waiting to see your work!
Also there will be a Clip Studio class that comes with the class. It will be available soon! I’m an instructor for the Clip Studio course and hope that it will help you with your graphic novels. If you don’t have Clip Studio yet — look it up. When it goes on sale it’s very inexpensive!
If you just want to learn more about graphic novels there will be an absolutely free Masterclass on April 24th at 4pm PT. Sign up is here: https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/free-graphic-novel-masterclass.html
Until April 10th there are scholarships available for this course! The Larissa Marantz Merit and Need Based Scholarships are for underrepresented writers and illustrators who want to take Mastering Graphic Novels. BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Disabled, Low-Income and more can apply for these scholarships. Please apply, especially if you are a BIPOC because Mira wants to make sure that most (if not all) of these go to BIPOC! https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/larissa-marantz-merit–need-scholarship.html
If you have any questions about Mastering Graphic Novels or for the scholarships, please let me know!
I had an issue with my website and haven’t been able to update. Apparently it was a problem I caused for myself! I’m back and I have more resources. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post/update more often now! To find the list of events and resources I’ve compiled so far go here: https://www.daniduck.com/kidlit-events-and-resources/
Deadline March 13: There are a bunch of scholarships available from the Highlights foundation. There are so many I won’t list them all, but check it out: https://www.highlightsfoundation.org/scholarships/
Deadline March 14: Owl Kids Call for Writers who are Canadians/Permanent Residents of Canada. 8 Week program for writers who have been underrepresented in North America. Must not have been published previously with Owl Kids: https://neighbourhoodartsnetwork.org/news-and-events/call-for-writers-owlkids
Deadline April 30th: WNDB Publishing Internship Grant https://diversebooks.org/programs/internship-grants/
If you didn’t see this Sami Ellis created a Master list of Mentorship Programs: https://twitter.com/themoosef/status/1494015788910620673?s=21 You should be able to view this list without having a Twitter account.
I meant to update sooner, but I was having trouble with the WordPress editors I use. I think blogging is okay, but updating the resource page was a pain! Here are some new events and resources to help you out. If you have a resource you want to share please contact me here: https://www.daniduck.com/contact/ I’m especially looking for resources for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Disabled, people from underrepresented religion/cultures ect.
Here are the updated resources I’ve collected since my last post. You can see them all here: https://www.daniduck.com/kidlit-events-and-resources/ There are a few here. There are some things that I know about that I’ll be able to announce soon!
Feb 12 – Registration opens for the Indiana Graphic Novel Conference Opens: https://indiana.scbwi.org/events/graphic-novel-101/ (June 9th event)
Charlesbridge is looking for Editors and BIPOC Creators (authors and Illustrators): Charlesbridge editors are offering free, 30-minute sessions to participants who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) to discuss their manuscripts. During these sessions, the editor will offer specific constructive feedback on manuscripts, cover letters, and the submissions process, as well as guidance about the publishing industry if requested. These sessions are designed to help you refine your manuscript and prepare for submission to publishing houses or agents. https://www.charlesbridge.com/pages/connections
Cake Creative is looking for writers. WFH – They help writers develop their writing and you write their stories: https://cakecreativekitchen.com/contact-us
It’s 2022, and I haven’t blogged in a long period of time! What better time to start blogging than when I make a goal list for the year? No, seriously, tell me so I get it right the next time I take a break from my blog. If you know me, you know that I don’t like making resolutions. To me resolutions feel too much like a pass/fail situation. I do like to make a lot of lofty goals that I know I wont achieve them all.
1. Finish sketching my PB & GN dummy. Normally, I wouldn’t make a dummy for a graphic novel, but this particular graphic novel is picture book length so it makes sense.
2. Finish a draft of my MG kitty novel. Cats are in most of my stories. While this is a specific novel it’s could be almost any MG book I write
3. Draft 2 GN scripts. This is the minimum amount of GN scripts I want to write this year. I’m sure I will get more ideas, but I want to draft two this year.
4. Put together a new graphic novel package for one of the new scripts.
5. Submit my polished work to agents.
6. Write 12 picture book manuscripts. I’d like to draft at least 12 decent picture book manuscripts. I’m in the 12×12 and I’d like to win this year! https://www.12x12challenge.com/
7. Make sure I make use of critique groups and other resources.
8. Interview authors & Illustrators and post about BIPOC, Disabled and LGBTQIA+ books.
9. Keep up with my list of resources on my blog.
10. Blog at least once a month about the books I’ve read and other updates!
11. Edit at least one of my novels for submission.
I think that’s a good list of things. I doubt if I’ll get to them all, but it’s good to have a list of goals up. What are your goals for this year?
I’ve been meaning for some time to update this blog with upcoming kidlit events. These events will mostly be focused on BIPOC, Disabled, LGBTQIA+ ect. resources. I will try to update this as much as possible, but only will post updates once or twice a month on the blog. I have added a resource tab on my website. You can also see the list of resources here: https://www.daniduck.com/kidlit-events-and-resources/
Author Mentor Match for MG- Adult novels: https://authormentormatch.com/ Jan 12-14
Windows and Mirrors Scholarship for New England SCBWI Annual Conference. Submission window Jan 1- 31st https://newengland.scbwi.org/new-england-scbwi-scholarships/nescbwi-windows-mirrors-scholarship/
DV Con – From the creators of #DVPit. This free conference is for self identifying marginalized book creators. Excellent conference! January 22 – 23 https://www.dvpit.com/register-2022
Annick Press Mentorship – The deadline for the first round of submissions is February 8, 2021
Mastering Graphic Novels Live is happening in May 2022 for the Children’s Book Academy. There are scholarships for all of the big courses. Mira Reisberg rarely gets enough BIPOC applying. Sign up for the newsletter to be informed of scholarships and other events the CBA has to offer: https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/2022graphicnovels.html
The Queer Kidlit Chat Mentorship for LGBTQIA+ people will be happening again this year! There will be an announcement on #QueerKidlit chat when this happens.
A list of calls for submissions sorted by month: https://publishedtodeath.blogspot.com/p/calls-for-submissions.html
OC Art Studios – Open Studio sessions where Larissa will critique illustration work (I highly recommend these). https://larissamarantz.com/oc-art-studios.html Larissa offers scholarships to her classes for Black and AAPI students.
Queer Kidlit Chat – On Twitter #Queerkidlit chat is Wednesday nights at 5:30pm PT/8:30pm ET. LGBTQIA+ people and allies welcome!
Kidlit Art Chat – On Twitter #KidlitArt chat is Thusday nights at 6:00pm PT/ 9:00pm ET. A fantastic chat for kidlit illustrators!
The Brown Bookshelf – A website dedicated to create awareness for Black stories: https://thebrownbookshelf.com/
Editors of Color – A website to hire BIPOC editors. Search for an editor in a huge number of categories or post a job. BIPOC can join the database. https://editorsofcolor.com/
Diverse Picture Books – A list of picture books created by diverse authors/illustrators https://bookshop.org/shop/diversepicturebooks
Kidlit 411 – a website dedicated to kidlit. Events, classes and tons of resources: http://www.kidlit411.com/
I thought that October was going to be my busiest month this year, but it looks like this month is just as busy or busier! I don’t know how this happened. I’m going to talk about what I’m working on later, but for now here are some events, classes and submissions that I’ve been telling people about. It’s just that there are so many that I just want them in one place!
Picture Book Palooza
Price: $20 (or donate more to help this cause!)
Runs Dec 5-7th! It’s a big online event that talks about all aspects of Picture Books. The event is to raise money for diversity scholarships for the Children’s Book Academy. It’s $20 and there are a lot of prizes. All webinars are recorded:
SCBWI Graphic Novel Conference
Turning Writing and Illustrator Ideas into Graphic Novels
10:00 am – 3:30 pm
A one day conference for graphic novel writers and illustrators. When I signed up there were a few spots left with Natascha Morris for a paid critique. Submission opportunity available after the conference!
Black Friday Bootcamp with Storyteller Academy!
Arree Chung is the founder and one of the teachers at the wonderful storyteller academy. Come join in the free event and see if the Storyteller Academy is right for you! I’ve learned a ton at this academy and my son adored the kids classes that were offered!
A YA writing event. Most of the webinars are for YA writers, but there was a talk on MG books. I haven’t watched the events so it could be good for MG writers as well. There is a talk for graphic novelists and one with a queer talk!
This event is now over, but most of the webinars are posted on Youtube!
YallWrite Twitter: https://twitter.com/YALLFest
Youtube Replays: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLuk7vwjbCbcfvt5K22xlF_6HS4WWcCoB
7 Turns – Novel Writing Course
This is an absolutely wonderful course to take for anyone wanting to write a novel for any age. Ksenia teaches the 7 turns of creating a novel giving you an excellent and fully customizable blueprint to make your novel sing. The community surrounding this course is very supportive and I love everything I’ve learned.
7 Turns Vision: To be the world’s first creative healing company, to create a healthy place to work for, and to build a safe, trusted, and uplifting online community where people can share and discover any story they want.
The 2021 Craft & Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books
A wonderful course by the Children’s Book Academy. Work on your writing craft with three fantastic teachers. Submission opportunity after the course with 10 Editors, Agents and Publishers who will look at your work!
I have been in the illustration course 3 times. It is a fantastic learning opportunity. I learn something new every time I’m in a CBA course.
The BIPOC Bookshelf
A list of BIPOC Editors and Agents. Not all agents on this list are open to submissions!
“The purpose of the BIPOC Editors & Agents database is to be used by both literary publishing professionals and potential writers – with the goal of bringing more stories from the perspective of BIPOC writers into the world through traditional publishing.”
The BIPOC Twitter Account:
I haven’t been able to post for over a month. October was busier than expected this year! I have a lot more to talk about, but I want to get started by talking about Picture Book Palooza! https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/pbpalooza2020.html
Join the PB Palooza
Picture book Palooza is going into it’s second year. The cost for entry is only $20 and you get so much great information. This is a fundraising event so that Mira Reisberg can continue to give class scholarships to BIPOC, Disabled, LGBTQIA+, Low Income ect.! These scholarships are designed to help even out the publishing playing field. In many of the Children’s Book Academy classes students get to show their work directly to Editors, Agents and Art Directors. Students are all given an equal chance to showcase their work in front of these industry professionals.
What You’ll Learn
It feels like 100 years since last year’s event, but I do know that it was epic. I just learned so much from taking part of the event. There were so many wonderful presenters. Lots of fantastic conversations and a ton of learning. You’ll get a lot of your industry questions answered. The events are: 21st Century Nonfiction, Fiction From Life, Writing for Social Justice, Kidlit Community Resources, How to Write Funny, Fiction vs. Concept Books, Editor & Agent Panel, and an Illustration & Writing Panel. Plus a break out Zoom room where you can get all of your questions answered!
The information you’ll get in this event is equivalent to an event put on a bigger organization. You will find that the people invited have information that will help you no matter what your level in writing or illustration. The information given in this event is current and relevant to those just starting out and those who have been in the industry for a while. Take a look at the picture below and go to https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/pbpalooza2020.html to see the list of all the wonderful people involved with this event! There is also a full list of what’s happening when there too!
Why I Love the Children’s Book Academy
I have learned so much in taking the Craft and Business of Illustrating Picture Books! I have taken the class twice and am currently a helper in this past class (and will be a helper in future classes as well). I just love seeing people go from good to great in these classes. Every single person who does the course works ends up with a huge jump in skills from start of the class to end. Also I mentioned that you get to show your work to actual Agents, Illustrators and ADs after class. Not to just any publishing companies, either. These are a range of great companies (that vary every class) that could give you a huge advantage going into or continuing your illustration or writing career! Please join me for this event! If you missed the link before here it is again: https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/pbpalooza2020.html
I want to invite you all to a new Twitter chat! The chat is called #QueerKidlit and will be Wednesday nights 5:30pm PT/ 8:30pm ET. It’s hosted by Jenette Bradley (@jeanettebradly) and myself (@daniduck). The very first event will be Wednesday August 12th! All LGBTQIA+ people and allies welcome! This event is for both kidlit writers and illustrators.
There are lots of things we are working out about this chat. Please come with ideas for things you’d like to see!
Logo art by Jeanette Bradley.