SCBWI Oklahoma Spring Conference Blog Parade

blog parade banner 2018

I am so stoked to announce the 2018 SCBWI Oklahoma Spring Conference Blog Parade!!

blog parade blogger picsWe have a great lineup of bloggers this year and I am honored to be the first out of the chute. Our other volunteers are Holly Abston (, illustrator of two children’s books (Mila Denton’s Worst Week Ever! and The Night the Mice Sang); Sonia Gensler (, award-winning author of young adult and middle grade novels (The Revenant, The Dark Between, and Ghostlight); Jennifer Latham (, author of two young adult novels (Scarlett Undercover and Dreamland Burning); Valerie R Lawson (, who writes young adult and middle grade, volunteers as social media coordinator for SCBWI Oklahoma, and runs the successful twitter chat #okscbwichat each month; Mariana Llanos (, award-winning author of six books for children (A Superpower for Me, No Birthday for Mara, Tristan Wolf, A Planet for Tristan Wolf, The Wanting Monster, and The Staircase on Pine Street); Barbara Lowell (, award winning author of three nonfiction books (Daring Amelia, George Ferris: What a Wheel, and Engineering AT&T Stadium) plus nine forthcoming books for children; Gaye Sanders (, author of one picture book (The Survivor Tree) which debuted in 2017; Doug Solter (, author of young adult novels (The Gems: Spies Like Me, Skid, Rivals, Legends, Champions, and My Girlfriend Bites); Kim Ventrella (, whose debut middle grade novel (Skeleton Tree) was published in late 2017; and KJ Williams (, author of a forthcoming children’s book (Camp Not Allowed) debuting in February 2018.
blog parade blogger names

Each one of these fine bloggers will be taking a turn writing about our conference through the beginning of April (see sidebar with the specific dates for each blogger).
You can see why I am honored to be part of such a great group!
Make sure to stop by each bloggers site and keep up with all the information about this year’s spring conference (which will be held April 6-7 in Oklahoma City). You can also find out more about the conference by visiting our website ( or checking out SCBWI Oklahoma on facebook, twitter, or Instagram.


About SCBWI:

Founded in 1971 by a group of Los Angeles-based children’s writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is a non-profit, 501 (c)3 organization which is  one of the largest existing organizations for writers and illustrators. It is the only professional organization specifically for those individuals writing and illustrating for children and young adults in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television and multimedia. Several of the most prestigious children’s literature professionals sit on the SCBWI Board of Advisors.

The SCBWI acts as a network for the exchange of knowledge between writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers and others involved with literature for young people. As a unified body, the SCBWI acts as a powerful force to effect important changes within the field of children’s literature, promoting new copyright legislation, equitable treatment of authors and artists and fair contract terms.

There are currently more than 22,000 members worldwide, in over 70 regional chapters writing and illustrating in all genres for young readers, making it the largest children’s writing organization in the world.

What to expect at an Oklahoma SCBWI conference

Our Okahoma SCBWI spring conference is next month!! This year’s theme is “Ignite the Spark,” and it’s going to be incredible. There’s a great lineup of publishing professionals on the roster, and I can NOT wait.

And check out this awesome poster for the event, designed by our regional illustrator coordinator, Jerry Bennett!

Conference Ad (1)
It’s funny that it’s only been two years since I attended my first spring conference. That one was in Tulsa, too (we alternate between Tulsa and Oklahoma City) and I was really nervous about it. I had only joined SCBWI a few months before, but I made a point of attending the Critique-a-thon in January and both OKC Schmoozes before the conference, in February and March, so I had at least made a few friends. I asked if anyone wanted to rideshare (partially to ensure I’d have someone to hang with) and got three lovely ladies who agreed to ride up with me. We left early in the morning and came back late that night, and it was hands-down the best day I’d had with SCBWI, up to that point.

Anyway, I still remember how scared I was about it. Having others around me who knew what was going on helped. I was worried about 1) driving to TULSA (the horrors); 2) finding the hotel; 3) knowing where to park; 4) knowing where to go when I actually got inside the hotel…

And this was all before I even made it to the conference room!

But luckily, I had friends, I had a new dress and new shoes and a manicure and a pair of spanx and I was ready to wow everyone with my shiny new novel.

And also scared.

And if you’ve never gone to an Oklahoma SCBWI conference, maybe you feel like I did. Or maybe you’re super confident in all situations and awesome, in which case, woohoo for you! Maybe we can hang when I have to go in a new situation next time.

In the meantime, I’m gonna post a few thoughts about what you can expect at an Oklahoma SCBWI conference. Your experience may vary, but I think some things are universal.

1. People are gonna be really, really nice and welcoming.


As soon as you see our crowd at the registration table, you’ll be greeted by sincerely friendly people. We’ll be happy to see you! We want you to succeed in your publishing dreams, and we can all make that happen together!

2. The speakers are excellent – informative and highly motivational.

Also, are speakers are actively looking for new talent. Even if they’re not living in a van down by the river. (But if they are, then even more reason for them to want your fabulous book, right?)

3. Our speakers are also wildly entertaining. Always.

At least, that’s been my experience. I’ve only been to four Oklahoma SCBWI conferences now, two spring and two fall, but I’ve never been bored.

4. You’re going to learn a TON. 

The speakers WILL be incredible. Bring a notebook or laptop because your brain won’t even be able to take it all in at once. Your mind will be blown.

5. The speakers will be accessible. 

I mean, you don’t want to smother them, but they will be hanging out at certain times, and you’ll be able to visit with them. For reals.

6. You’ll get to pick up some new reading material. 

books in a wagon

Both traditionally and independently published Oklahoma authors and illustrators will have books there to purchase. You can even get them signed and take a big pile home with you!

6. You’ll meet a whole lot of people who get it.

People who love books. Who love creating books. You know…people like you.

8. You’re going to get really, really excited about writing and illustrating for children. 

big bird on roller skates

There’s an amazing energy in the air at SCBWI conferences, and it’s contagious. Before it’s over, you will be super ready to do fantastic things.

9. And you’ll believe in yourself! 

Shake off all the doubt because you CAN do this! You WILL do this! And it’s gonna be GREAT!

10. And finally…the FUN!

so fun

It might seem scary before you go (or maybe not) but trust me, it will be fun. It’ll be really fun. Yes. Seriously. As much fun as Rapunzel is having. Maybe funner. You won’t regret it.

So…will you come? Please? PLEASE?

Registration information for the SCBWI Oklahoma Spring 2015 conference

SCBWIOK on twitter



Best of Books

You know what I love? Books.

So you know what that means. I love bookstores!

Central Oklahoma is pretty blessed to have not only a collection of chain bookstores, but two independents. One of those is going into the new year with new owners!

best of books

Joe Hight, along with his wife, Nan, and oldest daughter, Elena have just finished a successful first holiday season after purchasing the Edmond-based Best of Books in the fall from Julie Hovis and Kathy Kinasewitz, who owned the store for 24 years.

Joe said that Julie and Kathy had been searching for new owners for two and half years, and felt that the Hights were the right fit for the store. “Julie and Kathy have continued to work with us to ensure its future success,” he said.

Best of Books has at least 21,000 titles in the 3,100-square-foot bookstore, located in Edmond’s Kickingbird Shopping Center. One side of the bookstore is for adult titles, while the other is mainly for children’s books and educational toys.

Now, Best of Books is a long way from where I live in the sticks, but I can attest that it’s always worth the trip. I’ve gone a couple of times, when members of the Oklahoma SCBWI group have been holding book signings, and both occasions I’ve found plenty more that I need to take home with me!

books in a wagon

I can keep up with what’s going on at Best of Books even easier now, since they’ve increased their social media presence with the new owners.

“BOB the bookstore routinely tweets about what’s happening in a bookstore’s life,” Joe said. “We also post on our Facebook page about upcoming events, like our recent ‘An Evening With Oklahoma Authors’ that featured 13 authors and ‘Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators Day’ in which they featured 10 authors and illustrators and included a 15 percent discount on all books. We plan to redesign our website early next year, too, and make other improvements to this terrific bookstore.”

A quick check to their website told me that – to my jaw-dropping excitement – that JAY ASHER will be at Best of Books on January 24, 4-6 p.m., signing copies of 13 REASONS WHY and THE FUTURE OF US!!!!


And…my kids are going to be performing in The Mikado that night. Call time 5 p.m. An hour from Best of Books. Looks like I’m going to have to figure out how to bend space again, because I do not want to miss this signing, dang!


Best of Books also recently started collaborating with Full Circle Books, OKC’s independent bookstore, to provide the Local Bestsellers List to The Oklahoman each week for its Sunday Books pages in the Life section. “We felt that it would be a good public service from the state’s two largest independent bookstores to provide the reading public through the state’s largest news organization,” Joe said. “It’ll be fun to read what the Local Bestsellers are as compared to the national lists each week.”

Best of Books recently celebrated its 30th years in business and has also just received notice that it is a finalist for the Edmond Small Business of the Year. Joe said the store also has doubled its number of customers on Small Business/Indies First Saturday for 2014 and was mentioned prominently in the national Shelf Awareness newsletter.

The Hight family has a lot of history in Oklahoma, returning after successful work around the world. Joe has been an editor or reporter for the last 34 years. He was most recently editor of The Gazette in Colorado Springs, which won the Pulitzer Price in National Reporting in 2014. “After winning the Pulitzer, I felt that the timing was right to move back to my home state of Oklahoma, where Nan still has parents and other family members here. My stepmother, sister, and brother still live in the state.”

Elena had been away from Oklahoma for seven years, most recently teaching for two years in Honduras. At 25, she is one of the youngest bookstore owners in the country. She’s the vice president and day-to-day manager of the bookstore, with Joe as president and Nan as secretary.

For more information on Best of Books, and upcoming events (including the signing with JAY ASHER, check out their website at!

For more information on how I’m going to go to the Jay Asher signing, and also have my kids at the theater with a 5 p.m. call time a full hour away – plus be there when the curtain rises at 7 p.m. – follow my twitter, where I will cry and gnash my teeth until I figure out a solution that fulfills me both as a reader and as a fairly responsible parent.

Best of Books on Facebook

Best of Books on Twitter

Because I’d like to buy this shirt

So my cool friend Jerry Bennett has a chance for one of his designs to become a licensed Marvel t-shirt!

Jerry’s the Regional Illustrator Coordinator for the Oklahoma SCBWI, and he’s pretty awesome besides.

This is the art that’s up for consideration:

hang on

Nice, right?

For those of you not in the know about comics, this shirt brings together two Marvel superheroes, Rocket Raccoon and Groot. You might, like me, look at this design and see only one character at first. But, aha, Rocket is actually clinging to Groot’s manly wooden chest, which is cleverly disguised within the shirt itself! So…when you wear this design, you’re not only showing your love for Groot, you’re also cosplaying him. Double prizes.

This is Jerry. He really wants you to vote for his design. Why would you say no to Jerry? Don’t say no to Jerry.

This contest is being hosted by We Love Fine, and you have to sign up to vote, but it’s not a big thing. Super-easy. Plus, I signed up a long time ago, and I don’t remember getting spammed by them or anything since then.

Jerry’s art tumblr has a few more details and the link, or you can just go directly to the contest here. Make sure the artwork I posted above, with Rocket on Groot’s chest, is the one displayed at the top when you get to the contest. If it’s not, you can just scroll down and find it. After you click on Jerry’s artwork preview, it should bring it up on the top of the page. Scroll back up and click on FIVE so we can make this thing happen!

Contest is open until October 21, so get over there and help make this cool shirt a reality!