My book got banned. What to do now?

Over the past few years, I watched incredulously as books for young readers got challenged or banned. The majority were created by Black people, people of color, Indigenous, and/or LGBTQ+ writers and illustrators.

I wondered about my own books. Had my books been banned, too? In a self protection measure, I did not look. I am an African American author-illustrator of children’s biographies. I write true stories about little-known African American heroes—people who’ve made great contributions to American history in the face of tremendous obstacles. Their biggest challenges, unfortunately, were most often racism.

Sad news.
Recently, I learned that “Carter Reads the Newspaper: The Story of Carter G. Woodson, Founder of Black History Month” (Peachtree), a picture book that I illustrated, was banned in Duval County Schools in Florida. Ironically, I received the news while checking email over dinner with authors and librarians at the FAME conference in Florida. 

I was bewildered. “Carter Reads The Newspaper” is the story of a young Black child who reads the newspaper to his father, who could not read. The story is set during the years immediately following the Civil War. Reading the newspaper is how Carter kept his father and others informed (“Woke” if you will), about the world in which they lived. Carter G. Woodson grew up to found Negro History Week, the precursor to Black History Month. Who in the world, I wondered, would object to a book that explains the origins of Black History Month—a celebration that is observed at many schools throughout the country? Did these same people challenge books about the origins of Independence Day? Are they against stories about Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, or Thomas Jefferson? Or are they only banning books that include the history of people who look like me? Also, I found it especially curious that the Black population of Duval County, Florida is about 30-percent, according to Data USA.  

What to do?
When I first learned about the ban, I wasn’t sure how to respond—if at all. I gave it some more thought. I try to live by the serenity prayer: accept things I cannot change; have the courage to change things I can; and to possess wisdom to know the difference. Racism has been around for a long time. I’m not likely to change that reality anytime soon—I accept that. But I also have the wisdom to know that the eraser of a people’s history is dangerous. I must have the courage to keep telling Black people’s stories. I believe there are more people in the U.S. who care about truth, than those who don’t. 

Carter G. Woodson was an advocate for teaching the whole truth about U.S. history, including the stories of Black people who had been enslaved (a history that’s come under attack on many sides, including some who’d rather these stories go away entirely, or somehow be told joyfully).  Woodson believed that truth is essential in the direction of a genuine democracy. I believe that, too.

Knowledge is power, and therefore efforts to prevent people from knowing things have been around for a long time. During slavery, anti-literacy laws were put in place to keep African Americans uninformed. I can’t let my readers down. And I won’t allow myself to be discouraged. Regardless of what books get banned in Duval County schools in Florida, or anywhere else in this country for that matter, I plan to keep doing the work. I will keep writing stories to empower all children with lifesaving knowledge. I feel awful for children who live in communities were stories are getting banned. They are the real casualties of the crazy political environment in which we live in today.

My pledge:
I will never stop telling true stories about real people. I will continue telling stories about history, especially Black history. And I will always be honest with my readers, because a child’s knowledge is the one thing the haters cannot challenge or ban.

TLA is back and in person!

Oh, my—I haven’t created a new blog post in six years! And Word Press has changed! I actually had to Google “How to create a blog post in Word Press.” Change never ends, I guess. But there is one change I do welcome: the Texas Library Association conference is back and in person! It’s been more than two years since I’ve seen many of my Texas librarian friends, and so I’m looking forward to catching up next week in Forth Worth! For that reason—because I don’t want to miss any of you—here is an early look at my 2022 schedule:

TLA Speed Dating, April 2017, Don Tate and Chris Barton.

Mon. Apr 25, 2022

12:00pm – 1:50 pm – Bluebonnet Speed Dating with Little Brown Books for Young Readers authors Aaron Reynolds, Dusti Bowling, Don Tate.
Location: Omni Hotel, Ballroom 4 & 5.

2:00pm – 3:00pm – Book Signing with Speed Dating participants. SWISH! THE SLAM-DUNKING, ALLEY-OOPING, HIGH-FLYING HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS. Ballroom 4 & 5.


Tues. Apr 26

1:30pm – 2:30pm – Texas Authors and Illustrators Speed Dating (Round Table Committee sponsored) Check flyer at check-in for room #.

4:00 – 4:30pm – Live taping with the Van Show, Booth #2339

Wed. Apr 27

11:45am to 1:45pm – Bluebonnet Luncheon

1:30pm – 2:30pm – Panel “What’s New With Texas Picture Book and Early Chapter Book Authors and Illustrators” (Round Table Committee Sponsored). Participating authors: Lindsay Leslie, Christina Soontornvat, Emma Virjan, Kari LaVelle. Moderated by Vanessa Roeder and Susie Kravolansky. Check flyer at check-in for room #.

And don’t forget, you can still purchase raffle tickets to support the TLA disaster relief fund. I donated one print from Swish!: The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters by Suzanne Slade. Purchase one raffle ticket for $5 or five tickets for $25.  Tickets will be sold on-site at TLA 2022 in Fort Worth, and the winning ticket will be drawn at General Session III on Thursday, April 28 at 11am. Winner does not have to be present to win.

Cover reveal!

“Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes”

After a long, sometimes treacherous, yet fulfilling journey, we have a cover! My next picture book biography, “Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes,” will publish with Abrams on August 17, 2021. That’s lightening fast by publishing standards, especially considering that I was still tweaking final art and text this time last week. But now, it’s off to the printer—whew!

Of all the picture book biographies I’ve written and/or illustrated, “Pigskins to Paintbrushes” is probably the one closest to my heart. As a teenager, I was a big fan of artist Ernie Barnes. His artwork was displayed behind the credits of my favorite TV show GOOD TIMES

One of the main characters was teenager J. J. Evans. He was an artist who busied himself painting pictures no matter what chaos was happening in the family at the time. The paintings were of Black people with graceful, elongated bodies. Honestly, I really thought J.J. painted those images. Years later, I learned the real artist was former football player Ernie Barnes.

During high school art classes, like most young artists do, I emulated Barnes work—long, graceful limbs, bold colors. Little did I know, I was emulating Toulouse-Lautrec, Delacroix, and Michelangelo, too, as they were artists who inspired Barnes’s art.

Me, pretending to like baseball. Pretty much hated every second. Would rather be at home drawing.

Ernie Barnes’s childhood experience was similar to my own. I was not good at sports, and I often felt ashamed about it. Boys, especially in the Black community where I grew up, were expected to excel at baseball, basketball, football. But I was always the last choice when teams picked players. I could not dribble a basketball. I could not catch a baseball. While playing right field in Little League baseball, I prayed the ball would not come my way. I certainly wasn’t going to catch the thing— and if I did, people would have expected me to throw it somewhere. And football? Just freaking no.

“Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes” is the story of a young man’s journey to defining himself and being the best man that he can be—an artist and a football player.

I can’t wait to share this book with you!


Banking on Booksellers

This summer, I painted a pig. No, not a real pig, a molded, clay, piggy bank. It’s for a fundraiser offered by BINC Book Industry Charitable Foundation. Over 90 authors, illustrators, and celebrities have come together to support the only nonprofit in the country that is dedicated to helping booksellers in times of hardship. Proceeds from the auction of the banks can change the life of a bookseller. Bidding will commence on: Sunday, September 9th at 12 noon EST. Bidding will end on Saturday, September 15th at 12 noon EST.
Here’s a link to the auction.

And here is my process for painting my Hipster Pig and Hotrod Pig:

When BINC approached me about painting a piggy bank, I worried about what to paint. Blank canvas, the possibilities were endless. I got artists block. I thought about some of my artist friends. They simply paint the things that make them happy, things they love. Well, I love old cars. I have old model cars scattered all over my art studio. So, I wondered if I could convert the pig to an old 55 Ford Farelane/Crown Victoria. Let’s see.




First, I covered the bank with gesso, a painting medium and a great base for acrylic paint. Then, using a pencil, I drew the outlines of the car on the bank, with a scale model Crown Victoria as reference. I followed that up with a sepia color value study, wanting to establish the darkest areas of the car.


Then I painted the entire car with a lighter coat of sepia. I love the way colors show through revealing the sepia underpainting—it has almost an electric feel, especially with complimentary colors like blue and green.


After that, I began to paint in the colors. I had to really use my imagination, because a Crown Victoria looks nothing like a pig! I layered color over color, darker colors first, lighter colors on top, just like how I would paint for one of my books.


I lined up my pic with some of my real model cars. Hey, it really looks like a car! I was so happy with the final product, that I decided to paint a second. But what? Well, what do I like? I like coolness—cool glasses, cool socks, cool bow ties! I’d paint a Hipster Pig!


And this was the end result! My pig comes complete with hipster glasses, handlebar mustache and beard, tattoos, and cool socks!

Here are the other piggy banks! Some of these are painted by my favorite children’s book illustrators, like Denise Fleming, Grace Lin, Nina Laden, David Shannon, and other celebrities like Chelsa Clinton, and others!

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Summer Vacation + A New School Year and New Books!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve last posted. And I don’t have a good excuse, I’ve had most of the summer off. Over the summer, my wife and I celebrated our 25-year wedding anniversary in the Dominican Republic. We had such a fantastic time swimming in a large pool that wrapped the resort. We visiting locals, toured a coconut plantation, and I even got to wear a cool lizard on my head! Please see photos below.



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Also this year, I had two new books publish. Par-Tay! Dance of the Veggies (And Their Friends), written by the legendary Eloise Greenfield published with Alazar Press in April. Par-Tay! was a lot of fun to illustrate. But I do get asked about the spelling of “Par-Tay!” Honestly, you’d have to ask the author about the spelling, but my guess is that it came from the old-school song by KC and the Sunshine Band Do You Want to go . . . PARTY! Listen.



This past July, Stalebread Charlie and the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band, written by Michael Mahin, published with Clarion. The book is set in the backdrop of New Orleans, circa 1900, about seven homeless street kids who, using junk-made instruments, invented a new genre of music called Spasm. Here’s a picture of the real life boys! Below is a picture of me from earlier this summer debuting the book right where the story began, in the area of Old New Orleans!



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I hope you will enjoy both of my new books, and look forward to another coming in October. No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas, written by Tonya Bolden, has already garnered a starred review from Kirkus, and is a Junior Library Guild Selection for the fall of 2018. Enjoy!


A photo recap of my time at Miami University’s art exhibit: Telling A People’s Story

What an honor is it to have my artwork included in a first-of-its-kind art exhibit, Telling A People’s Story: African American Children’s Illustrated Literature. The exhibit is being held at Miami University in Oxford, OH, through June 30th, 2018. In addition to exhibiting, I was invited to speak at a public event, and to university students, elementary school students, teachers and librarians, over the course of four days. It was a blast! My visit was sponsored by a grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation.

“Telling A People’s Story” looks at African-American cultural and historical identity through the lens of children’s illustrated literature, and features more than 100 original artworks from African-American children’s illustrated literature. Here’s a quick recap of my time in Oxford, Ohio!

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Honoring the Super Women who Run the Brown Bookshelf

bbsLast year, we at The Brown Bookshelf, a blog dedicated to highlighting youth literature written and/or illustrated by African-Americans, celebrated our tenth anniversary. This past February, Black History Month, we hosted our eleventh “28 Days Later” initiative. Each day, we featured an African-American creator of youth literature.

As a founding member of that blog, I can tell you that running it is a lot of work. Conducting the interviews, collecting visuals, formatting text presenting at conferences—not to mention that wonderful Declaration in Support of Children that hundreds of children’s authors and illustrators signed on to in support. A lot happens behind the scenes thanks to seven wonderful women who work tirelessly to keep the blog running. Not to discredit myself or the other guys on the Brown Bookshelf team, it’s a group effort. But let’s be for real, the success of that blog is because of the woman power behind behind it.

Thank you Paula Chase Hyman, Kelly Starling Lyons, Tameka Fryer Brown, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Gwendolyn Hooks, Crystal Allen, Tracey Baptiste, for keeping the Brown Bookshelf alive. It’s important work you do. And even though you all maintain busy author/writing schedules—not to mention maintaining families and other obligations—you still find time to support other authors and illustrators. You are appreciated.

In today’s highlight, a few of our team members talk about their upcoming books, and they offer advice for aspiring female book creators. Here goes!


KellyKelly Starling Lyons

Upcoming books: My picture book, DOWN HOME WITH DADDY, debuts spring 2019. It’s illustrated by Daniel Minter and published by Peachtree. I feel blessed to be working with Daniel again. He brought ELLEN’S BROOM to life in such a powerful way and won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award for his work. In Down Home with Daddy, a boy searches for a special way to contribute to a reunion celebration. It explores the themes of home, legacy, family and connection. My editor gave me a peek at Daniel’s beautiful sketches. I love the emotion and sense of place.
The third Jada Jones chapter book is on the way too. The working title is SLEEPOVER SCIENTIST. In this book, Jada has her first sleepover but it doesn’t go as smoothly as she planned. The story explores her love of science and friendships. Thrilled to be continuing Jada’s journey with this book.
Kelly’s advice to aspiring female writers:
I treasure a pearl of wisdom I received from an editor at the Highlights Writers Workshop at Chautauqua: “Write the story only you can tell.” I pass it on often and believe it’s among the best tips I’ve received.  Know that your experiences, history and dreams matter. You matter. Dig deep and mine your passions, struggles, heritage. Put your heart on the page.

PaulaPaula Chase Hyman

Upcoming books: I’ve swerved into the Middle Grade lane for my next book – SO DONE. Yet, at its heart, it’s like my YA books which all seem to revolve around the complexities of young friendships.

In SO DONE, we meet  13 year old Jamila “Bean” Phillips who is the younger sister of Jacinta, a character from my DRB series. Mila has spent the summer in the suburbs hiding a secret. When she returns home, the secret and the unspoken code of loyalty that her low income neighborhood, The Cove, insists on weighs heavily on her and eventually impacts her relationship with her best friend, Metai.  We watch them grapple with how the secret and Mila’s aspirations are changing them and their friendship.

Paula’s advice to aspiring female writers:
Whenever I voice this, I feel like I’m being a kidlit snob – I don’t mean it that way – but there’s a part of me that feels like writing for children should be nothing short of a calling. When writing for kids, there is such a thin line between depicting the story through a young character and forcing an adult will into the young character’s actions. If you want to write for children, let it be because you want to help them explore the world around them on their terms – not an adult’s terms. This isn’t easy to do. We’re human and our baggage can easily get dumped into children’s books because too often we believe we’re trying to teach them a lesson. But my advice is – please, don’t. Every child deserves to read for pleasure and what they take from it, is up to them. And as I think on that, was that advice? I hope so.

TamekaTameka Fryer Brown

Upcoming books: BROWN BABY LULLABY (illustrated by AG Ford, published by FSG, Due Fall 2019). In the story, Momma and Papi are trying to get through the evening’s routine with their strong-willed toddler. He’s a handful, but they wouldn’t have their sweet brown baby any other way. I also have a poem in the forthcoming anthology, WE RISE, WE RESIST, WE RAISE OUR VOICES, edited by Wade and Cheryl Hudson, published by Crown Books for Young Readers.
Tameka’s advice to aspiring female writers:
Identify your “heart stories” and learn to write them well. The themes and truths that are most meaningful to you, will likely drive stories that are meaningful to others.

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Upcoming books: The paperback of TWO NAOMIS will be out in June, and then the sequel, NAOMIS TOO, is coming in September! I’m so excited for everyone to see what the Naomis are up to as they start middle school.  I have a picture book biography coming out in August, about Clara Luper’s efforts to desegregate lunch counters in Oklahoma City in 1948, and a middle grade nonfiction project about space travel out later this fall. I’m thrilled to be included in the We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices anthology, out in September, edited by publishing legends Cheryl and Wade Hudson.

GbemOlugbemisola’s advice to aspiring female writers:

For me, writing is most about listening. To the world, to my heart, to the questions that sometimes I don’t know I have until I start writing. Ask questions, take risks. Write without wondering if it’s “good.” Write because you have something to say. Write to figure out what that something is. Keep learning. Keep reading the world–in many different ways. Use what you learn to become the most you, not to imitate anyone else. Seek out supportive writing communities–maybe more than one where each serves a different purpose. One just to talk books and story, one focused on writing and critique, etc.  Make books and other media your mentors — jot down excerpts, outline or storyboard your favourites, examine what works, what you love, and why.  Mentor/offer support to someone else in the community, wherever you are in your writing/publishing journey. Practice, practice, practice. If you want to write, choose to make time for it, and know that it may mean giving up something else. Develop discipline in your “creative habit” in a way that can work in *your* life — for some, it’s ‘write every day’, for others it’s a certain word count in a week, or that 15 minutes whenever you’re on the bus, waiting in the car. And for many of us–like me–the ‘plan’ will need to be adjusted periodically. All of that is OK. Treat yourself and your story with love and grace and respect.

Go to the library, even if just to watch and listen to the other people there, to be around the books. Read a book like The Word, edited by Marita Golden, or Create Dangerously by Edwidge Danticat.  If you don’t have access to conferences like the Kweli conference in NYC, try to attend local author talks and bookstore visits–those can often be like mini writing workshops. Follow writers and editors on Twitter that produce work you admire.  Read through the 28 Days Later archives on the Brown Bookshelf — many of the creators profiled offer excellent tips, resources, and advice.

Know that your story is precious. Others’ limited imaginations and tightheartedness are neither your fault nor your problem to solve. Black lives are treasures. Listen to stories of the world, and to your own. Let your light shine without dimming another’s.

As you pull up to the table, bring an extra chair and another sister–there’s room at the table for us all. ​
​ ​

All of our stories, across the Diaspora, all of the stories we live and the ones we imagine, have infinite value. 

​Your voice, your story, your own beautiful self matters.

A “STRONG AS SANDOW” book launch celebration! A visual report

Yesterday, I held a book launch celebration for my new book, STRONG AS SANDOW: HOW EUGEN SANDOW BECAME THE STRONGEST MAN ON EARTH (Charlesbridge, 2017). We held it at BookPeople, Austin’s wonderful independent book store. Attendees described the day as: “Wowza,” “stupendous,” “fantastic.” And most of all, “STRONG!” After I spoke, raw food health guru, Andrew Perlot, served as our resident strongman, performing human kettlebell and barbell. We followed up with physical fitness games for the kids. “The Sandow” cake was created by illustrator and cake maker (cakelustrator) Akiko White. See the cake in the making here!

It was a fun day! Here’s a look:


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Whoosh! is a A Cook Prize Honor Book and a Children’s Choice Nominee!

FAMILIES of DEEP textWhoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions (Charlesbridge, 2016), written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate is a 2017 Cook Prize Finalist. The Cook Prize honors the best science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) picture book published for children aged eight to ten and is the only national children’s choice award honoring a STEM book.

In addition, Whoosh! is also a finalists for the 10th Annual Children’s and Teen Choice Book Awards, 2017! Children across the country will vote for the finalists through the last day of Children’s Book Week.


How Attending the SCBWI National Conferences Can Help Writers/Illustrators of Color

As a book creator of color, I know how intimidating it can be to attend TeamBlog_Widget_LA2015_team[1]a children’s book writing and illustrating conference, in a sea of people who don’t look like you (especially if you’ve never attended a conference). But I also understand that giving in to fear is the best way to never realizing your dreams. I met author Andrea J Loney at an SCBWI conference in New York a few years ago. She is African American, and she was one of the few other people of color I met that weekend. Since that time, I’ve witnessed her career bloom. I know that SCBWI had to play a part in that growth, and so I asked her to write a blog post that might inspire and encourage other creators of color to invest in their careers and experience an SCBWI national conference. Slots are still open, it’s not too late! — Don Tate

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Guest Post by Andrea J Loney

Fifteen years ago, I decided that I wanted to be a children’s book writer. I joined The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and enjoyed the newsletter, but I didn’t attend any meetings or local writers’ events. And when I looked at information for the huge national conference near my home in Los Angeles, I thought, “No way am I doing this! It’s so much money! And it’s a whole three-day weekend? And what if the people there are snobby?” The mere thought of the conference terrified me.

So I continued to write my stories in isolation, learn my craft from articles on the internet and books in the library, and collect my rejection letters in despair until I finally gave up writing children’s books altogether.

Then three years ago, after rejoining SCBWI, attending local SCBWI writing events, and joining a critique group, I went to my first national conference in Los Angeles and was blown away by how helpful it was. Attending that conference felt like slapping a rocket booster on my writing career. Everything took off after then.

So here are the top six ways that attending SCBWI national conferences have helped me as a writer of color:

  1. At the first conference I attended in 2014, Lin Oliver told us that there were about 1,200 attendees and that roughly half of us were published. She said that the other half were pre-published (as opposed to “aspiring”). Spending three days with so many published writers really shifted my thinking about my career. It was at that first conference that I really saw myself as a professional. I sold my first book five months after that weekend.
  2. As conference attendees, we received writing and illustration craft information directly from working professionals. This was so different than reading an article on the internet or even taking a class at a college. Getting information on the state of the juvenile publishing industry from writers, illustrators, editors, agents and other people who are right in the middle of it was invaluable.
  3. We also were able to connect with and speak directly with agents, editors, and published authors and illustrators. I signed up for a critique and got great feedback on a manuscript from an editor. I spoke to an agent at a meal. After her workshop, I spoke with an author whose book I love and got her take on how I could improve my own work. And most importantly for me, I met people in the industry who would later support my efforts to get published.
  4. After the main conference days, there were “socials” which provide an opportunity to meet other writers and critique each other’s work. It was through these socials that I met some of my critique partners. We still meet regularly and we are all committed to studying our craft, improving our work, and getting published. Also, it was at the conferences that I made connections with many other writers of color.
  5. Being a writer of color at the SCBWI national conference meant that I created a presence. People noticed me and I used that to my advantage. When the question of diversity came up in a talk or a presentation, it was not an abstract or theoretical discussion for some of the attendees, because there I was, a black writer, sitting right next to them. When other writers of color entered the room, I saw them, they saw me, and everyone else saw us. Writers of color made up a small percentage of most of the conferences I’ve gone to, but when we are there, we do make an impression. And the greater the number of us in attendance, the greater the varieties of those impressions.
  6. Lastly, by attending the national SCBWI conferences, I’ve gotten to meet all sorts of children’s book professionals (published and pre-published) from all over the country. And do you know what most of these people have in common? They love children’s books and the people who make them. Kit Lit people tend to be genuinely friendly, generous, and enthusiastic – I’ve never in my life felt so welcomed by a creative industry. And I have learned so many things about writing and the industry from the folks I met at these conferences. And when success finally did come for me, many of the people I’d met at the conferences cheered me on, invited me to their blogs, and promoted my books on social media. So now I can say that I joined a nation-wide children’s literature tribe by attending these conferences.

So if you do decide to join us at one of the national conferences (New York in February and/or Los Angeles in July), here are some tips to prepare for a great experience:

    • Bring your business cards! Don’t have any? Try Vista Print or Overnight Prints. You can even make them on your own printer. Before I had any books to sell, I put my photograph on my business cards so people might remember me. You can also include your email address, social media info, etc.
    • Bring a notebook and be sure to take notes not just on what the speakers are saying, but on any new ideas that pop up during the talks. These speeches and workshops can be incredibly inspirational and I always leave the conferences with at least 15 new story ideas.
    • Before the conference, familiarize yourself with the work of the speakers/workshop leaders. It helps to put the information they share in context, and even better, if you have a question about their books, you may get the answer directly from the source.
    • Dress business casual, but wear comfortable shoes and layers since room temperatures can vary. You’ll probably see lots of cardigans! And don’t be afraid to add your personal style to your conference wardrobe.
    • Be prepared to meet at least three new people and to give an “elevator pitch” on your book project. You never know who may have just the right information to help you get to the next step. You never know who you may help.
    • Have fun and congratulate yourself for making an important investment in your creative career.

And if you’re coming to the SCBWI NY17 or the SCBWI LA17 conferences, come say hi! I’ll be the bespectacled chick with the flower in my Sisterlocks and wearing a Bunnybear pin.


Andrea J Loney is the author of BUNNYBEAR (Albert Whitman & Company, Jan 2017), the New Voices award-winning picture book biography TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VANDERZEE! (Lee & Low Books, May 2017), and DOUBLE BASS BLUES (Knopf, Spring 2019).