Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI Montana Newsletter, Fall 2018

Upcoming Events in Montana by Precious McKenzie, Regional Advisor

Good-bye, summer! Hello, autumn! Our SCBWI Montana team has been busy planning programs for you. We have many exciting activities in the works but for now we’ll focus on our “Good Things Come in Threes” workshop series with acclaimed writer Dan Gemeinhart.  Dan will deliver a full day workshop in Missoula, Bozeman, and Billings. Dan will focus on elements of craft including character development and motivation.

Choose the city closest to you and join us for the workshop.

To register, visit and select the city you plan to attend.

Friday, October 26 in Missoula at The Loft

OR Saturday, October 27 in Bozeman at Country Bookshelf

OR Sunday, October 28 in Billings at Rocky Mountain College


SCBWI LA Convention Recap by Joann Howeth, Assistant Regional Advisor

Earlier this summer, I spent two months in southern California on a house-sitting gig and struck up a conversation with a gentleman who, when I told him where I was from, said these words on a sigh, “Oh, the salt of the earth!”

This has happened to me before when I’ve traveled, usually to large metropolitan areas. People seem thrilled to meet someone from our state, and I have sometimes found myself chuckling, wondering why they are so impressed. Are people merely intrigued with their idea of what being a Montanan means – the old west and all that, or do we exemplify something special in this hardened, fast-paced world that might be slowly disappearing?

As many of you know, the phrase comes from the book of Matthew and it means basic, fundamental goodness. So originally, the intent of this article was to pump you up and laud praises on you for being salt of the earth Montanans – good-hearted, morally grounded people who embrace simpler lifestyles and values. Oh wait, there’s more: Montanans who also happen to be writers of children’s literature. Surely it is a singular collaboration. Yes?

No. My smug assumption that originating from “the last best place” somehow made us extraordinary was just recently uprooted at the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles. Over the course of three days, surrounded by 1147 other attendees, I met a lot of “salt of the earth” individuals. From the many friendly strangers sitting beside me in the conference rooms to the wildly intelligent, often witty, inspirational keynote speakers, it quickly became obvious that it’s this community of writers to which we belong that’s extraordinary.

And rightly so – our audience is a special bunch. By devoting our talents to writing for children, we share a unifying mindset and an equally impressive obligation. The task we’ve accepted is a unique one full of challenges; who else has an audience that ranges the span of roughly eighteen years and consists of developmental changes unlike any other?

I am going to pat you on the back for being writers for children – for being people who are deeply invested in their precious futures, who write stories to entertain them, to commiserate with them, to expand their minds, to introduce them to other cultures, and to covertly teach them about altruism, tolerance, and forgiveness. As writers for children, this is what you do – you just happen to be salt of the earth Montanans, too.


Illustrator’s Corner by Erika Wilson, Regional Illustrator Coordinator

Hi everyone! I’m Erika Wilson and I am thrilled to share my first musings as your new Illustrator Coordinator. I live and work in Billings where I manage an office building by day, and illustrate by night. My first illustrated book (called The Spill, written by Jacqueline Leigh) came out this June. Since then, I’ve spent my summer free-time working on a shed that I am turning into an art studio, practicing digital art on my iPad Pro, and chasing my 3 year-old son around the farm!

I am excited to share a few events that may be of interest to my fellow artists. First of all, in your SCBWI monthly newsletter (Insight) there is an art contest called “Draw This!” This is a great way to get your art seen, both in the online gallery and also on social media, if you share your entry with the hashtag #scbwidrawthis. It is also a great prompt each month for a practice piece that could possibly end up in your portfolio.

In October, I will start an exciting illustration course I found online and couldn’t pass up! It is hosted by art agent Lilla Rogers’ program called “Make Art That Sells,” and it is called “Illustrating Children’s Books.” This 5-week online class covers all the bases of illustration, whether you are a digital or traditional artist. I have spoken with past students and this course comes very highly recommended. It is fairly expensive, but many of her past students have gone on to get amazing publishing deals so I had to give this course a whirl! Here is the link, and I would love it if any of you would like to join me!

I just launched a new website/blog, which you can check out or follow at:

-And my Instagram account is:

Good luck in all your creative endeavors this fall! Draw something every day!


Area Hobnobs & Critique Group Meet-ups

All Hobnobs are free and open to the public. Encourage friends to drop by and see what SCBWI is all about.

Sept 13, 12-2 pm, University of Montana’s UC Center, Main Floor Atrium, Hobnob

September 13, 6:30pm-7:30pm, Lewis and Clark Public Library, Hobnob

October 11, 6:30-7:30pm, Lewis and Clark Public Library, Hobnob

November 8, 6:30-7:30pm, Lewis and Clark Public Library, Hobnob

September 6, noon to 1pm, Country Bookshelf, Hobnob

October 4, noon to 1pm, Country Bookshelf, Hobnob

November 1, noon to 1pm, Country Bookshelf, Hobnob

August 28, 5:30-7pm at This House of Books, Critique Group

September 19, 5:30-7pm, This House of Books, Critique Group