A brainchild grows up!

In my last blog post, I mentioned how helpful it was during the pandemic to connect with people online. In mid-2020, when socially-distanced people were badly missing each other, I decided the SCBWI-Wisconsin region could benefit from connecting online just to hang out and chat, like we do at conference socials. It seemed to me that a lot of online meetups at the time revolved around some sort of educational programming, and I thought our members might want an unstructured way to hang out. We also had newly published members who were releasing books during a pandemic, not the ideal time to release, to be sure.

So I came up with the idea of “PAL New Release” meetups that, for a host of reasons, our PAL coordinators couldn’t implement until 2021, but, hey, they’ve been a HUGE success! And they’re something we’ll continue doing well after the pandemic has past.

The PAL New Release meetups allow our members to hear directly from PAL  (Published and Listed) authors about their new books — and they can talk about anything! Like: How did the book come to be? How did you get your original idea? How did the manuscript change over drafts? How did your editor’s editorial advice fit in with your vision? What’s the word count? How did the publisher choose the illustrator for the book? Are you getting a say in your marketing plan? Anything they want to chat about!

The authors aren’t required to answer anything they don’t want to, and they can ask questions too. Maybe an author they admire is in the audience, and they can compare notes, with the rest of the participants gleaning from the talk. Oh, and the whole talk is preceded by a half hour of simple catch-up time. People can dip in whenever they want. It’s all very easy-going, very fun, and a great way to connect with fellow members who may live too far to ever meet outside of a conference. What a great way to connect us all!

For all the fatigue Zoom has given us, there are great ways to connect, and I’m happy this little brainchild has caught on. I hope it lives on forever.

Photo shows a computer screen with 21 participants during the SCBWI-WI PAL New Release Meetup of February 24, 2021

SCBWI-WI PAL New Release meetup of February 24, 2021

Focusing on what I can control

One of the many ways I’ve dealt with the past year’s uncertainty is to focus on what I can control. A lot of people practice this all the time. It’s not revelatory because, let’s face it, there’s a lot outside our control, and to rage against that reality is a great way to drive yourself into the ground. But I think it’s safe to say that some people are better at settling themselves this way than others.

Don’t get me wrong. The “focusing on what I can control” mantra can be twisted into a kind of privilege that allows you to ignore anything that requires effort. Or it can allow you to wash your hands of responsibility. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about things like, oh, say, not festering over how the pandemic has upended our lives and canceled events and such.

First, we must acknowledge that inconveniences are nothing compared to what many have had to bear. The losses have been heartbreaking. And with that understanding, inconveniences are nothing. Nothing.

And yet, change stings. Life has been so different. Since March 2020, I’ve had to cancel five conferences or retreats that I’d planned for more than a year. But you know what? It was doable. We’ve all pivoted.

Earlier this month, I co-hosted a day-long, virtual SCBWI-Wisconsin conference that was originally planned to be in person at a favorite retreat center on 90 acres of beautiful woods and water. Couldn’t happen. But you know what I could control? Deciding early to pivot. Becoming proficient at Zoom. Guiding people on how to join us. Connecting with others, which is what so many people say they missed most over the past year.

I’m grateful to see friends in squares on my screen, as that was once science fiction. And I’m grateful for the vaccines, which have allowed us to see friends and family in person. Long past this pandemic, though, I’ll stick with the notion of focusing on what I can control. It’s a better use of my energies and helps me see what’s important.

I hope you enjoy these photos of the event. Be well.


Photo shows hosts and speakers of SCBWI-Wisconsin's Spring Studio virtual conference. Shown are webinar coordinator Joyce Uglow, co-regional advisors Silvia Acevedo and Deb Buschman, literary agent Christa Heschke, and author Stef Wade.

The start of SCBWI-Wisconsin’s Spring Studio virtual conference. Shown are webinar coordinator Joyce Uglow, co-regional advisors Silvia Acevedo and Deb Buschman, literary agent Christa Heschke, and author Stef Wade.


Photo shows co-host and speakers of SCBWI-Wisconsin's Spring Studio virtual conference. Shown are author and literary agent Zabé Ellor, host Silvia Acevedo, and editor Tiffany Shelton.

Literary agent Zabé Ellor, host Silvia Acevedo, and editor Tiffany Shelton.


Photo shows hosts of SCBWI-Wisconsin's Spring Studio virtual conference. Shown are co-regional advisors Silvia Acevedo and Deb Buschman.



Photo shows host and speakers of SCBWI-Wisconsin's Spring Studio virtual conference. Shown are co-host Deb Buschman, author Stef Wade, and literary agent Christa Heschke.

Look at that great swag! A solar system poster that kids love.


Photo shows co-host Silvia Acevedo at the SCBWI-Wisconsin's Spring Studio virtual conference.

My computer really needs maaaany more stickers. 😉

Isolating in a time of nonstop isolation

Today I’m starting an adventure that looked so different earlier this year.

I’m at an isolated retreat at Write On, Door County, a non-profit that offers retreats not just for writers but for leaders of literary arts programs, in my case the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators-Wisconsin. It turns out I’m the first one to retreat here in the admin category! How cool is that?

I have a whole quiet house to myself on 40 acres. It’s interesting that people come here for isolation, and I’m coming here during a time of nonstop isolation. I’ve been seriously social distancing since March, so being here doesn’t feel quite like the getaway it might have been. However, I’m grateful for the change of scenery, the true quiet outside the city (no sirens!), and the immense darkness found in northern Wisconsin (no light pollution from neighbors’ garage lights or broadly arching street lamps!). Honestly, stepping outside at night I cannot see my hand in front of my face. It’s beautiful… and a bit unnerving. Yeah, I’m a city girl.

I’ll be really digging in to SCBWI-Wisconsin planning this week. We have one virtual event planned for early 2021, and we’re hoping the fall events can be in person. Optimism, folks. Meantime, enjoy some pix. 🙂


A giant gnome on the way to Door County because … just because.


Side view of The Coop from the trail behind the house


The Coop, the famed former writing studio of the late, great author Norbert Blei


Interior of The Coop with a well used writing desk


Interior of The Coop with a painting of Norb Blei


Reading, finishing, starting another. Repeat.

One of my 2020 new year’s resolutions was to read daily – from an actual book, not just news headlines. Authors should of course read voraciously, but we all know how it goes. Life can interfere with even the best laid plans.

Then came the actual 2020, featuring a badly managed public health crisis, its subsequent economic collapse, long-simmering civil and social unrest, and the beginnings of a thinly veiled fascist coup. All has converged, grinding under heel our collective well-being.

So, yes, I’ve been reading, not just to keep my resolution but to stave off constant unease. Also, like many other creators, I’ve found it terribly difficult to get into the headspace to write cheerful fiction.

Thankfully, reading is part of the writing process. So what have I been enjoying lately?


Image shows book entitled "Roll with it" by Jamie Sumner

Roll with It by Jamie Sumner is about middle-schooler Ellie, who isn’t letting her wheelchair interfere with her big dreams to be a professional baker. But when she and her mom move to care for her ailing grandpa, Ellie has to start anew in a new town and school. Ellie is fun, straight-forward, and has you rooting for her from the very first page. I’m looking forward to reading Ms. Sumner’s newest book, Tune It Out, about a girl with a sensory processing disorder who has to find her own voice.


Image shows book entitled "The Assignment" by Liza Wiemer

The Assignment by Liza Wiemer is about standing up and speaking out. High school seniors Logan and Cade are horrified when a favorite teacher instructs students to argue in favor of the Final Solution, a euphemism for the Nazi plan of genocide of the Jewish people. This book is written by a dear friend and fellow SCBWI-Wisconsin member. Her works are deeply moving and heartfelt. Highly recommended.

It’s a great time to read. Those of us still respecting safer-at-home orders and employing social distancing are spending more time at home. Colder weather’s on the way. And we can all stand to occasionally see the world from someone else’s viewpoint.

Hope you’re enjoying some good reads, too. Share your recommendations in the comments!



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My First Residencies

Logo of "Write On Door County," an organization and retreat site promoting writing, reading, and literacy.

I’m really excited to announce that I’ve been awarded two writerly residencies! They’re set for December 2020 and September 2021, which I suspect will be here before I know it, but I’m thrilled with that because residencies are actually a dream come true for me. Allow me to explain.

Residencies take many forms, but, in general, they’re retreats awarded to creators, giving them not only a space to create but also the solitude to do so. Ask most creators, and they’ll tell you what they really need is uninterrupted time to advance their current project.

Write On, Door County is a non-profit located in gorgeous Door County, Wisconsin. WODC is dedicated to developing writers, helping them to set their stories onto the page. The organization also holds classes, readings, seminars, and conferences for everyone from school kids to residents at nursing homes.

I’m simply thrilled to say that, thanks to WODC, I’ll get not one but two week-long retreats to focus on things that are very important to me:

The first retreat is for Literary Arts Administrators, that is, an administrator of a literary arts organization, in my case, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators-Wisconsin. I will get a precious, quiet week to envision new programming for the region, plan events, edit materials, whatever SCBWI-WI needs. I take this responsibility seriously and intend to do my best by the region.

The second retreat is a regular writer’s residency, which will allow me a blissful week away from life’s normal distractions to work on my current project. I can’t even imagine that, to be honest. I hope I don’t freeze under the weight of expectation.

Who’s expectation? Mine. Honestly, as a Latina, these sorts of intellectual pursuits always seemed out of reach, as if they were hazy possibilities meant for other types of people. My grandparents worked farms in the central hills of Puerto Rico. My father moved to Milwaukee to be a laborer in a manufacturing plant, and he brought my mother up from the island when she was just a teen. She learned English here and worked her way up to earning a degree in engineering. Imagine that! Her three children are professionals in their own right. And I’m allowed two weeks to think and create. It’s … almost too much to believe.

I hear that residencies are game-changers in the lives of creatives. Without even having finished them, mine already are.

Most Listens Award!

How cool is this?! You may remember that I was interviewed last year by The Writescast Network podcast, which, by the way, is an excellent podcast for writers, illustrators, and creators of all types. Well, wow and zowie! I won the podcast’s MOST LISTENS AWARD for 2019! What a nice honor. I talked about writing a series following the completion of my God Awful trilogy. You can listen to the interview HERE.

Host Ryan Campbell also CREATED A NIFTY COFFEE MUG celebrating the award, which, if you’re interested in seeing the covers of my books while enjoying your morning coffee, you can purchase HERE.

And finally if you haven’t yet read my award-winning (I’m still so happy to say that!) series, why not get it now and binge read this funny story for a break from your studies or from real adulting? You can get the series HERE.

Thanks to author Ryan Campbell and to all of you out there who made the award happen. He’s had some really excellent guests, all authors, editors, agents, etc., within or around the publishing industry. If you’re into creating or publishing at all, you should dive into his podcasts. 🙂

Image shows award sticker for Silvia Acevedo for winning the 2019 Writescast Podcast Most Listens award

Silvia Acevedo holding a mug with the logo of The Writescast Network podcast and labeled 2019 Most Listens Award.Silvia Acevedo holding a mug showing the covers of her books, the God Awful series, with the words "Award Winner 2019 Most Listens" for The Writescast Network podcast.

Learning Scrivener

I bought Scrivener last year and am really enjoying it. It seems like a really robust program, but that means there’s a lot to learn. So here I am trying to learn. Well, no, not really. Here I am posing with some SCBWI gals who helped put together a meetup about Scrivener, but I was too busy learning to take more pictures. And now I got Scriv skills. 😉

Thanks to Kerry, Deb, and Becki for setting this up.

Left to right: Silvia Acevedo, Kerry Hansen, Deb Buschman, Scrivener presenter Erica Dinka, and Becki Kidd, at Pewaukee Public Library.

Left to right: Silvia Acevedo, Kerry Hansen, Deb Buschman, Scrivener presenter Erica Dinka, and Becki Kidd, at Pewaukee Public Library.

Hanging out with the incomparable Linda Sue Park

When Newbery Award winner Linda Sue Park visits your area, you go. And that’s just what a bunch of us SCBWI-ers did recently when Boswell Book Company hosted her appearance promoting the release of her new middle grade novel, Prairie Lotus. Park says the work is reminiscent of the Little House books and is set in America’s heartland in the 1880s, but it’s meant to be much more inclusive and representative of the true diversity of the region then and now. Prairie Lotus features a half-Asian girl who’s also a wry, determined heroine.

SCBWI volunteers got some private chat time with Park before her event at the North Shore Library kicked off. You can see the event was well attended and just plain fun! Enjoy the pics.

SCBWI-Wisconsin is in the house!

SCBWI-Wisconsin is in the house!

Linda Sue Park speaking about her new book, Prairie Lotus

Linda Sue Park speaking about her new book, Prairie Lotus

Linda Sue Park speaking about her new book, Prairie LotusLinda Sue Park speaking about her new book, Prairie Lotus

Linda Sue Park holds her new release, Prairie Lotus, with an appreciative Silvia Acevedo

Linda Sue Park with her new release, Prairie Lotus, and Silvia Acevedo

New York!

I finally made it to SCBWI‘s New York international conference, and it was all I knew it would be. There is so much talent here, so much knowledge. I’m feeling like a dust mote in a wind storm. If you’re a creator of kidlit, especially an illustrator with a ready portfolio, get yourself out here. For now, enjoy some pix.

Golden Kite Gala

Golden Kite Gala

SCBWI Founder and Executive Director Lin Oliver

SCBWI Founder and Executive Director Lin Oliver

SCBWI 2020 NY conference opening address

SCBWI 2020 NY conference opening address



Times Square

Times Square

The Good Morning America studio

The Good Morning America studio

Photobombed in Times Square. Hi there, young'n! :)

Photobombed in Times Square. Hi there, young’n! 🙂

That light is all her, folks. SCBWI-Wisconsin's co-leader, Rochelle Groskreutz.

That light is all her, folks. SCBWI-Wisconsin’s co-leader, Rochelle Groskreutz.

Tall people being kind to me. :) They're big in talent, too.

Tall people being kind to me. 🙂 They’re big in talent, too.

Awwww! Us! SCBWI-Wisconsin co-RAs Rochelle Groskreutz and Silvia Acevedo

Awwww! Us! SCBWI-Wisconsin co-RAs Rochelle Groskreutz and Silvia Acevedo

Devoting more of myself to SCBWI


I’ve been getting more heavily involved with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators lately. Last year, I was honored to be named Wisconsin’s (and the nation’s) first Indie/Self-Publishing Coordinator. In that role, I put on free programming that helped members better understand publishing for themselves.

That role will now go to someone else as, I’m so honored to say, I’ll be joining Wisconsin’s leadership team as their assistant regional advisor. That means I’ll be helping the regional advisors who set up and oversee all state and regional programming.  It’s a great responsibility, one I take seriously.  As for the I/SP position, with the wealth of talent we have here, I’m sure the work will go to supremely able hands.

If you write or illustrate kids’ books, you really ought to look into this organization. SCBWI is the premier international professional association for authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults. You want professional development? You come here.

I’d like to thank SCBWI for all it provides: education, professional development, networking, mentoring, community, and support. It’s made all the difference for me in this wild and wacky adventure of kid lit.

SCBWI SpringConference 2018