An editorial by CWG President/Co-Founder, Sheila Wright

As cofounders of The Children’s Writer’s Guild (CWG), my husband Jack and I have worked for the past six years with writers wishing to develop their craft in the field of children’s literature. We have had the opportunity to watch both aspiring and seasoned writers grow beyond their own expectations and to enjoy the fellowship that comes from shared writing experiences. As co-facilitators of our Guild’s local manuscript critique groups, we have over the years consistently offered our members the same sound advice: read widely in the field of children’s publishing, stick with the critique process (which includes editing the work of others), join SCBWI (Society for Children’s Writer’s and Illustrators), attend professional writing workshops and conferences, etc. However, this important checklist (short of a MFA in Children’s Literature) always left me personally with an unsatisfied desire to offer something more in support of those struggling to be published. Recently, I found that “something,” and it can be summed up in two words: Highlights Foundation.


Contributed and written by Carmella Battoglia

Last year, I entered the BookRemarks contest as an active member of the NJ CWG. I was honored that my story, No You Can’t, came in second place. The money I was awarded helped me attend the Annual NJSCBWI Conference in June.

The conference was a wonderful, yet overwhelming experience. It was a weekend packed with opportunities to grow as a children’s writer and meet plenty of authors, agents and editors. Below are some tips to help you make the most of your experience if you choose to attend the conference this June. (more…)

David Ezra Stein

On a gorgeous autumn afternoon at the end of September, I was privileged to attend a phenomenal, free, open-air event organized by the Princeton Public Library.

The 8th Annual Children’s Book Festival was a glorious whirlwind of author presentations, book signings, and live music. The list of children’s authors and illustrators was lengthy and impressive. In addition to the picture of David Ezra Stein above, candid shots of the many other authors, illustrators and event attendees we met are available on our Facebook page.

Not only were festival goers able to meet and greet A-list children’s authors and illustrators, but they were also treated to short presentations. One presentation featured a live art demo of a 3-eared Cyclops moose, another included a surprise visit by Amelia Bedelia, and a third involved hilarious audience participation in the form of giggling children sporting animal skulls as talking “hats”! Every presentation was unique and engaging. Presentations cycled in 10-15 minute increments throughout the day-long event.

The riveting presentations were topped only by the opportunity to personally meet and chat with authors and illustrators at their individual tables. Without exception, these award-winning professionals were gracious, engaging, and kind.

My first stop in the tent area was to meet one of my personal middle grade writing heroines, the talented and prolific Ann M. Martin, award winning author and creator of the original Baby-sitters Club series. Despite a wrist injury, she signed books all day, one of which I now own (couldn’t resist!).

Trying (and probably failing) not to appear too overtly star-struck, I moved on to Lenore Look’s table, and got to chat with the creator of the Alvin Ho series.  Though her publisher didn’t get a batch of her new books to her in time for the event, there were many of her other gems from which to choose. She was personable and kind, and even shared a link with us to her website, which offers advice for up-and-coming children’s authors.

The remainder of the afternoon was filled to the brim with more of the same awesome experiences. We met several authors from right here in central NJ, including Jen Bryant and John (Bemelmans) Marciano.

It was an incredible day that I will never forget. I strongly encourage those interested in children’s writing and illustration to consider attending next year’s event. It is definitely time well-spent!

Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 9-10, 2013
NJ SCBWI Fall Craft Weekend

Princeton Theological Seminary
Stuart Hall and Mackay Campus Center
Princeton, NJ
Event kicks off at noon on Saturday and parts run through Sunday, finishing at 5 p.m.
FIVE Ways to enjoy this event!

  • PART A: Saturday Craft Afternoon
  • PART B1: Saturday evening dinner with the faculty of editor and agents
  • PART B2: Saturday night Peer Group Critique Session
  • PART C1: Sunday Writers’ Day
  • PART C2: Sunday Illustrators’ Day

Or simply throw caution to the literary wind and attend the whole darn weekend!

Featured editors/agents/art director/mentors:
Katie Bignell (editor, Katherine Tegen Books); Joanna Cardenas (editor, Viking Children’s Books); Gisueppe Castellano (art director, Penguin Group USA); Emily Feinberg (editor, Roaring Brook Press); Jennifer Laughran (agent, Andrea Brown Literary); Sean McCarthy (agent, Sheldon Fogelman); Jenna Pocius (editor, Bloomsbury USA) and Liza Voges (agent, Eden Street Literary); Tracey Baptiste (author/freelance editor); Laurie Calkhoven (author); Kristi Cook (author); Lizzie Foley (author); Bryan Langdo (illustrator/author), Tara Lazar (author); Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (author) and Kathy Temean (illustrator/author).

Lodging Info: There are rooms available ON-CAMPUS at the Theological Seminary at great rates, as well as an opportunity for a more traditional OFF-CAMPUS hotel stay. Click this link to find out more about lodging for this event. An OFF-CAMPUS response is required before Sept. 20, 2013.

For full details, or to register, click here!

Thursday, Oct. 23, 2013
NJ SCBWI KidLit Social Night

Come out, come out wherever you are and hang with us to connect, chat kidlit, share ideas and meet other NJ SCBWI members from your neighborhood. This is a relaxed evening intended with good times in mind. FREE welcome drink on us to the first ten people who register/RSVP!

30 Park Ave., Montclair, NJ
Thursday, October 24, 2013
TIME: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Additional info: Happy Hour until 8pm with 1/2 price drinks (ie: gin and tonic for $3.25 each). After 8pm drinks are 3 for $5 beers. Crazy cheap! Parking metered until 7pm, then free at Municipal lot across the street. NJ Transit Walnut Train Station (Montclair-Boonton Line) is one block walking distance from venue.
*Free to attend. You simply buy your own drinks and nibbles!

Registration required. RSVP to Kelly Calabrese, (

Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013
Kick-off PiBoIdMo and NaNoWriMo Night!

(FREE for SCBWI members! Three locations.)

PiBoIdMo (For picture book writers/illustrators)
Manville Library
A Branch of the Somerset County Library System
100 South 10th Avenue
Manville, NJ 08835
TIME: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

NaNoWriMo (For novelists)
Adams House
Princeton Theological Seminary
located on Library Place (next door to the Erdman Center at 20 Library Place)
Princeton, NJ
TIME: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

PiBoIdMo and NaNoWriMo (For picture book writers/illustrators and novelists)
Cherry Hill Public Library
A Branch of the Somerset County Library System
1100 Kings Highway North
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
TIME: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

For full details, click here. To register, click here.

The hero’s journey is already in your story DNA. It’s what makes you respond instinctively to some books . . . and not respond to others. But to use the journey as a writer, you must extract it and unravel it and look at it under a microscope. If you answer this call to adventure, you’ll gain a true understanding of the hero’s journey—the underlying structure of all successful plots. You’ll see how the journey plays out in book after book—from picture books to novels—and you’ll discover what’s working in (or missing from) your own work.

Sign up at

Friday the 21st some of our members’ work will be featured in
an exhibition opening at the Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster. Come
celebrate with us and enjoy an amazing display of the collaborative work of our
guild members and local artists.

Next Page »

“Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson