Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Spotlight Interview with Author JoAnn Early Macken

JoAnn Early Macken
In anticipation of Wisconsin's SCBWI Fall Conference, we've put together an interview series as a way to meet the people behind this year's presentations & breakout sessions.

Today I'm spotlighting JoAnn Early Macken, author of five picture books, including Baby Says "Moo!," Waiting Out The Storm, And Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds On the Move. She also wrote the poetry instruction guide Write a Poem Step by Step and more than 130 educational books for young readers. Her poems appear in numerous magazines and anthologies.

Let's see how JoAnn answered some questions about the conference and her creative process . . .


What part of the Wisconsin SCBWI conference are you most looking forward to and why?

"I always look forward to being surrounded by enthusiastic like-minded people who are eager to learn and share and focused on the goal of creating quality literature for young people. I can’t wait to catch up with old friends, meet new members, and find out what new and exciting events our chapter leaders have added to the agenda."


What is your top conference tip for attendees?

Look for opportunities to be involved. Find the right spot for your talents and volunteer to help. The rewards will be worth your effort.


Do you have a muse? A regimen that gets your creative juices flowing? In other words, where do you find artistic inspiration?

"The closest I can come to finding inspiration is to try to be open—to ideas, expressions, and exciting language. I walk outside every day if I can. Writing first thing in the morning, drinking exactly one mug of coffee, and staring out a window all help."


Can you share a piece of advice that helped you along your professional journey?

"Don’t let yourself become too attached to your work. Be willing to keep revising—or even starting over—as you learn. After writing, revising, critiquing, and more revising, when you’ve taken a project as far as you can, let it go and work on something else. Taking time away from the work often enables a fresh approach."


Thanks JoAnn!


You can visit JoAnn Early Macken's website at, her blog, or find her on Twitter @JoAnnEMacken. Her breakout session, The Dummy It: Activating Passive Language, will be presented at the Wisconsin SCBWI Fall Conference on Saturday, October 17th from 3:45-4:45 pm.

Active language makes a point clearly. It wastes no words. It engages readers and draws them into a scene. Passive language is indirect and wordy. It might even (gasp!) be boring. It raises the risk of losing readers. In this workshop, we'll discuss some common types of passive language. We'll examine examples of each one, and we'll explore specific remedies. You'll learn helpful techniques to apply to your own writing. You'll have oportunities to contribute suggestions. And you'll take home a detailed handout to help you remember.


P.S. It's not too late to sign-up for the Wisconsin SCBWI Fall Conference! Click here, to download the conference packet.


Genevieve Angelique Artel, SCBWI-Wisconsin Blog Editor

Genevieve Angelique is a YA writer, blusher, & Ravenclaw librarian turned SCBWI-WI blog editor. You can also find her online @Genevieve Angelique: Love, Books, & More or on Twitter