SPECIAL FEATURE How Inspiration Spreads Across the Ocean

Last autumn, a simple tweet sparked an idea that led to an unexpected explosion of creativity and generosity. Kim Howard, in the UK, and Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez, in the US, share their inspirational story.

Kim A Howard: Every Sunday for the last year or so, I've produced an image for the @SCBWI_BI Twitter feed and asked a question about it. It is tagged #SundayStarter and is intended as a point of inspiration for any writers or illustrators who might need it. Each tweet may generate a handful of responses online – a few likes, a couple of retweets, an occasional comment.

On 29 September 2019 I took a photo of the windfall apples on my garden table to use for that Sunday’s quote, added a comment and posted – job done. The result was not very different from any other #SundayStarter – just twelve likes and one comment. I thought the comment was pretty fabulous – a short poem all the way from California. I had no idea that anything unusual was happening, but I was wrong.

Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez: On a Sunday in September, I was perusing Twitter and saw a beautiful picture on my feed from SCBWI British Isles and wow, inspiration just hit! I came up with a short poem in just a few minutes. After posting it, I thought, I bet others would love to do this too. It also reminded me of the Spring Fling Writing Contest my friend Ciara and I did earlier in the year, and I thought, hmmm... maybe it’s time for another contest. I knew Susanna Hill’s contest was coming and thought maybe this would be a good way to start people off and remind them about her contest too.

I asked some published writing friends if they’d be willing to donate a prize and WOW did they deliver. I was shocked that so many people wanted to get involved and donate prizes. I am constantly amazed by the generosity of the kidlit writing community. As the Fall Writing Frenzy contest went on people were even more generous. Many judges, including myself, couldn’t narrow it down to just one winner, so by the end there were over 50 prizes given out!

When I first started this, I didn’t know what it would become, but it’s turned into a beautiful way of connecting new writers to established ones, which is what we hope to continue doing in the future.

Thank you, Kim, for sparking such an amazing flame.

Kim A Howard: At home in the south of England, I was blissfully unaware of any of this until one of my SCBWI BI Twitter buddies told me about it. Gob well and truly smacked! Sometimes sending out my #SundayStarter pictures and questions can feel a bit like scattering seeds into the wind. You have no idea if any of them will bear fruit, so this wonderful result is incredibly gratifying. It encourages me to search for new images and to ask new questions so that, even if I'm not writing myself, I might just be providing the spark that someone else needs.

*Featured image courtesy of Kim A Howard

Kim A Howard has been a member of SCBWI BI since 2013 but spends considerably more time reading than writing – she says it's research, but that's just an excuse. Her stories are usually for 7-10 year olds and take place in the real world – or just next door. If you were at Conference last year, Kim was the woman in the purple hat who was looking after our SCBWI Newbies. She has been the Sunday Twitter Bod since November 2018 which means Sundays are the days she produces most words.

Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez is a mom, wife, high school math teacher, picture book author (represented by the amazing Rebecca Angus), co-creator and co-host of the Kidlit Spring Fling Writing Contest and creator of the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest. She is currently learning to become a literary agent by interning at Olswanger Literary (it’s so much fun!!). Her debut book will be coming out 2021, more info to come soon! In her free time, she loves to play soccer, binge-watch shows on Hulu and Prime, and, of course, read, especially when her husband, daughter, and her all cosy up and read together.


  1. Yay, how cool! I was happy to be a part of Kaitlyn's contest.

  2. The kidlit world is vast and generous! Love these stories of writers coming together across the miles. :)

  3. This is so awesome! For me, connecting with this extended kidlit community is what life is all about.

  4. What a fantastic story. These connection bring us all together. You never know how one small action will affect others.

  5. Kaitlyn is wonderful at making connections and bringing the Kidlit community together, and it sounds like you are as well, Kim! What a beautiful story.


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