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1. The SCBWI-LA Summer Conference starts TONIGHT. :)

The annual, four-day SCBWI Summer Conference starts tomorrow! For some of us, it starts tonight—with some pre-conference karaoke (woo hoo!!). And for some, it started yesterday.

But I'm not actually attending this year! For the first time in over a decade. Because I'm pregnant. Due in a few days.

Still, the baby isn't here yet. So now (in addition to karaoke-ing tonight) I'm hoping to stop by and say hi to the many good friends who will be in town, get coffee, hang out . . .

The other reason I'm not attending this year is that SCBWI discontinued my Summer Conference photography arrangement with them of several years. (It's nothing personal. There have been some shifts in the main office, and the new crew is not as aware of the work I've done for them. Alas.) But the fact that I'm pregnant is a much more cheerful reason.

I hope to see many of you there.

I will see many good conference friends at karaoke tonight—Woo hoo!! My husband is bringing our new video camera, hoping to capture me shaking this pregnant belly to some inspired hip hop (which is so wrong.) This will definitely be his last chance.

Unless . . . I make an appearance at the SCBWI party Saturday night . . . ?? The theme is "Black and White," and this body is perfect for a penguin . . .

I'm just sayin'. ;)
r

P.S. Time permitting, I may still post a few informal pictures from around the fringes of the conference, afterward. There look to be some promising goings-ons this year.

So check back!

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2. rhcrayon @ 2013-06-18T22:47:00

Okay, but seriously now. I need to solve my book's problems now.

Now.

Now.

Do you hear me, universe??!? shakes fist at sky

Thunder!

Lightning!!

Thunder lightning thunderlightning!!

Rain.

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3. Blood, Pain, and Encouragement

The lovely Edith Cohn (check out her Web site! I took that author photo!) just sent our writing group this PW interview with Laura Amy Schlitz on Ms. Schlitz's writing and research process for Splendors and Glooms, which won a 2013 Newbery Honor, as a way to encourage me specifically. Here are some of my favorite quotes from it:

Splendors and Glooms

"I just couldn’t get this book under control. It was like a marathon. A blood-stained marathon."

"I’d write 10 chapters about three characters but those chapters left two other characters out in the cold. I’d run myself into a dead alley and I’d have to tear them up. I felt so stupid."

"I love making up characters. I could make up characters till the cows came home. Plot’s what hard. Very hard. . . . [I]t nearly killed me."


And I love this quote from the interview's end:

Would you rather be writing fulltime?

No, I wouldn’t give up the children. They are an inspiration to me.

Of course, as I continued reading that last paragraph it hit me that Ms. Schlitz was referring to her job as a school librarian, not children's she had. It was so much funnier when I thought she meant her biological children! And I was relieved when I thought she meant that. I guess the secret's out now: I'm pregnant. So the idea of juggling new parenthood with writing has been on my mind a lot.

I'll end this post with another image that's been on my mind: My husband and I recently took a Childbirth Preparation Class, and I wanted so badly to take a picture and post it on Facebook, labeled "Childbirth Preparation Class." I couldn't—because we were sitting in a small group in a tiny little room facing each other and had to stay poker-faced. But the woman had wheeled in a whiteboard, and the only words written on it, in all caps, were,

BLOOD

PAIN


I wanted to laugh hysterically. The reason she had written these words was that she wanted to talk about these ideas and demystify them. It was meant to be reassuring. But that was the dominant visual the whole time. She had even written TRUST and circled it earlier but erased that to write these. (I have no idea why she wrote TRUST. I've forgotten.)

Anyway, you should read the whole PW interview with Laura Amy Schlitz. Her talking about blood and pain is encouraging. I love, love, love Ms. Schlitz's A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama and can't wait to check out Splendors and Glooms. I can't believe I haven't read it already!

Love,
rita

A Drowned Maiden's HairA Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


View all my reviews on GoodReads

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4. Some days . . . (and somedays)

Sometimes you just have to cry.

I've been working on this book a long time. A long time. A . . . long time.

I've been working on the same problem in this book for a long time. And trying to see if there's a way to write the book without solving it. And taking breaks from it. Taking walks. Showers. Vacations. Ice cream, cookies, exercise, journals. Just, generally, holding it together. I have great writing groups, friends, family. I have my health. I'm counting my blessings.

Someday I'll figure this out. But not today. Again.

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5. Photos: SCBWI-LA Writer's Days 2013 (Saturday and Sunday)

My friends!

Photos from this year's wildly successful SCBWI-LA Writer's Days conference on "Diversity" are up!


SCBWI-LA Writer's Days 2013: "Diversity!"
Sat. & Sun., March 9-10, in San Gabriel, CA

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Lovely contest winners from this year's SCBWI-LA Writer's Days. From left to right, top row: Lori Snyder, Erin Fry, Mary Williams. Second row: Christine Bernardi, Judy Kay Slowey-Sly, and Axie Oh.

You can view the full set from both Saturday and Sunday on Facebook here, or on Flickr here.
From Flickr you can download the image files directly by clicking "Actions"-->"View All Sizes"-->and then selecting the size you need. Please credit Rita Crayon Huang if you use any of these on your Web sites, blogs, Facebook, etc. If anyone wants the full-size originals--like, if you wanted to print specific photos out--contact me and I'll send them to you directly. Thanks, and enjoy!

This year's SCBWI-LA Writer's Days conference theme was "Diversity," and--as you will see from the pictures--our regional advisors Sarah Laurenson and Lee Wind put together a stellar lineup of speakers who really spoke to the topic and examined it from all angles--and were really fun and dynamic to listen to, to boot! (I could make a collage out of Daniel Nayeri's expressions alone--but, I will refrain.)

This was the second year SCBWI-LA has added Sunday intensives to Writer's Day, creating Writer's Days plural--a full, weekend event. I took the World Building intensive on Sunday, along with several good friends (and we all did the reading quite diligently). The class was called "Setting As Character: Building Your World," taught by Malinda Lo, and it was super helpful. I loved how you could tell that everyone in the class had come ready to roll up their sleeves and work. Everyone's comments smacked of experience.

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Sunday Intensives, World Building Track: "Setting as Character: Building Your World" with Malinda Lo

Thank you again to all of the hardworking volunteers who participated, and most of all to Lee, Sarah, and Sally Jones Rogan for putting on a spectacular two-day event! I really learned a lot and had a blast doing it!

And congratulations again to all of the contest winners--and to Sue Welfringer for winning this year's Sue Alexander Service and Encouragement (SASE) Award. And to Edie Pagliasotti for winning a special SASE Award.

I hope you all enjoy the photos, :)

Rita

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6. Photos: Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour--and Book Drive!--2012

Hi, Everyone!

Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour--and Book Drive!--2012 took place this past weekend. I took an even dozen pictures. Check them out on Facebook here, or by clicking the image below:

Karol and me, chief organizers of this year's Kid Lit holiday event
Karol and me, chief organizers of this year's LA Kid Lit holiday event

40 to 50 people were there at the height, with several of us lined up before the bar opened, and others hanging out until Happy Hour's bitter end three and a half hours later. I didn't bring my flash, though, so I didn't document most of it. (Deliberate strategy, honestly.)

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Last partyers standing! Closing down LA Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour 2012.

Others have posted their pictures at the Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour--and Book Drive!--2012 Facebook page, so check those out also. And Karol and Charlie will still be collecting books for the book drive at tonight's SCBWI-LA Westside Writers Schmooze in Santa Monica.


I also took a few token shots at the screening of Library of the Early Mind that happened just before this, at the Santa Monica Public Library just a couple blocks away. I was so happy to see this film at last--and to see so many familiar faces gathered there!

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Free screening of Library of the Early Mind, a 2010 documentary exploring the art and impact of children’s literature on our kids, our culture, and ourselves. Above, Lee offers a few words of introduction on behalf of SCBWI Los Angeles, who co-sponsored the event with the Santa Monica Public Library, and Karol gets mad props for making this screening and partnership happen.


As I wrote on the screening's Facebook page,

"Thank you again to the Westside Writers Schmooze (Karol and Charlie!), SCBWI-LA, and the Santa Monica Public Library for putting this together. Those of you who didn't make it, don't despair. Apparently you can also watch this movie on Library of the Early Mind's Web site--for a $5 rental fee. :) But it was so great to watch it with this vibrant group!"


Happy Holidays, Kid Lit Community!!

Cheers,
Rita

P.S. Special thanks to D for helping me decorate boxes for the holiday book drive, engaging with the movie (yay! I'm glad he liked it!), and then keeping me supplied with food and drinks throughout the Happy Hour, when he knew I would be too scattered to feed myself. I'm lucky, I know.

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7. This Dec. 1st: Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour, LIBRARY OF THE EARLY MIND, & Apocalypsies Book Signing!

Hello, Everyone!

Just wanted to let you all know about three (3) exciting children's book events coming up on Saturday, Dec. 1st, open to all.

1) Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour--and Book Drive!--2012
is taking place at Wokcano in Santa Monica on Dec. 1st, from 4 to 7:30 pm. An informal mixer with holiday cheer. Come socialize with fellow creators and lovers of children's books! And bring your unwrapped, new and gently used children's books (board books through YA novels)!

Visit the "Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour--and Book Drive!--2012 Facebook page for more details on this year's event.

Kid_Lit_Holiday_Party-20111203-1Kid_Lit_Holiday_Party-20111203-22
Click images above to view pictures from last year's Kid Lit Holiday Party and Book Drive. It was super fun--and produced a lot of holiday cheer for children in need!


2) This year's party immediately follows the nearby, FREE screening of Library of the Early Mind, a documentary interviewing nearly 40 celebrity children's book creators, at the Santa Monica Public Library Main Branch from 2 to 3:45 pm.

LEM
Library of the Early Mind interviews nearly 40 celebrity children's book creators, exploring the impact of children's literature on our kids, our culture, and ourselves.

The screening is co-sponsored by SCBWI-LA. For details including parking info, visit the "LIBRARY OF THE EARLY MIND - Free Screening!" Facebook page--and feel free to RSVP/"Join." I have been excited about this movie for a long time. By all accounts, it is wonderful.


3) The Kid Lit Happy Hour also follows the Apocalypsies Book Signing Party at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach from 2:30 to 3:30 pm, where nine (9) of our celebrated local authors will be signing books. Check out the superstar lineup through the link! People attending the book signing party will still have time to come to our Happy Hour, after . . .


So come one, come all! These events are open to all who love children's books, so please help spread the word!

Many MANY thanks to the organizers--especially Karol Ruth Silverstein this time around, who played an instrumental role both in bringing the screening to our area and getting this year's Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour and Book Drive underway.

Cheers, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope to see many of you on Dec. 1st!
Rita

P.S. Feel free to "Join"/RSVP at the above linked Facebook event pages. RSVPs are purely optional, but always appreciated.

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8. Photos: SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day 2012

My Friends,

Photos from this year's SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day are up!


SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day 2012
Saturday, Nov. 3rd in San Gabriel, CA

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Winners from this year's SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day portfolio and illustration contests.
(L to R:) ID contest 3rd place - Megan Hartfelder, People's Choice portfolio winner - Mary Lundquist, ID contest 1st place- Ashlyn Anstee, ID contest 2nd place - Kent Culotta, Judge's Choice portfolio winner - Andrea Offermann, Judge's Choice portfolio winner - Keika Yamaguchi

The contest winners look so happy, don't they? You can see the full Illustrator's Day photo album on Facebook here or on Flickr here. As always, please include a credit if you use any of these images on your own media. Thanks!

To see illustrations entered into the contest, including the winning pieces, check out SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day's Facebook page, or go directly to the Facebook Illustration Contest album.


The fascinating thing about shooting Illustrator's Day is that it happens in the dark, because everyone brings visual aids. So, for example, I started out shooting from the speakers' left, because I wanted to piggyback off light from the screen and avoid some bright windows in the back. But I later realized those windows were giving everyone a silvery halo from behind, and tried to capture that on purpose. You find little things. :)

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Most people don't realize these pictures are taken in the dark (I hope).

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"I can see your halo (halo, halo . . . )"


This picture of Dan Krall, James Burks, and Mark Fearing from the early morning made me laugh. They look like the Three Little Monkeys--See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Speak No Evil--except they didn't put up their hands!

20121103-SCBWI-LA-IllusDay2012-3
Which little monkey is which? It doesn't matter, because these three see, hear, and say everything.

Mary Peterson spotted me taking this photo and gave the grouping another name, which I won't repeat here. She's hilarious.


I love-Love-LOVED Merideth Harte's outfit on this day, though I'm scared to say what it made me think of, in case she didn't do it on purpose. (I personally wore my red pirate shorts and black lace-up boots on this day, so I hope she DID do what I was thinking on purpose. But maybe it was just me--and the angles and lights in the moment.)

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Looks a bit like juggling . . .

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And lion taming . . .

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Plus being a ringmaster, and Awesome.

Seriously, though, at one point someone said something that was unintentionally awkward and Ms. Harte answered in a way that played that up, which made it funnier. And then she . . . *ahem* mimed opening a door and walking right through it. And I was like, Can those skills be accidental??

These thoughts led me to include one more picture at the end of the album that I normally wouldn't--but, this time, couldn't resist.

20121103-SCBWI-LA-IllusDay2012-20
{{fin}}

Am I allowed to post funny pics of luminaries I don't know?


I also had a good time taking pictures of friends all day long, like my good pal Mark Fearing, who gave a talk on digital apps.

20121103-x-SCBWI-LA-IllusDay2012-42-3
Mark giving his "vignette" on creating apps, aptly named, "App talk"

You know, I originally didn't use that photo in the official album, because I second guess too much what people will like. But I'm adding it now, because I realize I don't want to blog the pictures I did put in. *eloquent shrug*


From the end of the day:

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Mark Fearing is left autographing books long after SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day 2012 has ended

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Mark signs hundreds of books (though they seem mostly to be by Peter H. Reynolds)

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He is a very serious author/illustrator.


I also loved Dan Krall's opening talk, "Look, No Hands (or How I made a career in illustration without ever learning to draw hands)," which was so, so great. He said some things I really needed to hear right now with my work, about how if you really focus on conveying your ideas well, people won't notice your shortcomings in craft, that maybe you've been obsessing over for way too long. I especially loved the graph Dan made tracking artistry (along the vertical axis) to age (along the horizontal), showing his personal journey. It was hilarious and felt true.

[I did take a picture of that graph, but I won't show it, because that's his and maybe he'll want to give this talk again. But get Dan to show it to you, if you can. Go hear him speak!]


There were a lot more funny moments and celebrity sightings (Hi, Peepy!), so check out the full album.

20121103-SCBWI-LA-IllusDay2012-32
If you come to SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day, you, too, can have this much fun! And hang out with beautiful women.


Every year that I've attended, the Coordinators have ended the day by thanking each and every volunteer by name who helped make Illustrator's Day happen. So I'd like to give a shout out to the three fearless leaders who REALLY made this event brilliant:

Thank you, Ken W. Min,

Thank you, Karyn Raz,

and

Thank you, Wilson Swain

for doing a stupendous job of putting Illustrator's Day together.

20121103-SCBWI-LA-IllusDay2012-57
Our three fearless Coordinators thank each of us, even though we need to thank them!

Thank you guys for creating an amazing conference, and thanks for letting me participate, too. I love hanging out with all of you!

Visit the Illustrator's Day Web site or Facebook page, or email LAillustratorsday@yahoo.com for more information—both about this year's event and the next. (But, you know. Give our Coordinators a moment to recover. They deserve a vacation!)

Cheers,
Rita

P.S. One more personal highlight:

At the very, very end of the day, Mark Fearing lent me money so I could buy a copy of Peter H. Reynolds's Ish and get it signed.

20121103-SCBWI-LA-IllusDay2012-69
Peter H. Reynolds signs my new copy of Ish at SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day 2012.
Mark, I still owe you a dollar!


Ish is a sequel to The Dot, which I already love and had brought my copy from home to get signed.

20121103-SCBWI-LA-IllusDay2012-24
Ish and The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds, in the SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day 2012 bookstore

I first learned about The Dot when Lee dressed up as it for our Kid Lit Halloween Costume party last year:

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Sara Wilson Etienne, me, and Lee Wind, dressed up as Harriet the Spy, Bunnicula, and The Dot, respectively. When Lee told us the story of The Dot, we all got chills. When I repeated it to my husband later (without having read it myself yet, mind you), I almost started crying. (Oct. 2011: Check out the rest of the Kid Lit Costumes here.)

The Dot is about getting started as an artist. Ish is about giving yourself permission to not do everything "perfectly"--to keep going. As with the message from Dan Krall's morning talk, this was something I needed to hear right now. (Peter H. Reynolds read Ish to us during his end-of-the-day talk.) I also chatted with Mark Fearing and Andrea Offermann on this subject, afterward, so thank all of you so much . . .


And finally . . . 

Did you know there's a collection of my SCBWI event photos on Flickr?

SCBWI Events mosaic
Click on the image to visit my SCBWI Events Collection on Flickr.

Here you can view pictures from SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Days, Writer's Days, and the SCBWI International Summer Conferences from the last several years--including links to their corresponding Facebook albums. Come see what everyone looks like! or what we used to, anyway. :)

Cheers, and enjoy,
Rita

P.P.P.S. Hahahahaha--
This just in from Dan Krall, on FB:

Remixed by Dan Krall
Dan: "A photo from the Nobel Awards or the Super Villain Conference, I'm not sure which."

Now I'm REALLY glad I added that photo. :)

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9. (TED talk:) Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

We interrupt our regularly promised next post to say, Listen to this TED talk:


Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability




Amazing. Freakin' amazing. We know these things to be true, but when you hear it, you can use it in a new way. Especially if it ties into your book. But your book comes from your life, too. So we really have to know what we're doing. embrace not knowing what we're doing?

Something like that.
In order to do it.

:)
r

Kind of like what M.T. Anderson once said at a past SCBWI Summer Conference: "The experiment is the piece of literature, not the preparation for the piece of literature."

So with life!

P.P.S. With thanks to Irvin Lin at Eat the Love for leading me to this talk, after an amazing weekend of Irvin and AJ hosting me in SF. Love you guys so much.

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10. PPS. re: Photos: The 2012 SCBWI Summer Conference (#LA12SCBWI). Part I.5: The TALKS

P.P.S. One more SCBWI Summer Conference talk to add to my previous post in this "two-part" miniseries.

How crazy was it that Deborah Underwood relied on Jonah Lehrer's Imagine: How Creativity Works for part of her keynote, and then had to scramble when the scandal broke out three days before the conference?? (Jonah Lehrer had been caught making up Bob Dylan quotes so his whole book was called into question, and the publisher pulled it from stores everywhere.) I was in the middle of reading it when that happened and had been talking to everyone I know about the ideas in it, so hearing Deborah Underwood reveal her dilemma onstage both confirmed and amplified how calamitous this news felt.

SCBWI_Summer_Conference_2012-61_by_rhcrayon
Deborah Underwood, "The Power of Quiet" (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)

Amazingly, Deborah was able to email the scientists behind the studies she was specifically citing and get them to confirm their results so she could still give her talk. She started personally checking the book herself! Another of my friends at the conference was in the middle of reading it, too (just one chapter behind me!), so I know there were lots of us super interested in this. I'm still hoping the substance of the book is true, even if the quotes are fudged. (Why anyone would think it's okay to make up quotes in a high-profile book in this day and age is beyond me. But I was getting annoyed that all the people in the book sounded the same. I thought maybe this was a function of the author being attracted to certain quotes, plus the fact I was listening to the audiobook so maybe he was giving everyone the same cadence.)

Obviously I was super interested in Deborah's subject. I have been thinking a lot about the role of quiet and taking breaks in creativity (what Sara calls "magic brain"). But it was so cool that Deborah was able to start confirming the contents of Imagine when the rest of us have been left in the lurch, wondering if someone is going to. The letter of apology she "quoted" from Jonah Lehner was super funny.


As I mentioned in "Part I," all of my pictures from the 2012 SCBWI Summer Conference can be viewed on Facebook here and on Flickr here

"Part II" is still coming up, :)
r

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11. Photos: The 2012 SCBWI Summer Conference (#LA12SCBWI). Part I: The TALKS

Hi, Everyone! Fun stuff! My photos from the SCBWI 2012 Summer Conference are up!

The SCBWI 2012 International Summer Conference
August 3–6, 2012, in Los Angeles, CA USA

SCBWI_Summer_Conference_2012-1_by_rhcrayon
Lin Oliver kicks off SCBWI's 41st Annual Summer Conference with our own, very tiny Olympic torch, presented to Dan Gutman.

Click here to view all 234 photos on Facebook, where you can tag yourself and your friends.
Click here to view the same set on Flickr instead, where you can download full-size files.

Please credit Rita Crayon Huang if you use any of these images on your blogs, Facebook, Web sites, etc. Please also tweet, tag, and spread the word! Feel free to untag yourselves, too, if that is your wish. As always, if any picture makes you uncomfortable in any way, message me privately and I will take it down immediately, no questions asked.


I had lots of writer friends on the faculty this year. Here are a few from the Friday morning walk-in:

SCBWI_Summer_Conference_2012-3_by_rhcrayonSCBWI_Summer_Conference_2012-4_by_rhcrayonSCBWI_Summer_Conference_2012-8_by_rhcrayonSCBWI_Summer_Conference_2012-9_by_rhcrayon
Authors Jennifer Bosworth; Greg Fishbone--a new friend!; Martha Brockenbrough and Jolie Stekly, also representing Team Blog;
and our very own Sara Wilson Etienne at Friday morning's Welcome & Introduction of Faculty. (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)


So many of my friends are crossing over to the other side! Slowly but surely, I can feel the tide turning. Crazy how everyone's individual striving is adding up like this.

The talks were fantastic, as always. An obvious highlight this year was Ruta Sepetys's keynote, "You Can't Break the Broken," about how she went to a prison camp as research for her book. I've never seen anyone lay themselves so bare as a human being onstage before. She laid all of us bare in the process--and she did it while being funny. Even when she got to the soul-shaking bits, she kept on going, and she kept on being funny. I know that David Small took us on a profound journey last year, too, down into the deep, dark hearts we all know from our own lives and then back up, into the light--with dancing--but da--ng. Ruta made us confront who we are right now, in our chairs, as adults. It was unexpected, to say the least.

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Ruta Sepetys, "You Can't Break the Broken: Writing Emotional Truth" (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)

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Standing ovation for Ruta Sepetys's emotional keynote at the SCBWI 2012 Summer Conference (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)


I attended Ruta's breakout session on media prep, too, and it was wonderful. (That was before her keynote, so I had no idea what she had in store for us.)

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Ruta Sepetys, "Media Prep: Author Tips for Radio, TV, and Print Coverage" (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)


Did I feel ashamed of myself taking a picture of Ruta crying, by the way? Yes. But that didn't stop me from doing the same thing to my tablemate at the Golden Kite Awards.

SCBWI_Summer_Conference_2012-191_by_rhcrayon
Reaction to Golden Kite Awards speeches (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)


But what I'm trying to say is, awesome talks and breakouts aside--

oh! But I also attended Eugene Yelchin's breakout on thinking "Outside the Trim," which was also fantastic! I went because his answers were so smart during the picture book panel that morning that he made a fan out of me on the spot. During the panel he brought up how, as children's book creators and creators of culture, we're all participating in a larger conversation that spans time and space and topics (my paraphrasing, sorry). We have to be aware of the current cultural moment in order to add what we want.

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Jon Klassen, Antoinette Portis, Eugene Yelchin, and Lee Wardlaw on the Picture Book Panel, "The Picture Book: The Dance Between Words and Pictures." Moderated by Dan Yaccarino. (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)


I was like, Yes!! I had forgotten that's what we're doing! I haven't thought about this business in a big-picture, intellectual way in a long time. You know, I confront the emotions and minutiae of what I'm trying to say day to day, and the audience I'm trying to reach, but not the big space-time continuum of how we fit in. And you don't need to think about that in order to participate--we're all participating all the time--but I'd become ungrounded in terms of how to think about issues like whom we're trying to speak for regarding multiculturalism in our books, for example. We speak for ourselves, always--and we do this by being aware of what other people are saying, and responding. That's all there is to it.

This echoes what Lee Wind once told me Jacqueline Woodson said on the subject of race in her books, which is that it helps to remember we don't have to start the discussion ourselves; we just have to add.

After that I spontaneously went to Eugene Yelchin's breakout session to hear more of how this guy thinks.

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Eugene Yelchin, "Outside the Trim: Thinking Beyond the Literal Space of the Picture Book" (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)


It was brilliant--of course. It was especially eye-opening for me as a writer who's been turning over in my mind how I might use photography in a picture book way someday. Eugene (if I may call him that) broke down a lot of visual concepts and gave me new vocabulary with which to think. I wasn't looking for that, and now I'm excited to take these ideas and play.

Of course, this meant I missed the talk I had originally planned to attend--Jenn Bosworth's "The Conspicuous Writer (Turning Readers Into Fans)"--which I heard later from Sara was amazing. But what can ya do. pang as fomo is confirmed I'm learning to follow the moment . . .

I also went to Matthew Kirby's session on Voice, which was outstanding.

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Matthew Kirby, "Voice" (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)


Everyone there agreed: we'd never heard anyone discuss voice so clearly before. It was just so clear. And it was right, everyone also agreed. We all knew it--the definition of voice--when we heard it. ;)

Ahh. That soothes a complaint I've had for a long time on how people should really be able to define voice, because are we writers or aren't we?? It also led to a revelation for me about what to do with the voice in my book. I had brought my niggling question to ask at the session's end, but Matthew's presentation was so clear that just thinking about how to phrase my question in his terms, answered it.

(!)

I hear Mike Jung is going to give a talk on Voice soon for which he suspects he will borrow heavily from this one (with attribution, of course). So if you want to know what was said, go hear Mike! Or go hear Matthew Kirby, of course. :)

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The guy in the hat plans to steal from Matthew Kirby's talkspeak on Voice soon.


And, I attended Sara's session on creating book trailers.

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Sara Wilson Etienne, "Book Trailers: Storyboards, Scripts, Lookbooks, and Everything That Puts the 'Tease' in Teaser" (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)

Amazing, also. If you haven't seen Sara's astounding book trailer yet, check it out here. And be on the lookout for her forthcoming article on producing book trailers, which will appear in the next update to the SCBWI Publication Guide. Even though I had heard Sara talk about making her trailer all while she was doing it, it was so enlightening to see the lookbooks and rough cuts she and her talented friends had made. The session was chock-a-block packed with real, how-to information, plus how one should think about different kinds of trailers before getting started. And she showed how much you can get done before you've spent one dollar, which I loved, too.


Okay! But I actually didn't want to talk about the talks and inspiration and craft and business side of the conference--I wanted to talk about the people and the fun! With friends and at yoga and the party and afterparty . . .

All right, you know what? This post has gotten long enough. I'll do the fun stuff in a "Part II" post. Please come back.

So just one more talk--really quick. Because it made a difference.

Amy Goldman Koss said some really provocative stuff during her breakout, "Character Quirks and Credible Jerks! Nailing Character," about how she doesn't believe people change; that they come into the world the way they are. (She said if you believe differently, you can write books that show such, but she has to stay true to what she believes.) She also said the more individuality you give a character, the more you risk that character being disliked by readers. (Good for villains, potentially bad for protagonists.)

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Amy Goldman Koss, "Character Quirks and Credible Jerks! Nailing Character" (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)

I've turned these ideas over and over in my mind. Of course I want to argue, but she used compelling examples, plus I know what she's saying. It's gotten the dialog going pretty awesomely in my mind. I also just read one of her books, Poison Ivy, and wow, that book is brutal but brilliant. I mean, brilliant. And brutal. Those characters are alive in the most stubborn, maddening but real way possible. I recommend it to everyone. (Be forewarned, but definitely read it.)

I've been thinking over how I might test some of Amy's ideas in my book, through a couple of my characters, and the book is definitely benefiting.


Okay! So that's everything I'm going to say about craft, business, and inspiration in this two-part miniseries. Come back in a few days for the fun, fun, fun, okay? =)

Cheers,
Rita

P.S. Did you know that I have an SCBWI Events photo collection on Flickr?

SCBWI Events mosaic
Click on the image or link to visit my SCBWI Events Collection on Flickr, including International Summer Conferences and Los Angeles regional conferences from the last several years.

In addition to latest, 2012 Summer Conference photos, it includes pictures from the 2011 Summer Conference, the 2010 Summer Conference, the 2009 Summer Conference, and the 2008 Summer Conference--with corresponding Facebook links--plus the last several SCBWI-Los Angeles Writer's Days and Illustrator's Days. I just glanced through them and wow. I totally recognize people--faces in the background--that I didn't know back then. And we're all younger. You should check it out.

Cheers, and enjoy,
Rita

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12. "Whoa . . .uh-oh! That's what makes you beau-ti-ful!" ♩♫♪

This is that time of year when I start going through my pictures from the SCBWI Summer Conference, reliving highlights as I discover what I got, all while listening to ridiculously poppy, boppy music (which helps me weed). The experience gets me high, even as I'm sure everyone else is either winding down or has already come back to reality.

Can't wait to share the pictures! In the meantime, please enjoy another delightful, illustrated recap of the Summer Conference--this time by my good friend Ken Min. Ken is an award-winning illustrator who has summed up the full range of what one experiences at the Summer Conference through personal examples, and illustrates his favorite takeaway by putting it into practice immediately--which inspires me. Check out Ken's "SCBWI 2012 Summer Conference Manifesto" here.

♥ ♩♫♪!
"Whoa . . . uh-oh! That's what makes you beau-ti-ful!!"
Rita

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13. SCBWI 2012 Summer Conference Pictures Are Coming!

Well, what do you know. All kinds of ideas are coming to me today as a direct result of the SCBWI 2012 Summer Conference, and I've been stymied a long time. Thank you to all of the good friends and faculty I had meaningful conversations with this weekend! And to all of the friends I'm going to have revelatory conversations with, going forward!

Photos are coming soon! In the meantime, check out this lovely illustrated recap of Mary Peterson's Conference takeaways. Mary is the wonderful illustrator behind such picture book delights as Piggies in the Pumpkin Patch, written by herself and Jennifer Rofé, and the forthcoming Wooby and Peep, written by Cynthea Liu, and was on the Summer Conference faculty this year.


Mary Peterson's 2012 Summer Conference Takeaways

Says Mary,


Another fun, exhausting, exhilerating, hilarious conference! I love seeing so many old friends and making new ones. The images above were scanned from the notes I took over the weekend. Credits for each bit of wisdom...

1. Personal observation
2. Linda Pratt, Literary Agent
3. John Klassen, author/illustrator
4. Arthur A. Levine, Arthur A. Levine Books
5. Tony diTerlizzi, author/illustrator
6. Rubin Pfeffer, Literary Agent

Shared with permission from marypeterson.com.


rita

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14. Photos: SCBWI-LA Writer's Days 2012 (Saturday AND Sunday)

Friends! Photos from last weekend's SCBWI-LA Writer's Days are up!


SCBWI-LA Writer's Days: "Books and Beyond: How To Make A Living (And A Life!) As A Writer"
Sat. & Sun., April 21-22, 2012

Lee Wardlaw Dawne Knobbe Bonnie Berry LaMon Monica Haven Terri Farley Jennifer Bosworth, Kristen Kittscher, Sara Wilson Etienne, Tony Etienne Anne Tibbets
Lee Wardlaw: "Ten Things I've Learned from My Cats about Being A Children's Book Author."
Dawne Knobbe: "Busting out of the Box--Creative Marketing for Published/Unpublished Writers."
Bonnie Berry LaMon (Professional Forum): "More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Children's Book Publishing Agreements."
Monica Haven giving a tip on how to make a living as a writer. She led the Professional Forum on Taxes: "Fact of Fiction?"
Terri Farley: "Fetch Me A Dream, PDQ."
Jennifer Bosworth, Kristen Kittscher, Sara Wilson Etienne, and Tony Etienne kickin' it at lunch.
Anne Tibbets during a mid-morning creativity exercise involving pipe cleaners.
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15. SCBWI-LA Writer's Days and Kid Lit Drink Night this weekend!

What's up, people!!

Chocolate-covered strawberries from my good friend Vicki, just because. Chocolate-covered strawberries from my good friend Vicki, just because.
(Chocolate-covered strawberries from my good friend Vicki, just because.)


We have two (2) exciting treats for the creators of children's book in the LA region coming up this weekend.

1. SCBWI-LA Writer's Days is happening this Saturday and Sunday--April 21st & 22nd. You can sign up for one or both days here. Read all about the Writer's Days speakers and their talks at the first link. Non-SCBWI members are welcome, too!

SCBWI-LA's Regional Advisors, Lee Wind and Sarah Laurenson, posted a fun video about the event: "10 Hot Tips from SCBWI Los Angeles Writer's Days Faculty!" Check it out!

Sara is a Writer's Day speaker this year! Woo hooo!!

2. The next LA Kid Lit Drink Night--which is not sponsored by SCBWI but is also open to all who love children's books--takes place that same Saturday evening, April 21st, in that same area. Kid Lit Drink Night is an informal mixer where everyone buys their own libations and mingles away. This one is sure to be attended by many Writer's Days attendees and faculty.

That's Saturday April 21, 2012
6pm-9pm

at the outdoor patio/bar area of the
Monrovia DoubleTree
924 West Huntington Drive
Monrovia, CA 91016
(4 miles east of the SCBWI-Los Angeles Writer's Day location)

Facebook event page here.


So come one, come all! Hope to see you all at SCBWI-L.A. Writer's Days--and at Kid Lit Drink Night!

Cheers,
Rita

Chocolate-covered strawberries from my good friend Vicki, just because.P.S. Bonus!! Registration for the SCBWI Summer Conference 2012 starts this Wednesday at 10 AM. Check it out!!

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16. Photos: Book Launch for HARBINGER, by Sara Wilson Etienne—w/ details for Harbinger Launch Party 2.0!

Sara's debut YA novel Harbinger came out on Feb. 2nd, 2012, and I had the privilege of attending her first book launch for it on Saturday, Feb. 4th, at Children's Book World in L.A.

Sara Wilson Etienne mingling at the book launch for HARBINGER
Sara Wilson Etienne mingling at the book launch for Harbinger
at Children's Book World in Los Angeles, CA, Feb. 4th, 2012

Click here to view all 53 photos on Flickr.
(Photos by both me and my husband, because I had fractured my foot and needed help. Thank you, D!)


I've included some favorite photos here, and they should speak for themselves (especially because I wrote captions for them). This book launch was phenomenal. Children's Book World was packed to silliness, and Sara delivered a silky smooth, perfect talk, and then friends and family and fans from all over the country lined up to get their copies signed.

Sara's proud writing group—me (Rita Crayon Huang) and Lee Wind—at the book launch for HARBINGER
Sara's proud writing group—me (Rita Crayon Huang) and Lee Wind—at the book launch for Harbinger

Sara's fans applaud wildly Sara's fans applaud wildly
Sara receives a warm welcome. "Author! Author!"

Sara Wilson Etienne shows off HARBINGER's endpapers, illustrated by artist husband Tony Etienne
Sara shows off Harbinger's beautiful endpapers, illustrated by artist husband Tony Etienne

Author Kristen Kittscher listens appreciatively to Sara's talk
Author Kristen Kittscher listens appreciatively to Sara's talk

Let the autographing begin! Sara Wilson Etienne signs copies of HARBINGER for fans.
Let the autographing begin! Sara Wilson Et

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17. Rita Book Today: My Top Picture Books Picks from The Year of the Rabbit (2011)

Happy Chinese New Year, Everyone! Gong Xi Fa Cai!!

I was going to post my "Top Picture Book Picks from The Year of the Rabbit" list last weekend (before the Year of the Rabbit ran out), but I ran out of time. Little did I know that last Monday--the first day of the Year of the Dragon--was also the day ALA would announce all of their major book awards for this year. And that so many off my list would get picked!

Now I don't get to say I found them first. :(

For what it's worth, here are my top picks of picture books from the past year. I went through a lot of picture books to come up with these, and if I'd had more time, I would have kept on going. But now that the Big Awards have come out, I feel pretty good about my coverage. :)

As with last year, in annual countdown fashion . . .

(drumroll . . . )


6.

Shoes for MeShoes for Me by Sue Fliess, illustrated by Mike Laughead

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cute, exuberant pictures and words, perfect for all the parents I know who have been charmed by their kids' first pairs of shoes. The book is decidedly girly, although the shoes Hippo chooses from aren't. The styles include lots of favorite shoe trends I recognize from both boys and girls I know.

I recently had the pleasure of overhearing one two year old shout, "Shooss for Me!" as her mom pulled this book off my shelf. (They had their own copy at home--from me, of course!) I've given out lots of copies this year, because this book is a charmer.

There's a sequel coming out in 2012: A Dress for Me! I can't wait to check it out.


5.

That's How!That's How! by Christoph Niemann

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I couldn't resist this punchy picture book by Christoph Niemann, the same artist who brought us Subway last year, which made my "Top Picture Books from The Year of the Tiger" list.

Just tested this out on our friend C's four year old and, man, it was a hit. He loves all things that go and is mechanically inclined--so we wondered whether he might object to the "unreality" of these answers. Nope, he burst out giggling at every page, and it was music to hear him explain how each picture worked. Not only that, the repetitive text meant that after my husband read it the first time, and I read it the second, our pal was able to "read" the entire book to his dad on his third time through (slight variations included), and show off all the fun, extra pictures on the book's hard cover (under the dust jacket).

I read the debate on GoodReads with great interest about whether this book offends, because the girl does most of the asking and the boy most of the explaining, even though the girl gets the final say. That thought crossed my mind, too, actually, but I decided to read this book as being about the fun bigger siblings

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18. Dear Santa, About Your Lists... (a paradox) - a Christmas poem by Greg Pincus

Just in time for the holidays comes this high-larious poem by Greg Pincus. Check it out:

Dear Santa, About Your Lists... (a paradox) - a Christmas poem by Greg Pincus

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!

Cheers!
Rita

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19. The 2nd Ever LA Kid Lit Drink Night Is This Sunday!

Hey there! What's up. Besides me. At 1:30 AM.

I had such a great time at the SCBWI Summer Conference today, and we've got three more days! Can't wait to see everyone tomorrow--and I especially can't wait to see you all at the 2nd-Ever LA Kid Lit Drink Night, which is happening this Sunday evening--and which is not officially Conference-sponsored, so everyone interested in children's books should come! It'll be at Pink Taco in the Century City Mall (across the street from the conference) on Sunday, from 6-8 pm. Our first LA Kid Lit Drink Night turned out awesome. This one should be nuts.


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Kid Lit friends at Pink Taco during the 2009 SCBWI Summer Conference. I definitely expect these faces to be there Sunday.

You can also read about this hotly anticipated event at
Lee Wind's blog,
Jill Corcoran's blog,
Greg Pincus's blog, plus
Sara Wilson Etienne knows all about it, too.
But, of course, you heard it here first . . . at 1:30 in the morning on the day before . . . Right??

I know a lot of people will be stopping by this blog in the days immediately following the Conference to see when my pictures go up. (Thanks!) Stay tuned . . .

In the meantime, I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's Pajama Party.

Cheers,
Rita

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20. Photos: The 2011 SCBWI Summer Conference

Hi, Everyone! My 2011 SCBWI Summer Conference photos are up!

SCBWI's 40th Anniversary dessert. Delicious. (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)
Our 2011 Golden Kite Awards Luncheon dessert celebrating SCBWI's 40th Anniversary. (Hand modeling by Mara Bushansky)


Bruce Coville's opening keynote (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)LGBTQ Poolside Chat (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)Editors Panel (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)Paul O. Zelinsky at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)High five! Joey Spiotto and Ken Min at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)The House That Witchy Built, by Dianne De Las Casas (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)Laurie Halse Anderson, 'Daring the Universe' at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)Judy Blume and Richard Peck at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)

You can view all 257 photos—with captions—in three places on the Web:

     On SCBWI's official Flickr photostream
     On my Flickr photostream
     And on Facebook in two albums: SCBWI 2011 Summer Conference—Fri. & Sat. and SCBWI 2011 Summer Conference—Sun. & Mon.

The Facebook tagfest has already begun, which I find pleasing. But please know that I am your professional ally: if there is any photo you are not 100% comfortable with, notify me immediate

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21. Two Photos by Sonya Sones

Sonya Sones is awesome. She just sent me two pictures she took at the SCBWI 40 Winks Pajama Party/Anniversary Poolside Gala--one of me solo, and one with Linda Sue Park. Check it out.

Rita Crayon Huang (photo by Sonya Sones)

Linda Sue Park and Rita Crayon Huang (photo by Sonya Sones)
Photos by the wonderful Sonya Sones!


Awesome, right?? I feel so honored.

Sonya actually took the photo of Linda Sue Park and me that appears in the blog entry below, too, with my camera, within seconds of taking these on hers. So you can really see how our styles differ, as expressed by the settings and lenses we had each preselected for the night. I am fascinated and inspired.

Awesome!!

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22. LA Kid Lit Costume Party! 2011 (with photos!)

Happy Halloween Week, Everyone!

I had a great time this past Saturday at the LA Kid Lit Costume Party! 2011–the third LA Kid Lit Drink Night since a few of us started them in June. Because of Halloween, Jenn Bosworth suggested we dress up as book characters this time, and she picked the Wellesbourne as a swanky new location.

The Wellesbourne was fantastic! The dark, wood-paneled library/tavern with roaring fireplace suited every character perfectly, from Hogwarts students to detectives to gothic and whimsical creatures of the night.

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Above: I went as Bunnicula, a vampire bunny that sucks the juices out of vegetables in the night (turning them white), by James Howe. Some of my other favorite characters brought to life included Roald Dahl's The Witches, which Hilary and Elizabeth did to perfection; Sherlock Holmes; Encyclopedia Brown; and Harriet the Spy, and The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds–the latter two played by Sara and Lee of my writing group, respectively.

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Writing group fun! Because this is what all of our meetings are like.

You can see all of my pictures on Facebook here
or view the same album with bonus images on Zenfolio, which is prettier. (You can download all of the full-size images from Zenfolio, and watch a slideshow.)

A lot of the costumes were gorgeous. Check out this Dia de los Muertos creation!

20111022-Kid-Lit-Halloween-11
Those horns and that makeup . . . not to mention the perfect Sherlock outfit! I am in awe.

I love Halloween. It gets us all to play together. Sara recently blogged about the need to find your community for every next phase of your journey (and she also blogged her recap of the Kid Lit Costume Party–with more pictures!). The Kid Lit scene is definitely my pe

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23. Photos: SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day 2011

Once again I had the pleasure of photographing SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day this year.


SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day 2011
Saturday, Nov. 12th in San Gabriel, CA

Illustrator and Art Director Scott Magoon speaking on his dual perspective Charlesbridge Art Director Susan Sherman Editor Andrea Welch from Beach Lane Books Illustrator Giselle Potter 826LA led us in a rousing round of group children's book creation at the end of the day.
Illustrator's Day's all-star line-up: Scott Magoon, Susan Sherman, Andrea Welch, Giselle Potter, and 826LA.

To view all of the photos, check out the SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day album on Facebook or my Flickr album here. Julia Shahin Collard wrote really excellent captions recapping the day, which appear at both places. (All photos are by me, Rita Crayon Huang, so if you use any, please include a photo credit. Thanks!)


Julia has written a lovely blog post about Illustrator's Day for the SCBWI SoCal Schmooze Blog, so I'll only include some personal highlignts. I loved "1st Impressions" with Susan Sherman and Scott Magoon, the two art directors, right after lunch. Illustrators sent in pieces in advance that were projected on the screen, and we got to hear the art directors' thoughts. I understood instinctively this was the illustrator's equivalent of "First Pages," which we sometimes have at writer events—but with in-your-face, beautiful visuals. It was awesome.


20111112-Illustrators_Day-45
"1st Impressions" with Susan Sherman and Scott Magoon

Another highlight for me came during the book signing. I've been a fan of Scott Magoon (and Kara LaReau)'s Ugly Fish since it first came out in 2006, and I got to tell him how his book has become my litmus test for all my friends with kids: their reaction to this book's contemporary edge really influences which books I give them from there.


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24. This Saturday: The LA Kid Lit Holiday Party!!

Yo yo, what's up y'all . . .

Just wanted to remind everyone that the LA Kid Lit Holiday Party is this Saturday, Dec. 3rd, from 5 to 9 PM (and after!) at the Wellesbourne. Our last Kid Lit event was Halloween-themed. This one is all about the holidays!

179-SCBWI-Nationals 2009 SCBWI Summer Conference 2011-238 SCBWI Summer Conference 2011-239 20111022-Kid-Lit-Halloween-23
Photos from LA Kid Lit parties past. Don't miss the upcoming LA Kid Lit Holiday Party, this Saturday, Dec. 3rd at The Wellesbourne!


In the spirit of holiday giving--and celebrating--we're suggesting everyone bring new or gently used, unwrapped books to donate. Lee Wind has found some fantastic schools to donate them to, who will appreciate the books greatly.

* * *
Saturday, Dec. 3rd, from 5 to 9 PM

Join other writers, illustrators, agents, editors, bloggers, librarians, educators, and people who just love children's and teen literature at a Kid Lit Community Holiday Party!

Cash Bar, pay as you order.

Cookies, bring and share.

Books for needy kids, donate unwrapped books, picture-books through YA, and feel all holiday-festive!

Your Picture Books through Middle Grade Novels will be donated to Knox Elementary School in South Central Los Angeles. They're a new school, and even though they don't have a librarian, their Principal, Ms. Ward, is a huge advocate of reading and has teachers take their students to the library to check out the books. They're incredible excited at the prospect of more and new books for their kids! New and gently used books are fine, ARCs are fine, and donating more than one book is better than fine!

@ The Wellesbourne
10929 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064
(Across the street from the Landmark Theater and the Westside Pavilion Mall)

This is not an official SCBWI-L.A. event, but it's open to all our members as well and everyone in the kid lit community!
* * *

For the YA books that people bring, Lee has also made arrangements at Central High School/Tri-C. Says Lee:
I got confirmation from Janet Seary, the principal of Central High School/Tri-C, that they would love to accept our YA book donations. They are a continuation school serving at risk youth, and they have 29 classrooms all across the LA school district. There is no main library for these 600-800 students, but each classroom tries to have some books for their teens. The teachers will choose which ones they want for their classrooms from the donations brought.

I'm very excited that we now have two very worthy schools to acce

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25. Photos: Kid Lit Holiday Party! 2011

Hey, Everyone! Here are a few photos from the Kid Lit(erati) Holiday Party this past Saturday.

Kid_Lit_Holiday_Party-20111203-1 Kid_Lit_Holiday_Party-20111203-3 Kid_Lit_Holiday_Party-20111203-5 Kid_Lit_Holiday_Party-20111203-6 Kid_Lit_Holiday_Party-20111203-9 Kid_Lit_Holiday_Party-20111203-21

To see the full set (I wish I'd taken more of everyone!!),
click here for Facebook, where you can tag or untag yourselves,
click here for Flickr, where you can download the images in sizes of your choosing, and/or
click here for Zenfolio, where you can download the whole batch and order prints, if that's your thing.

Thanks, everyone, for the drinks, delicious treats, and fun conversation--and THANKS for bringing all those gorgeous children's books to donate! The schools they're going to are really going to appreciate them!


Kid_Lit_Holiday_Party-20111203-22 Kid_Lit_Holiday_Party-20111203-24 Kid_Lit_Holiday_Party-20111203-25
Lee Wind and Sara Wilson Etienne pose with all the beautiful, gleaming children's books to be donated. I seriously wanted to borrow half of them to take home and read first, but that wouldn't have been in the spirit.

As mentioned in my previous post, the

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