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1. Molly Idle Keynote: Yes And—Setting the Stage for Crazy Creative Development

Molly IdleMolly Idle is the Caldecott-honor winning author and illustrator of Flora and the Flamingo. 

She talked about the collaborative work that bookmaking is, and how she uses stage and improvisation techniques to boost her personality.

Keeping an open mind is the key to successful collaboration, she says.

In improv, there's a game called "Yes, and."

The first player kicks out an opening line. For example, "Did you remember to clean out the cat barf from Uncle Billy's car?"

Your job as a player is to accept that and add AND, she says. So you'd reply, "I did remember, and I think the smell is going to linger for quite some time."

"It sounds so simple, but it is so easy to do just the opposite and block," she says. "We are born to 'Yes.' We are born instinctively to be creative. To express our boundaries both real and imaginary."

She uses stage techniques a lot in her work. When she's figuring out how to lay out characters, she thinks about and experiments with many things ... putting characters center stage, even not having them react at all (which is the second-most powerful thing you can do on stage).

She encouraged us to push out of our comfort zones and keep many choices as possibilities. "It's the only way to come up with new ideas."

We have to ask ourselves, "How can I push my creative comfort zone out?"

The answer? You have to know your bit. This means know your lines. To really know a line is to know why you say it. You need to know the line before that. And the line before that. And why you're in the scene in the first place.

"You have to know the whole play to know your bit. If you know the whole play, you can jump in and help," she says. 'You know why you're supposed to be there."

Molly knows the editor's job. She knows the art director's job. She knows the designer's bit too—and the printer's. This means that in the end, the book will be a better book.

Molly Idle's website
Follow Molly on Twitter

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2. Jordan Brown: What We Mean When We Talk About "Voice"



Jordan Brown is an executive editor with the imprints Walden Pond Press and Balzer + Bray at HarperCollins Children’s Books. In the ten years he has been in children's editorial, he has been fortunate enough to work with such esteemed authors and illustrators as Jon Scieszka, Anne Ursu, Gris Grimly, Steve Brezenoff, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Chris Rylander, Erin McGuire, Laura Ruby, Kevin Emerson, Christopher Healy, Greg Ruth, Dan Wells, Lois Metzger, M. Sindy Felin, and many others. Amongst the books he’s edited are New York Times bestsellers, ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults, an NPR Backseat Book Club Selection, and a National Book Award finalist, in addition to other accolades. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Your voice is the way you distinguish yourself as a writer.

With everyone hanging onto every word, Jordan defines voice as what comes between the objective facts of your novel and your readers. He leads us in exploring

what voice does,

the elements of narration that define voice,

tasks and challenges to help our voice stand out,

and some examples that do voice well.

Three highlights:

1. Readers want to feel the character they're reading is emotionally real. And the way to get that authenticity is by being specific.

Authenticity = Specificity
2. Think of voice as a camera in a movie that chooses certain things to focus on over others, like leaving the room with one character while leaving the others behind.

3. The idea of psychic distance. Using five sentences from "The Art of Fiction" by John Gardner, Jordan walks us through the different distances of voice, from the helicopter view that's the most remote and objective to as close as it gets, no outside world at all. Each distance has its own feel and strengths and things to be aware of. And the point isn't to choose one level and stay there the whole book.

"The key is to know when to make moves between levels within your manuscript."

The session is packed with information and tips, covering first versus third limited points of view, how knowing something your character doesn't can disconnect readers from your story, the benefits and retraints of present versus past tense, and much, much more.


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3. Daniel Harmon: Creating Nonfiction For Teens and Young Adults

Daniel Harmon has been working in book publishing since 2003—first developing history projects at Greenwood/ABC-Clio, then acquiring pop culture books for Praeger Publishers, and most recently overseeing the publishing program at Zest Books, an independent publisher of nonfiction books for teens and young adults.

Since joining Zest in 2012, Daniel has acquired Zest’s first book to sell in excess of 25,000 copies, developed Zest’s first three projects to receive starred reviews, and launched Pulp, a new imprint for older readers. He is also the author of the book Super Pop! (which Kirkus called “weird, witty, and endlessly entertaining”).



Daniel shares that the Zest approach to publishing is

franker

fun, and

from cover to last word, working to keep teen readers interested.

He speaks of how they've moved into doing more middle grade, and doing books for all ages. Their tagline is

Books for young adults of all ages.

Explaining what "all ages means," he says

Doing books explicitly for teens is a great way to make sure you get no teen readership.

They're trying to create books teens will want to pick up and adults will want to pick up, too.

He explains their efforts to add art (primary source materials, photos, infographics...), try to figure out where their books will be placed in bookstores, if it's librarian-bait or more tailored for the gatekeeper/blogger world, their new imprint Pulp that's aiming more new adult, their teen advisory board and much more.

Talking us us through a variety of Zest's titles, he explains that

"You don't need to dumb things down to make it teen-friendly."








Two upcoming titles:


Unslut
the author's middle school diary of being bullied and shamed for being the school "slut" alongside her contemporary perspective, and



Plotted
A literary atlas, literary maps of treasured books, like Huck Finn and Watership Down.

"Really what we're trying to do is stay surprised ourselves. Doing a book that actually adds something."


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4. Christian Fiction Book Release

NEW BOOK RELEASE





An exciting new book release!



Nine historical romance novellas celebrate triumphing over hardships. 



In my story, Edie helps a ranger track bandits while working as a Harvey Girl at the Grand Canyon. 



Read more and order here:  http://www.diannechristner.net







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5. Jane O'Connor: Borrowing From Life: Creating a Character


Jane O'Connor is the author of over eighty books for children, including the bestselling FANCY NANCY books.


"What the heroines all shared in the books I loved best was spunk!"

Jane said these girls were her role models. She wanted to be like them, but she lacked in the brave department.

When Jane started writing, she mapped out RAMONA THE BRAVE to see how Beverly Cleary made it work. Most of all she paid attention to what Beverly Clearly left out. Jane let us know that you don't have to describe a brick wall brick by brick, instead tell the reader what's interesting.

Jane stuck pretty close to home when she created characters.




If you're having trouble borrowing from your own life, steal from those close to you (carefully), like you're kids.



FANCY NANCY came from Jane's own desire to be fancy and always dressed up when she was a girl, but also from the way she was always encouraging her chic but understated mother to be fancier. 


Jane wanted to write about Fancy Nancy when she was older, which brought about the early readers, NANCY CLANCY.



When Jane was nine she was obsessed with Nancy Drew. So, she figured Nancy would read these books, too, and solve a mystery. The mystery in this story was stolen from a time a sister "borrowed" a marble.

It's no wonder charm find its way into Jane's books, because she is full of it.

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6. Week in Review: July 26-August 1

From July
The Armstrong Girl: A Child for Sale: The Battle Against the Victorian Sex Trade. Cathy Le Feuvre. 2015. Lion. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
An Impartial Witness. Charles Todd. 2010. HarperCollins. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
On My Honor. Marion Dane Bauer. 1986. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat. (Henry and Mudge #8) Cynthia Rylant. Sucie Stevenson. 1990. Simon & Schuster. 48 pages. [Source: Bought]
Board Book: Five Little Monkeys: A finger & toes nursery rhyme book. Natalie Marshall. Scholastic. 2015. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Book of Lost Tales. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1983/1992. 345 pages. [Source: Library]
Mom School. Rebecca Van Slyke. Illustrated by Priscilla Burris. 2015. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
To All The Boys I've Loved Before. Jenny Han. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 288 pages. [Source: Library] 
 The Shaping of a Christian Family. Elisabeth Elliot. 1992/2000. Revell. 240 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

From August
Peppa's Windy Fall Day. Adapted by Barbara Winthrop. 2015. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Board Book: Ten Playful Penguins. Emily Ford. Illustrated by Russell Julian. 2015. [October] Scholastic. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! Dr. Seuss. 1971. Random House. 36 pages. [Source: Library]

This week's recommendation(s): I loved, loved, loved THE ARMSTRONG GIRL. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. Yeah, this is not very likely: Fantastic Four Cast Want Silver Surfer & Namor In Sequel

Before you get suckered in by money-sucking, evil little profiteering toe-rags let me tell you now: The Sub-Mariner and Silver Surfer will NOT be appearing in the next FF movie.  If you read the comments by the two stars they are just giving off hot air but on to the item:



The cast of the new ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot have been talking about the characters they’d love to see in the sequel, namely a fan favourite and a character not yet seen on the big screen.

Michael B Jordan, who plays The Human Torch and Jamie Bell, who plays The Thing shared their thoughts with ComicBook.com during the promotional trail for the film set for release next week.


 
“You can’t get away from Silver Surfer,” says Bell. “I know chronologically speaking that was the next villain in the previous franchise but I think Silver Surfer is cool looking.”

This is as likely as it is unlikely. The Silver Surfer is a top character Fox own as part of the Fantastic Four license, but they may be concious about repeating the past - as Bell mentions.

“Namor is a cool one,” Jordan then said, adding that the character is, “by far, he’s the strongest mutant. You know what I’m saying? Maybe not by far, but he’s the strongest mutant. It would be a pretty interesting battle, the Fantastic Four vs. Namor.”

Sadly this won’t be happening as the rights to Namor The Submariner belong to Universal Pictures and Marvel - the former belonging the distribution rights as they would for any solo Hulk movie.
Bell also spoke about how he wants to see the relationships between the four continue to grow.

“I’d like to see more of how the characters interact with each other famously from the comic,” he said. “It would be appealing to me. This [film] very much is to get them to that point, to take them from people you don’t know, to transition into characters you can recognise.

“The job of the next film is taking it further and having the characters already established, seeing them interact in the very famous kind of way. Things between me and Johnny get very antagonistic. More of a blossoming love story between Reed and Sue. More of a family dynamic. Stuff like that would be great. There’s a wealth of material and with a 90 minute run time of an origin story it’s very difficult to fit it all in.”

_____________________________________________________________________________

From what I've seen so far I have absolutely no interest in this movie.  The 1990s Roger Corman movie -uh, 'never released'- was far truer to the comic than even the later 2005 (?) movies.  Look at this poster for the new film.  I looked out of the bus today and thought my eyes were playing me up because I thought "did they use toys to replace the actors?"  But, no -this is an awful -AWFUL- poster!




Corman had various difficulties including budget but his movie was very enjoyable...though it was 'not' released of course (hah!)

But back to topic.  The Silver Surfer and Sub-Marinber are NOT the next big movie characters to waste all your money on.  Buy the comics because you love and enjoy them because with 1.5 billion comics across America alone, they ain't going to make you rich!

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8. Jenny Bent: A Road Map For Career Success

Jenny Bent founded The Bent Agency in 2009; the agency now has nine agents. Her authors include SE Green, Tera Lynn Childs, AG Howard, and Lynn Weingarten.

Jenny advices networking while writing your novel, otherwise known as, making new friends. It's more organic to create an online presence before your book is published rather than when your book is coming out in order to promote it.

Be helpful. The more you give back to this community, the more you have to gain.

Make use of every opportunity to learn more about your craft. Be at this conference is where we all need to be. Go to every workshop on craft you can find.

You shouldn't write to trend, but you should be aware of what's happening in the industry with trends. Don't chase them, but know what they are. Read the New York Times bestseller list every week. Know what's selling in your genre.

Jenny suggest one simple way to find an agent. Read the deals. See who is selling what. When you find people who are selling what you write, cross reference what you learn to be sure it's a good fit. It's a great way to find a great match for your work.

The Bent Agency has a great blog: Bent On Books. Once a month, each of the agents shares what they are looking for right now.

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9. Mem Fox and Allyn Johnston: Let's Talk Picture Books... Q&A and Some Read Aloud Fun!

Mem and Allyn
Beach Lane editor Allyn Johnston and author Mem Fox are available for questions! Here are a few of their answers:

Someone asks about Mem's process, she tells us the manuscript can continue to change and be edited after Allyn's acquired it, and Mem is well known for having tremendously tiny word counts (powerful but tiny!) Mem says an easy trick for reducing your word count is to cover up the first paragraph of your story with your hand... You can probably live without it. Now do the same thing to the second paragraph, your story can probably live without that, too. She tells us we spend so much time setting up our stories and rarely do we (or the story) need that.

Someone asks Allyn whether or not an author should submit their manuscript with pagebreaks? And Allyn reiterates that your submission manuscript should not mark out pagination, but if you want to be a picturebook author, YOU do have to spend a lot of time figuring out pagination and building your own text-only dummies and understanding page breaks. Mem doesn't think about page breaks until after she's written a draft. And then she makes a dummy. The most important page turn, to Mem, is the page turn between 31 and 32. Mem says, therefore, you should start backwards when paginating.

Some of the books Mem read us and it was magical:







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10. My mom’s letters

My mom's letters about me

My mom was something like a mommy-blogger, in 1973. From the time I was two to two-and-a-half, she wrote these astoundingly detailed letters about our lives and me and Miami, typed them up in quintuplicate, and mailed them to the whole family. I have multiple copies of some of them.

They’re an amazing resource for my book, and they prove, as she’s always claimed and I’ve doubted, that I was talking in complete sentences when I turned two. Apparently I was also always concerned with remembering everything that happened.

On the one hand the letters make me happy, because I can verrrry hazily remember some of what she describes, and because they’re so full of pride and love, but they also make me sad, because I can see how lonely she was.

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11. Kristy Dempsey: How To Not Have a Nervous Breakdown While Waiting

Kristy Dempsey was the winner of the 2015 Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text, for her book A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream. She is also the author of the sweet and charming Me With Youand the humorous Surfer Chick.

Dempsey traveled all the way from Brazil to present at  #LA15SCBWI, where she shared the journey of figuring herself out as a creative person, finding herself as a writer, and becoming published (and how not to have a nervous breakdown while waiting). The answer, in short: learn how to balance the business side of children's publishing with the creative.

On the business side, she advised, study the vast amout of information online. Websites like the Nerdy Book Club, A Fuse #8 Production, Matthew Winner's Let's Get Busy Podcasts and others.

On the creative side, Dempsey offered a wonderfully illustrated, hand lettered worksheet (some pages used below with permission).







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12. Seuss on Saturday #31

Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! Dr. Seuss. 1971. Random House. 36 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The time has come. The time has come. The time is now. Just go. Go. GO! I don't care how. You can go by foot. You can go by cow. Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go now!

Premise/plot: The narrator REALLY, REALLY, wants Marvin K. Mooney to GO. But will Marvin K. Mooney be so obliging?

My thoughts: I liked it. It is definitely one of the catchier Seuss books. (Though not as fun or as silly as say Fox in Socks or Green Eggs and Ham. Still. There's something pleasant about it.) It's just FUN to say phrases like "You can go by foot. You can go by cow. Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go now!" It just is.

Have you read Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is In A People House. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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13. Our latest crisis is over, Channing Tatum will be Gambit after all

Just like Alexander posited a few days ago, it turns out that Channing Tatum was indeed undergoing a bit of public negotiating regarding his upcoming role in the X-Men spin-off, Gambit. Today, THR reports that the Magic Mike star has signed on the dotted line to play the kinetic card-wielding Cajun mutant. According to their […]

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14. “Prince Valiant soon realized this was a bad idea”

I felt like making something today, and then several Sundays’ worth of newspaper comics unexpectedly arrived, along with some cardboard, so…

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15. 1st 5 Pages Workshop is Now Closed



Hi Everyone,

Sorry but the 1st 5 Pages Workshop is now closed. Once again, we filled up in a minute! I will email the participants that made it into the workshop today. If you don't hear from me, I'm sorry but you didn't get in this month. Please try again next month! We open the first Saturday in September.

Erin

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16. Writing YA

Young adult books can be any genre, from romance to science fiction, mystery to mainstream.

http://www.nownovel.com/blog/how-to-write-ya-fiction/

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17. Meg Wolitzer: Mushy Middles: Or, That Part of the Book Where Everything Gets Vague and Repetitive, and How to Avoid It

Meg Wolitzer is a novelist whose books for adults include THE INTERESTING, THE TEN-YEAR NAP, THE POSITION, ADN THE WIFE. She is the author of a novel for middle grade readers, THE FINGERTIPS OF DUNCAN DORFMAN, and, most recently, the YA novel, BELZHAR.

A lot of workshops give writers micro-advice, but there’s a larger issue that hasn’t been addressed. Even if you fix a passage or sentence or beginning, you’re not taking care of what needs to be done. Punching up dialogue or adding a new scene gives you a good feeling, but it’s often cosmetic. Making those changes just makes your story marginally better.

Think of your work in a different way.

How did you lose that energy anyway? How do we let our books get that way?

"The middle is everything."

Meg thinks it’s often a foundational problem when you have a mushy middle.

All books start off with a grandiose fantasy. You know it’s good because it’s something preoccupies you. You want to write about it. You take it and start to push the story through an invisible funnel and you realize you can’t do everything and you have to make some choices. This is a moment when you getting serious about your novel. You can write about 80 pages of a book (without outlining), not worry about where it is, who’s going read it, if someone someone will buy it, etc. Once you have, print it, read it, and find out not what you hoped to do but what you really did.

If the writing is weak in a certain area it might be because the ideas in that section aren’t strong. Maybe it’s because you didn’t know what you wanted to express in that section.

Meg thinks flashbacks are a made up concept. In real life, we are always toggling back and forth from past to future and now. You don’t have a character stop and remember something. It should be fluid.

Ask yourself:

  • Is the voice strong?
  • Are you being faithful to a thought process that isn’t working? (why the 80 page rule works)            -you can use ideas that don’t work
  • Did you get off on the wrong track tone wise?
Revision is the greatest tool in the writer’s arsenal.

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18. Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann: Seven Simple Fixes for the Picturebook Text



The room is packed tighter than even a polyamorous sardine would be comfortable with, but for good reason! We are soooooooooo lucky to have both Eric Rohmann and Candace Fleming here! They are sharing seven simple fixes for the picture book text, here are a few:
1. With picture books you are limited to 32 pages, so get to the problem of your story as soon as you can. You can have a few pages of set up, but if your story doesn't start by page 10, you're in trouble.
As an example, go read Clever Jack, there are a few pages of set up, but the problem is introduce by fourth spread.






Whereas in Oh No! the problem is introduced on page 1.




Read your story draft and mark out page by page, which text goes on what page to help remind you of the structure of your story as you write. (Candace reminds: when you send your manuscript to the editor, don't paginate, send a clean, unpaginated version for submission)


2. Something that helps Eric and Candace in their writing of picture books is they think in terms of small scenes, not just sentences per page. Each scene should move your story forward, not just words and sentences. Eric and Candace recommend looking at your manuscript and marking off the scenes, where the beginning and end of them are. Then count them—if you only have 4 scenes and they are very similar in length, rethink your pacing.

Clever Jack has about 9 scenes, Oh No! has about 12.

Finally, take a look at the first and last words of your scene, they should be really good and interesting words.

3. Eric does an exercise on his manuscripts, he takes out all the adjective and adverbs. Candace says then ask yourself, which ones do I miss? Because some do improve the language and rhythm of the book, but for many, you'll find those words will be taken care of by the illustrations.

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19. Varian Johnson Keynote: If It Were Easy, Everyone Would Do It



Varian Johnson is the author of four novels, including The Great Greene Heist, an ALA Notable Children’s Book Selection, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, and a Texas Library Association Lone Star Reading List selection. His novels for older readers include Saving Maddie and My Life as a Rhombus. Varian holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and currently lives outside of Austin, Texas, with his family. His newest Jackson Greene novel, To Catch a Cheat, will be released in spring 2016. You can follow Varian on Twitter @VarianJohnson or visit www.varianjohnson.com.


"It's hard.
It's supposed to be hard.
But it doesn't have to be impossible."

Varian offers us tips and advice, including:

Claim it.
If you're doing the work of a professional writer and illustrator, you deserve to be part of the conversation.

He shares the story of getting the idea for his second novel, and pushing off writing it. But he learned he had to

Do the work.
Make a schedule. Writing's a job, and deserves to be treated as such.

And five years later, "My Life As A Rhombus" was published.

He shares how he juggles writing with family, a day job and life, how the first draft is for you, and subsequent revisions are for the rest of the world.

And then Varian talks about dealing with failure.

When a book contract was cancelled and things in his career seemed at their lowest, he actually wanted to quit writing, but his agent Sara Crowe wouldn't let him - she pushed him, challenging him to write something new. 100 pages of a new novel in six weeks. And he did it.
And that got him writing again. And he got an idea for something else. And he wrote it in four months.



And "The Great Greene Heist" was his most successful novel yet!

which leads us to another great lesson he offers us:

Find a support group
find someone who believes not only in your work, but who believes in you.

And the crowd gives him a standing ovation!

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20. The Diversity Panel Begins!


Miranda Paul moderates the "Diversity in Children's Books: Challenges and Solutions" panel, (from left to right) Nicola Yoon, Varian Johnson, Brandy Colbert and Joe Cepeda.

(I.W. Gregorio was unable to attend.)

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21. Dan Yaccarino: Creating Unforgettable Picture Book Characters

Dan Yaccarino is not only an author and illustrator of children's books . . .





He is the creator and producer of several children's television series . . .










And he speaks at schools, too . . .



We were lucky to have him hear at #LA15SCBWI . . .

In his breakout session, Yaccarino spoke about developing characters for his books and television shows — The Backyardigans, Oswald, Willa's Wild Life. It was crazy fun to watch him talk about his characters, as well as interact with them as he presented.

When developing a character, Yaccarino suggests:

Know your characterer. Spend a lot of time drawing and redrawing them to develop what they will look like. Remember, color can evoke a character's personality, even when aren't doing anything. What does red say about a character? What about yellow? Consider what a character's function is—what do they do? A T-Rex who plays a piano? You should know your character's personality just by looking at them.

Describe your character.  What do they like, dislike? What do they value in life? Once you nail your character's personality, the story will start to emerge.

Characters need to be pliable, they need to motivate action outside the real of the story so that you can you easily plop them into another plot line.

Be sure that your characters look like they belonged in the same world. The Backyardigans are made up of five different animals of different colors and shapes, but they all look like they live in the same world. And remember, the characters design will dictate what that world looks like.

Create empathy for a character by making them humanlike. At one point, it was Yaccarino's thought that Doug Unplugged, a robot, would be able to turn his head around a full 360-degrees. A bit on the Exrocists side, huh. That quality is not humanlike and will turn young readers off.

A story is merely a vehicle to showcase your character, an excuse to reveal the character over and over again.

































































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22. good bye blog for now

i dont think i will be updating my blogs any longer. It takes a lot of time to upload images, get every entry labeled and keep it updated, when i think there are someone out there taking a look at my stuff when there only seems to be spammers, so I'm doing this for nothing, just wasting my time. During the whole last  year there have been more than 23.000 visits according to blogger but only one

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23. Printable: Change Your World

Change-Your-World-by-Floating-Lemons

 

"Change Your Thoughts and you'll Change Your World" -- Buddha

I've always believed that it's we decide our own futures. Our thoughts dictate our attitudes, choices, interests, and that in turn decides our lives and the paths we choose to take upon our journeys through it. It just makes complete sense to me.

In the last couple of years I've been reading books and watching videos by certain spiritually and/or positively motivated individuals, some of whom have become my mentors as far as this approach to life is concerned. I'm going to share a few of these in case anyone else out there is interested, so just click on the links below ...

Apart from all this refreshing philosophising and thought meandering, I've been at work on my new project whenever I have the time, and will be launching a new blog all about it soon. Meanwhile, have been sketching more elephants, and here they are:

 

Elephants-1-by-Floating-Lemons

Elephants-2-by-Floating-Lemons

 

If you've been following me on my facebook page you'll have seen some of these already, and I'll keep posting more there as soon as they sneak themselves into the sketchbook.

Cheers.

 

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24. Adam Rex: Creating Characters with Character

Adam Rex is a ridiculously accomplished illustrator and author. His books range from PB to YA, and his illustration style is a bit like what Norman Rockwell might have produced after a Jolt Cola bender.

In this session, Adam talked about techniques for drawing memorable characters.

He showed us some of his early art, including a decent Rembrandt knock-off (though his Santa is definitely questionable, and arguably looks more like Krampus).

Some best quotes: "I think we can get you one butt." (From his editor regarding The Dirty Cowboy.) His reply: "I didn't even take the butt."

He talked about what it looked like to see his characters from The True Meaning of Smekday as they'd been translated by the Dreamworks team for the adaptation. (The movie Home and the forthcoming TV show were based on the book.) It was disappointing at first to see the changes, but he got used to it quickly and even liked some of the changes, especially the design of the Gorg.

His techniques are so cool—he often builds models of characters and sets he uses for reference.

Some tips:

  • Understand anatomy of character design (the human body is approximately seven heads high, but in character design, this varies);
  • Knowledge of real human and animal anatomy (which have strong similarities) can help you design fantastical creatures; 
  • More stylized and simplistic characters, such as Charlie Brown, sometimes have more universal appeal; and 
  • Letting a body sag into a shape or move somehow makes it seem more like a character and less like a doctor's office illustration.
  • Don't forget draw through. For example, if you have a character holding the shield, make sure the body behind the shield makes sense. 

Follow Adam on Twitter

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25. 1st 5 Pages Workshop is Now Open!

Our August workshop is now open! We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it closes here, on Adventures in YA Publishing, and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our permanent mentors, we have Lori Goldstein  as our author mentor, and in addition to being a talented writer and a very nice person, Lori is an alum of the workshop! Our agent mentor is the fabulous Caitie Flum.

And remember, we have a new format! The workshop is now four weeks, so the participants have the opportunity to get feedback on a pitch, and Caitie will select one participant as the “workshop winner”- and the prize is that she will review and comment on the first chapter of the manuscript!

August Guest Mentor – Lori Goldstein 

Lori was born into an Italian-Irish family and raised in a small town on the New Jersey shore. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Lehigh University and worked as a writer, editor, and graphic designer before becoming a full-time author. She currently lives and writes outside of Boston. Lori is the author of the young adult contemporary fantasy series Becoming Jinn (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, April 21, 2015, Spring 2016). You can visit her online at www.lorigoldsteinbooks.com.



BECOMING JINN




Azra has just turned sixteen, and overnight her body lengthens, her olive skin deepens, and her eyes glisten gold thanks to the brand-new silver bangle that locks around her wrist. As she always knew it would, her Jinn ancestry brings not just magical powers but the reality of a life of servitude, as her wish granting is controlled by a remote ruling class of Jinn known as the Afrit. To the humans she lives among, she's just the girl working at the snack bar at the beach, navigating the fryer and her first crush. But behind closed doors, she's learning how to harness her powers and fulfill the obligations of her destiny. Mentored by her mother and her Zar "sisters," Azra discovers she may not be quite like the rest of her circle of female Jinn...and that her powers could endanger them all.

Purchase it at your local bookstore, or online at Indie BoundAmazonBarnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf on Goodreads!

August Guest Agent – Caitie Flum

Caitie joined Liza Dawson Associates in July 2014 as assistant and audio rights manager. She graduated from Hofstra University in 2009 with a BA in English with a concentration in publishing studies. Caitie interned at Hachette Book Group and Writers House. She was an Editorial Assistant then Coordinator for Bookspan, where she worked on several clubs including the Book-of-the-Month Club, The Good Cook, and the Children's Book-of-the-Month Club. Caitie is looking for commercial and upmarket fiction with great characters and superb writing, especially historical fiction, mysteries/thrillers of all kinds, magical realism, and book club fiction. Caitie is also looking for Young Adult and New Adult projects, particularly romance, historical fiction, mysteries and thrillers, and contemporary books with diverse characters. In nonfiction, she is looking for memoirs that make people look at the world differently, narrative nonfiction that's impossible to put down, books on pop culture, theater, current events, women's issues, and humor.

So what are you waiting for? Send those pages!

Erin

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