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1. Gorge yourself on authors, illustrators, kids’ books industry ~ SCBWI Conference at The Hughenden

Frane Lessac, in the jaws of a crocodile SCBWIThe buzz is mega with some of Australia and New Zealand’s most loved authors and illustrators as delegates – Sarah Davis, Libby Hathon, Stephen Axelson, Corinne Fenton, Claire Saxby, Mark Greenwood, Dianne Wolfer, Sally Murphy, James Foley, Meredith Costain ….. and more ….

and then there’s Frane Lessac fighting off crocodiles to get from fremantle WA to Sydney!!!!!

Look out for the brilliant creators of  Looking for Alibrandi and Jellico Road;  Diary of a Wombat;Star Girl and Boy Versus Beast

Guess who they are?

Melina Marchetta

Bruce Whatley

Louise Park

Australian Publishers Association party Nov 2013 Sue whitingAnd there’s more – Australia’s best publishers and editors from most publishing houses

And there’s more – US Senior editor from Roaring Brook (Pan MacMillan) USA

And there’s more – some of the best of Australia and New Zealand’s illustrators in the Illustrator Showcase

And there’s more – launches, illustrator’s duel, Christmas Press limited edition prizes; and there more …. and then the SCBWI BAND – dinner party sing along with the fabulous Meredith Costain, James Foley on the guitar with Scott Chambers and Chris Cheng

…….

The post Gorge yourself on authors, illustrators, kids’ books industry ~ SCBWI Conference at The Hughenden appeared first on Susanne Gervay's Blog.

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2. Illustrator Interview – Akiko White

As all my blog followers know, I am a huge fan of the SCBWI and highly recommend children’s authors and illustrators to join and become involved in this society. I apply for and follow keenly their awards, and just as … Continue reading

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3. Friday Studio Links - BiG News

 

Last week my art "Time to Wish" that went to Italy won an honorable mention at the Bologna Children's Book Fair! The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators proudly presented a gallery of images from 34 of it's members as part of the 2014 SCBWI Bologna Showcase. At the fair one winner and 4 honorable mentions were announced for this BiG (Bologna Illustrators Gallery) award.

Time to Wish


I was in great company along with the winner Dorothea Rohner, and three other honorable mentions - Kris Sexton, Ingrid Kallick, and Tanja Wooten. Can you imagine having your artwork show up on the BiG screen at such an enormous event? It would have been amazing to be there, but since I wasn't, here's the next best thing. Check out the links and you can virtually be there too. Thank you everyone for the photos and videos!

In this link from an article in Publisher's Weekly, you can get an idea of just how big and exciting this event is!

The SCBWI Booth with Dueling Illustrators



The SCBWI Booth with the BiG Posters


And in case you haven't seen enough, here's a link to the Bologna Book Fair Photogallery with tons of very cool images.

And a fun video that shows the scope of how BiG the fair really was.

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4. A ‘Writing Process’ post

My friend, San Antonio SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator Akiko White recently tagged me to take part in a ‘Writing Process’ Blog Tour. It was fun because it got me thinking about how the kind of writing I’ve been doing is much like the writing I’ve always done, as the author-illustrator of three books for upper elementary […]

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5. SCBWI Conference, My Trip Part 2: Things I Learned! #NY14SCBWI

Snippets of Wisdom from the NY SCBWI Conference



It's been over a month since the conference, but today in part 2, I'm keeping my promise to share a few of the snippets of wisdom I learned at the SCBWI New York Conference. 

What I learned from Tomie DePaola, children's book illustrator:



The influence of theater in Illustration.



Tomie was involved in theater from a young age. In college he had a teacher who told him that "Joining the theater is best thing you can do for your illustration. If you want to be an illustrator, you must love great theater." Tomie has really taken that to heart over the years! 

Costumes can really help define a character. You have to think both in time period and personality when it comes to costumes. Also it's important to take the color of the costume into account with designing the set.

When designing scenery for your illustration, think of how you can change the mood of the scene with color and weather changes.

Character sketches are your casting call. It's important to contrast your characters with size differences and varying features. Make sure you give different characters in the scene different reactions.



What I learned from Brett Helquist, children's book illustrator:



Casting and Character Development


It is important to really spend time to learn the craft of drawing. When characters are drawn well, they are alive. Often times we see illustrations are very well rendered and beautifully composed but the characters are lifeless. 

It is important to push the faces of your characters to be different and not falling into the habit of always drawing the same face.

Don't fuss with the details early on. Be messy and make mistakes. Just start drawing different characters until you find the right one. Do loose and  fast drawings to develop emotions and moods. Don't be afraid to play around with shapes and sizes. Push yourself to draw things you've never drawn before.



What I learned from Paul O. Zelinski, children's book illustrator:



Staging


A Picture book makers could be making a movie. There are characters, lighting and costumes. The edge of the books makes the set. You need to stage every element of the design, including the text in each spread.

The story will tell you what the right shape is for your particular book.

Perspective is fun. Different angles can add to a picture. Horizontal lines represent rules, strictness or stillness. Diagonal lines represent chaos, or moving. Low angle and high angle can tell different stories and add to the psychology of the picture.



What I learned from Holly McGhee art agent, Arthur Levine publisher, and Lily Malcom art director:


This was a panel where these three industry professionals were critiquing work from attendees of the illustrators intensive. Here's a little bit of what they had to say:

It's good to show different expressions and emotional interactions between characters in a picture book. Show the relationships between characters. Use diversity in your characters. Show that two characters relate differently to another character or event in the story.

Show energy in your illustration, don't make your illustrations static. A curve of the neck or a turn of a hand can make a character less wooden.

Vary your values. Remember atmospheric perspective. Recede values. Lights and darks can help to focus and mood a piece. Pay attention to your color palette.

Book covers should convey one clear moment instead of trying to capture the whole book in one image.


What I learned from Laurant Lynn, art director at Simon and Schuster:



Self-Promotion


Remember You are a business. Consider making a recognizable branding. Make goals for updating your website and sending out postcards. Make a one year plan and a five year plan and keep on task.

Website. Keep it clean, simple and easy to navigate. Separate different styles. Include a bio.

Postcards. Send your best work to art directors on post cards with images on both sides. Send out a new card every 3-4 months.

Expand your horizons. Try doing different kinds of illustration and art work. Don't get pigeon holed into a certain genre.

Go to Conferences. Get out and talk to people. Ask questions.

Challenge yourself and your craft. Continually update your art. You never know who is looking at your art. Know what is essential to have in your portfolio, and what you should take out.

Challenge yourself to get better at drawing. Go to figure drawing classes. Read all the time!

Social Media. Just do it! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Blog!

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6. The Importance of Now

I received the sad news last week that a writer friend had died.

To be honest, we weren’t very close friends. We’d attended the same weeklong workshop and had been in the same small critique group. I had read her work-in-progress and been impressed—and even after these two years, after reading hundreds of books and blogs, I remember her story. But we hadn’t kept in touch except for an occasional note in the social media world, a comment on a blog. And yet, she lay on my heart, and I grieved for her, leaving much too soon.

I started skimming her last blog posts, reading comments of those who knew her well. She had been writing, working on a manuscript, all through the challenges of her illness. I read where many of her friends were buying her books and donating them to schools and libraries so that her legacy would continue, and I loved that idea.

She was a children’s writer and loved making school visits, so I thought of the SCBWI Amber Brown Fund, too, and how donating to that fund would surely please her. But mostly, I thought the best way I could honor her was to work hard at writing.

She was passionate about her writing; it was a passion that came through from the first day of that workshop, from the first moment we spoke. It drove her to work on being a better writer, even though she had several published books. In fact, I wondered why she needed the workshop. She’d already accomplished her dream.

But that’s not the way she saw it. She wanted to be a better writer, wanted to get her new stories out there. She wasn’t ready to rest on her laurels; she was ready to work, and work hard!

Remembering her drive brought that iconic shoe slogan to mind. You know the one I mean, right? I think it could’ve been her motto.

And so now, I’m taking you to task, friends. If writing is what you really want, do it.

Quit talking about how you want to write when you have the time, or when you can quit your day job, or when you have a really good idea. Put a plug in that endless stream of excuses and plug into your heart’s desire.

You know what? It doesn’t have to be writing. Whatever is in you, whatever it is you really, really want to do, start working on it. You can start with small goals, little steps, day by day.

As long as you start today.

~Cathy C. Hall

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7. Bologna or bust!

It's that time of year again: the Bologna Book Fair is starting a few short days! But right now I'm 6152 miles away from it—and that's something that would normally give me a case of the Bologna Blues. BUT!!!  I've had a bit of good news... 

...my illustrations (from Crocodile Shoes) are among the finalists in SCBWI-Bologna's Illustration Show, and I am very honored!

Ever since 2004, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators has maintained a regular presence at the Bologna Book Fair — their stand there hosts many activities as well as the Illustrator's Gallery. Participation is open to SCBWI members internationally, and it attracts illustrators from all over.

I'm in good company this year — the wonderful illustrators Isabel Roxas and Maple Lam, to name just two. And in previous years, there has been a stellar cast of artists from around the world: Sophie Blackall, Eliza Wheeler, Jane Ray, Constanze Von Kitzing, Satoshi Kitamura, Jennifer Thermes, G.Brian Karas, and Barbara McClintock.  Not too shabby!


So if you do find yourself in Bologna (lucky you!), the SCBWI stand is at A/66 in Pavilion 26... that's the area that usually has a majority of English-language publishers present. Stop by and say hello!

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8. Plot for Middle Grade and Young Adult Stories: Plot Your Story Scene-by-Scene to Emotionally Engage Your Readers

The handout below is from a plot talk at the recent San Francisco Writer's Conference: Plot for Middle Grade and Young Adult Stories: Plot Your Story Scene-by-Scene to Emotionally Engage Your Readers.

I share points that serve writers of all genres and for all ages again now in honor of the plot workshops I'm teaching in Los Angeles this weekend. The Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators known as SCBWI hosts LA Writers' Days this weekend: Saturday, March 22 and Sunday, the 23rd. They have generously opened up my 5-hour Plot Intensive on Sunday to all writers. Tapping into the ancient structure of the Universal Story leads to enduring stories of all genres and for all ages. You do not have to register for the entire event.

Develop a Multi-Layered Plot for your Middle Grade Fiction and Young Adult Novels 
Bring your ideas, rough drafts, and beginning drafts rewritten 50 times and final manuscripts. Leave with an advanced understanding of how the action and emotion and meaning work together in your individualized story. Plot springs from character in conflict. Readers emotionally connect through tension shown in scene. Learn about the character emotional transformational plot, dramatic action plot and thematic significance plot, and how to apply the energy of the Universal Story to your unique project. You will be given the opportunity to explore your protagonist in new ways and practice using your scenes to create a Plot Planner for your latest project. Writing is challenging enough. A personalized Plot Planner keeps the plot(s) of your story in line.

MG and YA PLOT
Make protagonist’s flaw interfere with reaching her goal and establish in scene #1
Generate fluctuating emotion in every scene

and

Yes to a protagonist changing & transforming and becoming more emotionally mature
Assign protagonist’s goal the day before story begins and establish in scene #1


Pre-plot the 4 Energetic Markers as soon as possible
Locate the emotional moment in your story
Open your story with a character minus the skills, strengths and abilities needed at climax
Turn episodic events into scenes with cause and effect

Hope to see you Sunday!

Today I write.
~~~~~~~~
PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS

WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains. May 30 – June 1 Join Jordan Rosenfeld and me deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Your story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Learn to identify and write the key lynch-pin scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat Spring 2014.

A PATH to PUBLISHING using the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
Coming soon, an entirely new support system for writers ready to revise their novels in a month. Plus, live online video chat technology. Follow for news: apathtopublishing.com

For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.

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9. This week over on Once Upon A Sketch

I've posted the first of my two part interview with Susan Eaddy, clay illustrator and the Illustration Coordinator for the SCBWI Midsouth region. Susan is always generous with her time and advice. Her videos are just fun to watch and make me want to have a go at iMovie. Go check it out.












Also from my continued reading assignment for 2014 here's my fave picture books from the past month:

Sometimes I Forget You're A Robot by Sam Brown - very sweet story about getting what you want. I especially loved the plaintive "beep beeps" of the Robot as he tries to show the main character what he CAN do.

The Twins' Blanket by Hyewon Yum - A great story about learning to share. I especially love how Hyewon Yum manages to capture the different personalities of each twin in very little text.

The Block Mess Monster by Betsy Howie, illustrated by C.B. Decker - the illustrations really knock this story out of the park as Becker shows extravagant expression on the part of the child, the mom, and the blocks who don't want to be put away.

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10. SCBWI Midsouth Sweeps the Bologna Illustration Gallery

I'm ecstatic to announce that one of my illustrations (and the header of my blog no less;) is a finalist for the 2014 SCBWI Illustration Gallery at the Bologna Book Fair in Bologna, Italy at the end of this month.

Here's the piece, it was created for the illustrator's intensive class at the 2013 Midsouth Conference. When I went to Kinkos to get a print made for the regional PAL showcase the guy behind the counter made an off-hand comment that it reminded him of Where the Wild Things Are.

WHAT! did that guy just compare my work to Maurice Sendak?!?








Alright let's settle down and keep things in perspective here….

At the Book Fair, a winner and four runners-up will be chosen. To be honest, that'd be great but to me the real value is being nominated as a finalist at all. My work will be displayed at one of the most prestigious event in the world for children's books.

Making this whole announcement even better is the fact that FOUR other Midsouth illustrators, and good friends of mine, are also finalists! Tennessee and Kentucky are growin' a mighty fine crop o' illustrators down here in the Midsouth! I share congratulations with Susan Eaddy, Kris Sexton, and Cheryl Mendenhall. Here's a look at the finalist round-up, click through to see all their fabulous artwork.



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11. KidLit Writers’ Events

We don’t have any KidLit Author/Illustrator events this week, (although super-writer Brandon Sanderson who has a new YA novel STEELHEART  is at Murder By the Book tonight promoting the newest book in his current series for adults) so I thought I’d let you in on what’s going on around Houston for those who write books for kids and teens.

March 15, 9:00 a.m. Recurring: Third Saturday of each month
Bunker Hill HEB Community Room, 9710 Katy Fwy, Houston, Texas 77055
Houston YAMG Writers Group

Houston YAMG Writers Group is happy to have Elizabeth White of The Writer’s Studio of Houston speaking this month on How to Wow Readers on Page One!

To get an agent’s or an editor’s attention, yes, you need a “hook” that draws them in. Yes, you need flawless prose. And, yes, you need a style of your own and an idea so unique, your readers won’t let go. And, you need something else: you need a terrible problem that catches any reader’s heart, and a character whose pain and desire are achingly evident from the start. Come learn to let the deeper elements of character arise in your first words, so that you hook not just readers’ minds, but their souls. Elizabeth has asked that everyone try to bring in an example of a well-written first page from a novel they love.
Follow Houston YAMG Writers on Twitter!

March 20, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Recurring
Barnes & Noble, Baybrook II, Webster, TX
BAWL (Bay Area Writers’ League) Critique Group

Members of the Bay Area Writers’ League meet on the first and third Thursday of each month to improve their writing efforts.

March 22, Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Brazos Valley SCBWI Workshop with Martha Wells
Registration: $20 for SCBWI members /$25 non-members. Seating is limited. Please r.s.v.p: brazosvalley@scbwi.org

“Writing Speculative Fiction for Kids and Teens,” a morning workshop with acclaimed fantasy author Martha Wells. She will offer her expert overview of speculative fiction, including tips, resources, exercises and practical advice. Bring your questions for a time of Q&A. Copies of Martha’s books will be available for purchase—cash or check only.

March 24, Monday, 7:30 p.m. Recurring
Barnes & Noble, Baybrook II, Webster, TX
SCBWI Critique Group

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month. Join us as we give and receive feedback on our writing projects!

AND DON”T FORGET!
There is still time to sign up for the awesome writers’ conferences coming up in April:

The Houston Writers Guild Annual Agents & Editors Conference: April 12
Registration
Join

Keynote Presenter—Nikki Loftin (Penguin/Razorbill author of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy and Nightingale’s Nest)
Pre-conference Workshop (Power Revision, editor Meghan Pinson)
Post-conference Workshops (Author Platform, author Joy Preble).
Agent/editor pitch sessions (Eddie Schneider— JABberwocky, Jennifer Udden—Donald Maass, Pooja Menon—Kimberley Cameron, Stella Riley —Soul Mate Publishing, Dawn Dowdle—Blue Ridge Literary Agency, Jessica Kirkland—Blythe Danield Agency

2014 HOUSTON SOCIETY OF CHILDREN’S BOOK WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS CONFERENCE: April 26-27
Registration
Join

Keynote Presenter: Two-time Newbery Honor Winner and NAtional Book Award Finalist Gary D. Schmidt,
Agents: Stephen BarrWriters House; Stephen Fraser—Jennifer DeChiara Literacy Agency; Natalie LakosilBradford Literary Agency
Editors: Kendra Levin—Senior Editor, Viking Books for Children, Penguin; Jocelyn Davies—Editorial Assistant, HarperCollins;
Julie Ham—Associate Editor, Charlesbridge
Art Director: Jim Hoover—Associate Art Director, Viking Children’s Books, Penguin Group
PLUS: There is still time to sign up for a critique with authors Kathy Duval, Sherry Garland, Joy Preble, and Ana María Rodríguez.

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12. Opening Lines

Opening lines should draw readers into the world of a story & involve them from the start.

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13. SCBWI SketchCrawl at Manchester Science Museum


I've been commissioned to do a SketchCrawl event in Manchester at the end of the month, for SCBWI - that's the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. If you are trying to get started as a writer or illustrator of children's books, it's an organisation that is well worth joining. They have regional groups all over the country and put on lots of events to advise and inspire.


SketchCrawling is an idea I introduced to SCBWI back in 2010, when I was keynote speaker at the 10th anniversary conference. I talked about it in my speech, because sketching is a key part of how I keep my love of what I do alive, despite it having been my job for 30 years now.


Because SCBWI represents authors as well as illustrators, the SketchCrawl event later this month in the Science Museum will not just be for sketching, but writing too - creating on-the-spot responses to what we see. There will be plenty to inspire and I'm sure the exhibits will be evocative enough to get the authors fired up.

If you fancy giving it a go, as a writer or a sketcher, it's open to non-members too. Drop Anna Violet an email to book your place.

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14. BIG Opportunity and Perseverance

http://bologna.scbwi.org/

I have something BIG going on! Looks like I'm going to Italy. My art that is! I've been selected to be featured in the SCBWI 2014 "Bologna Illustrators’ Gallery." My piece "Time to Wish" will be displayed on the showcase booth walls at The Bologna book Fair.

This leads me to thinking about perseverance in this business and the art of never giving up. That's a hard thing to do when you've spent years chasing a dream. Sometimes receiving encouragement, other times rejection. Then more rejection. Then the rejection turns into a no response, because the business practices have changed, and a no response means rejection. (But in the back of your mind you think there still might be hope - maybe they just haven't gotten back to you yet?) Then you get a good critique, a featured spot, or even a rejection letter with a positive note. And you think just maybe you can make this dream happen.

Someone recently gave me some very sound advice. We were discussing the need to look for a paying job or to continue putting everything you've got into following this dream. She asked me "Which one would leave you with regrets?" Years from now would I regret most not taking a menial job or giving up on publishing?

And that leads me to Bologna. I'm not going to give up. I just got a kick in the butt to remind me of what I want and what this particular piece means to me. This piece is from my heart. It's from a story I started a long time ago and "cut my teeth on" in this business. It not the same story it was when I first wrote it (or for that matter first illustrated it.) It has grown along with me. It's been written many times, revised many times, and sent out many times. Then shelved.

I've worked on other things since then. I started new picture book projects, I've illustrated books for other writers, I even started writing a novel of my own. Recently an Art Directer reviewed my portfolio and told me this piece showed how much I loved working on it. So I pulled it out from the dark drawer again, made more revisions and decided it's good. The writing is good. The concept is good. I think I got this. I think it's time to start shopping this story...again.



Please Note: This month's Friday Studio Links has been delayed. Check back next Friday for more information.

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15. Facing Failure

A couple of weekends ago I was in New York City at the SCBWI winter conference. (If you don't know about SCBWI, I will happily explain it to you.) One of the most memorable talks for me was Kate Messner's examination of the power of failure.

We writers are certainly familiar with failure. How many rejections have you received? How many revisions have you had to make? How many published books failed to sell out? It happens.

What Messner

encouraged us to do is to change our perception about failure. Instead of looking at failure as a negative, she suggested we look at it as the fastest and best way to achieve our goals. In fact, she said, we should be trying to fail as often as possible.

Okay, I know it sounds counter intuitive. Shouldn't we be aiming for success, after all?

Here's an example she gave. A study divided a group of artists into two groups. Let's say they were making pottery. The first group was told they would be graded on achieving one really excellent pot. They did not have to worry about how many pots they made--just one really good one and they'd ace the class. The second group was told to produce as many pots as they could--the more they made, the higher their grade. Quality was irrelevant.

At the end of the study, a panel examined the pottery samples to determine the best ones produced by both groups together. What the observers found was that the group that made many, many pots also produced the best pots. Why? Failure. They produced one pot after another after another. And they learned things. What worked. What techniques produced a stable pot. How to make the pot symmetrical. And so on.

This pretty much applies to any endeavor really. I know dozens of writers who are so concerned about producing the perfect manuscript, that they never produce another. I knew a man in a workshop I attended who had been working the same novel over and over for 20 years.

When I wrote my first novel, I was guilty of this. It took me about ten years of working on it (granted, sporadically, as I was also raising children) to get it "good enough" to start submitting. It got a few positive rejections. Failure.

Since then, I have written several more novels and half a dozen more in my brain. Once I let go of that one needs-to-be-perfect manuscript, I was able to forge ahead and produce many  more, all of which are infinitely better than that first one. In fact, (surprise, surprise) each one is better than the last. What if I just kept writing as many as I could and never stopped. I'd produce a lot of failures. But I'd also produce a few really good books.

I liken this to shooting darts at a dartboard. The more darts you throw, the more likely your chance of hitting a bulls-eye. Right?

So as you start this new week, look for ways to fail. Embrace it. Do it some more. And learn.

If you'd like to explore the topic more, see Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win, by Ryan Babineaux and John Krumboltz.

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16. SCBWI Conference and Beyond, My Trip Part 1: People and Places #NY14SCBWI

Greetings friends out in Internet Land! You may have wondered why it has been a month since I have posted anything. Well, I've been hard at work preparing for the New York SCBWI Winter Conference!

 Here is a brief recap of some of the people and places I saw on my trip! There will be a part 2 where I share a few things I learned on my trip! There's lots of great hyperlinks in this post, so click on the link and discover some great illustrators and great places to visit!


I met some awesome illustrators that I have always admired! Some illustrators from the conference to follow: Paul O. Zelinski, Peter Brown, Brett Helquist (fellow BYU graduate), Tomie dePaola, Oliver Jeffers, Marla Frazee, Raul Colon, and Shadra Strickland.


I had the opportunity to see some beautiful artwork, both in New York and in Massachusettes. In New York, I had the opportunity to go to an exhibit at the New York Public Library called The ABC of It: Why Children's books matter. There was some great picture book art there, including some artwork by one of my favorite classic illustrators, Arthur Rackham

In Massachusettes, I had the privilege of going to the Norman Rockwell Museum. There I was able to see many beautiful works of art by Norman Rockwell. I also got to see some beautiful artwork by Ruth Sanderson, one of my favorite children's fairy tale illustrators!



I got to visit some great exhibits and museums that had to do with illustration and literature! As I mentioned above, I visited the exhibit called The ABC of It: Why Children's books matter in New York. 


In Connecticut I got to visit Harriet Beecher Stowe's house, and Mark Twain's House- both great figures in the world of literature!

If you live nearby any of these places, go take advantage of these great opportunities and visit them!



The best part was being with great friends and family! 

Before the conference, I connected with some friends from The Oatley Academy: Kevin Scarborough and Brendan Reglunski

During the conference I met up with lots of friends I have met on the internet which was really fun! I hung out with my good illustrator friends from Utah: Manelle Oliphant, Sherry Meidell, and Bethanne Anderson

After the conference, I met up with my sister Bethany, and she took me around Connecticut and Massachusettes! Ah, what a great trip!




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17. SCBWI FL Conference Recap #3: Picture Book Intensive

Today we’re lucky to have Peggy Robbins Janousky visiting to share highlights from SCBWI FL’s Picture Book Intensive. Take it away, Peggy!

peggyI have attended many picture book intensives over the years, but this one topped them all. Participants were treated to an all-star panel that included: agent Deborah Warren of East West Literary, editor Laura Whitaker of Bloomsbury, author and editor Andrea Davis Pinkney and author Toni Buzzeo.

The presentations were practical, but powerful:

  • Always bring your “A” game.
  • Rhyme is not taboo, but bad rhyme is.
  • Picture books are getting shorter and are being targeted for younger audiences.
  • Show, don’t tell.
  • Hook me and keep me hooked.
  • Be passionate about your book and be able to pitch in just a few sentences.

One of the best things that was presented was the HOT list. These are the topics that editors and Barnes and Noble want now:

  • Moments of the day
  • School stories
  • Learning concepts
  • Holidays (MLK, Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, St. Patrick’s Day)
  • Friends and family biographies
  • Character-driven stories
  • Original stories that every kid will love
  • Interactive picture books
  • Finding the new in the old

If you haven’t taken an intensive before, I strongly urge you to consider it. Intensives are exactly that, intense. They give you the opportunity to delve in deeper and they also give you the opportunity to get to know the presenters on a more intimate level. I came away from this intensive with a new sense of purpose and drive. I also came away with a few good friends. All in all, it was money worth spending.

I have to admit, I almost did not attend the Miami conference. I was having a pity party and I wasn’t really up for the company. I had broken my leg in three places. Needless to say, getting around was a wee bit difficult. I was ready to bail. I am glad I didn’t. The first page of my manuscript was read during “first page reads”. Much to my surprise, the panel loved it. One editor wanted to know who wrote it, an agent wanted to read more, and another editor wanted to acquire it. I have to admit, I was in shock. By the end of the weekend, thanks to the help of a good friend, I had signed with that agent. Just one month later… My bio and picture are up on the East West Literary website. The editor that I mentioned is considering three of my manuscripts. And I am still pinching myself.

I will tell you that this was not an overnight success. I have attended many conferences and taken copious notes. I have revised, cut, and revised some more. I have also had moments where I was so rejected that I thought I would never put myself through another critique again. So what’s the moral of the story? Never give up. Never let pity or self-doubt get the upper hand. Believe with all your heart that your day will come. Then get off your butt and get to that conference. Your happily ever after is waiting for you to show up!

Peggy Robbins Janousky uses her offbeat sense of humor to write offbeat picture books. When she is not writing, Peggy uses her time to rescue stray animals. Much to her family’s dismay, she keeps them all.

kristenfultonAnd thanks to Kristen Fulton for adding this summary of Andrea Pinkney’s workshop: The Write Stuff.

  • Writers write every day, whether it be a holiday or vacation.
  • Find your “twinkle”—what makes you sparkle around others?
  • Establish immediacy—using voice, characterization, mystery and drama.
  • Ask yourself, “Why does the reader want to come on this journey and what makes the reader stay on this journey?”
  • Writing is fun—and hard work.
  • Writing is re-writing at least 10 times.
  • Just get started and keep going.
  • Read every day, whether it be a holiday or vacation.

Kristen Fulton writes non-fiction picture books and is running an amazing non-fiction picture book retreat with loads of agents, editors, and authors on July 7-12. Check out her website for details!


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18. Through the Slushpile Spectacles - Are Children's Writers a Breed Apart?

by Addy Farmer Peering through my spectacles this week, I spotted this interesting article in The Guardian.  It examined the reaction to writer, Lynne Sheperd's piece in The Huffington Post in which she urged J.K.Rowling to stop writing and give other people a crack at earning some money. She says: I didn't much mind Rowling when she was Pottering about. I've never read a word (or seen a

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19. Rudolph the Red Nosed Musical – A SCBWI Australia East & New Zealand extravaganza!

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20. Tomie de Paola Award ~ Sneeze

 

baby sneezes2_RobertaBaird-small
“A sneeze is a breeze in your nose.”

This is my everty for the Tomie de Paola award entry.

Gesundheit!

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21. Love, love, love the community of kids’ books!!!

Susanne Gervay's I AM JACK in Las VegasIt’s the start of 2014 & it’s drop in time before the crazy life of writing tours, events, festivals , school visits, media …. start seriously.

Where’s the drop in centre? You guessed it -The Hughenden.

I loved catching up with:-

Dianne Wolfer and Jennie Orchards at The Hughenden 001-the award winning Albany (WA) Dianne Wolfer whose Lighthouse Girl & Lighthouse Boy (Fremantle Press) are best sellers!

- Monica Lizama the Chilean-Australian writer who dresses up as her character PAWS!

- Jennie Orchard with Margaret Wilcox from Room to Read who are developing the Writer Ambassador programme to raise awareness of the need to educate the kids of Asaa and Africa. SCBWI is on board with lots of our authors taking on the role of ambassadors.

- Libby Hathorn dropping in with her poetry books and she’s got a new book coming out with HarperCollins on ANZACS.

- Chris Cheng with Bini getting ready to head off to New York for the SCBWI Conference and then Bologna Book Fair  …. and other favourite creators!

And I’m getting my spangles ready to hit Las Vegas for the I AM JACK season at the Smith Center of performing Arts!\

I’m staying at the EXCALIBUR HOTEL, so getting into princess gear … their could be some princes there. or toads!

 

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22. Love, love, love the community of kids’ books!!!

Susanne Gervay's I AM JACK in Las VegasIt’s the start of 2014 & it’s drop in time before the crazy life of writing tours, events, festivals , school visits, media …. start seriously.

Where’s the drop in centre? You guessed it -The Hughenden.

I loved catching up with:-

-the award winning Albany (WA) Dianne Wolfer whose Lighthouse Girl (Fremantle Press) is a best seller!

- Monica Lizama the Chilean-Australian writer who dresses up as her character PAWS!

- Jennie Orchard with Margaret Wilcox from Room to Read who are developing the Writer Ambassador programme to raise awareness of the need to educate the kids of Asaa and Africa. SCBWI is on board with lots of our authors taking on the role of ambassadors.

- Libby Hathorn dropping in with her poetry books and she’s got a new book coming out with HarperCollins on ANZACS.

- Chris Cheng with Bini getting ready to head off to New York for the SCBWI Conference and then Bologna Book Fair  …. and other favourite creators!

Nearly ready to hit Las Vegas for the I AM JACK season at the Smith Center of performing Arts!

I’m staying at the EXCALIBUR HOTEL, so getting into princess gear … their could be some princes there. or toads!

The post Love, love, love the community of kids’ books!!! appeared first on Susanne Gervay's Blog.

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23. Rocking across the USA with anti bullying!

I AM JACK touring USA

I’m going home soon after a whirlwind trip with I AM JACK with thousands of kids and teachers seeing I AM JACK, media and adventures.

Loved that SCBWI authors and illustrators saw the play too. Special hi to Des Moines and of course Suzanne Morgan Williams who flew into las Vegas to see it – and we had fun too. Check out the  BANANAS.

I love Aussie kids, but love American kids too.

They’re so funny at times and gorgeous and real.

Questions and comments by the audiences moved me about being bullied and how Tim McGarry who plays JACK and 11 characters reached them.

Ended up with catching up with my USA publishers of the I Am Jack series – Kane Miller Books

- Love Kira Lynn Publisher and Lynn Kelley the Marketing Manager-  and some of the consultants I met there – Pat Vecio who took me on a wild and woolly ride into Orange County – so made it with heaps of detours and I got to speak to kids from one month old to 15 with parents and grandparents

- and thankyou to Mia for a lunch of taco fish???  New cuisine for me.

Monkey Baa Theatre and Tim McGarry continue their USA tour through snow and sleet – they’ll be home mid March and I’ll be home soon.

San Diego zoo and Kira 032What an amazing trip.

 

 

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24. So you say you want to write children’s books?

Last weekend I took a major step forward towards my dream of publishing children's books. I attended the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Annual Conference in New York. This post includes highlights from the keynotes and breakout sessions.

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25. SCBWI FL Conference Recap #2: Editor Panel

Let’s welcome Mindy Alyse Weiss back…she’s got the scoop from the recent SCBWI FL Conference. And boy, what a scoop it is! It’s chocolate fudge with rainbow sprinkles!

Ever wonder about an editor’s wish list? Wonder no longer! In the Editor Panel, Stacy Abrams, Kat Brzozowski, Aubrey Poole, Laura Whitaker and Andrea Pinkney discussed what kind of projects they’re seeking—and not seeking. There seems to be a trend away from dystopian and paranormal novels in YA.

A Wonderful Editor Panel

Stacy Abrams, Executive Editorial Director of Bliss and Entangled Teen
Contemporary (no paranormal or dystopian). Can have an issue in it, but the book can’t be about the issue.

Kat Brzozowski, Associate Editor, Thomas Dunne Books, MacMillan
Dystopian is hard. Would love a good YA mystery. Comes across as loving dark but does love girl meets boy and they kiss, light romantic contemporary stuff for girls.
With social media, if you do one thing well but don’t like another, don’t force it.

Aubrey Poole, Associate Editor, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky and Fire
Loves sci fi, YA, not looking at genre really—it’s the stories that stand out within a genre. More experimenting with format. Read more about her wish list here.

Laura Whitaker, Associate Editor, Bloomsbury Children’s Books
She’s tired of dystopian and paranormal YA. She wants to be immersed in a story so much that she’s physically removed from her own issues. She wants to read about real people. Contemporary, original voice. With MG and YA, networking is important. Do a lot of digital marketing initiatives. You can get a huge impact from doing a blog tour. “Help me help you.”

Andrea Pinkney, Vice-President and Executive Editor, Scholastic
More diversity, African American boys, adventure, mystery, fun. Contemporary stories. *You need to normalize and not make it about the problem, even with something like bi-polar.” She’s interested in a novel with a character who has piercing or a lot of tattoos.

A Laura Whitaker

Laura Whitaker, Associate Editor, Bloomsbury

Besides writing a well-crafted story, how do you catch an editor’s attention? Laura Whitaker presented “Dating 101: What Makes YOU Desirable to an Editor”.

Tell her something interesting about your writing journey. What drew you to telling this story? Let her know any cool things you can share about yourself—show what makes you vibrant and unique.

Title—come up with something original that represents your work. If the title is the same when you’re published and there’s a story behind how you arrived at the title, marketing will want it later for a blog/Tumblr piece.

She’ll look at a query for 30 seconds to a minute. First thing should be the hook, then a two sentence synopsis (three if you have to), then info about yourself.

Your website is your calling card—especially for picture books.

Do you tweet out interesting, dynamic tweets? It’s the best way to build connections with other authors, agents, and editors. Twitter is more important for MG and YA.

Interact! Do you write about the process or what you’re working on? Marketing and publicity want to see your social media platform. The more social media, the better—but it is not a substitute for the craft.

Thanks again, Mindy!

Come back on Friday for the rest of the scoop from SCBWI FL. We’ll have vanilla and strawberry for those who don’t like chocolate. (Don’t like CHOCOLATE? Who are you people???)


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