Tuesday, August 10, 2010

2010 SCBWI LA Conference - day 3

Kim Fleming and Linda Silverstri
After all the fun of day 2 it was back to business, but first a late breakfast, and plan for which workshops to attend. There are so many good talks all taking place at the same time you really need to decide what is going to be the most beneficial to you at this particular stage of your career. We ended up not attending the first ballroom panel of the day on 'Why Narrative Fiction is Hotter than Ever', so we start the day with a Keynote by Carolyn Mackler, "For Richer or Poorer: Writing Through Good Times and Bad". Carolyn tells us about how her book, "The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Things" was banned, and how 368 teens signed a petition in support of her.

Our 1st workshop was with Marion Dane Bauer, entitled 'Basics of Writing a Picture Book'. Marion tells us, 'Don't let anyone else define you.' She says some of her presentation will make us say, 'duh', but there is a difference between knowing it and doing it. That is so true! She says most picture books are less than 400 words, and most first drafts end up needing to be cut in half. Everything you write needs to lead  to pictures. A writer must let go of the visual aspect of the story. Jane Yolen's 'Dinosaur Says Goodnight' allows visual opportunities through the writing. You are writing something that is going to be read 100s of times. It's the rhythm that makes this tolerable. Read your work aloud. You want your words to be silkenly fluid. Write with thought to the page turns so you don't have one page with one line and another with a whole paragraph. Take a picture book you like and type it up at home to see how few words there are, and where the page turns are. Don't write FOR a young child. Write THROUGH a young child. Kids want to be in charge of their own world. Don't wink at the adult reader like the cartoons do.

Steven Malk
The Do's and Don'ts of Building Your Illustration Career
Steven Malk is a Literary Agent who represents Lane Smith, Adam Rex, Jon Scieszka, and many other of my favorite authors and illustrators, so my ears were especially perked up for this workshop. The room was packed. Steven says be aware of what's out there. Do your homework. Study illustration. Be influenced by the classics. Don't look for a shortcut. (It may be a trap door.) He says Maurice Sendack wrote 'Where the Wild Things Are' from his heart. He didn't follow a trend. It doesn't always happen fast, so don't pressure yourself.
 Do think carefully about your portfolio. Don't do the kitchen sink approach. No more than 20 pieces. Your portfolio needs to show you understand the field. Think about the order of the images the way a musician thinks about the order of songs on an album. Always add and subtract content over time. Don't use the same portfolio for multiple fields. Don't ask publishers to make a huge leap. Do have a clean well organized website. Nothing fancy. No bells or whistles, or music. You need a blog. Make it distinctly you. Do attend as many conferences as possible. It is a good investment in your future.  DON'T DABBLE! It's a career. Steven hates the attitude that you just want to try one book and then you'll be onto something else. Do develop your own distinct point of view. He loves hearing who influences you. He's been noticing a big Mary Blair resurgence, but the problem is that people are just doing her style without doing anything on top of that. Put on a layer that is your own.

You can have more than one field on your website such as animation and illustration or editorial and children's books. If you are looking to illustrate novels show some line work. Steven says he appreciates anything a person does if they do it well, so multiple styles are acceptable, but if it's weak don't include it. Steven is not taking a lot of people right now. Steven says he loves postcards as a promo tool.

Bonnie Bright and Linda Silvestri doing yoga
Our next Keynote is with Gennifer Choldenko, 'Kill the Bunnies:Writing Novels for Today's Kids" Gennifer says there will always be a market for stupendous books. She tells us to harness the energy of your dreams. Cultivate the between state between sleeping and dreaming when your mind is at rest as during yoga, jogging, or showering. This is when the ideas will come. There is a kid out there who needs your book. Write for that kid.

Our final Keynote is with Rubin Pfeffer who talks about the changes in the book industry and how we are becoming a society of 'Content Creators'. He see this as a positive change with many doors opening and his talk assures us that change need not be a scary thing as David Diaz also explains to us. David went on to say the book is a perfect thing, like the fork or the chair. Music has undergone 10 format changes in the last 100 years. He says in books we're right around where the 8 track was. For more on this see Team Blog's coverage.

1 comment:

Mônica said...

These post are terrific, Angela, so informative! And it's great to see the pictures of many blog friends (Kim and Linda!)

Thanks again!