Thursday, January 29, 2015

Last Chance for #NY15SCBWI

With only a handful of spaces left, The 2015 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City is on track to sell out later today!

If you'd like to join us February 6-8, 2015 for all the craft, business, opportunity, inspiration and community #NY15SCBWI offers, register now before it's officially SOLD OUT.

Hope to see you there!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Can Better Understanding Adolescent Psychology Help Us Craft Better Fiction?

Teens often look to fiction for insights they might use in their real lives. So it may follow that in creating fiction, we can get insights into the characters we create by exploring real-world insights.

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the New York Times Bestselling Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and the New Realities of Girl World

It's "The Groundbreaking Classic that inspired Mean Girls" and

Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope With Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World.

Rosalind discusses types of behavior, not types of kids, and her structural analysis, based on interviews and her work with thousands of boys and girls, is fascinating.

Like the difference between Good Teasing (where you feel liked, don't feel put down, and it will stop if asked), Ignorant Teasing (where you don't know how the first person feels or 'I was just joking') and Malicious Teasing (where the teasing is for insecurities, you're called 'uptight' or threatened with ending the friendship if you protest, and it's relentless and public.)

The interaction between children and their parents,

"It's normal to hate the kids who are mean to your kid. They're aware of who you judge."
some kids' view that

"It's not a lie if you don't ask the right question."

And how parents can get past "it's fine" and have their kids open up to them.

The books are written for parents and kids, but they are also a resource for writers, full of wisdom like:

"boys are extremely strategic about who they tell what" 

and how

"homophobia is absolutely key to shutting boys up when they see social injustice."

Thinking about how who gets to decide a re-do in playing 4-square and how social power is based on tiny conflicts that build, how learning to say nothing is normalized... it's all great material for our material.

Illustrate and Write On,

p.s. - the quotes above are from a talk given by the author that I attended after the release of Masterminds & Wingmen.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

SCBWI Announces the 2014 On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Award Winners!

Established by SCBWI and funded by Martin and Sue Schmitt, the On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Award is given to two writers or illustrators who are from ethnic and/or cultural backgrounds that are traditionally under-represented in children's literature in America and who have a ready-to-submit complete work for children.

Congratulations to Heidi Kim for their young adult novel "The Certainty of Tides" and to Adria Quinones, for their middle grade novel, "The Disappeared."

Each winner will receive an all-expense paid trip to the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles and have several private meetings with editors and other industry professionals.

Look for upcoming interviews with both Heidi and Adria here on this blog to hear more about their win and their manuscripts!

To learn more about the On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Award, check out the Awards and Grants section of the main SCBWI website.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lisa Cron on her book "Wired For Story"

This podcast, part of the "Writers On Writing" series, was fascinating. In it, host and author Barbara DeMarco-Barrett interviews Lisa Cron about her book "Wired For Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers From the Very First Sentence."

 Some highlights from my listening:

If the reader can't feel what matters and what doesn't matter then nothing matters, including finishing the story.

Speaking about curiosity and the brain chemical dopamine Lisa says we don't turn to story to escape reality, we turn to stories to navigate reality. 


The story is not about the plot, the story is about how the plot affects the protagonist. 

The interview podcast (and book) are worth checking out, to see if Lisa's insights resonate for you.

Illustrate and Write On, 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Announcing The Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Award Winner and Honoree!

Writer/Illustrator Sanna Stanley

This year's winner is Sanna Stanley, writer and illustrator of books including Monkey for Sale

and Monkey Sunday.

Sanna draws inspiration for her work from the time she spent as a child traveling to remote villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

She wins a $3,000 grant to both honor her contribution and help raise awareness about her current works-in-progress. You can learn more about Sanna at her website here.

Congratulations, Sanna!

Cheers as well to Jane Mitchell, who won an Honor Grant. Jane is the co-founder of the SCBWI Ireland Chapter and its previous regional advisor. She is the author of When Stars Stop Spinning and Chalkline, and her work focuses on the rights of women and young girls around the globe. You can learn more about Jane at her site here.

Look for interviews with both Sanna and Jane on this blog coming soon.

Calling the grant a "love-note of recognition," Jane Yolen explained that the Grant she established is a way for her and SCBWI to say to the winners,

"Please know that we love your books. We need your books. We remember your books. Don't quit. Write more." 

You can find out more about the Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Award here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Advice From An Editor (Who's Now An Author) - Chris Pavone on BOOKish

Many of us writers and illustrators have day jobs or parallel careers. Some of us have those second/simultaneous careers in this very industry, like former Art Director and book jacket designer R.J. Palacio whose debut MG novel, WONDER, was such a hit.

In this article on BOOKish, Editor and now Author Chris Pavone shares 7 Things Being an Editor Taught Me About Being an Author, and it's well-worth reading.

I particularly liked the statistic that even if your book is the single best-selling novel of the year, maybe 2% of Americans will read it. Which, of course, means that 98% won't. Leading Chris to say,

"There's no way to appeal to everyone, and no reason to try: It will only ensure that a book appeals to absolutely no one whatsoever."

Wise words.

Check out the rest of the piece, and

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, January 8, 2015

For Illustrators (and the rest of us who create and craft stories for children): Spend Some Time With Brian Selznick on Reading Rockets

Okay, if you only have 11 minutes, watch this one:

If you have 22, watch this one!

In both, Brian shares process and inspiration for his ground-breaking and Caldecott Medal-winning THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET.

The story of how he integrated images with the text is fantastic.

In the longer video, we learn more about his childhood and how he ended up illustrating and writing stories for children.

They're both excellent and inspiring.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Why We Create: Insights from Woodworker Peter Korn

Peter Korn, author and craftsman

I was impressed by the universality and insights of Peter Korn's comments on creative work, and in particular how it resonates for those of us writing and illustrating for children and teens.

Here are some of his thoughts:

"...I have come to believe that all people who engage in creative, self-expressive work - visual artists, craftspeople, writers, composers and others - are engaged in similar processes of self-transformation. None of us enter our studios because the world desperately demands another painting, symphony, or chair. But none of us take the work lightly, either, because it entails too much commitment, discipline, and risk of failure. Those who choose to do it professionally, expect for the very few who reach the top, could find more effective ways to earn decent livings. The simple truth is that people who engage in creative practice go into the studio, first and foremost, because they expect to emerge from the other end of the creative gauntlet as different people."

"Happiness and fulfillment feel like two distinct states of mind to me, and of the two, I find happiness greatly overrated by those who present it as life's ultimate goal. Whatever it may have meant to philosophers in the past, or to the Founding Fathers who were so intent on pursuing it, the glow we label happiness today seems relatively inconsequential. We get it if we buy the right car, fall in love with the right person, take the right job, win the lottery, become famous, or eat our favorite candy bar. But then we grow accustomed to our car or lover or job or candy bar ...and happiness seeps into the sands of the ordinary. Soon, we're hungry for it all over again, and not sure where to find it. Fulfillment, on the other hand, seems to be self-generated through the exercise of our own creative capacities. However recalcitrant the universe may be, when I am creatively engaged I have a sense of purpose and fulfillment that makes happiness seem like a bauble."

"As a child and teenager I longed for competence, for the ability to do something well in a way that mattered in the grownup world. As a woodworker I found that ordinary competence and something more. I discovered within myself the capacity to transform a wisp of thought into an enduring, beautiful object. I see the same empowering revelation take place in my students today as they perform the miracle of creation. This, I would suggest, is precisely what makes creative practice such a generous source of fulfillment, beyond the pleasure of engaging heart, head, and hand in unison. It exercises one's innate capacity to re-form the given world in ways that matter."

These quotes were found in the essay, "Philosopher on the Lathe: Reflections on a life devoted to craftsmanship" on pages 12-13 of The Pennsylvania Gazette, Nov/Dec 2014. Peter Corn is the author of Why We Make Things And Why It Matters: The Education of a Craftsman (David R. Godine, 2013), from which he adapted the essay.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

What Kids Want In Books... Scholastic's 2015 Reading Report Teaser

The Kids & Family Reading Report is a national survey of children ages 6–17 and their parents exploring attitudes and behaviors around reading books for fun.

All the numbers are really interesting, but what stunned me was:

73% of kids ages 6-17 say "I would read more if I could find more books that I like."
There's opportunity there, for librarians, teachers, parents, bloggers, and yes, especially for those of us who illustrate and writer works for children and teens!

You can read more about the study's methodology here. And Thanks to Darcy Pattison for sharing the infographic.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The 2014 Crystal Kite Winners: ONCE UPON A MEMORY by Nina Laden, illustrated by Renata Liwska (SCBWI Western Washington)

The Crystal Kite Award is given by SCBWI in 15 divisions across the globe. In this 15th (and final) profile of our 2014 winners, the spotlight shines on ONCE UPON A MEMORY by Nina Laden, illustrated by Renata Liwska.

Representing SCBWI Western Washington (from whence Nina Laden hails), ONCE UPON A MEMORY won for the Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Northern Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota Division.

Award-Winning Author Nina Laden

Lee: Please tell us about your book!

Nina: “Once Upon A Memory” began as poem that I wrote during a particularly difficult period in my life. I was walking on the beach and I found a feather and as I held it up and tested it in the wind, it got me wondering if it remembered that it once was a bird. That question, “does a feather remember it once was a bird?” led to a string of questions that turned into a poem as I kept walking down the beach- until it got to the point that I nearly had to run home to write them down before I forgot them. 

At first I thought the book, which I originally called “Does A Feather Remember?” was going to be a whimsical board book with novelty flaps that revealed the answers. Things didn’t go that way, in fact they changed at a SCBWI conference in my home state of Washington. 

A few years back I was faculty at our SCBWI-WA Spring Conference and after the conference ended, editor Connie Hsu (who was with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers at that time) and I had a glass of wine and discovered that we both had the same birthday. On a whim I decided to send “Does A Feather Remember?” to her, and after a series of revisions, a chunk of time, and the submission of four different samples of my different illustration styles decisions were made. Little, Brown became the publisher. Connie became the editor- and for the first time ever, I became the author only. It was actually a very interesting experience and a lesson about letting go. My style was just not “sweet enough.” (I have never been accused of being “warm and fuzzy. Hah!) 

Working with Connie was wonderful and it was a lot of work. Every single word and every concept/image was thoroughly scrutinized. I was ever so grateful to help choose the fabulously-talented Renata Liwska to illustrate this book. Renata and I have become friends through this experience. There is even a cultural bond because Renata is originally from Poland, and I, too am part Polish. (My last name used to be Ladinski and was changed by my paternal grandfather.) 

Through all of this, “Does A Feather Remember?” became a beautiful, evocative picture book, and Little, Brown felt that I needed to change the title. This was a difficult thing for me to do, but it was a group decision. I submitted many ideas and everyone agreed that “Once Upon A Memory” was the best choice. There is so much of my own curiosity and wonder at the world we live in; to see this book come to life from an idea on the beach, to a gorgeous book about so many deep and important questions has been a reward after a long period of not creating the books that sustain me. 

Lee: How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you've gained by being a member?

Nina: I didn’t know about SCBWI when I submitted and published my first book, “The Night I Followed the Dog,” back in 1994, but I found out about them right after I was published and I joined. I can’t remember if it was late ‘94 or in ‘95. I tell people that I wish that I had known about them before I was published, but I think that not knowing has given me a greater sense of value of this incredible organization. SCBWI has been such an invaluable tool for networking. That is my number one reason for never letting my membership go after almost twenty years. Writing and illustrating is solitary work, and when I first started I didn’t even own a computer. Now we do have way too much social media connecting us to the point that we are over-stimulated. The SCBWI connections are the most meaningful ones in my book, though. I do wish I could attend more conferences, but being involved in the organization in the small way that I’ve been has helped me feel like part of such a great community. SCBWI lets us all share our knowledge and we pass on information and inspire each other. 

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children's book writers and illustrators?

Nina: My advice for other children’s book writers and illustrators is to keep a journal/sketcbook/scrapbook. I’ve always done this – I put everything in my journals: ideas, stories, poems, drawings, cartoons, things I’ve cut and pasted... Anything that means something, even if I don’t know what it is. It could be the seed of an idea. You must feed your imagination. And you must get out into nature. I know we talk about keeping your “butt in the chair,” but... If you don’t get out there and have adventures and explore, you won’t have things that inspire you to write and draw. I truly believe that to create we have to “recreate” which is “re-create” if you look at the syllables... (and you have to eat well, too, there is an “ate,” there and I believe that cooking is also a connection to creativity.)

Thanks so much, Nina!

I also contacted SCBWI Western Washington co-Regional Advisors Dana Sullivan and Dana Arnim to find out more. Here's what they wrote:

SCBWI Western Washington tends to have most members clustered in the Seattle/Bellevue area, although we span from the British Columbia border up north all the way south to where Washington meets Oregon. We spread from the Cascade Mountains all the way west to the Olympic peninsula. (SCBWI’s Inland Empire region serves most cities and towns east of the Cascades in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.) SCBWI WWA hosts an annual season of events which includes: monthly programming from September through May, a conference in April, Inside Story events, illustrator exhibitions, "Kid Lit” drink nights, both writers' & illustrators’ retreats, and a series of schmoozes in both the north and south sound areas. 

Thanks to Nina and the Danas, and Cheers to both Nina and Renata on ONCE UPON A MEMORY winning the 2014 Crystal Kite Award!

You can find out more about Nina at her website here.

Learn about Renata Liwska and see more of her beautiful illustrations at her online home here.

And discover lots more about SCBWI Western Washington here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The 2014 Crystal Kite Winners: CHICKOSAURUS REX by Lenore Appelhans, illustrated by Daniel Jennewein (SCBWI Germany/Austria)

This week's Crystal Kite Spotlight shines on CHICKOSAURUS REX by the husband and wife team of Lenore Appelhans and Daniel Jennewein.

From SCBWI Germany/Austria, their book won for the "International Other" Division.

Award-Winning Author/Illustrator Team Lenore Appelhans and Daniel Jennewein

I contacted Lenore and Daniel to learn more...

Lee: Please tell us about your book!

Lenore and Daniel: CHICK-O-SAURUS REX is about a little Little Chick, who is bullied by the bigger animals. He feels small until he discovers he’s the closest living relative to the mighty T-Rex. When a wolf threatens the farm, Little Chick finds his inner T-Rex and saves the day. 

Lee: unexpected heroes saving the day - hurray! How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you've gained by being a member?

Lenore and Daniel: We joined in 2007 after working on a picture book for about two years and thinking it was ready to submit. We soon learned it was not! At the 2008 pre-Bologna conference, Daniel got great feedback on his illustrations from the art directors on the First Look panel, which led to a two-book contract with HarperCollins for his debut with Author Audrey Vernick: IS YOUR BUFFALO READY FOR KINDERGARTEN? We also met our eventual (and current) agent Stephen Barbara. 

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children's book writers and illustrators?

Lenore and Daniel: Keep your eyes and ears and imagination open. You never know where you’ll find ideas and inspiration. With CHICK, we were visiting friends and their daughter told Daniel that she had learned something cool that day in school. She asked if he could guess the closest living relative to the T-Rex, and he was surprised by the answer. When he told me, I thought it would make the perfect picture book.

And it clearly did!

Thanks, Lenore and Daniel, and cheers to you both for CHICKOSAURUS REX winning the 2014 Crystal Kite Award!

You can find out more about Lenore at her website here, and Daniel at his website here.

You can also get details on SCBWI Germany/Austria at their regional website here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sotheby's Reports Brand New Record for a Book Illustration at Auction...

Sotheby's tweeted this phone and text earlier this month:

Sold for £314,500: the original drawing for "Poohsticks"... A brand new record for any book illustration at auction
That's nearly half a million dollars ($493,765.00 at the current $1.57 exchange rate to £1.00)!

What I find so amazing about EH Shepard's illustration, more than its current market value, is how much emotional value is conveyed... and we don't see any faces! Just Christopher Robin, and Pooh and Piglet's body positions, and the setting, and still so much emotion and tone comes through to us.

It's impressive.

You can read more about the sale of this drawing by EH Shepard in this BBC article here.

Illustrate and Write On,