Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Asian Festival Of Children's Content 2016 starts tomorrow!






This year, Japan is the country of focus at the Asian Festival of Children's Content. Among the many tracks will be one on translation, and SCBWI International Translator Coordinator Avery Fischer Udagawa has a great roundup of the Japanese children's literature "dream team" that will be presenting at the conference here. That "dream team" includes Akiko Beppu, editor; Cathy Hirano, translator; Kazuo Iwamura, author-illustrator; Kyoko Sakai, editor; Naomi Kojima, illustrator; and Holly Thompson, Mariko Nagai, and Trevor Kew, authors who write from and about Japan in English.

There's also a pre-conference interview you can check out at Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations, (Cynthia will also be presenting at the conference.) In the interview with award-winning translator Cathy Hirano, Cathy explains how she focuses on the author's voice in her process,
"With literary translation ... I find the translation process more personal and subjective. The author has written the book for me and I’m translating it so that others can enjoy the same experience. In the initial stages in particular, I don’t worry about the readership and instead focus far more on the author, on his or her style, choice of words, rhythm—on the voice. I’m quite faithful to the original. It is only when I go back and reread it, that I regain some objectivity and become rather ruthless. But I am still trying to convey an experience rather than just content or meaning." - Cathy Hirano
Sounds like an amazing event - I'll be following along on social media with the hashtag #AFCC2016. Join me there, and in cheering on all our SCBWI members in Singapore!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Did you know Beethoven loved maracroni and cheese? Kathleen Krull on writing biographies

One of Kathleen's titles


While this list was intended for students, there's some great stuff here for those of us writing biographies for young readers. Here are three of Kathleen's ten tips:

Look for juicy details to make your information come alive. What did they wear? what did they do in the middle of the night? How weird was their family life? (Many geniuses come from troubled backgrounds, proving through history that it's possible to make something great out of your life anyway.) What did they crave? While researching Beethoven, I found out one day that his favorite meal was macaroni and cheese, and this tidbit helped me focus on other concrete details.

After you've soaked up all your information, don't use it all. Being selective is the magic key. Use only the most savory, cream-of-the-crop stuff, plus the facts that move your narrative along. Look for the arc, or shape of the person's life. Athlete Wilma Rudolph's life had the most dramatic arc possible, from her childhood with every disadvantage, her golden moments of Olympic triumph. But every life story has a beginning, middle, and end. Aim for the most dramatic part and tell what led up to it. what traits enabled them to over-come what obstacles?

Try tweaking your story by taking a point of view other than the standard third-person omniscient. You can use bystanders, or the neighbors as in "Lives of . . .". You could take the "warts and all" approach of a critic, divulging faults as well as redeeming qualities. Or, how would they tell their own story? How would one of their children? How would one of their teachers? How would a space alien?

Thanks, Kathleen!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tips for Illustrators from Rosanne Kakos-Main, courtesy of Harold Underdown

In Harold's article, Getting Out of the Art File, designer Rosanne Kakos-Main offered seven tips for illustrators to consider when putting together their portfolio.

Here are three:

Composition: interesting points of view, above, below, foreshortening, distortions, what is in the foreground and background. Consider what you do when you have your camera in hand, how you choose the contents, edges, and positioning of what enters the frame, how different lenses affect how much is included.

Subject Matter: What is (are) your subject(s) doing? Who are they? Do they have unusual expressions or clothing? Are they in an unusual predicament? Do they evoke an emotion? Are they up close or far away?

Lighting: Where is your light source? Dramatic lighting can often catch the eye... a candle lighting a dark room, the late afternoon sun casting huge shadow
Though it's not mentioned in Harold's article, Brian Selznick's The Marvels offers many examples of these three tips... often in a single image, like here:



The full article is worth checking out. Okay, one more tip that was really good:

Continuity of Subject
: Can you illustrate the same subject from different points of view, in different situations, showing different feelings?

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Secret Power Of The Hashtag

ILA. ALA. BEA. Digital Book World. Bologna. Frankfort. London. SCBWI Florida. SCBWI New England. SCBWI Western Washington. SCBWI Europolitan. SCBWI Summer Conference. SCBWI Winter Conference. And all the local book fairs and festivals and school librarian conferences and school counselor conferences and on and on and on...

Unless you own your own plane and have nothing but free time, its just not possible to attend every conference with a kid lit and teen lit focus that might be packed with great information, colleagues, and opportunities. So you choose the ones that make sense to attend, and the rest, you feel a bit wistful about missing out on, right?

BEA is happening in Chicago as I write this, and yup, I'm not there. I'm in Los Angeles.

But there's a secret way to get a taste of what's going on across the continent, or the world... Use the hashtag.

On twitter, #BEA16 reveals photos, great quotes, anecdotes, and some of the buzz and enthusiasm of the event.

It's a bit magical.

Only have 5 minutes free?

Drop in on the hashtag, and get that virtual taste... Here are five tweets that caught my eye from this morning:


It's no substitute for the full experience of attending, but it's an excellent "live" way to dip in to a conference that otherwise, you'd just be reading about afterwards.

It works across social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram...

Now you, too, have the secret power of the hashtag. Use it well.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Writing Poetry Is...



Love this quote - saw it on twitter and had to share. Thanks, Antonia.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The SCBWI Summer Conference is Selling Out FAST



In particular, the intensives are filling up!

You'll have to jump on it to get a space in the Illustrator's Intensive,

CHARACTER BUILDING
Developing a Believable and Engaging Cast for Your Picture Book
 With the day’s faculty: Sophie Blackall Author/Illustrator, Peter Brown Author/Illustrator, Priscilla Burris Author/Illustrator, Pat Cummings Illustrator, David Diaz Illustrator, Laurent Linn Art Director, Simon & Schuster, Cecilia Yung Art Director Art Director & Vice President, Penguin BFYR, and Paul Zelinsky Illustrator 

It's a full day drawing session. Bring drawing material and a 8-1/2” x 11" pad and tracing paper!

And there are just a few spots left in these craft intensives,

School Visits – the Crash Course, with Suzanne Morgan Williams Author / Bruce Hale Author (All Day) 
In this hands-on intensive, Bruce Hale and Suzanne Morgan Williams coach you in taking your school/library presentation to the next level. They’ll cover planning, marketing, performance, curriculum tie-ins, and everything in between. You’ll even be videotaped and receive feedback on a brief excerpt from your presentation. Assignment: Please bring a five-minute talk to share, plus: your latest book (or ARC), any marketing materials, and a prop (small enough to fit in a shoebox) that represents you and your work.

Supplementing Your Writing Income, with Bonnie Bader, SCBWI PAL Advisor (Morning) 
Are you in between projects, or waiting for a contract? This class will give you concrete ways to supplement your writing and illustrating income. Learn how to get writer/illustrator work-for-hire, and come away with a list of publishers to contact for work. In class exercises include writing query letters, writing to a publisher's specifications, and more!

Novel Writing: Soup to Nuts with Stacey Barney, Senior Editor, Penguin/Putnam (Morning) 
In this session, Stacey Barney will guide you through a comprehensive overview of novel writing devices. It's always helpful to bring a work-in-progress so that you can apply each technique and device to your own work during the discussion. Stacey brings her editorial expertise to help each participant discover what is working with their manuscript and what can be improved.

Writing Voice – Speak Up, I Can’t Hear You, with Kat Brzozowski, Editor, St. Martin's (Morning)
You’ve come up with a plot. You’ve created characters. You have a setting. Now how do you make your readers feel like these characters are really speaking to them? Voice is one of the most important elements of fiction and one of the hardest to master. In this session, we’ll work hands on to improve voice in fiction, with a focus on young adult fiction (and techniques that also apply to middle grade). By reading and discussing how authors create voice on the page and working on our own writing to sharpen our voice, this session focuses on writing that really brings your characters’ individual personalities to life.

The Ins and Outs of Writing Middle Grade Fantasy, with Bruce Coville, Author (Morning) 

The session begins with an "annotated storytelling" that will analyze a piece of fantasy writing from the macro to the micro—discussing everything from mythic structure down to the reasons for specific metaphors and word choices. Then we'll examine ten specific tactics to employ while writing middle grade fantasy. We'll conclude with some critiquing, as time allows. Assignment: Please bring a work-in-progress.

Crafting Your Novel’s Narrative: The basics of structure, voice, character, and plot, with Alvina Ling, VP & Editor-in-Chief, Little, Brown (Morning) 
Whether you’re just starting out, or in the revision stage of your novel, this intensive will give an overview of the four basic elements of your narrative. This workshop also aims to help you work through and brainstorm around any specific issues your having with your novel’s narrative. Assignment: bring an issue you’re having in your work-in-progress that deals with either structure, voice, character, or plot to discuss and talk through with the group. Optional: Read both Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin.

Revising and Re-Imagining Your Picture Book, with Harold Underdown, Publishing Consultant (Morning) 
Picture books are so simple, but often need to be revised or even re-imagined many times before they are just right. Drawing on our years of experience as independent editors, and in-house children’s book editors in New York before that, Eileen Robinson and I developed this workshop to help writers do just that. This workshop will teach you techniques to enable you to find problems with your picture book manuscript, reshape it, even re-imagine it, and then polish it before you send it out.

Poetry: From Picture Books to Verse Novels, with Carole Boston Weatherford, Author/Poet (Morning) 
Examine how narratives unfold through poetry. Consider how poets choose language, channel voices, evoke settings and use structure. Practice creating tableaux, experimenting with structure and writing from different points of view.

Put Your Best Foot Forward: Looking at that crucial first page, and making it better, with Victoria Wells Arms, Agent, Victoria Wells Arms Literary (Afternoon) 
Sometimes writers start in just the right place, and sometimes the best opening line or scene is hiding on page 27. Some authors seem to think a prologue is the only way to really get their point across. How are you going to hook that reader–any reader–into dying to know more? In this three-hour intensive, Victoria Wells Arms, former editorial director now agent will look at both your first page, and the place you think might actually be a better first page, and we will discuss the various options in how you start a novel (chapter books thru YA, no picture books here). Assignment: Send in the first two pages of your current work-in-progress to victoria@wellsarms.com, and, if you like, the other place that you think might be an alternative starting place, two additional pages max so I can read ahead of time. We are going to have to stick to 5 mins total for each participant.

Build Your Social Media Presence, with Martha Brockenbrough, Author (Afternoon) 
Learn the differences between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr, and get down to the brass tacks of how you can use each to: build authentic relationships with a variety of readers and power connectors; increase your platform without increasing your workload; and share your books without clobbering people over the head with tone-deaf marketing messages. We’ll focus on best practices for each social media platform, tools you can use to create images that resonate, and website platforms that let you integrate all of it seamlessly. Assignment: Please bring a laptop and 2-3 favorite quotes from your books or about writing.

Why Did You Do That?: Creating Strong Characters to Push Your Plot Forward, with Matt Ringler, Senior Editor, Scholastic (Afternoon) 
In this intensive we will take a close look at character motivation through dialogue and back story and how to use that to advance your plot. Will include several (fun!) writing exercises. Assignment: Please come with three characters from books, television, or movies that you find to be particularly strong (whether you love them or hate them!)

Revising Your Chapter Book or Novel, with Harold Underdown, Publishing Consultant (Afternoon)
What happens after you write your first draft of a novel or chapter book can be the most important and most difficult part of the writing process. Based on my own work with writers, this workshop teaches proven techniques to get useful feedback and others, dig into "big picture" problems with your manuscript, and refine it at the sentence level. 

It's going to be an amazing conference, and the intensives promise to be game-changers for your craft and career. You'll find registration and all the other conference info here.

We hope to see you at #LA16SCBWI!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

SCBWI Student Memberships!

This is awesome.



How I wish I'd known about SCBWI back in college!

Happy for all the full-time students who get to plug into the knowledge, inspiration, opportunity and community of SCBWI now...

Click here for the Student Membership scoop.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Judy Blume on Character versus Plot, and her 'Security Blanket' for writing that first draft

In this archived interview on Cynthia Leitich Smith's amazing Cynsations blog, Judy Blume discusses her process.



Here are two highlights:

 On whether she's a Character or Plot-focused writer,

I'm a character writer but there wouldn't be a book if that character didn't have a story to tell. I tend to get ideas about a character in a situation. I don't like to think about "plot." I don't know everything that's going to happen when I begin. I know where I'm starting and where I'm hoping to wind up (though that sometimes changes along the way). The hardest part of writing for me is getting that first draft. I find it pure torture. 


To help with that first draft, Judy has a strategy,

I keep a notebook for months before I actually sit down to begin a new book. Before I start the notebook I have a vague idea of the characters and their story, usually something that's been brewing inside my head, sometimes for months, sometimes for years. I jot down anything that comes to mind during this period -- details about characters, bits of dialogue, chapter ideas, descriptions - sometimes even scenes. This way, when I actually begin, I have my "security blanket." 


It's a great interview (and very reassuring to hear that even Judy Blume revises multiple times!)

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Picture Book Craft Insight From Caldecott-Winning Author/Illustrator Dan Santat

Dan's new picture book


I moderated a panel of picture book creators at the LA Times Festival of Books earlier this month, and what Dan Santat shared about his process is still resonating for me.

For his picture books, Dan illustrates the entire book first without any words, and only then, once the story is working, does he add text, making sure the text isn't duplicating what the images have already said.

It seems like a brilliant strategy that even those of us who write but don't illustrate might try...

It's certainly working for Dan!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Got a recent review?

Was it good? Less than good?

Find out more about Thornton Wilder here


Either way, take these words of Thornton Wilder as good advice:
 "The important thing is that you make sure that neither the favorable nor the unfavorable critics move into your head and take part in the composition of your next work."
Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Registration for #LA16SCBWI Opens TODAY!



We're so excited!

The SCBWI Summer Conference is packed with:

Keynotes and inspiration,

Agents and Editors and Panels and insight

Breakout sessions on the craft and business of writing and illustrating for kids and teens,

Optional classroom-sized intensives with the amazing Conference Faculty (a who's who of children's literature!)

Optional one-on-one manuscript critiques and portfolio critiques for feedback from a publishing professional.

The Portfolio Showcase gives you an opportunity to display your work to faculty and participants alike. Come and be discovered!

The Golden Kite Awards Cocktail Reception and Dinner

Illustrator, International, and nonfiction socials and the LGBTQ & Allies Q&A

A PAL Booksale, Autograph party, even yoga,

And the conference gala... The Red Carpet Ball!

So bring your Hollywood Glamour, sense of career adventure, and dive into all the craft, business, inspiration, opportunity and community that the SCBWI Summer Conference has to offer. You'll find all the information and registration here. 

We hope to see you there!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Author Jason Hough's 5 Reasons To Listen To Audiobooks

Listening to to audiobooks as a way to up your craft? Check out this piece by author Jason Hough.


As Jason puts it,
"Audiobooks are a dynamite way to improve your writing,"

His five points included,
Unlike reading printed text, you can't really skim. You've trained yourself over the years to skip the "boring bits", to the point where you may not even realize you're doing it anymore, or why. And, this may be affecting your own writing. With an audiobook you're forced to hang on every word the author wrote. No eye-wandering past those large wall-of-text description paragraphs. No accidental glimpse at the big reveal in that next big line of dialog. And as a result, you'll gain newfound appreciation for the words themselves. 

What's the last audiobook you listened to? Did it help your own craft?

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee