Thursday, January 23, 2020

Layering Powerful Voice to Create Memorable Characters - A Margot Finke "Musing" from Harold Underdown's Online Archives



This article, Layering Powerful Voice to Create Memorable Characters, while written back in 2005, remains evergreen.

"...how do you give several assorted characters, plus your main POV, powerful voices? Think of an onion. I'm serious! There are layers of skin to peel before you get to the good stuff in the middle of that onion. Building your character's voice uses the same technique; only this time you layer from the inside out. And the layers need to come in snippets – a fact here, a whisper or an overheard phone conversation there. Please, no dumping large chunks of informational text. Focus on blending in, little by little, the many physical and emotional layers that reveal each character's voice. Memorable characters are steeped in complexity and detail. Their layers are many and varied. Begin the layering process on the first page."
And then Margot lists a dozen "how-to" suggestions, including

"Use comments from other characters to describe or praise or criticize your main POV character" 

and

"Allow your main character some weakness he can either outgrow or overcome as the story progresses. No one is perfect. Kids know this - they sure aren't. Your reader wants to root for a character they can identify with."

It's an excellent piece, and well-worth reading.

I found this at Harold Underdown's Writing, Illustrating, and Publishing Children's Books: The Purple Crayon website. It's packed with resources and great information.





Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

SCBWI Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia with Washington D.C. & Virginia's Read Local Challenge - Innovations in Book Marketing

With posters and taglines like:

What if you discovered that your favorite author also liked to hang out at your favorite frozen yogurt shop?

SCBWI Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia with Washington D.C. & Virginia are sponsoring a "Read Local Challenge."



A multi-faceted campaign that includes read local parties, discounts on speaker fees, and "Read Local" Kits with prizes and signed books, it promotes 17 picture books and their creators, 11 middle grade books and their creators, and 10 young adult books and their creators.


Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Ellen Meeropol's ARC tour: Innovations in Book Marketing

Reported by Robert Gray in Shelf Awareness, the road trip that Ellen Meeropol took with a car full of ARCs, visiting "58 indie bookstores in 15 days" is remarkable.

A screen shot of the Shelf Awareness article, including a photo of Ellen by her car, which featured signage about her upcoming book release.

While not done for a children's book, the idea is replicable. (Ellen credits the idea to her friend and fellow Red Hen Press author Cai Emmons, who made a similar indie pilgrimage for her novel.)

As Ellen put it,

"So what was I doing in October and November was driving around New England with ARCs and chocolate bars covered in the image of the book jacket, visiting indie bookstores? The plan was to personally introduce my new novel to booksellers, store owners and fiction buyers. I asked them to take look at my novel, to consider stocking it, making an IndieNext nomination, recommending it to book groups and handselling it to customers."

And that personal touch seems impactful — Ellen's a former bookseller herself, so her strategy was thoughtful (and included chocolate.)
"I didn't use a standard pitch. When I handed them the ARC, most booksellers immediately turned to the back and read the short description and the blurbs. I followed their lead, about offering more information or not. Often our conversations were more about bookselling and our favorite current reads than about my book."
The result? When asked, Ellen answered,
"What difference will it make to my novel? I don't know. But in these days of increasing grassroots book promotion, I'm happy to have driven those roads, visited those stores, and met those booksellers."
The article about Ellen's ARC tour of indie bookstores is well worth-reading.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

David Mackintosh's top 10 illustration and design tips for picture books - via The Guardian

David Mackintosh's top 10 illustration and design tips was published a few years ago, but the tips are solid, 'evergreen', and well worth considering.



 Here's just two that really resonated:
Tip 1 – How to keep ideas: If I think of something for a book, I'll write it in a notebook. It could be a title I like, or something I overheard on the tube or just an idea that I can build a story around. Often I just carry a story about in my head for ages, working on it in there until I sit down at the laptop or with a pencil to get it going. I find it quicker to play with the ideas using a pencil on paper, than typing on my laptop (see Tip 3).
and
Tip 5 – Turn up the contrast: A busy page with a lot of words on it followed by a page with a tiny ant on it and no words can be very dramatic. Contrast makes things interesting and avoids it being repetitive. Also, a page without text can really create atmosphere. It places all the emphasis upon the picture and the reader is on their own with the information they're getting from that picture. It's very effective and can be used to alter rhythm and pace in the story in different ways. A bit like music in a film.
Read the full piece here. 

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, January 9, 2020

#AuthorsforFireys Auctions to Support Australian Firefighters

The Australian wildfires are all over the news. As The Guardian reported earlier today, "Bushfires have swept large parts of Australia since October, leaving more than 23 people dead, destroying thousands of homes and devastating wildlife – 1 billion animals have been killed."

In the midst of this terrible news there's something good happening, powered by the writing and illustrating community... and it's on Twitter.



As the Authors for Fireys website explains, it's a decentralized
"Twitter auction channelling funds directly to our brave Australian firefighters."
How it works:
"Creators run their own individual auction / tweet under the hashtag. Twitter users scroll through the auction items under the hashtag and reply to the items to make their bids. Make your bids on the original item thread only. (ie. If you see an item quote-tweeted, do not bid there.) TOP TIP: open up the thread under the item to see what others are bidding"
You can find the full guide to the auction here.

The auction started on Monday 6th Jan 2020 and ends at 11pm Sydney/Melbourne time on Saturday 11th Jan 2020.

Jump over to Twitter and search the hashtag:

#AuthorsforFireys

and

#AuthorsForFiries

I'm grateful for this moment of unity and goodness, across genre and category lines, and around the world, for our friends in Australia.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Do You Know About SCBWI Webinars?



Our friends at SCBWI Nevada host a listing of SCBWI regional chapter webinars that offer you a chance to take an online class with an expert and move your craft and business of children's publishing knowledge forward!

As they explain,
"SCBWI offers webinars across the regions in the US and abroad. This is a list of the webinars being provided by the various regions. All webinars are recorded, so that if you registered but didn’t see it live, you can watch it in the recorded form. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re not able to make it to the live event; however, how long the recording is available differs by event. Webinars are priced affordably so that you can all attend."
With upcoming webinars on world building, Amazon SEO, Scholastic Bookfairs, creating compelling characters, writing middle grade mysteries, putting together your illustrator portfolio, cutting your picture book text, and so many more, you can craft your own educational path!

Check out the full list here, and consider bookmarking the page so you can check back as new webinars are added.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Children's Authors Share Their Happy Surprises in Publishers Weekly

Here's the perfect start to 2020: Diane Roback at Publishers Weekly compiled this collection of brief stories, Children's Authors on Their Happy Surprises.



Read about Maggie Stiefvater's surprise with a compassionate, lying nun. Christian Robinson's school visit at the Atlanta School for the Deaf that inspired him to include a deaf child in his newest book. Ruta Sepetys receiving a case filled with her own family's hidden history.

There are more happy surprise stories, from Kate DiCamillo, Jerry Craft, Jon Scieszka, Patricia MacLachlan, Raina Telgemeier, Gary Schmidt, Laurie Halse Anderson, Roshani Chokshi, Cynthia Kadohata, Jason Reynolds, Barbara McClintock, Thanhhà Lai, Julie Murphy, Mark Teague, Chris Raschka, Ali Benjamin, and Raúl the Third.

It's such a fun – and inspiring – read!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee