Of Laurent Linn, Mac Barnett, and dancing penguins: Day 2 of the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA. The Urban Wolf reports.
I’m so tired this morning I can’t believe it. Well, that’s what I get for having fun.
The first keynote, that I made it to ( I told you I was tired) , was the Editors Panel on What Makes an Evergreen and What Makes a Hit. This featured Andrea Pinkney (Scholastic), Donna Bray (Balzer & Bray), Claudia Gabel (Katherine Tegen Books), Namrata Tripathi (Atheneum), Allyn Johnston (Beach Lane) and Melissa Manlove (Chronicle). Here is a condensed version of what each of them said (Sorry if it’s a little cryptic).
Donna Bray – A book finds it moment. It’s perfect time for it to be publish and speaks to a universal truth.
Claudia Gabel – Timing. A close examination of a particular time period. Have a storytelling hook. Some books are great, but come out at the wrong time.
Andrea Pinkney – Most hits are unexpected. A reader has to be smitten and fall in love with the story.
Allyn Johnston – Easier to spot hits/evergreens if you have a long relationship with an author.
Melissa Manlove – Hits are about current culture. Evergreens are about human nature and universal truths.
Namrata Tripathi – You just can’t always tell (if a book is a hit/evergreen). It’s a surprise.
The next keynote was writer Mac Barnett. He is a great speaker and a lot of fun. Here are some the high points in his talk.-
- · We write for the best possible audience.
- Between truth and lies is art.
- Metafiction: A book that is upfront that it’s fiction. You are able to suspend reality even when a story acknowledges it’s not real.
- A four year old can get any joke.
- Make the unbelievable real.
- Write a book with new rules.
He told a story about how in one of his books there was an offer, on the inside of the dust cover, for a child to get a blue whale (A real blue whale) for free. Several children took him up on that. One even sent a letter to him stating he’d bet the author ten bucks that it wasn’t a real offer. Each child got a letter stating the whales where stuck up in Sweden, where the process for expediting the whale’s shipping was going slowly. But, if the child wanted to he or she could call up a whale and say hi. Included in the letter was the whale’s phone number. The children called the whale. What they got was the sound of a whale (like whale song) followed by a beep. At the beep a child could then leave a message. One little boy called and left messages for the whale several times over 2 years. He just wanted to say “hi!” to the whale.
The first workshop I went to today was given by illustrator Jennie Ho on anthropomorphic characters. Here are her tips:
- Good Character Design – Strong silhouette, dynamic shapes, colors and varied texture, and accessories
- Characters – Clear and definable.
- Be able to show Emotion.
- Able to draw character repeatedly and consistently
- Characters have good eye contact.
- For a story with more than one character make a line up to make sure they go together.
- Remember who (what age) the book is for.
- Design characters to match audience.
- Be consistent with the characters.
At this point I decided to draw a little girl over and over because it was fun. Then I had lunch with friends.
Once again I decided to hear Laurent Linn give a talk titled Rethinking the Rules of Being an illustrator. He basically covered the business of being an illustrator. Here is an idea of what he covered:
- Talent is worth something.
- You are a business.
- PROMOTION for getting all kinds of illustration work: Websites, postcards, artist resource books & websites, art reps, social networks and conferences.
- CREATING ART traditional vs digital: Doesn’t matter, just stay true to yourself.
- OTHER WORK: Consider illustrating for educational materials.
- WHAT MATTERS MOST: Storytelling (Emotion, Good Art and Creative Ideas)
Finally tonight was the traditional Saturday night party. This year’s theme was Black & White. Everyone came dressed in a black and white outfit or costume. Let’s just say there were a whole bunch of penguins getting down and funky.
Andrea was born in the agricultural town of Bakersfield, CA and moved to the San Diego area when she married. For 20 years she owned and ran a sign and graphics company. At the same time Andrea created oil paintings. She’s still painting and her work shows in galleries in California, Texas and New York. Andrea’s work has exhibited in the San Diego Museum of Art and the Brand Library gallery, where she won the Disney Imagineering award. In about 2006 she started a series of art prints which portrayed funny and somewhat cranky characters that she sells on Etsy (the online handmade store) and at art festivals. Andrea’s blog has given her a forum where she can exercise her funny bone. Besides writing articles about crafting, she writes and illustrates some very goofy stories. With everything she has learned from her blog, and her love of creating silly artwork, Andrea knew that she wanted to be involved in children’s books. A member of the SCBWI, she won the 2010 SCBWI Mentorship award. Andrea Zuil is the 2013 Golden Gate Portfolio Award winner.
P.S. A little bit of Coop clucking! There are four Hen&ink Literary Chicks attending the conference — Andrea, Mary Dodson Wade and Sarah Towle and Julie Hedlund. Sarah and Julie are presenting this year.
JULIE HEDLUND – The Author as
Entrepreneur Encino Room
JULIE HEDLUND/SARAH TOWLE – Picture
Books and Story Book Apps: Same, Same
but Quite Different Encino Room
P.P.S. Melissa Buron (at the conference in spirit interview Mary Wade and other Chicks at http://melissaburon.wordpress.com/author/melissaburon/