Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 3 Saturday August 8th

SCBWI 2009 Conference day 2

Day 2 started off with:

Creating an Extraordinary Picture Book
Kadir Nelson: Extraordinary picture books are those that speak to a personal and universal truth.
Eve Bunting: Extraordinary picture books must last a long time, have heart and must speak to the creators and readers.
Melinda Long: Extraordinary picture books must have a strong appeal to both children and adults.
Eve Bunting: Extraordinary picture books should make you feel strongly in whatever way it intends.
Kadir Nelson: you need a personal connection with the story.

And after a very short break was followed by:

Karen Cushman
In Dreams Begin Responsibilities
“The function of freedom is to free others.”
She never planned to be a writer. She wrote because she could not dance.
“Don’t listen to advise.”
She reads over and polishes what she wrote the day before starting on the next section.
Her plots grow from her characters.
She has to read while she writes. She says to read with a pad of paper and pen.
Write what you wonder about, what you want to know about, what you value. Write the story you’ve always wanted to read.
“The first draft is for finding out what the story is about.”
“Giving power to thoughts is what happens when you decide to write.”
She loves to do research.
“There is nothing more beautiful and true than a book before you write it.”
“We write because we are writers.”
“Words are sacred and they deserve respect.”

After the morning key notes I went to Kadir Nelson’s session:

Words and Pictures; Pictures and Words
When making picture book think about:
Comp & scale

Keep your experiences in your head and recreate the mood from the memories that you remember.
Look for paintings with similar moods to what you want to achieve.

After lunch we had a key note by Ellen Hopkins:

Not for the Faint of Heart: The Climb to the Top

Publishing is a mountain.
Writing in the land of no
“You don’t decide to be a writer, you are a writer.”
“Luck is something you create.”
“Capitalize on your own experience.”

And an Agents Panel:

The State of the Business
What do they want to see and what are their lists like?
Marietta Zacker of Nacy Gallt Literary: their list runs the gambit or age and content. They are accepting ms via snailmail. Is looking for every age group and genre. Send query and synopsis.
Kelly Sonnack of Andrea Brown Literary: Is looking for all genres and ages. Visit website and email them. Paste first 10 pages into email and send query.
Dan Lazar of Writers House: Is looking for mostly middle grade and some YA. Especially stories about weird kids in small towns. He is very interested in graphic novels.
Stephen Fraser of Jennifer De Chiara Literary: Is looking for all ages. Welcomes unpublished authors. Especially looking for people whose careers they can cultivate.
Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary: reps authors herself in both the US and the UK. Her job is her passion and her vocation. Write short queries via email and past the first 5 pages in the email.
Brenda Bowen of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates: She wants first novels. Strong voices, wide range, likes literary books, like funny books, put SCBWI LA in subject line.
How has the economy affected publishing?
Brenda: publishing has gotten leaner; they like to see more finished work.
Sarah: lists are being cut. Work has to be very polished. She only reps non Picture Books.
Stephen: you have to celebrate when things seem the bleakest.
Dan: books are selling for less than before but they are still selling. Writers email queries and first 5 pages in email.
Kelly: the market is hurting less in children’s than the adult market. Summer is usually a dead month but is doing well this year. Publishers today are less willing to take risks than before.
How much time they spent working on the editing vs selling process?
Sarah: spends the most time looking for talent and voice than polish. She is looking for potential. She does a lot of work with people to get you the best deal possible.
Stephen: wants to be a nurturer of careers not just projects.
Sarah: wants to help people build their careers.
What is the one big thing in contracts to watch out for?
Make sure the discount royalty isn’t too low.
The out of print clause.
Last words:
Brenda: only; connect.
Sarah: squeeze the juice from the fruit.
Stephen: every a good book has a home
Kelly: everyone here wants to fall in love with your work. That thrill of finding new talent.
Marietta: make sure you communicate it and communicate it well.
Dan: don’t harp on themes and ideas in your query letter. Show how your character is quirky don’t just say they are.

In the afternoon I went to Eve Bunting’s session:

What Makes a Good Picture Book
S.S. short & Simple
VV very visual
O Original
NR not in rhyme
WS worth saying. It should be fundamental.
NB Never be Boring. You can escape this with a little humor. A yawn may be bad manners but it is an honest opinion.
AAA The aaaah factor at the end of a book. Because Picture Books are short ever word counts. Have the ending in your mind before you write the story.
BP be persistent. Be proud.
Don’t rush to send your book out. Wait 2 weeks and then the read it again.
Write something worth saying
Dare to be original
A bird does not sing because it has a message it sings because it has a song.

And this is where my netbook ran out of batteries so if anyone has notes from Wendy Loggia’s key note please let me know!

The portfolio show was awesome and I came away with only a few business cards left at my table. All the mini portfolio books, mini coloring books and postcards thankfully went home with those who viewed my portfolio.

The Pool Side Gala was fantastic fun again this year and the Hyatt staff was kind enough to bring me a Grilled Turkey sandwich since I was allergic to all the food they were serving.

More Pictures and Videos from the conference can be found on my FaceBook.

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