Monday, September 27, 2010

Midsouth SCBWI Conference 2010

Over 120 children's book writers and illustrators plus editors, agents, an art director, contests, an art display, hot fudge... what a fabulous Midsouth SCBWI conference this weekend!

My dancing penguins in their old-fashioned attire above won Honorable Mention in the illustration contest, and my manuscript won Honorable Mention in the picture book contest. Yay!

Some of my favorite notes from the conference:

As an example of using voice in manuscripts, Ruta Rimas (Balzer & Bray) rewrote Mo Willem's DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS without voice. Basically something like, "Once there was a pigeon with big googly eyes. A mean man wouldn't let him drive a bus but the pigeon really wanted to..." Then Ruta read the actual text of the book with the pigeon pleading and yelling at us. Wow. So much more effective and playful.

"Put every word on trial for its life," from the book READING LIKE A WRITER by Francine Prose.

Is your picture book manuscript strong enough to carry an $18 price tag? - Diane Muldrow (Random House).

From the first pages session by Agents Kelly Sonnack and Linda Pratt:
Text and illustrations are a comic duo - the text is the setup man for the illustrations.
Books don't need to teach imagination to kids. They already have it!
Too much description in an action scene slows down the pacing. Keep the action building with forward momentum.
Make your reader feel smart. They shouldn't have to reread to get it.

From an art session by Patti Ann Harris (Senior Art Director, Little, Brown) and Diane Muldrow (Editorial Director, Random House):
Your character needs to be strong, winning, and loveable but not necessarily likeable.
Patti Ann will go to illustrators' websites, pull some jpgs, and print them on a sheet with the illustrator's name for her files, so you need a portfolio website.
Be yourself on your website. Don't overdo it with Flash and things that take awhile to load and are distracting.
Emotional resonance is key in illustrations.
It's all about the character. Everyone can draw a car, but not everyone can draw a character with strong personality/humor/emotion.
Mailers need to have focus, kind of like a book cover. It should grab you from across the room, and shouldn't be too busy.
Study online PDFs of catalogs from different publishers to understand the "look" of each publisher.

The only sad part of the weekend was my continued cupcake tragedy. The conference is held across the street from Gigi's Cupcakes. Last year I was pregnant and I waited until after dinner to try to satisfy my huge cupcake craving. It was too late - the cupcake shop was closed! This year I vowed to get my hands on those cupcakes before dinner, but the shop closed even earlier this year and so I didn't get them again! Next year, you cupcakes will be MINE!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Illustration Friday - Acrobat

I just had these 8.5" x 5.5" postcards made that I'll be sending as art samples to art directors and editors at publishing houses that I want to work with on picture books.

These illustrations are from my WIP picture book dummy. I've been working on this dummy on and off for a couple years. It's been off since last fall; I've illustrated 4 picture books and had a baby in the meantime! Now I finally have some time to start working on it again. I've completely rewritten the story but kept most of the same characters. The new story has a much stronger plot structure, but it still needs some revising. I've given the manuscript to my critique group and also have some other writers critiquing it at the Midsouth conference next weekend. Can't wait!

My new books!

I received my first copies of Dancing Dreams and Oliver's First Christmas from Accord Publishing. I turned in the final illustrations for Dancing Dreams days before I had my baby in January, and the finals for Oliver's First Christmas were due in April. Both of these will be released within the next month.

They both use AniMotion(tm) technology, which is a fancy way of saying that there are action windows which look like animations as you turn the page. You can see the woman in the red dress is in two different poses above. Super fun!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Shiny sticker on my book!

The award banquet for APALA was great. I loved getting to meet the author of Cora Cooks Pancit. Most of the time as an illustrator I don't have any contact with my authors; the publishers like to keep us separate so we can work more creatively in telling our own half of the picture book story. Dorina is a wonderful woman and it was an honor to share this award with her. Congrats to Renee at Shen's Books as well.

Now our book has a shiny award sticker!