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Friday, August 31, 2007

It's Here! It's Here!!

My SmartWriters.com Grand Prize W.I.N.ner's schwag is HERE!!! Wippee!! My very first trophy EVER!!! (I'm talking no swim team, no tennis, no nuthin'!!) Isn't it purty . . . sigh . . . :) I also received a copy of Alice Pope's Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market, Anastasia Suen's Picture Writing, oh, and a lovely check! As the guy on the dog food commercial says, "So happeee!!"

Go here to read my initial squeal and sign up for my drawing of Anastasia Suen's Picture Writing - I'm giving my new one away because I already have a much loved copy. It's an awesome read for those who want to break into picture books - I highly, highly recommend it!!!
UPDATE: Kelly Milner Halls also has an extra copy, so there are now TWO copies in the drawing!! Go sign up!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Snowflakes for Robert

     Many of you already know about the auction of snowflakes, Robert's Snow, to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Hundreds of snowflakes have been created by children's book illustrators (see mine here) to help out. Sadly, the inspiration for the fundraiser, Robert Mercer, passed away this week.
     To help support Grace Lin, Robert's wife, through this painful time, I'd like to remind my readers that bidding for these beautiful snowflakes will begin in November. Please bid often to help raise money for research. Nobody should have to lose a loved one so young.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Coloring Page Tuesday! - Book Worm

     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!

     So you're back at school, and you're reading bunches, right? You're all book worms, right?
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send it back (small and low res) and I'll post it!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

     Look at this lovely rendition - thanks for your submission Martha!




     Learn about my bilingual picture book Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante - click the cover.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Deborah Wiles, Liz Conrad and DBF!

     My great day continued when my friends, illustrator Liz Conrad, writer Vicky Alvear Schecter, and I left the Carlos Museum, had lunch (I still can't believe Liz ordered a fried green tomato sandwich - how southern is that!?), then headed over to our very favorite place, Little Shop of Stories, to see the award winning author of LOVE RUBY LAVENDER and EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS, Deborah Wiles.
     Deb is on tour for her latest book, THE AURORA COUNTY ALL-STARS (cover once again illustrated by the marvelous Marla Frazee). She read and spoke to what ended up being a group of mostly budding writers (while we enjoyed MoonPies and Cracker Jacks). So along with sharing her new book, Deb talked about the process of writing and her experiences in the publishing industry. It was fascinating and I learned a few tips to apply to my own writing as well. Thanks Deb!
     After Deb's signing, we had the honor of sharing a "seeing your book for the first time" moment with Liz. Her book, THE WITCHES' BALL, just came out! Diane (LSOS owner) pulled it out of a box as we watched. Can you say "ADORABLE!?"
     Perfect timing too. Liz will be on the panel of illustrators I will be moderating at the upcoming DECATUR BOOK FESTIVAL. I get to quiz four fabulous illustrator/writers: Chris Raschka (who I had the pleasure of being on the panel with last year), Judy Schachner (gads I love Skippy John Jones!), Liz Conrad, and Laura Knorr!! You will be there, right? Children's Stage, Sunday at 1:00pm.
     In fact, if you love books and reading, you can't miss this event. The Decatur Book Festival is already one of the five largest book festivals in the nation (and only in its second year!). The line-up is impressive to say the least, and with the Decatur square construction complete, the venue is charming! More on the festival coming soon! (Click the banner to learn more!)
.

The Carlos Museum - Cradle of Chrisitanity

     I had the coolest day yesterday and have to share.
     I met fellow writer/illustrators Liz Conrad and John Witkowski at the Emory University Carlos Museum where my incredibly knowledgeable writing buddy, Vicky Alvear Schecter took us on a tour of the Cradle of Christianity: Jewish and Christian Treasures from the Holy Land exhibit.
    Vicky is a docent at the museum and shared the show's incredible artifacts (Including a portion of the actual dead sea scrolls) through the eyes of a writer and storyteller (rather than a scientist). She did an amazing job of making what we viewed personal, relating the strength of people's faiths which often led to pilgrimages they didn't survive, the politics of the time which strongly impacted the formations of synagogues and the growth of Christianity, and the misconceptions and traditions which are still believed or carried out today.
     For instance, do you remember hearing the hubub about "the ostuary (coffin) of Jesus" being found about a year ago? Well, it was there and it does say "Jesus, son of Joseph." But did you know "Jesus" was the fourth most popular name during that time, kind of like "John" or "Christopher" today? (This is an example of a very nice ostuary in the exhibit - no pictures allowed!)
     No matter your faith, it was a fascinating time period and course of events. Vicky was especially qualified to lead us through this portion of history, as she has become an expert on the history of Cleopatra, the history of religions and politics, and of course, Alexander the Great. In fact, Vicky is the author of ALEXANDER THE GREAT ROCKS THE WORLD, a rollicking history of the impact this young warrior had on the world. She'll also be sharing more interesting history with us in a new book, but I'm not sure I can share much about that yet. You'll just have to keep an eye out for more books from my talented friend.
    The exhibit has only been granted to three locations in the US and will probably never leave Israel again once it returns home. It is open through October 14, 2007 and I highly recommend it - especially if Vicky walks you through!
    But our incredible day didn't stop there . . .

Friday, August 24, 2007

illustration Friday: Visitors


The giraffe has had a visitor . . .
I did this a while back, but I still really like it. It's achieving a lot of what I try to accomplish in my current work, especially color-wise. (Click the image to see a larger version.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Coloring Page Tuesday! - Back to School

     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!

     I know many of you are heading back to school, so today's coloring page is a big happy school bus!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send it back (small and low res) and I'll post it!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

I received some great colored school buses from Lisa Holmes pre-school storytime class in Christchurch, New Zealand!! Thanks for sending them in, Lisa!





     Learn about my bilingual picture book Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante - click the cover.

Monday, August 20, 2007

e's News - August '07

e's news - August '07
     Hi All! It's been a few months since my last newsletter. This year has truly turned into a "nose to grindstone" kind of year for me - work, work, work. The good news is, it's paying off. I have SIX books coming out in 2008 (two trade picture books, two parenting aid picture books, and two educational picture books). I'll talk about them more in upcoming newsletters. I also have an article in the upcoming "You Can Write for Children" issue of Writer's Digest Magazine on my "Path to Success" - ha! No secret there, just b.i.c. as Jane Yolen likes to say (butt in chair). I believe it will be the October issue, but it hits shelves September 25th, so look for it! In the mean time, scroll down to see my great news from SmartWriters.com and don't miss the Decatur Book Festival where I'll be moderating this year's illustrator panel.

Good News!

     I was named the Grand Prize W.I.N.NER in this year's 2007 SmartWriters.com Competition for my illustration, "Lula's Brew"


     This was the first year an illustrator won this competition (and my first trophy - ever), so I was incredibely honored. (That's my lovely trophy in the front.) Winning this competition also ended up being a huge boon when I attended my first Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) National Conference in Los Angeles this summer. Read about my experiences on my blog.

It's time again for the

I will be moderating the illustrator panel on Sunday, September 2nd at 1:00pm with Chris Raschka, Judy Schachner, Mark Braught, and Laura Knorr. Be there for a good time!

One of my SIX books coming out in 2008 is

PACO AND THE GIANT CHILE PLANT ~
PACO Y LA PLANTA DE CHILE GIGANTE

Raven Tree Press, June 2008
(My Spanish lessons continue . . .)

Want me to visit your school or event? Read about my visits at my website: http://dulemba.com/index_visits.html

As always, you can order signed copies of my books through my local independent children's bookstore:

Little Shop of Stories
Call (404) 373-6300,
email atlantacaps@aol.com,
or visit their new website for more information.

Visit MY BLOG for COLORING PAGE TUESDAYS and download free activity pages at MY WEBSITE

Thanks Y'all!
e
Elizabeth O. Dulemba
elizabeth@dulemba.com

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Coloring Page Tuesday! - Dog with Paper

     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!

     Even dogs like to read!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send it back (small and low res) and I'll post it!
     For more coloring pages, go here.


     Learn about my bilingual picture book Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante - click the cover.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Illustration Friday: Emergency


     I shared this with you under the "Capture" theme when it was still just a pencil sketch. Fully rendered, it becomes a true emergency!
     Again, this is for Paco and the Giant Chile Plant (Raven Tree Press) which will be released next June.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Post conference Play Day

     Hubbie and I hadn't had a vacation in a looooong time, so we tacked an extra day onto the end of LA, rented a convertible and headed up the coast. Cousin Bruce recommended we find Paradise Cove, and I'm so glad we did!!
     This was the view as we pulled in:

     And our view as we ate lunch:

     See that seagull? After this picture, he jumped on a tray of food and tried to steal french fries. They had the place SCOPED OUT!! We saw a school (?) of seals go by too - jumping just like dolphins . . . very short, brown, fuzzy dolphins. And yup, there's no floor. We had our toes in the sand while we ate. Ahhhh, heaven.
     Later, I laid out on the beach behind Stan to soak up some rays. Turns out we got more sun from the top being down - gotta watch out for that in California it seems. Oops.
     There was the cutest group of preschoolers nearby at daycamp. Their counselor had to be a comedian. He had them trained. Whenever he said, "Thank you, thank you very much," they all responded, "Elvis has left the building!"

     After an awesome lunch we headed farther north, then cut inland where we saw vastly different terrain. We even came across the Rock Store, which Stan claims is a very famous motorcyle stop.

     After our fun bimble, we headed back to the hotel for showers and dinner at a great seafood restaurant. Afterwards we pretty much face-planted into bed. What a great day.

SCBWI LA Summer Conference - Monday Run-Down!!

     I know, hard to believe the conference kept going. Honestly, it could have been the three previous days and I would have felt I got my money's worth. But Monday still had treasures to share.
     The very thorough, much appreciated, Connie Epstein shared her market report. She mentioned that Marshall Cavendish will be increasing their line from 35 to 50 titles over the next year, again stressed the growth in MGs, and she closed with, "The market is looking good." I thanked her in person for all her hard work, but must thank her again. She does a great job keeping us all in the know.
     Just to illustrate the earlier point of how a talented editor can turn an illustrator's work into "That Great", Marla Frazee and Allyn Johnston (Harcourt) spoke next. Allyn showed us the original final illustration for Everywhere Babies. Marla had created an adorable image that Allyn thought "just wasn't there yet." I wondered how that could be true until she showed us the final, final image and the entire auditorium sighed and laughed, "Awwwww!!!" It was perfect, truly perfect. That is what a great editor can do. I also loved that Allyn sends Marla funny postcards and bits of inspiration on ideas she thinks she should pursue. They obviously have a great relationship. I was so glad to hear Clarion is reprinting Mrs. Biddlebox, but bummed to know, I had an original and had not brought it for Marla to sign. Why oh why did I pack clothes instead of books?
     Awesome lady, Kirby Larson spoke next. I was touched by the story of her Grandmother and her inspiration for Hattie Big Sky. I had read about some of it online, but to hear it in person made it more real. Kirby has definitely climbed the rungs of this ladder to success, without a miss, and I am so, so happy for her.
     For the break-out session, I attended Krista Marino's talk about the editor/writer relationship. Odd fact I learned about Delacorte, even though they are an imprint of Random House, they have three floors of their building and their own separate elevator, so are definitely an entity unto themselves. They don't do picture books, but feel they can take risks with their MG and YA because of the money brought in by their mass market and highly commercial accounts. She also mentioned that an editor will usually read a project 7 to 10 times before it's finished, so they really have to love a manuscript. Kind of sheds light on just how much, eh?
     Finally I had a true lunch, and a treat at that. I joined my online friend, Tracy Grand, creator of my beloved Jacketflap. (Click here for a great interview Cynthia did on her website.) I've been a beta tester for Tracy ever since I discovered Jacketflap in its early days. Having spent my original four years in this business researching information all over the internet, I was thrilled to find it all in one place. I just wish Jacketflap had been created earlier. Tracy has made it into an ever-expanding resource - a true hub for the children's book community. If you somehow don't know about it yet, go check it out!
     Back to the ballroom, Lisa Yee gave an inspirational talk about writing from her "suddenly Chinese" perspective. She said, "Write about what you want to know about." Although she did add, if you're going to write about a culture other than your own, "You better get it right!"
     Another wowsa panel of powerful women was next. Dinah Stevenson, Emma Dryden, Rachel Griffiths, Julie Strauss-Gabel, and Allyn Johnston talked about their "perfect book" although they all hope there isn't such a thing (they'd be out of work). Dinah wants a story to make the hairs on her arms stand up. Julie (who claims her age of arrested development as 14 to 16) wants an older, contemporary yet literary YA novel. She also said something that really stuck with me, "There's not much you can do to sell yourself, much more to hinder yourself." Emma claims her arrested age of development to be 6 - which you can see when she reads her picture books - she just glows. Most claimed to be generalists, liking all children's literature. As Rachel said, "They're reading hussies." :)
     They did mention some things they could live without ever seeing again: stories that begin with waking up; stories that begin in a dream; stories that begin with looking in a mirror; too much alliteration; and too much character description.
     They also all use the New York Times Best Seller List as a barometer by which to measure their progress. Hmmmm. And the message they keep getting: fewer, better books.
     During one of our quick breaks, I was finally able to track down Anastasia Suen, author of Picture Writing which I have recommended forever in my article, "How Do I Get Published." She is just as energetic as I knew she'd be. Unfortunately, I was about out of energy, but I wish we'd had more time to talk.
     Back to our seats to let our brains soar as Lee Bennett Hopkins shared beautiful poems with us. He has such a strong presence and musical voice - he was a pleasure.
     Finally we reached the end. People scattered for book signings and cupcakes then disappeared. I imagine many caught flights or collapsed in their rooms.

     That evening, hubbie and I hung out on the patio with two more Southern Breezers, this time from Mississippi. Katie Anderson and Sarah Francis Hardy - we had breakfast one day too - great gals! We had wine and exhaled from our inspiring, albeit exhausting, weekend.
     Along with the fantastic advise and insights into the publishing industry and everybody I've already mentioned, I also made some new friends. Anna M. Lewis - we gotta talk! Steve Harper - thanks for the Photoshop tip! Lisa Albert, wish you'd been called to sing during the luncheon! Katie and Sarah Francis - thanks for all the easy smiles. Leslie Muir - when are we doin' lunch?
     Lin and Stephen and the rest of the SCBWI staff - you did a great job, thanks SO much. We learned a lot, had a great time, and I can't wait until I can attend again.

SCBWI LA Summer Conference - The Ball and Sunday!!

     I'm sure you've heard about the "Under the Light of the Silvery Moon Ball" by now (and Jay Asher's incredible outfit!), and since I don't have embarrassing pictures to share (dang!) I'll glaze over it. Just let it be said that Kevan Atteberry had a harem of admirers (why do women go nuts for teddy bears?). Actually, he had reason to celebrate as he just found out his forthcoming picture book, Frankie Stein, has already gone into a second printing! Congrats Kevan! We all boogied our butts off far longer than I thought we'd be capable of standing.

SUNDAY
     As I mentioned, I had a great breakfast with Cynthia Leitich Smith who gave me some great avenues to research for my next novel (no hints).
     Mark McVeigh and Laurent Linn gave a fascinating look into the workings between an editor and an art director. Much is affected by the say of the sales team as to whether or not they think they can sell a book, which can send an art department through some serious hoops. But everybody truly seems to have the best interest of the book at heart. Btw, I tried speaking French with Laurent, but my head is so full of Spanish right now, it didn't work very well. He was quite kind about it.
     The captain of the Nerd Fighters spoke next, John Green, winner of the Printz Award. He lived up to every bit of his reputation. He is smart, irreverent, hilarious, and incredibly satisfying to listen to. He talked about how writing is translating ideas into text and said, "The truth does not lie in the facts" and that "Great books do not happen by accident." Great speaker.
     Emma Dryden kept my attention for the next two break-out sessions as I listened to her "Guide to Writing the Novel" and her views on picture books. I liked her comment that a good story, "must resonate with a reader's inner world." She's also been quoted as saying, "Embrace the weird." She also wouldn't mind seeing a story about a moose . . .
     But between these break-out sessions was the Golden Kite Luncheon. I was thrilled when my bud, David Hohn, won first runner up in the portfolio competition! Ashley Mims won the coveted trip to New York and meetings with Art Directors. Wowsa!
     Sunday wrapped up with an entertaining panel discussion between Linda Sue Park (can I just say, she is a super nice person and I was floored that she actually knew who I was!?) and her publisher, Dinah Stevenson (VP and Publisher at Clarion Books). Dinah said something that especially resonated with my ever-distracted brain, "Focus your energy on your craft." Linda Sue loves endings with "unexpected inevitability." They were fun to listen to.

     Hubbie was hanging with friends until late, so I hung with my Southern Breeze peeps that night (joined by Greg Fishbone). We headed for the Santa Monica Pier and Bubba Gumps!

     This was the view while we ate - no lie! And boy, did we need the break. Because believe it or not, we weren't finished yet!

SCBWI LA Summer Conference - Portfolio Show!!

     Ever feel like a debutante? Even though I've been in graphic design my entire life, and in children's books for six years now, Saturday night in LA felt like my coming out party. I mean, I advertise, I send out postcards, I have my online portfolio, but for some reason, I felt like many of the people there were seeing my work for the first time . . . and they were oohing and ahhing!
     My Fairy Godmother and head of the SmartWriters.com W.I.N. Competition (I was this year's Grand Prize winner!), Roxyanne Young, made a point of introducing me around like a super-star.
     I spoke with Tim Gillner, Art Director of Boyds Mills Press, for quite a while - what a down-to-earth, nice guy. Laurent Linn (pronounced the French way), Associate Art Director for Henry Holt Books, spent quite a bit of time with me and my portfolio and said wonderful things (yeah!). So did Rachel Griffiths who graciously offered me a mini-critique after making sure I wanted to hear it - of course I did!
     Y'know, I overheard someone quote an editor, "If a book is this great (hands held apart), it can be THIS great (hands stretched wide)." I know it will mean a lot less sleep and frustration at times, but I'm really looking forward to being influenced by talented art directors and editors to bring my work up to a level I never would have thought possible. To make my work THIS GREAT!

(Fellow SmartWriters winners: Leslie Muir, Jay Asher, Me, and our mutual Fairy Godmother, Roxyanne Young)
     And there was more! I got a hug from Lee Bennett Hopkins who kept one of my bookmarks, and I met Caldecott winner, David Diaz. I met Alice Pope, editor extraordinare of The Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market (part of my SmartWriters prize!). I was especially thrilled to meet Cynthia Leitich Smith, who's website has been such help to me over the years, and whose latest book, Tantalize, had my mouth watering. In fact, we had a great breakfast the next morning.

(Kirby, Me, Alice, and Roxyanne)
     I got to hang with several of my fellow Picture Book Artists Association members: Kevan Atteberry (awesome dancer); David Hohn (we actually hung out a lot, he's a strong advocate for illustrator's rights and a great guy!); and Laura Jacobsen.

     I tell ya, the conference could have ended right then for me, I was so wired and excited about all the great comments I received.
     But we weren't finished yet!

SCBWI LA Summer Conference - Saturday Run-Down!!

SATURDAY
     Okay - I'm going to post these separately because it is a LOT of information to share - I'm trying to be thorough. And I think it's going to take several posts - blogger is being cranky.
     I met fellow illustrator, David Hohn, at the Starbucks watering hole that morning. More on this talented guy later.
     The morning began with a panel of agents Tracy Adams (Adams Literary) and Kate Schafer (Janklow & Nesbit Associates). The contrast of a small agency vs. a large agency was interesting, as was the internet embracing vs. not approaches. Tracy has a strong reputation in the children's book business and said she chooses clients carefully because they become like family. Janklow & Nesbit is new to the children's side of the business and Kate prefers to work with MG or YA authors on a book by book basis.
     Caldecott Honor winner, Coretta Scott King Award winner, illustration legend, Kadir Nelson, spoke next. Imagine walking through the Louvre with Leonardo by your side describing why he did what and how, and you start to get an idea of Kadir's talk. His work is tremendously powerful and leaves me speechless. Just follow the link and prepare to be wowed if you're not already familiar with his work. I especially liked his comments, "Beauty denies negativity" and "People always want to get there, but there's really no there. You have to keep working." Yup.
     For my break-out session, I attended Lisa Wheeler's talk about rhyme in picture books. I know this was just the tip of the ice-berg, especially compared to the poetry track with Lee Bennett Hopkins, but I love Lisa's work. She read several examples of her favorites using different methods and forms. I wish I could take a full class!
     Again, lunch was a joke as I was scheduled to drop off my portfolio right in the middle of the allotted time. (Can you say "hoover"?) I was a bit flustered when I got to the drop-off just under the wire!
     Tamora Pierce played a joke on us at the beginning of her speech which we all fell for hook, line, and sinker. I won't tell you what it was in case you ever get to hear her talk, just leave it to say, she had us in tears from laughing so hard.
     Rubin Pfeffer, Senior VP and Publisher at Simon & Schuster Children's Trade Publishing (can you say "big wig"?) was next. We learned about the state of the industry straight from the guy in charge. While he is obviously passionate about children's books (as is everybody involved in the industry) he was our reality check that it IS a business after all and that a bottom line in the black allows us all to continue doing what we love. He was guardedly optimistic, although the continuous message from book buyers is that there are too many new books every season. There are less readers out there, but they are buying more hard-covers these days (yeah!). Profits seem to be going up despite a declining demographic. MGs are the largest current growth area, but he expressed the importance of back lists. Not sure what it all means really, but Rubin presented his information with humor and smiles. I loved his line, "A good book is one that inspires to go read another one - a ripple effect." I'll bet he's a nice boss.
     I attended Rachel Griffiths' (formerly of Arthur A. Levine, now Editor at Scholastic Press) break-out session on how to catch an editor's eye. It was a good look into what not to do as she read a few of the truly awful, but sadly common, query/cover letters she receives. There's definitely a difference in a letter from somebody who's done their homework! Keep an eye out for her upcoming collection of stories by authors with very strong voices, "Click." She's obviously very excited about it and a portion of sales will go to Amnesty International. She's also the editor of "Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer" (which is the next up on my "to read" stack and has been getting GREAT reviews). I also met the author, Laini Taylor, who recently dyed her hair bright magenta (check it out on her website) - she was easy to spot!
     The nicest surprise for me was Ellen Wittlinger's talk. I am sorry to say I was not familiar with this acclaimed author's work, but after hearing her speak, I rushed to buy a copy of Blind Faith. Ellen speaks honestly and believably about teen struggles with sexual identity. She was so well spoken, I was moved by her attempts to make a difference in the young lives which have at times been saved by her work.
     With all the new books that come out, it is nearly impossible to stay on top of them all (and I say this to what I know is a very well-read audience), but please add Ellen to your list of "must reads."
     The portfolio show was next and was such a HUGE event, it deserves a posting all its own. So, keep reading!

SCBWI LA Summer Conference - Friday Run-Down!!

     Here we go! It may take a few attempts to get it all in, but I'll try to make you feel like you were there too . . .
     We (Hubbie and I) arrived in LA and I would have said we weren’t in Kansas anymore, but the rooster in baggage claim had us wondering. However, the sight of palm trees floating above us like giant green bubbles soon convinced us - We're in L.A. BABY!
     After settling into our room, I headed for the lobby where I immediately hooked up with several Blue Borders including Candie Moonshower (The Legend of Zoey), Linda Joy Singleton (Don’t Die Dragonfly) and Verla Kay (Rough, Tough Charlie) herself. (Everybody was so ready to have a good time!)

     That night, still on Atlanta time, I tried to make myself sleep past 4 am, but I was too excited to get going. Friday thrust us into high gear conference mode.

FRIDAY
     I had emailed Kirby Larson when I finished reading her Newbery Honor book, Hattie Big Sky, and she was gracious enough to meet me for breakfast. On the way there, I ran into several of my fellow Southern-Breezers (Robyn Hood Black and Paula Puckett) and they joined us.

     I asked Kirby some questions about strengthening voice, and what she shared in those few minutes was so incredibly helpful, I later attended her talk on the same subject. She asked me a great question, “What are your main character’s faults?" She said, "We often love our MCs so much, we make them too perfect.” I have to say, it was the most informative talk I attended, full of creative revelations to help with my w.i.p. novel, “A Bird on Water Street.” If you ever get a chance to meet Kirby, make a point. She is a treasure.
     With the welcome and introductions I was tickled to learn that Lin Oliver is one funny, funny lady. She shared some amazing statistics: of the 964 attendees, 466 were already published! Talk about being among equals.
     Walter Dean Myers opened, and it was a pleasure to listen to his deep, poetic voice. He spoke of the importance of details in your work and said, “Recognize details as truth.” But I especially liked his comment, “Nobody pays me to daydream, but when I write it down . . .”
     By the way, it was especially nice to have my Southern Breeze peeps to hang with during the conference. It's great to meet new people, but it's intense and tiring too. We saved seats for each other and became a mini oasis hang-out for each other. Here we are: Donna Bowman, Jo Kittinger (who gave a talk on Easy Readers), Me, Robyn and Paula.

     Next, Peter Brown entertained us with a slide show of his beginnings and method to create Chowder and Flight of the Dodo. I so love his work. He’s only 28 years old, but this guy is off to a roaring start with his career. Makes me wonder where I’d be if I started earlier . . . (honestly, I don’t think I was ready back then).
     Break-out sessions followed and I went to see Allyn Johnston, Editor in Chief of Harcourt Children’s Books. Many of the editors joked about where they arrested in their early development, Allyn claims age six. It’s reflected in the work she likes most, young picture books, although Harcourt also publishes PBs through YA. She shared the stage with several of her staff: Andrea Bebe Welch, Editor; Beth Jacobsen, Allyn’s Editorial Assistant; and Jessie Dzundza, Editorial Assistant. I found their specifics interesting. Twelve editors and Assistant Editors report to Allyn, five directly. She edits 10-15 books a year. In her later talk with Marla Frazee, I also got a sense of how inspired and inspiring she can be as an editor. She’s got a strong eye to take an idea from great to wowsa!
     Lunch was a joke as my manuscript critique was scheduled right in the middle of it. (I wasn’t kidding about missing meals.) I met with Kelly DiPucchio who gave me some great suggestions to bump up my picture book, "Queen Bea" (which has won two honorable mentions in writing contests but has yet to sell).
     The great speakers continued with Emma Dryden, Vice President, Associate Publisher of Atheneum (pronounced Ath'e nA'um) BFYR and Margaret K. McElderry (pronounced MAC'el DERR'y) Books, both imprints of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.
     More break-out sessions followed where I learned so much from Kirby.
     A panel - panel - followed with (drum roll please): Arthur Levine (of his own imprint at Scholastic); Elizabeth Parisi (Art Director, Scholastic); Mark McVeigh (now Editorial Director of Aladdin Paperbacks at Simon & Schuster); and Krista Marino (Editor at Delacorte/Random House). Gads, could you ask for a more impressive line-up?
     They spoke about accepting and giving critiques . . . graciously. The one thing I understood from all of them is the great respect they have for their authors and how once one is published, they see themselves as equals with their authors (okay, Arthur - whatEVER!).
     The Wine & Cheese Party was a blur as I had to leave early to enjoy dinner with my cousin's husband. Bruce is from New Zealand and has a fabulous accent which we (Hubbie and I) enjoyed over some kickin' Mexican food on Sunset Boulevard.
     And that was just Friday! Click here to read about Saturday!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Coloring Page Tuesday! - Chew a shoe

     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!

     This is Teacup getting into her favorite kind of trouble.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send it back (small and low res) and I'll post it!
     For more coloring pages, go here.


Learn about my good parenting picture books, Ready for Bed and Ready for the Day - click the covers!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

SCBWI LA Summer Conference - Here I come!!


     Well, tomorrow I'm off to the 2007 SCBWI summer conference in Los Angeles! It was time, y'know? I've been at this crazy career for six years now and while I've attended and spoken at conferences all over the southeast, I've never done national. And I am so excited!
     The list of talented speakers is dizzying and the parties and get-togethers . . . well, they start at 8:30 in the morning and go late into the evenings and they overlap completely. Let's see if this social butterfly can keep the energy level up!
     I also get to show off my new SmartWriters Grand Prize W.I.N. - how exciting is that!? Well, I don't have the award in hand yet (aren't they l o v e l y ? That's mine in front there.), but I'll have a sticker on my name tag. So y'all say "hi" if you see me!
     I'm going to try to keep a running commentary as it all unfolds, so check back to find out what's going on. Not sure I'll be able to include pics at first, those might have to wait until I get home, but we'll see. Anyhow, we head for the airport early tomorrow after a good night's sleep - ha!

Well, it's Sunday morning here in LA and I have a confession to make. I was going to try to comment as the conference unfolded, but have hardly found time to even eat (and I'm not generally one to skip meals!) So, please be patient with me, because I plan on posting a very thorough round-up - with fabulous pictures - upon my return. This has been a wonderful, intense conference with amazing talent, fantastic speakers, and a crowd of equals. I can't wait to share the details!

TA-DA!!! HERE IT IS!
I had to break it into parts - so to read my run-down of this incredible event - CLICK HERE! and click through at the bottom of each post,
or go to a day or event:
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
PORTFOLIO SHOW
The Ball & SUNDAY
MONDAY
Post Conference Play Day

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