Friday, December 10, 2010

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Pre-Conference Interview: Agent Jim McCarthy

Author and blogger Suzanne Young bring us the latest in our series of SCBWI TEAM BLOG interviews with Annual Winter Conference Faculty. Suzanne talked with agent Jim McCarthy. (We hope our interviews get you excited for the event!)

Here's a bit from Suzanne's interview with Jim.

In a Team Blog pre-conference exclusive, I'm chatting with fabulous agent (who also happens to be my agent) Jim McCarthy. Jim is vice president at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management and he will be speaking at the SCBWI Annual Winter Conference in NYC being held January 28th-30th. Check out the lineup HERE.

Jim, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. To start, I was wondering if you could tell us what your talk at the conference will focus on?

This one’s easy! I’m doing the same break-out session three times, and it’s What Makes Your Work Publishable: Today’s Market in Children’s Books. I was asked to present on what our agency accepts, what my taste is, what makes something stand out as something I want to represent, how I perceive the marketplace now, and where I see it going.

Click here to read the full interview with Jim McCarthy.

And click here for Annual Winter Conference registration where you can attend insightful What Makes Your Work Publishable sessions with Jim, other agents, editors, and art directors!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Pre-conference Interview: Linda Sue Park

The latest in our series of SCBWI TEAM BLOG interviews with Annual Winter Conference faculty is courtesy of Jolie Stekly who blogs at Cuppa Jolie. She interviewed Newbery Award-winning author Linda Sue Park.

Here's a bit from the interview with Linda Sue, which Jolie likened to a short writer's therapy session:

I've had the immense pleasure of hearing Linda Sue Park speak at a couple of SCBWI conferences. Not only that, but I've also had the opportunity to sit and talk with her, and let me tell you, the words that come out of her mouth are so great, so helpful, so smart that you won't want to dare miss them when she's gives her keynote presentation at the upcoming SCBWI Winter Conference.

Linda Sue Park is the award-winning author of many books for children, including A SINGLE SHARD which won the Newbery Medal in 2002. The list of awards Linda Sue has won is as long as my arm, and sure to keep growing. Linda Sue also serves on the SCBWI Board of Advisors.

Click here to read the full interview with Linda Sue Park.

Click here to register for the SCBWI Annual Winter Conference where you can take in the wisdom of Linda Sue, and the rest of the awesome faculty in person. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Pre-conference Interview: Author Sara Zarr

The lastest SCBWI TEAM BLOG pre-conference faculty interview features acclaimed YA author and Winter Conference keynote speaker Sara Zarr, who was interview by Alice Pope on her SCBWI Market Blog. Here's a bit from the post:

When I found out Sara Zarr was on the faculty for the SCBWI Annual Winter Conference, I called dibs on doing her pre-conference interview right away. (There was a quiet throwdown, but I'm captain of TEAM BLOG so I won.)

There were several reasons I wanted an excuse to talk to Sara. I first met her several years ago at a Kidlitcon and heard her speak from the heart about her first foray into blogging. I immediately liked her and immediately devoured STORY OF A GIRL, her debut novel and a National Book Award Finalist.

Click here to read the full interview with the terrific Sara Zarr.

And click here to register for the SCBWI Annual Winter Conference where you can see Sara and the rest of the great faculty in person!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Pre-conference Interview: Patricia Lee Gauch

The latest Annual Winter Conference faculty member featured in our SCBWI TEAM BLOG pre-conference interview series is Patricia Lee Gauch. Patti talked with TEAM BLOGger Martha Brockenbrough.

Here's a bit from the interview:

My SCBWI chapter invited Patricia Lee Gauch to Washington state for a retreat a couple of years ago, and I got to see first-hand what a fine teacher she is: gentle but demanding, and full of information distilled from a phenomenal career in children's literature.

Patti is not only a published author herself (Christina Katerina and the Box, Thunder at Gettysburg, and The Knitting of Elizabeth Amelia), she has edited some of the finest writers in the business: Brian Jacques, T.A. Barron, Andrew Clements, Jane Yolen, Janet Lisle, Katherine Erkskine, and Barbara Joosse.

She's worked with artists Eric Carle, David Small, Ed Young, Loren Long. Three books she edited have won Caldecott Medals: Owl Moon, Lon Po Po, and So You Want to Be President

Click here to register for the Annual Winter Conference and learn from outstanding faculty like Patricia Lee Gauch!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Pre-conference Interview: Jane Yolen

Martha Brockenbrough offers the first in our series of SCBWI TEAM BLOG pre-conference faculty interviews starting us out with the terrific Jane Yolen!

Here's a bit from Martha's interview with Jane (in which, Martha says, "she debuts the new BIC.")

Without the mighty badge of the SCBWI national blog team to hide behind, I'd never have the guts to approach Jane Yolen for an interview.

She's Jane Yolen! Author of more than 300 books! A Caldecott Medalist and Golden Kite winner! Likened unto Hans Christian Anderson! Also, as far as I can tell, she is bionic. There is otherwise no way to explain how she writes so many fabulous books.

You might already know these things about Jane, though.

But did you know that she coined the acronym B.I.C. for "butt in chair"? Did you further know she was the second author ever to join the SCBWI? And that she was the organization's first regional adviser? She founded and for a decade ran the New England region.

Click here to read the full interview with Jane Yolen.

Click here to register for the Annual Winter Conference and see Jane--and a number of other equally wonderful faculty--in person.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Update for Illustrators: NYC Annual Winter Conference Art Showcase

Art Directors talked, and we listened! Art Directors told us that they'd prefer to browse art in a gallery-type format, seeing one piece per illustrator displayed. So we've changed the planned Portfolio Display at the Annual Winter Conference to an Art Showcase.

Here's how it the Art Showcase will work:
  • Illustrators need only prepare one piece and business cards or postcards rather than a full portfolio.
  • Art Directors and other industry professionals will browse the Friday night art display, picking up cards from the illustrators whose work interests them.
  • Literally hundreds of invited Agents, Art Directors, Editors and other publishing professionals will be viewing the art.
  • It's just $50 to participate in the Porfolio Showcase, but if you enroll in the Illustrators Intensive it's FREE.
  • The display will be juried and two cash prizes will be awarded along with one awesome Grand Prize--an all-expenses paid trip to New York and meeting with art directors!

Be sure to visit for more information and guidelines and don't miss this terrific opportunity to have your work viewed by the decision makers! There's truly no other event where you can have your work seen by so many agents, editors and art directors!

And click here to register for the Annual Winter Conference.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

SCBWI Winter Conference Registration is Now Open... And Very Popular!

Registration is open for the 2011 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City and we're thrilled at the great response so far.

It's so, great, however, that, if you're registering, you'll have to wait in line. We've implemented a queue system based on how many users are trying to register.

The Pre-Conference Intensive for Writers usually takes about 5-7 days to fill up. If you’re worried about getting into that event, stay on the registration page and the link will appear when the timer counts down to zero. (Click around online to pass the time. Visit Facebook. Buy some new shoes.) You can also email us at

If you are not registering for the Pre-Conference Intensive for Writers, and can wait a day or two to register, the wait will be much shorter.

We really appreciate both your patience and enthusiasm. We''ll get you taken care of and get you registered!

See you in New York!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thanks from SCBWI Team Blog!

Pictured in the video Left to right: Alice Pope, Jolie Stekly, Sarah Stern, Lee Wind, Martha Brockenbrough, and Jaime Temairik.

Suzanne Young (in the still photo above) was hard at work blogging a different panel when we shot this video - that's how busy and how hard we all worked to share with you these tastes and sights and sounds of the 2010 SCBWI Summer Conference.

We invite you to go back through the more than 100 SCBWI Team Blog posts from the last four days. If you were forunate enough to be here with us, you can check out the sessions and keynotes you attended, to remember the high points. Look at the posts from the sessions you missed (unless you were able to clone yourself!)

If you weren't able to be here in Los Angeles, you can get a sample of the wealth of information the conference offered on the business, craft and inspiration of writing and illustrating for children!

We hope to see you in New York at the 2011 Winter Conference!

-- Team Blog

Loren Long- Creating Picture Books: My Process

The charming and talented Loren Long is imparting some wisdom about illustrating picture books. He tells the group to try to keep things simple. For him, that means keeping the technological interference in his process to a minimum.

He sketches, uses carbon paper to transfer his blown up sketch onto illustration board (therefore retaining that initial looseness and spontaneity), then paints, adding more detail as he goes on. Whether or not we as illustrators choose to use the computer—and in what way—is up to us, but it is always great advise to keep things simple and not get overwhelmed by the decisions we face when starting work on a book.

Loren advises us to simply start the sketches first, and worry about the format, exact pacing, shape and size of the illustrations once you have the first sketches done. This way you've dealt with the truly important decisions, like mood and tone, first.

An important element to master right at the beginning of the project is developing the character. Long says to give the character "as much heart as possible." This entails posture and mood.

We were lucky enough to get to view the sketches from Drummer Boy, and since Dan Santat was in the session with a copy of the book handy, we viewed the sketches and the final pieces side-by-side.

A great thing to remember when starting work on a picture book: The manuscript needs to resonate with you. And once you've chosen it, OWN IT! You are illustrating it, and you need to make it your own. Long says that an illustrator making a story their own is the highest compliment they can give a writer.

Spot Yourself! Autograph Party Photos Part 2

Author Jill S. Alexander and author/editorial director Diane Muldrow rock summer color
ARA for Western Washington Kim Baker is STILL full of vim and vigor after four days of conferencing
Author/illustrator Richard Jesse Watson, author Ann Whitford Paul and illustrator/author Jesse Joshua Watson are just like family. Wait, Richard and Jesse ARE family.
Our hero, SCBWI dude and debut author Aaron Hartzler, pop and locking in the LOBBY
Author and Utah RA Sydney Salter holds up titles from Gordon Korman and Carolyn Mackler
 Illustrator/Author/Graphic Novel Slayer Dan Santat and author Tammi Sauer are sad the conference is over. Don't worry, you guys, there's the winter conference in New York to look forward to!
That's better.

Spot Yourself! Autograph Party Photos Part 1

Right before the autograph party, Katy Betz and Lauren Gallegos show off their excellent sleuthing abilities. They found the conference CANDY STASH.
E.B. Lewis and E.B. fan/author/Southern Breeze Co-RA Jo Kittinger
Author and Western Washington Co-RA Joni Sensel waits for Loren Long to sign his lovely picture books
Cocoa & Kate author Erica Silverman, nonfiction powerhouse Melissa Stewart, and Simon Bloom author Michael Reisman
It is Mac Barnett. He always looks this happy to see someone. That's why we like him.

Conference Reviews: Award Winning Author Kathleen Duey

I ran into award-winning author Kathleen Duey (her book "Skin Hunger" was a National Book Award Finalist!) and asked her about her SCBWI 2010 Summer Conference experience...

Conference Reviews: Joey Spiotto

I caught up with illustrator and first time Conference Attendee Joey Spiotto outside the hotel just after the wrap-up of the SCBWI 2010 Summer Conference:

Conference Reviews: Annameekee Hesik

I caught up with Annameekee Hesik in the SCBWI 2010 Summer Conference bookstore on Saturday (the conference half-way point) and asked her about her experience. She's a teacher and a writer - wanna know what grade she gave the conference?

Conference Reviews: Attendee Emily Jiang

Find out why Emily Jiang called the SCBWI 2010 Summer Conference "life changing!"

Mac McCool Graphic Novel Premium Workshop

What's totally awesome?

Today was the last day of Mac's workshop. He spent the time critiquing each person's page of panels or page of a graphic novel script. For some, it was their first time drawing a comics page, but all felt it had been a great place to learn and experiment.

For readability, it's all about bubble placement, baby.
Mac critiqued story arc, text, pacing, as well as bubble design, inking, color, panel style, final art, and lettering. He took great care to translate art or comics terms that may be foreign to authors or even some illustrators.

Everyone put their art up and we all had a chance to check stuff out. These were some of my favorites:

Eric Sailer of New York

Elizabeth Oh of Hawaii
Lucy Mara Taylor of California  
Brooke Boynton Hughes of Colorado
And here's Brooke holding another assignment about character silhouettes.
Please, please, let's do this again! And, HEY! Did you spot the celebrity in the first picture?

Debutante Sighting: Kiersten White

Isn't it a great thing to meet a Twitter buddy in real life for the first time? These conferences are full of such moments--and it's especially exciting when that Twitter pal is weeks away from the debut of her novel.

I'll recreate the moment of my first meeting with Kiersten White, author of PARANORMALCY*.

Me: OMG! You look exactly like the girl on the cover of your book. Did they pay you extra for that?

Kiersten: Uh, I didn't shower today. I'm planning to later. But it's early and I'm not a nonfiction writer so I wasn't going to--

Me: Yeah, yeah. Hygiene. So what is PARANORMALCY about?

Kiersten: Well, it's a paranormal with romance and--

Me: Why didn't you call it Paranormalromancy then? Because that would have been more accurate.

Kiersten: I'll keep that in mind for the sequel. [Explains a bunch of stuff about theme and identity and mermaids that I don't totally follow, but mostly because I am still hung up on the fact that she wrote an amazing novel in three weeks. THREE. It sometimes takes me three weeks to decide what kind of sandwich I want.]

Kiersten: You know, I really have to go and take a shower. I'll see you later. Or not. How do you block someone on Twitter? Never mind. I'll just ask Greg Pincus.

See? Taking a relationship from Twitter to real life is amazing. I will be a fan of Kiersten's work for life. And I'm sure the feeling is mutual.

Jolie Stekly interviewed Kiersten for real. Here's the footage:

* Note. Most of this is made up. And that, my friends, is called fiction. Stay tuned for an actual interview with Kiersten on my regular blog.

CLOSING KEY NOTE: Ashley Bryan--A Tender Bridge

Author and illutrator Ashely Bryan is offering the closing keynote. He started off by leading 1,000 plus people in reciting a poem (which was pretty awesome to witness):

"The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people.
Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people"
~ Langston Hughes

As he speaks with young readers he helps open up the words for them by using poetry. Poetry, he says, opens up the voice--poetry needs performers. He thinks of the book as a replacement for the oral tradition.

Ahsley Bryan's hard to blog, dear readers.

He's performing.

He's reciting,

He's energetic.


When was the last time you belted out a poem? Give it a try. PERFORM.

Greg Pincus and Alice Pope Hot Tip

Use the same profile photo of yourself across platforms - twitter, your blog, facebook... It makes you more recognizable.

Even at this conference, people have been coming up to Greg and to Alice because they recognized them from their social media profile photos!

What an easy, quick thing we can all do.

Thanks, Greg and Alice!

Alice Pope and Greg Pincus: Moving Your Career Forward With Social Networking & Blogging

Greg Pincus is a poet, author and social media guru who, through the wonders of social media (and his talent as a writer) got into the New York Times and landed a two book deal with Arthur A. Levine.

Alice Pope is the official blogger for SCBWI, Team Captain for SCBWI's Team Blog, and the former editor of the Children's Writers and Illustrator's Market Guide.

Here's a taste of their words of wisdom:

Greg: There's no one way - each person can follow their own path.

Alice: Just like getting published - it's the same with social networking.

Greg: Recognize that it's not always linear, but a good thing is a good thing. In advertising there's a rule of 7 times of being exposed to something before people buy it. If they see you 6 times via social media, and the 7th time they see your book is in a bookstore... that's good!

the effects are cumulative

You are what you say and do - think of ebay, if someone has a 99% rating, then we trust that seller. Similarly we are all building our reputations online.

Be careful not to hurt yourself - be smart. Greg quoted Jenn Bailey who said that "to get something off the internet is like getting pee out of a swimming pool."

Alice reminded us that in all our interactions we want to ADD VALUE - how can you help? how can you further the conversation?

They've started to share examples of how authors and illustrators have been using social media to further their careers, including:

Readergirlz, five authors who created a safe online community for teenage girls - they're offering virtual author visits and a place for girls to talk books.

Lisa Yee's blog has helped her success and the character of Peepy has become a fun funny extension of her personality.

And me, Lee Wind, with my blog "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" - which have given me an expertise in GLBTQ Kid Lit and a platform.

There are so many examples, great points and insights being offered.

Here's an amazing one!

Mitali Perkin's blog, where she talks about multicultural books for kids, even includes a post where she talks about and how through twitter she sold five of her books to India!

They're speaking about blog book tours now... Alice is sharing about author Holly Cupala's book blog tour that she recently hosted one stop for on her SCBWI Blog.

Someone asked how you get Twitter followers, and Alice gave this great advice:

If you participate, people will notice you.

In answering a question about Facebook Fan Pages versus Personal Facebook Pages, Greg says: Everything you say and do online is PUBLIC. And stay active - people want to connect.

Another example of someone doing it right is Cynthea Liu's recent book launch, where she raised money for a local school and adding that selfless focus was very successful for her.

As Greg says about his own 30 poets 30 days project, which highlighted poems of other people on his own poetry blog, you don't want to just talk about yourself all the time.

They're sharing so much beyond what I've been able to blog here - Greg and Alice really are Social Media Gurus!

I'll give Alice the final words here for us to remember:

Social Networking is not rocket science - it's just talking.

And as a bonus, Greg reads his poem "I'm pretty well connected" to the room's applause.

Arthur A. Levine Workshop: Strong Emotions on the Page (Day 4)

The big finale.

Another dramatic start: Arthur has apprently had too much coffee and diet Coke. We still don't know if the missing assignments have been recovered. Perhaps it will all come to an exciting conclusion.

Last night's assignment was to take the same snapshots we used for our first piece of writing, and now use them to create a new piece with a different emotion than was conveyed the first time.

More good, concrete ideas from Arthur as we share our writing:
  • It's important to know who the scene is important to;
  • Watch for stock phrases like, squeal of delight and an exhausted sigh. What does it really sound like?
  • When the words are generic, it can make the reader lose interest. When words are specific, it will make the reader sit up and take notice;
  • Make sure the words you choose are the ones your character would use;
  • When you get nostalgic you must push back to that time to make the writing stronger;
  • The emotion informs how you're telling the story.
It's been a class so good, no one wants to leave.

(As for the exciting conclusion of The Case of the Missing Homework, it was found in the Lost and Found.)

Arthur A. Levine Master Class - Day One
Arthur A. Levine Master Class - Day Two
Arthur A. Levine Master Class - Day Three

Spot yourself! The Autograph Party at Last

Oops! Her nametag is not as legible as we hoped.
But she did say the conference was like Christmas Eve,
two weeks in a row. Indeed!

The lines for M.T. Anderson and Gennifer Choldenko were epic.
Like a Christopher Paolini novel, but without the dragons.
Coleen Paratore chats with a fan.
Gennifer Choldenko and M.T. Anderson get hand cramps.

Volunteers sort boxes of books.

HOPE FOR HAITI author/illustrator Jesse Watson strikes a pose.

PARANORMALCY author Kiersten White makes nice with the camera.

Illustrators Priscilla Burris and Richard Jesse Watson chat with their fans.

Molly Hall and Dawn Simon (just pull on them and their Velcro attachment comes right apart!)

Golden Kite winner Julia Durango autographs her award-winning book.
Marion Dane Bauer signs the book that won her the Golden Kite Award.
Molly Blaisdell (right) and friend wait in the Loren Long line. Which was long.
Tracy Barrett hangs out with SCBWI member of the year Christopher Cheng.
And here's another look at the autograph lines.
Sally Crock and Jolie Stekly chat.
Arthur Levine and Mike Jung are keepin' it real.
Jolie Stekly and Arthur Levine get in one last hug.