Posts Tagged ‘workshops’

Well, we see how much time has passed since that last post … so this will be a bit brief, as time, even to blog, is sometimes hard to find. Among the things I particularly enjoyed about this June Conference were several workshops which enriched my life as a children’s book writer and illustrator and added to my knowledge of craft, inspiration and TUESDAY-DWeisner2curiosity.

A workshop with the children’s book illustrator and author David Wiesner was terrific. He gave the opening keynote, but I also took a workshop with him titled “Reference Is Your Friend.” He’s a brilliant, phenomenally talented and very humble person, and listening to his process as he designs and works out his world-renowned books was fascinating. His recommendation for all the attendees if we would take away one thing? Draw from life.

A workshop by Donna Galanti on world-building was another favorite because  no matter what type of novel we write, whether fantasy or one taking place in our town, we need to create a world for readers. Donna really broke it down, and also provided the rare handout so we could be listening to her presentation without our heads down scribbling notes frantically. She came up with so many useful points that I will refer to as I’m delving into my own novel.

There were more excellent ones, and one or two that were not so fabulous, but we only know by opening ourselves to the presentations and finding out what there is for us to learn. I’d also signed up for two one-on-one critiques for my WIP novel and another for a WIP picture book. One of these was outstanding and gave me some very good direction.

By the end of the first day of the conference, I didn’t see a soul who wasn’t looking a little wiped out, just from running from class to class and then to individual critiques and roundtables. Of course, I could go on. And on. But I’m going to stop here, with a suggestion for all of you who might be reading this and who are interested in writing and/or illustrating children’s books and not already a member of SCBWI.

Join. Join a whole bunch of other talented, dedicated people who want to reach out to children with amazing ideas and stories and visions. Join an organization whose sole existence is to provide everything you’d want to know and more about how to become a writer or illustrator for children. Become familiar with your local branch of SCBWI and see what they have to offer. In New Jersey, we have the annual June Conference, but also some smaller events during the year. You can learn more here on the SCBWI site and check out the chapter nearest you while you’re there.

Maybe I’ll see you at the conference!

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FusedGlassVotive2The journey of writing and illustrating children’s books, as in any serious endeavor, has been packed with a wide variety of experiences. The learning curve has been tremendous between a writer’s critique group, caring support from fellow writers and artists, and the many opportunities to grow offered through the SCBWI, (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.)

Conferences, workshops, individual critiques and sometimes just time to sit down and talk with professionals in our field have given us all hope and sustained us on the road to being published and beyond.  I consider myself very fortunate that, in the time I have belonged to the SCBWI, my New Jersey chapter has been extremely pro-active in providing so many ways to become involved in the world of children’s books.

Our current NJ SCBWI Regional Advisor recently put together a really fun workshop at the Fire Me Up glass studio. It was a chance to create something new and to also sit down and brunch with the Executive Editor of Children’s Books at Sterling Publishing of NYC, Meredith Mundy. And getting there early gave my friend and I the opportunity to sit right opposite her and talk about all manner of things. It was a friendly gathering of about 20 writers and artists in the children’s book field, some published, some not yet, trying our hand at a glass project while talking about our favorite subject.

FusedGlassVotive-Lit2After brunch and getting instructions about our projects, Meredith chatted with us, talked about changes in the industry, what Sterling was looking for as well as what she, in particular, was looking for in terms of stories and subjects. And when our afternoon was done, we were each given our individual critiques of whatever manuscript we had submitted ahead of time.

Meredith’s critique was very helpful and included wonderful insights and detailed suggestions for improvement, really challenging me to expand the ideas I was already working on, while acknowledging what I’d already accomplished. What a treat! I have since been working hard on my MS, getting ready to make a pacing dummy, and sketching my main characters for still new insights.

And what about the fused glass project? We had a variety of options to choose from, and I took a fairly simple one so I could focus on the conversation around me. (You don’t want to lose attention when you’ve got such a talented Executive Editor sitting across the table!) One of the options was a glass votive holder, and as a candle lover, this seemed perfect. So with an 8″ square piece of clear glass and a variety of jewel-colored glass in the form of spaghetti, linguine, flat marbles, small chunks and other possibilities, I made what you see here. TaDa!

If you are an aspiring author or illustrator in the area of children’s books, I encourage you to look into and join the SCBWI, take a look at what’s going on in your own state, get involved and amp up your learning curve and grow!

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