Children’s Book Illustration Symposium Poster!

Click through for registration, workshop description, portfolio critique information, schedule, and faculty bios!

A huge thank you to the design department at NHIA for this beautiful poster. Special thanks to Melissa Sweet for the images, Jim Burke, Illustration Department Chair, Ryan O’Rourke, and Lara McCormick.

Feel free to spread the word and the image. Tweet away!

Registration opens today for NESCBWI/NHIA Children’s Book Illustration Symposium

Note: This event used to be called “Illustrator Day.” SCBWI members you have dibs on registration for this event for a week. Also, this is my first time working with PayPal on a Google form so if anyone chooses those links for payment, could you leave me a comment telling me that it worked and sent you back to the form or (eek) didn’t.

NESCBWI and NHIA present
Melissa Sweet in
The 2nd annual Children’s Book Illustration Symposium

When: Saturday, September 29, 2012
Time: 9:30-4:30
Where: Emma Blood French Auditorium (The French Building) on the New Hampshire Institute of Art campus in Manchester, NH.

Keynote speaker: Melissa Sweet

The workshops:

“The Process, Challenges, and Rewards of Teamwork.”
Melissa Sweet, Author/Illustrator, Rachel Newborn, HMH Designer, Crystal Paquette, HMH Print Production Coordinator will discuss the teamwork required to publish the ALA Sibert Winning book Balloons Over Broadway. The panel will focus on the processes, challenges, and rewards of working with/and integrating two and three dimensional art.

“Color Your World”
As poet Lucille Clifton said, “The literature of America should reflect the children of America.” But in the 21st century, the children’s book field is not nearly as racially diverse as our society – neither in those who select, create and produce the books, nor in the books themselves. We’ll review some of the reasons for this reality, including some good news: research demonstrating that exposure to diverse children’s books can actually reduce prejudice. For the bulk of the workshop, Anne Sibley O’Brein will focus on what illustrators can do now, including exploring your own experience of race, creating characters from races different from your own, drawing racial differences (we’ll do some quick drawing exercises), supporting writers and illustrators of color, and choosing diverse books. Together we’ll imagine possibilities for creating books in which all of our nation’s children can see themselves reflected.

“How to Sell Your Book Without Selling Your Soul”
Brian Lies has had his books read on NPR, his Batmobile spotted at book signings across America, and his artwork used for public library summer reading programs. In this workshop, Brian will give you concrete marketing tools to become the best advocate for your book.

Portfolio Critiques:

We are introducing a limited number portfolio critiques at this year’s event. Critiquers (starred in the presenter list below) will be randomly assigned by the conference staff. Critiquers will use the SCBWI Illustration “gold form” to give feedback. Since the critiquer will not have the work before the symposium, we have asked them to give their first impressions regarding the areas on the “gold form” in a way they might if they were at the office, got a postcard that interested them, and took a first look at your online portfolio. The critique fee of $45 is not included in the symposium fee.

Registration Fees/Dates:

SCBWI Members, $70
Portfolio Critique, $45
SCBWI Registration opens Monday, August 27th. There are limited spaces available for portfolio critiques. Please register/pay early.
Payments may be made by check or online.

If you choose to pay by check, your registration is not confirmed until we receive your check. Checks should be made payable to: NESCBWI Checks should be sent to:

Denise Ortakales, Illustrator Coordinator
711 Shore Drive, Laconia, NH 03246
Those who choose to pay online will incur a $5 processing fee.

Click here for registration and payment, speaker bios, and a schedule of events.

Member Monday: Old news or news to you?

I’m just back from a two-week research/family trip to Italy where I visited Florence and small red-roofed, hill topped towns in Tuscany. I’ll be posting more about that later this week, but first I’m passing on some of the news, blogs and articles that I missed while I was away. Perhaps these are just old news, but perhaps you missed some of these too. Hope they are helpful.

Most important on my list is this announcement from SCBWI. The On-the-verge Emerging Voices Award. I’ve been sitting on this since before my trip, itching to tell you all about this news and then they go and announce it at the LA SCBWI National Conference. Follow the link above for the full press release but here is a quick snippet.

The annual award, established by SCBWI and funded by Martin and Sue Schmitt, will be given to two writers or illustrators who are from ethnic and/or cultural backgrounds that are traditionally under-represented in children’s literature in America and who have a ready-to-submit completed work for children. The purpose of the grant is to inspire and further the emergence of diverse writers and illustrators of children’s books.

Here is the link for the grant eligibility, process, and deadline. 

This issue is close to my heart. I hope that writing programs across the country, most notably VCFA, my alma mater,  and Hamlin College– and publishing programs, NYU and others will stand up and take notice. Action can be taken to increase diversity in publishing. Here are some thoughts from the CBC Diversty blog from those in the industry.

Here is a wonderful post from Laurie Halse Anderson that discusses the lack of diversity on the recently released NPR YA list.  Happy & Sad about the NPR Top 100 YA List In her post she also posts the following links which are important enough for me to list them again here:

On NPR’s Very White Best Young Adult Books List, by Shaker Laurie.
Reading in Color’s Booklists

And… one of my favorite sites The Brown Bookshelf.

(The link for the NPR Top 100 YA List is here if you haven’t seen it.)

In other old news:

Women On The Rise Among The World’s Top-Earning Authors This is an interesting article on celebrity authors but I’m not exactly sure what it says for the rest of us. The article celebrates that there are now six women on the list at all. Perhaps I’m a glass half empty person, (No, I’m not.) but what I see here is a continuation of women earning 78% of what men earn. Even if you go from the Stephen King’s $39 million (instead of James Patterson’s $94 million) 78% of that is about $30 mill. That- and below- is where we find the women.Of course, once you get into the millions of dollars, this may matter less but it is still true. For more on gender and writing see my post here or take a look at VIDA- Women in the Literary Art’s annual count for 2012. 

Publishing Is Broken, We’re Drowning In Indie Books – And That’s A Good Thing Okay. I need a while to both read and process something like this but if you are interested in the economics of the publishing industry and are concerned/interested in the changes in traditional vs. digital, this is the article for you.

That’s it for today, friends. Read, write, draw and do at least one of those outside. Two weeks and counting until kids go back to school in the home of Creative Chaos.

Member Monday: Stages of writing ala L.B. Schulman

This post, Chugging through the Stages of a Writing Career, on EMU’s Debuts is so wonderful and helpful for beginning through PAL authors that I thought I’d post the link here and let you enjoy L. B. Schulman‘s words today.

I will add that there is a mental piece that I’ve found very important that is not addressed in her post. Here’s how it worked for me. After eight years of being active in SCBWI, and following the industry, and researching agents and writing and getting a first agent, and asking questions at workshops, and conferences, and retreats… I felt my writing knowledge had plateaued. I entered Vermont College of Fine Arts in July of 2009 because I no longer knew what questions to ask. Diving deep into craft, forgetting about the industry and rediscovering my love for writing and my love for the craft of writing made me realize that I would be– will always be a writer. I think this happened to me somewhere between my fourth semester at VCFA and my graduate residency. 

Do I want to my book published? Yes, and I’m working at it every day, but if it never happens I will still be a writer. My dear friend Lita Judge calls it “finding your calm.”

Currently, I am finishing my fourth week calmly waiting to hear from agents.
*checks clock, pops cork, drinks wine*

Where are you on L.B. Schulman’s list of stages and how does SCBWI meet or not meet your needs?

Member Monday: Quick Links Version

Good morning friends!

I’m on a final push with my WIP so I’m keeping today short, and informative with links to other important stuff.

1. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the upcoming call for proposals for the 2013 NESCBWI Annual Conference and gave some tips here. The actual CFP document is now released and can be found here.

2. If you are a PAL member and have a book launch or release coming up, take a look at the SCBWI Book Launch Award Winners. With the award, fellow SCBWI members Hilary Graham and Sherry Shahan were free to explore creative marketing ideas to help their new books succeed. Need money to help with your launch, take a look at the requirements here.

3. Nominations are now being accepted for the SCBWI/ Jane Yolen Mid-list Author Awards. Any current SCBWI member can nominate another current member who has published at least two PAL books but has not sold anything for at least two years.

4. Are you going to SCBWI LA this year? (I’m not because I’ll be in Florence, Italy researching a book  seeing my husband!) I LOVED when I went in the past though. It is laid back in a California way that New York is not. It is warm. There is a pool. There is dancing. And there are great and helpful workshops. FMI here.

Member Monday: 5 + 1 Tips on Conference Proposals (the inside scoop)

I spent most of yesterday either driving to, being in, or driving from an NESCBWI RA/Advisory Board meeting. The driving I really hate, but the people I get to work with on the Advisory Board are wonderful.

We spent a great deal of time processing the evaluations from the most recent annual spring NESCBWI conference. Yes, we really do look at all of the comments so thanks to everyone who filled out an evaluation. Your workshop feedback helps us choose the Encore! schedule. You comments on how to improve the conference are implemented by the next conference director. This year, that person is Joyce Johnson. All conference communication should go to nescbwi13 at gmail dot com.

As an RA, the first question that I start to field about next year’s conference is, “When will you put out a call for proposals?” I can tell you that the announcement will be out sometime this week, and I’ll certainly post the info link that Joyce publishes.  If you are interested in presenting, now is a good time to get your ducks in a row. Below I’ve listed some tips to help you hone your workshop proposal idea.

  1. NESCBWI caters to many different constituents: writers, illustrators, industry professionals, beginners, intermediates, and PAL published. You will not be able to meet everyone’s needs. Don’t try. Be specific about your audience. If you say your workshop is for the most advanced members, be sure to be sophisticated, dig deep, and expect a high level of prior knowledge. We are eager to involve PAL members and would love some expert workshop presenters for this crowd.
  2. Also consider the time you will need. Too much time and you’ll be fumbling for enough info to fill the slot, praying that someone has a question for you. Not enough time and you’ll deliver your information so fast that no one will glean the benefits of your knowledge.
  3. Your MFA is awesome, and your graduation lecture/critical thesis was great but that doesn’t make it an SCBWI lecture. People want workshops that give craft-based how-to’s that inspire them to go home and get to work. MFA work is often very theoretical. See if there is a way that you can make your expertise more practical. If not, come up with another idea.
  4. If NESCBWI is going to pay you to come to teach at the conference, they want to get their money’s worth. If you have more than one AMAZING idea, or if you have an idea for something so popular that the conference committee would want to run it twice, that’s a benefit. In this same vein, panels are expensive. If you can do it yourself, and do it well, submit alone.
  5. Consider craft issues that you and your fellow writers/illustrators have faced and surmounted. (Humor in picture books, the omniscient narrator, multiple narrators, ripped from the headlines plots, diverse characters, showing emotion, rhythm in prose) How did you do it? How did others do it? Gather that info, analyze it, and present it in a direct and succinct way with clear examples, humor, time for questions, work time and …
  6. Never forget chocolate for the attendees.

Member Monday: Post Conference Reminders and WHAT?! an event for illustrators!

It was an amazing weekend at the New England SCBWI Annual Conference jam packed with workshops, academies, portfolios, posters, speeches, networking, and fun! If you were there, and you blogged about the event, post a link in the comments below! Two big reminders for conference attendees:

1) Fill out your evaluation. The organizers and regional advisors look at all the data and really use it to make next year’s event even better. You can find the online eval here.

2) If you •attended the conference AND •live in Maine, NH, or VT you can write to me at NorthernNERA at nescbwi dog org to receive Submission Guidelines for the editors and agents who were there too. Please note: I do check your name against the conference roster as this is a conference benefit. I am a writer first and need to protect my work time, therefore I will respond to about 20 a day until I’m done so be patient. (If you live outside of Northern NE, write to your RA. If you are outside the region, write to Marilyn Salerno. Contact info here.)

TODAY, I’ve invited Renee Kurilla (@reneekurilla) to Creative Chaos to discuss an exciting event for NESCBWI illustrators at FableVision Studios in Boston, MA:

“Creative Juices Freshly Squeezed: A Visionary Art Show”
Friday, June 1st, 6-10 pm
308 Congress Street, Boston, MA

Casey Girard, our NESCBWI Illustrator Coordinator, and Renee worked together to create this meet up and they’d love you all to show up. Put the date on your calendar now. I’ll wait. No really, I know illustrators. If you’re an illustrator near Boston put it on your calendar now and add a couple of ringy-dingy vibrating reminders too.

Welcome, Renee! Tell us about FableVision and your position there.

FableVision was founded in 1996 with a mission of taking on projects that are not only meaningful and fun…but educational. My role at the company is Lead Artist, which means that I create characters, storyboard animations, design websites, books, etc. I often develop the “look and feel” for a project and work with a team to make sure my initial vision is carried through the project end. It’s fun…and challenging.

How are the Reynolds family involved in Fable Vision and how do they set the tone for the company?

Twin brothers, Peter H. Reynolds and Paul Reynolds are the pulse of the company. They make sure the work we do continues to be meaningful and full of impact. They maintain the morale of the studio, always adding life to any room they walk into. Personally, whenever I have hit a creative wall or need a critical eye, I can go to either of them for help and walk away feeling inspired.

We often create animated films from Peter’s books. Last year, our team animated The North Star and this year we will be working on a new film for his upcoming book, Sky Color. You can watch some of our films and game demos on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/fablevision/featured

Little known fact: Paul Reynolds is our CEO and a very smart businessman, but he is also a very talented artist. That artistic ability and creative thinking runs in the Reynolds family through and through. 🙂

What is Creative Juices. A gallery? A blog? Both? How does it help employees and staff of the company? Tell us more.

Creative Juices started as a blog that was a place for anyone on our staff to contribute what they found inspirational. For a long time we shared articles about animations or new technology and wrote short essays about things that interested us.

Then, the art team decided a great way to keep our creative juices flowing was to initiate a drawing/creation challenge. Every two weeks, we would pick a new word and “illustrate” that word however we interpreted it. We called it “What the Doodle!?” (WTD for short)

You’ll see if you scroll through previous posts that not all of the entries were illustrations. Everyone at FableVision (Artists, Developers, Producers, and Writers) contributed something, and that is why we had a vision of a gallery show.

In 2010, we had our first Creative Juices Art Show and it was a huge success. In 2011, we also had a successful event! What makes it different from a regular gallery show is that we transform our working studio into a gallery space. We clean the walls, rearrange everything, hang track lighting and showcase the art that our staff makes in their free time. You won’t see any project work hanging, but we’d be happy to show you what we’re working on if you ask!

The current show is called “Freshly Squeezed” to pay homage to our very first blog post, by our Director of Art and Animation, Bob Flynn.

One year, our Technical Director, Brian Grossman created the most amazing software for making waffle art. I highly recommend checking out his blog post about it here: http://funfoodfight.blogspot.com/2010/04/art-of-waffle.html

We just recently brought back our “What the Doodle!?” Challenge after a brief hiatus and opened it up to the public. Check out our studio twitter for frequent updates: @FVStudioBoston The next due date is Friday April 27th and the chosen word is: OBSTRUCT (Just tweet at us to participate!)

We very much look forward to seeing what you all come up with!

What is the purpose of the NESCBWI partnership with FableVision?

It seems a very likely partnership to me! The idea for an event came from the NE Illustrator coordinator and good friend of mine, Casey Girard. Genius! We’re all storytellers and worlds are merging a little bit more than they used to – we definitely embrace that at FableVision. I think illustrators and writers should be more aware of the vast realm of possibilities in the industry. And even if you already are aware, it’s a great excuse to open our doors and let lots of talented people mingle! Sometimes all it takes is a conversation to inspire your next big project!

We also have three members of SCBWI in our midsts, myself, Peter H. Reynolds, and John Lechner. The three of us definitely know how amazingly awesome it is to be a part of the undying support system that is SCBWI.

How is FableVision on the cusp of publishing?

We have a very talented team with big ideas. We pay close attention to what’s current and also pay homage to what makes us nostalgic. Every single person on our staff is passionate about something whether it’s games, stories, children’s books, animation, or comics and we are always thinking of new ways to deliver a really fun experience. We also love projects that help us learn, whether it’s about american history or how to code an interactive app – with magic, of course!

Disclaimer: We don’t really use magic 🙂

What kinds of opportunities are available for NESCBWI illustrators with FableVision?

Most of our art team is made up of illustrators! You too could be an artist at FableVision!

How will the event for illustrators in Boston be structured?

We haven’t yet finalized all the details of the evening, but the primary goal is to create an informal space where members of SCBWI can mingle with FableVision staff. We’ll probably do a quick introduction of ourselves, but then mostly just have snacks, drinks, and conversations. It should be a really, really fun time.

What haven’t I asked you that you’d love to tell our members about?

Please check out our studio website, facebook page, blogs, and twitter page for updates on the event!
Here’s a list of all the places we’ll be posting:

fablevisionstudios.com/blog
fablefolk.blogspot.com
twitter.com/fvstudioboston
http://www.facebook.com/FableVisionStudios

Thanks so much for reading and to Anna for asking! We hope to see you on June 1st!

On the road to the NESCBWI conference: Part 3: Friendships

If you’ve been following my April break journey here, and here you’ll know that I was in New Jersey yesterday. I had a lovely time visiting Meg Wiviott, talking writing with my VCFA friends, and lunching with a friend from my DC days.

The drive to Springfield from NJ was bearable because he gave me CD’s from hilarious comedians. I listened for as long as they lasted– sadly not the entire three hour drive but they got me through a traffic jam when everyone was rubber necking at a non-accident.

The rest of the way, I was able to contemplate friendship and aging and other existential concepts. My friends are far flung. I’ve met them in summer camp and college, through volunteering and in Vermont. Some I’ve kept from the old DC neighborhood. My book club and writing friends have been in my life the longest.

Social networking sites have certainly helped me reconnect with many and  stay in touch with most but I often close out a session on Facebook feeling more lonely then I when I started checking everyone’s status. In my current situation, with hubby deployed, it is difficult to make the time to see people in person. This week I took the time to refuel with friends face to face. I laughed and hugged, and sipped tea with people who stimulate my mind, reflect my emotions, and give me the kick in the butt I need to keep going.

Today, I’ll be swamped with hugs and handshakes. There will be over 500 attendees at the Annual Spring NESCBWI Conference. To each, I extend the following challenge– meet five new people each day. You never know, that person sitting next to you at the keynote speech, may just be a new friend.

Hello, Springfield, Mass. We’ll be here all weekend!

The road to the NESCBWI Conference: Part 2: Moving on

If you are a parent, you may remember the exhaustion that accompanied those first months with a new born. However, as with the pain of childbirth, dirty diapers, and ear infections, you may have forcibly siphoned those excess memories (ala Harry Potter and the Pensieve) to make room for other more important thoughts. I had. Or thought I had.

For the last two days I watched my sister-in-law exist in the zombie state that is the milk machine, sleep deprived way of a woman with a child under two and a new born. She is my hero. Despite her situation, she was grace and kindness and patience in a way that I don’t remember ever exhibiting.

She is willing to embrace toddler time in a way I never could. You remember toddler time right? We will eventually get to that-there playground 20 yards away but only after we pick each dandelion along the way. No, I  hoisted the kiddo and off we went. This doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate toddler time, the magic of discovery, or the pleasure of the teachable moment– I’m just not practiced in its workings at present. That is, in some ways, what this vacation is about. Trying to slow down long enough to pick the dandelions along the way.

Nevertheless, it was time to move on and leave the Cutie Cutes and their wonderful mother and father behind. Time to get behind the wheel and drive to the next stop.

Meg Wiviott is the author of Benno and the Night of Broken Glass (SLJ best picture books 2010, Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards Gold Medal for Multicultural Books, CCBC 2011 Best Choice List , and the Gelette Burgess Children’s Book Award for Multicultural Picture Book) AND lucky for me she is a dear friend. Today and tomorrow we get to catch up a bit in her home state of New Jersey. We will talk about books and writing and friends. I will nap. I will read. I may even go for a run. All in my own good time.

On the road to the NESCBWI Conference: Part 1: Toddler’s Eye View

Yesterday, I put my children on an airplane to visit my in-laws in Florida. I hugged them, kissed them and bid them farewell. Then I watched the plane leave and cried. I’m not a good flyer myself so transferring my phobias to this situation was par for the course. Also, (with my husband deployed) the three of us have gotten to be quite the team. The separation was a little like ripping a couple of bananas from the bunch. Nevertheless, I wiped my tears and got on with the business of being on my own and enjoying a week’s vacation. First stop without children? My sister-in-law’s home where she just had a new baby. She also has a cutie, cute toddler. I know– crazy.

But in a way it isn’t crazy at all. As soon as I walked in their house, I was transported back to a time of sitting on the floor, and bubbles, stones, squirrels, and sidewalk chalk, and putting things in, and taking things out, and bath time, and “what does the cow say?” It was a toddler’s point of view and it reminded me of why I got into the business of writing and illustrating in the first place.

Inspiration! It’s grand.

(PS: It also means short blog posts because someone always needs something– NOW!)