Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What I took away from this past SCBWI Conference - by Kimberly Gee

First things first. I’d like to send a BIG, OFFICIAL THANK YOU to Debbie Ridpath-Ohi for being the brains and backbone behind this blog! And, a public CONGRATULATIONS on her new book contract!
I’m sure that I’m not alone in leaving the SCBWI conference with my head jammed with information and my heart overflowing with inspiration.  But, a few topics really stand out in my memory:
 The Emotional Hit: When emotion is mentioned by Loren Long, Ashley Bryant, Jon Scieszka, Marion Dane Bauer, Jennifer Choldenko, Allen Zadoff, and Arthur Levine, I take notice!.  I get it...we have to create from emotional truth, and convey it in a real (not stagey, or -ick!- preachy) way. Why?  What I’ve gleaned from all those marvelous talks was that emotion provides connection with our readers. And if we connect, our books have a chance of becoming the “trusted friends” Loren Long spoke about.  Personally, that’s at the heart of why I want to create children’s books. I still visit with my trusted friends from childhood.  Check out Otis , if you haven't already. I think Loren Long has hit the perfect emotional pitch.
Social-Networking, Blogging: Do it. I got this message from last year’s conference, too. But, I didn’t do it. Sure, I had a website, but all the social networking and blogging? No. And, I’m not a technophobe. But, I’m a busy illustrator with more ideas than time.  With twin five year olds, a husband, friends, family, work, exercise, eating, and sleeping vying for a piece of me, I’m loathe to give over any time to THAT STUFF. But, THAT STUFF is not going away...in fact it’s becoming expected.  And, I hear that THAT STUFF can be a useful tool in getting our work out there. So, I’m in. (Stay tuned! Coming Soon!)
 This last one isn’t a topic per se, but a handful of words my editor, Diane Muldrow ( Editorial Director at Golden Books, Random House), said at her breakout session. Someone asked a question about submitting work, and in her answer Diane said,”you know, there’s a difference between being unpublished and being an amateur.”Right!   I believe one reason my work was read (and, published!) out of Diane’s slush pile was because  I’d educated myself about the picture book as an entity- it’s unique format, and character-, and was able to present my idea as a picture book. Of course I think my book was adorable in it’s own right, but it would not have had a chance if it came in amateurish. For those of us who are among the lightly published or unpublished (in other words, we’re “Where the Sidewalk Begins...”), Diane’s words are worth remembering when we submit our ideas.
Diane and I at the Autograph Signing Event. Diane's on the right in that lovely vintage dress. She is also a children's book author. Her latest book isWe Planted a Tree, (Golden Books, Random House).

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