SCBWI Art Show

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) was having their annual conference this past weekend. As an industry professional, I was invited to attend an event that showcased some of the art from the society and mix with other industry professionals.

At first it was daunting. I am still relatively new to the children’s book industry. I know some people from previous events or internships, but not so always so well that it doesn’t feel awkward trying to talk to them. Although I did run into Kass Morgan (author of The 100) and promptly fangirled.

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Me inside. I am a professional on the outside.

What I really went for was to look at the art and the portfolios on display. I found several artists whose illustration style I really loved, and will keep tabs on for future projects. But I do have one piece of advice for people who might included in the future of this event and here it is:

Include in your portfolio your take on a designing a cover for some YA or middle grade covers.

Editors are looking for artists for those projects just as much as they are looking for illustrators for picture books.

The artists I whose contact information I picked up all appealed to my sensibilities but I picked up a few who I thought might be worth considering for covers. Teen books are moving away from the “girl in ball gown” look on covers and are becoming illustrated or design focused. I want to see not only your illustrations for a children’s book, but also what you would do for a cover for a teen book.

Anyways, that’s my two cents. Oh, and juggling contact cards with a drink in hand while trying to turn pages is hard.

Blog Shout Out: The Uncanny Valley

So this is a first: I am going to call out one of my favorite blogs to read: The Uncanny Valley.

I love following her recaps of The 100! If I could recap some of my favorite television shows like this, y’all would see more YA TV on this blog. Sadly, I am not that talented.

So everyone should head to her blog to check out these amazing recaps. Seriously, go!

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Now that I have said that…I’m just gonna go hide.

Reflections on Writing as a Many-Booked Thing: Looking at Series

Last night I had the pleasure of attending New York City’s Teen Author Festival panel on writing book series. The panel included Dahlia Adler (Daylight Falls), Sarah Rees Brennan (The Lynburn Legacy), Seth Fishman (The Well’s End), Kass Morgan (The 100), Barry Lyga (I Hunt Killers), Marie Rutkoski (The Winner’s Curse), and Eliot Schrefe (Endangered), moderated by David Levithan (Every Day). 

I am so glad I went! The panelists were funny and insightful. As someone who wants to work in young adult intellectual property creation, it was very helpful to hear about crafting stories from authors and balance it against my editorial mindset.

Brennan, though a staunch trilogy supporter (I do not agree, but I would welcome a discussion with her), had the best trilogy outline:

            Step 1: Set up

            Step 2: Make-out (or complications are presented)

            Step 3: Defeat Evil

After she said that, I felt like my mind had been blown. Sometimes, as readers, we immerse ourselves so much in the plot, we miss the big outlines. Macro plot vs micro plot.

Another aspect all the panelists discussed or touched on was the nature of cannon. Everything in the first book is cannon, and though you can introduce new things, you have to explain it. Adler mentioned how as she was writing her second book, she realized that the romance she was trying to write felt forced and lacked chemistry; it wasn’t until later she realized that character was a lesbian. But because she was in book 2, she had to go back and make sure it didn’t conflict with information from book 1.

Rutkoski likened writing a series to a game: you have to find where all the pieces go. Levithan made a valid point: Of all the books in a series, Book 1 is the MOST important. It is the book that will make your readers come back. In regards to questions about if you should hold onto ideas that might work in other books, Lyga had this to say: Don’t hold anything back. You will have other brilliant ideas.

Highlights from the night include:

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I will be attending the all day Saturday symposium so stay tuned for more on all things YA writing.