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San Francisco Cable Car

Saturday, August 11, 2007

27 -- SCBWI Summer Conference 07 Rocked! Part TWO

Day TWO:

Kadir Nelson: Words and Paintings
Illustrator – Henry’s Freedom Box, Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom

Not too many artists are more beautiful in person than their work is. Kadir Nelson is one of them. And that’s not because his art isn’t…beautiful…it’s magnificent.

Some of Kadir’s wisdom:
“When things make you angry, you have a choice of doing something negative or positive about it.” He chose to do something positive…oh yeah!
“Visualize your own success!”
For all those writers who believe they just have to get ‘there’ and then they’ll be made…they’re first book, their first contract, their first publication…according to Kadir “there’s really no ‘there’. You have to keep on working.” Mmm…
While doing research on a story about a slave who escaped in a box, he went down to look at cotton plantations in the south and found that “cotton is really beautiful if you don’t have to pick it!”
When I look back at my notes on his talk, I see a great big ‘WOW’ in red ink by his name and that sums up my impression of Kadir Nelson quite succinctly.

Dinah Stevenson: Inside Clarion
Vice President and Publisher Clarion Books

Clarion is one of the few publishing houses that is completely open to unsolicited manuscripts in their entirety. Manuscripts she is impressed by usually have the following attributes attached to them – creative, distinguished, destined to become a classic!
She says, “if I don’t respond to the work, not all the presentation and packaging can make me buy it.” Some extravagant packaging was on display – artwork that arrived in a plastic orange fish, in a green high-heeled shoe – the packaging is remembered long after the work has been returned and the sender forgotten – OUCH!

Rubin Pfeffer: A Publisher Examines the State of the Industry
Sr. VP and Publisher Simon & Schuster Children’s Trade Publishing

Revenue from sales of children’s books has been and is projected to increase through 2009, however, number of units peaked in 2006 and is declining.

“A great book,” said Rubin, “is one that sends a kid off to read another book.”
Lifelong readers decrease illiteracy.
He exhorts us as writers to follow David Diaz’s advice: “It’s not enough to be yourself, you have to be your best self.”

Rachel Griffiths: How to Catch an Editor’s Attention
Editor – Scholastic, formerly with Arthur A. Levine, an Imprint of Scholastic

Choose the editor to whom you send your manuscript carefully. Look for a match, for someone with the same sensibility as yours. You need to “work with someone you trust.”
Go to bookstores and find the books most similar to yours and look up who edited them.
Publisher’s Lunch
Publisher’s Marketplace
Publisher’s Weekly which is free on Thursdays.

Tips for the good query letter:
-- Talk about the protagonist in the protagonist’s voice
-- Write the description of the book in the style of the book, similar to flap copy
-- Editors love for you to talk about the books they’ve done in your query letter.

Things she is interested in: “a really rotten villain,” stories rooted in emotion, voice and character driven manuscripts.

Ellen Wittlinger: How Can a 58-Year Old Write Books For Teenagers (And Why Does She Want To?)
Author – Hard Love, Sandpiper, Parrotfish, What’s in a Name

One of her tips on where to listen to teenagers talk – the Registry of Motor Vehicles!

“You must have memories not just in your head but in your heart and in your gut to sound realistic.”

“The heavy inner life” of your protagonist – the basement – is the foundation upon which we build.

On why she writes about gay and transgender issues:
“Once you know someone, your prejudices fall away.”

And then it was time to PARTY by the light of the silvery moon...

The best roomate in the world -- award winning illustrator, Stephanie Roth!

Zariah the belly-dancing illustrator from Hawaii!

My dance-partner for most of the evening...

LJ Bloggers forever!

Blue Malibu, SeaHeidi

So wonderful to meet the people you blog with. So much to little time.

Stephanie Blake -- Colorado Writer -- Winner of the First Annual Disco Mermaid Scholarship!

Laini Taylor still rocks!

Marie Antionette, winner of the contest!

Jay Asher, Disco Mermaid extraordinaire!

SCWBI LA rocks!

Gotta love em Disco Mermaids...oops...where did Robin go?

Oh! There she is, along with the lovely fairy -- Colorado Writer.

Lisa Yee Forever!


Anonymous said...


How are you? Love the costume! Looks like you had a blast at the conference. :)

Michele xx

Colorado Writer said...

OMG, Rilla, Thanks for posting these pics! I'm partial to the one of you and me! Wish we lived closer!

CW (Stephanie)

Anonymous said...

great pics!!! the tags are out of order though. i thought, 'the pink-haired lady is jay asher??' hee


Rilla said...

Hey OneL!
Doing great, mate! How's the great down unda treating you? What's happnin with Kook?
Had a great time at the conference not to mention the prep. Costume took days to make! But I'm glad I got up the courage to wear it -- with a little help from my friends -- coz it was so much fun.
When will you be floating this way again???

Rilla said...

Hey Colorado Writer:
Yeah, you should be's one wonderful pic, hey! Would be great if we lived closer. But in the big scheme of things, Colorado isn't that far out...we should plan something. Will send you pics via email...

Rilla said...

Hey Heidi,
Glad you liked the pics...wondering about the tag out of order thing though. They show up fine on my you work on a mac? That's really wierd...need to figure it out, coz though I think Jay would look great with pink hair...I wouldn't want to steal Laini's thunder! The pink hair really works...

LindaBudz said...

Hi, Rilla! Just back from vaca, and soooo happy to see your pix! Looks like a great time, I'll bet you came home inspired!

PS, great costume!

Steph said...

Look at YOU strinking a pose girl friend!!

Rilla said...

Linda! Welcome back! Hope you had a blast in the Poconos. As you can see, LA was all glitz...oh and just a giant load of inspiration, tips, motivation, energization...and hangovers ;0
Hope to see you there next year ;)

Rilla said...

Hey there roomie,
what can I needs to do something different to be noticed around the awesome likes of you! It was just too cool to be there when you won your big prize...about time too!

Katia Novet Saint-Lot said...

Rilla, fabulous posts and pictures. Your costume looks awesome. I'm so happy for you - green with envy, too. I definitely have to fit a trip to LA into my schedule, next year. Surely it must be possible to get LA somewhere on the way from India to France to Haiti... with a little imagination... and no sense of direction... should work ;)

Rilla said...

Hey Katia,
missed year sounds good...lack of direction can be a wonderful thing...very useful for arriving at surprising destinations...great for novel writing ;0
See you soon...