Day Two of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators L.A. Convention.

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I’m so tired this morning I can’t believe it.  Well, that’s what I get for having fun.

The first keynote, that I made it to ( I told you I was tired) , was the Editors Panel on What makes an Evergreen and What makes a Hit. This featured Andrea Pinkney, Donna Bray, Claudia Gabel, Namrata Tripathi, Allyn Johnson and Melissa Manlove.  Here is a condensed version of what each of them said (Sorry if it’s a little cryptic).

Donna Bray – A book finds it moment.  The perfect time for it to be publish and speaks to a universal truth.

Claudia Gabel – Timing.  A close examination of a particular time period.  Have a storytelling hook. Some books are great, but come out at the wrong time.

Andrea Pinkney – Most hits are unexpected. A reader has to be smitten and fall in love with the story.

Allyn Johnston – Easier to spot hits/evergreens if you have a long relationship with an author.

Melissa Manlove – Hits are about current culture.  Evergreens are about human nature and universal truths.

Namrata Tripathi – You just can’t always tell (if a book is a hit/evergreen).  It’s a surprise.


The next keynote was Mac Barnett.  He is a great speaker and a lot of fun.  Here are some the high points in his talk.-

We write for the best possible audience.

Between truth and lies is art.

Metafiction:  A book that is upfront that it’s fiction.  You are able to suspend reality even when a story acknowledges it’s not real.

A four year old can get almost any joke.

Make the unbelievable real.

Write a book with new rules.

He told a story about how in one of his books there was an offer, on the inside of the dust cover, for a child to get a blue whale (A real blue whale) for free.  Several children took him up on that.  One even sent a letter to him stating he’d bet the author ten bucks that it wasn’t a real offer.  Each child got a letter stating the whales where stuck up in Sweden, where the process for expediting the whale’s shipping was going slowly.  But, if the child wanted to he or she could call up a whale and say hi.  Included in the letter was the whale’s phone number.  The children called the whale.  What they got was the sound of a whale (like whale song) followed by a beep. At the beep a child could then leave a message.  One little boy called and left messages for the whale several times over 2 years. He just wanted to say “hi!” to the whale.


The first workshop I went to today was given by Jennie Ho on anthropomorphic characters.  Here are her tips:

Good Character Design – Strong silhouette, dynamic shapes, colors and varied texture, and accessories

Characters – Clear and definable.

Be able to show Emotion.

Able to draw character repeatedly and consistently

Characters have good eye contact.

For a story with more than one character make a line up to make sure they go together.

Remember who (what age) the book is for.

Design characters to match audience.

Be consistent with the characters.


I went again to a Laurent Linn  talk.  He basically covered the business of being an illustrator.  Here is an idea of what he covered:

Talent is worth something.

You are a business.

PROMOTION for getting all kinds of illustration work:  Websites, postcards, artist resource books & websites, art reps, social networks and conferences.

CREATING ART traditional vs digital:  Doesn’t matter, just stay true to yourself.

OTHER WORK:   Consider illustrating for educational materials.

WHAT MATTERS MOST:  Storytelling (Emotion, Good Art and Creative Ideas)

Finally tonight was the traditional Saturday night party.  This year’s theme was Black & White.  Everyone came dressed in a black and white outfit or costume.  Let’s just say there where a whole bunch of penguins getting down and funky.


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