Winners of the 2008 Southern Breeze Writing and Illustrating Contest were announced at the fall conference. I took photographs of the winners who were present. Here is Heather Kolich, the coordinator of the writing portion of the contest cheering for a winner. Donna Bowman and Jo Kittinger, the Southern Breeze RAs, are standing in the background.
1st place – Nathaniel Lachenmeyer for Edison’s Newest Invention
2nd place – Lisa Lowe Stauffer for Moose Weather
3rd place – Ashley Parsons for Coyotes in Central Park
1st place – Melissa Thomas-Dubois for Alice Thunders Down the Road
2nd place – Toni Rhodes for The Video Game Industry – the People Who Made It Happen
3rd place – Jennifer Kramer for This is Our Flag, Old Glory
1st place – Lauren Hopkins Karcz for The Center of Gravity
2nd place – Vicky Alvear Shecter for Cleopatra’s Moon
3rd place – Kara Bietz for The Fourteenth Day
Tina Bilbrey coordinated the illustration part of the contest. Here she is announcing the winners. The contest has grown steadiily in three years and at least two winners signed book contracts on winning manuscripts. Here’s hoping we’ll have similar good news this year.
1st place – Anthony Van Arsdale for “PJ slid into Mary Beth, and what
a mess he made.”
2nd place – Liz Conrad for “PJ slid into a snowbank.”
3rd place – Ly Bolia for “PJ slid into a time gate.”
As promised, I have some more photographs to share from the fall conference. At the end of the post, I have a special treat and a link to a very special blog. But first, here is Molli Nickell, an independent editorial consultant, during the dessert party on Friday night. It was the first of many mingling opportunities during the SCBWI-Southern Breeze fall conference. Molli conducted a pre-conference marketing workshop on Friday, providing intensive help on drafting query letters and writing proposals. During the conference, she urged writers to think of query writing as “selling,” not “telling.”
Jodi Wheeler-Toppen provided great help during the conference. In this photograph, she is speaking with Sharon Wright Mitchell, who offered a workshop titled “Librarian’s Bag of Research Tricks!” Sharon and I talked briefly about a great idea she has for a picture book set in the 19th Century.
Here is Jo Kittinger, one of our SCBWI Regional Advisers. She and Donna Bowman, mentioned in a previous post, worked with Richelle Putnam for more than a year to put together the conference. Great job! Jo has dozens of nonfiction books to her credit and is waiting on a publication date for her first fiction PB. She has written about rocks, dead trees, George Washington Carver, and Jane Goodall, among others. Jo and Donna, as a team, make SCBWI-Southern Breeze a strong region with top-notch programming. I also loved visiting with her husband, Rick, who is great with technology and shares an interest in photography and photography gadgets.
Elizabeth Dulemba presented a workshop on self-promotion (on the cheap, even) for illustrators. She is the Illustrator Coordinator for Southern Breeze and is responsible for putting together the gallery exhibit of our illustrators’ work that the Southern Arts Federation will tour starting in January. With Elizabeth is Wanda Vaughn, our Mocha and Munch Chef. She single-handedly provides food and drink to keep us fortified through the jam-packed day.
In his presentation, Laurent Linn, the Art Director, for Simon & Schuster, showed us photographs of picture books being printed so we could understand how the production process affects what writers and artists can do to create picture books. He talked about six general types of picture books: holiday books (Los Gatos Black by Marisa Montes and illustrated by Yuyi Morales), classic folk tale/fairy tales (Glass Slipper, Golden Sandal by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Julie Patchkiss), a child’s discovery of the world, books for young children dealing with a difficult concept (Can you Say Peace? by Karen Katz), nonfiction/poetry, and animal.
Here, almost at the end of the day, Laurent Linn and Martha Mihalick, associate editor at Greenwillow Books, discus how editors and art directors work together to marry text and art. Nearing the end of their discussion, they each said some version of: “It may be nice for you writers to know all this, but don’t worry about any of it. This is what we do best. Leave it to us.”
Here is Diane Z. Shore, who presented a workshop on nonfiction that featured not only her latest book, This is the Feast, but also my book, Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator. I have been learning from Diane since I began attending SCBWI conferences five years ago. I especially remember her tips on marketing and her class on first pages and how to get out of the slush pile. Diane was a generous contributor to the Joan Broerman book basket, which goes to a lucky conference goer for donation to his/her local library or school library. This year’s winner was Peter Huggins, author of In the Company of Owls and Trosclair and the Alligator.
Here are Paul Fleischman, our keynote speaker, and Hester Bass, whose first book (a PB biography of American artist Walter Inglis Anderson illustrated by E.B. Lewis) will be out in August (I can’t wait!) at the very end of the day. Hester is a two-time organizer of the fall conference and talked Paul into coming down. We’re very glad she did!
Okay, now that you’ve made it to the end of the post, a treat. I mentioned a few days ago that coming home meant meals to make and clothes to fold. Well, I thought I’d show you what I’ve been cooking. Here is a serving of Pumpkin and Black Bean casserole, presented in a bowl made by my son, Nathan. The recipe comes from my favorite food blog. My friend Susan Voisin is the writer, photographer, and designer of the blog. I never quite stick to a recipe so I made mine with butternut squash and I substituted a little goat cheese for her faux cheese sauce. We’re not vegan around here, but we love good fresh food.
Writing and Illustrating for Kids ’08 went off without a hitch — and with a great deal of fun and enthusiam.
In his keynote, Paul Fleischman urged writers to collect the rich details and ideas that we come across throughout our lives and to work on them and with them until we can fit them into our art: a book. He likened the process to “Found Sculpture.” Later, during a workhop, he suggested we think of picture books as a theatrical form because the page turns matter a great deal. He suggested that poetry, ballads and folks tales are good models because they leave things out: “That is a skill you need to write a picture book.”
As I mentioned in previous posts, this was the first time I had a chance to sign Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator at an SCBWI event. Donna Bowman, one of our Regional Advisers and a fellow non-fiction writer and photographer, took this picture of me at the autograph party. The bookstore sold out of Wolfsnail before the session ended so I replenished the stock from my box in the car.
I will write more about the conference in the next few days and post more pictures. Right now, there are meals to be made and clothes to be folded. Back to real life.
I’m leaving in a few hours for the SCBWI-Southern Breeze fall conference, “Writing and Illustrating for Kids.” I’ll be teaching a workshop on photography this year as well as attending sessions. One consequence is that I have a lot more to pack: workshop materials, easel to display book poster, camera equipment, laptop and projector, etc. I hope I won’t forget my clothes — you laugh, but I’ve done this twice before. Once, years ago, when I went to Oxford, Miss., to cover the re-trial of a landmark case on desegregation in higher education (Ayers v Mississippi) for The Commercial Appeal newspaper. The other was when I went to last year’s Children’s Book Festival in Hattiesburg. Each time I had to go shopping. I don’t love shopping for clothes in the best of circumstances, but when I have to find something and I don’t have the luxury of shopping in resale shops, it’s even worse.
My first SCBWI-Southern Breeze conference was in the spring of 2003. Five years later, I’ll be signing my first book, Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator. I want to thank Southern Breeze for teaching me a lot along the way. I am looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues.
Here’s my latest quilt block. It incorporates an interesting number pattern. The two innermost squares are 1-inch squares, the next is a 2-inch square, the next a 3-inch square, the next a 5-inch square, the next an 8-inch square, the last a 13-inch square. 1,1,2,3,5,8,13. Can you see the relationship between the numbers? (Hint: If I were to continue the pattern, the next square would be a 21-inch square.) This pattern was first identified in the 13th Century by a famous mathematician named Fibonacci.
(For all of you who are quilters, I cut the squares out with an extra 1/2 inch for the seam allowance so the finished squares would conform to the Fibonacci sequence.)
The spiral is made from a shiny ribbon-like thread. I sewed it to the top of the block using a couching foot. It can be seen in nature in the Nautilus snail shell (like the one to the right). At first I tried a cord (in hunter green), but it pulled the fabric too tight into the spiral and the block wouldn’t lay flat. I ripped it out with the seam ripper. I don’t particularly like to rip out sewing — especially tight stitches.
I was listening to a podcast of a writer talking about her work as I sewed (and ripped). I thought about the ripping as a kind of revising. I tend to like revising better than creating an original text. This doesn’t hold for the sewing. I was tempted to just begin another Fibonacci block and toss the one I had ruined with the cording. But I did like the colors of the squares inside the block so I took a deep breath and ripped.
In this age of technology, it is more tempting than ever to leave work until the last minute. But my experience with my conference presentation over the last two weeks is a cautionary tale. I agreed earlier this summer to present a workshop titled “Taking Pictures That Sell” at the SCBWI-Southern Breeze Fall conference on Oct. 18.
I started a few weeks ago putting together my slideshow. I have presented slideshows of my photographs for years: primarily using Adobe Acrobat to build a .pdf document. At first, I projected these on a screen using my Dell laptop and a Dell dlp projector. When I acquired an iPod, I modified my set-up. I still created the slideshow using Adobe Acrobat and I projected the slideshow using the iPod and the Dell projector.
This time I happily set about creating my slideshow in Adobe Acrobat. It included 38 slides — 34 photographs, 2 magazine pages scanned and converted to pdfs, and two InDesign documents converted to pdfs. I attached the iPod to the computer and synced the photographs — expecting it to work as it always has. But, not this time. The photographs landed on the iPod in random order — not in alphabetical order, nor in the order in which the files were created, nor in order by file size. I tried several trouble-shooting steps — including restoring the factory settings on the iPod. Then I tried to load the slideshow onto my husband’s iPod. Still no joy. Still random.
I decided to revert to using my laptop. However, in the intervening years, I gave my 13-year-old son permission to transform my laptop from a windows machine to an open source machine. It now runs Ubunto, which has worked fine. He assured me I could play an Adobe pdf as a slideshow so I used a jump drive to transfer the slideshow over to the laptop. It seemed to work fine on the open source program Evince — until it got to slide #35. This was a high resolution image so I decided to downsample the photo file and reimport it into the .pdf.
Alas, the fix didn’t make the slideshow run any better. In fact, it seemed to run more slowly all the way through. I decided (after consulting with Richard) to create a Power Point-like document using the open source software program Impress (part of Open Office). This document was an .odp document.
My Horn Book Guide arrived in today’s mail. I was elated to see that Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator earned a superior rating. The review is a slightly shortened version of the review in the July issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Books that are rated outstanding (1) or superior (2) are set apart with a bold triangle. In my early years of writing for children, I studied each guide thoroughly. I marked dozens of pages with sticky notes or turned down corners and then I borrowed (from the library) or bought books for my boys based on the reviews. It gives me quite a thrill to have my work included in one of the sources I use to identify quality children’s books. I feel so lucky to have my first book appreciated in this way. I hope my next will find an eager audience, too.
I took this series of photographs of Douglas, my youngest son, so he could complete an assignment for his visual art class: draw a figure in motion. Douglas gets off the bus about 40 minutes before his older brothers. Most days we either play basketball in our driveway or walk down the street to our friend’s trampoline. On this day, I decided to take my camera along. (We already had a photo in the bag of me in mid-squat into a chair, but I thought we could get something a little more exciting.) I appear in a lot of my son’s art assignments; mostly because I am available. I guess they could say the same; they appear in a lot of my creative work.
Which one of the three do you think he chose to draw? I’ll see if he’ll let me scan his drawing to add to the blog.
I’ve been working hard on my presentation “Taking Pictures That Sell” for Writing and Illustrating for Kids ’08, the fall conference of SCBWI-Southern Breeze. It is Oct. 17-18 in Birmingham. I am putting together a slideshow to accompany my talk. It will include some photographs that participants sent for critique. I hope that presenting a live critique will generate some good discussion in the workshop.