Sunday, August 28, 2011

More Great News for Jennifer Mann (and Sunshine in the Seattle Area!)

I recently mentioned Jennifer Mann's exciting news about illustrating TURKEY TOT (Holiday House), a picture book written by George Shannon. Now Jen has more news: she sold a picture book that she has both written and illustrated! You can read about it here. She is super talented, and I love her work!

My critique group has three members: Jen, the amazing
Margaret Nevinski, and me. We will have some serious celebrating going on at our next meeting!

Congratulations, Jen! We are so proud of you!

* * *

In other news: it's summer! Okay, so you already knew that. It's just that it didn't start feeling like summer around here until about two or three weeks ago. A strange, bright orb can now be seen in the Seattle sky, and it warms us. How crazy is that?!

My dogs, shameless sun worshipers, lo-o-ove this weather. Now when we hold up their leashes, they don't bury their faces in the couch cushions or pretend they don't see us.

Still, the nice weather feels odd this weekend, knowing what people are going through with Irene. To those of you on the East Coast, I'm sending warm thoughts and good wishes your way.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Molly and Dawn's Second Excellent Adventure (continued)

Today I'll wrap up the 2011 SCBWI Summer Conference. Let's start with the book giveaway, shall we?

My friend Debra is the official
Plotting and Scheming Blog Drawing Quality Control Manager, and we thought we would take pictures of ourselves doing the drawing. The thing was, we were about to go for a run. . . There are enough scary things on the Internet without adding me and Debra in spandex, so we decided to skip the photo session. Instead, here's a picture of Norton Juster signing THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH.

The autographed copy of THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH goes to. . .


Congratulations, Jess! Please e-mail me with your address, and I'll get your book in the mail right away!

* * *

Now for the rest of my conference pics!

A group of us had dinner together the night we arrived in L.A.

Left to right:
Deb Lund, Stasia Kehoe, Molly Hall, Sara Easterly,
Nuria Coe, me, and Sara Nickerson.

Since Molly Hall, my partner in crime, is such a huge fan of John Green, let's call this photo "An Abundance of Writers Named Molly."

Molly Hall and Molly Blaisdell

I had a nice time chatting with Molly, Molly, and Deb at Friday night's cocktail party and book sale.

Saturday night was the 40 Winks Anniversary Poolside Gala. Attendees--dressed for bedtime--gathered to mingle, eat, drink, and dance the night away.

The pajamas Molly and I chose were comfy, dance-worthy, and Seussy.

I had loads of fun with Deb and Stasia.

Here I am with Stasia. . .

and one of my critique partners,
Jennifer Mann.

8:30 seemed a wee bit early when it was time to start things the next morning. A few agents protested by wearing bathrobes to the agent panel (they were kidding, of course). I didn't take a photo, but you can see one

I sat at the 2011 Golden Kite Awards Luncheon with a new friend,
Patrick Flores-Scott.

We were served extra special desserts in honor of SCBWI's 40th anniversary.

I bought a book by
Gary Paulsen, and he autographed it for my son.

That night I met bloggy friend
Medeia Sharif in person for the very first time! She is so sweet!

Here are Medeia and
Angelina Hansen.

(Angelina and I are in the same region, but we never met until the 2010 SCBWI New York conference. Isn't that funny?)

There were intensives for writers and illustrators on the last day. Molly and I met for lunch and good-byes, hoping to return in 2012.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Molly and Dawn's Second Excellent Adventure + a Book Giveaway!

I've been home almost a week, and I'm still processing all the great information that came my way at the 2011 SCBWI Summer Conference. I'm excited to share highlights, though I highly recommend checking out the official SCBWI Conference Blog. SCBWI Team Blog covers a conference as nobody else can.

The conference was amazing. 1,342 kid lit lovin' people gathered in Los Angeles, and
Molly Hall and I were thrilled to be among them.

Molly Hall (left) and I (right)

SCBWI celebrated its 40th anniversary in style. Here are some of the many moments that spoke to me:

Bruce Coville gave the first keynote,
Ripples in the Pond: Why What We Do Matters...and Matters...and Continues to Matter. His talk was moving and filled with great advice. One tip: "Take your writing seriously. But also take yourself seriously as a business person." He said to learn how to read contracts and royalty statements, to learn to negotiate. He said to provide for your retirement and insure yourself. A tip that spoke to my obsessive-compulsive self was to take a vacation. He said, "Sometimes the best way to get back into the work is to get away from the work." He pointed out that this holds true for particular manuscripts. "Obsession can be tiring." Sometimes you just have to "take a vacation from the book." He was filled with heart, charm, and wisdom, and I'll be keeping my notes from his talk handy.

*Blogging came up more than once. One agent said, "A good book is what matters, not your blog." Common sense, I know, but I have read and heard so many people (myself included) apologetically taking blog breaks so they can focus on their books. That quote should be everyone's "Get out of jail free" card--or "Get out of blog-guilt free" card.

*I am such a fan of
Libba Bray...I wish she lived next door to me, and I could warm my hands by her intelligence and wit every time my writing fibers felt chilled by self-doubt, failure, or ugly first drafts. But alas, she would probably wonder what the deal was with the neighbor lady lurking in her yard, and she might mistake me as a stalker, so things are probably better this way.

Libba Bray's keynote,
Writing It All Wrong, A Survival Manual, was awesome. She said, "Embrace the suck." She later said, "'Perfect' wants to vote you off the island, but 'Better' wants to make an alliance...If you think, 'I have to make this book perfect,' you're setting yourself up for failure." She is super smart, hilarious, and a brilliant writer. (I should probably note that Molly and I discovered we were in the same SCBWI region when Molly won the "My-Followers-Rock-So-Someone's-Winning-an-Autographed-Copy-of-a-Book-that-Won-the-Printz" contest. I asked Molly to e-mail me with her address so I could send her GOING BOVINE, and I was like, "Really? You live that close?" Now we're buddies, having excellent adventures. And to think Libba Bray brought us together! Tee-hee.)

Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver rocked the room when they gave their talk, Writing with Humor and Heart. Together, they wrote the Hank Zipzer series.

They are now collaborating on the Ghost Buddy series (Scholastic). Henry said to think of the voice of the ghost as the Fonz and the boy who finds the ghost in his closet as Richie.

While speaking about humor in writing, Henry said, "Emotional truth jumps into the eye and mind of the reader. If you write the truth, someone will say, 'How did you know me?'"

Lin added, "If you want to write with humor, go to your deepest emotional part and stay until it's funny. When something is sad and funny, it's the deepest kind of funny."

David Small shared the trailer of STITCHES: A MEMOIR during his keynote. He had an unloving mother, and he found healing in the making of STITCHES. He finished his talk with a funny slide show that showed his indie love, and he even danced to the music. I hope he posts the slide show on YouTube, though watching him dance freely on the stage, knowing what he's been through, may have been the very best part.

Judy Blume was our surprise guest! Can you imagine? And she's incredible. As Lin Oliver interviewed her, I couldn't believe who was sitting beside her:
Judy. Blume. I mean, didn't we all grow up reading her?!

She said she's a terrible first draft writer. She's a reviser. (Let me tell you, music to my ears.)

Plot isn't how a story comes to her. "I never really understand the creative process." She said she's the least analytical person her son knows. She doesn't sit there, analyzing it. Something percolates--an idea. She gets ideas while doing something active.

Rather than summing up Laurie Halse Anderson's magnificent keynote, I'm going to send you to
the beautiful write-up by SCBWI Team Blog. Read it. You'll be glad you did.

This is getting rather long, so I'll end here and share my conference photos next week. The thing is, I still have a book to give away. An amazing book that's autographed. Are you ready for it?

Norton Juster!

Holey schmoley, right? THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, people! It first came out fifty years ago!

It's easy to enter to win! All you have to do is:

1. leave a comment on this post before 11:59 p.m. on Friday, August 19, 2011

2. be a follower of this blog

3. have a mailing address in the U.S. or Canada. (Sorry I have to set limits. I wish I could include everyone.)

Each person can enter only once. I'll update if I realize I forgot something.

I'll announce the winner next week when I share the conference pics.

Happy writing! :)