Sunday, March 18, 2012

SCBWI WWA's March Professional Series Meeting

SCBWI Western Washington's monthly professional series meeting was last week. Kim Baker, one of our region's fabulous leaders, kicked off the evening with the mini-session "What's So Funny? A Look at Humor in Children's Books and YA." Kim spoke about the many ways kid lit authors and illustrators use humor in their work. Talk about learning from an expert! Kim is hilarious in real life--and super sweet! Her debut, a middle grade novel titled PICKLE, will hit shelves in September.

Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan
September 2012

YA author
Denise Jaden led our main program, "With a Heavy Heart: Writing Grief in Fiction." She said grief isn't a story in itself, but writers can use it to push things further. She spoke about which stages of grief can enhance a story and which ones can bring it down. Denise knows about writing grief authentically. Her first two YA novels, LOSING FAITH and NEVER ENOUGH, deal with grief and loss.

Both speakers gave us plenty to think about, things to apply to our own work.

Does your work-in-progress have humor in it? Grief? Both? What is the intended age group?
Mine is a humorous middle grade, but it has a thread of grief I'm weaving through it.


Susan R. Mills said...

My latest project has an element of grief in it. I would love to know what stages move a novel forward and what drags it down.

Angelina C. Hansen said...

I got so much out of both Kim's and Denise's presentation. Only thing I missed was a little more time with you. ^_^

Dawn Simon said...

Hi, Susan! Welcome back from your break! Yesterday I read on Denise's blog that she'll get her notes from the talk together and share about it. If I catch the post, I'll link to it. It really was an interesting talk.

Aw... Back at ya, Angelina! :)

Kim Baker said...

Thanks for posting about the talk, Dawn!

I hope people found it helpful. I think if we take the pressure off of thinking of ourselves as funny and going for what silliness can serve the story it helps.

And I didn't know you were working on a MG. Let me know if you ever need a beta reader!

Great to see you!

Dawn Simon said...

Hi, Kim! I also liked how you pointed out that we can add bits of humor as we revise; we don't have to come up with everything as we write that first draft. Or second! THANK YOU for your super kind offer!

Faith Pray said...

Dawn, I wish I had been able to go! I can't wait to read Kim's book! She is so clever and witty, and it sounds like Denise had some really important things to say as well. I missed a great session! Thanks for the recap!

Old Kitty said...

I find it really hard to write humour or with humour! I tend to find it easier to write about grief or darker themes! I don't know why that is! LOL! I think it's probably even harder to get the right balance when the target audience are children! Adults can take such stuff but kids...!! I can never do it! Take care

Molly Hall said...

Ah! WIsh I could have been there! I am sure it was so good! Looking forward to seeing you and other NW luminaries in April!

Claudia Del Balso said...

Hi Dawn,
I love attending workshops, writing groups, symposia etc. I learn so much and meet so many interesting people. My current short story has a differt kind of grief (I guess because the main character is going through introspection) but there's some humour in it. ;) I do try to use both. My mentors told me that a dose of comedy relief is necessary when writing drama.

Michelle said...

I would like to think I include humor...and my CPs humor me with the odd LOL or hehehe comments, but don't think you could call humorous
I do have a death/grief theme in my YA wip... It was interesting to write the reactions of the characters.

Medeia Sharif said...

I include humor, but I haven't used grief yet. I'd like to, though.

I have Denise Jaden's first book and would like to read it soon.

Have a great week.

Dawn Simon said...

Faith, I wish you could have gone, too! I'm also looking forward to reading PICKLE! Yay for the conference! It's right around the corner.

Old Kitty, how interesting that you write about darker themes! There's been a lot of great dark stuff in YA. MG, too! For example, I loved THE GRAVEYARD BOOK!

Molly, I can't wait to see you! We will be having a blast as we take in all the conference has to offer!

Claudia, I agree with your mentor. I appreciate comic relief. :)

Michelle, it's great that your characters had different reactions since individuals handle grief differently.

Medeia, Denise was really cool. I hope I can hear her speak again.