Friday, December 18, 2009

Paula Yoo ROCKS the Westside Writers Schmooze!

Paula Yoo spoke to a packed house of 42 people at the December meeting of the Westside Writers Schmooze. Tidbits of wisdom and insight came fast and furious as Paula shared her personal journey, her school visits presentation, and actual handouts from her course on children's writing at UCLA Extension--all in the space of 90 minutes!

Some highlights--

Paula had her first book, "The Girl Called Raindrop," rejected by Harper when she was 6 years old. 30 years later, HarperCollins published Good Enough.

Pepper your presentation with questions when you speak to kids to keep them engaged.

Her journalism background was something she recommended highly - and challenged us to consider freelance articles as a way to hone our skills at: getting to the point, writing on deadline, and cutting for space - not valuing each word so highly.

The crux of any coming-of-age story--from Knuffle Bunny to Twilight--is defying parents' expectations and coming into your own.

In a picture book, these are the coming-of-age moments you focus on – dramatizing relationships with physical action. For example, in her latest nonfiction picture book, Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story, instead of writing "Her father started supporting her," Paula wrote, "Her dad started driving her to her auditions"--which becomes a scene you can illustrate.

On Showing AND Telling, and Multiculturalism

Paula also talked about this being a major difference between picture books and writing for Young Adults. In a picture book, all coming-of-age moments must be shown, not told. The luxury of novels, on the other hand, is that you first show, THEN take a breath and tell what happened; show and tell, back and forth. In fact, the more specialized or "exotic" your subject is to the mainstream, the more you must tell.

Particularly fascinating was Paula's idea that "Show Don't Tell" is almost a mindset of the Majority. At our November Schmooze on Multiculturalism and Diversity in Children's Literature, Rita shared about not knowing for so long what ethnicity her main characters should "default" to. At this Schmooze, Paula revealed that, before Good Enough, her writing had always starred white male protagonists, since that was so much of the culture she had absorbed growing up in Connecticut.

From Paula's point of view, Showing AND Telling is all in the execution of the Voice. Look at those moments when your character is Telling, and ask yourself, is this a Voice you would be willing to be trapped sitting next to on a six hour bus trip to Vegas? (In writing first person, you CAN get away with more telling, but be careful the voice doesn’t get annoying!)


Paula was kind enough to share handouts from her UCLA class (If you attended the schmooze and didn't get a copy, email us at, and we'll get you one.)

She referenced Aaron Sorkin (who created the TV show West Wing, which Paula wrote for) in telling us,

"Intention + Obstacle = Conflict = STORY."

To demonstrate this principle at work, Paula analyzed the movie Die Hard to show us the plot point breakdown.

Then she did the same with Kevin Henkes's picture book, Kitten's First Full Moon!

On Writing Humor

Paula referenced this Web site as well as the idea of The Plant and Pay-Off.

She also offered three of her own rules for humor (her YA Good Enough is VERY funny!)

1. keep your word choice specific. Specificity IS humor.
2. in YA contemporary novels, you have to EARN your pop culture references
3. have jokes reveal character and push the story forward.

To top off the amazing evening, Paula dazzled us with a reading from her novel, and played her violin like a rock virtuoso!

All in all it was an inspiring author visit, and a fantastic end to our first year as co-Coordinators of the Westside Writers Schmooze.

There will be much more fabulousness to come in 2010, with our first meeting on January 13, when we'll discuss story openings and endings, and how the two need to "shake hands."

Also of interest, we mentioned the Ann Whitford Paul picture book writing workshops coming up and you can find out more about them here.

Have a Wonderful Holiday Season!

Your Schmooze Captains,

Rita Crayon Huang and Lee Wind

All photos by Rita Crayon Huang

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Westside Writers Schmooze Tackled "Political Correctness"

The advantage of this post on last month's meeting being so delayed (and I'm going super-positive with this) is that I get to remind you all that tomorrow, Wednesday Dec 9th, we'll be hosting a special guest speaker at our schmooze:

Paula Yoo!

Paula's written Two biography picture books ("Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story" and "Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story" as well as a great YA novel, "Good Enough." She's going to share her school visit presentation - give us some tips, talk craft, give us a writing exercise, and answer our questions - it's sure to be an AMAZING evening!

Wednesday December 9, 2010, from 7:00-8:45pm at the Fairview Branch Library Community Room, 2101 Ocean Park Boulevard in Santa Monica, CA.

Hope to see you there! (and you can check out Paula's website here.)

Now, on to sharing with you all about our November Evening on Political Correctness:

We spoke about diversity, stereotypes, and how much you have to know (or be like) your characters to write their stories convincingly.

Rita and Lee brought in a whole bunch of books that we own,

To use as examples of how stereotypes and race and minority points of view are handled in a range of picture books, middle grade and Young Adult novels.

Many of the attendees asked if we would post a list of the titles discussed. So, here's our best attempt to re-create it. (Disclaimer - These were just a smattering of books we already owned that we brought from home. Had we gone to the library and really started pulling titles, we would have needed more than 2 tables!)

Picture Books

Dim Sum For Everyone, by Grace Lin
The Red Thread, by Grace Lin
Bringing in the New Year, by Grace Lin
Surprise Moon, by Caroline Hatton, illustrated by Felicia Hoshino
Chinese New Year's Dragon, by Rachel Sing, illustrated by Shao Wei Liu
The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
Sixteen Years In Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, by Paula Yoo, illustrated by Dom Lee
Bee Bim Bop, by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee
Peach & Blue, by Sarah S. Kilborne, paintings by Steve Johnson with Lou Fancher
Baseball Saved Us, by Ken Mochizuki, illustrated by Dom Lee
The Araboolies of Liberty Street, by Sam Swope, illustrated by Barry Root
The Big Orange Splot, by Daniel Manus Pinkwater
The Other Side, by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Our Gracie Aunt, by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Jon J Muth
And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole
Everywhere Babies, by Susan Meyers, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cezar Chavez, by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Angelina Ballerina, by Katharine Hollabird, illustrated by Helen Craig
Frida, by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Ana Juan

Middle Grade

The Year of the Dog, by Grace Lin
The Year of the Rat, by Grace Lin
Half Magic, by Edward Eager
The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynn Reid Banks
A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park
The Horse and His Boy (from The Chronicles of Narnia), by C.S. Lewis

Young Adult

Confessions of a Closet Catholic, by Sarah Darer Littman
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Nothing But The Truth (and a Few White Lies), by Justina Chen Headley
Masks: Rise of Heroes, by Hayden Thorne
Freak Show, by James St. James
QUAD, by C. G. Watson

Also referenced:
Good Enough, by Paula Yoo
Parrotfish and pretty much all of the books by Ellen Wittlinger
In the Break, by Jack Lopez

Rita brought up the last one in the context of 1) A question Lee has asked in discussions past, on whether audiences are now ready for more books that feature diverse characters where the point ISN'T their being a minority or coming out as gay, and 2) these thoughts from this blog entry by Alvina Ling, Senior Editor at Little, Brown:

. . . YA novel In the Break by Jack Lopez. VOYA calls it a "captivating novel by an author who is a surfer about surfing, adolescence, friendship, and loyalty." Kirkus says: "Lopez's debut shares much of the atmosphere and elements seen in urban fiction, and he nails the conversations between Juan, Jamie, Amber and their friends with a gritty, dead-on teen-speak that surges through the pages, giving extra shots of hang-ten adrenaline to the already fast-paced plot."
. . .
There are many things I love about this book, but one interesting thing to note is that the author, Jack Lopez, is Mexican American, and the narrator of the book, Juan, is as well. But although there are some cultural details throughout, his ethnicity does not play a large role in the book, and I'm happy that this hasn't been pigeonholed as simply a "multicultural book." In fact, the reviews so far, which have been great, have not even mentioned his ethnicity. While I think there is still need now for ethnic-identity driven books, particularly when there isn't already a lot out there--such as Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) for biracial teens--I hope there will be more and more books that feature main characters of color where their ethnicity is not the main subject of the book, and reviewers do not choose to direct the book towards a specific niche audience.

In the Break is an adventure novel with substance, and it should appeal to both boys and girls, teens and adults. It deserves a wide audience.
Overall, the evening wasn't so much one where we handed out all the correct answers - it was more of a great discussion around the circle...

And it was wonderful.

We hope to see you at Wednesday's Schmooze with Paula Yoo!

Lee & Rita

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Illustrators' Schmooze in OC--Nov 21

Illustrators' Schmooze in OC
Saturday, November 21
10:30 am - 12:30 pm
at the studio of Marilyn Scott-Waters

Let's swap art tips and techniques! Have you discovered a technique that works for you? Whether it's old school, or digital come and share your favorite technique or art tip.

As usual, please feel free to bring your latest children's book project to share. Illustration can be rough or complete.

Also, if you'd like to donate a new, or gently used children's book to the Viejo Elementary Library, they will be collected at the schmooze.

Contact me at the address below if you have any questions or need directions to Marilyn's.

See you there!

Veronica Walsh

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Attention Writers AND Illustrators!!!

You are invited to a very special evening with L.A.'s very own
Deborah Nourse Lattimore

Westside Illustrators Schmooze
Monday Eve, November 9, 2009
7:00pm - 9:00pm
11624 Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, Ca 90064

Topic: "How I Try to Do It,
and How I'll Do It Again!"

Deborah is 
an award-
author and
illustrator of
dozens of
 children's books.

You may not know...
Deborah is an art historian
specializing in Egyptian,
 pre-Columbian,and classical art.
She has traveled all over the
 world as a scholar, an artist,    
and a writer.
She loves using that expertise to create picture books that take young readers on amazing journeys back through time to ancient and mysterious cultures.

Deborah is a huge fan of SCBWI...
"I love the SCBWI for many things, being a friend and support to me,
helping me navigate publishing as well
 as helping me to handle up's and  down's in the market and in my
  personal life, too. And even if I weren't a writer and illustrator it would be a blast to be a member of SCBWI
just for the enrichment."

Check out Deborah's website...

Come share a fun evening with your fellow writers AND illustrators! 

* $5.00 donation for speaker
* Books will be available for
     SALE and SIGNING!
* Light refreshments will be served.
 Be prepared to participate, ask questions and be inspired! Let's
 enjoy a fun creative evening together & move forward in our common pursuit of making a contribution to the world of children's illustration and literature!



WHERE???...11624 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064
This is a large gray building with ivy & bamboo on the facade. The sign near the RED door reads -
"Alliance Francaise."

DIRECTIONS???... Click Here

PARKING???... Street parking only. You don't have to feed meters after 6pm. Do NOT park in the electrical warehouse parking lot next door OR the parking lot behind the building on the corner of Federal Ave. You will be towed...FAST.
Looking forward to seeing you all!
cell...818 389 1950

come visit me at...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Come Schmooze with Sooz & the Westside Illustrators!

  Westside Illustrators Schmooze
Monday Evening, October 12, 7-9pm
11624 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064
Online Sales Venues for our Creative Endeavors

IN between those amazing gigs as children's illustrators,
we can keep our creative energy flowing...
and make a few bucks on the side!

1. Share your experience with online sites that
can be a sales outlet for our work.
There's tons of them...Cafe Press, Etsy, Zazzle
are just a few. I'll have a long list.

2. If you wish, bring along items that you are or plan on selling.
Art Prints? Cards?Jewelry? Dolls? Clothes? etc...
We're anxious to see them!

3. Some of our Schmoozers are experts and will share their
priceless tips on the in's & out's of a successful online experience.

Come prepared to participate, ask questions and be inspired!
Let's enjoy a fun creative evening together & move forward in our common pursuit
of making a contribution to the world of children's  illustration and literature!

RSVP???...  YES

WHERE???...  11624 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064
This is a large gray building with ivy & bamboo on the facade.
The sign near the
RED door reads -  "Alliance Francaise."


PARKING???... Street parking only.  You don't have to feed meters after 6pm.  Do NOT park in the electrical warehouse parking lot next door OR the parking lot behind the building on the corner of Federal Ave.  You will be towed...FAST.

Looking forward to seeing you all!
cell...818 389 1950
                                                  come visit me at...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

OC Schmooze: 9/29

Thanks to all that attended our first OC schmooze post summer. It was time to reconnect to our writing lives and we did! Topics covered:

*Current and past conferences: How to prepare (research, read, and put yourself out there. Be positive, and set one expectation: to walk away a better writer. If you make a connection, get a great critique, or win a contest, great. But improving your craft is a good, solid goal--one YOU can control!)
*How to Accept a Critique: Take it in and don't be defensive. Put the manuscript away for a day, week, month, and then go back. You might be surprised at how "right" your critiquer was! Take advantage of these critique opportunities at conferences if you can.
*Join a critique group, if you haven't! Contact Edith Cohn @
*Join the SCBWI/OC listserv: scroll down homepage of website to join.
*The state of industry: Still extremely tough out there. Just keep writing. It's a great time to work on your craft and write the story you truly want to write.

Assignment: We all wrote a one sentence logline for our story. It's tough, but absolutely necessary so you can pitch your story quickly and succinctly when someone asks, "So what's your story about." Rehearse your logline to avoid a rambling, incoherent 10-minute summary (that we've all experienced!)

We will be finding a new OC Schmooze location for next month.

Happy writing, and see you in October!


Monday, October 5, 2009

Let's Schmooze! October 17th

Illustrators' Schmooze in OC
Saturday, October 17
10:30 til noon
at the studio of Marilyn Scott-Waters

Halloween Costume and Sketch Day
Come wearing a costume. Or persuade a friend or relative into wearing one, and bring him along. Treats will be provided for the models. Don't forget your sketching materials.

And, as usual, you're always welcome to bring your latest children's book project to share with the group.

Contact me if you need directions to Marilyn's.

See you there!

Veronica Walsh

Friday, October 2, 2009

Let's Review the Westside Writers Schmooze Review of the SCBWI Summer Conference

We were Tanned.

We were Rested.

We were happy kids were back in school!

29 of us writers and creative types gathered at the Schmooze in September. We told stories of our summers spent writing and being creative, shared good news, and recapped our favorite moments from this year's SCBWI Summer Conference.

Schmooze attendees brought their Summer Conference notes, and as we discussed our three categories of
Craft, Business, and Inspiration
Everyone shared their favorite gems and takeaways--like this one from author Frank Portman:
"It's amazing how much you can cut and still have it."

Or this idea from the master class with Linda Sue Park:
The only way we can ever know get to know people in real life - what they're feeling, who they are - is through their words and actions.

We talked up the Conference Schmooze Blog, where you can find an amazing wealth of Conference information, and the Conference photos, where you can see what the experience was like and (if you were there) find photos of yourself.

We even did exercises, like this one about brainstorming new kinds of conflict, given by Ingrid Law at her breakout session at the conference.

And we shared tips, like this final take-home exercise (inspired by a Kathleen Duey suggestion), which was to look over your notes from the conference, from the conference blog, and even from the schmooze. Take the one piece of advice or quote that most resonates for you, and put it up by your work area.

We ended the evening with two of the most inspiring talks of the Summer Conference: the opening keynote by Sherman Alexie and the closing keynote by Kathleen Duey. Here are two of our favorite gems:

Sherman Alexie:
You write for that 1% for whom your book will be their new bible, and you're going to be their prophet. . . . No matter who you write for, you're going to save at least one person. What more could you ask for?

Kathleen Duey:
Stories don't just teach; they shield. If Captain Underpants can keep a child from hearing her parents fight, "it's literature to me."

So put up that quote, go forth, and conquer!

Rita Crayon Huang and Lee Wind

* * *

Please join us for our next Westside Schmooze on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 7 pm when we meet to discuss "The Horrors of Rejection" . . . and some happy endings! RSVPs to are requested but not required. Come one, come all!

(See details for how to find us, here.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

FALLING FORWARD with the Westside Illustrators!

You are invited to the
1st Westside Illustrators Schmooze
of the 2009-10 Season!

Monday Evening, September 14, 7-9pm
11624 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064

Summer Catch-up & Falling Forward

1) Let's review the L.A. Summer Conference in detail...BRING your notes...
2) Share other summer happenings.

3) We'll discuss the Westside Art Project.
We'll set both personal & group goals.

Come prepared to participate, ask questions and be inspired!
Let's enjoy a fun creative evening together & move forward in our common pursuit
of making a contribution to the world of children's illustration and literature!

RSVP???... YES, Suzy at....

WHERE???... 11624 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064
This is a large gray building with ivy & bamboo on the facade.
The sign near the RED door reads - "Alliance Francaise."


... Street parking only. You don't have to feed meters after 6pm. Do NOT park in the electrical warehouse parking lot next door OR the parking lot behind the building on the corner of Federal Ave. You will be towed...FAST.
Looking forward to seeing you all!
cell...818 389 1950

come visit me at...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Saturday Schmooze by the Beach - September 19th

"Netiquette and Niche Marketing"

  • Web Marketing:
  • what to post and what not to post
  • how to approach art directors and editors at conferences
  • open discussion about where your writing fits in... what genre, crossover genre writing
  • and so much more
When: Saturday, September 19th
Where: Bristol Farms - Redondo Beach (on the Patio)
Time: 2:30 til about 4:30 ...unless we are having a such a great time... like the last one that we keep talking and talking,....

RSVP: Suzanne & Jessica

Friday, August 14, 2009

Illustrators' Schmooze in OC

Illustrators' schmooze in OC
Saturday, August 22
10:30 am

at the studio of Marilyn Scott Waters

Bring your notes from the summer conference. We'll share and discuss what you learned from your favorite workshops.

For more info, or directions to Marilyn's contact me at the address below.

See you there!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Check Out The LIVE Blogging from the SCBWI LA SUMMER CONFERENCE!!!

Go here for the official SCBWI Conference Blog!

And follow along on Twitter for photos and up to the minute 140 character scoops!



posted by Lee Wind

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Glendale Illustrators Schmoozin

“Portfolio Night”

Was Thursday July 16th. We shared our portfolios. We did critiques and got feedback from our fellow illustrators. Discussion included what makes a good portfolio.

Choosing your portfolio - Make sure your work is not slipping out of the plastic sleeves. Pick a tangible size, preferably 8.5 x 11 or close to is best for table top.
Select 12-15 pieces of your best work.

Keep your style in mind. Try to select the pieces that really identify you and the type of work you want to do.

If you do have a distinct and different style, display the pieces in a way that shows that. Put several in a row to help the reviewer see that you have this particular style. If you have two different styles you enjoy working with, again put several of the same style together so there won't be any question of what style they'll get if they choose to work with you.

Show a wide range of subject matter. Try to show a variety of children, adults, animals, different ethnic groups and interacting in different settings, with different moods.

Choose artwork that is dynamic. Wow your reviewer. They see hundreds of illustrations, so choose scenes that are unique in different ways. Interesting perspectives, dynamic composition,, unusual use of color, fantastic situations.

Choose artwork that tells a story. An interesting illustration can, without text, invite the reviewer to wonder... "what happens next?"

Show story progression. Include a picture book dummy (attached to portfolio, pencil/rough), if you have one. It shows how you would carry characters throughout a book. And/or try to select 3 illustrations from one story to show movement of characters through a story.

Always get reproductions, never use original work... It may get lost and then you will be very sad. It is also easier to handle and won't get damaged. This way you can choose the size you reproduce the work at and make your portfolio have a certain flow and rhythm.

Avoid accessory or 3D items. Anything that can not fit into a sleeve, most likely doesn't belong there. If you feel you must then take photos of them and include the pictures. Toys, t-shirts etc. are not what reviewers are looking for. Do have Business Cards, Sample Sheets or Postcard Promos to share with your name and contact info clearly on them.

Get some input. Show your portfolio to friends and family. Have a critique with other illustrators. Get opinions you can trust and get some feedback.

Present the very best of your unique style. Don't try to imitate anyone else's style or what may seem to be the illustration style du jour.

Be encouraged. Take any comments or constructive criticism as valuable input. You now have some info to help you shape your portfolio in a professional way.

Look for inspiration. Spend some time in a bookstore or library looking at children's books or magazines. While not following anyone else's style, look for illustrations that are dynamic and exciting and decide what elements have made them so. Look as how action takes place in a picture book, or how a subject is illustrated in an unusual way. Take some classes or workshops (figure drawing, painting) - something that will help you focus on your artwork differently.

Add to what you have. Work on building your portfolio by making a book dummy or illustrate a classic tale. Re-do an illustration you think you could improve on. In any new illustration project, work toward a goal of producing something more exciting than you have ever done before.
(text by Karen Stormer Brooks for SCBWI)

Meets at Once Upon a Time Bookshoppe, Third Thursdays of the month.
2207 Honolulu Ave, Montrose 91020
(between Zeke’s and Rocky Cola Cafe)
STORE NUMBER: (818) 248-9668
Jen Swain (818) 429-6906
(no meeting in Aug.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

South Bay Schmooze - July 18th!!!

The South Bay – Beach Cities Schmooze

Writer’s and Illustrator’s

2nd Annual / Midsummer’s Day Schmooze

Creative Writing and Quick Sketch Day

When: Saturday, July 18th, 2009

What time: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Where: Palos Verdes – Pointe Vicente Interpretive Center (Click for Map)

31501 Palos Verdes Drive West
Rancho Palos Verdes

Join us for Writing and Sketching Exercises, to improve our craft and learn from each other.

What to Bring:

  • Writers, Bring a writing sample, a new character, or something you are struggling with… bring notebook & pen/pencils to write with.
  • Illustrator’s, bring a few sketches and character samples, and perhaps something you are struggling with… and of course: your sketch supplies.
  • BRING YOUR LUNCH… there are very few places nearby to purchase lunch once we are there… this is the ideal place for a sack-lunch for a picnic discussion…
  • Bring: Sunscreen, hat, chair, and whatever other essentials you think would make your day enjoyable… Water!!!

R.S.V.P… to Suzanne & Jessica by July 12th.

We will need to know How Many Picnic Tables to reserve for our group.

Suzanne Gibson and Jessica Chrysler

South Bay Writer's and Illustrator's Schmooze Coordinators - Jessica - Suzanne