Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Los Angeles SCBWIers! Wanna Attend The 2011 Summer Conference or the 2012 Winter Conference For Free Tuition? Enter This Contest!

Great News!

The Los Angeles region of SCBWI is now going to be giving out TWO annual scholarships for free tuition to attend either the Summer Conference in Los Angeles or the Winter Conference in New York City. (This is up from one scholarship a year, taking turns for illustrators and writers.) This year, SCBWI L.A. will be giving a scholarship to one writer and one illustrator.

These conferences are amazing - an opportunity to really kick in the turbo engines on your career, and to fully dive into the inspiration, business and craft of writing and/or illustrating. But most of all, the conferences are a chance to immerse yourself in the community of being a children's content creator. To spend a long weekend with people just as passionate about telling great stories as you. To breathe deep of that sense of belonging to a tribe - your tribe, and mine, too. (For a taste of what goes on at these conferences, check out the wealth of information over at The Official SCBWI Conference Blog!)

The theme/inspiration/prompt of the contest is

Entries must be postmarked by February 1st, so it's a great thing to work on now, before you have to go back to school/work/routine. Details are here.

You should enter. It's for free tuition, and even just doing the contest entry should be lots of fun!

Best of fortune, and here's to a fantastic 2011!


Friday, December 17, 2010

The Westside Writers Schmooze "MAKE YOUR OWN PICTURE BOOK DUMMY" Workshop led by Special Guest Speaker Laura Lacámara!!

On Wednesday, December 8th, 2010, more than thirty Westside Schmoozers gathered for a truly festive holiday treat, as special guest speaker Laura Lacamara led us through the process of making picture book dummies.

Laura with her two published picture books,
"Floating on Mama's Song," which she wrote,
and "Runaway Piggy" which she illustrated!

Laura is the author of Floating on Mama’s Song / Flotando en la Canción de Mamá, a bilingual picture book inspired by her mother, who was an opera singer in Havana. Floating on Mama’s Song, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, was released by HarperCollins September 1, 2010 and has already received its first starred review--from Publishers Weekly! Laura also recently illustrated The Runaway Piggy / El Cochinito Fugitivo, a bilingual picture book for Piñata Books, an imprint of the University of Houston’s Arte Público Press. The Runaway Piggy, written by James Luna, debuted November 30, 2010. You can learn more about her at http://lauralacamara.com/

Laura regularly attends the Westside Schmooze, and we were thrilled to have her lead this workshop! As both a picture book author and illustrator, Laura is uniquely positioned to look at picture book manuscripts with an eye for both text and illustrations, and was the perfect expert to guide us in creating our own picture book dummies.

Lee introducing Laura - and setting the serious tone for the evening

Laura prepared fantastically for this schmooze. Before everyone arrived, she had already set each "place" with its own large Book Map to creating a picture book dummy, a WONDERFUL handout on "Tips for Determining Page-Turns in your Manuscript"--full of concrete, very clear tips!--and individual, precounted stacks of 16 sheets of paper. Each table had communal scissors and staplers. In addition, schmoozers were asked to bring in two copies of their own picture book manuscripts (or any favorite text) to work with. For attendees who did not bring in texts, Rita typed up "manuscripts" from existing, already published picture books, so everyone could join in the fun.

Spirits were high, and baked goods and snacks kept arriving. THANK YOU, everyone, for not only bringing in your manuscripts, but also contributing such a wonderful holiday FEAST! WE LOVE YOU ALL!!

As soon as we were settled in, we were ready to go!

To start, Laura had us each decide whether our picture books would have "portrait" or "landscape" orientations, and we stapled our papers accordingly. Regarding orientation, Rita recalled Mo Willems once suggesting at a conference that character-based stories were better suited to portrait, and stories about location were better suited to landscape--and, furthermore, that concept, or "arty," books could go square. :) Something to think about!

Laura then guided us through the process of determining where the page turns would fall in our manuscripts.

She talked us through her handout, holding up and reading from published picture books to give examples of each tip.

She even showed us a few pages from the dummy she had made for her own picture book manuscript prior to it being illustrated by Yuyi to make her points!

We then paired up and read each other's manuscripts, to give feedback on the flow of each other's stories, and on page turns. It was wonderful seeing everyone engaging in each other's stories on this level!

The happy sounds of scissors, staplers, chatting, and enjoying good food all filled the room as everyone got busy assembling their stories into picture book dummies.

As the night came to a close all too soon, we also took a few minutes to share insights with the room at large about what we had discovered--about our stories and about pictures books--through this process. One Schmoozer brought up the idea that the tips for determining page turns might also be applied to longer format stories (MG, YA), regarding chapter breaks.

THANK YOU again, Laura, for guiding us through such a joyful, fun, and truly informative workshop! We all learned so much--and are better story creators for it!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Rita and Lee

P.S. Please join us in the new year on Wednesday, January 12th, when the Westside Schmooze will meet to discuss,

"Hope is not a plan": Outlining your story and your career.

"Hope is not a plan." --CNN Host Anderson Cooper. It's a new year. Where do you want your writing to take you, both within your story and in life? Come share in advice for outlining our manuscripts, setting goals, and plotting out the trajectory of our writing careers! For Picture Book through Young Adult, fiction and non-fiction.

Hope to see you there!

p.p.s. all photos by Rita Crayon Huang

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Skirball Cultural Center Offers A Unique (And Free!) Event For SCBWI Members

Here's the event:

SCBWI Members, come to the Skirball to experience two new, exciting exhibitions celebrating art and creativity! Saturday, December 11 12:00-3:30 p.m. (Maira Kalman docent tour begins at 12:30p)

First, take a docent-led tour of the whimsically witty exhibition Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) and take a closer look at what inspires illustrator, author, and designer Maira Kalman (Stay Up Late, Ooh-la-la [Max in Love]) and her joyful, humorous vision of contemporary life.

Then, visit The 1000 Journals Project and meet Jason Porter, co-curator of the exhibition and SCBWI member, to learn about the idea behind this unique initiative encouraging people around the world to explore their personal creativity and stimulate collaboration. Spend time creating your own entry in the journals and then meet with fellow SCBWI members to share, discuss, and collaborate on your work!

Around 2:30 p.m., all Members will come together to see each other's work. BYOL (bring your own lunch) to sit back and enjoy with fellow Members as each presents their journal entry. The group will vote to choose one of the created works to be used on the cover for a new journal. The work chosen will also be included on the Skirball's website, Flickr site, and Facebook page.

Finally, enter a special SCBWI raffle to receive a copy of the Maira Kalman exhibition catalogue or The 1000 Journals book. As a guest of the Skirball on that day, you will also receive a 10% discount in Audrey's Museum Store to purchase gifts or mementos of your visit.

This is an experiment and you are part of it.

Limited to the first 50 people, so please RSVP with SCBWI-L.A. RA Claudia Harrington: Click Here to RSVP.

We will forward the list to the Skirball so they've got your name on the official list!

What a cool way to celebrate art, creativity, and the Holidays!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Westside Writers Schmooze holds an Expert Panel on Author Visits!

Best. Schmooze. EVER!!

Seriously. This November's meeting may have been the best Westside Schmooze ever -- and that's saying a lot for our beloved longest running schmooze in the region.

On Wednesday, November 10th, about 40 Westside Schmoozers gathered to hear an expert panel of a public librarian, an independent school librarian, and an independent book store owner speak on author visits: what they're looking for, the difference between these different venues, how we can get ourselves booked for author visits, and more. This genius panel was Lee's brainchild (awww, thanks, Rita!), designed to represent the three key sectors of the author-visit landscape. To this end, Lee invited the following all-star lineup:

Sharon Hearn, owner of Children's Book World, a full-service children's bookstore in West Los Angeles,

Elizabeth Abarbanel, librarian at the independent Brentwood School's upper campus,


Ann Wagner, Youth Services Librarian at the Santa Monica Public Library, main branch.

Our Panelists left to right:
Sharon Hearn, Elizabeth Abarbanel and Ann Wagner

From the moment the discussion began, it became clear how different these three categories of author visit are. A few of the eye-opening things we learned:

• Unlike schools, who pay for authors visits; and libraries, who give honorariums; bookstores never pay for visits. Instead, publishers offer to send
authors to them, and, if the bookstore agrees to host an event, the expectation
is that they will sell books. Local authors might approach a store to do an
event as well, but it works best if it's the author's first signing for a book,
because that is more likely to sell copies and draw a crowd.

• Schools look for ways in which an author's book or talk or personal story can
tie into curriculum. For example, if the book is historical it could tie into history, or the author talks about writing (or about how he or she became a writer) it could tie into English and creative writing, or maybe an element of your book and talk can be tied into Human Development (a class about growing up).

• School librarians and decision makers share information on listservs about how much authors have charged and how well their presentations went.

• Public libraries don't sell books (of course), or educate specifically. They also can't guarantee the kids in this setting will have read the author's work in advance, so they look for visits that are lively and interactive, and that will get their audience excited about the book and about reading. It's definitely a good idea to read excerpts during visits to libraries.

• Bookstores can sometimes coordinate with publishers to bring authors to schools--and set up pre-order sheets to send home with the kids. This type of visit can sometimes be quite large, with other schools bussed in.

• When bookstores are not involved, schools can still sell an author's books in conjunction with a visit -- sometimes through their PTA. Schools often get good discounts from publishers.

• Advice: Authors should definitely have Web sites through which schools can contact them.

• Best Piece of Advice of the whole evening: Watch other authors' presentations!

At one point during the Schmooze, a debate broke out on the merits of waiving one's fee for visits, with an eye to building brand awareness. This brought up the oft-cited advice: Should you decide to do a school visit for free or cheap, always indicate you have "waived your fee" (or provided an x% discount) to make clear you are providing something of value. To this, our expert panel hastened to add that you should also always make sure you have an advocate on the inside who will build enthusiasm and ensure the proper preparation for your visit. ("Free" does not equal a babysitting offer!)

Throughout the evening, Schmoozers also shared their own experiences with doing author visits, including fascinating descriptions from both Eric Drachman and James Otis Thach of elaborate video conferences, and visiting schools via Skype!

Here are a few more choice tidbits from the evening, from both our panel and Schmooze attendees:

Authenticity--the giving of yourself in what you share--is the best way to connect with kids.

If the kids have read your book, they will probably enjoy hearing "behind-the-scenes" stories about earlier drafts, inspirations, etc. Even if they haven't read the book, the real message here is that your book didn't come out perfect the first time. Rewriting is key, and everyone can do it.

Kids are so visual these days. Share your book trailer! Use PowerPoint! If you're an illustrator, draw! (Kevin Henkes has used old-fashioned slides! Patricia Polacco brought in her quilt!)

But: Avoid what Lee called "Death by PowerPoint." Your visual aids should not make sense without your presenting them. You are the most important visual aid in your talk. (Along these same lines, don't turn the lights completely off and stand to the side.)

This was a truly amazing Schmooze, during which we all learned so much! When it was over, many agreed that 95% of the information we'd heard this night was completely new to us. We didn't even know how much we didn't know!

For more excellent information on school visits, check out schoolvisitexperts.com by SCBWI's own school visits expert Alexis O'Neill.

Here, too, is a link from Westside Schmoozer Hannah Ruth Wilde showing how some authors have banded together to create an author visit contact site! www.authorsforschoolvisits.com

And the fun (and epiphanies) keep on coming . . .

NEXT month, on Wednesday, December 8th, the Westside Schmooze is having a hands-on workshop, "MAKE YOUR OWN PICTURE BOOK DUMMY," led by Special Guest Speaker Laura Lacámara!!

Laura is the author of Floating on Mama’s Song / Flotando en la Canción de
a bilingual picture book inspired by her mother, who was an opera
singer in Havana. Floating on Mama’s Song, illustrated by Yuyi Morales,
was released by HarperCollins September 1, 2010 and has already received its
first starred review--from Publishers Weekly! Laura also recently
illustrated The Runaway Piggy / El Cochinito Fugitivo, a bilingual
picture book for Piñata Books, an imprint of the University of Houston’s Arte
Público Press. The Runaway Piggy, written by James Luna, debuts November
30, 2010. You can learn more about Laura at her Web site,

As both a picture book author and illustrator, Laura is uniquely positioned to look at picture book manuscripts with an eye for both text and illustrations, and is the perfect expert to guide us in creating our own picture book dummies.

We'll see how our words work on the dummied-up pages, and learn how this technique can help us make our picture book manuscripts sing! For picture book authors (and illustrators, too!), fiction and non-fiction. Even if you don't write picture books, come! You will absolutely gain a new understanding of narrative structure through this creative process.

For this schmooze, Laura recommends you bring two (2) copies of a picture book text (or favorite poem, or whatever words you would like to work with)--one to mark up, and one to cut up--typed in 14-point font at 1-1/2 line spacing. It will be like a holiday crafts party, with cutting and pasting and storytelling, and the satisfaction of taking something home that you made with your own hands, from the heart.

As always, RSVPs are greatly appreciated to WestsideSchmooze@hotmail.com.

Until then, friends,

Cheers and Namaste,

Rita and Lee

p.s.: Our thanks to Eric Drachman for the photos!

Monday, November 15, 2010

SFV Illus SCHMOOZE: Nov 18, Thurs 6:30-8pm

History of a favorite Illustrator:
We all love to see what others are inspired by. Focus on one person, discuss period and time or history of illustration and or books. How has this person/or art work impacted contemporary illustration and/or children’s publishing. How does it inspire you and share what have you learned or gained from him or her.

LOCATION: Once Upon a Time Bookshoppe
2207 Honolulu Avenue, Montrose CA 91020
(between Zeke’s and Rocky Cola Cafe)
PHONE NUMBER TO STORE: (818) 248-9668
If you can't find st parking go through the alley, by Black Cow in a big lot.

RSVP to Jen Swain (818) 429-6906

To be removed from list, please respond with REMOVE in the subject line of message.
We won’t take it personally.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 15th... Schmoozin' on the Westside

Join the Westside Illustrators Schmooze
on a field trip!
Monday evening, November 15, 7-9pm
1333 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, Ca 90403

The Westside Illustrators Schmooze is proud to
announce our November Guest Speaker!
Every Picture Tells A Story...

LOIS SARKISIAN...is the owner/founder of Every Picture Tells A Story..., the first Los Angeles gallery devoted to the art of illustration. For over two decades,the gallery has featured an extensive collection of paintings, drawings and lithographs from over one hundred classic and contemporary illustrators -- including Garth Williams, Dr. Seuss, Charles Schulz, David Shannon, Mark Teague, Mo Willems, the Brothers Hildebrandt, Hilary Knight and Maurice Sendak.
Every Picture Tells A Story has changed the historical perspective of illustration and continues to influence the world of art. It has created programming and outreach utilizing celebrity talent and continues to produce events that showcase reading and storytelling.
A publishing division of Every Picture Tells A Story..., Every Picture Press, has successfully created both children’s and adult illustrated books, including award-winning small-press publications, Painted Prayers and Rip Squeak and His Friends. and the landmark exhibition and biography, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis. She has consulted with numerous American publishers and worked with foreign publishers to introduce them to American book creations.
An exhibit of original art from the Every Picture Tells A Story... collection, curated by Lois Sarkisian and devoted to the subject of teaching tolerance, toured American museums and included stays in Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis and Los Angeles. The response to the artwork and the artists as well as the acceptance of the premise that children’s books can influence feelings and action in a positive way has inspired thousands of childrens and parents..
In addition to curating and publishing, Lois Sarkisian continues to consult on film and television projects for many independent producers and for both Dreamworks and Sony Pictures. She also devotes herself to a wide variety of cultural, environmental groups and political candidates who support vital children’s and women’s issues. Among the groups she has been involved with are Pediatric AIDS, Make A Wish, Big Sisters,and Wonder of Reading.
PLEASE RSVP SuzyBlock@gmail.com
0r SoozyEB@aol.com
seating is limited!

Be careful NOT to park in 'permit only' spaces on side streets!
Looking forward to seeing you all! ....Suzy
818 389 1950

Monday, November 8, 2010

Illustrators' Schmooze in OC

Let's schmooze!
Come share your best illustration and news of 2010.
Saturday, November 20
10:30 am
at the studio of Marilyn Scott-Waters

Contact me if you need directions.

Join us for lunch afterwards at a nearby restaurant.

See you there!

Veronica Walsh

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Westside Writers Schmooze meets to discuss "VOICE: The End-All Definition"

These books have it. Voice. So just what IS "it?"

Schmooze Recap: Part 1
Note: This first half of this Schmooze recap first appeared on Rita's personal blog at rhcrayon: The Blog! the morning after the October 13th Schmooze.

All right. So here's the promise Lee and I made to the world in our latest e-blast about the SCBWI Westside Schmooze.

Subject: The SCBWI Westside Schmooze -- Wednesday, October 13th at 7 PM

Does October mean thrills, chills, and suspense to you? Well, it should if you attend the next meeting of the SCBWI Westside Schmooze! Because on October 13th, at 7 PM, we will meet to unmask . . .

VOICE: The End-All Definition

That's right. Editors and Agents often say that while they can fix everything else in a manuscript, Voice is that one special quality a manuscript must have from the start, for them to fall in love. Yet when it comes to defining what Voice IS, even the greats flounder, with many falling back on the axiom "You know it when you see it."

What is THAT about? Are we in the business of describing things or aren't we?? At the next Westside Schmooze we aim to settle this mystery once and for all--AND come up with an End-All Definition--by showing great examples of Voice, analyzing WHAT IT IS, and sharing exercises that will help each of us find and perfect our own. For Picture Book through Young Adult, fiction and non-fiction. Let's do this. It's time.

Now, I'll admit I've been frustrated in my life lately, and I wrote this email with a mad gleam in my eye when the weather had taken a turn for the worse.


I think it's hilarious to set out to do "impossible" things--especially because (in my experience) 60-65% of the time, it totally works. Most of the time, the only reason anything is perceived as "impossible" is because it's unlikely you'll get enough people to back your vision. Once you have that, the thing itself is easy.

We had 41 people attend this Schmooze, and I really thought we were going to do it. Not come up with an "End-All" Definition like I'd advertised (that would be impossible!) but come up with a definition that we 40+ children's book writers could live with, which we would then throw down in cyberspace like a gauntlet to the world. I wanted to stir things up.

We had . . . an excellent discussion, full of impassioned, articulate insights. It's not true that no one knows what Voice is, or can define it in a few pithy words. Plenty of people can--and did tonight. It's just that every time someone put theirs out there, we all agreed with and then rebutted it. The spirit was willing, but the time ran out.

(Also, I think a lot of people like that Voice is an ineffable mystery and subconsciously sabotaged our efforts.)

I've been fed up lately with how no one can agree on what Voice "is," in a few blunt words, even though we do all recognize it when we hear it. Lee and I and Karol read examples from books tonight that gave everyone thrills and chills. Few people had the view of the room we did. 41 grownups turned into rapt little children, falling under a spell, every. Single. Time. Grr.


I had a vision of us gathering like tribal leaders that would go down in history.

Nathan Bransford, for your excellent post on Voice written May 10th of this year, I bow at your feet.


Schmooze Recap: Part 2

Here is a small sampling of the suggestions that came up during this night's impassioned discussion.

VOICE IS . . .

. . . authority. Letting the reader feel--through specificity of word choice and details used--that they are in good hands. That you, the Author, have Authorial Control.

. . . performance. Imagine your readers eating popcorn as your story unfolds.

. . . to writers what "Style" is to photographers: the subject matter you choose to show, plus "how" you show it. In photography, "'how" means camera/equipment settings. In writing, this means favorite writing techniques.

. . . soul.

. . . a figment of the Reader's imagination. It's what readers always SAY they like when--for any reason--they like what you've written.

. . . tone. (Which sparked a discussion on Mood as well, and whether these differ.)

. . . what makes your work unmistakably, recognizably yours, even when your name isn't given. (Examples abounded. David Mamet came up a couple times!)

. . . possession. That thing--the mysterious Muse--that takes us over as we write, for which we are merely the conduit.

. . . difficult to distinguish from masturbation--meaning: once you've found your Voice, how do you know when enough is enough? (From here we segued to the "Moderation" section of Nathan Bransford's excellent blog post on "How To Craft A Great Voice," which was an article we reference many times that night. Speaking of which, Rita also shared this comment Nathan Bransford wrote in the Comments section to that post: "I think voice is there when it's adjustable. Can you dial up or down certain elements? . . . [I]s it enough of an entity that you can think of it apart from the elements it's describing?")

. . . the Holy Grail.

. . . trending towards the sarcastic and snarky these days.

. . . determined by your audience. (For example, do you write for just one person? How well do you know your audience?)

On this, Rita also shared M.T. Anderson's fascinating suggestion--from Lee's exclusive interview on Lee's blog this summer: M.T. Anderson said that he imagines voice going TOWARDS the reader in MG, but coming FROM the narrator in YA and adult.

. . . when an editor or agent says, "I want your book!"

Throughout the evening, the group also discussed

the Voice of the author vs. that of characters,

whether authors each have one "true" Voice or whether each of one's works possesses its own. (One nice analogy was made to actors: some actors are highly visible and dependable in what they deliver, and some disappear completely into each new character they play.)

the helpfulness of "tone" and/or "mood" in defining Voice (is there a

the distinction between Literary Writing and Commercial, and so much more.

Mary Kole's blog was also brought up as an excellent resource for us all, in addition to Nathan Bransford's mentioned above.

We ended the evening by sharing some thought-provoking exercises to take home.

We also tried THIS fun exercise during the last minutes of Schmooze itself--
which you can do now, too!

Every Schmooze attendee spent two minutes writing down their own opening line to "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." (The moment when Goldilocks is at the bear's door.)

As the final moments of the Schmooze ticked down, volunteers raised their hand to share their opening lines, and we all marveled at the truly spectacular, different Voices that came shining through--and at the wildly different tellings of "Goldilocks" that each next Voice promised!

Have your own insights on Voice to share, or your own first line to "Goldilocks and the Three Bears?" Please post them in the comments; we'd love to hear from you!

your Schmooze co-Captains

Rita Crayon Huang and Lee Wind


Please join us at our NEXT Westside Writers Schmooze on Wednesday, November 10th
at 7 PM, when we meet to learn more about

Library, School and Bookstore Author Visits with Ann Wagner, Elisabeth Abarbanel and Sharon Hearn.

Most authors don't make their full income from book sales alone. Many see author visits (to libraries, schools and bookstores) as a critical part of their career.

So whether you're already published or just planning for the road ahead, come hear our expert panel discuss "What makes a good author visit" and "how do you, as an author, get that opportunity?"

Our expert panel: Ann Wagner is a Youth Services Librarian at the main branch of the Santa Monica Public Library. Elisabeth Abarbanel is a middle and upper school librarian at Brentwood School, an Independent School in Los Angeles. And Sharon Hearn is the owner of Children's Book World, an independent children's book store in West Los Angeles.

Hear what works (and what doesn't), find out what they're looking for and learn how to set yourself up for success. For Picture Book through Young Adult, fiction and non-fiction.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Schmoozin' On The Westside


SCBWI Westside Illustrators Schmooze
Monday Evening, October 18, 2010
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
11624 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064

'Self-Promotion & Marketing...'
for the published and non-published...
Standing out in the crowd is the name of the game...
1)Let's get out of the closet!
make sure we are all on track with
postcards, portfolios, websites,
mailing lists, branding, etc.
Make a plan!
2) Book Promotion... launches, book signings,
speaking engagements, blog tours,
social networking, book trailers, etc.
Oh Noooo!
3) BRING & SHARE some of your own promotional materials...
and expertise...
4)BRING & SHARE your contest entrees for Illustrators Day...
(if you have one)

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...if you can... SoozyEB@aol.com

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 door reads - "Alliance Francaise."

DIRECTIONS???... http://maps.google.com/maps?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLR,GGLR:2006-05,GGLR:en&q=11624+W.+Pico+BLvd,+Los+Angeles,+CA+90064&um=1&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&resnum=1&ct=title

... 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

If you wish to be removed from this email list...just let me know.

come visit me at... http://www.SuzyEngelmanBlock.com

Friday, September 24, 2010

Westside Writers Schmooze Talks Writing Tips, Tricks and Techniques

On Wednesday Sept 15, 2010, 40 of us gathered in a giant circle in Santa Monica's Fairview Branch Library Community Room to share our best writing advice. There was so much good stuff, including:

respect your own creative process (whether you think best in the shower, or walking the dog, or doing a jigsaw puzzle!)

writing down your ideas right away because "the creative mind has no memory,"

"don't be afraid of using technology,"

read authors you love to get inspired,

three senses make a scene come alive,

give yourself a deadline,

eavesdrop to improve your dialog,

failure is an option - that's how great strides are made,

record yourself reading your work out loud,

and perhaps most importantly...

Hope to see you at our next schmooze which is going to be about VOICE. And maybe we'll even come up with a definition!

Happy Writing,

Lee and Rita
Your Westside Schmooze Coordinators

Monday, September 20, 2010

OC/Riverside Schmooze, 9/13, Katie Wheeler Library: WRITING IS REWRITING

THANK YOU to the amazing group of writers who schmoozed it up in Irvine on Sept. 13th. Even with our big circle--we were able to discuss queries, upcoming events, and brainstorm individual revision concerns. Here is what we came up with:

Hemmingway was said to have revised For Whom the Bell Tolls 40 times. Janet Fitch reworked White Oleander almost fifty times. So don’t feel bad if you’ve rewritten your manuscript more times than you can count on your fingers (or toes, for that matter.)

In her book Pen on Fire, local author Barbara DeMarco-Barrett says that “writing is rewriting.” She also says that rewriting is “where the craft works its magic. Things slip into their slots.” DeMarco-Barrett helps us remember this truth. Revising is where we become extraordinary writers.

But face it, revising is overwhelming. Painstaking. And seems downright impossible at times. That is why revision should be taken in steps—layer by layer. In the same fashion as YA author, John H. Ritter’s Seven Layers of Revision, we brainstormed our own list of “layers” to focus on in our rewrites. Take highlighters, post-it notes, whatever works, and go through your manuscript looking for one element at a time.

The OC/Riverside Schmoozer’s Layers of Revision List:

1.) humor

2.) clichés (cut them, or twist them into something interesting)

3.) clarity of voice/POV

4.) passive writing

5.) dialogue (and tags as well)

6.) word searches (look for words you over used)

7.) show not tell

8.) density

9.) clarity of plot, pacing, balance between dialogue/action/narration—do all your scenes move your plot forward?

10.) tone

Take it slow, Pace yourself…and then jump! You can do it!

Schmoozer’s recommendations:

Books on craft:

*The Fire in Your Fiction, by Donald Maass

*Self Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King

Website resources: Wordle.com & Writerscafe.com

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Welcome back Westside Illustrators!


We're off and running for another great year!

SCBWI Westside Illustrators Schmooze
Monday Evening, September 20, 2010
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm[Image] 11624 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064

Dummy Review 101'
or 'Back to work, Dummies!'

1) Demos of 2 great ways to build a dummy book...
Start off the schmooze year with a brand new dummy.
Resolve to have it finished by our May meeting.

2) BRING your existing children's book dummy,
if you have one or many... in any stage of development.
We want to 'begin with the end in mind'

'Summer Conference Review

1) Reporting about the summer conference.

2) Bring your notes & experiences if you were an attendee
We'll listen and learn and discuss.

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...if you can... SoozyEB@aol.com

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 door reads - "Alliance Francaise."

DIRECTIONS???... http://maps.google.com/maps?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLR,GGLR:2006-05,GGLR:en&q=11624+W.+Pico+BLvd,+Los+Angeles,+CA+90064&um=1&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&resnum=1&ct=title

... 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... http://www.SuzyEngelmanBlock.com

Thursday, July 1, 2010

OC Illustrators meet July 10

Hey there illustrators!

Let's Schmooze!
Saturday, July 10
10:30 am - 12:30pm
at Marilyn's

Final prep for the summer conference. Bring copies of artwork, postcards, biz cards or any thing else you'd like to receive comment on from your fellow illustrators.

Contact me if you have questions or need directions to Marilyn's.

See you there!

Veronica Walsh

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Westside Writers Schmooze Talks About Getting Publishing!

A Career in Children's Literature means
you have to find the balance between
inspiration, craft, and business.

In a final whirlwind of information and goodwill before our summer hiatus, 38 of us gathered on the second Wednesday of June to talk about the business of getting published.

We discussed ways to break through, including Slush piles, Contests, and Networking.

We talked Query Letters. Cover Letters. Writing that darn synopsis.

We looked at RESEARCHING editors and agents (and how not to get overwhelmed by it)

We hit on Conferences (like the upcoming SCBWI International Conference here in Los Angeles, SCBWILA10) Business Cards, doing your homework, websites, blogs, creating an online presence for yourself, and having that "elevator pitch" ready to go (it always comes up!)

Much of the information from this night was drawn from the following resources, which we recommend as excellent starting places for feeling your way around the Web and learning how Children’s book publishing works.

A Few Resources (not endorsed by SCBWI)

Getting Started

--This is the first link under “Resource Library” on SCBWI’s main Web site. Viewable by the public, including non-members. Includes FAQs, articles on how to format your manuscript, etc.

--If your SCBWI membership is current, you can also log in at the Web site to check out the directories and resources SCBWI provides in their “Resource Library.” (Agent Directories, Book Festivals, etc.)

Useful Blogs on Query Letters and How Publishing Works

Mary Kole, Andrea Brown Literary Agency:
Filled with wide-ranging, helpful answers debunking common quandaries we wrestle with as children’s book writers. Children’s book specific!

Jill Corcoran, Herman Agency, Inc.:
Click on the Labels listed on the left to sort posts by topic. Categories include Query Letters, Research (which includes more helpful resources on the Web!), Writing Tips, and much more.
Also lists other helpful blogs and resources along the right (as most blogs do!) Children’s book specific!

Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent, Curtis Brown, Ltd.:
Has lots of contests and insight into the submission process.
Check out the list on the left of general articles on publishing he’s written. Nathan Bransford is extremely articulate on nearly every aspect of publishing!

Miss Snark, the literary agent:
A now defunct blog that remains online for posterity. Filled with terrific, merciless insights on writing Query Letters and more. Not for the faint of heart. (Use the categories listed on the right—such as “query letters,” “QnA,” “Crapometer-Cover Letters,” “Crapometer-First Pages,” etc.--to avoid getting sucked into reading the whole, highly entertaining blog.)

As you read these, you’ll find other names of additional helpful sites and blogs popping up repeatedly. Check those out once in a while, and before you know it, you’ll have a pretty good sense of who’s out there and where to find them.

Researching Agents

Literary Rambles:
Casey McCormick has assembled an amazing wealth of information on literary agents in Children’s book publishing. The majority of this information comes from online—the same as you could find yourself—but it’s all compiled here for you. The site is still growing, with more agents being added every week. You can even request which agent you’d like to see added next!

IF you are ready to start reading updates on which agents are selling what kind of projects to whom, you can subscribe to Publisher’s Marketplace. It's about $20.- a month, and offers a searchable database, yielding a wealth of information.

Or sign up for Publishers Lunch here which gives you just a taste of the info of what's selling... It's an excellent resource, and it's FREE!

Researching Editors

SCBWI provides a lovely document called “Edited By,” available as a downloadable PDF to members, which lists Editors by publishing houses, along with some of the titles they’ve edited. (If you are an SCBWI member, check it out here!)

We also recommend Googling editors to see which titles they cite in their own bios, online interviews, and blogs, and then going out and reading those books! Many editors are also thanked by their authors in the acknowledgments section of books, and it's worthwhile to make note of who edited your recent favorites.

Popular reference books listing Publishers and Agents

Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market
--Often referred to as CWIM. Comes out annually. Also includes excellent articles and interviews.

Jeff Herman's Guide To Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents: Who They Are! What They Want! How To Win Them Over!
--Includes some personal info on hobbies, interests, etc., to give you insight into the people you are querying. Comes out annually. (Not specific to Children’s publishing, so sift through entries for that. )

Great Blog Resources to Know About

Betsy Bird's Fuse #8
If you want to keep up on what recently published Children’s books people are talking about this year, you would be hard pressed to do better than checking out the titles Betsy has reviewed for School Library Journal.

Alice Pope’s SCBWI Children’s Market blog:
Alice is the former editor of CWIM, and has a new blog that covers the industry for SCBWI... Among other things, every Wednesday she highlights that week’s best Children’s literature-related Tweets from Twitter! This is an excellent point of entry for those of us who know about twitter, but aren't quite ready to jump in ourselves!

If you are on Twitter, you can also check out the children’s book-related Twitter chats, such as Tuesday at 6pm Pacific #kidlitchat (transcripts of past chats are at Greg Pincus’s Happy Accident blog)

There's a full listing of twitter chats and events compiled by Debbie Ohi here! Don’t just check them out. Join in!

In addition to discussing all the above, we talked a bit about how not to get overwhelmed by all the information out there.

Remember: You don’t need to track everything going on, or read every blog entry! You only need a good sense of where all the information exists so you can find it when you’re ready for it. Ultimately, everyone’s path to publication will be their own.

Feel free to add YOUR favorite resources to share in comments!

Oh, and one more thing: We challenged everyone attending to set a GOAL for themselves this summer. A Goal for each of the three areas of this career - A Goal for Inspiration, A Goal for Craft, and a Goal for Business.

So play along at home, and set yourself some Goals for this Summer... (And remember, it's only fair to set goals that you control. Goals like "I'm going to finish that revision," "I'm going to submit to three agents," "I'm going to treat myself to a weekend at a SCBWI conference..." are the kind of goals you control meeting, and they are the kind of achievable goals we're suggesting.

The Westside Writers Schmooze will be taking the summer months of July and August off. We next meet on Wednesday, September 15th, at 7 pm, so mark your calendars! (It's a week later than usual due to the Jewish Holiday.) Exact topic to be announced.

So come join us in September, and we'll compare notes on how we all did with our Goals and our summers of business, craft and inspiration!

Enjoy your summers, everyone!

Rita and Lee