Thursday, April 29, 2010

Westside Writers Critique Middle Grade and Young Adult Novel Manuscripts at our Annual Critique Night!

Over 45 of us gathered on Wednesday April 14 to share and critique the first four pages of our middle grade and young adult novels.

We tried a different, symbol-based system to summarize "what makes a good critique." (Last month, for picture book critique night, we went with TACT)

This time, we went with


Which stood for

+ say something positive

? let the author ask questions

--> direct your constructive comments to specifics

+ end with encouragement

Again, the idea is that a good critique is like a sandwich - start and end with positives, let the author get their questions answered, and make your constructive feedback points kindly and tactfully.

We also brought up that the best way to receive a critique is to be a silent note-taker. Sometimes, your emotions are so engaged when hearing a critique it's hard to judge the feedback in that moment. A few days later, it can be very useful to look at your notes again, once you've had some time to think about it.

Rita reminded folks of the article "The Give and Take of Critique" by the amazing Linda Sue Park. Then we broke into 6 groups, each with 5 manuscripts as well as plenty of participants without manuscripts (because you can learn a LOT by hearing and participating in a critique - even of someone else's work!).

This month, we tried something new by having Lee call out the start and stop times for each manuscript's 15-minute interval. The evening flew by, the cookies disappeared, and we all learned a tremendous amount from reading, listening, and sharing + ? --> + feedback with each other!

Once again, it was a highly successful no-tears event, with the finale being a round of applause for everyone brave enough to share their works in progress.

We hope you join us at our next schmooze on Wednesday, May 12th at 7 PM, when we meet to discuss:

"Muahuaha! Villains, Antagonists, and Conflict"

What changes in your story, and Why? What obstacles, adversities, and adversaries do your main characters overcome, and what compels readers to care? How can you keep your antagonist from being 2 dimensional - or are you writing the kind of story that has no villain at all? Last December, guest speaker Paula Yoo reminded us of Aaron Sorkin's formula:

Intention + Obstacle = Conflict = Story.

Come figure out the "obstacle" and "conflict" portions of the equation for what you're writing! For writers of Picture Books through YA, non-fiction and fiction.

Get more details on where here, and you can RSVP to

We look forward to seeing you there!


Rita and Lee

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Illustrators' Schmooze in O.C., May 15

Let's get together and schm-o-o-o-o-o-ze!
Saturday, May 15
10:30 am-12:30 pm
at Marilyn's home/studio in O.C.

Bring samples of picture book covers and we'll examine what makes a successful first impression.

As usual, feel free to bring your latest artwork to share with the group. Contact me for directions to Marilyn's.

Veronica Walsh

Monday, April 5, 2010

Westside Illustrators April Guest Speaker

Westside Illustrators Schmooze

Monday Evening, April 19, 2010
7:00pm - 9:00pm
11624 W. Pico Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Get Up-Close & Personal with Agent...

Jamie Weiss Chilton
of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency
We've written AND illustrated
our own stories, with 'dummies' ready to sell.
Art rep OR lit agent OR publisher? Get the low-down
on agencies and representation.
This will be a great evening for both writers and illustrators!

Jamie Weiss Chilton represents children's books exclusively: teen novels,
middle grade fiction, graphic novels, picture books, and narrative nonfiction.
Her specific interests include contemporary literary fiction with
intense emotional content (character-driven, not issue-driven plots);
smart thrillers and mysteries; science fiction; surreal stories and
magical realism;and sweet, funny, quirky picture books.

Jamie's career in children's books began in 1998,
with an editorial internship at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers,
followed by positions as an Editorial Assistant and Assistant Editor at
Bantam Delacorte Dell and Knopf & Crown Books for Young Readers,
divisions of Random House Children's Books. After returning to her
hometown of Los Angeles, Jamie pursued her love of children's books
in a new arena, as Conference Manager and Golden Kite Award Director
at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)
before joining the Andrea Brown Agency in 2008.

Her recent sales include ORCHARDS, a YA novel in verse by Holly Thompson (Delacorte); FALL INTO ME, a debut YA by Jennifer Castle (Harper Collins); BAD FOR YOU, a graphic novel by co-creators Kevin C. Pyle and Scott Cunningham (Holt); JAMMY DANCE, a picture book by Rebecca Janni, to be illustrated by Tracy Dockray (FSG); and Tracey E. Fern's nonfiction picture book BARNUM'S BONES to be illustrated by Boris Kulikov (FSG).
for more info;

Voluntary $5.00 donation for this event...Thank You!

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...

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."


... 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...