Wednesday, March 16, 2011

CANCELED TONIGHT! Westside Illustrators Schmoozin'

Westside Illustrators Schmooze
Monday Evening, -March 21, 2011 postponed to April 11
7pm - 9pm
11624 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles

Back by popular demand!
'Through the Art Director's Eyes!
Art Director, Laurie Young will walk us through
the job of hiring the right artist for the right project!
Try your hand at this challenge.

Laurie Young, Art Director & Graphic Designer will talk
about what she looks for in an illustrator, the process of choosing an artist for a project, & how an illustrator can
best position themselves for consideration.

1) RSVP and you will be sent a picture book text.
2) Do your research.
3) Bring 3-5 samples of different illustrators whom you feel would be good match for the material.

You can print out color samples from online
pages, or bring in work of artists you know.
We will have a lively discussion of the merits of each
and ultimately "choose" one artist for the job.

AND...continuing monthly challenges
"Baby Steps... Dream BIG, Start Small'
"A Doodle a Day"

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

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

come visit me at...

Monday Evening, March 21, 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Westside Writers Schmooze Annual Picture Book Critique Night

Oh, the glories of critique night! 42 of us gathered to talk and read and help everyone get to a better understanding of what makes a great picture book, and for those of us brave enough to share our works in progress, how to make OUR stories the best they can be.

We started off the evening with announcing that Karol Silverstein and Charlie Cohen will be taking over the Westside Writers Schmooze Co-Captaining duties from Rita and Lee starting with our May 2011 meeting! Hurray, Karol and Charlie!!! We can’t wait to see what amazing adventures you’ll be taking us all on.

Lee reminded everyone of the sandwich method of critiquing – say something nice, ask the author if they have specific questions, share your kind constructive thoughts on things that might be improved, and end with encouragement for the author to revise.

Rita advised authors on how best to handle receiving feedback, and ran down some wonderful categories of things to look and listen and read for when critiquing – culled from this wonderful article by Linda Sue Park on "The Give and Take of Critique."

Jeff reminded us that the SCBWI grant applications are due in just a few days (March 15, 2011)!
(It's worth noting March 15 is a "Received by" deadline. Once you identify which grants interest you, click along the left to read more about them and download applications.)

Charlie regaled us with the lamentably true tale of a TV show’s dissing the effort that goes into creating quality children’s books, with an upcoming episode of “Celebrity Apprentice” making writing picture books their timed challenge. Next week, they’ll be doing Celebrity Apprentice timed heart surgery, because hey, it must be easy - everyone has a heart, right? (Though we’re not sure about those Celebrity Apprentice producers!)*

*While the picture book episode is evidently real, the heart surgery one is just Lee’s bitter cattiness, disguised as humor. He hopes you find it funny, too. (Rita assures me she does. Thanks, Rita!)

We also shared that SCBWI offers a wonderful service for local members who are interested in finding--or starting--their own critique group. Learn all about SCBWI Critique Connections Online here at, and/or by emailing

We mentioned the upcoming, FREE Critiquenic that happens in Roxbury Park, in Beverly Hills, on June 4th, where people also gather to exchange feedback on their manuscripts--that have perhaps been revised based on feedback from tonight!

And with talk of getting manuscripts in shape for the upcoming SCBWI Summer Conference and the additional Manuscript Consultation and Intensive Workshop opportunities there (Summer Conference registration begins April 15th!), we launched into our evening of reading, laughter, serious discussion, and baked goods!

With seven or eight people around six large tables, each group had five manuscripts to review. (A few tables had less than five, so Rita and Lee had in advance typed up the texts from three successful picture books so those tables could analyze them as their original editors might have – experiencing them text-only.)

We had a picnic this Sunday past, by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Diane Greenseid

City Dog, Country Frog, by Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon J Muth

The Quiet Book, by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska.

This is a great exercise to do yourself – choose a favorite picture book (we chose recently published, well-received books whose authors were different than their illustrators) and type it out in manuscript form. You’ll learn a lot from the experience.

We hope you join us next month for our annual . . . Middle Grade/Young Adult Critique Night!

Come share and give feedback on your MG or YA works-in-progress in a warm, open, encouraging environment, and see what your fellow writers have been working on! Manuscripts are NOT required to participate. Critiquing is a great way to learn. If you DO wish to share a middle grade or young adult manuscript, please bring SIX copies of up to FOUR pages (or roughly 800 words, if you write verse) in proper manuscript form (double spaced, normal fonts and margins). Both fiction and non-fiction are welcome.

Please email to RSVP, and mention whether you will be bringing a manuscript to share or not. Thanks!

Cheers and Namaste,

Your Co-Captains for one more schmooze,

Rita and Lee

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Oh, the irony! Of being slow to blog about the schmooze where we discussed "Presenting Ourselves Online!"

Over 46 of us gathered at the Westside Writers Schmooze last month to talk about social media, networking, platforms, and all manner of online goodness.

To start, we went over a schmoozerific checklist Rita brought of easy steps we could all potentially take (not saying "should," just "could") in presenting ourselves online.

These steps progressed from Basic: Be findable, professional, and explore the community. (Read blogs! Get informed! Don't know where to start? Try the links listed here.)

through Intermediate: Create content and engage with the community

to what to do before you submit a manuscript, once your books are out, and a bigger discussion about platforms.

A number of interesting ideas were discussed along the way. Such as: Do different email providers have different stigmas or status attached to them? Are we better off choosing a gmail email address than, say, yahoo? What about best addresses for our blogs? (Blogger? Wordpress? Livejournal? Our own?)

Or the "crazy test" - which is what most editors and agents are really doing when they're interested in buying your book or representing you and they google you. They just want to make sure you're not crazy. So consider that when presenting yourself online. As above, you want to be findable and professional.

It was recommended we set up Google alerts on our own names, so that we, too, could find out what others might learn about us. (On this, Greg Pincus recommended his two-part, quick tutorial on how to set up a Google Alert, at his Web site The Happy Accident.)

Other great tips from that night:
- the benefits of Google Reader to organize your blog reading,
- compelling reasons to sign up for free Twitter and Facebook accounts sooner rather than later,
- and blogging platforms! Regarding understanding platforms, Greg Pincus also suggested everyone check out Christina Katz's Web site. (Click on the links list at the right to find her posts
sorted by tag, such as under "Author Platform.")

The entire group also worked through some illuminating worksheets Lee generously shared from his "Ready, Set, Blog!" workshop, to help each of us define the theme that runs through our writing - and to consider the synergy we can create between our on-line presence and our writing for children and teens.

A discussion of what goes in our "About Me" bios led to our climactic, go-round-the-room exercise: Each of us took a turn sharing one interesting tidbit about ourselves that people might not know, which we might or might not choose to incorporate in our bios. The resulting reveals were wildly various--and eye-opening--helping us get to know each other anew, and giving us food for thought on how we'd like to present ourselves going forward!

So think about what YOU are doing online, and for inspiration and cheering-us-all-on support, make sure to check out the following websites and blogs of our Westside Writers Schmooze Schmoozers!

Rita Crayon Huang
Lee Wind
Joshua Hauke
Megan Frances Abrahams
Lori Berezin
Phil Houtz
Rhonda Hayter
Melaine Bryant
Stephanie Dreyer
Daniel Teeter
Joan Charles
Greg Pincus and
L. Fernandez
June Sobel
Cindy Marcus
Jennifer Bao Yu "Precious Jade" Jue-Steuck
Bob Miller and
Serge Delpierre

Namaste, and Cheers,

Lee and Rita

Photo of The Westside Writers Schmooze in action by Rita Crayon Huang