rhcrayon: The Blog!
Aug. 1st, 2013
The annual, four-day SCBWI Summer Conference starts tomorrow! For some of us, it starts tonight—with some pre-conference karaoke (woo hoo!!). And for some, it started yesterday.
But I'm not actually attending this year! For the first time in over a decade. Because I'm pregnant. Due in a few days.
Still, the baby isn't here yet. So now (in addition to karaoke-ing tonight) I'm hoping to stop by and say hi to the many good friends who will be in town, get coffee, hang out . . .
The other reason I'm not attending this year is that SCBWI discontinued my Summer Conference photography arrangement with them of several years. (It's nothing personal. There have been some shifts in the main office, and the new crew is not as aware of the work I've done for them. Alas.) But the fact that I'm pregnant is a much more cheerful reason.
I hope to see many of you there.
I will see many good conference friends at karaoke tonight—Woo hoo!! My husband is bringing our new video camera, hoping to capture me shaking this pregnant belly to some inspired hip hop (which is so wrong.) This will definitely be his last chance.
Unless . . . I make an appearance at the SCBWI party Saturday night . . . ?? The theme is "Black and White," and this body is perfect for a penguin . . .
I'm just sayin'. ;)
P.S. Time permitting, I may still post a few informal pictures from around the fringes of the conference, afterward. There look to be some promising goings-ons this year.
So check back!
Jun. 18th, 2013
Okay, but seriously now. I need to solve my book's problems now.
Do you hear me, universe??!? shakes fist at sky
Thunder lightning thunderlightning!!
Jun. 13th, 2013
01:39 pm - Blood, Pain, and Encouragement
The lovely Edith Cohn (check out her Web site! I took that author photo!) just sent our writing group this PW interview with Laura Amy Schlitz on Ms. Schlitz's writing and research process for Splendors and Glooms, which won a 2013 Newbery Honor, as a way to encourage me specifically. Here are some of my favorite quotes from it:
"I just couldn’t get this book under control. It was like a marathon. A blood-stained marathon."
"I’d write 10 chapters about three characters but those chapters left two other characters out in the cold. I’d run myself into a dead alley and I’d have to tear them up. I felt so stupid."
"I love making up characters. I could make up characters till the cows came home. Plot’s what hard. Very hard. . . . [I]t nearly killed me."
And I love this quote from the interview's end:
Would you rather be writing fulltime?
No, I wouldn’t give up the children. They are an inspiration to me.
Of course, as I continued reading that last paragraph it hit me that Ms. Schlitz was referring to her job as a school librarian, not children's she had. It was so much funnier when I thought she meant her biological children! And I was relieved when I thought she meant that. I guess the secret's out now: I'm pregnant. So the idea of juggling new parenthood with writing has been on my mind a lot.
I'll end this post with another image that's been on my mind: My husband and I recently took a Childbirth Preparation Class, and I wanted so badly to take a picture and post it on Facebook, labeled "Childbirth Preparation Class." I couldn't—because we were sitting in a small group in a tiny little room facing each other and had to stay poker-faced. But the woman had wheeled in a whiteboard, and the only words written on it, in all caps, were,
I wanted to laugh hysterically. The reason she had written these words was that she wanted to talk about these ideas and demystify them. It was meant to be reassuring. But that was the dominant visual the whole time. She had even written TRUST and circled it earlier but erased that to write these. (I have no idea why she wrote TRUST. I've forgotten.)
Anyway, you should read the whole PW interview with Laura Amy Schlitz. Her talking about blood and pain is encouraging. I love, love, love Ms. Schlitz's A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama and can't wait to check out Splendors and Glooms. I can't believe I haven't read it already!
A Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
View all my reviews on GoodReads
May. 14th, 2013
03:12 pm - Some days . . . (and somedays)
Sometimes you just have to cry.
I've been working on this book a long time. A long time. A . . . long time.
I've been working on the same problem in this book for a long time. And trying to see if there's a way to write the book without solving it. And taking breaks from it. Taking walks. Showers. Vacations. Ice cream, cookies, exercise, journals. Just, generally, holding it together. I have great writing groups, friends, family. I have my health. I'm counting my blessings.
Someday I'll figure this out. But not today. Again.
Apr. 12th, 2013
Photos from this year's wildly successful SCBWI-LA Writer's Days conference on "Diversity" are up!
SCBWI-LA Writer's Days 2013: "Diversity!"
Sat. & Sun., March 9-10, in San Gabriel, CA
Lovely contest winners from this year's SCBWI-LA Writer's Days. From left to right, top row: Lori Snyder, Erin Fry, Mary Williams. Second row: Christine Bernardi, Judy Kay Slowey-Sly, and Axie Oh.
You can view the full set from both Saturday and Sunday on Facebook here, or on Flickr here.
From Flickr you can download the image files directly by clicking "Actions"-->"View All Sizes"-->and then selecting the size you need. Please credit Rita Crayon Huang if you use any of these on your Web sites, blogs, Facebook, etc. If anyone wants the full-size originals--like, if you wanted to print specific photos out--contact me and I'll send them to you directly. Thanks, and enjoy!
This year's SCBWI-LA Writer's Days conference theme was "Diversity," and--as you will see from the pictures--our regional advisors Sarah Laurenson and Lee Wind put together a stellar lineup of speakers who really spoke to the topic and examined it from all angles--and were really fun and dynamic to listen to, to boot! (I could make a collage out of Daniel Nayeri's expressions alone--but, I will refrain.)
This was the second year SCBWI-LA has added Sunday intensives to Writer's Day, creating Writer's Days plural--a full, weekend event. I took the World Building intensive on Sunday, along with several good friends (and we all did the reading quite diligently). The class was called "Setting As Character: Building Your World," taught by Malinda Lo, and it was super helpful. I loved how you could tell that everyone in the class had come ready to roll up their sleeves and work. Everyone's comments smacked of experience.
Sunday Intensives, World Building Track: "Setting as Character: Building Your World" with Malinda Lo
Thank you again to all of the hardworking volunteers who participated, and most of all to Lee, Sarah, and Sally Jones Rogan for putting on a spectacular two-day event! I really learned a lot and had a blast doing it!
And congratulations again to all of the contest winners--and to Sue Welfringer for winning this year's Sue Alexander Service and Encouragement (SASE) Award. And to Edie Pagliasotti for winning a special SASE Award.
I hope you all enjoy the photos, :)
Dec. 5th, 2012
Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour--and Book Drive!--2012 took place this past weekend. I took an even dozen pictures. Check them out on Facebook here, or by clicking the image below:
Karol and me, chief organizers of this year's LA Kid Lit holiday event
About 50 people were there at the height, with several of us lined up before the bar opened, and others hanging out until Happy Hour's bittersweet end three and a half hours later. I didn't bring my flash, though, so I didn't document most of it. (Deliberate strategy, honestly.)
Last partyers standing! Closing down LA Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour 2012.
Others have posted their pictures at the Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour--and Book Drive!--2012 Facebook page, so check those out, too. And Karol and Charlie will still be collecting books for the book drive at tonight's SCBWI-LA Westside Writers Schmooze in Santa Monica.
I also took a few token shots at the screening of Library of the Early Mind that happened just before this, at the Santa Monica Public Library just a couple blocks away. I was so happy to see this film at last--and to see so many familiar faces gathered there!
Free screening of Library of the Early Mind, a 2010 documentary exploring the art and impact of children’s literature on our kids, our culture, and ourselves. Above, Lee offers a few words of introduction on behalf of SCBWI Los Angeles, who co-sponsored the event with the Santa Monica Public Library, and Karol gets mad props for making this screening and partnership happen.
As I wrote on the screening's Facebook page,
"Thank you again to the Westside Writers Schmooze (Karol and Charlie!), SCBWI-LA, and the Santa Monica Public Library for putting this together. Those of you who didn't make it, don't despair. Apparently you can also watch this movie on Library of the Early Mind's Web site--for a $5 rental fee. :) But it was so great to watch it with this vibrant group!"
Happy Holidays, Kid Lit Community!!
P.S. Special thanks to D for helping me decorate boxes for the holiday book drive, engaging with the movie (yay! I'm glad he liked it!), and then keeping me supplied with food and drinks throughout the Happy Hour, when he knew I would be too scattered to feed myself. I'm lucky, I know.
Nov. 20th, 2012
05:10 pm - This Dec. 1st: Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour, LIBRARY OF THE EARLY MIND, & Apocalypsies Book Signing!
Just wanted to let you all know about three (3) exciting children's book events coming up on Saturday, Dec. 1st, open to all.
1) Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour--and Book Drive!--2012
is taking place at Wokcano in Santa Monica on Dec. 1st, from 4 to 7:30 pm. An informal mixer with holiday cheer. Come socialize with fellow creators and lovers of children's books! And bring your unwrapped, new and gently used children's books (board books through YA novels)!
Visit the "Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour--and Book Drive!--2012 Facebook page for more details on this year's event.
Click images above to view pictures from last year's Kid Lit Holiday Party and Book Drive. It was super fun--and produced a lot of holiday cheer for children in need!
2) This year's party immediately follows the nearby, FREE screening of Library of the Early Mind, a documentary interviewing nearly 40 celebrity children's book creators, at the Santa Monica Public Library Main Branch from 2 to 3:45 pm.
Library of the Early Mind interviews nearly 40 celebrity children's book creators, exploring the impact of children's literature on our kids, our culture, and ourselves.
The screening is co-sponsored by SCBWI-LA. For details including parking info, visit the "LIBRARY OF THE EARLY MIND - Free Screening!" Facebook page--and feel free to RSVP/"Join." I have been excited about this movie for a long time. By all accounts, it is wonderful.
3) The Kid Lit Happy Hour also follows the Apocalypsies Book Signing Party at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach from 2:30 to 3:30 pm, where nine (9) of our celebrated local authors will be signing books. Check out the superstar lineup through the link! People attending the book signing party will still have time to come to our Happy Hour, after . . .
So come one, come all! These events are open to all who love children's books, so please help spread the word!
Many MANY thanks to the organizers--especially Karol Ruth Silverstein this time around, who played an instrumental role both in bringing the screening to our area and getting this year's Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour and Book Drive underway.
Cheers, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope to see many of you on Dec. 1st!
P.S. Feel free to "Join"/RSVP at the above linked Facebook event pages. RSVPs are purely optional, but always appreciated.
Nov. 14th, 2012
Photos from this year's SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day are up!
SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day 2012
Saturday, Nov. 3rd in San Gabriel, CA
Winners from this year's SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day portfolio and illustration contests.
(L to R:) ID contest 3rd place - Megan Hartfelder, People's Choice portfolio winner - Mary Lundquist, ID contest 1st place- Ashlyn Anstee, ID contest 2nd place - Kent Culotta, Judge's Choice portfolio winner - Andrea Offermann, Judge's Choice portfolio winner - Keika Yamaguchi
The contest winners look so happy, don't they? You can see the full Illustrator's Day photo album on Facebook here or on Flickr here. As always, please include a credit if you use any of these images on your own media. Thanks!
To see illustrations entered into the contest, including the winning pieces, check out SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day's Facebook page, or go directly to the Facebook Illustration Contest album.
The fascinating thing about shooting Illustrator's Day is that it happens in the dark, because everyone brings visual aids. So, for example, I started out shooting from the speakers' left, because I wanted to piggyback off light from the screen and avoid some bright windows in the back. But I later realized those windows were giving everyone a silvery halo from behind, and tried to capture that on purpose. You find little things. :)
Most people don't realize these pictures are taken in the dark (I hope).
"I can see your halo (halo, halo . . . )"
This picture of Dan Krall, James Burks, and Mark Fearing from the early morning made me laugh. They look like the Three Little Monkeys--See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Speak No Evil--except they didn't put up their hands!
Which little monkey is which? It doesn't matter, because these three see, hear, and say everything.
Mary Peterson spotted me taking this photo and gave the grouping another name, which I won't repeat here. She's hilarious.
I love-Love-LOVED Merideth Harte's outfit on this day, though I'm scared to say what it made me think of, in case she didn't do it on purpose. (I personally wore my red pirate shorts and black lace-up boots on this day, so I hope she DID do what I was thinking on purpose. But maybe it was just me--and the angles and lights in the moment.)
Looks a bit like juggling . . .
And lion taming . . .
Plus being a ringmaster, and Awesome.
Seriously, though, at one point someone said something that was unintentionally awkward and Ms. Harte answered in a way that played that up, which made it funnier. And then she . . . *ahem* mimed opening a door and walking right through it. And I was like, Can those skills be accidental??
These thoughts led me to include one more picture at the end of the album that I normally wouldn't--but, this time, couldn't resist.
Am I allowed to post funny pics of luminaries I don't know?
I also had a good time taking pictures of friends all day long, like my good pal Mark Fearing, who gave a talk on digital apps.
Mark giving his "vignette" on creating apps, aptly named, "App talk"
You know, I originally didn't use that photo in the official album, because I second guess too much what people will like. But I'm adding it now, because I realize I don't want to blog the pictures I did put in. *eloquent shrug*
From the end of the day:
Mark Fearing is left autographing books long after SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day 2012 has ended
Mark signs hundreds of books (though they seem mostly to be by Peter H. Reynolds)
He is a very serious author/illustrator.
I also loved Dan Krall's opening talk, "Look, No Hands (or How I made a career in illustration without ever learning to draw hands)," which was so, so great. He said some things I really needed to hear right now with my work, about how if you really focus on conveying your ideas well, people won't notice your shortcomings in craft, that maybe you've been obsessing over for way too long. I especially loved the graph Dan made tracking artistry (along the vertical axis) to age (along the horizontal), showing his personal journey. It was hilarious and felt true.
[I did take a picture of that graph, but I won't show it, because that's his and maybe he'll want to give this talk again. But get Dan to show it to you, if you can. Go hear him speak!]
There were a lot more funny moments and celebrity sightings (Hi, Peepy!), so check out the full album.
If you come to SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day, you, too, can have this much fun! And hang out with beautiful women.
Every year that I've attended, the Coordinators have ended the day by thanking each and every volunteer by name who helped make Illustrator's Day happen. So I'd like to give a shout out to the three fearless leaders who REALLY made this event brilliant:
Thank you, Karyn Raz,
Thank you, Wilson Swain
for doing a stupendous job of putting Illustrator's Day together.
Our three fearless Coordinators thank each of us, even though we need to thank them!
Thank you guys for creating an amazing conference, and thanks for letting me participate, too. I love hanging out with all of you!
Visit the Illustrator's Day Web site or Facebook page, or email LAillustratorsday@yahoo.com for more information—both about this year's event and the next. (But, you know. Give our Coordinators a moment to recover. They deserve a vacation!)
P.S. One more personal highlight:
At the very, very end of the day, Mark Fearing lent me money so I could buy a copy of Peter H. Reynolds's Ish and get it signed.
Peter H. Reynolds signs my new copy of Ish at SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day 2012.
Mark, I still owe you a dollar!
Ish is a sequel to The Dot, which I already love and had brought my copy from home to get signed.
Ish and The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds, in the SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day 2012 bookstore
I first learned about The Dot when Lee dressed up as it for our Kid Lit Halloween Costume party last year:
Sara Wilson Etienne, me, and Lee Wind, dressed up as Harriet the Spy, Bunnicula, and The Dot, respectively. When Lee told us the story of The Dot, we all got chills. When I repeated it to my husband later (without having read it myself yet, mind you), I almost started crying. (Oct. 2011: Check out the rest of the Kid Lit Costumes here.)
The Dot is about getting started as an artist. Ish is about giving yourself permission to not do everything "perfectly"--to keep going. As with the message from Dan Krall's morning talk, this was something I needed to hear right now. (Peter H. Reynolds read Ish to us during his end-of-the-day talk.) I also chatted with Mark Fearing and Andrea Offermann on this subject, afterward, so thank all of you so much . . .
And finally . . .
Did you know there's a collection of my SCBWI event photos on Flickr?
Click on the image to visit my SCBWI Events Collection on Flickr.
Here you can view pictures from SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Days, Writer's Days, and the SCBWI International Summer Conferences from the last several years--including links to their corresponding Facebook albums. Come see what everyone looks like! or what we used to, anyway. :)
Cheers, and enjoy,
This just in from Dan Krall, on FB:
Dan: "A photo from the Nobel Awards or the Super Villain Conference, I'm not sure which."
Now I'm REALLY glad I added that photo. :)
Sep. 10th, 2012
We interrupt our regularly promised post to say, Listen to this TED talk:
Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability
Amazing. Freakin' amazing. We know these things to be true, but when you hear it, you can use it in a new way. Especially if it ties into your book. But your book comes from your life, too. So we really have to
know what we're doing. embrace not knowing what we're doing? Something like that.
In order to do it.
Kind of like what M.T. Anderson once said at a past SCBWI Summer Conference: "The experiment is the piece of literature, not the preparation for the piece of literature."
So with life!
P.P.S. With thanks to Irvin Lin at Eat the Love for leading me to this talk, after an amazing weekend of Irvin and AJ hosting me in SF. Love you guys so much.
Aug. 27th, 2012
P.P.S. One more SCBWI Summer Conference talk to add to my previous post in this "two-part" miniseries.
How crazy was it that Deborah Underwood relied on Jonah Lehrer's Imagine: How Creativity Works for part of her keynote, and then had to scramble when the scandal broke out three days before the conference?? (Jonah Lehrer had been caught making up Bob Dylan quotes so his whole book was called into question, and the publisher pulled it from stores everywhere immediately.) I was in the middle of reading it when that happened and had been talking to everyone I know about the content, so hearing Deborah Underwood reveal her dilemma onstage both confirmed and amplified how calamitous this news felt.
Deborah Underwood, "The Power of Quiet" (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)
Amazingly, Deborah was able to email the scientists behind the studies she was specifically citing and get them to confirm their results so she could still give her talk. She started personally checking the book herself! Another of my friends at the conference was in the middle of reading it, too--just one chapter behind me!--so I know there were lots of us super interested in this. I'm still hoping the substance is true, even if the quotes are fudged. (Why anyone would think it's okay to make up quotes in a high-profile book in this day and age is beyond me. But I was getting annoying that all the people in the book talked the same. I thought maybe this was a function of the author being attracted to a certain style of quote, plus the fact I was listening to the audio version so maybe he was giving everyone the same cadence.)
Obviously I was super interested in Deborah's subject. I've been thinking a lot about the role of quiet and taking breaks in creativity (what Sara calls "magic brain"). But it was so cool that Deborah was able to start verifying the contents of Imagine when the rest of us have been left in the lurch, wondering if anyone was going to. The letter of apology she "quoted" from Jonah Lehrer was super funny.
As I mentioned in "Part I," all of my pictures from the 2012 SCBWI Summer Conference can be viewed on Facebook here and on Flickr here.
"Part II" is still coming up, :)
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