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Photos: The 2012 SCBWI Summer Conference (#LA12SCBWI). Part I: The TALKS - rhcrayon: The Blog!

Aug. 25th, 2012

04:32 pm - Photos: The 2012 SCBWI Summer Conference (#LA12SCBWI). Part I: The TALKS

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Hi, Everyone! Fun stuff! My photos from the SCBWI 2012 Summer Conference are up!

The SCBWI 2012 International Summer Conference
August 3–6, 2012, in Los Angeles, CA USA

Lin Oliver kicks off SCBWI's 41st Annual Summer Conference with our own, very tiny Olympic torch, presented to Dan Gutman.

Click here to view all 234 photos on Facebook, where you can tag yourself and your friends.
Click here to view the same set on Flickr instead, where you can download full-size files.

Please credit Rita Crayon Huang if you use any of these images on your blogs, Facebook, Web sites, etc. Please also tweet, tag, and spread the word! Feel free to untag yourselves, too, if that is your wish. As always, if any picture makes you uncomfortable in any way, message me privately and I will take it down immediately, no questions asked.

I had lots of writer friends on the faculty this year. Here are a few from the Friday morning walk-in:

Authors Jennifer Bosworth; Greg Fishbone--a new friend!; Martha Brockenbrough and Jolie Stekly, also representing Team Blog;
and our very own Sara Wilson Etienne at Friday morning's Welcome & Introduction of Faculty. (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)

So many of my friends are crossing over to the other side! Slowly but surely, I can feel the tide turning. Crazy how everyone's individual striving is adding up like this.

The talks were fantastic, as always. An obvious highlight this year was Ruta Sepetys's keynote, "You Can't Break the Broken," about how she went to a prison camp as research for her book. I've never seen anyone lay themselves so bare as a human being onstage before. She laid all of us bare in the process--and she did it while being funny. Even when she got to the soul-shaking bits, she kept on going, and she kept on being funny. I know that David Small took us on a profound journey last year, too, down into the deep, dark hearts we all know from our own lives and then back up, into the light--with dancing--but da--ng. Ruta made us confront who we are right now, in our chairs, as adults. It was unexpected, to say the least.

Ruta Sepetys, "You Can't Break the Broken: Writing Emotional Truth" (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)

Standing ovation for Ruta Sepetys's emotional keynote at the SCBWI 2012 Summer Conference (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)

I attended Ruta's breakout session on media prep, too, and it was wonderful. (That was before her keynote, so I had no idea what she had in store for us.)

Ruta Sepetys, "Media Prep: Author Tips for Radio, TV, and Print Coverage" (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)

Did I feel ashamed of myself taking a picture of Ruta crying, by the way? Yes. But that didn't stop me from doing the same thing to my tablemate at the Golden Kite Awards.

Reaction to Golden Kite Awards speeches (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)

But what I'm trying to say is, awesome talks and breakouts aside--

oh! But I also attended Eugene Yelchin's breakout on thinking "Outside the Trim," which was also fantastic! I went because his answers were so smart during the picture book panel that morning that he made a fan out of me on the spot. During the panel he brought up how, as children's book creators and creators of culture, we're all participating in a larger conversation that spans time and space and topics (my paraphrasing, sorry). We have to be aware of the current cultural moment in order to add what we want.

Jon Klassen, Antoinette Portis, Eugene Yelchin, and Lee Wardlaw on the Picture Book Panel, "The Picture Book: The Dance Between Words and Pictures." Moderated by Dan Yaccarino. (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)

I was like, Yes!! I had forgotten that's what we're doing! I haven't thought about this business in a big-picture, intellectual way in a long time. You know, I confront the emotions and minutiae of what I'm trying to say day to day, and the audience I'm trying to reach, but not the big space-time continuum of how we fit in. And you don't need to think about that in order to participate--we're all participating all the time--but I'd become ungrounded in terms of how to think about issues like whom we're trying to speak for regarding multiculturalism in our books, for example. We speak for ourselves, always--and we do this by being aware of what other people are saying, and responding. That's all there is to it.

This echoes what Lee Wind once told me Jacqueline Woodson said on the subject of race in her books, which is that it helps to remember we don't have to start the discussion ourselves; we just have to add.

After that I spontaneously went to Eugene Yelchin's breakout session to hear more of how this guy thinks.

Eugene Yelchin, "Outside the Trim: Thinking Beyond the Literal Space of the Picture Book" (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)

It was brilliant--of course. It was especially eye-opening for me as a writer who's been turning over in my mind how I might use photography in a picture book way someday. Eugene (if I may call him that) broke down a lot of visual concepts and gave me new vocabulary with which to think. I wasn't looking for that, and now I'm excited to take these ideas and play.

Of course, this meant I missed the talk I had originally planned to attend--Jenn Bosworth's "The Conspicuous Writer (Turning Readers Into Fans)"--which I heard later from Sara was amazing. But what can ya do. pang as fomo is confirmed I'm learning to follow the moment . . .

I also went to Matthew Kirby's session on Voice, which was outstanding.

Matthew Kirby, "Voice" (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)

Everyone there agreed: we'd never heard anyone discuss voice so clearly before. It was just so clear. And it was right, everyone also agreed. We all knew it--the definition of voice--when we heard it. ;)

Ahh. That soothes a complaint I've had for a long time on how people should really be able to define voice, because are we writers or aren't we?? It also led to a revelation for me about what to do with the voice in my book. I had brought my niggling question to ask at the session's end, but Matthew's presentation was so clear that just thinking about how to phrase my question in his terms, answered it.


I hear Mike Jung is giving a talk on Voice soon for which he'll be borrowing heavily from this one (with attribution, of course). So if you want to know what was said, go hear Mike! Or go hear Matthew Kirby. :)

The guy in the hat plans to steal from Matthew Kirby's talkspeak on Voice soon.

And, I attended Sara's session on creating book trailers.

Sara Wilson Etienne, "Book Trailers: Storyboards, Scripts, Lookbooks, and Everything That Puts the 'Tease' in Teaser" (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)

Amazing also. If you haven't seen Sara's astounding book trailer yet, check it out here. And be on the lookout for her article on making book trailers, which will appear in the next update to the SCBWI Publication Guide. Even though I had heard Sara talk about her trailer while they were making it, it was so enlightening to see the lookbooks and rough cuts she and her talented friends had made. The session was chock-a-block packed with real, how-to information, plus how one should think about different kinds of trailers before getting started. And she showed how much you can get done before you've spent one dollar, which I love.

Okay! But I actually didn't want to talk about the talks and inspiration and craft and business side of the conference--I wanted to talk about the people and the fun! With friends and at yoga and the party and afterparty . . .

All right, you know what? This post has gotten long enough. I'll do the fun stuff in a "Part II" post. Please come back.

So just one more talk--really quick. Because it made a difference.

Amy Goldman Koss said some really provocative stuff during her breakout, "Character Quirks and Credible Jerks! Nailing Character," about how she doesn't believe people change; that they come into the world the way they are. (She said if you believe differently, you can write books that show such, but she has to stay true to what she believes.) She also said the more individuality you give a character, the more you risk that character being disliked by readers. (Good for villains, potentially bad for protagonists.)

Amy Goldman Koss, "Character Quirks and Credible Jerks! Nailing Character" (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2012.)

I've turned these ideas over and over in my mind. Of course I want to argue, but she used compelling examples, plus I know what she's saying. It's gotten the dialog going pretty awesomely in my mind. I also just read one of her books, Poison Ivy, and wow, that book is brutal but brilliant. I mean, brilliant. And brutal. Those characters are alive in the most stubborn, maddening but real way possible. I recommend it to everyone. (Be forewarned, but definitely read it.)

I've been thinking over how I might test some of Amy's ideas in my book, through a couple of my characters, and the book is definitely benefiting.

Okay! So that's everything I'm going to say about craft, business, and inspiration in this two-part miniseries. Come back in a few days for the fun, fun, fun, okay? =)


P.S. Did you know that I have an SCBWI Events photo collection on Flickr?

SCBWI Events mosaic
Click on the image or link to visit my SCBWI Events Collection on Flickr, including International Summer Conferences and Los Angeles regional conferences from the last several years.

In addition to the latest, 2012 Summer Conference photos, it includes pictures from the 2011 Summer Conference, the 2010 Summer Conference, the 2009 Summer Conference, and the 2008 Summer Conference--with corresponding Facebook links--plus the last several SCBWI-Los Angeles Writer's Days and Illustrator's Days. I just glanced through them and wow. I totally recognize people--faces in the background--that I didn't know back then. And we're all younger. You should check it out.

Cheers, and enjoy,


Date:August 26th, 2012 05:07 am (UTC)

As usual...

Rita, you captured the conference so well--both visually and verbally!

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From:Laurie Young
Date:August 26th, 2012 07:37 pm (UTC)

Very specific insights

Wow, Rita—this is not only a great overview of some of the speakers and sessions, but a wonderful and very personal demonstration of how you have applied the things you learned. I am impressed and inspired! This makes me want to review my own notes in a more specific way and see what I can directly use in my writing, today.
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[User Picture]
Date:November 8th, 2012 02:25 am (UTC)

Amy Koss's blog post on Endings

Check it out: Amy Goldman Koss has written a blog post on Endings that speaks exactly to this point I was highlighting in this post. Worth a read!
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