rhcrayon: The Blog!
May. 1st, 2012
Friends! Photos from last weekend's SCBWI-LA Writer's Days are up!
SCBWI-LA Writer's Days: "Books and Beyond: How To Make A Living (And A Life!) As A Writer"
Sat. & Sun., April 21-22, 2012
Lee Wardlaw: "Ten Things I've Learned from My Cats about Being A Children's Book Author."
Dawne Knobbe: "Busting out of the Box--Creative Marketing for Published/Unpublished Writers."
Bonnie Berry LaMon (Professional Forum): "More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Children's Book Publishing Agreements."
Monica Haven giving a tip on how to make a living as a writer. She led a Professional Forum on Taxes, "Fact of Fiction?"
Terri Farley: "Fetch Me A Dream, PDQ."
Jennifer Bosworth, Kristen Kittscher, Sara Wilson Etienne, and Tony Etienne kickin' it at lunch.
Anne Tibbets during a mid-morning creativity exercise involving pipe cleaners.
View the whole SCBWI-LA Writer's Days 2012 album by clicking here.
See original Writer's Days event details here.
This year was the first time SCBWI-LA added Sunday intensives to Writer's Day, creating Writer's Days plural--a full, weekend conference. It was so much fun!! Check out the album to see the kind of joyful learning we experienced together, including glimpses into the new Sunday intensives. Some of these pictures will be featured in Kite Tales, SCBWI-LA's online newsletter, soon.
Highlights for me include seeing Sara from my writing group speaking on an amazing, super entertaining editor/agent/author panel with Stacey Barney and Michael Bourret, her editor and agent, respectively. And again in her own talk on how she's been brilliantly promoting Harbinger. (Which totally sold out of copies Saturday morning after the panel alone, before she even showed her book trailer. Which knocked people's socks off.)
Stacey Barney, Michael Bourret, and Sara Wilson Etienne's panel "Traditional Publishing Case Study: Harbinger," moderated by Lee Wind.
(That's my writing group! Represent!!)
Last copy standing--and then it was gone. Lee told me to take a picture, and the funny thing was, I already had.
Look at this camaraderie. When I first showed up at Writer's Days, these three were literally joined at the hip.
We also got to hear Lee Wardlaw speak, whose delightful picture book Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told In Haiku I have given out many times this year. (Your autographed book plates are coming soon, friends!) In addition, thanks to my role as official event photographer, I got to meet and hang out with esteemed faculty members Dawne Knobbe (okay, I knew Dawne already, but I got to learn more about what she does), Bonnie Berry LaMon ("objective correlative!"), Monica Haven, Terri Farley, Alexis O'Neill, and, and, and.
[deleted here: an ill-fated attempt to name-check all the other awesome people I got to hang out with or at least waved to during the conference.]
What's up, Friends! You are all looking so fresh and beautiful this fine Saturday and Sunday morning.
I saw tons of awesome peeps from the Westside and Hollywood Schmooze, and even more writer friends at Saturday's Kid Lit Drink Night, whom I had met at other Kid Lit Drink Nights. And I made new friends, too! But the thing that was so bonding this weekend, even when I didn't get to talk to everyone as much as I wanted, was how we all participated in these intensives together. I felt closer even to people I hadn't met properly. After spending that Sunday morning and afternoon together, discussing our stories, when I see their faces in photos now, I'm like, Oh, hey--What's up!!
Sunday morning I took Stacey's Revision Workshop for Middle Grade and YA novels,
and on Sunday afternoon I took Michael's intensive on "Pitching (a How-To Workshop)":
Guess I've found Michael Bourret's Pitching workshop. This violent image made me laugh, probably because I was freaked the hell out.
Both workshops gave me excellent tools that I have continued to use since. The pitching workshop was particularly exhilarating, because I normally avoid that activity like the plague, and this class was capped at 15 people so we all got lots of personal attention. Michael really clarified the tone and content of pitches, and the group collaboration was fantastic. I learned so much from going over everyone else's before we even got to mine! I also enjoyed sitting in an open circle in a classroom decorated as a forest. (I can't believe, after all my talking about it, that I didn't document the overhead canopy, giant tree trunks, or doorframe filled with trailing, painted, paper leaves. See?? Nerves.) Whoo! I had some good adrenaline going by the end. As I told Michael, I would be ready for this workshop by 1 pm on Sunday and not one moment sooner. (I used to be both an extrovert and an introvert, but these days I have to make appointments with my extrovert.) I really enjoyed getting to the nut of what 14 other people's stories were about.
I want to thank all of the hardworking SCBWI-LA volunteers for making this weekend happen--especially our new Regional Advisors Sarah Laurenson and Lee Wind, who spearheaded this groundbreaking expansion of an already fabulous event. Congratulations to all of the contest winners--and to Rilla Jaggia for winning this year's Sue Alexander Service & Encouragement (SASE) Award--in addition to a writing contest--for her work on Kite Tales these past several years. I've been reliving Writer's Days thanks to these photos, and now I hope you like them, too.
P.S. As always, everyone is invited to use these pictures in your blogs, Web sites, etc. Please credit Rita Crayon Huang, but otherwise, I would be honored. You can download images directly from Flickr. Also, if you have any concerns whatsoever about pictures I have taken of you, message me privately. I am here to be your professional ally.
P.P.S. As mentioned earlier, Kid Lit Drink Night took place that same Saturday evening. I did take some pictures that I'll post later, but not as many as you'd think considering the cornucopia of nuttiness going on. What a weekend.
Apr. 16th, 2012
What's up, people!!
(Chocolate-covered strawberries from my good friend Vicki, just because.)
We have two (2) exciting treats for the creators of children's book in the LA region coming up this weekend.
1. SCBWI-LA Writer's Days is happening this Saturday and Sunday--April 21st & 22nd. You can sign up for one or both days here. Read all about the Writer's Days speakers and their talks at the first link. Non-SCBWI members are welcome, too!
SCBWI-LA's Regional Advisors, Lee Wind and Sarah Laurenson, posted a fun video about the event: "10 Hot Tips from SCBWI Los Angeles Writer's Days Faculty!" Check it out!
Sara is a Writer's Day speaker this year! Woo hooo!!
2. The next LA Kid Lit Drink Night--which is not sponsored by SCBWI but is also open to all who love children's books--takes place that same Saturday evening, April 21st, in that same area. Kid Lit Drink Night is an informal mixer where everyone buys their own libations and mingles away. This one is sure to be attended by many Writer's Days attendees and faculty.
That's Saturday April 21, 2012
at the outdoor patio/bar area of the
924 West Huntington Drive
Monrovia, CA 91016
(4 miles east of the SCBWI-Los Angeles Writer's Day location)
Facebook event page here.
So come one, come all! Hope to see you all at SCBWI-L.A. Writer's Days--and at Kid Lit Drink Night!
P.S. Bonus!! Registration for the SCBWI Summer Conference 2012 starts this Wednesday at 10 AM. Check it out!!
Mar. 2nd, 2012
06:00 am - Photos: Book Launch for HARBINGER, by Sara Wilson Etienne—w/ details for Harbinger Launch Party 2.0!
Sara Wilson Etienne mingling at the book launch for Harbinger
at Children's Book World in Los Angeles, CA, Feb. 4th, 2012
Click here to view all 53 photos on Flickr.
(Photos are by my husband and me, because I had fractured my foot and needed help. Thank you, D!)
I've included some favorite photos here, and they should speak for themselves (especially because I wrote captions for them). This book launch was phenomenal. Children's Book World was packed to silliness, and Sara delivered a silky smooth, perfect talk, and then friends and family and fans from all over the country lined up to get their copies signed.
Sara's proud writing group—me (Rita Crayon Huang) and Lee Wind—at the book launch for Harbinger
Sara receives a warm welcome. "Author! Author!"
Sara shows off Harbinger's beautiful endpapers, illustrated by artist husband Tony Etienne
Author Kristen Kittscher listens appreciatively to Sara's talk
Let the autographing begin! Sara Wilson Etienne signs copies of Harbinger for fans
Sara's book brings new customers to Children's Book World
But, but, but!! That was so one month ago! Everyone should know that Sara's next major signing event is happening this Saturday, March 3rd, at the Hive Gallery and Studios in downtown Los Angeles. She's throwing "Launch Party 2.0: HARBINGER Art Gallery Opening and Signing!" where she is going to showcase all of the artwork contributed by 25 incredible illustrators and artists in one glorious, Harbinger-inspired, gallery gala! It's going to be so fun all over again, in an entirely new way!
From the "Launch Party 2.0" Facebook event page:
Twenty-five incredible illustrators and artists have picked their favorite scenes and characters from HARBINGER to give you a taste of Faye’s life at Holbrook Academy. . . .
6pm-8pm: Book selling and signing; pre-gallery opening hang-outs; and FREE ENTRY
Starting at 8pm: COVER CHARGE of $8, music, bar, partytime!
Featuring art by: Jason Puliti, Joan Charles, Amy Kim Kibuishi, Andrew Mitchell, Marilyn Scott Waters, Aileen Holmes, Brian Ormiston, Ken Min, Katie McDee, Drew Etienne, Wilson Swain, Jane Smith, Dave Fass, Israel Sanchez, J.H. Everett, Karyn Raz, Mary Peterson, Patricia Cantor, Angela Matteson, Mary Etienne, Su Moon, Andrea Offermann, Tony Etienne, Ken Wong, Kelice Penney . . .
If you want a little taste of what these amazing artists have been up to, check out the Holbrook Academy website.
What a line-up of incredible talent—and how awesome to have a gallery opening for your debut novel! I hear there's going to be tasty refreshments, and the company and conversation are guaranteed to be brilliant, soul-scintillating, and maybe even downright scandalous.
So come one, come all! Check out the Facebook Event Page for "Launch Party 2.0: HARBINGER Art Gallery Opening and Signing!" for more details. I hope to see you there!
Congratulations again, Sara. You deserve every bit of the accolades coming to you, and so much more.
Me and Sara, just after she signed my copy. Congratulations, Sara!!
Jan. 31st, 2012
Happy Chinese New Year, Everyone! Gong Xi Fa Cai!!
I was going to post my "Top Picture Book Picks from The Year of the Rabbit" list last weekend (before the Year of the Rabbit ran out), but I ran out of time. Little did I know that last Monday--the first day of the Year of the Dragon--was also the day ALA would announce all of their major book awards for this year. And that so many off my list would get picked!
Now I don't get to say I found them first. :(
For what it's worth, here are my top picks of picture books from the past year. I went through a lot of picture books to come up with these, and if I'd had more time, I would have kept on going. But now that the Big Awards have come out, I feel pretty good about my coverage. :)
As with last year, in annual countdown fashion . . .
(drumroll . . . )
Shoes for Me by Sue Fliess, illustrated by Mike Laughead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Cute, exuberant pictures and words, perfect for all the parents I know who have been charmed by their kids' first pairs of shoes. The book is decidedly girly, although the shoes Hippo chooses from aren't. The styles include lots of favorite shoe trends I recognize from both boys and girls I know.
I recently had the pleasure of overhearing one two year old shout, "Shooss for Me!" as her mom pulled this book off my shelf. (They had their own copy at home--from me, of course!) I've given out lots of copies this year, because this book is a charmer.
There's a sequel coming out in 2012: A Dress for Me! I can't wait to check it out.
That's How! by Christoph Niemann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I couldn't resist this punchy picture book by Christoph Niemann, the same artist who brought us Subway last year, which made my "Top Picture Books from The Year of the Tiger" list.
Just tested this out on our friend C's four year old and, man, it was a hit. He loves all things that go and is mechanically inclined, so we wondered whether he might object to the "unreality" of these answers. Nope, he burst out giggling at every page, and it was music to hear him explain how each picture worked. Not only that, the repetitive text meant that after my husband read it the first time, and I read it the second, our pal was able to "read" the entire book to his dad on his third time through (slight variations included), and show off all the fun, extra pictures on the book's hard cover (under the dust jacket).
I read the debate on GoodReads with great interest about whether this book offends, because the girl does most of the asking and the boy most of the explaining, even though the girl gets the final say. That thought crossed my mind, too, actually, but I decided to read this book as being about the fun bigger siblings get out of explaining the world to their youngers. Our pal has a little sister, so this was perfect, and I gave this out to plenty of other boys this year, too.
Would I give this book directly to a girl, especially one that didn't have siblings? Um . . . maybe? What do you guys think?
One girl I know is going through a phase right now where she asks how everything works, all day long. At first I thought, That's great! That's How! is perfect for her! Then I hesitated, because she's seven and seems so intent, she might not want these silly answers anymore. (I could be wrong.) Anyway, that's a question of age, not gender representation.
I haven't let this concern get in the way of sharing lots of copies, but I would love some more insight. Chime in!
Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia, illustrated by Ken Min
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
* * Winner!! Winner!! * * Of the 2012 APALA Honor in Picture Books! * *
Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji is just beautiful. The illustrations by Ken Min are warm and all-embracing, just like the relationships and fantastical feats described, with bold, textured colors and crisp, clean shapes, and innovative close-ups and camera angles. It also doesn't hurt that the book is about food. By the end you'll feel inspired to whip up some roti yourself on the spot, yum, yum--which is great for kids, not to mention grown-ups. The process is described so clearly, you don't even need a recipe at the back of the book. It sounds just like making Chinese scallion pancakes, which really are that easy (and mouth-watering).
But you don't have to take my word for it. Fuse #8 gave this book an awesome review on School Library Journal--and she's a pretty good predictor of awards; maybe even better than me. ;) And now--as of last Monday--the book has won the 2012 APALA (Asian Pacific American Librarians Association) Honor in the Picture Book category! Go, Ken!! Woot, woot! YEAH!!!
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
* * Winner! Winner! * * Of the 2012 Caldecott Medal! * *
My husband and I argued about this one, so ha hahh to him. It won! It won! It won the 2012 Caldecott Medal! (Well, okay, my husband didn't "argue." He liked it. He just didn't go as nuts as I did--which still offended me.)
The illustrations are adorable!! This dog's emotions are right there on the surface, which is exactly what you want in, well, a dog, but also in a wordless picture book. I read this story as a lesson on a theme near and dear to my heart, which is that I've always had a hard time learning to let go of favorite possessions. But even if you see this as a simple story about a dog who loses a favorite toy and then has all made well again, it will bring you joy. Daisy's happiness at the end makes us root for her and love her more.
This is my favorite wordless picture book to come out in a long time.
All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Katherine Tillotson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Gorgeous words. Gorgeous illustrations. This book leaves you with a delicious feeling of how precious water is to all of us. The illustrations make me feel cool and wet, and then thirsty and expectant, just the way they should. The rhythm of the words makes me want to dance, as does the traveling of the scenes all around the world. There is a conservation message and a discussion of the water cycle lightly embedded in here, but the main focus is on poetry and sensation.
I love it. Spread the message, spread the word!
And my number one pick out of all the picture books I read from The Year of the Rabbit is . . .
Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell
* * WINNER! WINNER! * * Of a 2012 Caldecott Honor! * *
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The blend of illustration, stamp art, and memorabilia from Jane Goodall's real life teased out a sense of wonder even before I knew where the story was going, and the transition from daydreams to reality at the end--from illustration to an unexpected photo of her real, adult life--gave me chills. This is a picture book biography that packs a punch. Simple, neat, fascinating, empowering.
A must for every child!
And, one that my husband and I agreed on.
I'm going to be ordering copies of all of the above by the dozens for my friends.
Cheers, Everyone! Gong Xi Fa Cai!!
P.S. BONUS! This book came out in 2010 but I discovered it too late for inclusion in last year's "Top Picture Books from The Year of the Tiger" list.
A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wonderful! Such excellent Voice. Such excellent illustrations. I am delighted.
The voice reminds me of my friend Irvin, who loves to set up what sounds like "a good idea" and then hilariously shoot it down. (So, Irvin, if you're looking for books to read to little ones, get this one! No one will know you're reading! They'll just think you're talking!)
Anyway, everyone should get this book. I'm guessing I'll give it to kids who are on the slightly older side--by which I mean 5 and up. But I could go younger if I know the parents already say ridiculous things to their kids all day long. It's a matter of tone.
A pig parade is a terrible idea. After you buy this book, you'll know why. :)
P.P.S. Oh, nuts, I forgot to add Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature, by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes! It's because I discovered this one last, and I don't have my own copy yet. (I should note, by the way, that my "Top Picks" lists are based both on debate between my husband and me, and on how many copies we actually buy for our friends. So I don't know where this fits in yet, but it definitely goes on the list.)
One More Tip Top Picture Book from The Year of the Rabbit
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow, what is not to love? This book combines art and science, teaching us to find beauty and shapes in the natural world. It shows us the many special functions a spiral has for all different kinds of animals and plants, and it's . . . so . . . beautiful.
I loved Joyce Sidman's past books--a poetry book called Red Sings From the Treetops, illustrated (phenomenally) by Pamela Zagarenski; and Ubiquitous, illustrated by Beckie Prange, all about how long various life forms have existed and which has the best endpapers ever; to name a couple--and she keeps knocking them out of the park. She is my nonfiction and poetry hero.
You should also check out:
Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beckie Prange
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Click the "Rita Book Today" tag to read all of my book reviews on this blog. And don't be shy about telling me what I've missed!
Dec. 23rd, 2011
Just in time for the holidays comes this high-larious poem by Greg Pincus. Check it out:
Dear Santa, About Your Lists... (a paradox) - a Christmas poem by Greg Pincus
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!
Dec. 6th, 2011
Hey, Everyone! Here are a few photos from the Kid Lit(erati) Holiday Party this past Saturday.
To see the full set (I wish I'd taken more of everyone!!),
click here for Facebook, where you can tag or untag yourselves,
click here for Flickr, where you can download the images in sizes of your choosing, and/or
click here for Zenfolio, where you can download the whole batch and order prints, if that's your thing.
Thanks, everyone, for the drinks, delicious treats, and fun conversation--and THANKS for bringing all those gorgeous children's books to donate! The schools they're going to are really going to appreciate them!
Lee Wind and Sara Wilson Etienne pose with all the beautiful, gleaming children's books to be donated. I seriously wanted to borrow half of them to take home and read first, but that wouldn't have been in the spirit.
As mentioned in my previous post, the YA titles--in the two stacks on the left--are going to Central High School/Tri-C, a continuation school serving at-risk youth throughout the LA school district. Picture Books through Middle Grade novels (the right two stacks, plus spillover onto the game table) will go to the Knox Elementary School in South Central LA. Both schools were arranged by Lee Wind, who also brought lovely, decorated boxes to sort the donations into as they arrived.
With double thanks to all of the organizers who made this event happen and got the word out--Lee Wind, Jenn Bosworth, Sara Wilson Etienne, Greg Pincus, Jill Corcoran, and me, I guess :) --and triple, quadruple thanks to all the people who helped sort and carry books at the end of the night (in addition to having helped lug them in!).
And always, I cannot thank enough the people who bring the delicious snacks . . . and the hilarity and good times!
Happy Holidays, Kid Lit Community!
Me with Elle Jauffret, who drives up specially from San Diego because LA Kid Lit events are so fun. (She makes the most amazing cookies, by the way. Good to know.)
Speaking of delicious baked goods, who brought those amazing dark chocolate espresso brownies in the pie tin? I would like to shake your hand . . .
Nov. 30th, 2011
Yo yo, what's up y'all . . .
Just wanted to remind everyone that the LA Kid Lit Holiday Party is this Saturday, Dec. 3rd, from 5 to 9 PM (and after!) at the Wellesbourne. Our last Kid Lit event was Halloween-themed. This one is all about the holidays!
Photos from LA Kid Lit parties past. Don't miss the upcoming LA Kid Lit Holiday Party, this Saturday, Dec. 3rd at The Wellesbourne!
In the spirit of holiday giving--and celebrating--we're suggesting everyone bring new or gently used, unwrapped books to donate. Lee Wind has found some fantastic schools to donate them to, who will appreciate the books greatly.
* * *
Saturday, Dec. 3rd, from 5 to 9 PM
Join other writers, illustrators, agents, editors, bloggers, librarians, educators, and people who just love children's and teen literature at a Kid Lit Community Holiday Party!
Cash Bar, pay as you order.
Cookies, bring and share.
Books for needy kids, donate unwrapped books, picture-books through YA, and feel all holiday-festive!
Your Picture Books through Middle Grade Novels will be donated to Knox Elementary School in South Central Los Angeles. They're a new school, and even though they don't have a librarian, their Principal, Ms. Ward, is a huge advocate of reading and has teachers take their students to the library to check out the books. They're incredible excited at the prospect of more and new books for their kids! New and gently used books are fine, ARCs are fine, and donating more than one book is better than fine!
@ The Wellesbourne
10929 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064
(Across the street from the Landmark Theater and the Westside Pavilion Mall)
This is not an official SCBWI-L.A. event, but it's open to all our members as well and everyone in the kid lit community!
* * *
For the YA books that people bring, Lee has also made arrangements at Central High School/Tri-C. Says Lee:
I got confirmation from Janet Seary, the principal of Central High School/Tri-C, that they would love to accept our YA book donations. They are a continuation school serving at risk youth, and they have 29 classrooms all across the LA school district. There is no main library for these 600-800 students, but each classroom tries to have some books for their teens. The teachers will choose which ones they want for their classrooms from the donations brought.
I'm very excited that we now have two very worthy schools to accept all the books that get donated during our holiday party!
So come one, come all, and let's have a joyous time singing,* dancing,* snogging,** and eggnogging*** this Saturday, Dec. 3rd, at 5 PM at the Wellesbourne!
* suggested activities are purely optional
** for snogging you will need an accomplice
*** eggnog not guaranteed; you might have to bring your own.
I'll be there with bells on . . .
P.S. For more info, visit
The Kid Lit Holiday Party Facebook event page
Lee Wind's blog post
And you will probably hear about this event from its many organizers (which include Lee Wind, Jenn Bosworth, Sara Wilson Etienne, Gregory K. Pincus, Jill Corcoran, and me) as well as excited attendees.
* * * BONUS!! * * *
On the same day, you can also attend Carol M. Tanzman's book launch party for Dancergirl, a young adult thriller published by Harlequin Teen. Carol's book launch is happening from 4 to 6 PM this Saturday at the Curve Line Space Gallery/Frame Store at 1577 Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock. Lots of people are planning to attend both. We actually extended the time of the Holiday Party so everyone could!
This event will feature live performances, Brooklyn Treats by Eagle Rock Bakery, book sales by Skylight Books, and, of course, Carol and her new book, Dancergirl!
Spread the word, everybody! Hope to see you Saturday!
* * * * *
Nov. 16th, 2011
Once again I had the pleasure of photographing SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day this year.
SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day 2011
Saturday, Nov. 12th in San Gabriel, CA
Illustrator's Day's all-star line-up: Scott Magoon, Susan Sherman, Andrea Welch, Giselle Potter, and 826LA.
To view all of the photos, check out the SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day album on Facebook or my Flickr album here. Julia Shahin Collard wrote really excellent captions recapping the day, which appear at both places. (All photos are by me, Rita Crayon Huang, so if you use any, please include a photo credit. Thanks!)
Julia has written a lovely blog post about Illustrator's Day for the SCBWI SoCal Schmooze Blog, so I'll only include a couple personal highlignts. I loved "1st Impressions" with Susan Sherman and Scott Magoon, the two art directors, right after lunch. Illustrators sent in pieces in advance that were projected on the big screen, and we got to hear the art directors' thoughts. I understood instinctively this was the illustrator's equivalent of "First Pages," which we sometimes have at writer events—but with in-your-face, gorgeous visuals. It was awesome.
"1st Impressions" with art directors Susan Sherman and Scott Magoon
Another highlight for me came during the book signing. I've been a fan of Scott Magoon (and Kara LaReau)'s Ugly Fish since it first came out in 2006, and I got to tell him how this book has become my litmus test for all my friends with kids: their reaction to the book's contemporary edge really influences which books I give them next, and ever after.
Three of Scott Magoon's picture books, with Ugly Fish in the middle.
The thing is, before Scott signed my book (including a drawing of Ugly Fish!), I told him he didn't need to add my name—because I'd suddenly become abashed by how I have this huge children's book collection that's all been made out to me. (What if I have kids someday?) But after we chatted, he wrote "Hi, Rita!" anyway, and I was THRILLED! So much for being selfless. (I actually changed my mind based on this. Of course I'm getting all my books personalized; what a weird idea not to.)
Here, Scott Magoon signs Mostly Monsterly (written by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Scott Magoon) for Ken.
I also got to hang out with awesome friends, which is the highlight of every SCBWI conference. Shout-outs to Ken Wong (Monkmus), John Krause (congrats on winning the SCBWI-LA Illustrators Scholarship Contest!), James Burks (thanks for putting up with my photo taking!), Candy Ryan (awesome shoes), Erin Eitter Kono, Jane Smith aka SuperJane, Carmel O'Mara-Horwitz, Mark Fearing, Mary Peterson, Priscilla Burris, Su Moon, Jennifer Gray Olson, Erin O'Shea, Julia Shahin Collard, . . . and many more. Not to mention the friends I see regularly: Lee, Ken, Sarah, Wilson, TopangaMaria . . . !!!)
It is great to have such inspiring friends. What's up, everyone!
Thank you to Illustrator's Day's awesome Coordinators—Ken W. Min, Wilson Swain, and Karyn Raz—for inviting me to participate once again. It was a brilliant day—and a fantastic opportunity for everyone.
P.S. Oh my goodness. Another highlight was seeing the illustrations everyone drew—on the spot—to go with the children's book the group created—with the help of 826LA—at the end of the day! Man, this is a talented group. People are good! I hope the Coordinators post those. (If you go to the SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day Facebook page, you can find—well, my photos, but also—albums of the Postcard Contest entries, the Scholarship Contest entries, and more. I want them to post the 826LA story illustrations everyone did, too! I got a chance to go through the stack, and they were amazing.)
At the end of the day, 826LA led us in creating a children's book on the spot, with audience members shouting out story elements—and providing illustrations! As you can see, illustrators around the room worked hard to finish their contributions as the event wrapped up.
I heard one illustrator say this was a great reminder of how stories can be produced quickly, and that the few pages our group wrote were better than any she had come up with in a while.
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 next!
Oct. 26th, 2011
Happy Halloween Week, Everyone!
I had a great time this past Saturday at the LA Kid Lit Costume Party! 2011–the third LA Kid Lit Drink Night since a few of us started them in June. Because of Halloween, Jenn Bosworth suggested we dress up as book characters this time, and she picked the Wellesbourne as a swanky new location.
The Wellesbourne was fantastic! The dark, wood-paneled library/tavern with roaring fireplace suited every character perfectly, from Hogwarts students to detectives to gothic and whimsical creatures of the night.
Above: I went as Bunnicula, a vampire bunny that sucks the juices out of vegetables in the night (turning them white), by James Howe. Some of my other favorite characters brought to life included Roald Dahl's The Witches, which Hilary and Elizabeth did to perfection; Sherlock Holmes; Encyclopedia Brown; and Harriet the Spy, and The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds–the latter two played by Sara and Lee of my writing group, respectively.
Writing group fun! Because this is what all of our meetings are like.
You can see all of my pictures on Facebook here
or view the same album with bonus images on Zenfolio, which is prettier. (You can download all of the full-size images from Zenfolio, and watch a slideshow.)
A lot of the costumes were gorgeous. Check out this Dia de los Muertos creation!
Those horns and that makeup . . . not to mention the perfect Sherlock outfit! I am in awe.
I love Halloween. It gets us all to play together. Sara recently blogged about the need to find your community for every next phase of your journey (and she also blogged her recap of the Kid Lit Costume Party–with more pictures!). The Kid Lit scene is definitely my peeps. Everyone got my costume right away! Not only did they get it, they waxed rhapsodic about Bunnicula, and one author revealed she knows James Howe! (She took my picture to send to him!)
A lot of my non-Kid Lit friends waxed rhapsodic about Bunnicula, too, when I mentioned I was going to this. You could see the shock of recognition in their faces, and the growing excitement as memories came back. That's what I want for my characters when I grow up. :)
I also met Mrs. Whatsit, from A Wrinkle In Time, and this Special from Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series.
That's exactly what Mrs. Whatsit would look like! And I was intimidated by Lori, the Special. I've never seen her hair tamed before. It suggested great power, ready to be unleashed.
I lis(th)ped through my fangth all night, which made talking about my book ridiculouth. I was proud of the giant daikon I found, and the white radishes. (I went through every daikon at two different Japanese stores to find the most carrot-shaped one. It weighed over two pounds! It cost more than a dollar–which is nothing for Halloween but a lot for daikon. And yes, I plan to eat these vegetables–if I don't use them on actual Halloween. I haven't decided yet what I'm doing for West Hollywood.)
In hindsight, I can't help but wish I'd taken more pictures–that took advantage of the location, especially. Like, why didn't I get Sherlock Holmes leaning on an armchair in front of the big, roaring fireplace? And how come I don't have a photo of Mia's gorgeous, red-lightning-riddled back (the main character from Jenn Bosworth's upcoming novel Struck)? I was too busy juggling daikon and lithping.
Ah, well. Next year.
Until then, see you in the next post!
P.S. I realize I've barely mentioned people, and all the great friends we've made. Can you tell I love Halloween? But seriously, we had a lovely time.
Aug. 30th, 2011
12:58 am - Two Photos by Sonya Sones
Sonya Sones is awesome. She just sent me two pictures she took at the SCBWI 40 Winks Pajama Party/Anniversary Poolside Gala--one of me solo, and one with Linda Sue Park. Check it out.
Photos by the wonderful Sonya Sones!
Awesome, right?? I feel so honored.
Sonya actually took the photo of Linda Sue Park and me that appears in the blog entry below, too, with my camera, within seconds of taking these on hers. So you can really see how our styles differ, as expressed by the settings and lenses we had each preselected for the night. I am fascinated and inspired.