Recently, I was the winner of a new book - not yet released - by Mitzi Tulane and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi entitled "Preschool Detective: The Secret Ingredient". Debbie emailed me to tell me I had won her contest and then proceeded to email back & forth with loads of encouragement and tips to get my work noticed. What a huge gift that was. I think she is one of the most creative & sweetest gals out there! So, in the spirit of paying it forward, I'm sharing with you what I learned in LA.
|Fellow introvert, Kat Yeh|
Speaking of the Saturday night gala. This year was The Silver Lining Gala. Even though I looked like an eccentric, nutty old lady, I had fun getting my glitter on.
|My roomie, Rebecca Evans and I at The Silver Linings Gala. I've decided to wear those sparkly glasses when I work on my writing and illustrating from now on. :)|
|Vanessa Brantley-Newton is the real deal, folks!|
|North Texas SCBWI members enjoying lunch together in LA|
So, honestly, the biggest thing I learned, is that there are so many great people in SCBWI who are more than willing to help you achieve your dreams. Make a point of going to your local chapter and getting to know the folks there . I got to know my group better while I was at the conference, and I'm so glad I did. What a fun bunch! So encouraging and eager to share their knowledge or help out if they can. Like illustrator, Sean Qualls, who shared his process during a breakout session. He had so many samples of his work and showed us how he works from a book dummy to finals. So very giving of his time and experience. I truly appreciate that.
|Sean Qualls book Lullaby and the book dummy he pitched|
|Sean Qualls, sharing his process|
I was also blessed to take part in a peer group portfolio critique by a group of Illustrator Coordinators who are all good friends. Thank you for including me, ladies!!! It was a little intimidating because they are all wildly talented, plus the fact that literary agent, Jennifer Laughran stopped by the table just as they were starting my critique and she stayed for the whole thing . . . whoa. I kid you not when I say that I learned more in those 15 minutes than I have in years. Thankfully, there were some pieces that worked just the way they were (whew), but to get feedback on why something isn't working and suggestions on how to fix it . . . PRICELESS! Honest to goodness constructive criticism!! YAY! So, don't be afraid to put yourself out there.
If you do, you too can meet and chat with your favorite writers & illustrators! Just like fast friends!
|Fan girl moment with illustrator Joyce Wan|
|One of my favorite funny writers, Bruce Hale|
|Sean Qualls is so talented & super nice too!|
|Out of body experience: I met Judy Blume!!|
That's right, I grabbed the opportunity to meet Judy Blume. I was told she's super shy and really doesn't enjoy all the hoopla, so I asked nicely if I could have a photo and was very respectful of her personal space. She's an American treasure. Look how nice she is to stand there and smile with me!
So, here's the deal. If you have the overwhelming desire to work in the field of children's publishing, you NEED to get yourself to an SCBWI meeting. Go to local conferences, and save your pennies to go to a national conference either in NYC or LA or both. THEN, get out there and say hello to people. Don't be afraid to say "Hey, I love your work!" Who doesn't love a compliment?! Most people have moments where they might question whether or not they're good enough, and you might be that uplifting voice they needed to hear. Plus, it's an opening to be able to talk to them which is great if you are like me and are better when someone else makes the first move. Learn all you can from these lovely people and work on your craft. Don't be afraid to put it out into the Universe through social media and conferences. That's the only way you're going to get noticed and find an agent/art director/editor/publisher. Actually, I think that is a huge part of cracking the code! All the work you put in learning, working on your craft, networking, revising, working some more . . . it's all leading up to the day the lock springs open and HELLO, you get the joyful news that someone likes your work so much that they have to publish it! WHOOHOO! Oh how glorious that must be.
Remember to enjoy the journey. :) And on that note, I'm off to work on some sketches. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day!