This is an experiment. My first blog post. I haven’t decided whether or not to continue blogging, but as soon as Candy Gourlay (author of the novel Tall Story) advised attendees at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) 2010 British Isles conference not to blog, she set me a challenge. After all, who can resist doing exactly what they’ve been told not to do?
Please find below the 10 things I learned at the conference. All interpretations of what speakers said are my own. The speakers should in no way be held accountable for any assumptions I drew, or the manner in which my brain processed the information they shared.
And a big thank you to all the organizers for making the event so memorable! It was fabulous!
1. IT’S POSSIBLE TO DOMINATE ALL OF THE CHILDREN’S BOOK GENRES AT ONCE
Write a book about reincarnation that spans seven lifetimes, to include little girls, sci-fi, war, Viking vampires and lesbian ghosts. (Marcus Sedgwick on his upcoming book)
2. THERE ARE STILL SOME PUBLISHING HOUSES THAT DON’T CENSOR
It’s okay to draw disembodied heads in picture books (JIM: A CAUTIONARY TALE by Hilaire Belloc), and to kill off your main character (EGG DROP), if you are tall, beautiful and extremely talented. (Mini Grey)
3. FUEL YOUR IMAGINATION, NOT YOUR CAR
If you truly want to spark your imagination in Winchester, don’t bring your car. Instead, walk to and from as many events as possible. At night. Through a dimly lit cemetery. Alone. (West Hill Cemetery)
4. AVOID TAKING TRAINS ALSO
You never know who may be sketching you as you sit on the train, or where that sketch may turn up. If you really must take a train, avoid becoming a victim of on-line ridicule at illustrators’ blogs by carrying a newspaper. You can either hold it in front of your face or beat the offending illustrator over the head with it. (Lynne Chapman, http://lynnechapman.blogspot.com)
5. THREATENING EDITORS WILL MAKE THEM REMEMBER YOU
Your cover letter is the best place to do this. Draw pictures of a man-eating fish or a cuddly kitten wrapped in ropes, perched precariously on a plank underneath the caption, “See me quick, or the pussycat gets it.” (Lynne Chapman)
6. ILLUSTRATORS SHOULD GET DOWN AND BOOGIE
Dance as you draw. Fill a space with gesture and show the audience more than just your front and side views. (Bridget Strevens-Marzo)
7. NATASCHA BIEBOW LOVES ELEPHANTS
Pray tell, why didn’t someone share this juicy tidbit with me when Natascha was still working as a picture book editor for Random House?! (Blue Elephant Storyshaping handout)
8. AGENTS WILL SIGN YOU ON IF YOU SEND THEM REJECTION LETTERS
Rather than wallpaper your house in rejection letters, put the the best ones (ie the most scathing ones) into an envelope and post them to your dream agent. Then sit by the phone until the agent contacts you with an offer of representation. (Jane Clarke)
9. DON’T BLOG
There are too many people blogging. Don’t be tempted to do it. Not unless you have something really interesting to write about. Like garden sheds. (Candy Gourlay, http://homesweetshed.blogspot.com/)
10. MAKING NEW FRIENDS IS EASY
Just show them how many teeth you’ve lost and flash them your froggy’s knickers. (my five year old daughter)