It was after 2 am yesterday morning when I got home from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators summer conference in LA. I always refer people to SCBWI when I’m asked about getting into the children’s book market. This past weekend, 1300 writers and illustrators from literally around the world gathered together to hear inspiring speeches and attend practical workshops. Some have published books, while many are honing their craft, working toward a dream of sharing their writing and art on a larger scale. Most participants come away with a more realistic idea of how much work is required to have a book published. A lot of famous authors gave key-note speeches, including Judy Blume (on stage, in brown, pointing her arm).
I was there to accept a Golden Kite Award for my picture book Pocketful of Posies. Here’s the little bronze statuette, which is a child holding a kite (out of the picture). They even spelled my name correctly! In my 8 minute speech, I talked about the support I received from my agency (Studio Goodwin Sturges), who stood by me while I took time to experiment with projects other than children’s books, my editor at Houghton Mifflin (Margaret Raymo), who waited patiently while I worked on the artwork for the book, sometimes not showing her anything for a year at a time and my husband Rob Goldsborough, who has never suggested I get a real job. I also told a story about how I grew from a child who liked to play with dolls, to the grown woman who still likes to play with dolls.
I met Laurie Sharp of Wool Pets. Here she is at the portfolio review with some photos of her wonderful needle felted animal characters. We’ve been communicating through e-mail for a while and have so many interests in common; natural fibers, kit making, storytelling, Waldorf education, writing how-to instructions. Read about her needle felting how-to books here.
In my workshop, “The joys and challenges of 3 dimensional illustration”, I showed Laurie’s work and we talked about ways she could develop her characters and use photos as illustrations. I could really see them in a series of baby board books.
Here I am after the Golden Kite award ceremony with SCBWI co-founder Lin Oliver.
At the book signing, I was seated next to Bruce Coville, who was my sons’ favorite author when they were around 11 or 12.
I was reminded of how nice children’s book people are, but also of how ignorant I am about current authors and illustrators. Working as I do, in isolation for long periods of time, I lose touch with what’s going on in the children’s book world. There’s got to be a balance somewhere! So, I took off my blinders for a few days, mingled with my tribe and have returned home energized!