SCBWI Carolinas Conference

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This past weekend I attended the SCBWI Carolinas conference in Charlotte, North Carolina and had such a blast! It’s always so great to meet and talk with other author/illustrators, and this one makes me want to go to a conference every month! If only travel was free! Here are my postcards I took to the conference, above…

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…and I also brought bookmarks with me this time, seen here! This conference had a terrific line up of speakers and opportunities to mingle and get feedback on my work. The first day was the Illustrator Intensive, where a group of about 20 illustrators listened to presentations from illustrator Mary GrandPre, and Executive Art Director Isabel Warren-Lynch from Random House.

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Mary GrandPre is an illustrator creating “ethereal pastel paintings” with a geometric focus. She began working in editorial, and has transitioned into children’s books, with 7 published picture books. She has also worked as a concept artist, creating environmental concept art for the Dreamworks movie, Antz.

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And perhaps you recognize her work from a little book series called Harry Potter? Isabel Warren-Lynch has worked with Mary Grandpre on some of her children’s books, including the illustration of the woman with her cat pictured above, Chin Yu Min and the Ginger Cat.

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Their newest picture book together as illustrator and art director is The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, which looks fantastic!

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Later in the conference, I had a portfolio review with Isabel Warren-Lynch where she gave me fantastic feedback on my two picture book dummies. I also had a manuscript review with Pieta Pemberton who is an Assistant Editor at Grosset & Dunlap, and she gave me amazing feedback on my dummy as well. With the picture book that she reviewed, I knew that it was good, but not perfect, and I needed some extra help to figure out how to push it that bit farther to make it publish-ready. With Pieta and Isabel’s critique, I now feel like I know what the story was missing and how to make it flow more smoothly and really make an impact! I’m excited to keep working on that dummy to bring it up to the next level.

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The opening keynote was given by North Carolinian author Linda Ashman who has written and illustrated over 30 picture books! She was very lively, and a great presenter. She has written many popular picture books on my to-read list, including Rain, and the upcoming Little Baby Buttercup, illustrated by the amazing illustrator You Byun. She also talked about writing and submitting wordless (or nearly wordless) picture book manuscripts (like her book No Dogs Allowed, which was extremely interesting.

Later in the day there was a panel presentation with a group of 3 agents including Susan Hawk from The Bent Agency, Emily Mitchell from Wernick & Pratt, and Christa Heschke from McIntosh & Otis. They also had a lot of advice and talked about their work as agents in the children’s book industry.

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The last day of the conference, I attended a break out presentation from Nancy Castaldo, author of many children’s books. Her most recent nonfiction book is a middle grade book called Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World. She also recently wrote Pizza for the Queen, a historical fiction picture book. Her wonderful presentation was about nonfiction children’s books, and we learned how a book must be presented in order to be a REAL nonfiction book. I also spoke with her about historical fiction and what I’m calling (for lack of a word I could find) science fiction.

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I’d like to thank everyone I listed above and everyone I didn’t get the chance to mention for everything they did during the conference to make it so entertaining and informative! And thank you Teresa Fannin and Bonnie Adamson for your work in preparation for the conference and running it smoothly. And thank you illustrator leaders Deb Johnson and Stacy Gray! You all made this weekend a spectacular experience!