Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tiny Tootsie people on retreat!

Imagine biting into a Tootsie Roll… the taste, sensation, satisfaction... (or revulsion, I guess, if you don’t like Tootises). If you had to act out those sensations to someone who could see or hear you but couldn't taste or feel anything themselves, how would you do it?

Okay, now imagine shaping a little person out of clay. You are its creator. What will happen to your clay person? Do you turn it into a trophy or a playmate or a voodoo doll? Why?

What do these weird questions have to do with your writing or illustrating — or specifically with your work-in-progress — and how you can make it better?

Lots! Trust me. Though you might need a pointer or two to see just how much and how to put that insight to work. If these ideas sound both fun and challenging— and they will be! — consider registering for our ninth annual Weekend on the Water retreat, which we’ll hold Oct. 13-15. We’re doing some wild new things this year, with many sessions on creative jumpstarts and ways to dig in for more resonant work. Including, yes, the activities I’m teasing you with here. Registration is open now. Go sign up! — and get ready to mine rich veins of creativity while having a great time with friends.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Bits and bobs: August 2017

Books and resources for talking with kids about race, from middle grade author Olugbimisola Rhuday-Perkovich.

Katherine Pryor will be teaching a free class on writing children's books at the Mount Vernon Library on September 12th at 6:30.

Writing a complete and compelling story in less than 1,000 words is no easy feat. Modern picture books explain the world to children in new and exciting ways, but there are guidelines and formats to the genre that must be understood before approaching a publisher. This class will examine the structure of successful contemporary picture books, and offer a glimpse into various paths to publication for children’s book authors. Katherine Pryor is the award-winning author of the children's picture books Zora's Zucchini and Sylvia's Spinach, published by Readers to Eaters. She is a frequent presenter at schools and libraries, and loves helping writers of all ages learn to share their stories.
This event takes place Tuesday, September 12th, at 6:30 pm in the Resources Room, and is free and open to the public.

Shambhala Publications is launching a children's imprint, Bala Kids, and are putting a call for submissions for children's books with Buddhist values. Details here. Thanks to Wendy Wahman for the heads up.

What happens when an author self-publishes their debut literary novel? Nicole Dieker details her experience on Jane Freidman's blog.

If you enjoyed Gretchen McNeil's spooky YA murder mystery TEN, you can set your dir to catch the Lifetime movie version on September 16.

And speaking of YA movie adaptations, the Hollywood Reporter notes a shift toward personal narratives in upcoming adaptations. 

YA author MJ Beaufrand recently noted that Seattle Children's Hospital could really use some book donations, particularly early readers and chapter books, in good condition. Clean off your shelves, gather up your ARCs, or pick up a few at the local indy to help ease kids' time in the hospital, if you're so inclined. Drop books off at the volunteer station in the River Building on Sand Point Way.

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”  Carl Sagan

Friday, August 18, 2017

Upcoming Book Events with Leigh Bardugo, Kevan Atteberry, Kelly Jones, & more!

Autumn is the best season (Fight me.), and one of the best parts is all the new releases and book events.

August 31:
Grab your shield and head down to University Bookstore to hear Leigh Bardugo talk about her newest, WONDER WOMAN: WARBRINGER. Priority signing tickets available in advance.

September 6:
Back to School with SCBWI WWA and Rosemary Wells! Details soon.

September 7-10:
Highlights Foundation offers an Illustrator Getaway in the Poconos with our own Elizabeth Rose Stanton, SCBWI WWA Portfolio Show winner Mike Curato, Giuseppe Castellano, and more. Registration details here.

September 8:
Kirkus likes it, and we bet you will, too. Kevan Atteberry launches his newest picture book, I LOVE YOU MORE THAN THE SMELL OF SWAMP GAS, from Brick & Mortar Books in Redmond.

September 11:
Knight takes rook, but look, Martha Brockenbrough launches ALEXANDER HAMILTON: REVOLUTIONARY from University Bookstore

September 17:
Wendy Wahman launches PONY IN THE CITY at University Bookstore

Watch PONY IN THE CITY's book trailer:

September 19:
Kelly Jones launches MURDER, MAGIC, AND WHAT WE WORE at Secret Garden Books!

September 26:
Ben Hatke discusses Mighty Jack and the Goblin King with Kazu Kibuishi at University Bookstore.

October 1:
Amanda Hosch celebrates her middle grade debut, MABEL OPAL PEAR AND THE RULES FOR SPYING, at University Bookstore

October 4:
Cressida Cowell visits the peninsula to kick off a new series, starting with THE WIZARDS OF ONCE, at Liberty Bay Books and Sylvan Way Library.

October 11:
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Editor Liz Kossnar visits SCBWI WWA! Details soon.

October 13-15:
Weekend on the Water Retreat! New venue and revamped programming! Registration now open.

November 4:

May 4:
It's not until May 4, 2018, but tickets are available for Sherman Alexie conversing with YA dynamos Jenny Han, Matt de la Peña, and Nicola Yoon for his Sherman Alexie Loves: Sherman's Book Club- YA Edition. Info for the May 4th event here, see the rest of SAL's season here.

Double-check times and whatnot with bookstores before you set out for events. If you snap a great picture, tag us at @scbwiwwa on Instagram and/or Twitter, and we'll try to repost. If you have good news or an event coming up, let us know!

Support book culture.
Support independent bookstores and libraries.
Support authors.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Inspiration and Motivation for Creatives

How do we foster and sustain creativity? Sometimes it takes a step away from the everyday. This year’s Weekend on the Water retreat is all about finding inspiration—whether you’re a writer or an illustrator, a seasoned pro or a pre-published beginner. The whole event—from setting to programming to the nourishment and extra activities—has been designed to help us delve deep into the sources of our work.

This intimate, creativity-focused retreat—appropriate for both writers and illustrators—will give you a step back from the daily grind to examine the emotional and psychological drivers of your work and how to capitalize on them. Highlights include:
  • Explore your creativity and jump-start your inner muse with our powerful Insight Book session, other creativity workshops, and specific NaNoWriMo support.

  • Connect with other writers and illustrators to address your most pressing concerns in spontaneous, peer-led sessions

  • Bring a picture book manuscript and work on laying it out in a dummy in IslandWood’s art studio. 

  • If you like, you can sign up to read your work to the group or exchange manuscript pages with a small group of peers. 

  • If none of that activity appeals, and all you need is time to create, bring your laptop or sketch pad, find a cozy spot, walk in the woods, or take advantage of our yoga studio. 

Setting: Inspirational IslandWood

IslandWood’s mission is to foster children’s education and environmental stewardship. With 250 acres of natural forest, meadows, ponds and pathways, it offers the perfect setting for inspiration. The facilities offer comfort and opportunities for rejuvenation. Everything at IslandWood is sustainably built with beautiful, natural materials.

IslandWood is just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle. But while in the cozy buildings and quiet woods, you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away. The retreat comes complete with special IslandWood programs, including:
    •    Hiking trail maps

    •    Fireside programs with s’mores

    •    Instructor-led yoga ($25 fee additional)

Some of the best experiences come from small moments, like quiet conversations with friends, both known and new. We offer both single rooms and shared rooms (with one, or at most two, roommates). All rooms have private baths, plus access to cozy common areas ideal for chatting, relaxing, reading, critiquing, or creating.
(We aren't using the top bunks -- unless you want one!)

IslandWood is designed to provide access to all. If you require special accommodation, please let us know and we'll work to ensure your comfort. IslandWood specializes in accommodating dietary restrictions, too.

The retreat fees, which start at $525 for the whole weekend, include all programming, two nights’ accommodations, six delicious meals, and s’mores by the fire, and we can help arrange transportation from the ferry dock, too.

Registration now open!

Get more details and register now for this great opportunity taking place starting on Friday, October 13 through Sunday, October 15, 2017. Registration will close when the retreat capacity is reached or September 27, 2017, whichever comes first.

Monday, August 14, 2017

An Evening with Rosemary Wells on September 6

We're kicking off this season's programming with an extra-special visit from the amazing Rosemary Wells at 7pm on September 6 at Seattle Pacific University. 

She'll walk us through two of her works and deconstruct what makes a successful story. This event is FREE, so bring a friend and introduce them to SCBWI Western Washington!

A few 15-minute manuscript consultations will also be available on September 7. Watch your inbox this week for more information on how to sign up and get those first chapters polished!

Rosemary Wells's career as an author and illustrator spans more than 30 years and 60 books. She has won numerous awards, and has given readers such unforgettable characters as Max and Ruby, Noisy Nora, and Yoko. She has also given Mother Goose new life in two enormous, definitive editions, published by Candlewick. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Pre-Retreat Interview with Wendy Wahman

The brilliant Wendy!
One feature of this year’s fall retreat, Inspiration and Motivation for Creatives, will be the option to take part in two sessions with local author/illustrator Wendy Wahman. Our region’s creativity coordinator, Joni Sensel, asked Wendy a few questions about those sessions so you can get a sense of how exciting they’ll be.

Joni: How did you come up with your Insight Books process

Wendy: I learned how to make the books from my friend Arni Adler, who learned them from Darwin Nordin. One change I made was adding collage. It’s a simple concept, these little books, but each one blossoms into something entirely unique. And I have enough lesson plans for these babies for a 6-week course.

Joni: It sounds like a launch point for a lot! Maybe we can do more with them sometime soon. What’s your favorite thing about the process?

Wendy: They surprise me. It’s hard to take yourself unawares after decades of doing art, isn’t it? Though, wait. I’m lying. I surprise myself daily. But these little books begin with surprise. You take the random lines you’ve drawn and tie them together. Or maybe you untie them? You definitely untie something in yourself – and they’re way cheaper than therapy.

Joni: Ha ha, I actually think there may be a lot of inadvertent therapy happening at this retreat. We’ll see! Do you have other favorite things you turn to when you need inspiration or feel discouraged?

Wendy: Besides crying and snivelling? I take a walk, weed, pick up poo in the backyard. Yoga or meditation. Call someone. Look through books. All kinds of books, not just kid's or art books. The thesaurus is a dear friend.

But generally, I don’t struggle with motivation. I’ve always been a workhorse. I just get to work. Although, I do get very anxious and fearful. Exercise and meditation helps that enormously. (Say, it would be really cool to offer a group guided meditation at the retreat for anyone who wants to do it.)

Joni: I’ve been toying with that idea, actually. Our schedule’s packed with choices already but it’s designed for small groups following their heart and instincts, so we’ll see what folks are interested in and maybe we can fit it in.

Another of those choices is your two-part session for creating a picture-book dummy, of course. What’s your favorite part of that process?

Wendy: Oh, well, talk about surprise! Surprise, surprise, we just *think* we know the story that’s our little darling! Even if you do the art yourself, you can't see it all in your mind. We’re short-selling our darling by not letting her stretch out full length in her very own dummy, bon bons and all. 

Dummies are a great tool for unearthing “The 3 Ps” — pictures, page turns, and pacing. When you create a dummy, you see where pictures can tell the story, so automatically you see where you can trim words and even scenes. A picture’s worth a thousand words. Use the art to your story’s advantage. You see the flow of the story – where the pacing is off, the climax comes too soon, too much up front or behind. You find your page turns. Then you find better places for a page turn. It’s fun.

Joni: We can’t wait! In the meantime, what’s your next book coming out?

Wendy: I’m very excited about Pony in the City, which releases Sept. 12. The launch party (please come! Bring your pony!) is at 3:00 p.m. on Sept. 17 at University Bookstore in Seattle. There’s a book trailer! And right now I’m working on the color and cover art for Nanny Paws, which is coming out in the spring.  After that, I’ll be working on sequels for both.

Joni: Thanks for the, er, insights, Wendy! 

We’re looking forward to more at our Inspiration and Motivation for Creatives: Weekend on the Water retreat, which will take place Oct. 13-15 at an exciting new venue we've been eyeballing for years. Registration will open soon; watch your email and this space for details!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Joni's Weekend on the Water update #2!

Your gnarliest life questions — answered.
(Or not)

Decades ago, I realized that, for better or worse, my critique partners knew me better than I do. They first pointed out the death/rebirth theme that recurs in my work. It was like being hit by lightning to see it myself and realize how it sprang from a traumatic event when I was a toddler.

Once I became conscious of it, however, it was easier to use it with intention — or choose not to — as best suited the story. Such insight also can be invaluable in refining an author or illustrator mission statement or branding.

On the other hand, maybe you don’t want to know what your work’s trying to tell you. We all know it’s trouble when you try to force a character to do things rather than letting them guide you, right? Similarly, have you ever found yourself working on a project and realized (maybe in revision), that you didn’t want to write that story because it seemed to say something you didn’t think you believed — or didn’t want to believe— about life? I have. I once abandoned a project I’d worked on for more than a year, once I finally realized where it was going, because I didn’t want to put that premise into the world, and I knew I couldn’t fight it. Plus I suspected on some level it was mirroring something in my life, and I couldn’t face the painful ramifications. Abandoning the book didn’t stop them, of course… but it allowed me to delay them until (in retrospect) I was more ready.

Similarly, I once had a critique partner whose work took a huge leap in quality on a particular project… until she realized it was headed into difficult emotional territory from her childhood. Despite our group’s urging, she refused to go there. I have little doubt that if she could’ve stared down those demons, that book could’ve been her first sale. (But I do understand her decision.)

If you don’t want to improve your work, and don’t want to tackle life issues that you probably need to, you may not want to attend one of the sessions we’ll hold at this fall’s Weekend on the Water retreat: Life Themes. The retreat this year will focus on Inspiration and Motivation for Creatives, and in one of our workshops, the brave among us will burrow into the questions and answers that drive our work. Such delving can clarify and enrich your work — and your life — as you become more conscious of the themes you keep gnawing like a dog with an oversized bone. This session might be an “aha” that helps you finish a stubborn WIP or amp up the branding that helps you sell you work.

If topics like this sound intriguing, mark your calendar for Oct. 13-15 and look for retreat registration in mid-August.

In the meantime, ask yourself a question that might unlock a few mysteries: Which favorite book (of someone else’s) do you most wish you’d created? More importantly, why? What does it share with your current WIP? (It may share an element of your life theme, too.)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Upcoming events for August and beyond!

You know where there's air conditioning? Bookstores. Not that we need an excuse, but here are a few reasons to visit local indies this month and beat the heat.

August 3
#1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot rolls into the U district University Bookstore for Royal Crush, the third installment in her middle grade Princess Diaries spin-off.

August 5
Ben Clanton celebrates the launch of his newest picture book, Boo Who?, at University Bookstore

August 12
Kazu Kibuishi will be at Brick and Mortar Books in Redmond! 

August 13
Sanae Ishida launches Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet at Queen Anne Books!

August 16
Danielle Davis talks about her middle grade debut, Zinnia and the Bees, at the Seward Park Third Place Books.

August 18
Kevan Atteberry is taking over storytime at Queen Anne Books!

August 20
Dori Butler celebrates The Underground Ghosts, her 10th (!!) in the Haunted Library series, at Secret Garden.

August 26
It's Ben Clanton again, celebrating Drawn to Color, a new PNW themed coloring book with Carrie O'Neill, Dana Arnim, Aaron Bagley, and Jessixa Bagley at University Bookstore.

And planning ahead...

Registration is now open for the next season of Hugo Houses's Word Works: Writers on Writing series. Kelly Link! Ruth Ozeki! Jess Walter! Check out their whole lineup here. 

And Seattle Arts and Lectures series is now open for single ticket purchases. They're bringing in Isabel Allende, Colson Whitehead, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and more. Check it out.

And mark your calendars for Inside Story on November 4th!

Double-check times and dates with bookstores before you set out for events. If you snap a great picture, tag us at @scbwiwwa on Instagram and/or Twitter, and we'll try to repost. Let us know about future events at wwa@scbwi.org!

Support book culture.
Support independent bookstores and libraries.
Support authors.