Sunday night was a glorious one. Full of great food, friends and conversation. Heather and I were chatting in our room as we prepared for the next day about how reality would be smacking us in the face soon enough. She said there needed to be some kind of re-entry to regular life program provided to conference attendees. I mean, we get beautiful weather, someone picking up after us, never-ending opportunities to chat with like-minded people the whole time we're in LA...how could reality not be jarring for us?!
When we awoke on Monday morning and opened the balcony curtains, it was actually foggy outside. I told Heather even the weather was mourning the end of the conference! Nevertheless, we took ourselves down to the ballroom for our final morning keynote given by editor Dinah Stevenson. She was followed by the lovely and talented Ingrid Law, author of Savvy, one of my new favorite middle grade books. (The voice in that book is just phenomenal. ) Ingrid said that instead of repeating all of the wonderful advice we had heard throughout the conference, she was going to tell us a story. It was full of magic and metaphor.
My day was going to be spent listening to Charlesbridge's Art Director, Susan Sherman. I got to see her very briefly at the Illustrator's Social, and she was just so down to earth! For her first session she focused on illustrator craft. She gave tips to remember when creating strong characters, developing interesting places (make a map!), and pacing the plot to hold the reader's attention.
The second session led a walk through the publishing process. She explained how the library was still the biggest market for their house and that getting reviewed by their journals is key to a book's success. Susan said that publishing is a service industry- there to help the artist. "Without you, we don't exist." She gave a rundown of the company and explained how/when an illustrator is brought into the equation. She still loves postcards (here she showed a photo of two overflowing boards and hanging bags full of artist's cards!) and is looking for evidence of the artist's brain at work in their art. She also said she looks for strong characters, mood and a good sense of light. Throughout both sessions, Susan gave great examples and I now have a huge list of books to read through.
Finally, we came to the last speaker of the day, Kathleen Duey. This is one frisky woman! She was a great speaker and actually walked around the stage instead of standing at the podium. Guess what her speech was titled? A Post-Conference Re-entry Program! Heather and I said that someone must have bugged our room! It was an entertaining talk sprinkled with anecdotes. Here are some of her tips:
*Get on Facebook and Twitter! "That stuff is designed for eight-year olds, dude!"
*Google anything you didn't understand.
*Experiment with the things you've learned.
*Try hard to retain the validation of your art.
*Be a shining light!
And on that note...