Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Saving the birds, one pigeon at a time

I saved a pigeon today. I know that some of you are wondering why anyone would want to save a pigeon. Well for one thing, it was a very small pigeon and it couldn't fend for itself. It was old enough to have jumped from the nest, but not old enough to fly back.

There were two boys (I'd say 8 or 10 years old) and one was walking behind the baby pigeon, following very close. The pigeon was trying to get away, but it couldn't fly. I passed the boys, then stopped and turned to see what would happen because it just didn't seem right. The boy who wasn't following the pigeon saw me stop and started to walk away, but the other boy kept following the bird until it was trapped in an alcove sort of thing.

When he picked up the rock, I started yelling, "HEY!" But the boy threw the rock anyway (I hope he had bad aim). Then the boy disappeared behind the wall, so I don't know if he was still trying to attack the pigeon. By that time, I was still yelling and running over there - it was only a couple of feet, but it seemed like he could have killed the bird by the time I got there.

"Don't throw rocks at the pigeon!" I yelled. "Leave it alone!"

The boy walked away without looking at me, as in 'I'm too cool and I don't care what you stupid stranger adult are saying to me.'

The pigeon looked the same as it had before the rock throwing, so I'm guessing the boy didn't hit it. I hope not anyway.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

office supplies!

Happy thought for the day: Back to school sales mean new fun toys for the office!
I have new pens and folders, and best of all, a calendar thingy with Post-it notes on both sides that I can use as storyboard pages when planning out my picturebook dummies! It is so cool, and way better than if I were actually using it as a calendar. (I feel like I'm channeling a valley girl. Like totally, for sure.)

Friday, August 19, 2005

mini golf

Mini Golf (a.k.a. Putt Putt)
Last weekend my husband and I played mini golf while we were out of town. It's one of those courses with a castle you go inside of to golf, and it has water falls, and dragons too. First let me say that DH is a really good mini golfer...and I'm not that good, well not as good as he is, so I almost never beat him (unless I pretend that high score wins, and we all know it doesn't). Well, guess what? I won last weekend!!!! I think it was the second time ever that I've beat him. And to top it all off, when we were done, I putted my yellow ball around a red one and into the middle of the mini castle to win a FREE game for next time. I was a double winner hee hee! It's scary how happy this makes me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

LA Conference Notes

I finally got my notes all typed up, and as I suspected there were a lot of people talking about character (or maybe I just chose to write those things down). The notes I'm sharing are in two sections, characters and quotes.

Characters
If your character doesn’t come first, nurture it. Assume the character exists and try to find out who they are so that you can tell their story. - Kathleen Duey

The difference between a good movie and a B movie is that the characters in good movies are believable. The ones in B movies are more likely to go to their attic in their nightgown in the middle of the night to investigate a noise, which nobody would really do. - Kathleen Duey

(This one is not specifically about character, it’s about place and setting, but place can serve as a character in some stories)
Place / setting – it's good to be as specific as possible, if it’s done well, people will like it, whether they know about it or not. You shouldn’t make it too bland to please everyone, because then no one wins. - Megan McCafferty

Know your characters as people, each one should have a distinctive voice. - Julia DeVillers

Give us someone to root for, someone we can empathize with – human, genuine, makes mistakes. They must be flawed, they must have a strong desire they want to accomplish, and they must be active / take action instead of waiting for something to happen. If your character doesn’t care about the problem, it won’t carry through the book. – Bruce Hale

Build your character around one funny detail, a starter seed (funny details are gold). - Gennifer Choldenko

Gave yourself time for your subconscious to work...Make lists of every solution to problem that you can think of. Even if you don’t come up with a solution on your list, it’s a warm up for your head, and you might think of it later (while in the shower or on a walk, etc.). - Gennifer Choldenko

Brainstorm everything you can think of about that character that makes them unique. What does your character have hidden in their closet? - Julie Strauss-Gabel

You should be writing dialog that’s so distinct to the character that it’s clear who is talking without much, if any, he/she said. – Bruce Coville

Quotes
It’s what you do with the junk (ideas) that matters. Add light to junk in a cylinder and it becomes a rose window (kaleidoscope). Add light to ideas and they become a story. - Rosemary Wells

Pay attention to your process, and whatever works, do that. And if you have a good day, notice why and try to do it again. - Kathleen Duey

(This one is about writing, but I think it applies to illustration too.)
Any kind of writing is writing, and you don’t know what it will lead to. - Christopher Paul Curtis

Don’t forget to thank your teenage self for living through those years. - Julia DeVillers

Everything in a teen’s life is about first experiences and emotional extremes…they are in a constant state of humiliation. - Sonya Sones

Write EVERY day, like it’s you JOB. - Christopher Paul Curtis and Gennifer Choldenko both said this about how they work.

New age groups: 9-11 = Tween, 12-16 = Teen, 17-25 = New YA (high YA / crossover) - Julie Strauss-Gabel

You can get a kid to listen to a book that they might not read. – Bruce Coville

(On reasons to do books for boys)
Boys should be able to see themselves in books. – Arthur Levine

Thursday, August 11, 2005

LA Themes?

I just got back from the SCBWI LA conference - I had such a blast!!! Hanging out with friends, dancing and partying at the beach bash, having a great portfolio review with Marla, watching Crossing Jordan being filmed by the pool, and learning as much as I could soak up.

I'm going to post more about the conference after I get all of my notes typed in, but right now I'm thinking the main theme for me was character. The take-away theme for everyone is different, depending on what sessions you go to (and maybe nobody else thinks about overall themes). This year I took a lot of novel sessions where they talked about character in everything from chick lit (OMG!) to edgy YA. I think a lot of the character stuff can be applied to my picture book writing too, even though it was intended for novels. All good books need good, strong characters.

I learned other stuff too, but there always seems to be a theme that runs through the many sessions that I take.

Last year my take-away was emotion and how to get that into the story. Either everyone was talking about it, or it just jumped out at me whenever anyone mentioned emotion (which they did, a lot).

p.s. It's nice to be home, but I miss hanging out with all my friends!

p.p.s. I really do know how to draw a pig...in fact, I did some doodling in one of my sessions. Ok, I did lots of doodling in many sessions, and I've made a collage of the best ones for my sketch this week: sruble's home page

p.p.p.s. cool thing!! got back to an email from someone who had seen my cards on zazzle (sruble Card Store) and wanted an image on a T-shirt. I was able to send them to my cafepress store (sruble Shop) and they bought a bunch of stuff with other images too - yay!