Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Round Up: State of the Picture Book and Ideas and Inspiration

Cedar fever didn't keep me home this week. Thank goodness, because there was lots on the plate. Tuesday I spoke at UTSA to a graduate class of teachers who under Miriam Martinez, Professor of Literacy are studying the all important picture book. Of course, the students had heard about and read the New York Times piece which was very doom and gloom with very little real reporting about what may or may not be driving picture book sales numbers down. Publisher's Weekly responded with a much more informative and balanced piece of reporting with the wonderful headline, Don't Write the Obit for the Picture Book Yet.

We discussed both articles, my reactions, the students reactions. We talked a bit about digital publishing, much about how library circulation is increasing in these hard economic times, and even more about the art and magic and aim of a good picture book.

I read aloud from the forthcoming Grandfather Gandhi picture book I co-authored with Arun Gandhi and we discussed how the book came to be, the slow and necessary timeline for a good picture book to be produced and I closed out with pointing the students to several popular industry blogs and a point to the upcoming issue of Hunger Mountain where we will be celebrating the picture book.

I ended with this:

There were many who said the Gandhi project should be developed into a middle grade reader but this was not my vision. When I heard Arun Gandhi speak of living on the Sevagram ashram as a boy what I saw were visual glimpses into who this boy was, to who Gandhi was as a world leader--yes, but also as a grandfather. That was the story I wanted to tell. One succinct. One layered. And one full of visual grandeur. My work may be complete, but there still is the marriage of art and text to come. It may be another year--or two--before the manuscript becomes a picture book, but seeing my vision rendered complete is well worth the wait. 

Now, flash forward to Thursday, where the WLT kicked off it's annual third Thursday program to a packed house on the third floor of BookPeople. We celebrated the WLT 2010 Book Award winners--lovely awards and big checks--were given out to the talented winners by sponsor of the contest, Bill Jewell of the University Co-op. We thanked WLT Programming Manager and mom-to-be, Jan Baumer, for her hard work with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and then we welcomed our esteemed guests, authors: Stephen Harrington, Brian Yansky, and Jennifer Zeigler.

I moderated the panel where we discussed how ideas come--lightning quick or at a slow simmer, how to move forward with an idea (sage advice from Stephen Harrington, "Start before you are ready."), when we choose to share our ideas, when we choose to keep them close to the chest, how we stay inspired ("Ideas give you more ideas.") and when and how does the marketability of an idea push us forward or halt us in our tracks. It was a lively discussion (where finally we had a contrary moment where Brian Yansky revealed he never outlines and Jennifer Zeigler revealed occasionally she does--but not with Roman numerals, thank goodness.) and an inspiring one to all who attended.

Awesome Austin Upcoming Events

Book Bash!
Mari Mancusi  with Night School (Berkley)and Cynthia Leitich Smith with Blessed (Candlewick) are launching their latest books at 2 p.m. Jan. 29 at BookPeople.

The event will include author talks, Q&A, book raffle, surprise giveaways, devilish desserts, demonic drinks & signing.
Wear red and black if you’re on the side of Evil or blue and black if you’re on the side of Good.

Bonus points (and possible prize) to anyone who dresses up as a vampire, shape shifter, vampire slayer, angel or fairy!

About to get my musical theatre fix at the Zach Scott, as April Lurie's outstanding novel,Brothers, Boyfriends, and Other Criminal Minds is going to be performed live, on-stage on ZACH’s Kleberg Stage.

February 5-20, 2011
On ZACH’s Intimate Kleberg Stage
Saturdays at 1:00p.m. & 4:00p.m. | Sundays at 6:30p.m.
$13 Youth | $15 Adult | Great discounts for 20+
Tickets:  512-476-0541  512-476-0541 x1
More information:

And don't forget to register for the Austin SCBWI Feb Conference and 
for the first ever YA only conference, The Writers' League of Texas is debuting the YA-AZ Conference in April. Registration is open now and some of the attending conference faculty has been announced.

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