Wednesday, November 02, 2016

"Publishing Children's Books" Panel Discussion At Connecticut's Arts Center East

Exhibit Area
Arts Center East in Vernon, Connecticut just completed a month-long exhibit Creating a Children's Picture Book that ended this past weekend with a panel discussion Publishing Children's Books: Connect! Three published picture book authors and one illustrator described their experience getting published and offered suggestions for writers working to break in to the field.

Some Highlights:

Bill Thomson
Bill Thomson, creator/illustrator of Chalk and Fossil: Bill has done advertising and editorial illustration and is a professor of illustration at the University of Hartford. He advised listeners to accept that they can't control everything that happens or when it happens. They can't let themselves become frustrated because things aren't happening on their schedule. I found this thought somewhat Zenny, so it was right up my alley.

Selene Castrovilla
Selene Castrovilla, author of Revolutionary Friends and By the Sword: Selene's picture books (she also writes YA) are historical nonfiction. She started writing about history because she was always seeing the same things in history books. She wants kids to know that history doesn't have to be boring. "The most important thing about writing history is knowing what to leave out." Not a Zenny thought (or is it?), but one I like.

Pegi Deitz Shea
Pegi Deitz Shea, author of The Whispering Cloth, Noah Webster, and Tangled Threads: Pegi traveled as a child and was interested in Vietnam during that conflict. That interest continued as an adult, leading to some of her picture books. "If you can provide a twist to a concept" (such as board books or counting books), " you can do a whole new book."  She also pointed out that even picture books need a beginning, middle, and end, a character, and a conflict or challenge for that character. So true, so true.

Sandra Horning
Sandra Horning, author of The Biggest Pumpkin and The Giant Hug: Sandra has a sister who is fifteen years younger than she is. Sandra connected with her by reading her children's books. She didn't study writing or children's literature in college, but she did do a sociology paper on gender evolution in The Berenstain Bears, because her sister was into them. That is a fantastic story.

The Whole Panel
The panelists also covered the benefits of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, working with large vs. small publishers, and word count--a topic that's almost always on the table when picture books are being discussed. 

Additionally, these authors provided some of the best handouts I've ever seen at a how-to writer event.

Jack and Allie's Book Sale
And, finally, Jack and Allie's Children's Bookstore provided a book sale.

I heard rumblings earlier this year that Arts Center East might do a similar event in the future.


Sandra Horning said...

I was out of town, and am just seeing your great post on the panel now. A belated thank you for attending and blogging on it! Many thanks! - Sandra

Pegi Deitz Shea said...

Thanks, Gail, for promoting and covering "Children's Picture Books: The Creative Process"! I am planning on doing a similar event next year at ArtsCenterEast, in Vernon, CT. It's not too early to get out the word that we are looking for illustrators to display copies of dummies and framed final art plus book to compare with them; and authors to display copies of drafts and final books. Attendees loved the hands-on access to these materials. I don't know of any other exhibit that allows that. I think I'll write something up for the NE & national newsletters. Thanks again! Pegi Deitz Shea