What happened at ALA Anaheim 2012 - Part deux

So last week I shared a bit about my experience at ALA. Here is the rest of the dirt. This time no pictures of me (possibly), just fawning over famous-er and hugely (brilliantly) talented people (and therefore this post will get lots of hits).


It was like Wonderland (or WondLa- land, but I didn't get to see Tony DiTerlizzi). A famous face at every turn. Fun to say hi, to have a chance conversation, to meet a hero and be inspired. Here are some inspiring moments and inspiring people ...

The charming, enchanting and legendary Ashley Bryan, signing his book 'Word's to My Life's Song'.
If you haven't read it yet, GO get it.

Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song

 And then I got to sign my book for Ashley when he dropped by Charlesbridge Booth! A-MAZ-ING. 
A hug from Mr. Bryan can keep you warm and inspired a long time, let me tell you.

Here is the wonderful David Small. I love David's work .. his loose and yet controlled line work is so awesome. He's signing 'One Cool Friend' by Toni Buzzeo of MAINE. So I had to get a copy ....

LUUURRRRVVV this drawing he did!!!
One Cool Friend

And I found Toni Buzzeo again (Stay Close to Mama) on Disney-Hyperion .. another title to look out for. Maine authors and illustrators are SO PROLIFIC! (Just saying).


And it was nice to meet Caroline Arnold 
(A Warmer World, pub by Charlesbridge illustrated by MAINE's Jamie Hogan). That is 'MAINE'.

 Christina Forshay, a Facebook friend come to life on Albert Whitman's booth!

The incredible Jon Sciezka ... handsome as ever.

Who is this?? Come on, you know that bear, it's best selling author/illustrator Jon Klassen, relegated to  signing books on the floor. This is what we have to look forward to fellow illustrators ;-)

You may not know her yet, but here is Charlene Ellen, MG author, (my roomie) 
trying on a stretch hummer for size. I like it!

  Whose signing line do you think this belongs to? 
Clue - not me. It went for miles and to Hawaii for all I know.

 Yes it was for the zany Lemony Snicket, signing at Little, Brown.

And now CAKE CAKE CAKE! Let them eat CAKE!

Mr Ashley Bryan was kind enough to invite me along to Simon and Schuster's 'Celebration of the Picture Book' Dessert Party in the evening. Oh - cake, how I love you. 
But I really didn't eat too much ... REALLY.


Even more awesome than all those cakes was the guest speaker at the celebration. None other than William Joyce (The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore, Rolie Polie Olie,  Toy Story ...). It was an honour to listen to him and hear how The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore came to be.

Joyce spoke of his long association with Bill Morris and Coleen Salley and the long journey to the final film and now, finally, book. Many tears were wiped away and it was truly a 'moment'. 
The short film was shown on while we talked and nibbled on cake.

Tribute to Bill Morris and Colleen Salley.

  Justin Chanda (S&S) introduces William Joyce.


Sets and storyboards from the film were on display. You can see how wonderful they are.

The room was so full of amazing people. Here's one of my favorites - Ellen Hopkins, best selling mutiple multiple times YA author. If you've read some of my blog posts you may remember I attended the Nevada SCBWI mentor programme organized by Ellen Hopkins and Suzy Morgan Williams a couple of years ago, so this is all their fault ;-). Ellen has the best smile and I am proud to know her.

As you can see we had a pretty, darn good time. A magical evening with magical people and one to recall when alone in the studio struggling with a layout or story and in need of inspiration.

Most embarrassing moment of the evening: singing 'The Black Hills of Dakota' to Jon Anderson, head of Simon and Schuster's Children's Books. Look, he wasn't wearing a tag and we hadn't been introduced! Jees. Well, I guess that's any career I wanted with S&S right out of the window. It was probably all that sugar I ate .... thanks for being a sport Jon and not having me removed from the party ;-). 

Back on the exhibition floor next day, there was Loren Long, large as life and twice as handsome, signing his new book Nightsong. It's GORGEOUS. Got to be a Caldecott contender. Just saying. 
He deserved a bigger table.

Prowling Houghton Mifflin Stand (really?) was Ms. Maggie Steifvater. (Shiver, Linger, The Scorpio Races). I totally admire Maggie ... and her amazing blog. I begged for a pic (isn't she so photogenic?). I also had a chat with her about her recent visit to the UK ... she travelled through my neck of the woods (Yorkshire) and it turns out she used my hometown and the surrounding beaches and cliffs as some inspiration for 'The Scorpio Races' ... amazing! She knew the cliffs I used to paint in art college. So I got 'Scorpio Races' as soon as I got home and reading now. Isn't it a small world?

Look!! It's Nathan Hale!  Funny and talented and generous.

And ... I was lucky enough to get a Nathan Hale original ... and it is not going on ebay.

 Couldn't resist posting Olivia again. TOO SWEET! 
I want a character that comes to life and walks around at exhibitions being harassed by strange women.

My best moment of the whole shebang happened by chance in a crowded elevator. Typically I was not at my best, (SIGH) having just been for a swim, wrapped in a dripping sarong and bathing suit and with people trying not to come in contact with me. As the elevator emptied (no doubt folks leaping off at any floor to avoid the wet person) I was left in one corner, dripping quietly, and with two guys in the other corner (as far away as possible from me). And then I realized omg, OMG, - that's Brian Selznick! To speak or not to speak? I gibbered and stuck out a damp hand and gabbled something about how much I admired and loved his work and possibly dropped a curtsey. (We Brits are trained from birth). Brian was lovely and thanked me (and even shook my clammy mitt) and introduced me to his partner. I staggered out at my floor and collapsed in ecstasy on my bed.

These are the things that make a trip memorable. And it was just that, the whole thing, memorable! Roll on ALA 2013!


I also hugged Dan Santat, but no photo to prove it, or sell on ebay.

Old Friends, New Friends, Part 2 (or DOING'S IN VIRGINIA CITY)

As promised here's some thoughts on the NV SCBWI Mentor Programme I have been part of this last six months. NOT 'MENTAL programme'as some of you who can't understand my version of English imagine I'm saying.

This is the 'New Friends' of the title. A lot of good stuff came out of this programme, but making so many new friends was the best. I cried buckets when we all said goodbye.

But here's the thing - more than half of us will be meeting up at SCBWI Summer Conference in LA ... oh me oh my ... the party is going on the road ....

OK, seriously, (always hard for me). Why do this programme? First because you get to work with a great mentor in the children's publishing industry for six months for less than the cost of a week's holiday. (My mentor was Priscilla Burris) ...

Here we are at brekky, along with Teri Sloat.

The programme kicked off last October with our first meet-up in Virgina City Nevada (hell of a place! The atmosphere really gave an extra dimension to the whole thing ... so much better than a dull hotel.) You may have read my previous post covering that. Included in the cost was the NV SCBWI conference weekend.

For six months each mentee (about 30 of us) worked with a mentor (about 3 mentees per mentor). Different genres were covered: YA, MG, picture book and illustration. Each mentee received 3 reviews on the progress of their work with critiques during the six months.

Every mentee took away a different experience, but I know that we all benefited tremendously from being around such excellent mentors - these included Ellen Hopkins, Emma Dryden, Harold Underdown to mention a few. Check out NV SCBWI site for more information and details on how you can get on the programme.

All too soon we descended for our final wash-up weekend in Nevada. St Mary's Arts Centre in Virginia City is an excellent venue ... an old hospital (haunted no less!) housed most of us. The cozy feel of the place, big kitchen and dining room made for a convivial feeling.

For the final weekend we had a guest editor (Alvina Ling from Little and Brown and the first weekend we were lucky enough to have Cheryl Klein from Arthur A Levine onboard.) Along with meetings with our mentors, breakout sessions and workshops we also each had time to present our work and receive feedback from Alvina.

The goal of the programme was not to find a publisher, but rather to develop our skills and knowledge as writers and illustrators. However I KNOW there are going to be some high flying authors coming out of 2010/2011 and look forward to cheering them on!

During the weekend mentor Terri Farley  arranged Mustang Safaris ... they were wonderful. We got to see the wild horses, and I got to do a little sketching ... if you want to know more about wild horses check out Terri's website.

And, of course, ... we partied ... I believe that authors and illustrators are among some of the unsung heros of partiers in the modern world. Long may it continue .... I give you a selection of photos ...

 Workshop with Terri Farley

 Alvina Ling - Karaoke Extraordinaire

Harold Underdown hitting the caffeine
Emma Dryden and Craig Lew - note the Hollywood smile (Emma, not Craig!)

Me, posing for photo which I hate

Antics at the breakfast table with Priscilla Burris

Lee Wind and Craig Lew. Note the Hollywood Smile (again)

Sunset over Nevada

Pizza Night

Sarah Mcguire and Nathalie Mvondo

Oh yeah baby, Karaoke

Suzy Morgan Williams and me singing 'On Ilkley Moor B'hat' in honor of Yorkshire.

Terri Farley and Lee Wind getting right down to some teaching
Terri Farley, Tracey Clark and Susan Hart Lindquist being beautiful

Here are two memories I will take away with me ... exiting a liquor store and being chased by a Pitbull, pulling a newstand, followed by an irate redneck lady. I did not drop the liquor though.

Visiting 'Doo-Dads' in search of liquor. I never did find out what they sold, possibly crack. But I did mystify the old boys in the back playing banjo and guitar. I will never be certain they understood my request for liquor as they pointed back down the street with that look on their faces 'You ain't from round here'. They were probably pointing me in the direction of the local brothel and or gold mine.

So that's it for Nevada. Until LA in summer. I think it's an experience in my life I will treasure. Especially the after schmooze. Oh yeah.

I HAVE been working since I returned ... beavering away on 'Hidden New Jersey'. Here is the cover image!

More soon!
aka The Wacky Brit

Ont he Bedside Table

Lousy Rotten Grapes by Margie Palatini and Barry Moser
Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer - Carol Brendler and Ard Hoyt
My Friend the Starfinder - George Ella Lyon and Stephen Gammell
I Know an Old Teacher - Anne Bowen and Stephen Gammell
Skippyjon Jones in the Doghouse - Judy Schachner
Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones - Judy Schachner