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.

You can only do so much

I'd like to get it all done. But in an unusually sensible train of thought I have decided, NO, I am not superhuman. This comes as a bit of a surprise, and I figure it is a sign of age. I am hoping it might be wisdom, but that may be asking a bit much.

I talk of the fact that it's 17 days until Los Angeles SCBWI conference and the completely new images for the portfolio are not going to happen. Most illustrators I talk to at this stage in their career (ie not published widely) seem to spend a LOT of time agonising over their portfolio. Especially the ones, like me, that have been around the block and back. The more youthful in the field are not weighed down by the pressures of life, failures and successes it seems and throw a portfolio together with innocence and abandon. We more mature folks have perhaps too much choice, or over analyse. See? I am doing it right now.

So I am going to put in only images from the problem solving books I am working on, which will be the same style and are fun and do reflect me. And that's FINAL!

Which is what I have been working on this week, the last in the series of 4 books. WHY did I decide to work on four books at once!!!! Share the Bear is turning out to be a lot more detailed than the previous three ... I think this is because the setting is all interior, and their are more characters and they have more characteristics. I hope to be done with the roughs by Wednesday. I have a bit of tweaking to do on 2 of the others (I decided to but all the speech into bubbles, as it is all direct and I think it works better.)

Here are some of the roughs for Bear ...
I am enjoying these characters ... and the bunny slippers! I don't know why Share is wearing them, they just appeared. It's great when a character tells you what they want. Happens in illustration too, as well as when writing.

And if your wondering I am still waiting to hear from the Lovely Agent. Friday was a day of anxiety, jumping when the phone rang, checking email every nanosecond.. I must admit I really, really, REALLY hate the waiting that seems a big part of the publishing word in all sorts of aspects. I can deal with abject failure much easier than I can with a grain of hope. Well it could be worse. I could be repossessing rental TV's. And yes I did that in a former life, and countiing piles of doggie doo for a town council litter group (Keep Britain Tidy). Ah, happy days ...

So, to take my mind off the LA (lovely Agent, not the conference) I am out on the schooner Isaac H Evans for an overnight trip tonight, so I had better get my skates on and do some chores. 'im indoors is installing the new dishwasher (hurrah! been a long time coming) while I am gone, so have to do some insulating behind it before I go. (I get the fiddly jobs being non skilled.)

Had an email from an author/illustrator I met at a conference this week ... she is working with an English Art Director. He asked for less cartoony, so she veered more realistic, when what he wanted apparently was more 'illustrative', like Quentin Blake, EH Shepherd etc, which she would have considered cartoony ... lol, culture differences. I wonder if anyone else has come across 'illustrative' in USA and what it means here?

TTFN and thanks for dropping by ...

aka The Wacky Brit.

On the bedside table this week"
Can I play too (Elephant and Piggie Book) Mo Willems
City Dog, Country Frog - Mo Willems and Jon J Muth
Dawdle Duckling, Ready or Not Dawdle Duckling, Little Loon and Papa by Toni Buzzeo and Margaret Spengler
The Sea Chest by Toni Buzzeo and Mary Grandpre

Win - Win Situation

 No! Really! It was! My entry for the poster showcase at the New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference last weekend in Fitchburg, MA won TWICE! Not once but TWICE! Excuse me for bragging, but you got to celebrate these things. Cynthia Leitich Smith (keynote speaker) said so. Celebrate everyday! So I am. Goodness knows you need something to keep you going when you look in the rejection drawer.

So what I won was - 2nd place in the People's Choice, and 3rd Place in the published category. (Beaten to 1st place twice by the gorgeous and very talented Robert Squire and Jennifer E. Morris. So how cool is that??

Anyway, here is said poster (yet again, I am sure everyone is sick of it by now!) Prints available - email me!

Alright, enough of the bragging already.

It was a great weekend, with lots of laughs and learning and knowledge shared. I got to sit and chat in the Quiet Room with Cynthia Leitich Smith, Toni Buzzeo and the beautiful and funny Jennifer Ward. How awesome was that! (I know I am becoming more Americanized by the minute. Well it can't be helped.)

Saturday night was a riot, dinner with several illustrator/authors including AJ Smith, Melinda Beavers, Jennifer Meyer, Teri Weidner, Jennifer E. Morris. Got to say things got a little noisy (hey, you think I incited it??). I practiced signing arms (you can't start too early) and was famous in my own mind for at least 5 minutes. I was famous on Twitter for an evening too. And I don't even Tweet!

Seriously (and now and again I am), the workshops were excellent. Cynthia Leitich Smith gave two great keynote speeches. I attended Marlee Frazee's workshop ... such beautiful work and an inspiration. She and Allyn Johnston gave a great lecture also.

Sunday was Illustrator's Academy - a small workshop with 24 attendees ... lead by David Costello, Matt Phelan, Yolanda Scott and Ann Scott. Lot's of good info on how art directors and author/illustrators work together, a portfolio review and dummy review. Excellent. To say nothing of the song and dance act ... REALLY with a ukelele and Kazoo.

So that is enough name dropping. I came back to the attic with much inspiration-o and determination to do good things.

Meanwhile, still have not finished Share the Bear ... SOOOOOOOON! (Note to self: Must do better.)

And as if I haven't had enough jollity and fun this week today we are off to Quebec City for a few days break. The sun is shining and blue skies so it will be nice to have some R&R. Camera and sketchbook are going along. I even have hopes of roughing out an MG synopsis. Depends on the wine consumption I expect.

I did get some more work done on the Owl book ... here's a moonlit scene ... only 5 more after this spread.

Right! I have to pack and take doggies to kennels and organize 'im indoors.

aka The Wacky Brit.

PS. Favorite conversation on the week. On returning items to Walmart:
"What do you have?" asks little old man who has to give me extremely important label to stick on items.
"Shirt and sweater," says I.
"Shirt?" he says. Pause."What was that second one now?"
"Sweater." I repeat. He looks at me blankly.
"Nope." and shakes his head.
"Jumper?" I offer hopefully. He looks at me with a startled glance. This was a mistake, and I remember I am in an alien culture and must speak in the native tongue.
"Cardigan!" Now we are really in trouble. He looks at me warily. (It really IS a cardigan!)
He moistens his lips. 'Is it a sweatshirt?'
Sigh, I give a 'kind of' nod.
"I know!" he says brightly, 'I'll just put down TWO shirts and we'll call it good!"