good reads

Collaboration is Crucial

I am the Illustrator Coordinator for the Minnesota chapter of SCBWI. A position that I am growing into and have really enjoyed because it gives me many opportunities to get out and meet with our chapter members that I might not take if I were less involved. It is so easy when working-from-home to stay in the cocoon of your familiar surroundings. Whether that be the walls that you live within or the part of town you are from.

I recently left town to attend the 2013 NY SCBWI Conference. It was my first national conference and very inspiring to hear all of the speakers, meet colleagues from around the country. And meet many of the volunteers from the others SCBWI regional chapters. We had dinner and conversed on what topics and workshops we found to work well in our own regions, share ideas and recommendations. I am so thankful to be involved in such a great organization.

Today our Minnesota SCBWI chapter hosted a monthly group meeting called “A Mixer”. Although it sounds like something involving cocktails, the reference is really to, 'mixing ideas'. We had a great turnout, the topic of our discussion was, What Do You Recommend On Craft? We asked people to bring book titles that they were reading on the craft of writing and/or illustrating for children's books, which I will list in a bit.

It is such a great experience to get out of the studio and meet with other people in the industry to “talk shop”, as it were. I usually come home so energized that I can't go to sleep after a meet-up in the evening. Likewise, today my brain is ruminating with all sort of ideas from the exchange and interaction with my peers. I am alive with inspiration of what avenues to explore with my own works. While in my studio, I will come across books or references and think to myself, “Be sure to tell 'so-n-so' about this the next time I see them because it would be right up their alley”.

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about the benefits and drawbacks to “working from home”. In lieu of the recent decision by Yahoo to ban its employees from working-from-home. Another drawback noted in the discussions, was the lack of collaboration due to the inability to “meet at the water cooler” as perhaps people do while working in the office environment. Does this lack of conversing in person affect innovation? I can only support the notion that getting out and meeting with peers does enhance innovation.

I have also been an advocate of volunteering and being involved in local organizations for years do to the many benefits that you can receive from the exchange of ideas with like-minds - not to mention, the opportunity to give back to the community. One such group that I belong to was founded solely on the premise that it is vital for self-employed people to leave their office/studio and interact with peers in the same room. This group also meets once a month “in person” as well as exchange ideas through an online listserve.

Discussions with colleagues via social media has been an interesting development for me as well. I like the availability to ideas from other cultures or influences that I may not normally happen upon. The more I learn, the more I realize that there is so much more to learn. And I the quest for knowledge is never ending. I love it!

Today's collaboration was no exception. We had a lot of energy in the room because all of us are excited and passionate about this industry. A plethora of knowledge was shared in a couple of hours. So much so, I had to go for a long dog walk when I came home (to burn off some energy) and then sit down and write about it. So, in case I cannot remember these titles the next time I see you, here they are:

Writing Craft (in no particular order):
Crafting Stories for Children, by Nancy Lamb
Get Known Before the Book Deal, by Christina Katz (about self-promotion via social media).
A Kick In the Head, by Paul B. Janeczko (poetry forms).
Characters & Viewpoint, by Orson Scott Card
What's Your Story: A Young Person's Guide to Writing Fiction, Marion Dane Bauer
Writing it Right, by Sandy Asher
Writing Picture Books, by Ann Whitford Paul

Illustration Craft (in no particular order):
Film Directing – Shot By Shot, by Stephen D. Katz
Prepare to Board! Creating Story and Characters for Animated Features and Shorts, by Nancy Beiman
Drawn to Life, by Walt Stanchfield
Cartoon Animation, by Preston Blair
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards
The Art of Animal Character Design, by David Colman
Comic and Sequential Art, by Will Eisner
Expressive Anatomy for Comics & Narrative, by Will Eisner
Illustrating Children's Books, by Martin Salisbury
Children's Picturebooks—The art of visual storytelling, by M. Salisbury and M. Styles
Picture Book Primerby Denise I. Matulka
Picture This!, by Molly Bang

Good Reads (I've added more of my own):
My Brother's Book, by Maurice Sendak
The Story of Mrs. Lovewright and Purrless Her Cat, by Lore Segal, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
The Arrival, by Shaun Tan
The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate
Chicken Cheeks, by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Creepy Carrots, by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brow
YOU WILL BE MY FRIEND!, written and illustrated by Peter Brown
The Word Collector, by Sonja Wimmer
Sleep Like a Tiger, by Mary Logue, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
I Want My Hat Back, by Jon Klassen
That Is Not My Hat, by Jon Klassen
Lapin plays possum : trickster tales from the Louisiana Bayou, adapted by Sharon Arms Doucet

The Adventures of Molly Whuppie and Other Appalachian Folktales, adapted by Anne Shelby