Thursday, February 25, 2010

Visiting SCBWI Office in Los Angeles!

We had the honor and joy to meet with Steve Mooser, President of SCBWI at the Los Angeles office! Steve gave us a tour and we were mesmerised by the beauty of the spot! There were some boxes lying around due to the recent SCBWI Winter Conference shipments they brought back. Nevertheless, the office was inspiring and full of love for the children's books, writers and illustrators.

Front of the building

Steve's Office

Lin's Office

Some parts of the office

Illustrations by Esther

Just putting up two of my favorite illustrations by Esther. These illustrations have such a warm feeling to them.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

SCBWI Korea - Highlights From SCBWI's International Winter Conference

SCBWI Korea - Highlights From SCBWI's International Winter Conference
Time: Saturday, March 20, 2010, 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Place: Tom & Tom's Coffee, Business Room (look for sign on table)
Itaewon, Seoul, next to Outback Steakhouse
Fee: 4000W Non-SCBWI Members; 2500W SCBWI Members; First-time Visitors may attend first meeting with our compliments.
Reservations: RSVP by Friday, March 19
SCBWI Korea member Brenda Kim will present highlights from the recent International Winter Conference held in New York. We will share insights given by speakers at the event, as well as discuss some important upcoming conferences and events taking place over the next several months, both in Korea and elsewhere.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Recycled Skateboard

Peace in CATastrophe!

Doodles by Esther on a napkin.

A City On A Hill

Doodles by Esther on a napkin.

Doodles from Esther's Oldest Child

How talented!

To: Auntie Hanna

Esther's youngest child drew this lovely picture for me! So sweet...

This reads: "I will always remember you forever." How touching and sweet.

Dr. Seuss Drawings

One evening with Esther's kids, we all drew Dr. Seuss! Everyone is so talented!

Friday, February 5, 2010

SCBWI Winter Conference 2010 - Autograph Party

Jim Benton on the left

Lin Oliver on the right

Libba Bray

Jane Yolen

Suzzane Young

I Still Love Books: Jane Yolen

Notes from "I Still Love Books: Jane Yolen"
Jane Yolen, often called “the Hans Christian Andersen of America,” is the author of almost 300 books. She has won many awards and has received honorary doctorates from six colleges and universities.
1. The business of storytelling isn’t struggling, the book business is.

2. Count on the joy in the process of writing, not on the money or awards that you may want from it.

3. It doesn’t matter where the ideas come from; the ideas need to become a story and written down.

4. You have to be a worker bee to become a queen bee.

5. You need to give back to the system. You need to pay it forward when you succeed to help writers and illustrators.
6. You need to learn about the publishing industry business. Know about the current issues that are going on in the publishing industry.

 7. Never give up!

The Importance of Networking
  •  You won’t make mistakes or at least avoid them compared to those who don’t network or join organizations that inform and guide them in the industry.
  •  You will keep current with the industry.
  •  You will make many good friends.
Jane surely ended the conference by providing much insight, wisdom, food for thought and hope.

Ask the Agents: Three Agents Analyze the Market

Notes from "Ask the Agents: 3 Agents Analyze the Market"

Panel Discussion

1. George Nicholson, Sterling & Lord Literistic

2. Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio

3. Tina Wexler, Director at ICM

Question 1: How do you describe the current climate in publishing?

R: It’s challenging, but exciting. To survive in these unclear times, just write a “kick-ass” story. Also, know your competition and know what’s being published.

Question 2: What are your beliefs in genre/topic trends?

R: She likes to set trends. It’s always great to break new grounds.

G: You have to read adult books, especially adult fiction since publishers think about how to write these books into Juvenile fiction.

Question 3 was about submission pre-requisites

T: She said being a published author isn’t a pre-requisite. Rosemary likes to find a new voice. When she thinks about taking on a new client, she always thinks about whether she can invest time in the author/client. If she cannot, and if the writer is great, but not a great fit for her, she can refer the writer to another agent.

G: Likes to see the entire manuscript/work when he signs on a client.

Question 4: Most efficient way to submit to these panel members

 R: Takes e-queries. She gets about 25 to 50 queries a day! She wants a query first and she’ll contact you for a manuscript if she’s interested.

 G: He does very few picture books. He says quality non-fiction is hard to sell.

 T: E-query is easiest for her. She wants the first 5 pages of the manuscript posted in the body of the email, not attached. For paper queries, she wants the first 5 pages of the manuscript as well.

More Jim Benton Pics!

Jim's quick sketches during his presentation. Door prizes were given out during the event and Jim autographed his rough sketches to be given as prizes. So neat! Wish I got one...

There's Esther getting Jim's autographs for her daughters!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Compulsive Creator: Jim Benton

The Compulsive Creator: Jim Benton

Jim Benton is the author and illustrator of more than twenty books. He has generated more than a half billion dollars at retail with “It’s Happy Bunny.” He has a chapter book series called “Franny K Stein,” printed in six languages. I bought some of his books at Barnes & Noble as soon as I got back from the convention. Franny K Stein is really funny! My neice could not get her eyes or hands off the books. I couldn't either! His other series, “Dear Dumb Diary” has had three New York Times bestselling titles and is printed in 15 languages! This book is currently in film development. His presentation was extremely entertaining, fun and informative. He is a genius with his art, licensing, marketing and business.

Notes on his presentation are provided below.

1. The secret of writing is rewriting.

2. You are not your work. This also means that if someone likes your work, it doesn’t mean they like you.

3. Don’t be paralyzed by your stupid idea. LOL!

4. Licensing industry is tight knit and small so you don’t want to get people angry.

5. Properties can become books but books don’t become properties to be licensed.

6. Your editors will make you better writers, if you let them make you better.

7. Draw everyday for fun. If you’re a writer, write everyday for fun.

8. What his editors want to tell writers and illustrators:

   A. Editors are always rooting for you.

   B. Books don’t platform well into licensing.

   C. Normally a book gets made into media (film, TV, etc.) then becomes a product/merchandise.

   D. If you are going to get into entertainment, you have to know that you have to collaborate with others   (producers, creators, writers, etc.). You have to let your ego go to make the project happen.

9. Jim thinks being an illustrator is better than working a 9-5 job. (I totally agree!!!)

Founder of Sheldon Fogelman Agency: Sheldon Fogelman

Notes from "Founder of Sheldon Fogelman Agency: Sheldon Fogelman"
Sheldon Fogelman founded the Sheldon Fogelman Literary Agency in 1975, and represents many award-winning authors and illustrators. Notes from his words of wisdom and expertise are written below.

1. Publishing is a business where agents and publishers are looking at books to generate income.
2. Keep writing and be persistent.

3. Keep learning. Attend conferences, read organization materials, find information on the internet, find who does good critic work and find those who doesn't.

4. Get a good agent. SCBWI has a list of agents. Talk to people who are satisfied with their agents.

5. You can’t work effectively if you have financial burdens. Make sure you get a good agent so they can help you with your business and so that you can focus on what you do best – writing and/or illustrating.

6. If you’re in the industry, look out of the industry. If you’re new to this industry, look into the industry and learn.

7. Find a good critic group who can provide you good feedback on your writing and who can be your support group.

8. You must have a plan. Know what projects you want to pursue. Go beyond having an idea and put it on paper!

9. Write a prose or manuscript and give it to your critic group and others to read it. This helps you get more ideas from the feedback you receive.

10. If you’re an illustrator and not a great writer, rewrite stories from the public domain.

11. You need to be open to new ideas.

12. Don’t be distracted by others and keep doing what you are doing.

13. Be open to criticism.

14. Your work speaks for itself. You don’t have to tell an agent what you can do with your writing as in; telling them you can make your manuscript into a film, video games or toys. Your work speaks for itself and the agents will know what to do.

What’s Selling, What’s Not?: Susan Raab

Notes from "What’s Selling, What’s Not?: Susan Raab"

School and library markets are having difficult times.
Although the book business if having a difficult time, book sales have been up 11% in 2009.

Digital e-book sales are increasing.

Die-cut and pop-ups are expensive to produce, thus publishers are making less of these types of books.

Fantasy books are softening.

Vampire books seem like they won’t be lasting for a long time.

Mystery and ghost story books are growing.

“Gossip Girl” types of books are flipped easily since they are easily replaced by other similar books.

Classics are timeless and nostalgic allowing them to last and survive in the book business. Consumers want staying power and value.  Classics provide these.

Inspirational and hopeful book sales are up.

Transitional readers are underserved. For example, transitional books such as phonics and chapter books.

People in general want funny books.

What Authors Need to Know

It’s important to have websites. Authors need to help bring in traffic to stores to sell their books.
It’s important for authors to get involved in the blog community and in community events.

Authors need to advocate for themselves. They need to look and plan strategically. They must look at the whole picture.

Marketing efforts should include media outreach. Authors need to understand that exposure takes time.

Publishing a book takes at the least one year.

Look at trends in the book industry to see what hasn’t been done, what hasn’t been written about.

Look at other industries, news, pop-culture and society to know what the next trend may be.

Things are changing extremely rapidly and there is no assurance to how the publishing market is going to turn out. People don’t know, they only have a notion. So just write from the bottom of your heart!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Luncheon Keynote - Locking the Door Upon Ourselves: The Importance of Writing in Today's World

Jacqueline Woodson is the author of more than twenty books for children and young adults. Books include "The Other Side," "Hush," "Feathers," "Locomotion," "If You Come Softly," and "From the Notebooks of Melaninsun." She has received three Newbery Honors and many more awards. She recited many of her books and poems during her speech and she was pure genius! For the book signing, only the lucky attendees were able to buy copies of her book at the conference bookstore since her books sold out at the conference and at every bookstore that was near the Grand Hyatt New York!

Key pointers from Jacqueline:

1. We all start with the work of someone else.

2. Children’s feelings and the essence of them is the same. Only technology and delivery of them changes.

SCBWI Winter Conference 2010 - Special Announcement

John Fine from came to announce that Amazon has donated $25,000 dollars to the SCBWI Work-In-Progress grant!

Viral Marketing & Promotion: Jennifer Bailey

Workshop Notes on Viral Marketing & Promotion: Jennifer Bailey

What is Viral Marketing?
1. Viral marketing is to pass on a message, to increase brand awareness, to increase product sales and to spread word-of-mouth.

2. Viral marketing is not just a message.

3. You generate a lot of buzz by knowing people, especially the right people.

What makes a message strong:
1. Build community: connect with different groups, gain credibility. Be part of a lot of communities to reach out to different groups. Think about where else your interest lies.

2. Create a “Call to Action”: Send out easy, short messages. Relinquish control. Let the message go.

3. Plant in fertile soil: Need to know who in your community can relay your message. Who can put it up on, who can post it on a blog, who can retweet it, ect.

4. Encourage conversation and sharing: Share messages and make sure the followers come back to you. Encourage conversation. Be able to respond to those who speak to you.

5. Reward: Give shout-outs to those who participate in your conversation and who share. Reward the act of furthering the message. There needs to be a reward for their effort.

6. Give ‘em a sequel: You need to follow-up. You need to respond and be active. Love the community you built.

Getting Your Mind Right
1. Patience: building your social media reputation takes time. Social networking is 20% about you and 80% about others.

2. Be a friend to get a friend: help first, give first and just ask.

3. Know your audience: Respond back to your audience. Have a conversation with them.

4. Be aware of TMI (Too Much Information): Understand what your audience wants to know and hear. Question whether your audience can handle what you want to share.

5. Be yourself: B/c everyone else is taken. You are going to be transparent in time. Show them you. Be true to yourself. You and your passion eventually shows.

6. Listen to your “Jedi Council”: Have a group of people who will critic and provide feedback.

For more information visit and

Writing as an Extreme Sport: Libba Bray

Libba Bray, Author of The Gemma Doyle Trilogy and her latest novel "Going Bovine," was the first speaker who kicked-off the event with a great humorous, inspiring and informative speech. She gave four important pointers on "Writing as an Extreme Sport."

1. Be a giraffe: Open a whole new conversation to the world. Have your writing open people up. Deliver the unexpected. Have characters do what they truly are. Book she read “How to Say Good-Bye in Robot.” This book showed her the unexpected and really opened a whole new world for her.
2. Find the cracks that let in the light: Think of your characters as holographic and not just face-on, one-dimensional. Recognize their strengths and weaknesses. Give depth to your characters. Characters like real life people should have flaws and strengths.
3. Just say no to (your pterodactyl boyfriend) trends in publishing: There is no sure thing. Don’t write for others. Write for yourself, you can’t write for what you think people read because nothing is for sure. Make your writing true. Don't just follow trends, but figure out what you have to say.
4. We made it!: Libba really likes this quote, “First you jump off the cliff then you build the wings” by Ray Bradbury. There’s nothing without the leap of faith. Write in a story that you want to tell. You need to take the fear of failure. Make a book that matters to you. Learn to listen to your book. Honor your book with honesty. Commit to what you’re writing w/your heart and soul. Write like it matters. Experience the terror of your fall and build your wings. Trust your work and wait for the wind to help you soar.

Libba's wise words certainly uplifted everyone's spirit to become better writers. She gave us the jolt to pick-up that pencil and just start writing, or to just sit in front of our PC to start typing away. We need to conquer our fears. Fears of rejection, failure and criticism. Once we do this, it'll make us stronger and give us thicker skin to face anything that comes in the way of stopping us from writing and creating what we believe in and what we want to say.

For more informaiton on Libba, visit and more about her book "Going Bovine" at
 Attending the event in NYC made the event all the more exciting since there is always so much to do and see in NYC! The wheather was freezing, but that didn't stop anyone from having fun! For now, I'll be putting up some pictures from the conference. Starting tomorrow, I will be posting up details, notes, more pictures and videos that I've compiled from the conference. All I have to say for now is that, if you are serious about writing, if you love writing and if you want to get published, you must attend one of the SCBWI conferences. You will learn so much, meet great people and have one of the best experiences in the publishing world. The conference was definitely insiteful and fun. People were encouraging and kind. Children's writers and illustrators are people who are really in the business because they love writing, illustrating and children. It is one of the fewer industries that truly do what they do for love and not for money. The industry proves so, because only the ones who truly pour out their heart and soul to write and draw are the ones who succeed in this industry. I know because I've met and listened to many of them during the conference. Now, enjoy the pictures!
Below is one of the jumbo sized projectors that showed speakers, messages, and presentations throughout the event.

Steve Mooser - President

Lin Oliver Executive Director

By the way, Lin just had open heart surgery, but it was great to see her healthy and strong! She is the  wittiest, funniest, and lovely person I've ever met. Whenever she spoke, there wasn't one time where the crowd did not laugh out loud!

Monday, February 1, 2010

SCBWI Winter Conference 2010

I cannot wait to post my pictures, videos and reviews on the SCBWI Winter Conference! I hope my postings will be informative and helpful for all Children's writers and illustrators who will be published one day! I will be posting in a couple of hours! Yay!