By Mackenzie Reide
Award-winning YA author and writing instructor Nova Ren Suma spoke about voice at the final SCBWI Tuesday night professional series lecture of the season in June 2015. She emphasized three important tasks for writers: finding your own unique voice, taking risks, and being true to yourself.
The journey of being a writer is not an easy one. Suma explained how voice is deeply connected to that journey and often develops from hitting a low point, such as failing to find an agent or publisher or feeling your career has stalled.
She described a low point in her own career when she doubted her place in the YA publishing world. She no longer felt connected to her readers or her publisher. So in her next book, 17 and Gone, she tried to please everyone. This only created a feeling of more distance and she began to question everything.
by Lauren Shapiro
“Picture books are my heart; the key to creating a true picture book all starts with the heart,” began Ms. Yeh, setting the intimate tone for The A to Z of Picture Books. “A picture book is more than just a book. Integrated into the very being of it is that closeness. A child is on your lap – there’s a hug in it.”
Ms. Yeh recounted the process of writing her first book, You’re Lovable to Me. “I knew I wanted to write about love, intergenerational love and the love of a father for a daughter. The first draft was two thousand words, and I cut it to a couple of hundred words.” As an aid in editing herself, she belongs to a group of friends who critique each other informally. She advised writers to “join SCBWI, and read, read, read – not only to see what’s out there and what people are publishing, but to get the page turns and to find what sort of emotional things touch you. The most successful picture books tap into something that we all recognize immediately even though we can’t define it.”