The SCBWI Tuesday Night Professional Series wrapped up 2016 with Nicole de las Heras and Maria Mondugno speaking to an enthusiastic audience about what makes a good portfolio.
Nicole de las Heras loves pairing the right artist with the right manuscript and collaborating with artist and editor. She has lots of opportunities to do this as an Art Director at Random House Children’s Books, where she oversees board books, picture books, leveled readers, and early chapter books. Emily Winfield Martin, LeUyen Pham, Brigette Barrager, Josie Portillo, Ruth Sanderson, and Mike Boldt are among the artists she has worked with. Another thing she loves about her job is finding new talent.
As soon as she could write her name, Maria Modugno got her first library card. A lifelong reader, she worked at a number of publishers before joining Random House in 2012 to specialize in picture books. The books she has edited include The Napping House and stories about Toot and Puddle, Pinkalicious, and Splat the Cat. She avoids acquiring too-long picture books and tests potential acquisitions with an egg timer.
Heather Flaherty, a Literary Agent at the Bent Agency, and Maggie Lehrman, a Senior Editor at Abrams Books for Young Readers, (as well as a YA novelist) addressed a rapt crowd at the Huntington Public Library on October 16, 2016 as part of SCBWI Metro NY’s On-the-Road series. Rapidly making their way through a pile of first pages, ranging from picture books to YA fiction, they were in remarkable accord, zeroing in on what made (or detracted from) an opening that worked. Published writers and beginners benefited from their expertise.
Jennifer Baker, panel organizer for We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) and 2013 winner of the SCBWI On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award, led a panel discussion on craft and world-building. She asked whether outlining played a role in establishing the rules of the world and fantastical elements. Do you outline or not?
Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl from Everywhere, said she outlined a little, then wrote, then outlined again, going back and forth. She shared that her musical theater background provided training in setting rules that it’s okay to have singing in a scene. She had to have rules for her novel to put restrictions on characters’ powers, otherwise all powerful characters would be boring. “It’s good to know where the boundaries are and to play with them.”
Grace Maccarone, editor at Holiday House, spoke to a rapt group of writers at the Huntington L.I. Library as part of the Metro-NYC SCBWI “On the Road Series” on Saturday, May 7th. Maccarone has always specialized in editing picture books, and before joining Holiday House she honed her skills for many years as an editor at Scholastic Press.
You’ve completed a draft of your book and want professional help with taking it to the next level. Plenty of freelance editors provide this service, but how do you know who is right for you? Sangeeta Mehta and Maya Rock presented a concise overview of the “freelance editing ecosystem” on June 14 for the last Tuesday Professional Series before Summer break.
We all love a good picture book. But how does it get to be good? The first Professional Series presentation of the 2015-2016 season featured two thirds of the staff of Paula Wiseman Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Division): Editor Sylvie Frank and Editorial Assistant Sarah Jane Abbott offered us a window into what happens after a publisher acquires a picture book.
Frank brought two books, Tammi Sauer and Liz Starin’s Roar! (to be published on October 6th), and Curtis Manley and Kate Berube’s The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read, to illustrate the editorial process. Over the course of six revisions, from the first manuscript edits to first sketches to the page breakdown to the final version, attendees saw how an editor and art director help the writer and illustrator refine their ideas. (more…)
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.