Monday, June 9, 2014

Picture Book Boot Camp - June 2014

     I have been lying low the last two weeks. Ten days was vacation, which I will post about later because it was the most amazing volunteer vacation ever. The last four days was a picture book book camp hosted by the Highlights Foundation in Honesdale, Pa.
Cabin #18 (19 and 20 in the background)

     The faculty for the four day experience included Pat Cummings, Bruce Degen, Denise Fleming, and Paul O. Zelinsky.
     Re-read that last sentence, picture book writers!
     Yes, I spent four days with picture book rock stars. The especially great thing about it was that these rock stars weren't twerking twerps, they were talented, generous, funny people who came with the purpose to help the nineteen writers who were accepted to the program.
     If that isn't enough to get your heart beating fast, the last two days of boot camp added Laurent Linn, Rachel Orr and Rotem Moscovich to the faculty. In addition to their vast knowledge of the picture book industry, these folks also shared their expert techniques on how to make s'mores. Count me among the initiated. Good stuff.
     I can't possibly capture everything I learned in this post, but I will share a few highlights of Highlights.
     1. Emotions are everything in a picture book. Your character MUST elicit an emotional response from the reader.

     2. Follow your passion in writing a story but before you submit the story to agents/editors be sure you know who the audience for your story will be.

My group leader, Pat Cummings, and me
     3. Black bears are big! Baby bears are cute. We got a visit from Mama and her baby before sunset of  the first night session. Sadly, I took a photo but in the excitement forgot to click "save" and so it is lost to the digital ether.

     4. Writers are a multi-talented bunch. Be prepared to share your talent(s) at a moments notice. I am hoping no one was taping my moment in the spotlight. . . .

     5. Keep working on new material. It may take ten years (or longer) to sell your story. 

    6. Set writing goals. Put in the work. Never stop.

    7. Hearing praise for your work and having supportive writing friends make #6 easier.

     8. The staff at Highlights will provide delicious food, morning yoga and a quiet place to work. Just do it.
     9. Everyone looks better in a mustache.
Paul O. Zelinsky

Laurent Linn

Denise Fleming and Pat Cummings
     My antiquated flip-phone photos of some of the other faculty didn't turn out. I'll post a few more in the writers and writing section of my blog.
     If you have any specific questions about this great event, shoot me an email or PM.

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