Professor/writer Peter Jacobi spoke on the topic of “The Art of Visual Flight, the science of what to aim for”
It was a one hour speech but the massive volume of info and examples he supported it with could have filled a weeks worth of college classes. He began by playing a recording of a Verdi opera about Nebudchanezzar which he said became for the Italian people their “Battle Hymn of the Republic” or their emotional “Dixie”. "When Verdi died people took to the streets, 300,000 gathered for his funeral." It was a soaring piece of music that began slow and rose to great heights. Peter translated the chorus:“Fly oh thought, on golden wings” and this was something he repeated throughout his talk. "As creators (writers/illustrators) we become fliers. There is no license needed… but urgency, desire IS needed. Let your thoughts fly on golden wings!" (I will devote a whole post about Peter's talk at a later date).
Had a great lunch where I got to chat with author Andy Gutelle.He joked how Highlights will take full credit for BORN TO FLY getting published. It'll be their quickest success story ever. "He came on Saturday and by Tuesday he was published."
Editor and author and ball of fire Patti Lee Gauch's call to arms was "use all your marbles!" (tricks, toys, tools at your disposal). Light your scenes. You are the director/set designer/art director of your story. Everything you do should complement wha the scen is about, or what is happening. Is it scary? Quiet? Soft? Harsh? Blue? Purple? Yellow? Grey?
Here I am between Patti on the left and the wonderful and funny Ecuadorean children's author Edna Iturralde on the right.
Donna Jo Napoli talked on creating characters, and I figured out she really has this-Sally Field-Places in the Heart-thing going on. From her soft, and measured cadence of her voice down to her curly hair and apple cheek smile. At first, you think you're getting the quiet Singing Nun but then she spouts some hilarious, frank bit of fearless wisdom and out comes Norma Rae (or Edna Spaulding if you know Places in the Heart).
Some good stuff she said: Give your characters injuries and scars. "Injuries and scars have stories behind them-- ones we want to tell and ones we don't." Introduce their weakness with an incident so we see how it affects them. Finally, as a stay at home dad (sometimes part time professor) it was great to hear her address the question: As a parent who raised her children and wrote, how did you do all the things you needed to to? Her answer? "Badly. If the woman across the street makes a beautiful Halloween costume for her kid, good for her. Your kid can wear the sheet again. You don't have to do everything well." Hilarious.
We had a great group of writers at our table for dinner. Here's a photo: L-R: Debbi Antebi, Jackie Hesse, Holly Anderson, Harold Underdown, Tracy Cretelle, Charles Trevino, Melissa Long, and me.