Monday, September 20, 2010

Meeting a Legend: Jane Yolen (Part 2) – BIC HOP

Jane’s day out
On September 10th, I had the pleasure and honour of escorting Jane Yolen around Dublin city centre. We went to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College, avoided a heavy rain shower and bought an umbrella in the gift shop. From there, we walked to Dublin Castle and wandered through the lovely garden of the Chester Beatty Library. After a tasty lunch in the café, we went upstairs to the see an exhibition of Persian illustrated texts called Muraqqa': Imperial Mughal Albums. It was amazing to compare and contrast these early 17th-century manuscripts with the 10th-century Irish manuscripts. Both were beautiful and compelling but completely different in style and subject matter. 

Declaring ourselves saturated by all we had seen, we stopped at Queen of Tarts, where I shamelessly waded through a mile-high lemon meringue tart while Jane virtuously enjoyed a cup of decaf tea. During that day, we talked of many things, including what she was working on, what I was working on, writing in general, the publishing market in Europe, who the other speakers were at the conference, and more personal topics dealing with aches and pains, family, friends, death, and grief.

It was a good day for enjoying the company of a down-to-earth, kind, intelligent, funny, prolific, and straight-shooting woman. Jane’s not afraid to say if she doesn’t like a book and why. With her keen eye and probing questions, she helped me to look at some stories in a different way, including one of my own ideas of having a young girl stow away in a bi-plane as part of an adventure.

I walked Jane back to her hotel via the Ha’Penny Bridge over the Liffey River. That evening, she joined me, Jane Mitchell of SCBWI and award-winning author of Chalkline, and Jennifer Jensen, another writer and SCBWI volunteer, for dinner. We had a wonderful evening chatting, sharing stories, and eating delightful and delicious food.

CBI/SCBWI Conference
Jane wasn’t scheduled to speak until Saturday afternoon at the CBI/SCBWI conference, Between the Lines, but she wanted to attend the other  workshops, so Jane M. and I met Jane at her hotel in the morning and walked down to the Luas, which took us to the venue in Tallaght. The train journey was full of teasing and talking. We were joined quite by coincidence by Judi Curtin, who was the first speaker of the day. I was basking in the reflected glory of these three talented authors all sitting around me. Sigh.

The conference was great, and it was nice to see so many familiar faces. There was a good selection of speakers including Keith Gray, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, and Adrienne Geoghegan, three editors, and two agents. The conference had the added attraction of individual critique sessions. I was quite pleased with the feedback I received from Síne Quinn on my story and spurred on to revise and send it out again. 

Now, you’re still wondering what the heck “BIC HOP” is. Jane gave two talks in the afternoon, the first session was for writers, while illustrators attended a session with Adrienne. 

Jane’s second talk was the closing speech of the day. In it, Jane focused on openings and endings. She said a good opening has to be planned well. She also said: “A good ending is inevitable and surprising.” 

When asked for advice on writing (or illustrating), Jane, who has published 300 books, said two things:
  • B.I.C. for Butt in Chair
  • H.O.P. for Heart on Page
She said a lot more than that and said it very well. She made us laugh, cry, think, and sigh, and left us inspired and filled with the joy of crafting and publishing books for children of all ages.

Thank you, Jane Yolen!


Madison said...

Sounds like you had a good time in Dublin. One of these days I'm going to have to go to a writer's conference. :-)

Margaret Ullrich said...

Enjoyed reading your post. I just joined LinkedIn and Children's Books. My husband and I lived in BC and have lived in Winnipeg since 1975. I also blog at blogger. Pellets?

A. Colleen Jones said...

Thanks for posting Madison! Yes, it can be a great experience to go to a conference if you pick the right one. :)

A. Colleen Jones said...

Margaret, it's uncanny! I actually grew up in Winnipeg and lived in BC for about 15 years before I moved to Ireland.

Yeah, rabbit pellets! I have a warped sense of humor and was trying to figure out another bunny reference to use for my headings. Pellets for my blogs seemed like a good one. :)

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