2011 Wrap-up, Part I

Lovely WiCM, meter maaaaaiiiid

Here’s that serial wrap-up I promised. Each of these events certainly deserves its own post…but I sort of ran out of 2011. I’m breaking it up into Part 1 (which will come first) and Part II (which will come second, after Part I). And away we go!

Writers’ Group: The Plot Thickens ~ Writing Mysteries For Kids, with Leslie Margolis

Date: 9-20-11
Location: NYU/Tisch
Professor Percy Pettipots: I say, the real mystery is who’s been writing so many of these Nancy Drew books!

Countess Alexandra Tepplewhistle: If not Carolyn Keene, then who?

Inspector Bernard McSwigglebum: Why, the culprit is none other than…Leslie Margolis!

Read this.

Baron Wolfgang von Schnurz: I knew it.


Leslie Margolis, author of “Girl’s Best Friend: A Maggie Brooklyn Mystery” and many other titles, hosted a very interactive Writers’ Group. Leslie taught WiCM members how to create a compelling kids’ mystery. She did this by listing and explaining the Nine Elements of a Good Mystery Story that is Mysterious and Good (just remember NEGMSMG):

  1. A crime/a mystery to solve
  2. A detective (whichever character is there to solve the crime/mystery)
  3. A reason for the detective to get involved
  4. Suspects
  5. Motives for each suspect
  6. Clues
  7. Suspense/tension
  8. Twists/surprises
  9. Resolution

Leslie then showed us how these pieces work when she directed us, as a group, to compose our own mystery.

My response:

I love any event that breaks down the elements of story, and this event was no exception. Leslie’s talk was really illustrative. And it was sort of amazing how the story we created just came together.

Side lesson:

Be disciplined. Leslie writes a book a year. Keep at it, gumshoe.


Career 101: Maximizing Your Personal Brand with Austin Smith

Date: 10-27-11

Location: Nickelodeon


Austin Smith, Global Director of Talent Management at Publicis Healthcare Communications Group, talked to a room full of WiCM members about building our personal brands. Austin broke the idea of personal brand down to value (what our strengths are), image (how people see us), and people (our communication skills, particularly how we communicate our strengths to other people—tricky!). He took us through some very practical exercises that immediately helped many of us become aware of how we could better envision and present ourselves.

Personal Appeal:

While personal branding is a very important topic for all of us, I was really looking forward to this event. As some of you know, I accidentally went to law school and worked in a legal department for a while. Whoopsie-daisy! Building a creative career from that kind of past is going to require a pretty carefully constructed LinkedIn page.

My takeaway:

Attendees asked a lot of very good questions, and some seemed disappointed with the lack of clear black and white responses. But personal branding is, by nature, personal. I think the big takeaway was that it can be really hard to credit one’s own strengths, but you bettah recognize. If you don’t know what you’re good at, it’ll be hard for others to see it as well.

A Night at the Museum: The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats

Date: 11-3-12

Location: The Jewish Museum


This event was a tour of artist and writer Ezra Jack Keats’ career, along with many articles documenting the public’s response to his work. His groundbreaking children’s book, The Snowy Day, featured Peter, a black child, as the main character. Coming after a tradition of offensively cartoonish portrayals of black children in kids’ media, Peter was a breath of fresh air. I’d encourage you to check out this book if you haven’t already seen it. It’s beautiful and personal and Keats’ characters come to life with very little dialogue.

Most Entertaining Tangent That Came to Mind:
There’s a technique called marbling paper. It made me wonder what else I could marble. I’m looking at you, jean shorts.

My takeaway:

Believe in your craft. Keats had to overcome quite a bit of self-doubt to produce the beautiful and important work we enjoyed on this visit.

And that’ll do for Part I of the Wrap-up. Stay tuned for Part II. After that: a changing of the guard! Ah! I’m so excited! Who’s the new blogger going to be?