Archive for the ‘Stuff I Love’ Category

Feb

18

2017

NY 2017 SCBWI Conference Part 2

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Conferences, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Pondering, Publishing, SCBWI, Stuff I Love, Writing, Writing for Children, Writing Style

I’m back for Part 2 of my NY 2017 SCBWI Conference Recap!!!

And like these two guys, I’m a bit confused…

(Scott Hammon and Justin Brancato)

I can’t remember exactly when, during the conference a few of these pictures happened.

So–I’m gonna go with it and just kick off with them.

This is just a shot giving you an idea of how big the conference tribe is.

Some of our SCBWI Faculty getting ready to go on stage and take a bow!

And over in the corner was all our fabulous RA’s who volunteer their time and experience. <3

We love you RA’s!!! How did I not get my conference picture with my RA Nancy Castaldo?

And then it was officially the Sunday Morning Conference Kick-off…

I love the awards!!!

Student Illustrators

Art Portfolio Honors

Art Portfolio Winner

Then we had the Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grants for talented Mid-List authors who have stalled in their publishing career. This is to remind them of their talent and how much we all still believe in them.

Only one of our Mid-List Author Grant Winners was in attendance. I think the weather kept many people from making it. But you can see what this kind of recognition from your peers can mean. <3

We were all choked up.

Next up was the Tomie dePaola Award for Illustrators. I’ve been watching talented artists receive this award since I’ve been coming to the NY SCBWI Conference and I was shocked to learn this was going to be the last time it’s given.

Moving forward, it will now become the Narrative Arts Award and it will still have “Assignments” <3

So, for this year’s winners–it must be extra special.

And there was another big announcement. On the horizon, the SCBWI will be doing a new project called BOOKS FOR READERS.

Two times a year, the tribe will come together to bring books to readers in need. The room was energized at the idea and now we are all waiting to hear more about the new project.

And then it was time to get down to the business of the day–The Current Landscape of Children’s Books

Moderator–LO–Lin Oliver

KG–Ken Geist (VP, Publisher, Orchard Books, Scholastic Press Picture Books, Cartwheel Books, Readers, Branches and Little Shepherd)

AH–Andrew Harwell (Senior Editor, Harper Collins)

CH–Carrie Howland (Senior agent, Empire Literary)

EK–Eileen Kreit (Vice President and Publisher, Puffin/Penguin Young Readers Group)

EN–Edward Nescarsulmer IV (Agent, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency)

Here’s the highlights…

AH–Yes, literally everything about children’s books is more important than ever.

EK–Pointed out the changes (cuts) occurring related to the NY Times Best Seller List are due to relocated resources needed to meet the current demand for political news. (I guess the politicians are getting us coming and going.)

KG–Authenticity matters. You can’t lift a flap on an ebook. Picture Books are here to stay.

AH–MG and YA readers are already discerning. Many of 2016’s award winners were already becoming best sellers before their win.

EN–Your brand is your name connected with excellence.

KG–Ha! We “actually” have a wrestling mat in Acquisitions. (On fighting for books you love)

EN–Mergers in publishing have happened for a reason–Penguin/Random–they were digging in. They were announcing to everyone–“we are here to stay.”

And, much to my delight, I found a friend of friend in the audience while waiting

for my next breakout session to start. His name is Hamlet <3

Next up was a Sunday Workshop–this was something we hadn’t done before and I really enjoyed having another fabulous break out session added to the conference.

This session was two pronged and packed in a HUGE amount of intense information.

Writing Within and Across Identity Elements with Cynthia Leitich Smith

AND

How to Write About Difficult Subjects with Ellen Hopkins

Can brought her information at a fast and furious pace in order to give us as much knowledge as she could in a short time. Here are some of the things I was able to capture…

Cynthia:

*51% of children today are people of color.

*We are all related.

*When writing, non-human characters are sometimes the ultimate diversity.

*Everything you write will be criticized. Be diligent–be brave.

*Books that feature diverse characters are not there just for a specific type of reader. And the diversity is not there just to teach you something.

Then Ellen mesmerized the audience with her personal stories, letters from readers and samples of her own writing…

Ellen:

*These are the kids we don’t wan to believe exist, but it’s true.

*Never self-censor–tell what needs to be told.

*Be TRUE TO CHARACTER!

Sara and I signed in at the front desk right after the UPS delivery LOL!

And for the last Keynote of the conference we were privileged to hear from Sara Pennypacker. And I was even luckier than most, because Sara made a stop at my boy’s school before the conference and I got to see her in action during a school visit and got some quality time to hang out with her and my friend and Pop-up Engineer Courtney McCarthy who was the book fairy for all the magic that happened for Book Fair an Drop Everything and Read Week.

I wrote like a fiend, trying to capture the best of Sara–here it is…

*We are all doing the same thing–in our own way we are trying to make order out of chaos.

*People who are passionate about what they do (in any area of life) never fail to inspire me. Surround yourself with people who walk with light instead of darkness.

*Write a HELL, YES manuscript–one that makes the agent, editor, publisher and reader say HELL, YES–I must have this!

*Creation is a river and rivers become stagnant if blocked. The best thing a river does is flow. We are all part of the river.

*Story illuminates in a way facts never can.

*Children are the best audience–children are free of adult boundary issues.

*Kids build bonds through characters they love. If an author loves a character. And a kid loves a character. Then ergo–the kid loves the author. This is why Ellen Hopkins stays in the parking lot for 2 hours after school visits because those teens know she doesn’t judge her characters–that she loves them–meaning they can trust her because they will be safe with her. They find her in the parking lot. <3

*Writing Tip–leave room for the reader. Don’t do it all yourself, it’s not a monologue.

*Writing Tip–The story is the boss.

*It’s not about me–story serves the reader.

*No proselytizing!

     -Say it with Sara…”If I were God’s own spiritual advisor–I would understand it’s not my job to preach.”

     -Authors are not parents.

     -Our job is to allow children to safely experience things we don’t actually want them to experience.

*Kids need to hear stories.

*Sometimes the problem exposes the wound that is REALLY the problem.

*Story is a template for kids.

*Children need to tell their stories.

     -“There is an evil in the world because people aren’t allowed to tell their stories.” Carl Jung

     -I write for children because they can’t write their own stories for themselves. Now I write to give the child a template to use to say…THIS is my story.

     -All those people who allow children to to tell their stories may never know what a great and impactful thing they have done. (Thank you librarians and teachers and those who encourage voice)

*Join the SCBWI and then go out and persist!

*Go out and subtract a measurable amount of evil in the world. <3

And get your books signed by the authors and illustrators who have spent the conference teaching you and inspiring you…

Illustrator, Brian Floca and MOONSHOT

Love his art work in this book!

Totally, NOT BORED hanging out with my bud Debbie Ohi <3

Me and Sonya Sones

Signing for the readers at GUFS

The fierce and fabulous Ellen Hopkins!!!!

Lin Oliver

And Tomie DePaolo…an incredible picture book team

And as we were leaving the autograph room one of my friends pointed to the floor and said…

“this is where the magic happens.”

And my response was…

“then let’s be where the magic happens.” <3

Never be afraid to put yourself where the magic happens.

And that doesn’t change when the conference is over and you head back home…

Remember there will be snow on your windshield and a million other things that would like to keep you from your work.

But don’t let it stop you.

Every conference I attend, I realize that a word or a theme usually floats to the top of my conscious and reminds me what I need to know about myself, my writing and my process.

My take away from New York is PURPOSE AND PERSISTENCE!

I have a purpose in this writing world and I must work to fulfill that.

I believe that the myriad of obstacles that have been put in my path are not there to dissuade me from my work, but have rather been designed to ensure I do my BEST work.

I know I might never reach my own excellence if the world accepts my mediocrity.

This means my challenges are my gifts.

I believe I have a purpose and I will persist and my world will be a better place because of it.

In the comments, feel free to share your own writing manifesto.

Remember–your words have power and magic happened when you put them into the world.

And if you are able–come and join me in LA in July. There can never be too many Lobby Rats at a conference. <3

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Dec

6

2016

Cover Reveal: THE PERFECT TRIP

Filed under: Book Auntie Braggery, Book Reviews, Check-it-out, Middle Grade, Publishing, Stuff I Love

Today I’m excited to celebrate the cover reveal for THE PERFECT TRIP by Stacy Barnett Mozer releasing March 24, 2017 from Spellbound River Press. Before we get to the cover, here’s a little about the book and the author:

About the book: Sam Barrette’s life is finally going in the right direction. She’s made the boys’ travel baseball team, her friendship with Mike is turning into something more, and she’s even connected with her stepmother. But a cross-country family camping trip filled with secrets and surprises challenges everything she thought she knew about what the future will hold. To save her dreams, Sam must find a way to fix her perfect trip.

About the author: Stacy Barnett Mozer is a middle grade author, a book blogger, and an elementary school teacher. Stacy started writing novels when one of her third grade classes told her there was no way a real author who wrote real books could possibly revise as much as she asked them to revise. She’s been revising her own novels every since. Stacy is an active SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators) member and is an Assistant Regional Advisor for New England SCBWI, coordinating the region’s critique groups. She is also the founder of Sporty Girl Books, a blog for anyone who loves to watch, play, read, and write about women and girls in sports.

THE PERFECT TRIP is the companion novel to THE SWEET SPOT, which released from Spellbound River in March 2016.

About THE SWEET SPOT: When thirteen-year-old Sam Barrette’s baseball coach tells her that her attitude’s holding her back, she wants to hit him in the head with a line drive. Why shouldn’t she have an attitude? As the only girl playing in the 13U league, she’s had to listen to boys and people in the stands screaming things like “Go play softball,” all season, just because she’s a girl. Her coach barely lets her play, even though she’s one of the best hitters on the team.

Finally, here is the cover of THE PERFECT TRIP, illustrated by Lois Bradley:

 

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Like the cover? You can win an ARC of The Perfect Trip by signing in here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

And another bonus…

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Check out this stocking stuffer event Spellbound River Stocking Stuffer Event on Thursday night. Here’s the link.

I adored THE SWEET SPOT and THE PERFECT TRIP was the perfect companion. You are going to love this duo of books. Put THE SWEET SPOT under the tree for someone you love and then you won’t have to wait long for THE PERFECT TRIP!

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Nov

1

2016

NaNoWriMo with a Tini Twist

Filed under: Community, Drafting, NaNoWriMo, Pondering, Stuff I Love, Writing

NaNoWriMo with a Tini Twist

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post. It’s been a conscious decision–one I’m happy with. Although I will tell you, I do miss blogging from time to time.

Where have I been?

I’ve been writing and growing. It’s that simple. I’ve come to realize that my blog (no matter how much I love it) takes time away from two very important components of life as a writer.

  1. Writing
  2. Improving craft

So, I made a new contract with myself when it came to my blog. I would only be spending time posting when I had a topic I was passionate about sharing. I would no longer be taking time from writing a manuscript and improving my craft, to cultivate a blog post. All posts would either be on the tip of my finger tips–straining to become a link in my blog chain–or they wouldn’t be written at all. Because, let’s face it, there’s nothing that I have to blog about that so important the world will stop spinning if I don’t show up every Tuesday and Thursday. In fact–I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you haven’t even noticed I’d gone MIA. And that’s okay. I’m hoping you’ve been busy doing productive and inspiring things, too.

But today I do have the urge to check in and to share a bit of info with you. Guess what today is????

 

November 1st.

NaNoWriMo 2016

Others wise known at the kick off to National Novel Writing Month!

Just to be up front–I am not a die hard NaNo-er. I’ve attempted the challenge on a few occasions. And once I even completed it. Score!

But my inability to be a NaNo Winner–more than that once–was rooted in all kinds of complexities.

*Sometimes I wasn’t in the right spot in my WIP to participate. Bad timing.

*As a die hard PANTSTER I often wrote myself into a corner that I couldn’t dig my way out of if I’d been driving a back hoe. Depressing and a waste of time.

*And sometimes real life, company and obligations severely challenged my writing time. It is what it is.

But despite all these very legit speed bumps. And despite more failure than success in this venture, I still find myself fascinated and addicted to the frenetic group mentality. It’s exciting, supportive and motivating. And by golly, I want to be able to order the NaNoWriMo T-shirt at the end.

So, I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year. Starting today.

But if I’m being honest with you–I’m doing it with a Tini Twist. (Play on words oh, so deliberate.)

*First–a confession. I am no longer a DIE HARD PANTSTER. And I will NEVER go back. I’m not judging you if you like to pants the hell out of everything you do. I’ve just had my own epiphany. And there are two books that have been instrumental in rocking my writer world…

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SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder

and

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STORY GENIUS by Lisa Cron

These books were complete and utter game changers for me. I ADORE THEM. In fact, I could blog post for days about them both. But you’ll be better served by reading them than listening to me wax poetic. Just know they’ve made me a better writer. Which leads me to my next point…

*I’m going into this year’s NaNoWriMo Challenge with two months of foundational work on this project. SLICE was a twisted little scrap of an idea that flew down and inspired me over a year ago. It’s been sitting in my recesses, incubating and waiting to grow into something more. The moment I found STORY GENIUS–I figured out the tools I needed to put this story together. And with the support of SAVE THE CAT, I’ve found my way from PANTSTER to BOOKSTORMER. I’m not calling myself a PLOTTER deliberately. I feel like both of these methods offer so much more than just plotting. They are helping me to take my book, my writing, my story telling and my ideas by storm. So, I’m a BOOKSTORMER now. It’s my thing. And because of the books’ positive influences on me, I’ve been developing my own hybrid method of drafting, culled and pasted from these two great approaches. I’m finding what really works the best for me. And because of that, I have never been more ready to take on NaNoWriMo

*And lastly, I have adjusted my expectations for this year’s challenge. I’m confident I can write the 50,000 words after all the pre-planning I’ve done. In fact, I think I’m going to find it rather enjoyable to finally start this thing. But I’ve also wrapped my mind around the big picture for this project. This book storming process is a fluid one that requires me to write the draft from beginning to end, but it also demands that I’m constantly moving and planning with fluidity over the whole project. It requires creativity and flexibility as I move forward in my process.

And because of that, my mantra is…The Work Will Not Suffer. What does that mean to me? Basically, it’s an acknowledgement that I will benefit from the challenge, but I will not write less than my best work just to complete the challenge. I am using NaNoWriMo to my best advantage, but I will never forget my true goal and purpose and the real finish line for me is the one that creates the best book I can write.

But hopefully, my writing, even with it’s Tini Twists will make me a winner at NaNoWriMo and with the bigger picture.

Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month? If yes, do you have any “Tini Twists” that you use to enhance your NaNo experience? Any NaNo tips you want to share? Have you read SAVE THE CAT or STORY GENIUS? I’d love to know what you think. And if you’re looking for a NaNoWriMo Buddy–you can find me at Kimmiepoppins. Let’s do this!

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Aug

16

2016

LA 2016 SCBWI Conference Part 3 (Sunday) #LA16SCBWI

Filed under: Awards, Check-it-out, Community, Conferences, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Publishing, Reading, SCBWI, Stuff I Love, Writing, Writing for Children

It’s time for my last installment of my #LA16SCBWI recap. I apologize for taking so long. I’m usually well done with these by this point, but my kids, my own writing, and other life stuff has kept me busy. But I’m here now and I have lots of great information to share with you about the LA 2016 SCBWI Conference.

 

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Lin and Steve strategically kicked off Sunday mornings #LA16SCBWI offerings with the Agent Panel. After an evening of dancing and kid lit shenanigans at the Gala–only the promise of finding an agent can get the sleepy masses out of their beds LOL!

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Agent Panel: Acquisitions Today

VWA–Victoria Wells Arms (Victoria Wells Arms Literary)

GC–Ginger Clark (Curtis Brown, LTD)

KH–Kristen Hall (Catbird)

BS–Brooks Sherman (The Bent Agency)

ERS–Erica Rand Silverman (Stimola Literary Studio)

TW–Tina Wexler (ICM Partners)

MOD-Lin Oliver

Here are some interesting bits and pieces of the conversation…

KH–(Talking to her kids) On quitting her job and starting her own agency… I’m fine. I’m covered in hives, but really I’m fine.

TW–After her intro…”I should have just said I was a cat person.”

ERS–I’m looking for people who are purposeful in their craft.

TW–Do I love it? AND… Can I sell it?

KH–Relies on her instinct when picking clients.

BS–Doesn’t worry about what will sell. If he likes it, he’s willing to dive in.

GC–On queries: No voice of the MC. No gimmicks. Not overly personal. PROFESSIONAL! All authors used in comps should be no older than 5 years!

KH–Loves all the opposite query things that GC does ROTFL!

 

Then it was time for the Art Award Announcements!

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The Mentorship Winners.

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The Showcase Honors.

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And Showcase Winner–Oge Mora

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And speaking of fabulous illustrators, next up was a Keynote by Sophie Blackall: FORAGING FOR STORIES: HOW TO JUSTIFY EAVESDROPPING, LOITERING AND BUYING THINGS ON EBAY

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Sophie was a natural storyteller and it was hard to pick out the individual threads to share because everything she said was woven together so interestingly. But I’ll do my best to pick out a few things for you…

*I collect things.

*I’m inspired by my fellows.

*One must always pay attention.

*Missed Connections–> the Measles Project.

*I rode the subway in NY, made eye contact with a stranger and ended up in Bhutan.

*Why is yoga still so hard? Because you are constantly pushing your limits. –>Apply that concept to your writing.

*Kids notice your trivial transgressions. Details matter.

*We make mistakes, but we should strive not to.

*The gestation of a book may be the best part.

*Toni Morrison writes into the light. “It’s not being in the light–it’s being there before it arrives.”

*The making part IS the best part. Do not hoard your ideas–use them all now. Something else will arrive.

Next up was my first Break-out Session of the day. I got so lucky picking Neal Schusterman-DON’T TELL DAD I TOTALED THE UNIVERSE: LESSONS IN WORLD BUILDING LEARNED THE HARD WAY

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This was an incredible workshop. If you ever get a chance to talk world building with Neal–I suggest you take it. What I loved about his advice and techniques were how accessible they were. The focus was not on High Fantasy which isn’t what I write. And his approach was clear, logical and easy to assimilate into your own process. Plus he was inspirational and funny. Here is some of the best things I learned…

*There are no rules but the ones you make.

*Be prepared to live by your rules. There are ramifications to the rules that you make.

*Be LOGICAL!!!!

*You don’t have to address all the changes the butterfly effect has on your story, but you have to KNOW them.

*Rules can be problematic, but they can also be tools.

*Bring the reader in slowly.

*Stories are about people, no matter what world you are building–resist putting the world in front of the characters.

*Learn to write characters in the real world first–then move to world building.

*Master world building with shorter works.

*Too much info on the world can be confusing to the reader.

*When you are world building on existing mythology, you have to bring something new to the table, a twist.

*IF YOU CAN’T KEEP TRACK OF YOUR WORLD IN YOUR OWN HEAD, IT’S TOO COMPLICATED FOR YOUR READER!

*Start with the concept of the world. Find characters that fit into the world. Then work to balance the two.

*The world grows as you go along, that’s why revision is so important. By the end you know the world and the characters, then you have to go back and be sure that everything is consistent.

*Follow the exciting, shiny idea within your manuscript–even if you didn’t plan for it–otherwise the writing will be boring.

After lunch, Linda Sue Park did a fascinating afternoon Break-Out session on CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARDS: HOW JUDGING HAPPENS.

I took a picture–I swear I took a picture. But the phone goblins ate it. I’m still missing my good camera. I can’t believe I didn’t bring it. Maybe I need one of those lens attachments for my phone. Any recommendations?

Anyway–this break-out was Linda giving us back ground and information on the judging of kid lit awards and her personal experience doing the judging. There was so much interesting information woven into Linda’s narrative, but I’ll try to pull out some nuggets that will enlighten you.

*When judging the National Book Award in 2006

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*Getting from 50 books down to the ones we wanted to discuss as a group was very difficult.

*Used a weighted math system to get down to the groups top 20 books.

*No one goes over these books the way the committee does–it is legit.

*The were the first committee to have a graphic novel as a finalist.

*The process was super time consuming. Linda couldn’t write for a year and sometimes resented not having a choice in what she could read.

*On judging–if you do this–you will never feel bad about not winning an award again. There are so many good books, deserving books out there.

*If you see Linda Sue Park–ask her how the truffles were? I promise, it’s a great story.

Next up was the always informative Deborah Halverson with the UP-TO-THE-MINUTE MARKET REPORT

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Here is some of the newest market info complied by Deborah…

*Overall children’s publishing revenue dipped very little–not a lot of movement.

*YA fiction sales dipped by 3%–the Divergent factor. (dips following movie years)

*Non-fiction kids up by 17% due to adult coloring books

*Audiobooks up 24% making up 10-14% of children’s books

*Expansion as a theme. 60 new Indies this year. 660 since 2009. Stable but flat.

*New codes for YA on the bookshelves allowing for more customization and discovery.

*31 new imprints in the last four years.

Market Trend–How Your Current Projects Fit Into the Marketplace

PICTURE BOOKS

-vigorous

-quality and creativity are being rewarded. Think: LAST STOP ON MARKET PLACE

-creativity in language and text

-dominated by younger PB’s

-some have longer texts where hope is strong and feels justified

-plenty of room for the illustrator to have story telling room

-character driven

-Write a single title–>series possibility comes later

-diverse characters/actively looking for diversity

-historical fiction/biographies…ordinary people who change the world

-looking for marketing potential, story telling and personal connections

MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

-a great place to be

-agents say editors are asking

-open field–literary and commercial balance

-wants beautiful language, superb execution

-slow build that garners awards and longevity. Think OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon Draper

-room for serious subject matter

-historical fiction–there are lesser known people to explore or new twist on well knowns

-multi-author series are still strong

-stand alones embraced too

-risks that don’t feel gimmicky

-non-fiction–fresh engagement-something unexpected

-MG is not wrapped up in a single trend at the moment

-looking for humor, adventure, realistic fiction

-serves a diverse audience but doesn’t make diversity an issue

-story trumps trends

-sweet spot falls between literary and commercial

-voice that masters the MG sensibility and funny bone

-in historical fiction a contemporary voice gives access–think Hamilton on Broadway

-realistic fiction and fantasy

YOUNG ADULT
-still happening but market saturation

-there are the big stars and the rest of us are duking it out for a space

-everyone is super careful/cautious about what they take on

-you need something different and stand out in a crowded market

-be careful about realistic contemporary–its been done

-blending genres–create fresh magic systems–think GRACELING

-non-speculative

-layered female friendships*

-exploring grey areas*

-on twitter… #MSWL  (Manuscript Wish List)

The internal mood of publishing…

*We are in a good place.

*Not being lambasted by trends.

*Room for thinking creatively.

*Not relying on only one thing.

*Publishing has settled into the mind set that we CAN change and adapt.

*An active author contract initiative underway

*Discovered we were doing it right all along.

Next up was a Keynote by one of SCBWI’s best, Ellen Hopkins: KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE REAL PRIZE

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Ellen had the whole place in tears as she told the story of how life and writing intersect…

*Garbage writing is why they invented revision.

*In this day and age, books are candles in the darkness. And for some children, they are a lifeline.

*Keep your eyes on the real prize: making a positive difference in young lives.

And the final and closing keynote came from the one and only RICHARD PECK <3

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*We gather today because misery loves company. *giggle*

*The barbarians are at our gates now–with phones in their hands–playing Pokemon. And they might die never knowing WE are the people who augment reality.

*There are 250 million texts and not a semi-colon among them.

*Where do you get your ideas? Isn’t it odd to suggest we can’t THINK of them?

*Schools don’t build foundations–they build upon them.

*Readers are not looking for authors in their books–they are looking for themselves.

*Throw out and rethink the first chapter after you have the table of contents for your real story.

*It’s never to late to be who you might have been” -George Elliot

And now that Richard Peck has reminded you who you are meant to be, it’s time for the autograph party.

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Richard signing a book for the Desmond Fish Library who gave me the Alice Curtis Desmond Award

If you can see the iPad on the table, with Richard Peck—it was a part of me having a beautiful, full circle moment. This spring I had the privilege of being awarded the Alice Curtis Desmond Award and had to give my very first speech. And this speech was in front of another award winner–Salman Rushdie. Yup, it was a sweaty palm, heart racer. But I lived to tell the tale and what I was showing Richard was how I quoted HIM in my speech. And how I also heard Richard speak at my very first NY conference and clearly he had an impact on me then and over the years. And how he used the quote from my speech in his keynote and I couldn’t stop smiling at having the chance to share it all with him. Here’s that speech…

 

Being here tonight is both thrilling and a little terrifying.

I’m in awe of the esteemed company I get to keep this evening.

Compared to my fellow award winners, I’m at the beginning of my career. This is my first professional nod of recognition.

Receiving the Alice Curtis Desmond award reminds me that sometimes, our FIRST experiences do the most to shape our middles and our endings.

The acclaimed children’s author, Richard Peck once said… “–nobody BUT a reader, ever became a writer.”

When I hear that, what immediately comes to mind–are families, schools and libraries. They are the gate keepers that shape so many first experiences.

I still have my FIRST library card. I was the girl who had more books than Barbies.

In fact, I never went into the stacks without a large, paper grocery bag. I needed something big enough to hold my treasures. Those books held the world.

In the 6th grade, my English teacher read to my class… “In Flanders fields the poppies blow. Between the crosses, row on row.”

It was the FIRST time I understood how powerful writing could be. The meanest teacher I knew, was moved to tears—by words.

In the 10th grade, my class read THE GIVER by Lois Lowry. It was the FIRST time I realized I wasn’t alone. There were other people in the world who asked the same strange questions I did.

The summer before my senior year in high school, I took stock of who I was and what I wanted to be. I compared myself to some of my heroes: Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller, Anne Frank and Mahatma Gandhi.

It was the FIRST time I declared myself woefully inadequate to be anyone’s hero. I lost something that day.

On January 1, 2005, eighteen years later, I lost my father, but I finally found my voice. It was the FIRST day I decided to bravely live up to my own potential.

After my FIRST novel was published, my Mom, an extremely avid reader, told me I was the FIRST author she’d ever met in person. It wasn’t the first time I made my Mom proud, but it was one of my favorites.

My husband has always been my FIRST and most enthusiastic supporter. And because of it, there is an exceptionally large group of twenty-something single males, who work in IT Audit, who’ve read my young adult novel. #uniquemarketing

And I shouldn’t admit it, but when my boys were 2, 4 and 6 they ran out of clean socks and underwear because I was writing. It wasn’t the first time it happened, but it was the FIRST time they called me out on it. We bought more.

Then the day came when I received my FIRST letter from a fan. I’d become someone’s hero after all.

And now, because the clock and good story telling demands it, I need to make my ending reflect my beginning–by returning to the library, where I started.

I want to thank everyone at the Desmond Fish Library, not just for honoring me with my FIRST award and hosting such an incredible evening, but also for all you do–you bring books and readers together. You share my FIRST love and I could not be prouder to be a part of this community. Thank you so much.

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I adore this guy! <3

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Pam Munoz Ryan and Esperanza Rising

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Sophie Blackall had the longest line in the room.

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Getting my CHALLENGER DEEP signed by Neal Schusterman

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I had an amazing conversation with him. So fan-girling!

Totally goof-balling around with Drew Daywalt of Crayon fame!

Don’t ask–I don’t know ROTFL!

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Jon Klassen–what would he have done if I’d grabbed his hat and run? And how often does that happen???

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And then we were hungry! Because fan-girling is kind of hard work.

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And ice cream after dinner will certainly do the trick!

And it might even work tonight as a reward for getting this last #LA16SCBWI blog post done.

Hope this helpful. If you have any questions about the conference or SCBWI conferences in general, feel free to ask. And remember–if you’re heading to your first conference and you don’t know anyone, let me know and I’ll be sure to help out and introduce you to some new friends.

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Aug

9

2016

LA 2016 SCBWI Conference Part 2 (Saturday) #LA16SCBWI

Filed under: Check-it-out, Class of 2k12, Conferences, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Publishing, SCBWI, Stuff I Love, The Class of 2k12, Writing for Children

I’m back! And ready for #LA16SCBWI Part 2–Saturday.

You can’t start your day wrong with Jon Klassen: FINDING YOURSELF IN THE WORK

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In case you live under a rock, Jon is the fantabulous author/illustrator of the hat books and more.

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And according to Lin, he’s also one of the two hottest Canadians on the planet.

And we have one of them with us at #LA16SCBWI! LOL!

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NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 16: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the Catalyst Awards Dinner at Waldorf Astoria Hotel on March 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 16: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the Catalyst Awards Dinner at Waldorf Astoria Hotel on March 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

 

The laughs never ended after that comment, but Jon also brought his depth to the table in addition to his humor…

*”The worst thing you can think about when you’re working is yourself.” Agnes Martin

*Don’t think about your style.

*Your style is mysterious and should be opened up–but not by you.

*Take care of the machine that makes the style.

*Write the stories your brain is able to produce then evolve with your instrument.

*Stop trying to be creative. Don’t try to get a butterfly, you’ll get a car. Embrace the car. Force vs. Flow

 

Next up was Marie Lu: THE CREATIVE LIFE

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Marie was fabulous–I can not begin to tell you how professional, charming, sweet, honest and adorable she was. I was blown away by her work ethic and her ability to speak so eloquently about her experiences. Here’s some of her take aways…

*Was born in China and moved to the US when she was 5.

*New Orleans was VERY different than China LOL! Her first time out exploring was during Mardi Gras. ROTFL!

*Starting writing as a teen.

*Went to work at Disney and was surrounded by creatives for the first time in her life.

*Being published is NOT relevant to being a writer.

*Every writer proceeds at their own pace, in their own way. The process itself should be reward enough.

*Marie has received well over 500 rejections in her writer’s life so far.

*You can’t perfect something that doesn’t exist.

*With time and practice you will get there, but you have to finish something in order to progress.

*Rejection comes for all of us–don’t fear it. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you will thicken your skin in preparation for the really tough criticism.

*Talent is over rated–most of what gets you there is passion, perseverance and hard work.

*Accepting criticism is the key to growth.

*If the critique isn’t “correct” it only means that something isn’t working.

*A high tide lifts all boats. It’s difficult to tame the envy monster but know that books lift books and writers lift writers. <3

*Be brave and listen–none of know everything or are always right.

*Never defend yourself–listen.

*It’s scary to be called out but remember no one goes out with bad intentions.

*As scary as it is to put yourself out there as a writer–think about how scary it often is to be the reader.

*Those readers are worth the work of being brave. <3

*We are all in this together.

 

Then this happened…

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My Eastern NY SCBWI RA was chosen to give the keynote from last year’s crop of Crystal Kite winners!!!

Nancy Castaldo: THE TERRIFYING PATH TO PUBLICATION AND HOW IT ENDS

Hahahaha! I took no notes during Nancy’s speech. I was in the audience cheering, smiling, preening and proud. It was an  excellent speech. It had dogs and writing inspiration. It was fabulous. You should book her for your next event.

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Saturday’s first Break-Out session was with Justin Chanda: PRO-Track CAREER LONGEVITY

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Justin is the Vice President and Publisher of the four flagship children’s imprints at Simon & Schuster: S&S Books for Young Readers, McElderry Books, Atheneum, and the new Salaam Reads. AKA—BAMS! Here’s a look at publishing through the Chanda Filter. As always, I could listen to him talk for hours.

*Always keep communication lines open. Establish the chain of command.

*Communication from an assistant is coming from your editor. Treat them with respect.

*Never think of your agent as a tool.

*A good editor is there to challenge you–not rewrite your book.

*No one wants an unsuccessful book.

*Creative differences happen, but we are all on the same page.

*Always be realistic about achievable deadlines. Advance notice of realistic expectations is better than missed deadlines.

*Make sure your working on your book, not just working on marketing it. At the end of the day readers want books, not marketing.

*Advertising doesn’t work–especially with children’s books. And $10,000 doesn’t even move the needle.

*What does work? Word of Mouth.

*If you do book tours, it’s inevitable you’ll be at an event where no one shows up. Use it as an opportunity to be professional, make connections and be charming.

*School Visits–there is an entire other industry set up to support us.

*It takes time to get traction as a speaker at schools and conferences.

*Social Media–don’t get caught up in the echo chamber.

*Twitter is the best/worst thing to happen in Kidlit.

*Unforgivable Practices–Never air your grievances on social media.

*The most important thing you can do for self promotion is to get other people to talk about your work.

*Keeping the book alive after the first year–work on the next book. Your next book promotes your first book.

 

Even at #LA16SCBWI there’s time for Lunch!!!! But then we are back for Carole Boston Weatherford: THE POWER OF PREMISE

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I’m so sorry–I don’t have a lot of notes from Carole–she had one of those keynotes you just sit and soak in. She had me at… A premise is a promise that your manuscript will deliver on…

Next up was a panel discussion: INGREDIENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL PICTURE BOOK

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MOD-Laurent Lin–LL

JB–Jessixa Bagley (author/illustrator)

JP–John Parra (illustrator)

SR–Susan Rich (Editor–Little, Brown)

BS–Barney Saltzberg (Author)

DT–Don Tate (author/illustrator)

 

WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL PICTURE BOOK?

JB–the book has a completeness to it.

JP–magical feelings

SR–it has to stand up to weary parents and antsy toddlers.

BS–Rhythm of the page turn, element of surprise.

DT–Connection through emotions

SR–If we knew what the secret ingredient was we’d replicate it.

BS–Put Jon Klassen’s name on it. ROTFL!

ADDITIONAL GOOD ADVICE…

SR–there are hooks (curricular and seasonal) that can make your books stand out–don’t start with that.

BS–You have to be careful who you share your work with and at what stage.

JP–it’s up to us to define ourselves–be unique.

BS–Take your ego and bury it in a box in the backyard. There is wisdom out there to be heard. Show up daily.

 

And I was waiting all day for this one…

Neal Schusterman on MAKING MEANING: THE WRITER’S STRUGGLES TO FIND ORDER IN CHAOS, AND STORIES WORTH TELLING

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Neal started with an “adorable” representation of his 3rd Grade Teacher…

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I’ll let you use your imagination on how she influenced Neal. The good news is that he had a strong and persistent personality.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Neal also talked about the fallacies he believes surround the writing process.

*This is how you do it.

          -There isn’t one way. Do what works for you.

*Focus on your strengths.

           -If you want to be a writer you have to be well rounded and work on your weaknesses.

*Writer’s Block is real.

           -There’s no such thing. It’s writing when it’s hard and calling it that gives you permission to walk away. Being stuck it part of the process.

*If you build it, they will come.

          -They’ll be walking by on their phones *snicker* Keep building over and over.

*Never ask for feedback from someone you feed.

          -Family can be honest. My kids call me out.

*If traditional publishers won’t publish you, then e-pub.

          -I know this probably isn’t a popular view, but if e-pub was available  I never would have been traditionally published.

          -Gate keepers are there with there rejections for a reason. When I look back, my work deserved to be rejected,

           -traditional to e-pub is a little different.

*You must have your writing place

            -In high school I had that–it was called detention. Now I write everywhere and get inspired. Check it out…

Why Do We Write?

-It’s all about the reader.

-Deep down we have a belief we have something to say.

And a reminder…If we are doing it right, we are always terrified we aren’t doing it right.

And that was the end of the instructional part of the day, but it don’t worry–the day was far from over…

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I got to hang out and chat with Marie Lu and she signed my book!

I also got to check out all our fabulous illustrators at the Portfolio Showcase.

There were also Happy Hour Hangouts with the agents and editors.

Followed by the Red Carpet Ball

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Our costume goal for the costume contest was to pull out all the stops and glam it up Hollywood style. Nothing says glamorous Hollywood then Fred Astaire!

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I even had my tap shoes on.

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A class of 2k12 fancy meet up for me and Lynne Kelly or maybe Ginger?

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And I wasn’t the only one dressed up. The fashion police were on the scene. Some body was getting ticketed.

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There was also a long line of red carpets LOL!

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There were loads of people on the dance floor.

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And even the balconies were full.

And later when things wound down, it was lovely to take off your top hat and sit outside.

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And when you think there are no surprises left in the day…

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You come back to your room and wonder if you’re having some unexpected company LOL!

Hoping all this good advice resonates with you. Which bit of inspiration speaks the loudest for you?

And don’t forget to stay tuned for #LA16SCBWI coming soon.

 

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Aug

3

2016

LA 2016 SCBWI Conference Part 1 (Friday) #LA16SCBWI

Filed under: Check-it-out, Class of 2k12, Community, Conferences, Publishing, SCBWI, Stuff I Love, The Class of 2k12, Touching the Surface, Uncategorized, Writing for Children

Hello… it’s #LA16SCBWI time…is there anybody out there? I know. I’ve neglected the blog, but for a good reason. Blogs are secondary to the writing and the writing has been my priority. But I LOVE my SCBWI conference blogs. They help me process everything I learned and I also love sharing a bit of the magic and insight with those who couldn’t make it. Plus I missed you. So, let’s go to #LA16SCBWI together!

 

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Compared to last year, my journey to #LA16SCBWI was a breeze. No hassles. Everything was on time. The Jet Blue snack was blue chips. I even had my roomie picking me up at the airport and we defied the laws of LA rush hour and made it to the hotel in a record amount of time for the afternoon. Everything was perfect until…

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My luggage lock wouldn’t come off. Really???? I think what happened was I accidentally twirled and twisted when I should have pushed and clicked–resetting the combo to a magic number I did not know. Grrrr. I thought about trying all the possible combinations then called the hotel desk and had a lovely gentleman cut it off for me. Crisis averted. Dinner was had and friends caught up. Easy Peasy. And when all was said and done, I fell asleep and never rolled over until morning. Not even the Biltmore ghosts could wake me.

Yes, the Biltmore hotel, the sight of #LA16SCBWI is supposed to be haunted. Do you see the wee ghosty on the SCBWI folder? I wouldn’t lie. Totally haunted. I’m positive, although I didn’t see, hear or sense a thing.

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But any building that looks like this inside must be haunted, right?

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BTW–sorry for the grainy pictures–I left my good camera at home by mistake. Boo!

But the ghosts aren’t really the important part–unless they inspire some fabulous stories. We were there to get our kid lit on and we took off running on Friday.

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Steve Mooser and Lin Oliver were on the scene–Lin entertaining us with stories of her senior prom and bachelor party at the Biltmore. Which by the way, was built in 1923 and was originally a cathedral. And this past weekend it housed…

-952 Full Time Attendees (with a 950 seat ballroom) Good thing there were always spatially challenged writers who had trouble finding their way around the building LOL!

-348 Published

-603 Pre-Published

-47 States. (West Virginia was absent and Vermont. But Lin figures they were still too busy feeling the Bern)

-15 Countries

-And there were some interesting primary occupations listed: 101 Full Time Artists, Cake decorator (because frosting is a legit medium), 93 FT Writers, A Writer/Shepherdess (and obviously a good one–never saw a single sheep in the Biltmore), 3 Paper engineers, a Bonsai Artist, a cluster? herd? swarm? flock? pod of lawyers? and a Retired Housewife. Lin didn’t know that last one was an option. Sign her up!

And our joke contest was Books in the Olympics–write your own headline!

In LA the faculty also marches in and shares their word of the conference. Here are some of my favorites from #LA16SCBWI…

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David Diaz–melarchy

Arthur Levine–personal

Justin Chanda–inclusivity

Ginger Clark–Brexit

Peter Brown–awkward

Nancy Castaldo–noble

Lisa Yee and Martha Brockenbrough–Wonder Woman

Alvina Ling–Breathe (she was congested)

Linda Sue Park–(for anyone who cares about kids) VOTE!

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The first Keynote Speaker of the conference was Drew Daywalt of crayon fame.

DOES THIS KEYNOTE MAKE MY BUTT LOOK BIG?

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Drew was funny and sweet as he talked to the group. Here are some of the most interesting things Drew had to say…

*Jack Gantos wanted Drew to write for children–he was his Obi Wan Kanobi

*Did you ever notice how crayons are in your house but you didn’t buy them?

*20 years later..”I told you so, idiot!” Jack Gantos

*First school visit he panicked but the librarian told him he could bring THE box of crayons LOL! A boy raced past”security” and jumped in his lap and said…”I love you, Mr. Daywalt.” It changed his life. <3

*Hollywood kicked me for 20 years and knocked me down and a million little hands caught me. <3

*Be true to your voice.

*Be vulnerable.

*Authors find meaning in the meaningless and define meaning in the meaningful.

*Don’t overstay your welcome. *waves*

 

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Next up was Pam Munoz Ryan: ONE WRITER’S CONFESSIONS

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Things she’s learned along the way…

*Getting published and discovering I could still fail.

*If you’re not struggling to learn something new, you’re failing.

*If you aren’t struggling, you’re setting your goals too low.

*I wasn’t self actualized to feel marginalized. (On not seeing herself represented in the books she read)

*Things that get you out of writer’s block–a deadline.

*I don’t have a muse, but I’m still waiting.

*I don’t write every day. A writer has a relationship with writing.

*Goal: I want the reader to sit down and turn the page.

*It still stings–writing doesn’t get easier for me.

*I write in a feeble attempt at immortality.

*I read to forget and I write to remember. <3

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Every conference has those bathroom breaks between speakers and they are perfect for coffee and meeting friends you’ve only loved on line. So pumped I FINALLY got to meet Lynne Kelly on of my fellow Class of 2k12 siblings. <3 Such a lovely treat.

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The next Keynote belong to Justin Chanda (VP & Publisher of four children’s imprints at Simon & Schuster)

THE STATE OF THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

Justin took the stage fighting the urge to suggest we unify the party. LOL! Here were a few things going on in the industry…

* 2015-2016 was a great year for independent books stores.

*Kid lit is doing well, but blockbusters are driving the overall sales while the mid-list are struggling.

*Blockbusters keep the lights on.

*It’s a big leap of faith to acquire a picture book. Because of that editors are selectively looking for character drive, humorous books that appeal to adults as well as kids. You have to be the best of the best to get a deal in this market.

*Advice: Write, Illustrate, Rinse, Repeat.

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Sorry it’s a little dark. Remember I forgot the one with the telephoto lens. Grrrrr But even so, I can vouch, this is my first break out session of the conference. It was a Pro-Track session with Don Tate on SCHOOL VISITS.

Don gave a sample of his own presentation, followed by advice and tips from himself and multiple experienced authors/illustrators. It was a wealth of knowledge.

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He also shared the fabulous Debbie Gonzales who works with the academic standards to create projects, presentations and study guides. She’s currently working with TOUCHING THE SURFACE and I’ll be excited to soon launch some fabulous new ways that TTS can be used in the classroom.

And my favorite tip from Don? GO WITH THE FLOW–IT’S NOT ALWAYS GOING TO GO AS PLANNED!

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Next up was the Editor Panel: THREE BOOKS I LOVED PUBLISHING AND WHY

SB-Stacey Barney–Senior Editor (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin)

KB-Kat Brzozowski–Editor (Swoon Reads/Feiwel and Friends)

AL-Alvina Ling–VP and Editor in Chief (Little, Brown)

MM-Melissa Manlove–Editor (Chromicle)

NP-Neal Porter–Publisher (Neal Porter Books)

MR-Matt Ringler–Senior Editor (Scholastic)

SS-Sara Sargent–Executive Editor (Harper Collins)

RS-Reka Simonsen–Executive Editor (Atheneum)

KS-Kate Sullivan–Senior Editor (Delacore)

Moderated by: ED-Emma Dryden (Dryden Books, LLC)

Each editor was asked to talk about three books they proudly published and talk about why they were meaningful. They also gave advice to the audience. I missed a few here and there and I can’t possibly effectively duplicate their gushing–but here’s what I can give you…

SB–Firebird, The Lions of Little Rock, A Crack in the Sea

      *Breathe, publishing is a marathon. It teaches patience. Work on your craft.

KB–RL Stein’s Fear Street Series, When the Moon Was Ours

       *Build a strong network of people. Publishing is small. Reciprocal relationships.

AL–Thunder Boy Jr, The Year of the Dog, Daughter of Smoke and Bone

       *Rejection is not personal.

MM–Picture This, President Squid, Josephine

       *Inspiration is electric, but it’s the lightening bolt that hits the person grinding the generator. You have to do the work.

NP–Giant Squid, School’s First Day of School, Ideas Are All Around

       *Do I HAVE to write this book? Is there intense feeling?

MR–Kill the Boy Band, The Hero Two Doors Down, Puppy Place Series (Because you can’t have a bad day picking out puppies for book covers ROTFL!)

          *Rejection can feel personal, but it’s an industry thing. Editors can’t always get what they want.

SS–Cruel Beauty, The Museum of Heartbreak, Last Year’s Mistake

          *Look for the window where you know what an agent/editor likes but then make it different.

RS–Enchanted Air, THE WICKED AND THE JUST (In caps because it’s a fabulous book by my Class of 2k12 sib J. Anderson Coats) and Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal.

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        *Write what you love.

KS–Ash, Rapture Practice, Passion Counts

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Next up was another Keynote with Jenni Holm: IT TAKES A FAMILY

Jenni shared lots of personal stories but this fact was key…If you’re going to write about your family, write about your mother’s family first LOL!

And then, just when you think you can’t do one more minute of conference, we got to celebrate the Golden Kite Award Winners and have a celebratory dinner.

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We even had a display in the lobby of our celebrated books for #LA16SCBWI

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And don’t forget the pyramid of chocolate. It was very yummy.

And on that sweet note, I’ll leave you to digest this first day of #LA16SCBWI and I promise I’ll be posting more soon.

 Want to see a little bit more of the Biltmore and it’s Hollywood History? Check out this video…

http://la.curbed.com/2013/10/4/10190584/watch-the-many-film-roles-of-downtowns-biltmore-hotel

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May

12

2016

The Alice Curtis Desmond Award

Filed under: Author Events, Awards, Check-it-out, Community, Family, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Publishing, Stuff I Love, Touching the Surface, Writing for Children

Last Friday, May 6th 2016, was a magical night. It was so amazing, it’s taken me almost a week to digest it enough to be able to share it with you.

I finally became the official 2016 recipient of the Alice Curtis Desmond Award!

And if you remember me talking about it, I also was able to spend my evening in the company of two additional and very fabulous award winners…

Andy Chmar–The Patricia Adams Award

and

Salman Rushdie–The Hamilton Fish Award

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After an hour of mingling and a fund-raising auction for the the Desmond-Fish Library, I was able to take a few pictures of the venue. Only a few because I was going to be the first speaker of the evening. And I won’t lie, I was more than a bit nervous giving my first acceptance speech to 250 people, with one of them being the iconic Salman Rushdie.

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I arrived at my seat with my To Kill A Mockingbird Purse, perfect for the occasion, to find signed copies of two of Salman Rushdie’s books on my seat. <3

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Everyone filing into The Roundhouse Beacon. Hard to believe this gorgeously renovated place was an old, run down factory when I was a kid.

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Such a big crowd! I’ve never spoken in front of that many people before. *butterflies*

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Here’s my seat!! I won’t be able to eat a think until I’m done. So glad I was going first, because the food was amazing and I eventually did get to enjoy it.

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I don’t have pictures of me speaking–yet. My Mom was able to attend the event and took a few and there was a professional photographer at the event, so I’m hoping to be able to share a few more pictures at a later date. *fingers crossed*

Part of the awesomeness of the evening was having my extremely sweet husband introduce me and hand me my award. And while he may have interjected a small bit of teasing into his speech, he once again made me feel incredible. He’s not only my biggest fan when it comes to my writing, but he’s also makes me feel like an incredible human being. I felt so loved. I find myself thinking about his words every day. <3

Then, I not only survived my speech, but according to feedback–I nailed it! Which meant the hours I spent writing and practicing paid off. It also meant my insanely shaky hands and at one point, trembling body, didn’t effect my voice. *phew!*

And here was my reward…

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I MUST get this framed!

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And I was also presented with two of Alice Curtis Desmond’s books. I can’t wait to read them.

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Each book has this moving bookplate inside. Whenever I have one of those inevitable crappy moments as an author, I’m going to pull one of those books out and read…

To

Kimberly Sabatini

in recognition of her distinctive contribution

to Children’s Literature

And then I’ll get back to work.

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Here’s my only picture of Salman Rushdie as he was being interviewed by Hamilton Fish.

Mr. Rushdie was intelligent, funny, thoughtful and engaging. I could have listened to him all evening.

And the cherry on my sundae came later in the evening, when I had the privilege of speaking with Mr. Rushdie after the presentation of his award. He spent several minutes asking me about my publisher, my writing and my book. It was a surreal experience I won’t ever forget.

 And if all of the above wasn’t humbling enough, I had the opportunity to look at the award winners who walked before me…

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I’ve had the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of so many amazing writers who have come before me. Now my goal is to be worthy of boosting up those who will come after. It’s time to get back to work to ensure that the Alice Curtis Desmond Award is the first of many.

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Apr

26

2016

Virtual Book Club–DEEP WORK

Filed under: Book Reviews, Check-it-out, Reading, Stuff I Love, Writing

More often than I can count, I read a book that intrigues me. It doesn’t matter if it’s kidlit, adult, fiction or non-fiction. When an interesting book strikes, you want to share it and discuss it with your people. It really makes me wish I was part of a book club. Starting one is on my bucket list, but until then, I think I’ll have to start a virtual book club here on my blog.

Many books

Here’s what I’m reading…

DEEP WORK by Cal Newport

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One of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you’ll achieve extraordinary results.

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.

In DEEP WORK, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four “rules,” for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.

A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, DEEP WORK takes the reader on a journey through memorable stories-from Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods to focus his mind, to a social media pioneer buying a round-trip business class ticket to Tokyo to write a book free from distraction in the air-and no-nonsense advice, such as the claim that most serious professionals should quit social media and that you should practice being bored. DEEP WORK is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.

Deep Work: Cognitively-demanding, requires focus without distraction, and you apply hard-to-replicate skill sets.

Shallow Work: More logistical/basic tasks that don’t require tremendous amounts of attention or skill.

I’m not finished reading this yet, but clearly I find it intriguing enough to want to share it with you. It was pointed out to me by a fellow writer–she was raving about how it changed her outlook on her writing process. Already I’m agreeing with her. I’m intrigued, especially since I signed up to participate in #WriteDaily30 with Linda Urban in the month of April. What I’m finding as I read and write is that this book and that challenge have overlapped. The concepts reinforce each other and I think I’ve learned some valuable take aways from having both show up at the same time. I love when the universe sends me a message and I’m alert enough to make the connections.

So, if there are any of you out there who are looking for some guidance, clarity or inspiration for getting focused and being productive with your craft, art or career–then maybe it isn’t a coincidence that you stumbled upon my virtual book club today.

Have you read DEEP WORK? Are you intrigued enough to want to read it? If you do decide to read it, make sure you come back and let me know what you think.

 

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Apr

14

2016

Write Daily 30

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Stuff I Love, Writing, Writing Style

This month I am participating in Linda Urban‘s Write Daily 30 (#WriteDaily30) challenge. This has been wonderful for me. You set your own goal and try to meet it every day for the month of April–but you do it in a hard working, supportive group.

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Here are my list of reasons why any writer should grab a group of friends and do a Write Daily 30 #WriteDaily30 Challenge…

*Checking in and knowing your friends are watching helps you stay accountable.

*Setting your own goals allows you to do exactly what you need to do. Your choices can be specific to you and the project your working on. My goal is to show up for 15 mins and work on my WIP. This is a great goal because my problem is STARTING, but once I begin I almost always do a lot more than I expected. Score!

*Having to check in everyday creates a new view of scheduling–you WILL carve out the time you need to meet your goal. Even if it means bringing your lap top to Little League practice.

*You may make wonderful discoveries–like how much you get done at Little League practice when no one else is bugging you or interrupting you. You may begin to wonder why your child hadn’t signed up for Little League earlier.

*You”ll probably learn or be reminded of some important lessons about writing in general because you consistently engaging with your work. The biggest for me so far, is about the importance of staying in a close relationship with my manuscript. When you do this, you spend less time working to place yourself back into your work. When you stay in the moment, you improve your writing. Time away from your manuscript is important at other times in your process but not when I’m trying to complete that MS.

*I’ve also discovered that the small bits add up. When I look at each individual day, more often then not, I find myself wishing for bigger numbers. But a funny thing happened when I stopped and added up those word counts–I realized that even if I only did a little bit on some days–those numbers were adding up and I’m pleased with the results. Not doing anything, because you don’t think you’ll get enough done, is just plain stupid. This is a much better approach.

 

Since it’s only April 14th–I’m almost at the halfway mark of Write Daily 30 (#WriteDaily30.) I’ll try to check back in at the end of the month and let you know how I did and tell you about any other additional insight I gained by participating.

Have you done this kind of group writing challenge before? I’ve done #NaNoWriMo (a monster challenge) and #JoKnoWriMo (which is very similar to this one.) What works for you? What are some of your best tips? Planning on getting involved with a writing challenge or starting your own? Have any questions?

 

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Apr

7

2016

It’s Throwback Thursday Arizona Style

Filed under: Check-it-out, Family, Fun and Games, In the Wild, Stuff I Love, Vacation Madness

It’s taken me a bit, but I finally got my spring break photos put together and some I set up for your Throwback Thursday #TBT pleasure. Enjoy the trip back in time…

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First stop Tucson for my birthday on…

you guessed it–3/19 LOL! This was a very perfect room number.

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And my post about it connected me with a friend from home in the same hotel.

(We never saw each other in person.)

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Then it was throwback time! With a visit to the University of Arizona. I had a wonderful time getting my Masters in Special Education while we were stationed in Arizona roughly 18 years ago.

University Blvd.

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Old Main

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The Education Building where I took all my classes.

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Stadium

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And here’s a blast from the past…

The “old folks” in the family (out for a visit) in front of Old Main.

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Heading to a Wild Cats football game.

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My graduation in 1998 and hanging with my favorite professor Dr. Lane.

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The next day we headed to Sierra Vista, where we lived while stationed in AZ. And we found our old apartment…

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The trees have definitely grown and the paint colors have changed.

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Ask my brother–we used to have a much more open view during our epic BBQ’s when he came out to visit. LOL!

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More of the present and past in Tombstone.

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It was a lot emptier when I came out with my mom. I wonder if that has anything to do with the movie Tombstone?

Doc Holiday is everyone’s Huckleberry now.

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Also made  a new and old visit to the Crystal Palace. This time with the boys but last time with high school buds.

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And things had changed inside the O.K Corral too.

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My first time around the shoot out reenactments occurred right on the spot where the shoot out happened. Now they have a model in the same place and the reenactment off to the side.

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Back in the late 90’s.

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Clearly the new models are having a bit of trouble. All of the figures have very interesting feet. The heat?

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We then headed to the eclectic and artsy mining town of Bisbee. We didn’t make it in time to take the Copper Queen mine tour, but we did get to check it out and of course I had stories.

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Not too much has changed.

Grandma and my Dad.

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Mom and I.

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Here’s a different Bisbee before and after shot.

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And the rest of the pics are some quirky, random shots…

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And this was our favorite restaurant and it was still there!!! Had a yummy dinner <3

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Bisbee at night.

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Speaking the truth…

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Off to Phoenix…

These two cuties were not the best of friends.

The Easter Bunny?

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A Gorgeous Harris Hawk named Hitman who worked on the Falcon Force Squad.

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After an afternoon of swimming. This was one of our quieter days. We drove 1,200 miles from the southern part of AZ to Las Vegas, Nevada in a week.

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Old Town Scottsdale

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And the next morning, we hiked up Camelback Mountain.

Gorgeous views the whole way up and down.

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Can you find the critter?

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Meeting the challenge the 10yo was issued by a friend LOL!

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We all made it to the top.

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And then it was off to Sedona with it’s red rocks and a Pink Jeep Tour…

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Our friendly and fun driver PJ!

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Heading back to Sedona…

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And here are my #TBT pics from my first time in Sedona…

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And the next day it was a road trip to the Grand Canyon!

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It was just as beautiful the second time around…

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The size just blows your mind.

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A last night in Sedona–one of my favorites <3 before heading out.

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A pit stop at an IN-N-OUT Burger. I’d never been before. Yum!

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And then it was the Hoover Dam, which I’d never been to either. It was a fascinating tour and an incredible architectural feat.

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Some of the turbines.

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Where the turbines are housed.

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The Colorado River

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My camera was looking down–not me!

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You can see how dry it is and how low the water is in Lake Mead. This is the emergency spillway. It’s only been used twice–once when they tested it and only one other time. Not a risk at the moment.

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And last but not least we made it to Vegas!

And you know what they say…what happens in Vegas happens to your best friends too. No, really I mean it. Imagine running into your 10yo’s best friend and his brother at the pool in Vegas. We knew they were traveling in some of the same places we were over the break, but we didn’t know their schedule at all and they could have been anywhere in those 1,200 miles. Unbelievably we randomly bumped into each other at the pool!

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And a pit stop at the Stratosphere was on the agenda after a fun time here 18 years ago…

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Back in the late 1990’s

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He ate the WHOLE thing folks!

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See–what happens in Vegas happens to your best friends too. LOL!

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And some Vegas random. Very cool glass gallery.

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Kind of think I should own these chairs of birdie awesome.

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And after a night of David Copperfield and his magical illusions,it seemed like this New York, New York…

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was destined to turn back into this one…

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If you could do a Throw Back #TBT tour of a place you used to live or spend a lot of time, where would you go and what would you want to see while you were there???

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