Archive for the ‘Community’ Category
This post is like a turkey pot pie. It’s put together from all the bits and pieces of the holiday.
*First up…I’m a NaNoWriMo Winner!!!! Very proud of that. I clocked in very, very early on the 29th with 50,057 words and the cool part is that last day, in order to make my goal, I wrote just over 6,100 words which is more than I wrote for last year’s attempt at NaNoWriMo. And out of more than 300,000 people, I was one of 41,940 to finish. *fist pump* And yes, I don’t want to look at any of those words for a least a couple weeks LOL!
*On Thursday December 5th I’ll be at the Crawford Public Library in Monticello, NY. All the info is HERE.
*Saturday I had the pleasure of attending my 25th High School reunion. I had an amazing time. What was intriguing to me was how much we had changed, but at the same time all stayed the same. And I mean this in a good way. Growing up, we’ve developed into better evolutions of ourselves, but we still have so many great memories from being kids. It was kind of cool to be in a room of people who all know the same stories you do. But having said that, despite it all, I could still feel myself slipping back into old teenage insecurities at times. But I have a feeling, that’s par for the course with a reunion. Overall, a two thumbs up for me. Can’t wait until the next one.
*Because we’re moving pretty early into the new year (*fingers crossed* this process will give you grey hair) I traded the Christmas holiday for Thanksgiving this year. I’ve got TURKEY!!! OMG!!! I’ve been missing this meal’s leftovers for years. It’s my death row meal. *grin* But then their are leftovers. And last night I made my first ever homemade turkey pot pie. I may have died from yum it was so tasty. But I’ve got more up my sleeve. Turkey salad sandwiches and turkey soup too. I have a feeling I’m going to run out of turkey to recycle before I run out of meals to make. So, new resolution–even if I don’t do Thanksgiving Dinner next time around. I will still have to make my own just for the leftovers LOL!
How was your holiday? Did you survive NaNoWriMo? Are you still shocked that I’m 25 years out of high school? Yeah, me too! LOL!
Today’s Bookanistas Review comes to you with a side dish of local author love. Jennifer Castle lives pretty darn close to me, so we get lots of opportunities to hang out at author and writer events together. Yay me!!!! I love Jennifer and adore her books. Today I’m reviewing YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE.
For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they’re real life.
The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There’d be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.
Now sixteen, Justine doesn’t feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment.
But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what’s on film. They’ve all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else’s eyes.
Smart, fresh, and frequently funny, You Look Different in Real Life is a piercing novel about life in an age where the lines between what’s personal and what’s public aren’t always clear.
Kimberly’s Review of YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE:
I immediately developed a soft spot for Justine even though she’s a bit of a snarky character who has moments of being unlikable. I’m personally drawn to a character with that kind of dimension. Perhaps it’s because a flawed MC is comforting to me, I’m loaded with my own chips and cracks. Or maybe it’s the complexity of character that keeps me so interested. More likely a combination of both, which in my humble opinion is even better. Additionally, all of Castle’s supporting roles had range and depth of character that held my attention the whole way through.
But I have a favorite reason for loving this book. It made me think and rethink about reality television, particularly the role of media fame on children. In fact, I think I’m still digesting it, even though it’s been a few weeks since I turned the last page. What does it mean to grow up in the public eye of reality TV? This is a harder and harder question to answer as our media opportunities are casting an ever widening net. Maybe watching Miley Cyrus, Brittany Spears, Amanda Bynes, and Lindsay Lohan, to name just a few, really illustrates why a book like this so important. It feels to me as if those young girls are the unreliable narrators in their own life story. We only see parts of their story and some of those pieces do not give us the complete picture we need. Castle’s book gives a deeper look into what can happened when a child’s life becomes too transparent.
YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE is a fabulous, richly-textured, thought provoking read that you shouldn’t miss.
YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE is available for purchase here…
*Barnes & Noble
Jennifer Castle received her B.A. in Creative Writing at Brown University and worked as a celebrity publicist’s assistant, an advertising copywriter, and a struggling screenwriter (yes, that’s an actual job) before falling into a niche producing websites for kids and teens. Her first novel, THE BEGINNING OF AFTER, was a 2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection as well as a Chicago Public Library “Best of the Best” book. Her most recent novel is YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE from HarperTeen–June 2013. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and daughters.
You can find out more about Jennifer Castle and her YA novels here…
Want more fabulous Bookanistas Reviews? Your wish is my command…
Any thoughts on reality TV’s effect on today’s children? I personally think we have yet to see the full ramifications for the actors or the audience. What do you think? What should be changed? What is a positive that is often over looked? Do parents have a greater responsibility in this process? Lots to talk about with this one.
I’ve passed the 30,000 word mark for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and although it’s still a ways away, I can see the light at the end of the 50,000 word long tunnel.
I know I’ve mentioned that this year, the challenge has been a lot easier for me than I expected, but that’s because I decided (after listening to LOTS of advice about NaNo) to do the things that weren’t necessarily comfortable for me, but are kind of essential for making November work. In no particular order, I’m going to highlight some of the things I don’t usually do, but decided I should do, in order to be successful.
* GIVE UP PERFECTION: I’ve always hated place markers. I don’t like to leave incomplete thoughts and information on the page. When I don’t know or remember something, I usually go back and look it up or work through it until I have the information I need to move on. This is a time suck! It’s word count repellent. Here’s an example of me using a place marker in my text…
I hadn’t seen her since I was blank years old and she…
I need to go back and look up how old I said the MC was when this happened in an earlier chapter, but I don’t remember which chapter I wrote it and I’m 24 chapters in. It would take me forever to find it, so I decided to let it go, save it for the read through after NaNoWriMo is over. NaNoWriMo is about flow. Letting your stream of thoughts come out organically. It shouldn’t be impeded by details. Of course I may have stopped drafting to write this blog post. *head thunk* You don’t want to do that either LOL!
*GIVE UP YOUR DEPENDENCY ON YOUR LOGICAL MIND: Every night after I complete my words for the day, I go to sleep thinking about the chapter or scene I have to write next. I especially like to do this at night as I’m nodding off to sleep. Ironically, I get some of my best clarity when my vision is relaxed and a little fuzzy around the edges. Basically I give my subconscious some time in the spotlight and it really works for me. The next day I may not know all the words, but I know where I’m starting and for me that is usually half the battle.
* GIVE UP A COUPLE POCKETS, THE ZIPPER and MAYBE A CUFF OF YOUR PANSTER PANTS: In case you didn’t hear me, I’ll say it again…I am not an outliner. I’m never going to be that structured of a person. I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants pantster. But you waste a lot of time when you do your creative thinking in front of the keyboard or with the pen in hand. Jot down some ideas ahead of time. Pre-planning doesn’t have to be an old school outline. It can look like a doodle as long as it helps you to organize your thoughts a little better, freeing you up to write with more ease.
* GIVE UP THE STUPID IDEA THAT PERFECTION ON THE PAGE IS GOING TO SAVE YOU TIME: It doesn’t. If you like to write slow and methodically, I say go for it. I do it all the time. But I’m no longer under the illusion that I’m saving myself later work. I think you have to pay the piper along the way, no matter how you structure the process.
* GIVE UP FEELING SO ALONE IN A VERY LONELY PROCESS: Every night when I post my NaNoWriMo Word count, I get at least a few people cheering me on. I also check to see how everyone else is doing. I’ve even made some new online friends along the way. But ultimately, I enjoy that festive, collaborative environment that November brings. It really helps me to stay motivated. I don’t run into so many moments where I can talk myself into stopping. Momentum is fueled by the community collective.
What have you had to give up for NaNoWriMo that’s been a gift in disguise?
Do you remember that time when I said I’d NEVER participate in NaNoWriMo? Ever. Yeah, I recall telling everyone how busy I was during the month of November. I also told them how I like to write with my internal editor sitting on my shoulder with her little red pen slashing and swiping at the words I’d just written–how that was good for me. It was my style. I think I may have even mentioned how participating in National Novel Writing Month would suck the joy and wonder of writing right out of me like a Dementor with his soul sucking kiss.
But even though I said that, last year, I tried it. My friends got me all excited and I wanted to be a part of what they were doing, even if it felt like I was wearing my shoes on the wrong feet. So I jumped in. I only managed to clock in just under 6,000 words. Blah, blah, blah… I stopped to revise another manuscript. And I got busy and I wrote slowly with my internal editor on my shoulder. The only thing I didn’t let my head do to my NaNo experience last year, was suck the fun out of writing. I had a blast–even for the minimal amount of commitment I exhibited. I had a fabulous time being part of the collective frenzy and excitement. And even though I didn’t win, t was happy to have almost 6,000 words that I never would have had if I allowed myself to putz around November making sad excuses for myself.
So, even though I wasn’t a winner last year, I think I got bit by the NaNoWriMo bug because I absolutely wanted to do it again this year, but with a few adjustments.
#1 Although I decided my first priority was to beat last year’s word count, I may have also decided that I’d like to win this year. So, I’m shooting for a minimum daily writing goal. If I exceed that–great. If I miss a day I’m going to have to make that up, but I’d like to slowly inch ahead to give myself a cushion if I can. (The good news is that by Day 4 I’m now ahead of last year’s word count!!!!!)
#2 This year I’m doing a re-write of the book I started last year. Why would I do this? Because it’s the book I MUST write. I’m just like that. And I’ve taken the last year and particularly the last several weeks to research, read, be inspired and think deeply about the strange and beautiful thought threads that I’d like to weave together in this story. Last year I was woefully short weaving material. My thoughts were thin. It made the writing hard. So while I AM advocating the joy of NaNo-ing and pushing yourself, I can already tell you that my increased success this year is in part because I gave myself and my book the time I needed to get my head wrapped around it. It’s all about balance.
#3 Having done all that deep thinking, I also did something I don’t usually do in my writing–I wrote an outliney-thingy. It’s just jumbled notes with a couple time lines and maybe a few scribbles here and there. But I went into this year’s NaNo with a bit of a plan. I had my main characters fleshed out a bit and I know the weird little beginning and ending that will either be awesome or a pretty hot mess. And either way, it doesn’t matter because by design, I’m not really supposed to know what “this” is until after I 1) finish and 2) put it away for a few weeks and then pull it back out again after the holidays and read it with fresh eyes and a clear head.
Well, I better make this short and sweet–I’ve got words to put on the page for today. And If you didn’t sign up and now you’re regretting it–GO DO IT! Who cares if you win this year? Or maybe you’ll win writing even faster than the rest of us. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s fun!!! If you’re looking for me–I’m Kimmiepoppins. Let’s be buddies. And if you’re not ready to take the plunge—>start planning for next year!!!!
Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? Do you want to? What’s stopping you? Are you sneaking Skittles out of your kid’s Halloween baskets while trying to make your word count? Oh, wait–that’s me. *grin*
AM I A WRITER?
If you write words down on paper, you my friend, are a writer.
If you dream about writing words on paper, you’re a dreamer. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t getting close. If writing is your goal, you’re almost there. You just have to take that extra step. And by the way–you still get to be a dreamer. You don’t have to give that up. In fact, it’s part of the job. Day dream and scribble stuff about it on paper. Or type it. We do that too, now a days.
So far you’re with me, right? We dream and scribble. But the scribble has to have purpose. It involve words with intent. It can’t be just your grocery list.
Here is a NOT A WRITER SCENARIO:
I’m sitting home and feeling hungry, dreaming about chocolate chip cookie dough. I Decide I must have dough NOW. But I also need five other things at the store. Milk to go with the cookies. Paper towels to clean up the mess. And shampoo, olives and tomatoes. Because when does life make sense? So, I scribble down my list of five things plus chocolate chip cookie dough ingredients and presto….now I am a writer. NOT!
To be a writer you have to dream, scribble and create with purpose. It might only be meaningful to you, but that’s ok. No one says a writer’s audience has to be bigger than one. Each writer should find value in what they put on the page.
Now, don’t mistake meaningful with serious. It doesn’t have to be serious. It also doesn’t have to be particularly brilliant. It simply has to be connected to you. Really, it’s not that hard. It doesn’t even have to be conscious intent. You wouldn’t believe how much of myself I find in my writing AFTER I go back and examine it–even the word doodles. (the little bits and pieces that come from our subconscious)
Writing is many, many wonderful things. Just not the grocery list. But feel free to day dream while doing your shopping. I do it all the time.
Now you know if you’re a writer or not. And if you use my definition, there are a lot more writers out there than you expected. But don’t worry, not all of them want to be authors. I hear some of you gasping. It’s true, lots of writers strive to be published, but not everyone does. It’s ok–it’s all good. Tolerance people. There’s room for all us nuts in the nut bowl. But you’re not wrong either. There are lots of us that do want to be published. It’s like an itch we can’t scratch. An itch covered in poison ivy in the middle of our back where we can’t reach it. But we keep working on it until we no longer have the itch.
Oh, wait–I just spilled the beans.
I told you the secret to getting published some day. YOU KEEP WORKING ON IT. It’s not magic. It won’t happen without the effort. This is not a what came first? the chicken or the egg? scenario. Everyone starts as a writer. NO ONE STARTS AS AN AUTHOR. I mean it–grocery lists do not get published. Imagine walking down the grocery store aisle, slipping your fingers into a jumbo tub of cookie dough (because you don’t have patients to wait until you get those fresh ingredients home) licking your fingers. Yum! Then you drop your grocery list. And then a publisher walks by and picks it up. YOU’VE BEEN DISCOVERED!!!
Yeah, it NEVER happens that way.
So for the writer who is itching to be an author, let me recap…
Right now I’m going to stop and hold you. A great big, warm, itchy, covered-in-cookie-dough hug. Because I have to tell you the hard part. You can do those four things and never get published. There is secret sauce. It’s ingredients are some well guarded combination of luck, timing, talent, personality, cat hair and chocolate.
*hold me closer*
Here is the truth about publishing and life…
YOU DON”T CONTROL THE SECRET SAUCE.
You can do everything “right” and still get it “wrong.”
Only that’s not how you should look at it. It’s not “right” and “wrong.” IF Yoda were here, he’d say it’s WRITE or WRITE NOT. I love Yoda. So wise that little green cutie pie.
I will always choose WRITE. I remember what WRITE NOT feels like. It’s not a place I ever want to be again. But since I’ve been there, I do understand. WRITE=COURAGE. Yup–you guessed it. Totally don’t need courage to write the grocery list. You need it to write with intent and to keep going when people tell you you suck monkey balls. You also need it to take an infant, toddler and preschooler grocery shopping with you. (Thank goodness those days are over.) But you don’t need it to write the grocery list.
And in case your wondering–we all have courage. It’s a part of our make-up. It comes down to choice. Who do you decide to be today? That one is up to you. What you should know is when I look back over all the occasions I bowed to fear, I’ve always had regrets. But on all the occasions where I’ve found my courage, even when my knees were knocking, even when I chose “wrong”–I never had regrets. Trust me, there is good stuff on the other side of courage.
Advice for the writer who hopes to be published, but regardless of what’s in the sauce, wants to live their best life…
How can you help out writers, who hope to be published or are trying to sell their damn books, while still living their best life? Be supportive. We are not competing against each other. Instead think of it as a group of people who are on a quest to turn the whole world into readers!!!! *fist pump* There is power in numbers and kindness.
Today I’d like to introduce you to a writer friend who hopes to be published and who’s trying to live her best life with courage. Meet Jeannie Intrieri.
Jeannie writes YA fiction and has just started a blog. I very clearly remember how hard it is to start writing posts. Is anybody out there??? I went years without comments or any idea if anyone was really reading my blog. Hello? You guys are still with me right?
Anyway, I thought it would be really nice if you could stop by and check out Jeannie’s blog. She wrote all about today’s topic from her own perspective. Check out…SO YOU THINK YOU CAN WRITE?
You can also connect with Jeannie here:
And I think we should keep the good will going. Do you have a writer friend that has a really great overlooked blog? Today is the day to give them a shout out! Tell me about your writer buddy and post a link to their blog in the comments. If you have the time dear readers, stop by and check out all the blogs listed. Why? Because we’re a community and we dream together, we write together, we share intent. We cheer each other on to keep working and we look to each other to find our own courage. We are writers.
Woo Hoo!!!! I know I’ve already said you must read REMOVED by my friend S. J. Pajonas. But really–you have to because Book Two, RELEASED will be available in December. If you read it than I’ll have people to whine and complain with while I wait for Book Two to come out. LOL! Seriously, I need to know what happens next!!!!
But since I do have to wait, at least I can stare at something gorgeous while I’m pouting.
Today is the fabulous cover reveal for RELEASED!!!!
**Contains spoilers for those who have not read REMOVED!
Left in the desert to recuperate from her injuries, Sanaa Itami paces the floors and contemplates her mistakes. She trusted too easily, and now people she loved are dead, killed at the hands of men coming to assassinate her. Sanaa feels beaten, but life awaits her at home. While Nishikyō recovers from the earthquake, negotiations for Sanaa’s eventual rule on Yūsei continue. New allies must be made, new friendships brokered, new skills acquired — at all costs.
Life at the top of the chain is complicated and lonely, though. With relations in Sakai clan rocky and uncertain, Sanaa must learn to trust others again more than she’s willing. Who amongst the clans is left holding a grudge? And will the new family Sanaa has found with Jiro support or betray her?
From Nishikyō to Yūsei, RELEASED, Book TWO of the Nogiku Series, is the second book in a captivating New Adult post-apocalyptic romance series that harnesses the cultures and traditions of Japan and sweeps them in the future.
About the Author
S. J. Pajonas loves all things Asian but has especially been in love with Japan for as long as she can remember. Writing about Asia and Japan came naturally after studying the culture and language for over 15 years. She studied film and screenwriting first at Michigan State University and eventually segued into fiction once she was no longer working a full-time job as a website programmer for HBO.com
REMOVED is S. J. Pajonas’s debut work, book one of four in the Nogiku Series. She also writes Women’s Fiction and her upcoming Love in the Digital Age series will be published in 2014.
Stephanie lives with her husband and two children just outside of New York City. She loves reading, writing, film, J- and K-dramas, knitting, and astrology. Her favorite author is Haruki Murakami and favorite book is The Wind-up Bird Chronicles.
Queue RELEASED on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18674866-released
Visit http://www.spajonas.com for more information.
Read the first book in The Nogiku Series, REMOVED:
Amazon (Paperback): http://amzn.com/1940599032
Amazon (Kindle): http://amzn.com/B00F4IE978
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940148646532
Want to know more about Book #1? Check out my Bookanistas review of REMOVED.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
or get the code here:
Since we are talking covers today–let’s talk about covers. What’s capturing your interest lately? See any new trends? What turns you off? What’s your favorite book cover evah? Oh, that’s a hard question–I’m going to have to think on that one LOL!
Want to hear about something amazing? My friend Jeff Fonda is the CEO of the amazing Literate Earth Project. Haven’t heard of it yet? Check this out…
The idea for The Literate Earth Project was sparked in the summer of 2009 after founder and CEO Jeff Fonda worked as an Ambassador for Soccer (SWB) Without Borders in Ndejje, Uganda. He worked on a number of projects but their main focus was coaching and teaching at Hope School (now called Great Lakes School), a primary school in Ndejje. He noticed that all of the students in class were using handwritten books and that the school had maybe 50 printed books in their possession but all were under lock and key because of how valuable they were. Jeff and his fellow SWB Ambassador started taking out the books during lunch, promising to keep a watchful eye on them, and the vast majority of students chose to forgo their typical running around outside to sit and read the books. For those who couldn’t read, just seeing pictures of different types of animals, weather and cities, expanded their minds. Before Jeff left Uganda that summer, he promised Jacques Bwira, the founder of Great Lakes School, that he would be back to build libraries. Jacques is now on The Literate Earth Project board and in June 2012 The Literate Earth Project opened the first free public library in the East Africa Community. It is the first of many to come because we believe literacy is truly at the core of human development and that these libraries will be the building blocks for some very bright futures.
But telling you doesn’t compare to showing you…
As you can see, this is a project that makes me want to be a successful author so I can help to spread the word and urge people to contribute to the power of literacy. It’s the best weapon I know for making the world a better place.
You can find out more about The Literate Earth Project HERE!
I’d also like to put my money where my mouth is. For everyone who leaves a comment on this blog post, I will donate a dollar to The Literate Earth Project. (One comment per person up to $100) What should you write in the comments? Tell me about what you liked about the video or The Literate Earth Project. Tell me how books make a difference in the lives of children. Tell me you’ve gone and made a donation.
How can you spread the word to make sure I’m paying the full $100? Here is a pre-fabricated tweet/FB status you can share.
Check out The Literate Earth Project @LiterateEarth and comment to make @KimSabatini give a bigger donation http://kimberlysabatini.com/blog/2013/10/literate-earth-project/
Thank you for helping to spread the word–you are made of awesome.
TOUCHING THE SURFACE is out in paperback TODAY!!!!!
Where you can find it:
*Barnes & Noble
Can you believe it’s been almost a year since I became an author? And even longer since I sold my first book and got an agent. Here’s a little walk down memory lane. Humor me–I’m nostalgic today. So in no particular order because that would add a layer of organization I’m not capable of, here’s just a few of my most fabulous moments between finding my agent and birthing a paperback…
Standing outside the Simon & Schuster offices.
Apocalypsies at the LA SCBWI Conference!!!
Meeting my agent (Michelle Wolfson) and editor (Anica Rissi) for the first time. <3
The Class of 2k12!!!!!
Came home from a run to find my ARC’s had finally arrived!!! Such a squee moment!!!
Authors, Simon & Pulse friends and Writer Buds at the NY SCBWI Conference. <3
Bookmarks!!! Thanks Jeff Fielder.
Bringing my book to the Golf Bag Holder (Eastern PA Poconos Mountain Retreat with Jodi Moore.)
First book I ever signed went to Laurie Halse Anderson. Love her.
This made it feel so real.
Loved participating in the YAmazing Race with my Apocalypsies!!!
First author event, even before my book was out. LOL! With my buds from the Class of 2k12. <3
Making friends at BEA!!! Lisa and Kim.
First BEA was even sweeter because I got to spend time with my fabulous agent. <3
Blogger love <3 Finally got to meet Erica!!!!
Joining YA Outside the Lines.
It was a BEA Apocalypsie event of awesome.
Ummmm I got to hear JOHN GREEN!!!!!!!!!!!
Made amazing new blogger friends. Kim and Grace. <3
Hanging with Jay Asher at LA SCBWI–Dude, it was awesome.
Joining the Bookanistas!
Kimmiepoppins met Mary Poppins!!!! I met Julie Andrews!!!!
Signing my contract!!!!!! I AM GOING TO BE AN AUTHOR!!!
My book was at Bologna. Takes my breath away.
My Yanni dance girls wearing TOUCHING THE SURFACE T-shirts. <3
Signing books at my book launch.
Good friends drove in from far away despite all the trouble with Hurricane Sandy.
Just an amazing experience.
Unable to thank my friends and family enough for their love and support on that special day.
More book launch at Oblong Books. I LOVE that bookstore and everyone in it. <3
Dad–there–even when he couldn’t be. The dedication.
On bookshelves in bookstores.
Kimmiepoppins finally gets a book launch in NYC after Hurricane Sandy delayed it. Mean Hurricane–awesome party.
Woo hoo!!! I got to speak at the NY Public Library.
I’m a fangirl–it’s A.S. King people!!!!!
I’m a fangirl–it’s Sharon Creech people!!!!
My first SCBWI faculty gig at the Eastern NY SCBWI Conference–where I got paid to talk with my hands about things I love.
Connecting with teen readers and making hedgehogs. *grin*
Loving on my writer mama, K.L. Going. <3 Wouldn’t be here without her.
And because you made it to the end of my reminiscing…you shall be rewarded with a chance to win a signed copy of the brand spanking new TOUCHING THE SURFACE paperback!!!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Just this past weekend (September 21-22) I got the chance to sail into inspiration at the Eastern NY SCBWI Regional Conference. It was a fabulous event for multiple reasons…
*This is my local conference and I love supporting my local SCBWI in anyway I can. This was the very first SCBWI conference I ever attended (back in June of 2007) and it was a life changer for me. I am here to tell you I would not be a published author if it were not for the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators)
*Because this was a local conference, I had the good fortune of have more of my Eastern NY buddies able to attend than I do at most conferences. I seriously love this group of writers and I never get to spend as much time with them as I would like. This was a treat.
*The Faculty was INCREDIBLE! And no, I’m not just saying that because this was my first time as conference faculty. LOL! Although, it was an awesome experience. I’m saying that because it was an incredible line up with speakers who have or who need to grace the SCBWI international stage. But just so you know, this is absolutely an area where I’d like to see some personal growth on my part. I have proposals developed for future SCBWI events so keep your fingers crossed that I get selected.
So, let’s get to the conference recap…
After registration and a warm welcome from the ship’s captain (RA Nancy Castaldo) We had the honor of listening to a Children’s Literature legend–Jerry Pinkney. Seriously, I could stare at his art and listen to his thoughtful stories all day.
Here are some of Jerry’s best thoughts during his Keynote Speech about ENVIRONMENT, TOOLS AND PROCESS
*His mom read him Hans Christian Anderson and it informed his work.
*His parents supported his artistry–in fact he drew on his bedroom walls and when they became full, his dad would repaint them white.
*He uses poetry to interpret our history and to help bring to light the roll people of color played in our past.
*Jerry Pinkney is dyslexic and to compensate, he is very organized with his art. *fist pump* A big HUG going out to another awesome dyslexic!!!! Yes, you know I hugged him–I do that.
Session #1–An Editor and An Agent Discuss Acquisition (Jennifer Laughran-Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency and Elise Howard-Editor and Publisher of Algonquin Young Readers)
Here are some of the best take aways from this session…
*When you write a good query/pitch, it will get used in the publishing process.
*In most cases, titles change.
*When submitting a PB manuscript, use illustrator notes sparingly (to explain a visual joke that can not be understood through the text)
*It’s okay to break the querying rules if and only if your manuscript is so fantastic I’m obsessed with it. If it’s that good I’ll read it scribbled on a cocktail napkin. (But yours is not that good.) LOL! Jennifer Laughran
Session #2–PUBLISHING NUTS AND BOLTS with Harold Underdown
I’m a huge fan of Harold to start with. I’ve seen him speak before and he’s written The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Children’s Book Publishing. He’s a fabulous source of information on a broad swath of children’s literature topics and you can’t get better than picking his brain. Here are some great take-aways from his Saturday session…
*Platform: in children’s writing it is not a necessity to come with one–it will develop over time.
*Picture Book writers are going to have a hard time finding an agent. Kids commercial fiction needs an agent.
*Kids have different developmental needs and have diverse tastes. This is a wonderful thing but it makes writing for them challenging.
*Picture Books are not just ONE thing.
*Study what’s on the shelves now, not what is on your shelves–Books are always evolving.
*Study the books on award lists.
*On formatting a manuscript–ALWYAS FOLLOW THE RULES.
Lunch was YUMMY! I have no pictures, I was too busy inhaling it. There was soup and salad with chicken or beef. The rolls were warm and toasty and the cookies were scrumptious. In fact, they were so good, I wasn’t even focused on the DEBUT AUTHOR PANEL right after lunch!!!!!
Ummmm I have no notes for you LOL! I was doing double duty being moderator and panelist along with Lizzie Foley (REMARKABLE) and Lisa Amowitz (BREAKING GLASS) But I do have pictures (Thank you to everyone who shared them with me!!!!!)
Yeah, I talk with my hands a lot. *giggle*
Next up was an Agent Panel–REPRESENTING OUT WORK with Amy Boggs (Donald Mass), Melissa Turk (Melissa Turk & the Artist Network) and Jennifer Laughran (Andrea Brown)
All three agents gave a ton of insight into how they operate, what they’re looking for and the general ins and outs of working with an agent. Here are some of the highlights…
*Your query should leave out the “it’s a fast paced …” part of the cover flap. (AB)
*Don’t hand any paper (synopsis) to an agent at a conference. It will burn their hand. LOL! Follow submission guidelines and reference the conference. (JL)
*On contracts: Every little word id there because it happened to somebody. (AB)
*Good questions to ask an agent in an interview: What books do you like that you don’t represent? What books do you dislike? (JL)
*PB Writers or Author/Illustrators should query one MS but have 3 or 4 fleshed out MS’s in the wings.
Next there was a book signing!!!!!! I LOVE getting a chance to share TOUCHING THE SURFACE with new people and talking about their projects and aspirations. I made so many new friends this weekend.
Autographing was followed by dinner and then…
A DESSERT CAFE WITH ELIZABETH BIRD (Youth Materials Specialist for the New York Public Library)
Let me just tell you, I was blown away by Betsy’s Keynote and the dessert selection was the bonus!!! YUM!!! But I would have adored her talk even without a HUGE side of chocolate yumminess. But since it was there…BONUS!!!! I apologize because I didn’t take a lot of notes or tweet–I was simply a captive listener. But if you’d like a taste of what Betsy has to offer, I highly encourage you to check out her blog–Fuse #8. It’s amazing!
Kim Sabatini, Betsy Bird, Harold Underdown, Lois Miner-Huey and Nancy Castaldo
On a side note–Betsy incorporated Lois’ fabulous book Ick! Yuck! Eew!: Our Gross American History into her presentation and raved about it, not remembering that Lois would be in the audience. How cool is that??? All my teacher buds, be sure to check this one out because it’s got librarians cheering.
After such a fabulous day, I went home completely pumped, totally exhausted and full of too much chocolate. But I needed to get over it quickly because I still had the SUNDAY INTENSIVES!!!!!
There were three choices for the Sunday event…
*Harold Underdown: MANAGING YOUR CAREER IN A CHANGING MARKET
*Kendra Levin (Editor, Viking) MEET YOUR CHARACTERS: HOW MOTIVATION DRIVES STORY
*Semadar Megged (Art Director, Philomel) PORTFOLIO EXAMINATION AND DISCUSSION
They all sound great, don’t they? I picked the session with Harold. It was a small intimate group and I learned a metric ton of stuff. I didn’t tweet or take pics because I was interactively engaged and that is a great thing. After two hours of intensive we finished off the conference with an amazing presentation from Steve Sheinkin, author of BOMB. Steve is a former text book writer with a passion for history and a drive to turn our past into really honest and interesting stories so that kids can remember and enjoy them. I was also very impressed with the idea that most of out history lives in gray area. The text book writers and those who influence them have created a world of black and white. Steve pointed out that no one wants to hear there is good and bad in everyone, particularly their heroes.But maybe that narrow way of thinking is in the past–because with the accolades that Steve is getting for his writing and research, I think history books are changing for the better.
Let’s face it, no matter how long an SCBWI conference is, it ends too soon. So, before I go, some candids proving how much everyone was enjoying it…
Kim and Linda–your neighborhood Shop Talk Coordinators!!
Jeannie and I met because she almost knows my brother LOL!
Some of our Shop Talkers doing a pile on. <3
I love being a mentor for talented young writers. Kim and Danielle. ((((hugs))))
Kim and Linda hugging on our awesome RA!!!! Thanks for everything, Nancy. <3
And that’s a wrap. Any questions about the conference? Want to know more about our Hudson Valley Shop Talk? We want YOU!!!! Anyone take notes for the debut author panel. I’d love it if you threw a highlight or two from the presentation in the comments. What conference are you planning on doing next? Want more info on the SCBWI??? Just let me know what you need to know. And plan on coming to #EastNYSCBWI next time. <3
I had a different topic planned for today, but I can’t stop thinking about bigger things, like the asinine reaction to our new Miss America, Syria, or the state of our educational system. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most educated or eloquent when speaking about these important issues, but that doesn’t stop me from being passionate about them.
So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to
passive-aggressively vent educate about these topics using some informational and entertaining resources.
and How One Great Teacher Was Wronged by Flawed Evaluation System. *Note–I’m also disgusted with the dysfunctional testing culture in our schools, but blogs just can’t be that long.
The floor is open for discussion. There is just too much going on here to get specific. I know most of these issues are complicated and not easily fixed, but for the record, the Miss America “scandal” in neither complicated or hard to fix. Just stop being an uneducated racist and it won’t bother you at all.