Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category
Welcome to Kim’s wild and wacky conference recap. I’m so sorry, but this was the first year since 2008 that I didn’t get to attend the Friday Intensives. I was going to do the novel writing session this year, but due to a busy schedule, all the slots were filled when I registered. You SCBWIers are busy little monkeys. If you’d still like to find out about how it went, I recommend checking out the SCBWI blog.
I did make the most of my fabulous free Friday though. It was the 100th Anniversary of Grand Central Station. What a treat for me to “accidentally” be there.
I have a soft spot for the clock. This is where I told my husband that I was pregnant with my first child. *heart squish*
I also went into Posman’s Book store in Grand Central Station and took a picture of my book on the shelf 100 years after the doors to this beautiful transportation hub opened.
And it’s even more exciting because look at the company I’m keeping on the shelf. I’m such a fan-girl!
Then, I had lunch with my wonderful agent, Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary. I know you hear me say this all the time, but I love her!!!!! I also hit another NYC bookstore and signed stock.
In an interesting twist, I was able to hang out with my husband and meet some of his colleagues. His building has a great view of Grand Central, the Hyatt (where the Conference is held) and the Chrysler Building.
By evening, everyone who was coming on Friday, had either rolled into the hotel or out of the Intensives in order to hang out. Lots of folks hit Kid Lit Night at the Wheel Tapper. And as is typical, the hotel lobby was overflowing with the buzz of chatting writers and artists. A lovely sound.
On to Saturday morning and the official kick-off of the conference…
Seriously, it wouldn’t be a conference without Lin Oliver giving us the conference stats:
*There were 999 of us in attendance, but Lin rounded up in order to make it easy.
*There were representatives from 17 countries outside the United States.
*FIVE states were no-shows and are now on Lin’s list. (Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana, Mississippi and Hawaii) It was determined that the first three were probably frozen solid and couldn’t make it and Hawaii would have crumbled in this freezing NY weather. But Mississippi–we’ve got our eyes on you!
*There were 796 women, 138 Men and 65 people who shouldn’t use their names as the MC of a novel because no one will know what bathroom you should get to use.
*287 in attendance were published! Woot!!!!
Now let the Keynotes and Break-out sessions begin…
KEYNOTE: So When Are You Going to Write a Real Book, You Know, For Adults? by MEG ROSOFF
I’m just going to come right out and say it. Meg may have put the screws to some celebrity authors. ROTFL! She was hilarious. Now I’m aware that not all celebrity authors, are celebrity authors. For example–the amazing Julie Andrews (whom you’ll hear more about later) is an author who just happens to be a celebrity. And I feel that way about Jamie Lee Curtis too. But…
This one is harder to argue with LOL! I can’t claim to have personally read it, so I’ll leave the ultimate decision on this up to you. While you’re mulling it over, here are some of Meg’s best bits (besides her small reading from Fifty Shades.)
*When I was a teenager, I was the right age to have my life changed by books.
*Most of the best books I’ve ever read, I read before I was twenty.
*The best children’s books are about the the same topics as the best adult books.
*Books that are very good are worth reading, no matter who they’re written for or why they were written.
*Picture Books are #18 on the Goodreads list because how hard is it to write picture books? All you have to do is draw a duck. *insert sarcasm here*
Next up was a KEYNOTE PANEL DISCUSSION: Booksellers Panel: What’s Selling?
Moderator–Lin Oliver (LO)
Mary Brown (MB)–Owner of Books, Bytes & Beyond, a children’s specialty bookstore
Robert Brown (RB)–National Sales and Program Manager at Scholastic Book Fairs
Jon Fine (JF)–Director of author & publisher relations at Amazon
Here are the best take-aways…
(MB) 70% of her market is schools and libraries. Non-fiction is increasingly important due to the core curriculum. *FYI you can download a free app with the core curriculum for our iPad and other devices.
(RB) It’s about getting books into children’s hands.
(JF) There is no finer group of authors than the SCBWI!!!!
(JF) The core concept is to tell a great story. If you do that, your words will be heard.
(JF) The benefit of today’s technology is that anyone can tell their story. (Access) But the down side it that anyone can tell their story LOL!
BREAK-OUT SESSION #1: What Hooks Me: Editors and Art Directors Tell All with Molly O’Neill (Editor, Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins)
Some of my favorite thoughts from Molly…
*Having a marketing background never leaves you. (Making her an editor with a double filter.)
*Pay attention to the balance between the specific and the universal.
*Kids are the primary audience.
*An editor is an advocate for the reader.
*When you boil it down, books are about what it means to be a human being.
*There needs to be things that ring so true in your writing that readers want to ingest it–tattoo it on themselves!
*When the reader is done with the book, are they unwilling to let go of it?
*Write what you know emotionally.
*Decide as an author, what part of your book or writing is non-negotiable and stick to it.
Also…Molly has made me crazy to read WILD AWAKE by Hilary T. Smith. It looks fabulous and I’ve always loved Intern Spills.
After lunch (in which I ate a giant healthy salad followed by a large, chocolate cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. *yum*)
it was time for…BREAK-OUT SESSION#2: What Hooks Me: Editors and Art Directors Tell All with Rosemary Brosnan (editorial director of HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Gahhhh *pulls out hair* I was so entranced listening to Rosemary, I forgot to take a picture. So sorry.
*I love starred books and great reviews, but readers still have to buy the book. (Can I get an amen?)
*I LOVED the story about how my fellow Apocalypsie sistah, Anne Nesbet, author of CABINET OF EARTHS, met with Rosemary while she was sick in bed at a conference. It goes to show you, you never know what’s going to happen in publishing LOL!
And SQUEE!!!! Rosemary also highlighted the books of a personal friend and member of my local SCBWI Shop Talk, Jennifer Castle!!!!
I loved The Beginning of After!!!!
And I’m dying to read You Look Different In Real Life–Available June 4, 2013.
THE LAST KEYNOTE SPEAKER OF THE DAY: Internal Migrations by Shaun Tan
I have to start off by telling you, that it never ceases to amaze me, how much I’m affected by the illustrator or illustrator/author presentation at the SCBWI. They are so amazing. I’m very glad our diversity is our unity.
I WANT!!! Not only the book (it wasn’t available at the bookstore) but I want ERIC to come and stay at my house. This is one of my favorite book characters now!
I did get THE ARRIVAL signed!!!! Amazing and I played it cool, but Arthur Levine helped me get my books ready to sign when a conference helper had to step away. Between Tan and Levine, I was a tongue-tied fan-girl, muttering gibberish. *sigh* I may have said something about awesome and great and fabulous, but I can’t be sure.
And just so you know, Shaun’s words and thoughts are as beautiful and magical as his artwork…
*Never listen to what an artist says–the truth is in the work.
*The dark side of familiarity is complacency.
*Migration can be internal.
*The truths I’m most interested in are the ones that can be spoken of directly.
*I imagine my stories as really happening.
*I’m very suspicious of artists that have neat and tidy studios–I admire them–but I’m suspicious.
*Comprehension is over rated–what’s more important is a feeling of imaginative empathy.
AND MY FAVORITE…
*The thing that matters most in art, is that thing you can’t explain.
Ummm I may have been too busy lounging across the MASHED POTATO BAR at the Cocktail Gala Meet and Greet to take pictures, but you can’t blame me, it had a toppings bar. Just know that Day #1 was so inspiring, I stayed up way too late in order to discuss it with anyone who had feet. (Yeah, my criteria for bookish conversational comrades is very high LOL!) And in fact, my roommie believes that I fell asleep mid-sentence that night. A new milestone. *grin*
I’ll be back with Sunday (Day #2) on Friday’s blog post. But in the mean time, talk to me, I’m still awake–sort of. What’s inspiring you, my arm chair conference buddy? Anything that resonates? New authors/illustrators to check out? Any editors just added to your Must Have list? Are you saving your pennies for the next SCBWI Conference?
PS–Chris Crutcher, you were missed in the lobby. Everyone was wishing you were there for another fabulous night of conversation. (((hugs)))
My brain is spinning and I am exhausted, but it was another amazing NY SCBWI Conference. Notes are coming, but in the meantime you should know that a great SCBWI Conference is like a spoon full of sugar to help the medicine go down. (The best medicine against rejection, writer’s block, and marketing fatigue.) I’m serious, just ask the amazing Julie Andrews. I’ll tell you all about her Wednesday.
What’s your favorite Julie Andrews moment?
For years I’ve been hearing people talk about NaNoWriMo –National Novel Writing Month. From November 1st until November 30th, participants set a goal of writing a 50,000 word novel. I’ll admit it, part of this has always intrigued me, but it has also scared the crap out of me and because of that, I’ve never seriously toyed with the idea of participating. I’ve had a list as long as my arm of reasons I could not participate and this year the excuses have grown with TOUCHING THE SURFACE coming out on October 30th. Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’ll share the highlights from that list with you…
*I HAVE THE BOOK LAUNCH OF MY DEBUT NOVEL!!!!!
*I’m working on revisions for book #2
*My local dance recital (I teach and dance) takes place in November.
*I am a painfully slow writer who struggles through first drafts.
*I never get enough sleep.
*I’m still recovering from all the work we’ve done on the house.
*I have three boys ages 7,9 and 11 who participate in lots of activities and need help with their homework regularly.
*I like to run several times a week for a sanity break.
*I’m a procrastinator.
So, it’s obvious that I’m not going to be able to do NaNoWriMo this year…WHICH IS EXACTLY WHY I REGISTERED ON SATURDAY AND I’M SIGNING UP TODAY!!!!!
Ha! Bet you didn’t see that one coming. *grin* Yes, I know that I’m insane. Now let me tell you why I’m going to be giving this a shot…
*First of all–I’m going to be doing this because the SCBWI–particularly my Hudson Valley Shop Talk Members ROCK! Lisa Koosis, one of my local writer buds gave a guest presentation at my local Shop Talk and she got me sooooo excited to break out of my box and give this a try. She told me a million things to make me want to give it a go, but the three that stuck out the most were…
1. It’s just supposed to be fun.
2. Even if you don’t finish, you’ve probably done more than you would have without participating.
3. You can discover unexpected things about yourself.
As Lisa talked and I got a bunch of fluttery tingles in my belly–usually a sign that I’ve eaten something bad or I’m excited–I started to think about why I might want to participate in this event.
*I HAVE THE BOOK LAUNCH OF MY DEBUT NOVEL!!!!! And as exciting as this is–I’m scared. There I’ve said it. It’s exciting AND scary. (There will be a spin off blog post on this later) But I suddenly realized that it might be a really good thing for me to have a reason to step away from the madness. It’s a full circle thing–when a book is born, perhaps the best way to celebrate is to write something new. So…I think that it might be very healthy to have a reason to unglue my eyes from reviews and Amazon’s Author Central.
*I’m working on revisions for book #2. I love revision–it’s easily one of my favorite parts of the writing process. The story is there, it just has to be manipulated. I don’t know how long that process will take me, but I know that when it’s over, there will be the typical wave of fear and insecurity about having to write another first draft again. What if I can sneak in a part or all of a first draft while I’m revising? This idea intrigues me. I’ve been marinating ideas for book 3 for quite a while, but I don’t feel “ready” to tackle it yet. But what if I trick myself into thinking that NaNoWriMo is nothing more than hard-core stretching and training for the writer in me. What if I give myself permission to take a crack at this rough draft under the guise that it isn’t “real writing”–its an activity, an event, a journey.
*My local dance recital (I teach and dance) takes place in November. Yeah–and how many hours is that out of my life? Not enough to use it as an excuse. The truth is that I have days when I’m drafting, where I have six hours to sit and write and there are days when I squeeze in 45 minutes while the boys are at jujitsu. Not always, but often, I’ve managed to write the same amount of words on both of those days. Perhaps this is about FOCUS.
*Thanksgiving. I do not host Thanksgiving at my home. I spend the day eating and socializing. I watch the parade and I do kicks in my living room along with the Rockettes on TV. I can squeeze this in or I can double up on another day. Using this excuse makes me a turkey.
*I am a painfully slow writer who struggles through first drafts. At least this is how I think of myself. I have a system for writing and I like it–it works for me. The only time I really have trouble with it is when the other members of the Wolf Pack whip off manuscripts in sick amounts of time. It makes me queasy and insecure even though intellectually I know better. But what if I can do things a little differently. When I’m investing myself in a book I revert to wanting to attack it in a familiar method–one I’ve had success with. But this is a little like tricking myself into doing something different. What if shouldn’t be the gateway to potential failure–it should be a question that makes us want to try.
*I never get enough sleep. But I watch TV. I mean–not crazy amounts–but I make choices. It’s only for a month, right?
*I’m still recovering from all the work we’ve done on the house. But I still have a month to put things to rights and realistically, everything I clean is always going to get dirty again…dishes, laundry, kids. By the time I start, I’ll be much more organized than I have been in awhile. So I just have to make that effort to stay on top of daily chores so that I don’t go under physically or emotionally.
*I have three boys ages 7,9 and 11 who participate in lots of activities and need help with their homework regularly. I’m going to have three busy boys from now until forever. I started writing SURFACE when they were 2, 4 and 6 years old. I have no recollection of when I actually did that–but I must have. LOL! Besides, soccer ends mid-month, there is break after the recital and we do have a Thanksgiving break. Plus–they support me. And my lovely hubby has been traveling a lot which means I have no excuses.
*I like to run several times a week for a sanity break. No reason to stop. I write in my head when I run anyway. I let my subconscious take the lead when my feet are in a rhythm. No need to change that–it might help me get my words out faster when I sit down.
*I blog. Ha! I’m sure it’s going to give me lots to blog about.
*I’m a procrastinator. Sometimes, but not always…
Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? Completed it? Liked it? Loved it? Hated it? Have you been avoiding it like me? Secretly long to try? Have a great excuse for not playing? Tell how you NaNoWriMo or NaNoNoGo.
Okey dokey–let’s catch up.
Sorry there was no post on Friday. The server for my web host was down Thursday into Friday. But I’m back now and I’ll try to get you updated on everything. Soup to nuts.
First off, it’s *gasp* THIRTY FIVE days until TOUCHING THE SURFACE hits the shelves. Back in February 2011 the birth of TOUCHING THE SURFACE seemed like it was light years away. And now that it’s almost here…
…it seems as if I’m going to run out of time long before I run out of things to do to get ready for this amazing new chapter of my life.
Since I know I will never be “ready” the least I can do is invite you to share in the chaos with me.
On October 30th, TOUCHING THE SURFACE’s official book birthday, I’m going to have a launch day challenge. Tweet, Facebook or email me a picture of TOUCHING THE SURFACE out in the wild and you’ll get a chance to win this…
Which is really this…
A silver origami crane necklace. I have one of my own and I’ve given one to my agent Michelle Wolfson and my editor Anica Rissi. I’ve been holding on to this one for the big day.
Of course I’ll be reminding you about the contest again right before the launch.
My very first author event will be taking place in ELEVEN DAYS! I’ll be doing a reading of TOUCHING THE SURFACE at COTA (Celebration of the Arts) in Hasbrouck Park–New Paltz, NY.
The event takes place from 11am-5pm but I’ll be reading at 1:30pm. Afterwards I’ll have swag to sign for anyone who is interested. And OMG! I’m reading right before one of my larger than life writing mentors, KL Going. I don’t know how I’m going to keep from bursting into a million pieces from a combination of pride and nerves.
I also have several wonderful book launch events planned and I’m hoping that if you’re nearby, you’ll be able to attend one.
*The first event is a NYC Cocktail party on Thursday, November 1st at 7:00pm, thrown by my very wonderful husband–yes, I am the luckiest girl in the world. The information is HERE. Feel free to add yourself to the evite or if you’re having trouble, just contact me with your name and email and I’ll add you to the group.
*The second event is going to be held on Saturday, November 3rd at 2:00pm at the Poughkeepsie, NY Barnes & Noble. You can find out more about this event HERE. The Poughkeepsie Barnes & Noble is a fabulous bookstore and I am so excited to be launching my book there. This B&N is the site of my local SCBWI Shop Talk, the place where I began learning how to be a writer. It has so many wonderful writerly memories for me. It is also the closest bookstore to my home, so you know I’ve spent a lot of quality time there. This is my community bookstore and I can’t believe I’m going to get to share this day, surrounded by people who have known and loved me since I was just a little kid. Signing my books here will be a mind blowing experience.
*The third event is going to be held on Sunday, November 4th at 4:00pm at Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck, NY.
This is one of two very special indie bookstores in my area and I can’t freaking believe that I’m going to be the author at a Hudson Valley YA Society event!!! I love going to these events to eat cookies and drool on my favorite authors. I can’t tell you how many times my husband and my boys and I have attended these events and then talked the whole ride home in the car about how someday they might ask me to do a book signing. Surreal.
Oblong books is asking for an RSVP to the event and if you can make it, you can respond on Facebook or RSVP at Oblong.
If you can’t make any of the formal book launch events–I’m completely bummed–but Oblong is taking orders for SIGNED COPIES OF TOUCHING THE SURFACE. I’ll be signing them that very afternoon, so there is a really good chance that the book will have residual festiveness tucked between the pages. How awesome is that?
Oh, and before I forget–I’ll be activating my newsletter function really soon, so don’t forget to sign up at the bottom of any page of this website.
Wow! I think I finally have all the up dated info properly laid out for you, so Wednesday we can get back to chatting about regular stuff LOL! But before you leave, my friend Linda Hanlon has recently been clarifying her bucket list. And this post absolutely is going to give me a few things to check off on my own list. So, I’m wondering what’s on your bucket list? Since not everything in life revolves around books (really?) I’ll also tell you another one of the things on my bucket list…I’d love to learn to play the piano. My list is L-O-N-G so I’ll add in more in the comments. Feel free to leave more than one.
I met Ruta Sepetys at the 2012 SCBWI LA Conference and she moved me. She inspired me. She motivated me and I hadn’t even read her book yet. And then I did read it–cover to cover on the plane ride home from LA–and I realized that I kind of hate her, even though I love her, because she wrote one of THOSE books. A book that is a game changer. It’s what I want to write, perhaps not the content specifically, but I long to leave words behind that make the world a better place. She’s the kind of writer I want to be. When I talked to her and read her words, I saw her standing on the shoulders of the greats–like Harper Lee, Lois Lowry and Laurie Halse Anderson–that’s how good she is. And I wondered if there would still be room for me up there someday. But then I realized that I don’t have to be jealous–these women are not my competition–they are my heroes. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
You can purchase BENEATH SHADES OF GRAY here…
*Barnes & Noble
*Other Online Booksellers
Kimberly’s Review of BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY:
I met Ruta Sepetys very recently at the SCBWI Annual LA Conference. I’m going to be honest, after hearing her speak, I moved BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY to the top of my to-read list and devoured it on the plane ride home from California.
Since I finished this book, I’ve recommended it to everyone. But as you might imagine, there are some funny conversations that come after I’ve passionately explained about this Lithuanian World War II story. For instance, I promised to bring the book over to my mother-in-law when I was done with this review. Yesterday I received a text message from her…
MIL: Kim, what was the name of that book you wanted me to read again? Some of the girls at work said it was Fifty Shades of Grey, which is kind of weird. Is that the same book?
Of course I set her straight LOL! But it got me hoping that more people will accidentally find Ruta’s book because of Fifty Shades. This would be a good thing because I’ve read them both and in my humble opinion, one of them WILL be read by enormous numbers of people and one of them SHOULD be read by enormous numbers of people.
BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY asks…”Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth?” I say we don’t wonder this enough. History is full of secrets, but I often question if this is by choice. Too often we fill ourselves up with books like Fifty Shades, so that we can claim that there is no room in our lives to uncover the real secrets–the ones that make us feel things and look at ourselves. What IS a human life worth?
Since we can not change history, I believe that history’s victims are owed a voice and a witness. Ruta Sepetys is the voice for those in Lithuania–the voice for human kindness. I am the witness. You are the witness. We can not change history, but by being cognizant, we do have the power to change the present. We must take the darkness out of secrets and bring the inhumanity out into the light–where we can keep our eyes on it. Where we can watch to make sure it never happens again. How can we prevent genocide, if we can’t even look at it. We get to choose what a human life is worth in the future. We have that power.
So, before you get your Christian Grey panties in a twist, I’m not saying you shouldn’t read Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m simply challenging you to read this book too. If you can be titillated by what goes on in that book, then you have the stomach to read about the real stuff. If you can stay up all night to read Fifty Shades from cover to cover, you can squeeze in a chapter a day of BETWEEN SHADE OF GRAY. I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone–fill yourself up with more than one kind of book. Be a witness. Help create a world where we never have to question what a human life is worth.
Read BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY.
Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. Her award-winning debut novel, “Between Shades of Gray” was inspired by her family’s history in Lithuania and is published in 40 countries. Her new novel, “Out of the Easy” is set in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950. A historical tale of secrets and lies, “Out of the Easy” is a haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny. Ruta lives with her family in Tennessee.
You can find out more about Ruta Sepetys and BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY here…
*Between Shades of Gray Website
So I need to know. Have you read this book yet? Do you plan to? What do you think of it? Talk to me people!!!
I think I mentioned earlier that this conference had some of the best panel discussions that I’ve been to at a SCBWI event. Up first on Sunday morning was the AGENTS PANEL–REALIZING YOUR CREATIVE DREAMS:WHAT THE PUBLISHING WORLD CAN OFFER YOU. (LO) Lin Oliver (Moderator)
(JC) Jill Corcoran
(DW) Deborah Warner (Filling in for Rubin Pfeffer)
(LP) Linda Pratt
(JA) Josh Adams
Here are their best pieces of advice…
What are you looking for?
JA-We don’t look for perfection, we look for potential that needs to be highly polished.
JC-Do your research. Pick 5 ideas you love , then pick the one that seems the most exciting. Be sure to research comp books. You can change the setting to make an idea you love more unique.
JA-We are looking for something that is truly unique. If we love something, we will find a home for it. What is expected of an author besides writing?
JA-Social media, tours, school visits, marketing. First books allow you take lots of time but after that, you’re expected to produce.
LP-Second books can’t be obscure and quirky. Your sales are being tracked (Book Scan) and you have to be pragmatic about what you pick in the beginning of your career.
JA-There is less time today to build a career.
DW-Placing your second book is just as important as placing your first.
JA-Do your homework first. LP-Make decisions that progress your work, not just add another book. Selectivity. And be professional!
JC-About social media: Why do we all have to say EVERYTHING we feel. Have a filter. Be cautious and professional.
LO-Ask…Is this the highest and best use of your time.
JA-Children’s and YA have historically done thing differently than adult publishing and that is why we’re doing well.
Now on to the picture book panel. I’ve dabbled with picture books but don’t consider myself a picture book writer at this point in my career, but I am so glad that I stayed for this session. The wonderful insight and messages transcended the world of picture books and I walked away with a large amount of wisdom and inspiration–plus a whole bunch of laughs.
(JK) Jon Klassen
(AP) Antoinette Portis
(DY) Dan Yaccarino (Moderator)
(EY) Eugene Yelchin
(LW) Lee Wardlow
EY-Trends? I don’t know what that means–we are in a very specific cultural moment. We must consciously be aware of being in THAT moment. We are helping to create the culture
JK-Trends apply more to novels because PB’s don’t have as much trouble explaining themselves. Don’t need comps the same way.
DY-We never get tired of hearing the same stories–we just want to have a unique delivery.
EY-You do your research, but it still has to filter through you.
JK-What makes a classic? It has something unreachable about it that makes you want to keep returning to it to try to figure it out. (GOODNIGHT MOON; GO, DOG, GO!)
The first breakout session of the day was one that is close to my heart. The Class of 2k7 (The founding class of 2k’s) is celebrating it’s 5th anniversary and of course that makes me a member of the 5th class to come through. Of course I had to attend this session by Greg Fishbone, Jay Asher and Greg Neri called CLASS OF 2K7: SOCIAL NETWORKING YOUR WAY TO THE VIRTUAL TOP.
Here are some of the stats on the Class of 2k7…
39 Members (13 Middle Grade and 26 Young Adult)
Releases: 17 Spring, 12 Summer and 10 Fall
When they started…
*They may have started as a group of balding male writers. LOL!
*Online marketing was very new and not the primary focus.
*MySpace was the big thing LOL! But it shows that social media is a moving target and you can put a lot of effort into something that just goes away.
Why group branding?
*Lends credibility to the authors–looks professional. There are groups beyond the Class of 2k series that do this also–like the Apocalypsies and the Lucky 13s.
*Joint presentations/signings make something an event.
*You better control your own spin.
Class of 2k’s Websites:
*Class of 2k7
*Class of 2k8
*Class of 2k9
*Class of 2k10
*Class of 2k11
*Class of 2k12
*Class of 2k13 They are just getting started!
Up next was the SCBWI Golden Kite Luncheon. If you’re not familiar with the SCBWI Golden Kite award, you can find out more about it HERE. The awards given out at this luncheon also include the illustrator awards, the humorous Sid Fleishman Award and the SCBWI Member of the Year Award, which was deservedly won by Suzanne Morgan Williams.
And this year was also very special for me because Kate Messner won the Golden Kite Picture Book Award. Kate is a member of my SCBWI Eastern Upstate New York and one of the authors I used as a role model when I first started this journey. Congratulations Kate!!!!
And here are the other amazing winners…
So proud to see what the SCBWI is producing. Each book is a stone in a path that we are all creating together. I’m so amazingly proud to be a part of this tribe. After the luncheon I got to go to another breakout session with Ruta Sepetys!!! This allowed me to get an up close look at a Golden Kite award…too stinkin’ amazing!
Who needs an Oscar when you can have one of these? And of course, Ruta sent out a message of thanks to all of Verla Kay’s Blue Boarders when she saw Verla in her session too.
Okay, back to topic–which is–SELLING, PROMOTING & TOURING IN FOREIGN MARKETS. I wasn’t sure how much I’d get out of this session because I have 3 young kids and hopping on a plane and touring overseas isn’t going to be the easiest thing for me to do, but I’d learned so many fabulous things in my other sessions with Ruta that I couldn’t pass it up. I wasn’t disappointed. I learned a ton of information that will give me lots of advantages to dealing with foreign markets even if I’m staying right at home.
Here are some general tips that everyone will find useful…
*If you send video content–attach a script for easy translation.
*Have a selection of author photos because tastes vary widely.
*Create your own Q & A.
*Send thank you notes.
*sob* The last Keynote speaker of the conference. I hate saying goodbye to this kind of inspiration. Gary Schmidt–THAT KID IN THE BACK ROW, THE ONE WITH THE RED SHIRT ON. Gary is the author of one of my favorite books–THE WEDNESDAY WARS.
*We are at our best with good and healthy routines. We need to pay attention to our surprises.
*I was put into Track 3 in first grade–I didn’t learn to read for a very long time.
*Never doubt your stories will effect kids.
*You write the stories that give your readers more to be a human being with.
*You will never learn to love art well until you learn to love what it mirrors better…the world.
-Love the world
-Love the stuff of your craft–words.
-Give your readers the deepest questions not easy answers.
*Does the writing serve? We do not want to be hacks who simply seek fame and fortune. We are in a culture where we cease to cherish our children. We are called to cherish our readers.
The child deserves…
How do we get started?
Yes, it’s a miracle that I’m still alive today because by all rights, after that speech and all the others I heard at the conference, no one would have blamed me if my heart had burst. But that is how you should leave a conference so full of inspiration, hope and motivation that the touch of a feather would cause it to leak out of you. Now it’s time for the autograph party or as I like to call it…Kim gets to hug her heroes.
Of course, everyone feels the same way I do, so the line is outrageous LOL! But it goes rather quickly and it’s so worth it.
After hearing Eugene Yelchin in the Picture Book Panel I had to have this book, BREAKING STALIN’S NOSE. Can’t wait to read it with the boys!
The second page of KINDRED SOULS by Patricia MacLachlan has a Red Tailed Hawk on it. Perfect.
Awww Bryan Collier blew me away with his keynote. From that moment on I became a life long fan. The SCBWI doesn’t get better than this.You must read DAVE THE POTTER!
I love Clare Vanderpool and can’t wait to read MOON OVER MANIFEST!
It’s Karen Cushman!!! Karen has published seven books since she started writing at age 50, including Newbery award winner THE MIDWIFE’S APPRENTICE.
OMG!!! My kids are going to be soooo jealous. They LOVED reading Gary Schmidt‘s THE WEDNESDAY WARS together. It was such a wonderful experience to share my children’s enthusiasm for his writing with him. We can’t wait to read his next book, OKAY FOR NOW together.
Pictures are worth a 1,000 words and sometimes us writers CAN just leave it at that–or maybe I’ll have just a little bit more to say about Ruta on Wednesday LOL!
And then it’s over…waving goodbye to LAX.
This is still the only view I’ve ever had of the Pacific LOL!
Turning back around over the ocean and doing an LA fly by on my way home.
Can you spot the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza? It’s the low building with a curved shape next to the white tower.
On Monday there was also a wonderful day of Intensives but I didn’t attend, I was ready to head home and see my family. On my way out, I did see this little cloud and I can only imagine that some day it will show up in one of my stories LOL!
Don’t forget that you still have a chance to win a Pre-order of TOUCHING THE SURFACE right HERE!
Now that you’ve had a virtual SCBWI Conference, what do you think? Interested in joining the tribe? Already a proud member? Find any authors that you would love to hear? Make sure you request them with your SCBWI RA for your local conferences. Or just check out their amazing books and if you do love them, be sure to take the time to write a review for Amazon, B&N and Goodreads. Your positive support means the world to all authors and illustrators. It will never go unappreciated.
It’s Saturday. The alarm seems to go off earlier and by alarm I mean my roommate poking me with her finger. The Starbucks line seems longer and the excitement seems bigger. Maybe it’s the caffeine or maybe it’s because SCBWI Conferences are freaking awesome. Realistically–it could be both.
Starting off the morning with Karen Cushman and COURTING SURPRISE. She was fabulous so I must share some of my favorite bits of advice and wisdom…
*The function of freedom is to free someone else.
*Rules: Make your own rules, or better yet, don’t follow any.
*We find the unconscious gifts we give ourselves.
*There is a difference between and editor and a critic.
*Tell the truth–there are things we are morally certain of and that the kind of truth I’m talking about.
*Write with passion and heart.
*Lighthouses don’t run around looking for boats to save–they just stand there and shine. (My favorite)
I’m going to be honest–this year was the year of the Panels. The Editor, Picture Book and Agent Panels were among the best I’ve ever seen this time. I was truly impressed. This was the Editor Panel: HOW TO SUCCEED IN PUBLISHING–FINDING YOUR VOICE.
From left to right with some of their best tips…
(JB) Jordan Brown
(EH) Elise Howard
(NP) Neal Porter
(LO) Lin Oliver–Moderator
(FJ) Farrin Jacobs
(TB) Tamar Brazis
(LG) Laura Goodwin
How do you define voice?
LG–It’s what makes an author unique. Equated with style, not to be confused with being stylish. The more you know who you are the clearer your voice is.
EH–Read Dan Gutman’s faculty bio from the conference and 1,200 people knew who she was talking about. That’s voice.
FJ–Things can be “too voicey” and feel unnatural.
JB–Bad voice is when you are picturing an author in their house trying to write a scene instead of being swept into a scene.
What are the attributes of successful authors/illustrators?
EH–They are a contradiction. When you send an editorial letter, they do what you’ve asked but they likely do it in their own unique way, bringing something new and unexpected to the table.
TB–The ability to revise–separate your ego from the project to make the work the best it can be.
FJ–They keep their “stuff” to themselves.
NP–Expensive presents. Ha!
JB–The knowledge that the editor and the author know that they are working together towards the same goal.
There is something special about Bryan Collier. Something very special. Once again he was one of those speakers who I listened to and wondered how my life could have been complete without knowing that he was in it. He blew me away when he talked about FROM A SEED TP A TREE. I’ll share some of him most moving bits, but know that it can’t possibly do him justice–he wears his heart on his sleeve. Every emotion he has is illustrated clearly on his face and he is a charming, funny, intelligent, beautiful soul. If you ever get a chance to meet him…you will come back here and tell me that I was right.
*What I do with my work–I’m chasing HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON every time. *heart squish*
*On Ezra Jack Keats–I never met him and he never met me, but when he wrote the SNOWY DAY, he spoke to me directly.
*In high school–I loved sports, but nothing touched me deeper than making art.
*You have to protect and nurture this artistic seed inside of you, but you still have to eat. Give up the romantic notions and do what you have to do.
*On visiting the lobbies of publishing houses every week for seven years, in order to try to sell a book–The publishing houses didn’t know what they did to me when they let me sit in their lobbies. It was magical, incredible. Julie Andrews walked by one day. I just wanted to get there.
*Everybody’s afraid of your dream–nobody knows what is going on inside of you.
Of course I floated down to my first break-out session of the day…
Lots of fun and great information from Jay Asher–NO BOOKMARKS ALLOWED: HOW TO INJECT SUSPENSE INTO YOUR NOVEL
Jay used one of the greatest suspense stories of all time to teach us what we needed to know…
There’s a Monster at the End of This Book! LOL!
So what do we need to keep the bookmark from slipping between the pages?
*You have to have one character the reader cares about.
*A satisfying ending is unpredictable, but you believe it had to happen just that way.
*Use chapter endings to your advantage.
*Suspense killers: bad dialogue, unnecessary description, forced motivation, vague action.
After a yummy break for lunch. (Frozen yogurt with M&M’s and chocolate sprinkles may have been involved.) We returned for another bang up keynote by Clare Vanderpool, author of MOON OVER MANIFEST. Clare was hysterical and moving when she talked about WRITING IN THE CROSSROADS: WHERE CRAFT AND CREATIVITY MEET.
Loved it when she talked about a little neighborhood boy who booked her to come into his classroom and talk. (too stinkin’ cute) He also asked her to sign his book–unfortunately for Clare it was the 4th Lemony Snicket book. ROTFL!!! Of course she did it. <3
*There is no “What to expect when your win the Newbery.” (Clare won as a debut author)
*Knowledge of craft can form the foundation to create.
*If we think we’re going to get our hands slapped every time we write a sentence, than it’s almost impossible to create.
*You really do have to put in the miles–just like running.
*It’s about writing, writing and more writing–you can’t learn to ride a bike without actually riding the bike.
*Sometimes we think something is wonderful and it’s not, but sometimes we think something is horrible and it is not.
* My theory is that the universe is made up of story.
Next up was Deborah Underwood and THE POWER OF QUIET.
*It might look like I’m doing nothing, but at the cellular level I’m very busy.
*Quiet is not validated in our society at all.
*There are built in pauses in our life.
*We owe it to the kids who read our books to make time for quiet–great things come from those pauses.
Back to the last break-out session of the day.
Jordan Brown–WRITING FOR BOYS
False perception: Writing for boys=Writing for people who don’t like to read. It has less to do with the ability to read and more to do with how to pitch to boys.
*Boys won’t like reading if they don’t like what they’re reading.
*Boys live in a multimedia world.
*Rise of the “Do it Yourself Aesthetic.”
*Developing connections with authors and readers
Kinds of things that have boy appeal.
*Boys don’t like to be talked down to.
*Boys do like gross-out humor but they know when it’s just thrown in randomly.
*Don’t assume that the things they like in life (sports etc…) are the only connections they will make to reading.
*Tether your fiction to the truth.
*It doesn’t have to be a boy character, but it helps.
*Guys just want to be yelled at less. Avoidance. They aren’t all about the personal development like girls.
*High concept doesn’t mean low quality.
*Don’t be afraid of illustrations or technology.
Okay–I’m read to start to gush again. It’s time for more Ruta Sepetys, SCBWI success story and author of BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY.
Ruta talked about YOU CAN’T BREAK THE BROKEN: WRITING EMOTIONAL TRUTH
Ruta started to write because someone asked her what her story was and she dared to dig deep. She repeats often that history holds secrets, but it’s not just a political history that does this–it’s our own.
*How much of your emotional stuff are you willing to give?
*What is the novel only you can write?
*What scares you?
*What causes you pain?
*What do you wish would just go away?
*Expose your emotional truth, putting it behind your fiction–that is timeless.
*The things you are feeling–there is a reader out there who experiences the same thing.
*I met my savage self when I undertook this writing.
*You can’t break the broken–but you can glue yourself back together.
*Reveal yourself–you have a safety net–the SCBWI
By the time Ruta asked us “What is your story?” I was in tears and profoundly moved. Just like Bryan Collier, I can’t begin to translate the power of this keynote on to the page but I can tell you that I walked away feeling as if I give anything less than this to my writing than I’ve sold myself short.
Deborah Halverson did an amazing job with AN UP TO THE MINUTE SURVEY OF MARKET NEEDS AND TRENDS.
Just the broad strokes…
*Picture books–improved market, but still fragile.
*Chapter books–room for growth.
*MG–best spot for acquisition.
*YA–More successful that ever, but very dependent on the big list authors while the mid list authors are still struggling.
*High use of agents (conference appearances and referrals)
*What’s in the slush pile is sent prematurely–not usually a thought out fit.
*It’s hard to find self-published authors who can turn into successful acquisitions.
*Tastes of editors doesn’t change because of the market.
*Creativity is at the heart of what we do.
TIME FOR THE HIPPIE HOP!!!!!
Jodi Moore and Mike Jung
Amy Nichols and Me!!! (We’re blurry because we hippy hopping LOL!)
Me, Stephanie Ruble and Jodi Moore
Gretchen McNeil and Me!!!! Love her. <3
Debra Driza and Me…who knew she was so tall???
RA of Eastern Upstate New York…Nancy Castaldo in a fabulous jump suit!
Yes, we LOVE Lin Oliver!!!!
Leeza Hernandez had my favorite costume of the night!
Can you guess who this is? I’ll give you a hint from above…he loves Grover.
And don’t forget you can still win a Pre-order of TOUCHING THE SURFACE…HERE.
PS. It’s now 2am and I don’t have the braincells to read this over. I’m too tired to ask a creative conversational question so pop in if you’ve got something to say and if it’s got typos or formatting bloopers…I’ll fix it later *yawn* Night…
I always like to start of the recap with some of Lin Oliver‘s Conference stats. I’ll be honest, it’s soooo much funnier when she lays them out, but I do still think they are interesting even when she’s not delivering.
The 41st Annual SCBWI Summer Conference had…
46 States (Yes, the Dakotas and a few more were missing again!)
411 Published and the remainder Pre-published
171 Males (Yes–we stole their bathroom again.)
122 Undeclared (They had more bathroom options than anyone LOL!)
This year’s opening ceremonies included an Olympic theme and we even had a
torch match to help kick things off. And kicking things off meant we got to hear about TIMELESS books from the great Arthur Levine.
The question was asked…Should we look at a book with timelessness in mind? Do you have an answer? Opinion?
For this Keynote, we looked at the books that spanned Arthur’s career–the ones he felt were timeless.
*MIRETTE ON THE HIGHWIRE
*THE ROUGH-FACED GIRL
*THE GOLDEN COMPASS
*WHEN SHE WAS GOOD
*HOW ARE YOU PEELING?
*THE SNOW DAY
Throughout the whole conference, this theme was revisited in many other keynotes and sessions, all with differing opinions on what makes something timeless, but almost everyone seemed to agree that it couldn’t and shouldn’t be predicted.
*PREPARE FOR SHAMELESS PLUG*
On that note, I will not be so bold as to say that my friend Mike Jung‘s up and coming Arthur Levine book will be timeless–but I’m pretty sure that GEEKS, GIRLS AND SECRET IDENTITIES is going to be made of awesome!!!!!
*BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING*
The second keynote of the morning was NEVER ABANDON IMAGINATION by the very funny Tony Diterlizzi.
Tony started out with an amazing quote…
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
― Albert Einstein
Ummm how did I live my life not knowing that one?
But here are some of Tony’s best lines too…
*Imagination has to be instilled at a very young age. In my opinion–when they pop out!
*Each year, as I get better at my craft, I’m another year further away from the kid in me.
*All that Dorothy, Wendy and Alice ever wanted was to go home. There is a longing to be in a place that makes us feel safe and loved.
*I’m a Jedi. (On Star Wars love…all the best ones are *wink*)
It’s Apocalypsie Time!!!!!
One of my buds from the debut group of authors called the APOCALYPSIES is the lovely Lissa Price, author of STARTERS. And she had a wonderful breakout session called HOW TO APPLY SCREENWRITING TECHNIQUES TO MAKE ANY BOOK BETTER.
Lissa helped explain high concept movies and books.
*High concept is to be thought of as an internal phrase, not something we should be using in queries or throwing around with editors. It’s how we need to visualize our own work to make it very competitive.
*High concept creates an “ah-ha” moment in one or two sentences–often with a touch of emotion and/or irony.
Lissa then became hands on with the crowd, helping them to tweak pitches and first lines to their best advantage. She was also very clear that not all books are high concept and literary works can be equally as successful, but how they capture the attention of agents, editors and readers is very different.
And there may have been some Apocalypsie goofing around that Lissa had to deal with also LOL!
Next up was Sara Shepard talking about SCANDALS, LIES AND MURDERS: HOW TO MAINTAIN MOMENTUM IN A SERIES.
Sara is the author of the PRETTY LITTLE LIARS and LYING GAMES series. Here are some of her best bits…
*Know who your murder is before you set out.
*Always incorporate a red herring into the series.
*Leave a bit to chance. The narrator has to be a little bit unreliable, especially is suspicion is cast upon them.
*You have to be willing to change.
The next Keynote of the day was Patricia MacLachlan–REVISING MY LIFE.
I really didn’t take many notes, I sort of just soaked her up and enjoyed every minute of her speech. Aside from writing HILARIOUS!!!!! and putting hearts all over the page, I captured this one to keep…
Childhood is powerful–children experience life along side us. We are all children. The child knows all…
My next break out session was with Ruta Sepetys. I’m going to warn you. You are going to be hearing a lot about Ruta from me. I am going to refrain from gushing like a fool right off the bat, but consider yourself warned. You may want to come to the blog prepared for full-on-hero worship because it is inevitable.
Ruta–don’t hate me. I have many flattering pics of you and I fully plan to use them, but this one just captured how funny and accessible you were and it made me smile. This breakout session, MEDIA PREP: AUTHOR TIPS FOR RADIO, TV AND PRINT COVERAGE was part of the PRO Track–classes designed for the student who has different needs now that they are published.
I now have an endless amount of information to contemplate. Here are some of the broad strokes…
*Develop message points
*Distill them down to sound bytes
*Bridges allow you to communicate your message with a less than perfect question
*Pivots allow you to take something negative and turn it positive
*Never wing it…EVER!
The last Keynote of the day was HOW A DUMBASS LIKE ME GOT 100 BOOKS PUBLISHED by Dan Gutman. As you might imagine, this speech was funny, irreverent and very smart. Dan started off by giving us a list of advice starting with…
#13 Ignore all advice
#12 Join SCBWI (which negates number 13)
#11 Be persistent
#10 Try everything
#9 Don’t get stuck in a rut
#8 Become famous (like Madonna and then you can write anything and someone will print it LOL!)
#7 Find something really popular and then write something better
#6 Never write on an empty stomach (use paper)
#5 Break the rules
#4 Promote the hell out of yourself
#3 Take the Bull by the horns
#2 Use your strengths
#1 There is NO SECRET…when you do what you love, you love what you do.
Time for the Pizza Party and Book Sale honoring SCBWI Published Attendees. *yum and squee* Next year I’ll have pizza AND a book!!!!
Jodi Moore holding down the fort while Verla Kay had to step away. Seriously, doesn’t every one want to be Verla, mom of the Blue Boards?
Woo hoo!!! Got to meet fellow Apocalypsie Robin Mellom (Author of DITCHED) with her new MG novel THE CLASSROOM. Already loved DITCHED so had to get a copy of this one for me and the boys!!!!
I didn’t list the event times like I sometimes do, but in case you’re wondering…Jodi and I, registration and the Starbucks line were in full swing by 7:30 am and the Book Sale finished at 7:30pm. Somewhere after that hunted down dinner before I stayed up too late talking. For clarity, there was a quick break for lunch and I got to share a meal with my lovely RA for SCBWI Eastern Upstate New York–Nancy Castaldo. (Fun pics coming in future installments LOL!)
Don’t forget that I have an on going contest to win a pre-order of TOUCHING THE SURFACE right HERE! The contest will be open the whole time I’m recapping the conference. Stop over to win!!!
Are you tired yet? Any presenters that I’ve convinced you that you must see? Oh, my friend, you ain’t seen nothing yet! Be back on Friday with more.
***THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!!!!***
Had an absolute BLAST at SCBWI LA 2012!!! Duh! I can’t imagine having a bad time with my crazy, wonderful tribe. I’ll start blogging on Wednesday but I thought, since I have a couple minutes in the airport and a blog post due for today that I’d give you my conference “bloopers” first LOL!
Every year the tribe gets together on Saturday night for a themed dance party. This year was a 60′s Hippie Hop. And while I’m not one for dressing up–I am one for dancing like a fool. Mission accomplished….
Ummmm…moving on. So after staying up late dancing and talking to my friends until the late hours of the morning, I found getting up at 7:30 the next day a bit on the tragic side. But I did it it because I hate to miss any speaker or a single minute with my best buddy, Jodi. So, I dragged myself down to the overly long Starbucks line only to find out I’d left my SCBWI name tag in my room. Crap! Of course I run back up to the room to get it….Gahhhhhh….only to find out that I my key was in my name tag holder from last night’s Hippie Hop. *Pulls out Hair* So back down I go to get Jodi’s key and they I’m back up to retrieve my stuff. It’s a testament to how long that coffee line was that I still had to wait in it when I got back. *growls at barista* And just for the record…the coffee didn’t even help. Luckily for me I get a massive adrenaline rush from hearing fabulous speakers and the day was full of them.
I guess as far as bloopers go–dancing like a spaz (my girls at Workshop would be so
embarrassed proud) and taking a few extra elevator rides with caffeine withdrawl really aren’t that bad. My recap posts will be full of awesomeness!
And can I tell you a secret? I may have also–in addition to looking like a spaz–looked so happy because of my book. I couldn’t stop thinking that the next time I come together with my tribe–I will be an author. And that, in and of itself, makes me want to dance and just not care what I look like. It just makes me feel good inside.
So, to celebrate my impending book and my earth shattering bravery at publicly posting a *clears throat* less than attractive, can’t be blamed on alcohol, picture of myself for your entertainment–I’m going to give you a chance to win a pre-order of TOUCHING THE SURFACE.
This contest will be open through all of my #LA12SCBWI recap posts and is open internationally. You must remember to put your contact information in your comment, because you can’t win if I can’t get in contact with you. What do you have to do to win? You can make a caption of my “lovely” picture. You can share one of your bloopers–picture or story. You can ask a question about the conference or conferences in general. You can even just tell me what you’re looking forward to about TOUCHING THE SURFACE.
Opps…my plane is getting ready to board and I don’t need that kind of blooper so time to go! See you on the east coast!
Made it to LA SCBWI and got a chuckle when I saw what was right outside my hotel room…
They knew I was coming ROTFL!!!
Anyway…I have to get up early tomorrow, in addition to having jet lag to contend with. *yawn* Time for bed. Who am I kidding. *Leans over to talk with my roomie just a little bit longer…*