Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

Oct

1

2013

TOUCHING THE SURFACE is out in Paperback TODAY! Enter to Win a Copy

Filed under: Apocalypsies, Author Events, Book Signings, Booksellers, Check-it-out, Class of 2k12, Community, Conferences, Contests, Dancing, Family, In the Wild, Publishing, SCBWI, The Class of 2k12, Touching the Surface, Wolfson Literary, Writing, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

 

 

HOLY GUACAMOLE!!!!!

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TOUCHING THE SURFACE is out in paperback TODAY!!!!!

Where you can find it:

*Amazon

*Barnes & Noble

*IndieBound

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…

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Standing outside the Simon & Schuster offices.

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Apocalypsies at the LA SCBWI Conference!!!

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Meeting my agent (Michelle Wolfson) and editor (Anica Rissi) for the first time. <3

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The Class of 2k12!!!!!

The day I got my ARC of TOUCHING THE SURFACE!!!!

Came home from a run to find my ARC’s had finally arrived!!! Such a squee moment!!!

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The ARC!

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Authors, Simon & Pulse friends and Writer Buds at the NY SCBWI Conference. <3

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Bookmarks!!! Thanks Jeff Fielder.

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Bringing my book to the Golf Bag Holder (Eastern PA Poconos Mountain Retreat with Jodi Moore.)

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First book I ever signed went to Laurie Halse Anderson. Love her.

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This made it feel so real.

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Loved participating in the YAmazing Race with my Apocalypsies!!!

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First author event, even before my book was out. LOL! With my buds from the Class of 2k12. <3

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Making friends at BEA!!! Lisa and Kim.

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First BEA was even sweeter because I got to spend time with my fabulous agent. <3

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Blogger love <3  Finally got to meet Erica!!!!

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Joining YA Outside the Lines. 

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It was a BEA Apocalypsie event of awesome.

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Ummmm I got to hear JOHN GREEN!!!!!!!!!!!

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Made amazing new blogger friends. Kim and Grace. <3

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Hanging with Jay Asher at LA SCBWI–Dude, it was awesome.

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Joining the Bookanistas!

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Kimmiepoppins met Mary Poppins!!!! I met Julie Andrews!!!!

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Signing my contract!!!!!! I AM GOING TO BE AN AUTHOR!!!

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My book was at Bologna. Takes my breath away.

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Wow!

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My Yanni dance girls wearing TOUCHING THE SURFACE T-shirts. <3

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Signing books at my book launch.

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Good friends drove in from far away despite all the trouble with Hurricane Sandy.

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Just an amazing experience.

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Unable to thank my friends and family enough for their love and support on that special day.

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More book launch at Oblong Books. I LOVE that bookstore and everyone in it. <3

Kim and Dad at Powell Point-Grand Canyon July 1998

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Dad–there–even when he couldn’t be. The dedication.

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On bookshelves in bookstores.

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Kimmiepoppins finally gets a book launch in NYC after Hurricane Sandy delayed it. Mean Hurricane–awesome party.

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Woo hoo!!! I got to speak at the NY Public Library.

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I’m a fangirl–it’s A.S. King people!!!!!

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I’m a fangirl–it’s Sharon Creech people!!!!

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My first SCBWI faculty gig at the Eastern NY SCBWI Conference–where I got paid to talk with my hands about things I love.

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Connecting with teen readers and making hedgehogs. *grin*

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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!!!!

 

 
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Sep

24

2013

The Eastern NY SCBWI Conference 2013–Sail Into Inspiration

Filed under: Author Events, Book Signings, Check-it-out, Community, Conferences, SCBWI, Touching the Surface

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.

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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.

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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)

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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

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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 PublishingHe’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!!!!!)

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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)

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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.

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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!

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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.

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 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.

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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…

 

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Kim and Linda–your neighborhood Shop Talk Coordinators!!

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Jeannie and I met because she almost knows my brother LOL!

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Some of our Shop Talkers doing a pile on. <3

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I love being a mentor for talented young writers. Kim and Danielle. ((((hugs))))

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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

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Aug

29

2013

Writerly Gadgets, Gizmos and Must-Haves

Filed under: Check-it-out, SCBWI, Writing

Thought I’d share some of the writerly gadgets, gizmos and must haves. In no particular order…

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The rolling cart I use for school visits and presentations. I have lots of props and this lets me move them around so much easier than hauling heavy bags on both shoulders..

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This is a two for one. I absolutely could not function without my Macbook Pro. It travels with me all over the house and everywhere else I write. (With three boys that could be just about anywhere.) I also love the decals I found on Etsy to personalize the back of the screen. (I sometimes joke that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.) LOL! The tree and leaves sit underneath a clear Invisishield skin and I still can believe I installed myself. *fist pump*

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Of course if you love your laptop as much as I do, you want the perfect bag to tote it around it. This Osprey is the best laptop bag I’ve ever had. LOVE it!

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My whiteboard calendar is a must. I only use it for my writing related stuff, but that’s okay, the family calendar is in the kitchen. (I actually have two so I can see the upcoming month also.)

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My writing magazines inspire me daily and I learn sooooooo much from reading them. It’s like an at-home, mini-conference in my kitchen.

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And of course the SCBWI!!! It could be the Bulletin, a Shop Talk meeting, writer friends online or a conference. It doesn’t matter–it’s all good.

Okay–time to share your writerly gadgets, gizmos and must-haves.

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Aug

8

2013

The Truth About Sleep Away Camp and How to Find Me Quicker than a Little Unidog

Filed under: Author Events, Blogging, Book Signings, Check-it-out, Community, Conferences, Contests, SCBWI, Touching the Surface, YA Books, YA Outside the LInes, Young Adult (YA)

Today I’m cross-posting over at YA Outside the Lines and talking about The Truth About Sleep Away Camp. There may be 80′s permed hair for your amusement!

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Just a reminder, you still have time to enter my write a review contest!

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I also have some up and coming events…

*I’ll be at Oblong Books and Musics HVYAS Birthday Party!! More info HERE!

*Children’s Writer or Illustrator and located in the Hudson Valley? Join us for our local SCBWI Shop Talk Meeting in August. For more information, feel free to contact me directly.

*I’ll also be faculty at my very first conference, which is also the very same conference I first attended as a newbie. Yea, pretty WOW! Registration is still open for the SCBWI Eastern NY Conference on September 21-22nd. Lots of amazing speakers and opportunities.

*September 28th I’ll be part of a fantastic line-up at the Warwick Children’s Book Festival. Details Here

*October 17th I’m thrilled to be a part of the Ulster BOCES FALL INTO BOOKS CHILDREN’S & TEEN LITERATURE CONFERENCE in Kingston NY. I adore hanging out with librarians!!!

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And good news…finding me is not nearly as hard as finding a little unidog. So, come hang out and we’ll squee and hug and talk about books and maybe eat some chocolate. I usually have some stored in a bag or pocket somewhere.

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Jun

3

2013

BEA– Fast and Furious

Filed under: Booksellers, Check-it-out, Conferences, Publishing, Wolf Pack, Wolfson Literary, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

Last year I spent several days at BEA but this year I was only able to go down for the day. A day which started with my 8yo home from school. And if you know anything about me–that makes me crazy. Maybe I do have a little bit of a control freak streak that comes out from time to time. But my sitter (practically a big sister to my boys) was already lined up to hang with the 12 you for the day (he graduated to middle school the day before) so I decided to put on my fancy shoes and go anyway.

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I’m so glad I wore those comfy puppies on my feet and stashed my fancy shoes and top in my bag for the Simon & Schuster Pulse/Aladdin happy hour. Because the first thing I had to do when I hit NYC was wait in about a 20 person taxi line in the sweltering heat. OMG! Liked the Wicked Witch of the West–I was melting!

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This was when I only had 3 or 4 people in front of me and I was getting excited. LOL!

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A sweaty but very happy me in the cab with air conditioning until….

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My driver stopped at a red light, pulled out a book and started reading. It was pointed out to me how cool it was that I was going to Book Expo America and my cab driver was reading. NO! Sorry, not cool. Even with air conditioning–not cool! Unless a new Harry Potter book comes out–then I’ll totally let you do it. But that’s it.

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Made it to BEA alive and who was waiting for me? Lisa Lueddecke from The Young Adult Connection. <3 We were roomies for BEA last year and this was our 1 year Friendaversary. It was so awesome to see her, but I’m going to straight up say that between her evil, painful shoes, my lunch with my agent and the poor cell phone service, I didn’t see her nearly as much as I wanted to. Such a tease. We are totally going to have to Skype or something. Soon. If I could figure out how to Skype. I seriously have SDD Skype Deficit Disorder. *le sigh*

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But just like old times, Lisa and I went ARC hunting and we found OMG!!!! LAUREN MYRACLE!!!!!!! AND I HUGGED HER!!!!!! AND SHE IS MORE AWESOME IN REAL LIFE THAN ALL CAPS CAN REALLY EXPLAIN.

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And of course I had lunch and hung out with the agent of awesome…MICHELLE WOLFSON!!!! One of my favorite things in the whole world. <3 I also got to finally meet my Wolf Pack Sistah, Jennifer Iacopelli, debut author of GAME. SET. MATCH. Which I started reading on the train ride home and LOVE!!!!! And I also ran into my local book buddy and friend Emily.

There was more, a hazy hot blur of more. I actually ran into a lot more friends and met a bunch of amazing new people between BEA and the Pulse/Aladdin Happy Hour, but my phone battery!!!! The Javits Center eats battery bars for snacks, but on the bright side I met old and new friends while hanging at the charging station. LOL!

So, what have I decided about BEA? I need less than three and a half days and just a little bit more than one. And on the bucket list…I plan on signing there at some point. And on that note–it’s back to work.

PS I’d just like to add that I REALLY REALLY WANTED an ARC of FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell. And I may have threatened to mug a young book blogger at the charging station, when she whipped out her copy. But I didn’t. So–there was that. What book from BEA would you have almost mugged a book blogger for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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May

31

2013

I’m Off to BEA for the Day!!!!!

Filed under: Author Events, Book Signings, Booksellers, Community, Conferences, Publishing

BEA Harlem Shake

I’ll let you know if it was just like this–recap next week! Have a great weekend.

If I could snag any ARC of any up-and-coming book? What would it be???

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May

13

2013

Recap of the New England SCBWI Conference–NESCBWI13

Filed under: Apocalypsies, Book Signings, Class of 2k12, Conferences, SCBWI, The Class of 2k12

Here’s my recap of the New England SCBWI Conference for the second time. I got this half done for Friday when my oldest son’s school transportation had the drivers go on strike and then my other two kids came down with strep. I decided to postpone the post and finish it over the weekend.  I saved it and and then the gremlins that live in my computer erased only the part I’d finished. *head thunk*

I arrived at the conference at around noon on Friday and did all of the standard checking-in and hugging friends things. Then it was off to the first sessions.

Friday 5/3/13

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A Intensive–KEYWORD BY WORD: CREATE A PLAND TO BRAND. SELL, AND PROMOTE YOUR NOVEL with AC Gaughen and Hilary Weisman Graham

I love attending events by my Apocalypsies and Class of 2k12 siblings. So much fun!

Favorite take-aways…

*Everyone IS buying bookmarks and everyone WANTS bookmarks for swag, whether you like it or not LOL!

*Twitter is the most popular place (debut author questionnaire) to focus your social media push, but tumblr is where the teens are.

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Workshop B–MANAGING YOUR WRITING; MANAGING YOUR LIFE WITH PEGGY DEITZ SHEA AND JANET DOUCETTE

This session started off with some relaxation and focusing techniques. I became so relaxed I forgot to take a picture and may have almost fallen asleep at one point LOL!

Favorite take-aways…

*Are you here?

*Women are great multi-tasks but being a multi-tasker is not in your best interest. You can get stuck on the bridge between the right brain and the left brain.

*Requests (received or given) should always include the right to decline and a clear expectation of fulfillment.

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Keynote–PANEL DISCUSSION: AN UNCENSORED DISCUSSION ON EDGY YA

Favorite take-aways…

*Be true to the work.

*Should the parent be the gate-keeper or do children effectively police their own reading material?

Saturday 5/4/13

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Keynote–THE WORDS WE CHOOSE TO SAY by Sharon Creech

A HUGE fan-girl moment for me!!!! Yes, she really glows in real life. <3

Favorite take-aways…

*Find your own voice, your own rhythms–it makes you a better writer.

*Use it all (great ideas) when you’re writing. New stuff will grow. Words generate words.

*Don’t be in such a hurry to publish your story. Time may allow you to deepen it. There could be something profound under there.

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C Intensive–REAL REVISION: BIG PICTURE AND LINE BY LINE with Kate Messner

I LOVE Kate! That’s all.

Best take-aways…

*Revision is finding and strengthening the heart of your story.

*You can’t revise, to bring about the heart of your story if you don’t know what the heart is.

*Writing off-draft can help you understand things.

*Trying something you’re not great at can free you up.

*Use a mentor text to guide your way.

*Make what you need to explore and fix your book. (Charts, maps, timelines and outlines)

If you want to learn more about Kate’s amazing revision tips–check out her book REAL REVISION.

 

Time for lunch and another amazing Keynote with author/illustrator Grace Lin

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Stephanie, Megan and Kendra

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Annie, Me, Jodi and Eileen

Best take-away from Grace Lin’s keynote (sorry I don’t have a picture)…

You’ll be your best self when you are yourself in you writing and art. <3

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Workshop G–THE ART OF THE OUTLINE with Elisabeth Papdemetriou

Best take-aways…

*Don’t confuse learning the skill (of outlining) with the act of outlining.

*Plot and character are inseparable.

*Outlines should include every single scene in your book.

*Have your closing scene echo your opening scene.

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 And I FINALLY got to meet Jo Knowles. I’ve participated in JoNoWriMo for years and Jo was one of those warm and giving authors who mentors those around her–plus I love the books she writes. Check out her latest, PEARL which won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award!

 

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Workshop H–THE POWER OF POINT OF VIEW with Linda Urban

She is hilarious by the way.

Best take-aways…

*I believe we are living in an increasingly 1st person world. 1st person is only going to grow. Writing in 3rd person may allow you to stand out.

Saturday’s Autograph Party!!!!!

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Katie chatting up the awesome Nova Ren Suma.

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Sharon Creech signing for my friend’s daughter who is her BIGGEST FAN!!!!!

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Of course I’m I HUGE fan too!!!!!

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Jodi chatting with Jodi.

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Kate Messner signing a book for the Fishkill Frogs!

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Lynda Mullaly Hunt, author of the MG novel ONE FOR THE MURPHYS, signing and making friends.

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Greg Fishbone (Class of 2k7) and AC GaugheBrendan (Class of 2k12) hanging outIMG_5096

REVISING A CAREER: TIMING, TRUST & TEAMWORK with Brenda Reeves Sturgis, Emma Dryden and Karen Grenick

Favorite take-aways…

*Don’t quit–ever. <3

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Some down time in the Sheraton while waiting for the Ballroom to open up.

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The Books for Boston collection bin.

Check out some of the inspirational messages written in the books going to Boston.

Sunday 5/5/13

Panel Discusion–SCULPTING STORIES FROM FACT: FOUR WRITERS OF HISTORICAL FICTION SHARE STRATEGIES

Sarah Lamstein, Jeannine Atkins, Padma Venkatraman and Pat Lowery Collins (Boo my picture didn’t come out!)

Favorite take-aways…

*I tried to pack Padma in my suitcase. All four authors were great, but she stole the show. LOVE her!

*When story and history collide–story always wins. (PV)

*The attitudes of the times plays a role in the story/plot. (SL)

*The reasons writers aren’t diagnosed as schizophrenic is that we listen to the voices in our head instead of conversing with them. (PV)

*Create a LOVELY FILE to put all the darlings you cut–then you will always have them. (PV)

I Intensive–ADVANCED PLOTTING with Chris Eboch

I was very busy in this small, pro-track class and you guessed it–I forgot to take a picture. *smacks own hand*

Favorite take-aways…

*If your main problem can’t be introduced early, find a way in, something that gives a hint.

*Be careful not to open too fast. Give the reader a little time to get acclimated.

*Action without context is not a good thing.

*Likable character plus a bad situation makes the best story.

*Real life drama needs to be set up correctly to be believable to the reader.

You can find our more about Chris Eboch and advanced plotting HERE.

Workshop N–THE YIN AND YANG OF CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT with Kami Kinard

More Apocalypsie love!!!!! And yes, I was too busy meeting Kami in person for the first time that I…didn’t take a picture. Should have gotten one of us together. Drat!

Favorite take-aways…

*Add believable traits to your characters.

*Characters with both good and bad motives and traits naturally create much desired tension.

*Books are about physical, emotional and spiritual journeys.

Kami posted some stuff on humor from another of her sessions on her blog. You can catch it HERE!

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And because I always have to buy one more book LOL! Hanging with the AWESOME Padma Venkatraman, author of CLIMBING THE STAIRS. <3

Me, Padma, Jodi and Megan

And then it was time to say goodbye and drive home. NESCBWI was an amazing conference and I’m so glad I got the chance to grow. It truly had the feel of an International SCBWI Event but with the intimacy of a smaller conference. Lots of fun and I hope to be able to attend again next year too! Have any of you been to NESCBWI before? Any new authors that you’ve now got to put into your TBR pile?

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May

3

2013

Heading to the New England SCBWI Conference!!!!

Filed under: Check-it-out, Conferences, SCBWI

This morning I’m headed to the NESCBWI Conference!!! (It’s Daddy Party Weekend!!!)  This is my first time attending a New England event, but I always here people raving about them. So excited to finally go. *fist pump* I’m very excited to meet up with some old friends and to make some new ones, too. I’m also  thrilled with the amazing classes I’m taking. Lots to learn. Here’s what’s on the agenda. The 2013 NESCBWI Conference Word-by-Word: The Art of Craft. Can you guess where I’ll be? Come on, you know me pretty well by now.

No need to miss me while I’m gone. *grin* I’ll be tweeting live from the hashtag #nescbwi13  Feel free to join the virtual conversation. It will be just like I packed you in my suitcase and smuggled you in, but without appendages falling asleep and me getting in trouble LOL!

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Of course when I get back I’ll have pictures and an overview of the conference for you. ((((hugs))))

Have a great weekend!!!!

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Feb

8

2013

The 14th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference February 1-3, 2013 Part 2

Filed under: Conferences, SCBWI, Writing, Writing for Children

Sunday morning was rough and involved coffee and help from strangers. Oh, the life of an overly talkative, sleep derived conference goer…

After checking out, scavenging a breakfast sandwich, stowing luggage and coat and hauling around my books like a pack mule, there were lots and lots of well deserved Sunday morning awards. The illustrators were honored for their gorgeous work and the Tomie dePaolo award given out by Tomie!!!! It’s been a few years since he’s been at the conference and everyone was so excited to see him and hear him talk.

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There was also the Emerging Voices Awards given out by Jane Yolen. These awards celebrate the mid-list authors who are the work horses of publishing. (Unlike the dancing Arabians.)

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Then, with coffee finally charging through my system, it was on to KEYNOTE #1: Tell Me a Story by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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Margaret is a wonderfully animated speaker, which was very exciting, but also resulted in some bloopers for your entertainment…

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Luckily, we aren’t defined by our bloopers. LOL!  Here’s all the good stuff…

*You don’t get to be a historic artifact or an author without a certain amount of persistence.

*Books are alive and relevant for kids in the digital age.

*Don’t you think they thought it was a dooms-day scenario when we shifted from storytelling to the written word? Or from hand-written books to the use of the print press? We’ll sort out the digital stuff.

*I have absolute faith that what we do is essential to kids and society.

*There is a high correlation between childhood reading and vocabulary.

*More children reading wouldn’t fix EVERY problem in society, but it would certainly help a lot.

KEYNOTE #2: IT TAKES TWO: The Pleasure and Pitfalls of Writing a Series by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton

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I sat there in awe as I listened to Julie Andrewsand her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. Sure, part of it was because Julie Andrews is an icon. But that wasn’t the only reason, they were both lovely, hard working, funny, sweet and knowledgable. I was blown away by their dedication to children’s literature. Here’s some of what they had to say, but I have to be honest and let you know that some of their best stuff was in subtle gestures and humor–their interactions with each other. It was in the things that weren’t quotable. You could see it–fell it.

*The more we serve young readers, the more they will flourish & the better the world will be for everyone.

*We are so lucky to do what we do and love what we do, which is the secret to life, really.

*When writing, never underestimate the value of the bathroom break. (Or a spritz of perfume LOL!)

*The more you know your characters, the better your characters will react to the situation.

*Which of us here doesn’t remember the book that made the difference …that showed us we weren’t alone?

*Books were my anchor. My escape. My safe haven… They became the most trustworthy of friends.

*It’s hard to write books and it’s an enormous responsibility to write for children.

*Nobody’s perfect except for Mary Poppins … and she’s only practically perfect. *grin*

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Check out more books in the Julie Andrews Collection

And when I met Julie and Emma, I got to tell them about my nickname (Kimmiepoppins) and the picture of me attending my book launch event.

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It was a long story, told quickly, but I was at least able to share the truth by saying…you made a difference in my life. I got to say thank you. And then my arms and legs turned to jelly and I had the shakes for twenty minutes LOL! It sounds so stupid. I know that Julie Andrews puts her pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else, but I have a soft spot for the people who change the world in a way that involves some of my favorite things–musicals, books and children.

But I would also be remiss if I didn’t tell you how utterly and completely Emma won me over. She’s a gem in the writing community and we are so lucky to have her. On Sunday I became a huge fan.

I personally wouldn’t want to follow Julie Andrews and be the final speaker of the day, but I know one guy who can pull it off…

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FINAL KEYNOTE: Writing in 3 Easy Steps, 3 Somewhat Less Easy Steps, 2 Pretty Difficult Steps, and 1 Impossible Step by Mo Willems  (<—–Mo’s 9 steps are posted here)

Here are some other Mo-isms that i loved…

*Everyone was so inspirational–as the closer I feel obligated to be OUT-SPIRATIONAL!

*The glass is 1/2 full of poison.

*When I write a manuscript, if it makes sense I’ve done it wrong. (On leaving room for the illustrative part of the story)

*It’s my job to write incomprehensible books for illiterates. ROTFL!

*Craftsman vs Artist–An artist makes it beautiful, a craftsman is trying to understand the audience. Ex-A coffee mug can be gorgeous, but it also has to be able to hold coffee.

*Be succinct.

*Write about what you are passionate about.

*ALWAYS THINK ABOUT YOUR AUDIENCE, NOT FOR YOUR AUDIENCE. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.

*Get better dreams. If you are making your dreams come true–you’re not shooting high enough. You’re setting the bar too low and that’s as far as you’ll go. You might not reach all of your dreams but you’ll go higher than you might have expected.

*You need to be invisible. How? Read THE BEST and find their mistakes. Every book has holes–there’s your space–your entry.

*The hook isn’t the story.

*Be a philosopher. Write what you don’t know. It’s only interesting to you if you’re trying to figure it out.

*Ideas are not to be trapped, they are gardens you plant everyday. You have to be patient.

*Write a lot and whatever’s not funny (or good) take it away and see what’s left. If nothings left at the end–start over. That’s what it means to be a professional.

*You are going to have to do public speaking–get used to it. Take a class.

*Your job is to be some child’s best friend.

Then it was time for the autograph party. Boo! No pics allowed of Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton. But here are a few others…

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Shaun Tan and Me (plus a little bit of Arthur Levine’s arm LOL!)

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Hanging out with Meg Rosoff. She is so fabulous!

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 Shaun Tan signing a copy of The Arrival for my local elementary school. Go Frogs!

And then I ran–dragging bags of books and luggage behind me–another conference over. But not really, it’s inspiration is only beginning to take root and grow…

What is the biggest thing you’ve heard from someone in the children’s literature world that has stuck with you and blossomed over time?

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Feb

6

2013

The 14th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference February 1-3, 2013 Part 1

Filed under: Apocalypsies, Community, Conferences, Reading, SCBWI, Wolfson Literary, Writing, Writing for Children, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

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.

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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*

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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!

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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.

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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.

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*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

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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…

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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?

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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)

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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.

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After lunch (in which I ate a giant healthy salad followed by a large, chocolate cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. *yum*)

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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!

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And SQUEE!!!! Rosemary also highlighted the books of a personal friend and member of my local SCBWI Shop Talk, Jennifer Castle!!!!

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I loved The Beginning of After!!!!

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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.

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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!

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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)))

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