Archive for the ‘Kimberly Sabatini’ Category

Nov

7

2017

Silver Bay Falling Leaves Eastern Upstate NY SCBWI Retreat 2017

Filed under: Check-it-out, Conferences, Critique, Drafting, Kimberly Sabatini, Publishing, Revision, SCBWI, Writing, Writing for Children

Hello dear readers! It’s been so long since we’ve chatted. I’ve missed you. But as we’ve discussed–I have no intention of filling up your inbox with random chatter. Although I am super capable of doing it.

Instead I’ve promised to only blog when I had something relevant to add to the conversation. And here I am with a brief recap of the 2017 Silver Bay Falling Leaves Eastern Upstate NY SCBWI Retreat. I have to share this SCBWI event with you for a number of reasons–I met amazing people, learned fabulous things and I think you’d love to come to this event next year! So let me tempt you.

The weather was beautiful when I arrived at Silver Bay and I took advantage and walked around a bit. I was happy  that I’d brought my good camera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After checking in and getting my bearings, it was time for dinner and our first round of workshops.

*WORKSHOP #1 Gestalt: or 1+1=More  Words and Pictures in Picturebooks by Rotem Moscovich (Executive Editor at Disney-Hyperion)

And if you look closely at Rotem’s display of fabulous picture books, in the middle of the bottom row you’ll see my forever friend and editor for TOUCHING THE SURFACE, Anica Rissi’s THE TEACHER’S PET. Rotem told everyone all about Anica’s art note perfection and the magic that ensued because of it. Interested in finding out more about The Teacher’s Pet? Have Anica come and visit your class and tell you the story herself <3

And I don’t want to forget to tell you some of Rotem’s best words of wisdom…

*Gestalt=more than the sum of it’s parts.

*The best picture books are composite texts that combine the text, the illustrations and the input of the reader.

A great example of this is ONE SPECIAL DAY by Lola M Schaefer and Jessica Meserve

*WORKSHOP #2 The Body Electric by Katherine Jacobs (Senior Editor, Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)

And here are Kate’s best bits…

*Characters are the best way to engage your reader. Follow the characters–>sing the body electric!

*Resist the urge to over describe your characters, but be sure to KNOW those characters.

*Flat characters vs Round Characters. Round characters are surprising, unique and multi-dimensional.

*Motivation: What does your character want?

*Conflict: you need a problem that can be solved.

 

And then it was back to the main building. Want to take a peek?

 

The inside is great too. 

 

 

And if you’r anything like me and thinking of heading here next year for the first time, you might like to know what the rooms look like. So, let’s head upstairs…

 

 

 

Yes, we had real keys and wooden doors. And the most adorable, clean and cozy rooms…

 

 

On Saturday, we spent the morning broken up into critique groups. I brought five pages of my current YA work in progress and my group was super helpful. I also want them to finish writing all their projects and get them published–so I can read them! In the afternoon we had our one-on-one critiques with our editor/agent mentor. I brought a chapter book project for that and got an insanely amazing amount of help from Grace Kendall. More from her later. <3

In between lunch, critiques, and dinner we had some glorious free time for writing, sharing, hiking or whatever else you wanted to do.

I planted my butt at that round table and got in several hours of work. It was fun to shove a pair of ear plugs in my ears and enjoy being “alone” around so many writers. And productive!

Then it was time for evening workshops. And my apologies–my pictures from these workshops went missing. *grrrr* WAIT!!!! I FOUND THEM> ADDING THEM IN BELOW.

 

*Workshop #3 Non-Fiction Proposal Writing with Hilary Van Dusen (Executive Editor, Candlewick Press)

Here are some of the things Hilary is looking for in a Non-Fiction Proposal…

*Demonstrates passion

*Proof that the author has done their research

*A summary

*Outline

*Sample chapter or two

*A sense of the author–who they are and what they are about

Workshop #4 It’s Not A Race: How to Find and Build the Perfect Pacing for Your Manuscript with Grace Kendall (Editor, Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers/Macmillian)

Here’s what Grace thinks you need to know about pacing…

*What is pacing? Character + Plot + Purpose = Pacing

*Your sense of pacing is different for each purpose.

*Why is pacing a problem? Too slow = bored reader and too fast = reader loses empathy. Additionally, bad craft creates distrust in the reader.

*You can use pacing like any of your other creative tools. (character, voice, diction etc…)

*You can look at pacing at the book, scene, paragraph and sentence level.

 

And then it was time for the Big Falling Leaves Birthday Bash!!! It’s the 10th Anniversary of this retreat and we celebrated at the Boat House…

On the mantle are book covers of Falling Leaves success stories. <3 More are preparing for their book birthdays in 2018 and beyond…

 

Our fearless leader, Nancy Castaldo and her Left hand Lois, Lois Miner Huey and her Right hand man, Greg Matusic. Thanks for EVERYTHING guys!

And here is our fabulous faculty from left to right: Hilary, Rotem, Kendra, Grace, Kate and Jennifer

On Sunday morning we packed up our suitcases, but we still had a half day of awesomeness. We even get to have a toasty fire…

*Workshop #5 Be the Hero of Your Own Writing Process with Kendra Levin (Executive Editor at Viking Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House)

Here’s some tips on how to be a hero…

*There is a universality to the creative process.

*The happiest people can find a way to extra meaning from anything that happens to them.

*Heroes: Protect, Serve and Make Sacrifices.

*Having a step-by-step plan and having goals is key to being a writer.

*Know your strengths and weaknesses. Actively address the areas where you need the most work.

*Writing for young people REALLY DOES MATTER!

Want to find out more about how to be the hero of your own writing process?

 

The Hero is You by Kendra Levin (Life Coach for Writers)

Next we jumped to the Editor/Agent Roundtable for an intimate Q & A Session before our last speaker of the conference.

*Workshop #6 Best Practices for Maximizing Your Books’ Success with Jennifer Laughran (Senior Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency and Bookseller)

What to do to increase your success…

*Website–think of it as your business card. (contact info, links to social media, blog if you have one)

*On your website have a pre-order page/book page (include ISBN, links to buy the book including Indie options, Skype/school visit info and curriculum guide if you have it.)

*Have a Press Kit on your website.

*Present yourself the way you want to be perceived.

*Never vent business or rant like a crazy person on line.

*Give to the writer community–don’t just be a taker.

*Introduce yourself to local booksellers.

*Figure out what your niche is and lean into it.

*Find out what about you is unique that you can share with readers. Find ways to add value to what you are doing.

*Publicists and Marketing: other people are more likely to help you if you are helping yourself.

Want more of this fabulous advice? Check out Jenn’s Podcast–the link is on her website.

 

And then it was time to go home–and work! I’m still so energized. Falling Leaves gave me so many new friends and an incredible amount of insight into my projects–particularly one I was very stuck on. Sometimes all it takes is a trust fall with your tribe. <3

Any questions about the retreat? I’ll happily answer what I can or point you in the right direction. And I have one more question before you go… This question is inspired by the book DEVOTED by Jennifer Mathieu. We used it as a learning text in Kate’s presentation.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
Mary Oliver

 

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Feb

18

2017

NY 2017 SCBWI Conference Part 2

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

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

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

(Scott Hammon and Justin Brancato)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love the awards!!!

Student Illustrators

Art Portfolio Honors

Art Portfolio Winner

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

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

We were all choked up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moderator–LO–Lin Oliver

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

AH–Andrew Harwell (Senior Editor, Harper Collins)

CH–Carrie Howland (Senior agent, Empire Literary)

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

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

Here’s the highlights…

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

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

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

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

EN–Your brand is your name connected with excellence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing Within and Across Identity Elements with Cynthia Leitich Smith

AND

How to Write About Difficult Subjects with Ellen Hopkins

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

Cynthia:

*51% of children today are people of color.

*We are all related.

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

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

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

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

Ellen:

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

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

*Be TRUE TO CHARACTER!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Story illuminates in a way facts never can.

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

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

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

*Writing Tip–The story is the boss.

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

*No proselytizing!

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

     -Authors are not parents.

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

*Kids need to hear stories.

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

*Story is a template for kids.

*Children need to tell their stories.

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

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

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

*Join the SCBWI and then go out and persist!

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

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

Illustrator, Brian Floca and MOONSHOT

Love his art work in this book!

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

Me and Sonya Sones

Signing for the readers at GUFS

The fierce and fabulous Ellen Hopkins!!!!

Lin Oliver

And Tomie DePaolo…an incredible picture book team

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

“this is where the magic happens.”

And my response was…

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

Never be afraid to put yourself where the magic happens.

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

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

But don’t let it stop you.

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

My take away from New York is PURPOSE AND PERSISTENCE!

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

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

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

This means my challenges are my gifts.

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

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

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

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

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Feb

14

2017

NY 2017 SCBWI Conference Part 1

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Conferences, Fun and Games, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Middle Grade, Pondering, Publishing, Reading, SCBWI, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing for Children

It’s time for the NY 2017 SCBWI Conference!!!!

I just got back and of course I wanted to share the awesomeness with you.

Just so you know, it wasn’t exactly easy to get there this year…

On Thursday we got hit with a winter storm. My house got just over 10 inches of snow–resulting in a very happy puppy.

With a day off of school, I was kind of lucky because I got some extra sleep and had plenty of time to pack for the next day.

But not everyone was so lucky. I know of several people who couldn’t get their flights sorted out and missed the conference all together. That was a huge disappointment.

I knew I was going to be running a little late for Friday’s Intensive, but my train schedule got pushed back even more due to the boys having 2hr delays. I decided not to stress and go with the flow.

Chilling out and day dreaming while looking out the train widow really paid off. I got to see 4 adult and 4 juvenile American Eagles! And I even captured one on my camera and that made me extra happy.

While I missed most of the morning portion of my Friday Intensive–WRITING THE VERSE NOVEL–but made it for the first half of the round table sessions. Despite being late, I still had an amazing experience and learned a ton. I’ve never attempted a novel in verse before, but I’m intrigued, I enjoy reading them and I always feel that learning new things brings depth and color to anything I’m working on. So it was a great opportunity. And the good news was that I was able to get the handouts and I have access to the notes.

The lovely Bonnie Bader facilitated the Intensive.

Listening to Sonya SonesThe Nuts and Bolts and Safety Pins of Writing the Novel in Verse

*Don’t write a poem that makes a teenager feel stupid. It must be accessible.

*Our goal is to move people with our words–create an emotional response.

*Teens are present tense human beings.

*Read your work out loud with ear plugs. It allows you to hear your own voice.

We also did some fun exercises with Ellen Hopkins‘ session Balancing Verse with Story

Do you want to get your creative descriptions flowing? Try asking yourself some interesting questions like…

What does anger smell like?

What does happiness taste like?

What does sorrow sound like?

What does boredom feel like?

What does love look like?

You should have heard all the interesting and varying responses in the room.

And after another session of round tables, there was even time for a Q & A session with the intensive faculty.

(Sonya Sones, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Ellen Hopkins and Emma Dryden)

Done for the day, it was time to meet up with my friends (old and new) and fellow Lobby Rats for a yummy Italian dinner and lots of catching up in the–you guessed it–lobby!

Then on Saturday morning–despite how comfortable my roomie and best bud, Jodi Moore and I were in our cozy beds at the Hyatt Grand–we rolled on downstairs for coffee, bagels and the kick-off of the conference.

Starting off the day was some birthday singing for the one and only Jane Yolen!

This was followed by Lin Oliver‘s famous SCBWI State of the Conference Address.

Here’s how it all went down…

*1,121 Attendees

*40% Published and 60% Pre-Published

*States not representing? North Dakota and Wyoming 🙁

*Attendees came from 61 different countries to include Hong Kong, Australia, Spain and Egypt.

*Some of this year’s interesting Professions/Day Jobs were…

     -Costume Shop Supervisor

     -Attorney/Voice Over Actor

     -Chairman of the Book Selection Committee (everyone was looking for this person LOL!)

     -Crime Scene Detective

     -Dog Groomer

     -Podiatrist

The first Keynote of the day was the always moving and inspiring Bryan Collier

Here are some of the things you should know…

*When he was 4yo–he saw HIMSELF in the picture book Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. He became obsessed with art and headed to NY–there was no plan B

*Be careful who you share your dreams with, even the people who love you will tell you to get a job.

*Your dreams should be so outrageous they scare you.

*Everything your awkward about is the very thing that makes you special. <3

*Creativity is not just a pond–it’s a river. We are moving!

*The world is waiting for you to dream.

*Sometimes our readers aren’t standing in the doorway. They are in a ditch–behind bars. And they are waiting for you.

Want to check out some of Bryan’s amazing work? Look for his illustrations in KNOCK KNOCK.

Next up was a Panel Discussion–Four Types of Picture Books: A Closer Look

Moderator LL-Laurent Linn

DS–Daniel Salmieri (Illustrator)

GP–Greg Pizzoli (Author/ Illustrator)

ADP–Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author/Editor)

AB–Andrea Beaty (Author)

There was so much great information offered by this panel, so I’ve picked my favorite pieces of advice and inspiration to share with you…

ADP–Bringing non-fiction to readers is like spinach. You have to keep serving it up until they get a taste for it.

ADP–I’m under the belief that if something excites you–it can excite the child.

DS–Don’t be afraid to draw ANYTHING–you’re in a constant state of getting better.

GP–Picture book advice 1. a picture book can be anything 2. it should be direct 3. keep it short.

LL–Ballet look so easy. Effortless. But those ballerina’s have bloody stumps for feet. Rhyme has to look equally effortless.

Next up was my first Break Out Session–World Building with Arianne Lewin

This was a fabulous workshop and very relevant to what I’m working on in my WIP. Here’s what you need to know…

*Creating a world that’s immersive will keep the reader reading.

*The world should unfold organically.

*World building applies to ALL books–it’s the anchor for your story.

*The world has to be believable and manageable.

*1st build atmosphere–it make the reader feel comfortable slipping in.

*If the character believes it–the reader will believe it. It’s in the details.

*Great examples of world building–The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Golden Compass.

*The world is revealed by what your character does–show it!

The Lobby Rats taking a lunch break

One for me and one for my roomie <3

Then it’s back to work…

After lunch it was back to another breakout session.

This one was Writing Middle Grade Fiction with Andrew Harwell, Senior Editor at Harper Collins

*MG readers ages 8-12 (grades 2-6)

*This means that the middle grade section in bookstores houses a WIDE variety of books in one area–Captain Underpants to The Golden Compass.

*MG readers are extremely sophisticated–but keep your eye on the main character–that is the story anchor.

*Never talk down to your readers.

*There is no one, right gold standard voice or style in MG. Do what works for you and your character.

*Plant seeds –details in the earlier part of your book that you can catch again at the end.

*If you have the details clear in YOUR head, you don’t have to over explain anything to the reader. It will make sense. Make your plotting masterfully done.

*Make sure you give your characters a breathing moment–hit different emotional registers.

*The specific details are anchored in the universal themes.

*Be prepared to use sensitivity readers.

The afternoon keynote by Tahereh Mafi is STILL giving me goose bumps.

Everything about this keynote was incredible. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t capture it all. It was her words, which flowed non-stop. It was her elegant demeanor. It was her power and resilience. It was her history and her goals for the future. If you ever get a chance to hear her speak–know you are in for an altering experience.

This is what I was able to capture…

*A thick skin will only insulate you from pain, and act good is a writer who doesn’t feel anything?

*Speaking of her mom, who had her skull fractured on the streets of Iran: grief was a luxury she was never able to afford.

*My thin skin helps me to exhale emotions onto the page.

*Those rejections keep you hungry.

*Not everyone will know our stories and back stories–our inspirations and aspirations–but SOMEONE will find it.

*Lean into your pain and let it shape you.

*If you don’t give up, you can’t fail.

*She wrote and queried FIVE novels before the one that sold.

This year, the walls between the ballroom and the bookstore were opened. I loved it! This is everyone rushing to get Tahereh’s book after her moving keynote.

Next up was the afternoon panel–Children’s Books and the Social Media World: A Panel of Influencers

Moderator by Martha Brockenbrough MB

TJ–Travis Jonker (blogger) @100scopenotes and @TheYarnPodcast

CLS–Cynthia Leitich Smith (author/blogger) @CynLeitichSmith and  www.cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com

MW–Mathew Winner (librarian/podcast host/blogger) @MatthewWinner and @AlltheWonders

Here’s a sample of what we got to hear…

TJ–I love when a voice we love in a book carries over into the authors social media.

CLS–Calls out Debbie Ohi as someone who is doing it RIGHT! She has take aways for her audience, snippets of her art, a positive and friendly attitude.

CLS–Write your mission statement as an author.

CLS–Know when to step away from social media and write your book.

CLS–Author profiles with animals–especially quirky animals get more love.

Worth a try, right?

MW–I never set out to have an audience. I set out to share what I love.

MW–Being nice makes you cool!

Usually book signings are on Sunday, but every once in awhile we have a couple people who need to sign on Saturday.

My roomie, Jodi Moore talking to Andrea Davis Pinkney!!!! She was the sweetest to cast with and I’m constantly blown away by what an intelligent woman Andrea is. You must read her work–it’s incredible. I fell in love with this picture book and got a signed copy for my school library…

A Poem For Peter

And I also got to speak with Tahereh Mafi and tell her what an impact her keynote had on me. <3

And then it was time for the Gala with it’s the SCBWI MASHED POTATO BAR!!!

As if it was meant to be–I walked by and they opened this particular Mashed Potato Bar and I was the first one to use it ROTFL!


Cheers!

Hope you enjoyed my NY 2017 SCBWI Part 1 Recap. I’ll be sure to get you Part 2 as soon as I can.

Any questions about the conference? I’ll do what I can to answer them. Planning on going to the LA conference in July and want to be in the Lobby Rat know? Let me know and I’ll add you to the FB group. Or if you’re planning to attend a different SCBWI conference and would like to make sure the Lobby Rats are represented–let me know. We can arrange that <3

And if you want to play along in the comments and give Ellen Hopkins’ exercise a try, here’s your question…

What color was the NY conference and why?

You can answer this as an attendee or as an arm chair conference follower.

My conference was green like a leafy vine, because many of the ideas that were floating around in my head, were finally able to be connected because of what I learned and the people who were inspired me.

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Aug

16

2016

LA 2016 SCBWI Conference Part 3 (Sunday) #LA16SCBWI

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

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

 

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

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Agent Panel: Acquisitions Today

VWA–Victoria Wells Arms (Victoria Wells Arms Literary)

GC–Ginger Clark (Curtis Brown, LTD)

KH–Kristen Hall (Catbird)

BS–Brooks Sherman (The Bent Agency)

ERS–Erica Rand Silverman (Stimola Literary Studio)

TW–Tina Wexler (ICM Partners)

MOD-Lin Oliver

Here are some interesting bits and pieces of the conversation…

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

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

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

TW–Do I love it? AND… Can I sell it?

KH–Relies on her instinct when picking clients.

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

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

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

 

Then it was time for the Art Award Announcements!

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The Mentorship Winners.

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The Showcase Honors.

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And Showcase Winner–Oge Mora

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

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

*I collect things.

*I’m inspired by my fellows.

*One must always pay attention.

*Missed Connections–> the Measles Project.

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

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

*Kids notice your trivial transgressions. Details matter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

*There are no rules but the ones you make.

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

*Be LOGICAL!!!!

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

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

*Bring the reader in slowly.

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

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

*Master world building with shorter works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*When judging the National Book Award in 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*31 new imprints in the last four years.

Market Trend–How Your Current Projects Fit Into the Marketplace

PICTURE BOOKS

-vigorous

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

-creativity in language and text

-dominated by younger PB’s

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

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

-character driven

-Write a single title–>series possibility comes later

-diverse characters/actively looking for diversity

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

-looking for marketing potential, story telling and personal connections

MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

-a great place to be

-agents say editors are asking

-open field–literary and commercial balance

-wants beautiful language, superb execution

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

-room for serious subject matter

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

-multi-author series are still strong

-stand alones embraced too

-risks that don’t feel gimmicky

-non-fiction–fresh engagement-something unexpected

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

-looking for humor, adventure, realistic fiction

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

-story trumps trends

-sweet spot falls between literary and commercial

-voice that masters the MG sensibility and funny bone

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

-realistic fiction and fantasy

YOUNG ADULT
-still happening but market saturation

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

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

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

-be careful about realistic contemporary–its been done

-blending genres–create fresh magic systems–think GRACELING

-non-speculative

-layered female friendships*

-exploring grey areas*

-on twitter… #MSWL  (Manuscript Wish List)

The internal mood of publishing…

*We are in a good place.

*Not being lambasted by trends.

*Room for thinking creatively.

*Not relying on only one thing.

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

*An active author contract initiative underway

*Discovered we were doing it right all along.

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

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

*Garbage writing is why they invented revision.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Being here tonight is both thrilling and a little terrifying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I adore this guy! <3

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Pam Munoz Ryan and Esperanza Rising

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Sophie Blackall had the longest line in the room.

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Getting my CHALLENGER DEEP signed by Neal Schusterman

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

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

Don’t ask–I don’t know ROTFL!

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

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

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And ice cream after dinner will certainly do the trick!

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

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

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Aug

9

2016

LA 2016 SCBWI Conference Part 2 (Saturday) #LA16SCBWI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

*Don’t think about your style.

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

*Take care of the machine that makes the style.

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

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

 

Next up was Marie Lu: THE CREATIVE LIFE

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

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

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

*Starting writing as a teen.

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

*Being published is NOT relevant to being a writer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Accepting criticism is the key to growth.

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

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

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

*Never defend yourself–listen.

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

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

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

*We are all in this together.

 

Then this happened…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Never think of your agent as a tool.

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

*No one wants an unsuccessful book.

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

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

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

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

*What does work? Word of Mouth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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MOD-Laurent Lin–LL

JB–Jessixa Bagley (author/illustrator)

JP–John Parra (illustrator)

SR–Susan Rich (Editor–Little, Brown)

BS–Barney Saltzberg (Author)

DT–Don Tate (author/illustrator)

 

WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL PICTURE BOOK?

JB–the book has a completeness to it.

JP–magical feelings

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

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

DT–Connection through emotions

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

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

ADDITIONAL GOOD ADVICE…

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

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

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

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

 

And I was waiting all day for this one…

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

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

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

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

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

*This is how you do it.

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

*Focus on your strengths.

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

*Writer’s Block is real.

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

*If you build it, they will come.

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

*Never ask for feedback from someone you feed.

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

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

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

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

           -traditional to e-pub is a little different.

*You must have your writing place

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

Why Do We Write?

-It’s all about the reader.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Followed by the Red Carpet Ball

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

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I even had my tap shoes on.

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

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

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There was also a long line of red carpets LOL!

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There were loads of people on the dance floor.

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And even the balconies were full.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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May

19

2016

Where in the World is TOUCHING THE SURFACE?

Filed under: Author Events, Book Signings, Booksellers, Check-it-out, Community, Fun and Games, In the Wild, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Publishing, Reading, Touching the Surface, Writing for Children, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

Where in the world is TOUCHING THE SURFACE? Well, let me tell you…

Here are some of the upcoming events, where you can get signed copies of TOUCHING THE SURFACE and hang out with me and talk about writing, agents, publishing and books. You know I ALWAYS love to talk about books.

Fasten your seatbelt…here we go!

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Right around the corner (THIS SATURDAY) is the 2016 Millbrook Literary Festival.

Saturday, May 21, 2016
10:00AM – 5:00PM

I’ll be hanging out all day, chatting with readers and signing books. And if you have the time, don’t miss this fabulous panel…

You’ve Written a Novel For Teens: Now What?– 4:00 – 5:00pm

YAModerator: Jake Wizner with panelists Gail Carson Levine, Jennifer Castle, Barbara Dee, and Kimberly Sabatini.

Join young adult author Jake Wizner (Spanking Shakespeare) as he talks to Newbery medal honoree Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted), and award-winning authors Jennifer Castle (The Beginning of After), Barbara Dee (The (Almost) Perfect Guide to Imperfect Boys), and Kimberly Sabatini (Touching the Surface) about the paths that they took to get their work published. How did they decide which age group to write for? Find out what it takes to succeed in the world of young adult and middle grade literature.

There is so much to do in quaint Millbrook–visit the shops, grab some fabulous food and make a day of it! You can find the full list of authors and panels HERE.

*   *   *

And where in the world is TOUCHING THE SURFACE next?

B-Fest

 I’ll be DOUBLE TROUBLE at B-FEST, the TEEN BOOK FESTIVAL at Barnes & Noble!!!!

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What is B-Fest???

B-Fest is the place for teens to:
•Be in the Know and participate in fun, interactive trivia and games based on popular teen series and books
•Be First to receive exclusive content like chapter samplers and advance reading copies of upcoming teen book releases
•Be Part of the Story and participate in writing workshops, meet authors and illustrators and express their fandom through cosplay and photo ops with popular character standees
•Be Rewarded with prizes, giveaways and enter-to-win items
•Be Heard and Influential by giving Barnes & Noble and publishers feedback through social media campaigns and vehicles for their feedback in stores during the weekend

And what will I be doing at B-FEST???

Do you have a reader at home, who loves to write and might like to be an author someday? Bring them to see me at B-FEST. I’ll be sharing my insights on writing, agents and publishing. I can answer your questions about how to get started or where to go next on your current project. I’ll also be signing copies of TOUCHING THE SURFACE while I’m there. And of course, I love talking about anything involving YA Books–so stop by and we’ll hang out!

I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble (Poughkeepsie, NY) on:

Saturday, June 11 at 1 PM
2518 South Road
Poughkeepsie, New York 12601

Sign up on FB for event updates.

And I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble (Mohegan Lake, NY) on:

Sunday, June 12 — TBD
3089 E Main St
Mohegan Lake, NY

More info to come on B-FEST as the events get closer. Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

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May

12

2016

The Alice Curtis Desmond Award

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

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

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

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

Andy Chmar–The Patricia Adams Award

and

Salman Rushdie–The Hamilton Fish Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here was my reward…

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I MUST get this framed!

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

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

To

Kimberly Sabatini

in recognition of her distinctive contribution

to Children’s Literature

And then I’ll get back to work.

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

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

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

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

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

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Mar

29

2016

YA SCAVENGER HUNT Spring 2016

Filed under: Author Events, Blogging, Check-it-out, Community, Contests, Fun and Games, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Stuff I Love, Touching the Surface, YA Books, YA Scavenger Hunt, Young Adult (YA)

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt!

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This tri-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for a prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online until April 3, 2016!

 

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are NINE  (yes, you heard me correctly!) contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the ORANGE TEAM!

 

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But there is also RED, BLUE, GOLD, GREEN, TEAL, PURPLE, SILVER, & PINK-each with 20 authors. You can participate in all the hunts for a chance to win different sets of signed books! If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage.

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SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Hidden somewhere below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number in ORANGE. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the ORANGE team, and then add them up. And don’t worry if you have to take off your socks and use your toes to keep track. A calculator works too.

 

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

 

Rules: This contest is open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by 04/3/16, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered. Now it’s time to get started and check out the good stuff…

SCAVENGER HUNT POST

PANDEMIC by Yvonne Ventresca

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Pandemic is a contemporary young adult novel about an emotionally traumatized teenager struggling to survive a bird flu pandemic.

In Pandemic, only a few people know what caused Lilianna Snyder’s sudden change from a model student to a withdrawn pessimist who worries about all kinds of disasters. When people begin coming down with a quick-spreading illness that doctors are unable to treat, Lil’s worst fears are realized. With her parents called away on business before the contagious outbreak–her journalist father in Delaware covering the early stages of the disease and her mother in Hong Kong and unable to get a flight back to New Jersey–Lil’s town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread fatal illness.

With friends and neighbors dying around her, Lil does everything she can to survive. Just when it all seems too much, the cause of her original trauma shows up at her door. Lil must find a way to survive not only the outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons.

Ages 12+, Sky Pony Press, May 2014. Hardcover, ISBN 978-1628736090.

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Before becoming a children’s writer, Yvonne Ventresca wrote computer programs and taught others how to use technology. Now she happily spends her days writing stories instead of code, and passing on technology tips to writers. Yvonne is the author of PANDEMIC (Sky Pony Press, 2014), winner of the 2015 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (Atlantic region). PANDEMIC is a young adult novel about an emotionally traumatized teenager struggling to survive a deadly bird flu outbreak.

Yvonne’s other writing credits include a short story in the YA dystopian anthology PREP FOR DOOM (2015), two nonfiction books for teens, AVRIL LAVIGNE (a biography of the singer) and PUBLISHING (about careers in the field), as well as various articles for teens and adults. You can visit her website at www.YvonneVentresca.com.

Pandemic Exclusive Content

  This is a deleted scene from my novel, Pandemic. At one point, this was the novel’s opening. It shows a glimpse of Lil’s friendships and her life before the Mr. B incident and the pandemic.

Five months earlier:

Lockers slammed as the usual Friday afternoon joy filled the school. Kayla and Megs walked down the hallway in front of me. I caught up, slipped between them, and linked my arms through theirs.

“Hey, Lil,” Kayla said.

The loudspeaker interrupted with Mr. Fryman’s last announcements of the week. “Don’t forget that Monday is Spirit Day, so please show your school pride by wearing red and white,” he said. “Congratulations on donating over 200 pounds of non-perishable food for the Thanksgiving drive! This season, I’m thankful for all of you! Don’t forget, charity begins at home. And success is a journey, not a destination!”

“Principal ‘Cliché’ is at it again,” Megs said. “Will he ever stop?”

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” I said.

Megs laughed, but Kayla moved away from us and stood straighter, head up, chest out. At first I thought we’d annoyed her again. Then she did the head tilt, which meant an attractive guy had entered her orbit. As I glanced around for the usual suspects, I almost walked straight into the English teacher who helped me coordinate the food drive in between his debate team coaching.

“Hey, Mr. B,” Kayla said, all white-teeth smile.

“Happy Friday, ladies,” he said. “Liliana, we’re meeting in the parking lot. I have directions to the food pantry and—”

“Debate team practice on Tuesday?” Kayla interrupted. “I’ve been working on a new speech for Original Oratory, Myths about Love.”

“Sounds good. I can’t wait to hear it.”

She beamed after him as he continued toward his classroom, greeting students and making small talk as he went. Mr. B had convinced the other English teachers to exchange homework passes for food donations, which greatly increased our collection size.

“He’s like the school mayor,” I said.

“The mayor of hotness,” Kayla said. “That dark wavy hair, those brown eyes.”

“Oh stop,” I said. “He’s at least thirty.”

“So?” Kayla said. “I’m mature for my age.”

Someone had supposedly seen Mr. B with a student over the summer. What I figured was gossip, Kayla took as an encouraging sign. She’d spent all of last year crushing on him. It looked like our sophomore year would be more of the same.

“Gross.” Megs scowled. “And illegal.”

Kayla flipped her hair back, ready to argue.

“Are you nervous about the next debate?” I asked, hoping to derail their fight.

“No,” Kayla said. “I just envision people naked. I have a vivid imagination.”

I shook my head, leaving Megs to deal with her as I left to meet Mr. B.

Later, I would face evil in the form of a deadly virus. But I didn’t know then that evil could come in many forms. It could even masquerade as a caring English teacher. That afternoon would change everything.

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next ORANGE Team author, Sarah J Schmitt!!!

Orange TeamSpread the word by Tweeting #YASH at least 7 times a day!!! But before you go…BONUS CONTEST!!!!!!

Here’s a chance to win TWO signed copies of TOUCHING THE SURFACE–one copy for you and one copy for your favorite school or local library. Check out my Rafflecopter for the details on how to win.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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