Archive for the ‘Middle Grade’ Category

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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Dec

6

2016

Cover Reveal: THE PERFECT TRIP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

tptbookcover_72dip

 

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

And another bonus…

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

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

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Mar

31

2016

THE SWEET SPOT Blog Tour!!!!!

Filed under: Book Auntie Braggery, Book Reviews, Check-it-out, Contests, Cover Art, Middle Grade, Publishing, Reading, SCBWI, Stuff I Love

Today I get to be a part of THE SWEET SPOT Blog Tour!!! What is that, you ask?

It’s me getting to celebrate a fabulous book and it’s new publisher…

image1

Here’s a little bit about THE SWEET SPOT…

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

All stakes now rest on Sam’s performance at baseball training camp. But the moment she arrives, miscommunication sets the week up for potential disaster. Placed at the bottom with the weaker players, she will have to work her way up to A league, not just to show Coach that she can be the best team player possible, but to prove to herself that she can hold a bat with the All-Star boys.

SweetSpot_Cover_96dpi

My review of THE SWEET SPOT…

This is an important book for girls and boys. In a world where two former female West Point graduates can kick butt in Ranger School, there is NO REASON why a girl who loves baseball and plays as well (or possibly better than the boys) shouldn’t be allowed–EXPECTED– to play. In Mozer’s novel, the sweet spot is that place on the baseball bat that’s just right–allowing the batter to hit it out of the park. But there’s also a sweet spot in life and it’s when EVERY PERSON is in the place where they get to be the best version of themselves. Mozer’s book isn’t an easy fix. It’s hard to figure out who and what you’re supposed to be with other people throwing around ignorant labels, sterotypes and abusive behavior. The Sweet Spot reminds us that even though it isn’t easy, one of the best ways to attack adversity is with determination and a positive attitude. I’m so delighted to know there are authors like Mozer out there making sure that all kids are represented on the shelves. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

As part of THE SWEET SPOT Blog Tour, I was luck enough to interview the fabulous author with questions about her wonderful book and her new publisher, Spellbound River Press.

Check it out…

13940460

Author Bio:

Stacy Barnett Mozer is a third grade teacher and a mom. She started writing books when a class of students told her that there was no way that a real author who wrote real books could possibly revise their work as much as she asked them to revise. She’s been revising her own work ever since.

1. How was The Sweet Spot reinvented by Spellbound River Press? Banner_cl The book has a snazzy new cover designed by illustrator Lois Bradley and the paperback has a fun new interior look (the boring chapter titles have been replaced by baseballs). I was also able to update the content since the Mets surprised us all and ended up in the World Series last year and former Mets player Mike Piazza, who is mentioned in the book, is now in The Baseball Hall of Fame. The only thing the Mets can do now to make the content outdated is to win the World Series – and that would be fine with me!

2. Tell us a little about this brand new press and how you were discovered by them.

Spellbound River Press is a new press for middle grade books. For their first list they sought out authors who had books that were either self-published and getting some attention or series that had been traditionally published but the next books in the series were not picked up. My book fell into that first category. I knew one of the authors whose book was picked up through the SCBWI. He suggested I submit my story. The press loved everything (except for the cover).

3. I’ve read The Sweet Spot and loved it – but for your up and coming readers, tell us a bit about the book.

The book is about a 13 yo girl named Sam who has always played baseball with the boys, but has now found that she is no longer accepted by everyone. Her coach feels she has an attitude about this and tells her that the only way he will recommend her for All Stars is to get a good report from baseball camp, but when she arrives they hadn’t been expecting a girl and it all goes downhill from there.

4. One of my writer friends was recently doing a school visit and she was using a football comparison to make her point to the students. On a whim my author friend used the pronoun SHE when talking about the football player. Eyes widened. Questions were asked. Several boys wanted to know WHO IS THIS FOOTBALL PLAYER WHO IS A GIRL??? I know you are actively involved with Sporty Girl Books. Can you tel us a little bit about why you write for sporty girls and what you are aiming to accomplish by writing non-traditonal books?

I will tell you that it was never my intention to write a book that was non-traditional. Sam is a baseball player because I was writing a story about a girl who goes camping and in one of the scenes I decided to have her surprise some boys by showing off her wicked baseball skills. As a lover of baseball (huge Mets fan), I thought it would be fun to have her be good at the sport. That one scene turned out to be everyone’s favorite and I developed a new plot line around it. When I was first proposing the change, my husband asked me whether or not it would even be an issue, for a girl to play baseball, in this day and age. So I researched it and found out that it is, indeed, a big issue. I also found out that there were very few books written about the topic. That lead me to talk to others about other sports that weren’t getting attention in books (football definitely being one of them) and that’s what lead me to start the blog. I am still surprised how difficult it is for girls to play male dominated sports. I’m also surprised how little media attention women’s sports receive. But that also doesn’t mean that I think all men think this way. Every now and then a reviewer calls me a bad person because my book suggests that all boys think girls should not play baseball. If they read my book, they would see that Sam has way more male supporters than those who stand in her way. I think that is true in the real world as well. I have been very happy to see that The Sweet Spot has had a wide range of supportive readers. Boys and girls. Those who love sports and those who have no interest in playing. The heart of the book isn’t about baseball, it’s about never letting anyone stop you from following your dreams. From finding your own personal sweet spot. I think everyone can relate to that.

5. Tell us a little bit about your book launch and the best way to get The Sweet Spot.

This is one of the last stops on The Sweet Spot blog tour. But you have a chance to win THE SWEET SPOT in a Goodreads giveaway. The book is also available on Amazon and you can request it at your favorite Indie bookstore. You can also buy it directly from www.SpellboundRiver.com. And don’t forget to like it on Goodreads, rate it, and write an honest review once you’ve read it!

Social Media Links:

www.StacyMozer.com www.SpellboundRiver.com

www.facebook.com/StacyMozerAuthor

www.twitter.com/SMozer

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29474468-the-sweet-spot

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Sweet Spot by Stacy Barnett Mozer

The Sweet Spot

by Stacy Barnett Mozer

Giveaway ends April 30, 2016. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
 

Enter Giveaway

 

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