Archive for the ‘Young Adult (YA)’ Category
And I’m back!!!! And the answer to yesterday’s 2014 LA SCBWI 43rd Annual Summer Conference cliff hanger is that jet lag won again!!!! I WAS BACK UP AT 5 FREAKING 30 IN THE MORNING!!!!! *head thunk* On a positive note, I spent my extra two hours brainstorming my WIP’s while lying in my cozy bed. But that meant I didn’t get out of my room any earlier and this time the Starbucks line was too long to wait on. With a low caffeine and food gauge, I headed to the breakfast kiosk in the lobby where they were out of breakfast sandwiches for the next 5-10 minutes. (Not my lucky morning) With my face half melting off, I glanced back over at the ever lengthening Starbucks line and decided to wait. #teamkiosk I figured I’d purchase my fruit, coffee and my slower than slow sandwich NOW–and then while I drank my coffee and munched on my nectarine, I’d wait patiently for my breakfast sandwich to arrive. Grab and go. No. I was told there would be no coffee until my sandwich arrived. That’s how they did things. What? Obviously that had never met the likes of me before. *snort* I smiled and explained how my method would be so much more efficient and friendly and yummy and caffeinated. And they marveled at my brilliance and my witty banter and I drank my coffee and waited for my yummy sandwich while making friends with all the other people lusting for breakfast sandwiches. We really bonded. It was fabulous. <3
And despite the wait, I was blessedly on time for the first Keynote of the day.
Justin Chanda (Simon & Schuster) THE STATE OF THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY
He is an incredible speaker–funny, practical, informative, optimistic, realistic and just plain enjoyable to listen to. Here’s what you need to know…
*We are all in this together.
*Printed things on paper have not been eradicated…and drones are not delivering our books…yet. LOL!
*It’s a cyclical business.
*There is something BIG and NEW in YA–CRF (Contemporary Realistic Fiction) HaHa! It was just “discovered” in the last five years. #trends
*trends are unpredictable–undeniable– and you can not write to them.
*YOUR INDIVIDUAL VOICE IS THE BIGGEST CAPITAL YOU HAVE IN THIS BUSINESS.
*JC predicts YA is going to scale back, but ultimately this is a good thing because the market is saturated and the glut is preventing books from being marketed correctly.
*There is lots of room for books that speak to the true experience of middle graders.
*Great rise in gender neutral books.
*The market for PB’s seems to be strong.
-not enough shelf space for a HUGE resurgence
-PB’s are 1% of book sales
-focus is on 5-6 year olds
-humor is doing well
-strong identifiable characters resonate
*APPS are not books.
*On Common Core: When the next wave of educational stuff comes along we’ll still be buying good books because good books hit the mark without trying.
*No one goes into publishing to get rich–we are here for bigger things.
*We are experts at bringing books and stories to kids. The book comes first.
*We are writers–we need to write–social media and marketing is important but it doesn’t trump story telling.
*There are always readers outside of trends.
See…I told you he was fabulous.
Next up was the Agent’s Panel: WHAT HOOKS ME
SD-Sarah Davies (Greenhouse)
SM-Steve Malk (Writer’s House)
EM-Erin Murphy (Erin Murphy Lit)
AP-Alexandra Penfold (upstart)
RP-Ruben Pfeffer (Ruben Pfeeffer Content)
LP-Linda Pratt (Warnick & Pratt)
LR-Laura Rennert (Andrea Brown)
MODERATOR: LO-Lin Oliver
LO–What hooks you?
AP-I want books that make me feel. Books that are as smart as the kids who read them.
EM-AUTHENTICITY. I don’t want to feel the hand of the author pushing.
SM-Reinventing and layering a fresh point of view over a classic.
SD-AMBITION. Not for money. But someone who works hard and has big ideas. They want to be the master of their craft.
RP-POTENTIAL. I want to make contact with a character that can bring me into their world . Details can be fixed later.
LR-Characrter drive, page turning, emotionally powerful. The exploration of universals in unique ways.
PL-INTRIGUE. Make me feel like THIS character should exist.
-Also wants a professional cover letter.
LO-Tell us about cover letters?
LP-A line or two that verifies you’ve done your homework. Followed by a brief summary of what your work is about. Add credentials at the end but leave out the “my kids love it.”
-Avoid comparisons to books that are too big. Comp titles are good to have but use them wisely.
SM-They bring the professionalism. Take it seriously and don’t sell yourself short. Proves your investment
EM-It helps the agent get the bigger picture of you and your potential career.
LR-Reading for a sense of the person behind the story. But remember the process of querying is like dating so don’t over share your scary stuff on the first date. :o)
AP-Don’t over promise and under deliver. Did you say what you meant to say.
SD-Calm down–it’s okay–it points the way to the writing. And writing a pitch is an art–so practice.
LO-How do you see your role when you take on a new client?
RP-I wear many hats–particularly what the client will benefit from the most.
EM-I’ll ask you to revise because it’s a skill and if you don’t have the skill, I can’t talk you up to editors.
SD-Revision–if the bar can be raised–it’s better for the sale.
-I want to guarantee at the point of submission that we took that MS out as strong as we could make it.
RP-The potential of the brand
AP-Helping to hone their attention towards the second book.
SM-(Cutting in) Brand is a tricky word. Your brand is simply who YOU are.
LO-What makes you cringe?
EM-Submisions from prison. *cue whole ballroom cracking up*
LR-Something that feels formulaic.
LP-Dropped in the middle of ungrounded action. Wants to be vested in the character.
RP-Too much or not enough opening information.
AP-Lot’s of bad rhyme in PB’s–changing the trajectory of the story to meet the rhyme.
EM-Envisioning yourself as a celebrity instead of focusing on the writing.
SM-Making big mistakes that indicate you’re not that serious about what you are doing.
SD-Prologues with car accidents
-Same beginnings all the time.
-Prologue that’s different than the first chapter.
-Wakes up, gets our of bed and looks in the mirror.
*The beginning doesn’t have to be the beginning–fresh language that gets you into the story at a different place.
Even though the morning proved to be off to an amazing start–you can’t stop believing that there’s more. The next Keynote was from Aaron Becker–SOME ADJUSTMENTS WERE MADE ALONG THE WAY: ONE ARTIST’S JOURNEY.
Aaron started us off by getting the whole room to help him sing Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. You appreciate that transition now, don’t you? LOL!
Anyway–if I’ve got you mystified and you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about–you might not realize that the Aaron is the gifted author/illustrator of the 2014 Caldecott Honor book JOURNEY.
Love, love love this wordless picture book. You can’t even begin to imagine how much story is hidden between it’s gorgeous, sweet, humorous, creative, magical illustrations. But it all made sense when Aaron talked about how stories are how we understands our lives. That is something that resonates with me down to my core. I also wanted to add that I have two young artist/illustrators at home and I took this shot of one of Aaron’s early masterpieces to show them how we grow as we practice our craft.
It left them with their jaws hanging open and it reminded me that we continually have to work at our practice to reach the vision we have of ourselves in our mind. Time to get out my “red crayon” and make some magic happen on my pages. <3
Mary Lee and Megan
I know my recaps can be a bit lengthy at times, but don’t get moody–get Judy Moody!!!! Next up was my first Workshop of the day with Megan McDonald and Mary Lee Donovan JUDY: FOREVER 8–CREATING AND SUSTAINING A SERIES.
Both Megan (the author of Judy Moody) and Mary Lee (Judy Moody editor-Candlewick) were amazing, funny and informative. The thrust of the presentation was about the unique choices that were made all along the course of Judy Moody’s development. The creativity in writing and marketing led to the launch of a beloved early chapter book series that has become a huge hit. Here are some of the takeaways…
*Megan made “me collage’s” to help her brainstorm and get to know her characters and her world.
*They avoided formulaic packaging. It’s uniqueness helped it to stand out.
*Judy Moody is a 3rd grader but her first book was 150 pages long. This was a little unique for 7-10 year olds. But they liked having a thick book to carry around.
*The book had short, episodic chapters targeting 7-10 year olds.
*The print was large with a lot of white space and frequent illustrations.
*At the time, bright colors were competing on the shelf so the craft paper design and unique shape caught people’s attention.
*Judy Moody was positioned as a new cast of characters that everyone needed to meet.
*Marketing was directed to a kid audience and a teacher audience. Word of mouth then helped Judy Moody reinvent the 3rd grade novel. <3
Next up I grabbed lunch on the go and headed over to my regional get together. I didn’t have time to take pics but there were french fries in my Big Fat Gyro and there was some debate about the authenticity of that. My RA was served in the same way in Greece. So anyone have any thoughts on this? It was a first for me. Very yummy, too.
Next up was a Keynote by Maggie Stiefvater A THEIF AND AN ARTIST STEALING STORIES FROM LIFE.
Maggie is an amazing storyteller–as you might imagine from that series of pics. She’s just too animated to pin down LOL! But after listening to Maggie, I also began to think of her as a modern day renaissance woman. Very intelligent and loaded with all kinds of artistic ability in so many areas–writing, sketching and music. I was relieved that she wasn’t very good in the kitchen because I was starting to get a little intimidated and jealous. But considering how much amazing advice she shared and how it impacted my own thoughts on writing, I’m a fan-girl for sure. Some of Maggie’s best take aways…
*I am rarely creating things form scratch. I steal the soul of someone else and then as an artist I stitch it back together.
*The only way to get better at something is to practice.
*Shallow Thievery vs. Deep Artistry
-Learn to solve for X–things are not what is on the surface.
-It’s not about the punch, it’s about why he threw it and more importantly why he’d never thrown it before.
*It’s not write what you know (we don’t personally know that much to be interesting) It’s about WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW THE ESSENCE OF.
And I get to hear the hilarious Megan McDonald talk again at her Keynote WRITER, WRESTLER, STUTTERER, SPY: FINDING YOUR VOICE AS A WRITER.
The really cool thing about Megan’s keynote was that it was completely different than the info I’d heard in the morning. *fist pump* Most of her stuff was side split tingly hilarious stories that I couldn’t even begin to recount here, but I did pull this out and write it in my notes…
*If you want to write–find your splinter–the thing that is embedded, still sharp and hurting you. Write about that.
Day two of the conference seemed to be about repeat speakers, which was completely okay with me because I really enjoyed them just as much the second time around. My afternoon Workshop was with Justin Chanda–YOU HAVE YOUR 1ST (2ND, 3RD) CONTRACT(S) HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP AND HURT YOURSELF.
A seriously helpful workshop and one of the best PRO sessions I’ve taken. Right up there with those done by Ruta Sepetys. My only complaint was that it was too short. Would love to see the same workshop offered as an AM/PM two part workshop. Justin talked about some of the best and worst practices that could help or hurt an author after they’ve gotten a contract.
*The starting point for everything is your editor.
*Most important people on staff are the assistants–treat them that way.
*Do not say one thing to your editor and another to your agent and leave your agent to solve it. (ex. Editor: Can you have it to me in 4 weeks. Author: Sure, No problem. Author talking to Agent: There is no way I can do that in four weeks—please fix it. *weeps*)
-Run around becomes tedious for everyone
-We are all in this together.
-Always better to be honest.
*You have to stand up for yourself–it is your book.
*A good editor will never rewrite your book, they will help you make your vision clearer. “I will never win that argument if it’s not meant to be won.”
*Everyone is always working towards the same goal.
*Try not to send multiple emails in one week with different subjects.
*Don’t be afraid to ask questions, we love to talk about what we do.
*Remember to work on your book–consumers want books not marketing. You’re first job is to WRITE!!!!
*100′s of people touch your book along the process of publication.
*Everyone wants your book to work–no one is sitting in the back room trying to figure out how to screw you over.
*80% of tanked covers have been at the author’s insistence. Speak your mind but trust your team.
*80% of the books Justin publishes lose money. The top 20% is carrying the 80%
*Good marketing departments need to be nimble.
*There is a finite amount of marketing resources. And it’s usually unpredictable.
*Do not compare your publication plans with anyone else’s.
*Don’t spend your own money in a vacuum. Coordinate with your team to get the best for your money.
*Publication grows with you throughout your career.
*Highly recommends school visits as the best way to self promote. WORD OF MOUTH!
*Social media is the greatest and worst thing to happen to publishing.
-DO NOT VENT ONLINE
-DO NOT PLEAD YOUR GRIEVANCES IN THE COURT OF SOCIAL MEDIA.
*And like Debbi Oh always says…Another writer’s success doesn’t diminish your chance of success–cheer on other writers. <3
Phew!!!! I’m getting really tired. This may be one of the longest conference recaps I’ve ever had. It’s all because there was so much great information and inspiration. Like this next panel…
A Marketing and Sales Panel–PUTTING YOUR BOOK IN THE HANDS OF READERS: HOW SALES, MARKETING AND PUBLICITY BRING YOUR BOOK TO MARKET with Felicia Frazier, Shanta Newlin and Emily Romero
These ladies were fire crackers. This was hands down the best sales/marketing/publicity class I’ve been exposed to at a conference. Entertaining and informative–I wanted to hang out with this smart and charismatic ladies. Here’s my best takeaway from each of them…
*We are so lucky–we have a replenishing source of kids EVERY YEAR! ROTFL!!!
*Our business is a recommendation based business.
*You have to see, hear or read about a book at least 5 times before you make a purchase.
As pumped as I was, my perky personality was getting hungry and starting to wilt. The final Keynote of the evening was Cynthia Kadohata MY LIFE: REAL AND IMAGINED.And yes, I forgot to take another picture. But here is my favorite takeaway…
*No matter what writing problem you have the answer is always somewhere in your life.
There–I did it. I made it through day 2. *nods off* BUT WAIT—It’s time for the 2014 Poolside Gala!!!!!!! It was Tomie Depaola’s 80th Birthday Bash: A Night in Old Italy. Since Tomie couldn’t be there, we did serenade him with a flash mob to That’s Amore. <3 A copy of that is floating around Youtube somewhere. Here’s a snap shot of the rest of the evening…
The party was getting started. The view from my room.
I was having trouble coming up with a costume and a friend suggested being an “old” tourist in Italy.
I immediately started channeling my Dad LOL!
Nancy my RA stomping some grapes with me.
Hanging out with my Shop Talk buddy Imogene–New York to LA!!!
My Dad would have absolutely hung out with the Pope ROTFL!
Lots of laughs all night.
Jodi and Howard–dancing buddies <3
And then I fell asleep. Lies. Then I hung out in the lobby and talked with friends. And then I fell asleep. More Lies. Then I got in my PJ’s and talked with Jodi some more. ROTFL! But then I finally did fall asleep–and it was great until I …
Well, that’s a story for my finally recap post next Tuesday. We don’t want to overwhelm you–I don’t think this lengthy post can take one more word. Hope it was helpful and didn’t make your eyes bleed. In fact–as encouragement to write the last post recap, why don’t you let me know in the comments which bit of posted wisdom or inspiration resonates with you the most. And don’t forget my fries and gyro conundrum. See you next week.
It’s Conference Recap time!!!! And yes, if you’re paying attention–this post was supposed to be up this morning. But I flew in last night and had as much fun reconnecting with my family as I did when I was reconnecting with my tribe. So now it was time for them to get my attention. I’m also not super timely with today’s post because I was so tired it felt as if I no longer had bones. It’s hard to type without bones. It’s much better to sit on the couch and become one with the cushions. And lastly I’m pokey because laundry doesn’t do itself *sigh* and neither do the dishes and all those other chores. Completely bummed that there wasn’t a shift in the domestic universe while I was gone. But I’m on it now, so here we go.
Jodi, Robin, Kim and Caroline
Thursday night, before the official 2014 LA SCBWI 43rd Annual Summer Conference kick off, is time for meeting up with old friends and giving first time hugs to friends you know incredibly well online, but have never laid eyes on before. Such a treat to make those connections. Such an easy way to really kick your jet lag into high gear LOL!
OMG!!!!! Even though I was THAT tired and didn’t have to be up until about 7–I WAS UP AT 5:30 AM!!!!!!!! JET LAG!!!! But that’s okay–it’s early in the conference. It won’t happen again. It never happened to me before in LA. IT WON”T HAPPEN AGAIN. And I’m so pumped to get started and there’s coffee–lots of coffee!!!! I am the master of my destiny. And I have my “jet lag” T-shirt on. LOL!
So I’m ready and I know I’m going to be wide awake for Lin Oliver‘s State of the SCBWI Conference Statistics.
*19 Countries + the USA
*We had four missing states this year and when Lin chastised South Dakota for never coming–BUSTED! One of them had tricked us and snuck in. YAY!!!! South Dakota in the house!!!!!! But not Arkansas, Montana and Mississippi. Boo. Get on that people.
*Half the room was published authors or as Lin said–630 authors understood that publishing is not the end game–there is so much more to learn on this journey <3
We also took a moment to remember the amazing Walter Dean Myers and sniffle because our beloved Tomie DePaola wasn’t going to make the conference or his birthday bash gala due to illness. But the good news was that he was going to be ok. (More on Tomie in future recaps)
And then we’re off with…
*slurps more coffee*
Meg Rosoff‘s Keynote: WARNING: PETER RABBIT MAY BE HARMFUL TO YOUR HEALTH
As you know, my recap posts can’t possibly capture the complete amazingness of the conference and it’s speakers–and it shouldn’t–I’m trying to tempt you into coming next year and hanging out with me. But even if I could get it all down in it’s full bloggy splendor, it’s a no-no to post too much conference material that doesn’t belong to me. Completely understandable. But, get your pens out, because I am gong to give you some of my favorite bits of wisdom and inspiration, starting with Meg…
*Reading books gives you imagination and the ability to tell a story and those skills will make everyone better at everything–except Accountants and Politicians–it will put them in jail LOL!
*The most difficult problems in the universe are solved in the telling of stories.
*Adults have already formed their opinions about sexuality. Kids are discovering through books and tolerance is growing.
*Treasure your faults–they are an important kind of truth.
*Writing is bloody difficult.
*Imagination can be very dangerous–it can change the world and that’s why we write.
Next up is the Editor’s Panel: 3+3 THREE THINGS YOUR BOOK SHOULD INCLUDE AND THREE THINGS IT SHOULDN’T
AB-Alessandra Balzer (Balzer + Bray–Harper Collin’s Children)
MLD-Mary Lee Donovan (Candlewick)
AJ-Allyn Johnston (Beach Lane Books–Simon & Schuster)
WL-Wendy Loggia (Delacort press/Random House Children’s Books)
LM-Lucia Monfried (Dial Books for Young Readers)
DS-Dinah Stevenson (Clarion Books-Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
JSG- Julie Strauss-Gabel (Dutton Children’s Books–Penguin Young Readers)
Moderator: LO-Lin Oliver
LO–What is the most important thing you look for?
MLD-VOICE. You bring it automatically but you have to write it authentically.
AJ-SURPRISE I want the unexpected. Goosebumps. Spend less time working on your cover letter and more time worrying about your MS.
WL-VOICE You can’t hone your voice–it’s who you are. It’s immediate.
LM-ORIGINALITY It’s rare, but it’s what all editors look for.
DS-A BEGINNING an invitation that contains the seeds of the end.
JSG-A GOOD FIT sometimes a manuscript can be good, but there is a better home for it.
LO-So, how do we find that perfect fit?
JSG-You can’t get it anywhere if you write to the general masses. It’s okay to be unique and different–you only need one.
MLD-Research–take the time to find the connection.
LO-(answering part of her own question LOL!) The SCBWI has a web resource document called EDITED BY.
***Everyone chiming in–NO MULTIPLE SUBMISSIONS WITHIN THE SAME PUBLISHING HOUSE***
LO-Going to the dark side…what do you not want to see???
JSG-BORING–my best asset is a short attention span.
DS-Don’t want to see 100,000 words.
LM-Show instead of tell.
WL-Absent page numbers. I WANT PAGE NUMBERS ON YOUR MS!
AJ-Don’t be weird. Like sending your submission in a plastic green fish. *shudders*
MLD-The urge to teach/preach
AB-Too much packed into the beginning to get the editor’s attention. It can have the reverse effect.
LO-How do you know if you’re boring???? We all think we’re pretty great, right??? LOL!
Some additional bits of advice…
AJ–Write something with snappy humor.
WL-Show thoughtfulness behind your choices.
AJ-Confidence! Then I can relax and enjoy the story because I know I’m in good hands.
LM-Write your heart–ignore trends.
JSG-Word of mouth is what makes a book a success.
AB-Hook–it has to meet different people at different levels.
AJ-The final page turn can make or break picture book.
DS-Craft has a lot to do with making choices–we don’t always need to know the color of the dog’s collar.
JSG-Sub Plots: sometimes people throw them in to give their book additional engines to make it to the end. If you take the sub plot out, will the story still stand?
AB-Don’t put the cart before the horse. Work on the first steps. Establish relationships.
LM-There is no speeding up becoming a good writer. The better books are the ones that get published.
JSG-Once you are out of the gate–you can’t get back in. Be ready for it.
Next up was my first Workshop of the conference. Laura Rennert (Andrea Brown Literary Agency) THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF A SUCCESSFUL CAREER: FIRST BOOKS THROUGH IMPORTANT MILESTONES
Laura walked us through a case study of the fabulous Maggie Stiefvater and how they built her career together. Here are a couple powerful bits to share…
*The more distinct and individual the brand, the more powerful it is.
*Think about what is powerful and organic to you, but that can break out in a very full category of your peers.
*Growth is from book to book to book.
And Yum! It’s LUNCH TIME!!!!
Look how quick that was. Now it’s time to go back after being in guacamole heaven. I seriously adore the green stuff and could eat it every day. And since I have a feeling that Skippy Jon Jones would love guacamole– it was obviously the perfect meal to eat before listening to a Keynote by Judy Schachner: THINKING IN PICTURES–MY STORYTELLING PROCESS
Judy’s fabulous and funny presentation was very visual–but come on–she’s an artist and illustrator. It’s supposed to be. But that makes it a bit hard to share some of her amazing information. But I think I’m going to have fun just giving you some of the bullets in my notes (completely out of context) and see how it works for you. *giggle*
Here we go…
*I worship at the alter of prairie dogs.
*Diagnosed ADHD by a boy at a school visit.
*Loves dead mice and collects hairballs.
*29ft Viking ship!
*Be a collector.
*Run for your lives–she’s got the rabies!!!!
Now, wasn’t that fun. Feel free to tell me what you think Judy was referring to in the comments :o)
Up next was another Keynote. This time with Stephen Chbosky (author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower) HOW TO WRITE YOUR TIMELESS CLASSIC (OR DIE TRYING)
I’m an über fan girl of Stephen and his book so these bits of wisdom are real gifts…
*The next person to write a classic could be in this room.
BAM! He’s not even a sentence or two in and he has me. Because I believe that. I believe that not only can that be me–but that if I work hard enough–it will be me. And I like people who remind me that the smartest thing you can do is shoot for the stars and then figure out a way to get there.
*If you write–you are a writer. Take control of your own destiny.
*Find an idea. Share your ideas with the people you trust and see which one everyone gravitates towards. That’s the one. And it’s usually the one you think is too weird or too hard to make happen.
*You are going to find that one beautiful book you are destined to write.
*The best writers know exactly who they are and what they are doing.
And then my favorite takeaway…
*Books change lives–save lives. That’s why we are here. We want to change the world. It only takes one.
And maybe I was so blown away by talking to Stephen while he signed my book that I forgot to get a picture WITH him. But sometimes you don’t need that to remember the moment…
I was already hard at work on the plane ride home. Thank you Stephen Chbosky for being made of awesome. I’ll keep my promise <3
*sigh* Workshop #2 Wasn’t quite a good fit for me. I came in a little late because I was Face Timing with my kids (3 hour time difference) and then the topic wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. So not a lot of notes for you so we’ll move along.
Next up was the Diversity Panel #weneeddiversebooks
Here is who was on it…
LSP-Linda Sue Park
Moderator SMW-Suzanne Morgan Williams
And here were some of the best takeaways
SMW-Why do kids need diverse books–especially if you did “okay” without them?
MM-When kids don’t have access to examples of themselves in books, it’ affects them. They become embarrassed by who they are.
-All of our journeys are universal, but we have to share our own stories.
LG-Positive imagery for everyone.
LSP-For young readers connections can happen at a really deep level.
SMW-Who writes diverse books?
LSP-Anyone can and should be able to write any one and any thing. But not everyone can do it well. If you do it, you need a passionate personal stake in what you’re writing or you may make things worse. Research can go a long way, but it has to be intensive and extensive. Immersion. At heart–writing multiculturally when this doesn’t happen is a lack of respect.
LG-It comes down to why you are doing it. People will call you with a passion if you mess up–even if your motives are honest.
SF-There are lots of submissions out there, but most of them reduce cultural diversity down to food, clothing and stereotypes. They lack depth.
LSP-Perpetuating stereo types are like ear worms that stick and that is a mistake. It makes people feel disrespected and does the opposite of what it’s supposed to do–enforcing negative energy.
And then it was time for my very first PAL Book Sale & Wine and Cheese Party!!!! I got to sell TOUCHING THE SURFACE to my tribe members while eating cheese. Do you know how much I love cheese? And talking books with friends? Good times were had by all. <3 What an awesome Day 1
Now it’s time for the cliff hanger…
*Did Kim have jet lag again tomorrow?
*Was there enough coffee in the world to make it through day two after such a jam-packed, awesome day one?
*Did anyone figure out what Miss Judy Schachner was talking about? *grin*
If you want to know these and other questions, leave a comment and be sure to stop back over on Thursday for my PART 2 of the LA SCBWI Conference Recap!!!!
Yay! It’s almost here. Saturday is the Millbrook Literary Festival. Here’s a little bit about what will be going on right off their website…
Set your calendars: the 6th annual Millbrook Literary Festival will be held on June 21, 2014.
This year’s festival will present over 70 timely, thought-provoking, and thoroughly entertaining authors and illustrators to participate in panel discussions, readings, and signings throughout the day at the Millbrook Free Library on Franklin Street. The schedule of events and lineup of authors can be found at the links to the left.
People can start the day early at the Farmer’s Market beginning at 9:00 until 1:00. Lunchtime can be enjoyed at one of Millbrook’s many eateries for a deli sandwich, slice of pizza, French cuisine, classic American fare, or other culinary delight. Before leaving the festival, visitors are encouraged to shop in Millbrook’s eclectic stores where treasures abound.
Across the globe, literary festivals have been gaining popularity, increasing literacy, and celebrating books. There are more than 150 festivals in the United Kingdom supporting tourism and literacy while presenting people with direct access to writers, illustrators, editors, and publishers. Here in the United States, literary festivals are growing in numbers annually, and historic Millbrook joins the global and national movements with enthusiasm to make books and reading an important part of our lives.
Want to know who’s going to be there giving presentations and signing books? Click HERE to get the full list of authors and the schedule. Hope I get to see you there. <3
What’s the best literary festival you’ve had the pleasure of attending?
I get so excited when things I love collide. Today, for my Bookanistas review, I have a mash-up of awesomeness that I can’t wait to share with you.
It’s a contemporary novel that hits my sweet spot–not so serious it’s dark, but deep enough to make me fall in love with the characters. Just an all around awesome read.
AND it was written by my fabulous Wolf Pack Sistah Kasie West!!!
Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.
So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.
She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.
Kimberly’s Review of THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US:
Some times you read a book that’s dark, heavy and serious and it feel like a punch in the gut in a weird, but wonderful way. Other times you might read a book that’s so light and fluffy, it floats in one ear and out the other after you’ve breezed through it’s pages. It’s delightful cotton candy, so perfect in the moment, but doesn’t have a lot of sticking power. Fun but frivolous.
Then there’s a book like THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US. It’s the perfect pairing. It’s peanut butter and chocolate. It’s mozzarella and tomato. It’s warm chocolate chip cookies and cold milk. (I’m noticing I have a lot of chocolate and_________ comparisons I could use but I’m trying not to go there LOL!) One more…It’s chocolate and caramel. Yum!
Anyway, back to the real sweet stuff. West has a talent for finding the balance between light and dark, funny and serious, familiar and unique. If you like really great contemporary–particularly the awesome reads of Sarah Dessen, you’re going to want to pick up THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US by Kasie West. You don’t want there to be any distance between you and this book. <3
You can find THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US here…
*Barnes & Noble
I write YA. I eat Junior Mints. Sometimes I go crazy and do both at the same time. My novels, published through Harper Teen are: PIVOT POINT, its sequel SPLIT SECOND (Feb 2014), and THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US (a contemporary novel). I also have two more contemporaries, ON THE FENCE coming out July 1, 2014, and THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND coming out the summer of 2015. My agent is the talented and funny Michelle Wolfson.
You can find out more about Kasie West, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN us and her other totally awesome books here:
And you can find more perfect reads by the Bookanistas here…
Jessica Love adores WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN by Kristin Rae
Katy Upperman raves about PUSH GIRL by Jessica Love and Chelsie Hill
What other books do you recommend that have the perfect balance? And what else should I pair with my chocolate? LOL!
I read YA week is here!!!! And you can be a part of it. Follow @this_is_teen and the #IreadYA hashtag on twitter. Every day we’ll be talking about a different topic.
Go HERE to download on of your own colored icons for I read YA week.
I read YA is also active on Facebook at This is Teen.
Follow on Instagram and share your own #IreadYA pictures.
And #IreadYA is on Tumblr too! Go Check them out!
Now tell me what your favorite YA reads are!!!! I need to know because my TBR list is not long enough.
Recently the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks has been all over twitter and the blogoshere. I’ve loved hearing and seeing the amazing requests for books and covers to reflect all the lives and faces of readers. I’ve also found the surrounding blog posts extremely interesting. They have often insightfully commented on the speed bumps we put in our own path to making change. But today I’m talking about something a little bit different. #WeNeedDiverseCritsOnOurManscripts
Not exactly the same thing, but as a writer, also pretty important.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an unpublished newbie or the author of multiple successful books. At some point, you need to have eyes other than your own on your manuscript. Of course, if you’re John Green or Veronica Roth, you’ve probably got some very eager and talented higher-ups in publishing who are willing to give feedback. But I would also imagine they have a secret stash of trusted people who will give them honest feedback on their work. And I would hazard a guess, that while those special people may not all be in publishing, they are intelligent readers who bring special insight to the table. This diversity is really important.
I very recently finished up a draft of a project to send to my agent. Because this project is a little different than what I’ve previously worked on, I really needed to have a wide swath of readers to give me feedback before I sent it for it’s first date with my agent. I don’t want to give away too much about my shiny new project. *hugs project protectively* But I have to tell you, despite having close to a dozen pairs of diverse eyes looking it over, I received very little overlapping advice on how to tighten the story. And even better, most of the suggestions were excellent and incorporated. The readers who gave me critiques saw my work with unique filters and now my writing is richer because of their vision.
Here are some general suggestions for finding diverse critiques for your writing. Since I write for kids, I’m gearing my advice to similar writers, but I think you can effectively extrapolate on the idea if you write outside of kid lit. Also keep in mind that too much advice can make you crazy. Pick your readers wisely. You should also be aware of your inner compass–be prepared to pass over advice that does’t resonate with you. Know your own voice and stick with it. But just as important, be open to trying something that doesn’t initially feel comfortable. You can always return to the original. Here are some of my suggestions for getting diversity into your critiques…
*Find someone who represents your target audience. They don’t have to be a writer–just a reader. How do they organically respond to your writing. Do they emote in the correct places? Do they get confused? Do they dislike a character they are supposed to be rooting for?
*Find someone who teaches your target audience. They know your target audience intimately, but they bring a unique perspective. Is the reading level too high? Is the topic one that kids are looking for more information on? Is your dialogue completely outdated?
*Find a children’s librarian. They know what is being checked out and read over and over again. They may also be able to help you find readers in your target audience if you are having trouble with that.
*Find a parent of a child in your target audience that takes an avid interest in their children’s reading. (This is less important with teens, but can be an interesting perspective) For younger kids, it is often the parent who is doing the reading. Will a parent want to read this book over and over again with their child? And not that you always care whether they do or not (sorry parents–ultimately we write for kids) but do the parents want to ban your book? It’s never bad to know what you’re up against.
*Find an expert that compliments your subject matter. Writing historical fiction? Writing about a medical issue? Writing about a unique location? Have someone look your manuscript over who is knowledgable in the area you are writing about.
*Find someone who has great editorial skills. It’s fabulous if you can find a crit partner that knows spelling, grammar and the proper way to set up a manuscript for submission. Especially if this is an area you are weak in. *coughs*
*Find a friend who understands your emotional personality. We write with our hearts and that’s a good thing. It is a bonus to have a reader that is keyed into the deeper threads of your story. You need someone who can point out the places where those threads are seamlessly woven and on the other hand, where you’ve gotten yourself into a knot.
*Find fresh eyes. Sometimes, no matter how lovely and talented the above critique partners are, you need fresh eyes. When someone has gone over multiple drafts of your project, they can provide a lot of amazing feedback, BUT they can also get too close to the work. They may forget that they know something only because it was in a previous draft of your writing. They are familiar–too familiar with the story. Sometimes their knowledge of your manuscript can taint their response to it. At this point, it’s always nice to get a fresh pair of well rounded eyes to look over your writing with no preconceived notions.
Did I miss any? Do you have any other recommendations for utilizing diverse crit partners for your manuscript? Please share. Or if you have any questions, fire away!
And remember–it takes time to go through all those notes you get back from a critique. But it also takes time for someone to read your work and write you those notes. Not every person can drop everything to attack your MS in a pinch. Know your timeline and never forget to return the favor. Thoughtful critiquing makes you a better writer and a much more awesome human being. :o)
I had an amazing time at the Hudson Children’s Book Festival this weekend!!!
What an amazing group of book loving people. Let me share some of them with you…
Setting up–the calm before the book storm. <3
Signing TOUCHING THE SURFACE for some very special fans.
Tiffany Schmidt and her amazing books were a teen magnet all day long.
K.M. Walton and Jennifer Castle hanging out with one of the many fabulous volunteers.
Jodi Moore and Dragon giving a tutorial on how to make your very own puppet.
I had the pleasure of sitting next to the extremely talented Hudson Talbott.
And my fellow Apocalypsie –Tiffany Schmidt
Made a brand new friend, Bruce Hopkins. Feels like I’ve known him for years.
Jodi Moore, Dragon and I got to have an early celebration with SCBWI Crystal Kite winner Kit Grindstaff. Congratulations on her win for her debut novel THE FLAME IN THE MIST.
SQUEE!!!!! MY CRITIQUE GROUP GOT TO HANG OUT WITH THE INDOMITABLE ELLEN HOPKINS ALL DAY LONG!!!! (ALL CAPS INTENTIONAL) And don’t forget the bonus SQUEE!!!! Megan, Jodi and I got to hang out all weekend together. We hadn’t seen each other in A YEAR!!! Seeing them was the BEST! <3
It was an amazing day. The book lovers in Hudson already feel like family.
I hope I get a chance to see them a lot more often. And I can’t thank them enough for hosting this wonderful event and having me be a part of it.
Everyone thinks that Dust Bunnies don’t like to read. In fact, because they blow all over the floor–a little to the left, then a little to the right–everyone assumes they only excel at dancing. And while they do have a particular fondness for the Cha-Cha and a good country line dance. I’m here to tell you they are also closet reader.
How do I know this? I have proof. They are the ones who’ve had all my old diaries and journals. I’d been looking for those so ling I thought for sure they’d gotten tossed.
Those sly little bunnies. Anyway, I’ve always told my readers that TOUCHING THE SURFACE was the first novel I’ve ever written. And I didn’t lie. Phew! But I’d forgotten that I’d started one in 9th grade. And now that the bunnies are done with it, I’m finding myself rather entertained. Part of me is cracking up and another piece is thinking–parts of this (small parts) are way better than I would’ve expected from my teenage self.
Since it is Throwback Thursday and I always take the advice of Dust Bunnies when it comes to reading recommendations, I thought I’d pull this untitled work back out again. Here’s my first “draft” of eleven, single spaced, handwritten (in cursive) pages.
It goes a little something like this…
(I have left in all typos for your entertainment)
Here I Come
“Mom!” I wailed as we approached the school. “They left with out me!”
“Heidi, sweetheart, calm down” my mother replied. “There is practically a hurricane going on! “Do you expect everyone to be waiting outside with their luggage in a down pour?”
I gave it a good second thought and realized she must be right. As we drove up to the front doors of Franklin Jr. High I could see all my friends including my best friend, Amber Bates,
sitting standing in the hallway and It was getting quite dark out but I could make out everyone quite clearly with every fresh bolt of lightening. I grabbed my suitcase and kissed my mother goodbye in one easymotion. As I dased to the doors which Amber was holding open for me. The one thing that stuck in my mind was “what a way to start our big 9th grade class trip
* * *
Best 80′s Quote–“I had brown permed hair hair wich I blew out on top and left curly in the back.”
Best Dialogue– “That was quite and entrance Heidi”
“Don’t you know Tony. Its classy to come someplace fashionably late.”
“Sure it is but fashionably doesn’t mean like a seal in the hundred yard dash.”
“Well Tony, at least I don’t look (like) a seal all the time.”
Best Joke– “He was most famously known for his fig newton jokes. My favorite one was ‘What do you call a fig newton that just got out of the hospital? A: All figsed up!!’”
Best Cliffhanger– “Just as everyone was making a mad dash across the room everything went black and the only sound you could hear was clumsy Nancy Emory falling over someone’s suitcase in the dark.”
Are you still with me??? Because after a cliff hanger like that, I decided to skip that whole “write a complete first draft” step and go directly to my favorite part of writing–REVISION! I started all over again. This time with nineteen, single spaced, handwritten pages…
Above me the thunder crashed and with every fresh bolt of lightening
my the feeling of anticipation grew inside me. I couldn’t really decide if I liked that feeling or not. As I continued to pack my clothes into the suitcase I finally decided I could sacrifice five minutes of my time to analyze it all again. I mean alot was at stake this weekend but the biggest risk I was going to take was with my feelings. If this last atempt on my part failed I was almost sure I would end up with a full fledge broken heart.
Best Pep Talk–“If it was your different speaclness (specialness?) that attracted him to you in the first place then the only way you can ever get him back is by being different and special. If he really loved you inside as much as he had said he did then he won’t forget you very easy.”
Best Revised Sentence–DRAFT #1 ” I gave it a good second thought and realized she must be right.”
DRAFT #2 “I gave it a good second thought and started to scold my imagination for being over active.”
Best Random Sentence–“Instead I followed him back to our group and silently
watched listened to Craig Morris do tell us about how on his vacation he accidentally walked int a nudist camp while taking a hike.”
And since I can’t top that AND my kids need my attention AND the dust bunnies want their reading material back–I’ll stop torturing you now. LOL! Go look up some of the things your dust bunnies have been reading and don’t forget to share!
Woo hoo!!! I am so excited to be a part of the 6th Annual Hudson Children’s Book Festival!!!!
I’ll be there with my sharpies signing copies of TOUCHING THE SURFACE!!!
But it’s not just me!
There is an epic ton of amazing kid lit folks on the scene. For the full Author/Illustrator list click HERE.
But I have to SQUEE!
Some of my best writer buds and fan yourself fan-girl worthy authors are going to be there…
So, come out and visit all of us!!!! We can’t wait to hang out with you <3
Katherine Longshore keeps getting better and better. In my opinion, BRAZEN (The Royal Circle, Book 3) is her best book yet!
Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?
Kimberly’s Review of BRAZEN:
I’ve never been one to lean in the direction of historical fiction until I started reading Katherine Longshore’s books and BRAZEN is my favorite to date. Her writing just keeps getting better and better. It’s so rare to find a book that is historically educational while also as tantalizing and swoon worthy as a very popular romance. An amazing read.
Mary Howard and Henry FitzRoy are chess pieces in the very real and dangerous games being played in King Henry VIII’s court. But love has a power all it’s own and Longshore gives us front row seats to the danger and intrigue. You do not want to miss your chance to be a part of this. Read BRAZEN–better yet–read GILT, TARNISH and then BRAZEN asap!
You can pre-order BRAZEN by Katherine Longshore here…
*Barnes & Noble
Having spent time as a freelance travel writer, travel agent, coffee shop barista, bookseller, ship’s steward, construction company contracts manager and Montessori preschool teacher, I have finally found my calling. I write historical fiction for young adults. I am represented by Catherine Drayton of InkWell Management.
You can find out more about Katherine Longshore and BRAZEN here…
Want to know what other must-reads the Bookanistas have been consuming? You’re in for a treat…
Lenore Appelhans is nuts for NOGGIN by John Corey Whaley
Tracy Banghart swoons for STAR CURSED by Jessica Spotswood
Rebecca Behrens raves about PUSH GIRL by Bookanista Jessica Love
Christine Fonseca is riveted by SEKRET by Lindsay Smith
Jessica Love sings the praises of OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord
Katy Upperman is crazy for THE SYMPTOMS OF MY INSANITY by Mindy Raf
If you could read a historical fiction about any time period in history, what time frame would you like to see between the pages of a good book? I want to hear more about the Berlin Wall and what that felt like for families separated and trying to get home to each other. Okay historical fiction writers–get on that for me.