We’d been warned that our good little puppy was going to begin to test boundaries. And he did. Let’s just say there was some counter-surfing-steak-snatching going on among other antics. *sigh*
In the middle of the chaos, when I wanted to be writing but I was catching a 50lb dog as he flew through the air off the couch, (THAT off command being the only one he obeyed all day) I may not have found him amusing. But as the boys and I laughed about it later, I felt sure that MUCH later I’ll be thanking the wee beastie for providing me with lots of very interesting and entertaining book ideas.
So, with mixed emotions about admitting it, I guess I have to say…thank you, Riley.
Do you have any “Marley” stories you want to share? All pets and kids are eligible for “Marley” status. Make me laugh folks…
With the 40th Anniversary of Saturday Night Live being celebrated, my family and I have been belly laughing like crazy as we’ve relived some of the best SNL moments. There are so many classics, but there’s one that none of us had seen before and it’s now become a Sabatini favorite.
But before I share it with you, I’m going to make this an even better blog post (the video alone is pretty hilarious) by asking you to view it through the filter of a writer. No matter where you are in your writing journey there’s always a gate keeper telling you no. Across every desk, there’s someone who can’t see your vision for the next big thing.
The whole family was away on a ski trip that was awesome but very, very cold. How cold you ask?
Yeah, about a -24 on the top of the mountain. It was a mighty breezy gondola ride LOL! I felt like I was frozen half the weekend. Thank the stars for hot tubs. But, when I did get home, I was rather occupied. I had a long lost puppy to hug.
It was the first time the little fur baby stayed with someone else. He did great but once we had him back, there was lots of hugging going on. And don’t forget that when I arrived home, I had a whole different mountain to climb–Mt. Laundrious. I think I’m still out there on one of the permanent press peaks. Bleh!
But today, even though it was still cold, the kids went to school on time. There were no weather delays, which allowed me to do something fabulous called writing. *sigh* It was wonderful to have an UNINTERRUPTED chunk of time with my manuscript. I hammered out over a 1,000 words in a reasonable amount of time, but it isn’t the word count I’m writing about. (Although it makes me very happy.) Rather, what’s worthy of a blog post is the unexpected thing that happened…
BAM! One of my characters blindsided me right along with my MC.
We are both still reeling from the unexpected development. He did what??? I’m still baffled. I NEVER thought this character would do THAT. But he did. I knew it for absolute certain even though I don’t know exactly what that means for my MC at the moment. It has rattled my cage, but it also makes me content to be a pantster. The truth is that some days I panic, being a fly by the seat of my pants kind of a girl. When I hit a tough spot, I’m SURE if I could just outline, my life would be complete. COMPLETE!
But then a moment like today happens and I bask in my creative process. This development could have never come from an outline. At least not my outlines. Those are nuttier than an peanut factory. The simplest way I can explain the joy of this thing that happened, is to say that it’s a small moment of confirmation. It reminds me that I’m not really crazy–not THAT crazy anyway. *shrugs* I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, y’all.
And of course, tomorrow or maybe next week, I’ll be back to wishing I had a road map for a book, instead of just headlights, hope and instinct to guide my way. Traveling in the dark can be hard and even kind of scary, but that’s why I wrote this post. It’s to remind me that sometimes the best things happen when you aren’t looking.
I’m back with the second half of the 2015 NY SCBWI Conference recap. You can find Part 1 HERE. And yes, in case you’re wondering, I am extra tired because I stayed up too late talking to my fabulous roommate Jodi Moore talking about her newest dragon book!!!
An unexpected perk of the conference was a chance to get a sneak peek at Jodi’s new Dragon Baby–WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN AGAIN
It’s bad enough that the new baby takes up Mom’s lap and Dad’s time. But
when this tiny, drooly, stinky, crying newborn somehow charms the dragon, the
boy decides he’s had enough of this baby business. Is there room in the castle
for three? Find out When a Dragon Moves In Again.
Sequel to the award-winning When a Dragon Moves In
Can’t wait for the Fall to bring this Dragon home <3
Jodi and her Dragon weren’t the only people we were celebrating on Sunday morning. The day kicked off with the Awards Presentations…
Congrats to all the illustrators who won awards. Your work is gorgeous.
And Sana accepts the Mid-List Author award from Jane Yolen who credits her with being a force in bringing diversity to our children’s books.
We also got to sing Happy Birthday to Jane. <3
And celebrate with Caldecott winner Dan Santat even if he wasn’t in the room.
We’ll catch him in person in LA. But until then, here’s how proud we are of Dan…
And we can’t forget to thank the SCBWI staff that makes these conferences happen…
They are the BEST!
The first Keynote of the day was by another amazing author/illustrator…The Making of a Picture Book by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
I was blown away by her, her process and her books. Laura talked about having a notebook to capture your stream of consciousness. And she shared her notebooks with us. I loved this beginning…
Laura also reminded us that when making a concept book, there is always story–there is depth. She kick started so many ideas for me and she opened my eyes to how to see picture book writing in a completely different way. Take a look at her award winning book Green…
James was a funny guy. He started off his speech like Letterman with a top 10 List.
But between the jokes he had some serious and helpful stuff to share. He reminded us that even though he’s the author of The Maze Runner, which was recently made into a movie, it wasn’t so long ago that he was sitting where we were. He went to college to become an accountant and hated it. He struggled as a new author with a small press and a kinda weird cover. But you should never give up because…
*The Maze Runner was rejected the first time it went out.
*Sometimes it is about lucky breaks, but if you quit you won’t get the chance to enjoy them.
He also told us…
*He never takes his success for granted because he could have been stuck in a job he hated.
*And it might be helpful to use a title that guarantees success–like Harry Potter and the Divergent Games of Hunger. ROTFL!
And there is nothing else I can say that’s better than that. *grin* But what I can tell you about next is the Keynote Agent’s Panel: Charting Charting Your Career Path.
BG–On career: This is not a speed race. If everything goes right I get to be your agent for 30, 40, 50 years.
JL–Illustrators need to have a centrally located online portfolio.
BG–There is no call I fear more than the one when a client says they’ve quit their job. This is not a job you get into with the intention of supporting your family.
TW–If you are writing with your heart you are writing with your passion. You are not writing to pay the bills.
BG–Don’t query with a rhetorical question or in your characters voice.
BG–If you find yourself tracking your Amazon ranking more than five times a day, you have a problem.
The last Keynote of the conference was Kwame Alexander talking about Dancing Naked on the Floor: How to say Yes to the Writerly Life
Just this week Kwame won the Newbery!!!! After hearing him speak and then reading his work on the train home I know exactly why he won. He is amazing! Here is some of what he inspired us with…
*I didn’t have money, but what I did have was poetry.
*Children’s authors make our living on school visits. We don’t get paid too much by publishers.
*I wanted to write words that elevated, inspired, informed, and uplifted people.
*This writing life is not about sitting in a room with your pencil and paper. You’ve got to get out into the world.
*Need a community around you of truthtellers to keep you on track.
*CROSSOVER was rejected more than 20 times by publishers. Kwame Alexander almost self-published it. It just won the Newbery award.
*When the NO’s come they’re getting out of the way for the Yes’. You can’t let other people’s NO’s define your Yes’.
*You can’t have a dream come true if you don’t have a dream and you can’t write a book if you’re not writing.
*Sit on it. WAIT–Kwame Alexander didn’t say that. The Fonz did!!!
WE got a surprise visit from the one and only Henry Winkler. He was adorable because he was as blown away as the rest of us by Kwame. But he did tell us that we must teach our children where they are great, not where we think they should go. And he also said he has a new mantra which is…I’m going to try. And I think everyone ended the conference inspired and with that very same mantra.
But before we left, we got to get our books signed…
This year’s Newbery winner, Kwame Alexander.
Laura Vaccaro Seeger
And James Dashner
And then it’s back home in time for a bit more snow…
Thanks so much for reliving the 2015 NY SCBWI Conference with me. If you attended, who was your favorite speaker and if you didn’t, who would you have most loved to meet? Hope to see you in NY next year–the Lobby Rats are looking for new friends.
I was off to the 2015 SCBWI NY Winter Conference. I was giddy by the time I sat my butt on the train, because with the holidays, and the puppy and the boys and the snow, I was ready to get away. I needed a weekend where I focused on friends, writing and inspiration. Not to mention about 48 hours where the only person I have to clean up after was ME.
Settling into my seat on the train, I glanced out the window, saw a gorgeous American Bald Eagle in the tree, and then cracked open a book. You can all give a pleasurable sigh right along with me. *sigh* And then, as if good karma was touching me on the head with her magic finger, my hotel room was ready and I was off to meet my fabulous agent, Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary for lunch. (In case you’re wondering, Michelle is currently opened to queries, but be sure to follow the guidelines on her website.)
My favorite picture of us <3
And here are some of the treats she brought for me…
And here’s the new cover in case you’re wondering. OMG! I love it.
*does a happy dance* I can not wait to read them all!!!
Toting my cache, warm from Michelle Wolfson hugs, it was back to the hotel in time to meet up with all my friends. Some had done the Intensives and some were just arriving in NYC.
*Drum roll please* because it’s time to get to the stuff you really want to hear about…
It isn’t a conference if we don’t have Lin Oliver‘s conference statistics:
* 1,032 attendees
* From 47 states. Kansas, Wyoming, Oklahoma and North Dakota were missing–come on people–we need you there!
* There were people in attendance from 16 different countries *fist pump* With NY being the largest chunk of the pie followed by CA, MA and then NJ. Lin called the NJ folks out on their driving skills LOL!
* 32% of attendees are published and 375 folks were our talented illustrators.
* Start planning now so you can be in one of those seats next year!
The first Keynote of the conference was by Anthony Horowitz–Grabbing Young Readers From First Line to Last
Just so you know, Anthony had an amazing British accent, so if I’m going to be truthful, the whole audience would have let him read the phone book and still enjoyed his keynote LOL! But he WAS an amazing speaker. His rapid fire jokes and insights had everyone listening and laughing. Here are some highlights…
* He spent lots of time in the boarding school library because that was the only place he felt safe and secure.
*The end of a chapter should never be an excuse to stop reading.
*At one point in his career he was worried his grave stone would read BIG in Belgium LOL!
*Harry Potter changed EVERYTHING!
*Writers are arsonists–setting the world on fire is their natural default.
*Children don’t just read books–they devour them.
*The first line is the thing the kids will read in the store.
*Write up for kids.
*I am a camera-kids are bombarded with images, your words need to create strong images that keep their attention.
*Writing is telepathy-if you’re excited about what you’re writing, chances are that you’ll have readers excited too.
*NEVER GIVE UP
Next up was the Keynote Editor’s Panel: Children’s Books 2015–Report From the Front Lines
This was a fabulous workshop. Best I’ve been to for explaining what literary fiction really means. In truth it has different connotations for different people. If you think literary fiction is dense, slow and boring, you’re probably reading writing that is UNSUCCESSFULLY trying to be literary.
Literary fiction is not about content–it’s about quality. It’s entertaining, but it’s also something more.
*Literary fiction needs to be about something that readers want to talk about because it engages them on an intellectual and emotional level.
*Readers of literary fiction crave authentic and original voice.
*Good writing without a plot is BORING not literary.
*YOU WANT YOUR LITERARY NOVEL TO ALSO BE COMMERCIAL!!!!!!
*Literary books are stories that break the rules and do not fit neatly inside their genres.
Time for another Keynote. This one Beyond Language: Creating Picture Books That are Read and Played by Herve Tullet
I’m going to be honest–it’s hard to explain Herve Tullet. He is not your typical keynote speaker. His favorite word is HA! Which is the reaction he wants from his readers when they explore his books. He believes it’s the most exciting thing when he can illicit that word from someone else.
Ideally I would have videotaped Herve interacting with the audience, as he guided us through his brilliant books, the way he does when he meets with children. But that’s not allowed, so this is the best I can do to capture the magic.
You must go out and buy his books and share them with children. <3
The last Keynote of the day was Kami Garcia talking about The Truth About Writing.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take a lot of notes because I was so caught up in Kami’s speech.. Suffice it to say she’s a hard working, funny lady with a big heart. I adored how her and her writing partner Margaret Stohl filled a void, empowered girls, set a fabulous standard for boys and the whole time stayed super connected to the teens they were writing for. One of the most fascinating parts of the story was their journey to publication. Kami doubts they would have been brave enough to do it the same way if they’d been purposefully trying to publish. And it was also “good” to hear, that despite her incredible success, Kami gets as nervous and insecure as we do every time she’s writing something new.
Kami was also nice enough to sign a copy of her book and make a video message for my friend Jeannie who’s a HUGE fan and couldn’t make the conference. How cool is that?
The rest of the evening included an Art Browse, where everyone had a chance to check out the gorgeous portfolios of the illustrators attending the conference. This was followed by the Gala Dinner where you could find me in my favorite spot…
THE MASHED POTATOE BAR!!!!!
After the Gala there was also several socials for LGBTQ, illustrators, new members/first time conference attendees and international attendees. And of course there is always the unofficial group of “Lobby Rats” that hangs out and talks half the night away. This wasn’t all the rats, we’re a large and transitory group, but this pic captured a bunch of us.
The wonderful part of this is that some of the Lobby Rats have been doing this for years and some we just met for the first time that very evening.
If you’re thinking about coming to next year’s conference and you’re worried about not knowing anyone, know you can always contact me and we’ll make sure you have friends to eat with and buddies to hang out with. Worrying about being alone should NEVER be a reason not to come to the NY conference!!!
I’m kind of thinking we should get Lobby Rats T-shirts. What do you think? SCBWI Lobby Rat?
And we now have the unofficial and very weird NY SCBWI Lobby Rats mascot, which was dressed up as Harry Potter this year. The costume kind of make it less creepy–but not much ROTFL!
And some Lobby Rats are RA’s who have work to do and missed the photo. Love you, Stacy Mozer and thanks for all you do for the SCBWI. (((((hugs)))))
I’ll be back on Thursday with the second half of the 2015 NY SCBWI Winter Conference recap. But in the mean time, I desperately need to know your favorite toppings on your mashed potatoes. Mine are mushrooms, bacon, cheddar cheese and chives. *grin*
Hi, my name is Kim and I have a calendar/planner addiction problem.
Just in my kitchen alone I have FIVE different calendar/planners. *head thunk*
*On the cabinet on the left is the monthly calendars I post to keep track of my writing goals. They are at eye level, right in front of where I do a lot of my writing. They are a daily reminder to get my butt in the chair and hit my word count.
*In the middle of the room, on the fridge door, I’ve got an adhesive white board that tracks all the after school and school related activities of the boys. Each boy has a color and everyone can see who is staying after school, what they need to bring to school that day and what evening activities they have.
*On the far right I have a my 12 month calendar that has all the family events posted to include all birthdays and anniversaries. My husband makes no plans without checking this calendar. LOL!
*Back on the left side of the picture, is my computer/phone calendar which I can not live without because it has alarms!!! I need those pop up reminders on my computer and phone telling me where I’m supposed to be and what I should be doing. For example, I need an alarm to tell me that tomorrow I signed up to bring something to the bake sale, so now I need to go buy cookies and put them on a plate and make them look all Martha Stewarty.
*And right next to my computer, I have my newest planner, which is the main point of this post because I want to share it with you. It’s called my Passion Planner. I stumbled across it late in 2014 when a friend was ordering one. Here’s the skinny on the Passion Planner…
I am loving this planner because it’s a place where I’m sort of journaling and organizing together. I’m taking notes and making plans for the future, but also evaluating what I’ve just done. Really loving it and that’s why I wanted to share it with you.
The planner looks pretty basic on the outside, but inside it’s very unique…
It comes with directions and suggestions for use, but it feels so user friendly that I’m using what works for me and being really creative with it. It’s a work in progress, but what I really love about it is that I can see myself having one every year and over time these planners will function like a time capsule of my daily life and goals. Ya know, for the archives when I’m famous and stuff. *grin*
I’m also enjoying it because I don’t tend to journal on a regular basis. I use my blog to fulfill that aspect of my writing life, but this will fill in some of the gaps that aren’t possible on a blog. Things that I may not want to post publicly. Or things that aren’t so interesting to a blog readership. Yesterday, as I watched the live feed of the ALA Awards, I wrote down a list of all the new award winning books I wanted to read. Finally a list I won’t lose. *sigh*
Aren’t you loving this planner? If you’re interested in getting your own Passion Planner, you can find out more about it HERE.
Any of you calendar/planner addicts, too? What do you think is the appeal? Could it be the colored markers or the stickers? Or is it because so much of the rest of my life is completely unorganized? I have no clue, but if you know–please fill me in. Now I’m off to get some fabulous multicolored pens and highlighters. <3
I recently tagged a couple people in a Facebook post about a friend’s book trailer. I knew the subject matter of the book would highly resonate with them AND I know this author is an amazing writer. Win-Win for everyone! In less than ten minutes there were several people interested in ordering the book who never would have known about it before.
Initially, there was a little confusion because the book is available for pre-order but it won’t be out until 2/5. But one of my friends jumped in and clarified the way a pre-order works and how it’s VERY helpful to the author to have pre-orders. Was it wrong that I wanted to kiss her on the lips? I forget not everyone eats, sleeps and breathes publishing. So, today I thought I’d give some simple tips about how you can make an author’s day.
*Buy their book. Pre-order it if it isn’t out yet.
*Buy the book as a gift for a friend or a donation to a school or library.
*If you loved the book, tell everyone who has ears they should read it ASAP! Nothing can compare to word of mouth for the success of a book.
*Write a review for Amazon, Barnes and Noble or any place that sells books. It does not have to be an insanely long and complicated essay. You can write one sentence and have the eternal gratitude of the author. Reviews make us feel good, but they also are important to the gods of Amazon and it’s algorithms.
*Help the author spread the word when they run contests or share information.
*Tell the author their books had in impact on you. You may not realize it, but fan letters make our hearts grow three sizes when we read them.
Now go forth and make an author’s day. And feel free to share any additional tips in the comments.
I was just a part of the Blizzard of 2015–which didn’t quite blow into what would even be considered a hearty storm in my area. To be fair, in some parts of the northeast, they got completely walloped. But in my neck of the Hudson Valley, we only got a couple inches. No one’s power was out for a week and I’ve got my fingers crossed that the only injuries have come from a family member grabbing another family member by the neck during a hot headed game of monopoly.
But for today’s blog I’m not actually writing about the storm. I’m here to talk about why I would never want to be a school superintendent, a city or state official, a weather person, first responder in a storm or the driver of a snow plow.
It’s because the rest of the population is batshit crazy.
Don’t be offended. Just learn to laugh at yourself, because honestly, if we don’t laugh, we’re going to be very embarrassed. The poor people who hold the jobs responsible for these decision-making weather calls, have a snowball’s chance in hell of looking like a hero. Even the ones out there, braving the elements and putting in sleepless nights. They can not possibly win in the decision making game. And I repeat, it’s because the rest of us are batshit crazy. Hell, we’ve proven that just by how we play monopoly, right?
If you don’t believe me (but I suspect you know exactly what I’m talking about) I could pull example after example off the news, Facebook and Twitter supporting my theory of batshit craziness. The internet was flooded this morning with all kinds of deep batshit thoughts like…
-we could have had school.
-the roads were unnecessarily closed.
-we could have gone to work.
-our insane need to swarming the grocery store and the home depot could have been avoided.
I can only imagine the conversation that the couple from the Home Depot parking lot must’ve been having this morning, after their huge melt down yesterday, when their newly purchased, unboxed generator (they drove an hour to get) wouldn’t fit in the car AND THEY DIDN’T EVEN GET A FREAKING BLIZZARD.
It’s enough to make a person batshit crazy.
But here’s the thing, I’m pretty sure that if things had gone the other way, we’d all be bitching up a blizzard about our fearless leaders not being safe enough. In fact I heard that two weeks earlier when we were hit with an unexpected ice storm. There were an insane number of accidents on the road and NO ONE PREDICTED IT OR DID ANYTHING TO STOP IT!!! But we can’t have it both ways, my batshit crazy comrades. We can not complain about both sides of the same coin. I mean we can, but as you might suspect–that makes us batshit crazy.
For better of for worse, we’ve created a litigious, judgmental society and it’s unrealistic to expect the decision makers not to cover their own asses. It’s the culture, us batshit crazy people, have created. If you don’t like it, it’s time to change the culture. Or get your ass to college, so you can try your hand at being a meteorologist.
Today, or any day like this, instead of complaining, try thanking the people who stepped up to try to do the right thing. It’s a novel idea–but maybe we should appreciate them for doing their best to try to keep our batshit asses safe. Now go shovel your driveway or strangle whoever bought Park Place and Broadway.
I’ve spent the last couple weeks digging back into my WIP. After the crazy holidays and the introduction of the puppy, I needed to take my printed copy and read it while making notes. I needed to be reminded of where I was going and what I’d been trying to do as I strung words together.
But in typical fashion, every time I curled up on the couch with my pen and highlighter in hand, I felt myself getting nervous. What was I going to find as I sorted through the pages? What would I discover when I read what I had from beginning to end? The truth is that I’m always expecting a hot mess. And why shouldn’t I? It is a rough draft after all. Those are always ugly.
I finished the detailed read through today and got what I expected–something that still needs a ton of work. But I was also pleasantly surprised by what is coming out of my head when I’m not really paying close attention to the big picture. There is great stuff in there and I’m super excited. In fact, it’s giving me the incentive to push forward with the draft because, I know that when I’m done, I’ll have something worth revising. There will be avenues to explore, threads to weave and countless possibilities. I WILL make it to revision with this book LOL! Sure, CHASING ADAPTATION has sent me on a merry chase, but suddenly it feels as if it’s unfolding the way TOUCHING THE SURFACE did when it started to come together in my head. And that makes me very optimistic about the future of this story. It makes my soul flutter.
So, for all of you writers out there in the same position, stop focusing so much on the draft and just write. Think of it like driving in the dark. You can still make the journey even if you can only see as far ahead as your headlights. You’ll get there if you just keep moving forward.