Yesterday I headed to the gym to run on the treadmill. While I was there, I learned it was an advantage to know your process. I went to the gym, not because I hate running in the rain, I kind of like it actually. But I didn’t think I’d want to run in the rain AND THEN go back out and play ball IN THE RAIN with the dog. Plus, I may have wanted a strawberry smoothie with flax afterwards.
But, I digress.
As you may have heard me mention in the past, running on the treadmill is not ideal for me. Why?
- I get bored.
- I spend a large amount of my run trying to convince myself not to get off earlier than I should.
- I get a strawberry smoothie with flax afterwards. Yum! But let’s be honest, it’s not a lunch replacement.
Know your process. Running outside combats these three treadmill challenges rather nicely.
- Lots to see–nature and wildlife–never bored.
- If I run out as far as I can, I still have to come back. No one is going to give me a lift back home. I’ll get there quicker if I just run it out.
- After running, I’m way too lazy to make a smoothie. And the dog isn’t going to wait for more than a shower and pouring a cup of coffee to go out and play ball.
So, in general I’m aware of what works for me–I know my process. But sometimes, even when I know what’s good for me, I end up on the treadmill, despite my best intentions. As I listened to music I could barely hear in my broken headphones (asking for new ones for my birthday) while watching the really bizarre closed captioning that used to be so much better when humans did things, I realized that it helped to know my process in a different way. Or maybe the best way to phrase it is I needed to create a process for the situation I couldn’t avoid.
As I pushed myself through my treadmill run, I pictured my favorite outdoor run route–the one that I do so often I no longer need to hear a voice in my ears telling what mile I’m at. Envisioning this was helpful to me. Instead of selling myself on the benefits of getting off the treadmill, I over layed my outdoor run process, on top of the treadmill run I was struggling with. I knew When I hit the one mile mark I knew I’d only gotten to the top of the very first hill and quite honestly, I’ve never in my life run that route and turned around at that point. Or the two mile mark for that matter. Why would I do it now? There was no reason to stop running.
I made it to 6.3 miles by knowing my successful outdoor process and using it to inform my treadmill process. Hey–whatever gets it done, right?
Additionally, part of my process when I’m running outside is to think. I realized I could still do that if I stopped some of the noise pollution around me, like the Live with Kelly and Michael Show subtitles which looked something like this…
Kelly: That tat two back is Adam Levine.
Michael: 6 mthdsa….hurt…xdhxdnl
Kelly: Never had–
Kelly: Yeah, Buddy–childbirth! yahdl.,,sxsss
You get the picture. Or maybe you don’t. Instead of trying to follow the Adam Levine, tattoo, childbirth indecipherable subtitled conversation, I started planning this blog post. And the more I thought about my running process, the more I also thought about my writing process. How could I carry over the idea of…know your process…from one activity to another.
Here’s the facts. I’ve heard hundreds of authors, more experienced than me, talk about how every book is hard in it’s own way. I believe that.
We all struggle at some point–or at many points in the journey.
But I also think that if you know your process–your writing process–you have a template you can use to help get you through any manuscript. It’s all about being aware of your mile markers. Do you struggle with getting started? Do middles make you mad? Is the wrap-up your biggest hurdle? Is character development killing you? Or maybe the plot fairy never shows up to your house. Knowing what obstacles make you want to get off the writing treadmill isn’t a quick fix for your speed bumps, you’ll have to put in the work in the area that challenges you, but it is still helpful. The more you know about where you get stuck, why you get stuck and how you got unstuck in the past–the more likely you are to keep pushing through the miles of drafting and revision you have ahead of you–no matter how much they make you feel like a turkey on a treadmill…
Do you know your process? How does it help you through the tough spots? Is your process always evolving? How does it change with each manuscript you write? Any runners in the house? Treadmill or open road? And by the way, who likes strawberry smoothies????
Today is your lucky day–you have multiple chances to win my ARC of ALL FIXED UP (Ciel Halligan #4)
by the fabulous Linda Grimes!!!!
Linda is one of my Wolf Pack Sistahs at Wolfson Literary and she was super-duper sisterly and sent me an advanced copy of ALL FIXED UP!!! I love her for not making me wait to find out what happened to one of my favorite characters in the book world. And since I just finished reading ALL FIXED UP, I get to tell everyone how awesome it is AND I get to be one of the nicest people on the planet because I’m sharing my copy with another Ciel fan.
But before I get to the giveaway, let me tell you a little about the book…
Coming May 24, 2016 — Tor Books
The hilarious adventures of human chameleon Ciel Halligan continue in the fourth installment of this original urban fantasy series, All Fixed Up.
Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire, has a lot of experience filling in for her clients–as them. A rare genetic quirk gives her the ability to absorb human energy and project it back out in a flawless imitation. She’s hard at work, posing as a well-known and celebrated astronaut, about to make a stunning announcement on behalf of the space program…when the photographer documenting the job sees right through her aura. Worse, it soon becomes apparent that he not only knows Ciel’s not who she’s supposed to be, but means her harm.
When Ciel’s elderly Aunt Helen—also an aura adaptor—is murdered in Central Park, and the same photographer shows up at the funeral, Ciel starts to feel even more exposed. Then more adaptors are killed in the same way, and she becomes terrified her friends and family are being systematically exterminated … and it’s starting to look like she’s the ultimate target. She turns to Billy Doyle, her best-friend-turned-boyfriend, for help, but when an unexpected crisis causes him to take off without a word, she’s left to rely on her not-so-former crush, CIA agent Mark Fielding.
Staying alive, keeping control of her romantic life, and unraveling the mystery of why adaptors are being pursued becomes a harder balancing act than ever in this new Ciel Halligan adventure from Linda Grimes.
And here is my review of ALL FIXED UP:
I’m just going to say it–I LOVE the Ciel Halligan books! I don’t know how Linda Grimes does it, but ALL FIXED UP is my favorite to date. The more she writes, the better she gets. Once again Grimes captures the perfect balance between humor, steamy romance and heart. If you like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, but want to add a supernatural twist, you are going to love Ciel Halligan!!!!
And in case you’ve some how managed to miss this fabulous series, I wanted you to get a look at all the covers and some of the fabulous reviews. You do see that OUTLANDER’S Diana Gabaldon thinks it’s awesome too! Right along with RT Book Reviews and Library Journal. And me, of course.
And I don’t want you to leave without getting to know Linda a little better…
Linda grew up in Texas, where she rode horses, embarrassed herself onstage a lot, and taught teenagers they’d have to learn the rules of English before they could get away with breaking them for creativity’s sake. She currently resides in Virginia with her husband, whom she snagged after he saw her in a musical number at the now defunct Melodrama Theater in San Antonio. (There’s nothing like a rousing chorus of “If You Wanna Catch a Fish You Gotta Wiggle Your Bait” to hook a man for a lifetime.)
Like IN A FIX’s globetrotting main character, aura adaptor Ciel Halligan, Linda has spent her fair share of time overseas, though fortunately under less stressful circumstances. Kidnapping and daring rescues are all well and good in fiction, but she prefers sanity in her real life.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. It’s time to give my ARC of ALL FIXED UP to one lucky winner!!! The Rafflecopter below will give you all kinds of chances to win.
Ready. Set. Go!
****If you haven’t started this series yet–Linda is also throwing in a signed copy of her first book in the series IN A FIX for the winner!!! It’s your lucky day!!!!!****
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The 2016 New York SCBWI Winter Conference Part 2
I’m back…and I realized that in Tuesday’s SCBWI Conference Recap post, I forgot to tell you how cold it was outside when we woke up. Inside too, for that matter.
Why I may have blocked it from my memory…
This was the inside of my window on the 29th floor.
But it did look rather pretty once the sun came out.
But I should probably stop giving you the cold shoulder and start filling you in on the rest of the SCBWI conference. When I left you on Tuesday…
…a large crowd of Kid Lit SCBWI writers and illustrators were eating picnic style on the floor of the hotel lobby and Debbie Ohi couldn’t give away a piece of her black and white cookie. Yes, we are a strange group–just go with it.
After lunch I had my second Break-out/Workshop session of the day with Elizabeth Bicknell, EVP, Executive Editorial Directo & Associate Publisher Candlewick Press–WRITING PICTURE BOOK TEXT.
Some of the books she used to illustrate fabulous and successful picture books.
Good things to know…
*Candlewick only does children’s books.
*Don’t make your story about too many things.
*PB’s are like a little play.
Topics in PB’s shift over time but here are currently popular story lines.
Up next was a Fireside Chat between Lin Oliver and Rainbow Rowell…
Lin and Rainbow are way too adorable together!
Here are my favorite take-aways…
*When you’re writing 1st person, you’re writing monologues.
*Good novelists have good memories.
*The best comedy comes at the moment of pathos. (The intersection of funny and sad)
*Like a dog returning to his own vomit–it’s a long and very funny story!
*Rainbow’s outlines are emails to her agent.
*Her plots are derived from characters. Using characters to fulfill a plot is very different than characters creating the plot.
*The shared texts we have now are pop culture–it’s no longer scripture etc…
*People find the references that are there for them.
*If I’d written girls when I was younger, I think I would have accepted more of what the world told me to.
*On writing in an Omaha Starbucks–Hey! Writing in a NYC Starbucks is a very different thing. They are like public restrooms that serve coffee! ROTFL!
*Not in the past, and maybe not in the future, but right now I am privileged to write full time.
*Publishing is a game of speculation. Everyone is guessing even though everything seems set in stone.
The next Keynote required no guessing at all to know it would be good. I’ve heard the fantabulous Kate Messner on numerous occasions and I’ve also heard nothing but wonderful things about Linda Urban and they were going to be talking about MUSIC, MOUNTAINS AND MOCHA LATTES: SUSTAINING A CREATIVE LIFE.
Kate spoke first and talked about her own journey to reconnect with a manuscript by climbing mountains.
*Sometimes we need one small thing to keep going.
*If climbing one mountain was good for my writing, climbing 40+ would be amazing.
*Put your butt in your chair, but when you’re stuck, get up.
Then Linda Urban talked about how she’d rather have her finger nails pulled out than climb mountains, but how she found the same creative inspiration in a little red ukulele.
*Playing the ukulele causes a rush I wasn’t getting while I was stuck in my MS.
*The dopamine it provided and a long trail of small musical success restored my creative confidence.
*The negative voice in my head got bored while I was playing.
And then the lovely Linda sang for us <3
And as you might imagine, these two inspirational and creative authors were each other’s biggest fans. So, please remember, if you can’t find a creative outlet that will lead you back to your writing–find a friend to have a Mocha Latte–it will work every time.
After all this inspiration there was a book signing with Rainbow Rowell, the Art Browse and the Gala dinner followed by multiple socials and of course my group of lobby rats hanging out in the lobby–sort of. Remember how cold it was? Well, that lobby was a wee bit drafty, so for the first time ever, the rats took to the underbelly of the hotel (like all good rats do) and moved out of the cold.
But as always–we stayed up talking way to long. Always one of my favorite parts of the SCBWI conference.
With not enough sleep under our belts, it was time for coffee, bagels and Day Three of the SCBWI conference. Once again our uber fantastic illustrators blew me out of the water with their gorgeous art and Jane Yolen got me all choked up giving out her SCBWI Mid-List Author Grants.
And it’s always our pleasure to thank the staff of the SCBWI for all they do to bring us together for these amazing conferences and to let them know how much we appreciate all they accomplish behind the scenes throughout the year.
Our first Keynote for Sunday was Rita Williams-Garcia and she talked about DO’S AND DON’TS IN CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING FROM A DEFINITE DON’T.
Here are some of my favorites from Rita–she was both moving and funny as she spoke.
*I loved telling stories–or as my mother called it–lying.
*Live in The Plan: I took every step possible in be coming what I envisioned. (She wrote 500 words every night as a child and rented out her sister’s typewriter to do it.)
*Don’t pick your major based on the hot guy with the afro–he doesn’t have any hair now!
Rita on really being faced with the prospect of editing a manuscript for the first time.
*Don’t stay with an uncontracted project too long.
*Don’t isolate yourself–TRIBE!
*Don’t block out criticism.
*Don’t be a know it all.
*Don’t stop writing–live in The Plan.
*Live with gratitude–do what you’re doing–you’re here!
Next up was Jacquelyn Mitchard–SAY GOODBYE TO ALL OF THAT: THE QUEST FOR THE PERFECT ENDING.
Jacquelyn was literary, funny, thoughtful and informative–so much good stuff to digest.
*People love the 19th Century greats because the ending is so clear.
*The last sentence of a books, for some writers, is the first sentence they know about.
*Most books really don’t echo the promises made in the first pages.
*The reader doesn’t want it to end, so how do you make it okay for the reader? It should do more than tie up loose ends–your job is to lead the reader back into the real world.
*Leave room for interpretation.
*Say what you’re going to do, do it, then get the hell out.
Since I don’t have a picture of the next panel, you should look at this one instead. This is what my hilarious friend, Scott Hammon, looks like after a Rocky-esque run up to the podium. He’s been waiting FIVE YEARS to win the SCBWI Conference joke contest!!! Watch out Jay Asher…Scott is very, very slowly creeping up after you. *grin*
Now back to the panel…
Moderator: RF-Ruben Pfeffer
AB: Alessandra Balzer—Vice President and Co-Publisher, Balzer + Bray and imprint at HarperCollins
EB: Elizabeth Bicknell–EVP, Executive Editorial Director & Associate Publisher Candlewick Press
GC: Ginger Clark—Agent, Curtis Brown, LTD
SD: Sarah Davies—Agent, Greenhouse Literary
AL: Alvina Ling—VP and Editor-in-Chief, Little Brown Books for Young Readers
The last panel discussion of the SCBWI conference was ACQUISITIONS TODAY: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES. This was a crazy interesting panel because it mixed editors AND agents and the quips and candor flying back and forth was both informative and entertaining. Once again I’ll be honest and say I spent more time listening to the fast flying information than taking notes. There was lots of information on preempts, auctions, bidding, multiple submissions and of course, everyone’s option on the lot. Check the #NY16SCBWI thread and TEAM BLOG for more detailed information on the panel.
And I won’t lie. This finally Keynote is the one I waited the whole conference for. I cannot even begin to explain how much of a fan I am of Gary Schmidt. I had the opportunity to hear him speak at an LA SCBWI Conference and he blew me away. I’ve also had the chance to read his books with my boys. We very recently finished reading his newest novel, ORBITING JUPITER together. It is now my favorite Schmidt novel, which is saying something. And to more completely put this book in perspective, my 15, 12 and 10-year-olds asked that we put The 5th Wave on hold so we could read ORBITING JUPITER faster. I love my kids. <3
The final Keynote was entitled THE BOMBERS OF THE BOSTON MARATHON, AND THE PLANES OF 9/11 AND HOW ANTHONY WISHED THEY WOULD.
It would be madness for me to try and do anything other than write down what inspired and moved me as Gary spoke.
*Why is it that when a group of Kid Lit writers gets together, we get along? This doesn’t happen with adult writer, poets. It’s because we have the same mission–we do it for kids.
*”Nobody came because nobody ever does.” –Jude the Obscure We are here to address this. We need to be the writers that show up.
*When an adult speaks to a child with honesty, they know that someone is telling them the truth and that despite the brokenness of the world–it is still worth living.
*We need to write for the kid sitting on the log who is waiting for someone to show up, because no one ever does.
-Like Anthony during 9/11. He went outside to see if a plane was going to hit his building and when it didn’t, he was disappointed because it would have saved a lot of trouble. Is it any wonder that he’s serving a life sentence?
-Like Jake, one year into his sentence. He loves the planets, especially Jupiter. When Gary sent him a book and a poster on the planets it was taken away. Once again, no one showed up.
-Like Marlene, a high school student actively engaged in a writing activity with Gary. When two teen boys walk in (who don’t do anything wrong or intimidating) this girl shuts down completely. When they leave she reengages. What happened in her life, in this school that shuts her down like that?
*The deep heartfelt question that we must ask as authors is…what ails you? It is a question of human empathy.
*Story and art can reveal human empathy.
*Story insists on human complexity and multidimensionality.
*Watch what happens if you take the stance in life that EVERYTHING MATTERS.
*If you want to be a writer, you have to LOVE the world.
*The writer believes with her whole heart that we give the world more to be human with. There is a reason ISIS destroys art.
*We write to serve. We don’t tell the kids how to act, we sit down beside them on the log and we say the truth.
And that is why I love Gary Schmidt…
And that is why I rushed to his book signing table and proceeded to get all choked up as I tried to explain my heart, head and soul to a man who I’m pretty sure already knows it. Remember…he loves the world.
Then there was the pleasure of meeting the newly minted Newbery Award Winner, Matt de la Pena. He’s the first Latino author to win the Newbery Medal for outstanding contribution to children’s literature with his picture book, LAST STOP ON MARKET PLACE. Matt is a fabulous SCBWI success story and we are all so proud of him and his accomplishments.
I also had the pleasure of getting my books signed by Oscar winner William Joyce!
And then I got to hang out and chat some more with Oprah Book Club author (DEEP END OF THE OCEAN) and editor-in-chief of Merit Press, Jacquelyn Mitchard.
Yes, the talent and advice this year were incredible.
And I can’t wait to read MELT by SCBWI Spark Award winner Selene Castrovilla. We were able to hang out at the Gala and she is all kinds of fabulous and everyone is raving about this novel!
And then it’s over–or is it?
Not for me, because it was Valentines Day and my hubby met me in NYC and we got to see…
The Broadway hit, CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT.
I was blown away. No seriously, it was incredible. I hope you all get the chance to see it–it’s a beautiful and timely book that is brought to life right in front of your eyes. It’s one of those plays that will change how you see the world and the people in it.
Once again, Kid Lit shows up and I’m so proud.
But even after dinner and a show…you’ll find your way home. Back to your family. Back to your writing. And back to your cat who really, really missed you.
Oh, wait–it was the dog who really, really missed you and the cat who hates it when you leave. And then you wake up in the morning and she’s sitting on top of you (really close) so you can completely understand what you’ve put her through. LOL!
I hope, whether you made the SCBWI conference or just read about it, that you’re all inspired and ready to show up for your writing life. I know I am. And now that these blogs are done, I’m ready to move forward on my WIP.
Did anything in the conference or the recap really connect with you? How is it effecting what you are working on? Have you wanted to write, but haven’t been sure how to start? The answer IS to show up. You must start some time. Why not begin today. The SCBWI will teach you everything you need to know. And I’d be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
Have a great weekend and see you next week.
It’s here, it’s here–it’s finally HERE! The #NY16SCBWI Winter Conference. And while we froze our writer and illustrator parts off this year–you know we still had a blast. Right along with the arctic blast. Here’s the highlights of the weekend…
I was thrilled to be able to head down bright and early–very, very early…
…for The Professional Author’s Forum Intensive. For all you PAL members of the SCBWI, this was such a lovely addition to the weekend. You should absolutely look for more of these PAL events in the future.
We started off the day with the fabulous and hysterical Lin Oliver and the chance to introduce ourselves and state our questions and goals. It immediately cemented us into a workshop style, intimate group instead of an audience in a lecture.
Lin Oliver, SCBWI Executive Director
Half the room of the PAL Intensives
After the intros, we got down to business with the very informative Agent, Ruben Pfeffer talking about PUBLISHING WITH MULTIPLE HOUSES (INCLUDING WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR EDITOR LEAVES)
This was a very informative session, focusing on the reasons to publish or not publish with multiple houses. He hit upon the strategic, contractual, our preferences, economic need and circumstantial factors.
Agent, Ruben Pfeffer (Ruben Pfeffer Content, LLC)
Next up was the I always get nervous around him even though he gives me no reason to, but come on he was the editor for the Harry Potter books, Arthur Levine chatting with Lin Oliver about LONGEVITY; HOW TO SUSTAIN YOUR CAREER.
Arthur Levine, Publisher, Arthur A. Levine Books and Lin Oliver
Here are some of my favorite bits from the conversation…
*What is essential about people doesn’t change despite our fears about publishing.
*Produce a BODY OF WORK–stop flogging just one thing.
*Find contemporary analogies to your book AFTER you’ve written it.
*When we get sucked into our anxieties, we lose track of what stories we can write and who wants to read them.
The next fabulous collaborator for the Intensive was Martha Brockenbrough, author and SCBWI TEAM BLOG talking about DEVELOPING A SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM THAT’S APPROPRIATE FOR YOU.
I’m not kidding–I’d love to see Martha do a detailed, whole day intensive just on this topic alone. She is a wealth of information and there were more questions than time to hear all her answers.
Martha started off by reminding us of our tendency to believe that when it comes to social media–If we build it they will come…
That would be a NOPE.
But don’t worry, she gave everyone a wealth of advice on building relationships, finding your audience and focusing on platform, being positive, looking long term and being authentic. She was also able to compare and contrast FB, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Goodreads. And this was followed by tips on how to keep it all manageable. If you ever get a chance to take a workshop with Martha, I highly recommend you take advantage of it.
After a quick and yummy lunch break, we were back in the saddle again hit the iconic kid lit author, Jane Yolen–ISSUES IN BEING A MID-LIST WRITER.
Among a plethora of informative and inspirational information, Jane reminded us that as Mid-list authors, we could be writing three kinds of books…
- A Head Book-The book you’ve been thinking about because research or experience had made you curious.
- A Heart Book-You don’t know why you have to write it, but you just do. It’s about you, but it’s also about the kids too.
- A Pocketbook Book-You know you can sell it $
She also reminded us to write the best book you can and don’t forget to nudge yourself in the path of luck.
Next up, was BRANDING YOURSELF: CHALLENGES IN WRITING MULTIPLE GENRES AND CATEGORIES with Linda Pratt Agent, Wernick and Pratt Literary and Jacquelyn Mitchard Author and Editor-in-Chief of Merit Press.
Jacquelyn Mitchard (Deep End of the Ocean–Oprah’s Book Club)
Here are some of the highlights…
*YA is not a genre, it’s a category.
*Being Branded means that you’ve gotten to the point where readers will buy your book in any category or genre because it is recognizably YOU!
*There’s nothing you want more than to be a habit.
*If you wanted to be careful, you should have been a dental hygienist ROTFL!
Bonnie Bader was up next and I forgot to take her picture! What? But you don’t need to see her to benefit from her talk on SUPPLEMENTING YOUR INCOME. Bonnie gave us valuable information on Packaging, Work for Hire, License work and Ghost Writing. But you can see Bonnie sitting next to Arthur Levine during our Summary, Conclusion and Questions time. And of course they had to kick us out after 5pm because there was so much to discuss with the faculty of the day. It was an amazing group.
And I’ll leave Friday behind with this great reminder from Arthur Levine…
“Our job is not to start trends, it’s to write books.”
After lots of meet up hugs with friends, a large group of us heading for dinner at Grand Central’s Oyster Bar (picture to come when Zainab figures out how to send it LOL!) the typical behavior of Lobby Rats hanging out in the lobby and not enough sleep (I can’t help but talk to my roomie Jodi Moore for half the night) it’s time to OFFICIALLY kick off the conference.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2016
This group is more than ready…
For Lin Oliver’s conference stats:
*337 Published authors and 815 pre-pubbed
*48 states were represented. Considering the weather in NY we excused Hawaii for ditching us. But we also decided that maybe the reason North Dakota was ditching us was that no one lived there. :o)
*19 Countries in attendance including the USA
*Our ranks included a micro biologist, coffee roaster, oil trader, ventriloquist and a psychic!
The first Keynote of the day was William Joyce–BOOKS ARE LIKE THE ICE CREAM SANDWICH: HOW NEW TECHNOLOGY DOESN’T CHANGE MUCH OF ANYTHING BUT IT’S KIND OF COOL
William immediately had us cracking up, telling the story of how he forgot why he’s picked that topic when he first agreed to be a conference speaker LOL! But he quickly found the original thread and sewed it all up for us.
*Books=Ice Cream Sandwiches–hard stuff on the outside and good stuff in the middle.
*When people put a book on an app or e-device they claim they are doing it because they want the story to be “interactive.” What the heck do these people think happens when you read a book? You interact with it *head thunk*–to call something interactive it has to be more than just reading it on a screen vs between a cover.
*On starting his own Multimedia company: “Don’t make anything crummy.”
*Strong and better realities of a start up: Having to tell new, young employees they had to pay taxes. LOL!
*I highly recommend winning an Oscar–it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my clothes.
Oscar Win – Moonbot Studios from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.
*Doing THAT (see above video) with all those young kids–amazing!
And if you want to see something fantastic…check out the app IMAG-N-O-TRON:The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.
But be sure to come back to this blog and keep reading because I’ve got a Panel Discussion up next. THE BIG PICTURE: CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING: NOW AND IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
MOD: Lin Oliver
MT: Megan Tingly–Executive Vice-President and Publisher, Little Brown Books for Young Readers
AP: Andrea Pappenheimer–Senior Vice-President, Director of Sales/Associate Publisher HarperCollins Publishers
ML: Mallory Loehr—Vice-President, Publishing Director, Random House/Golden/Doubleday Books for Young Readers
JF: Jean Feiwel—Senior Vice-President and Director, Feiwel and Friends/Macmillian Children’s Publishing Group
JA: Jon Anderson—President and Publisher, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
I hate to tell you this–but this was such a good session that I listened without taking as many notes as I should have. I apologize but I’m pretty sure Team Blog will have some excellent tweets and recaps for you.
Then it was time for the day’s first break-out session or workshop. There were so many great sessions to choose from, but I picked CREATING TEEN CHARACTERS with Martha Brockenbrough and Rainbow Rowell.
For this session I pulled up some rug in order to stretch my legs. Here were some of my favorite take-aways…
*Art inspires art
*I didn’t experience the events that happened in my books, but music got me to those places.
*It’s fiction, you get to make it up. (Oh, wait–Dragons ARE fake!)
In order to balance out my recap posts, I’m going to save the rest of the conference for your Thursday reading pleasure. While you wait, you can get a good laugh at all of us eating picnic style in the lobby.
And remember–if you’re there at next year’s conference–Debbi Ohi will share her cookie with you. She couldn’t get anyone to split it with her!!! If she’d only showed up BEFORE I ate all that chocolate. *sigh*
See you on Thursday with the #NY16SCBWI Conference Recap Part 2! While your waiting, tell me what session was your favorite if you were there. Or which one you would have loved to attend.
First of all–I’m gonna brag. Because this post is being written at 11:58 on Sunday morning 2/7 and you’re reading it on Thursday 2/11. Yes, I am ahead of the game! This is a huge accomplishment for me. This year I am systematically attacking my NY SCBWI conference prep with the hopes that this might be the year I get a good night’s sleep the night before. Or maybe I’m simply desperate to get out of the house after the scurvy wee germies invaded our home over the last few weeks. Either way, I vow to be squared away this year, particularly because I’ll be on a very early train for the Friday Author’s Pro Intensive.
I know that quite a few of you will be at the conference and I can’t wait to see you there. Feel free to come be a Lobby Rat. We are always hanging out in the lobby, talking and catching up, if you’re looking for something to do.
Here’s some of the Lobby Rat Faces you can look for.
And for all of you who can’t make it to NY, I’ll be live tweeting about the conference over the weekend along with the SCBWI Conference bloggers…
and a whole bunch of other fabulous folks who are inspired by what they are experiencing. It’s the next best thing to being there–everyone shares so much amazing information.
You can follow along with the conference on twitter by using the hash tag #NY16SCBWI.
And of course I’ll be doing my regular recap blogs after the conference, so be sure to watch for those next week.
If I stay this organized and efficient, I’ll be ready to go before you know it!
Now the only question remaining…how do you think the head is going to be decorated this year?
Leave your guess in the comments!
It’s almost that time of year again…
The kids have been sick for weeks and the dog has wanted me to throw the ball one too many times. The laundry has piled up to the rafters and the pizza take-out place knows MY VOICE over the phone. “Hey, Kim!”
And for my hubby, it’s the season where traveling has become monotonous, the boys are begging to do manly things with their Dad and the dog wants to lick the hell out of him. They all need to dog pile while eating all the things I never allow as they watch movies I wouldn’t permit.
It’s been a long winter and we both need a change, so in a couple days, it’s the bi-annual Freaky Friday event where we trade places. It’s the hard core kick off to my weekend at the NY SCBWI Conference.
Now, I say change places very loosely because I’m well aware that getting on a train before sunrise one or two days a year doesn’t make me an actual commuter. But it certainly does make me appreciate how hard it is to do it every day–especially when he’s often home very late at night. The truth is I would rather eat frog poo on a tortilla chip than do his job and I haven’t even gotten to the actual job yet. Sadly, I’m ready to quit, just staring into the face of mass transportation. *sigh* Thanks for all you do, husband. I really appreciate you and don’t want your job. <3
But, I’m pretty certain, after what we affectionately call…DADDY PARTY WEEKEND!!!!…he’ll need at least six months before he can face another Freaky Friday too, even though I hook him up…
I’ve already got a detailed cheat sheet tacked to the kitchen cabinets listing dog feeding directions, medication schedules, school drop off and pick-up times, the middle school dance, the basketball game and more. He’s already said he won’t read it, but if he doesn’t, he’ll miss out on the cute notes with the hearts and he’ll probably lose a kid or poison the dog. LOL! At least I’d like to think that’s what would happen if I didn’t give him at least a little bit of help with my very tough job. :o)
In the past, Daddy Party Weekend has always ended with both of us exhausted on the couch, excited to catch up and also get back to reality the next day. But this year there’s a little twist. Sunday is Valentine’s Day and the kids are off on Monday. So, the hubby is dropping those little turkeys off at Grandma’s house and meeting me in the city for dinner and a show.
I have a feeling, when we get back on Monday, Grandma will be the one exhausted on the couch, excited to give those kids back…
How do you and your significant other remember to appreciate what it feels like to walk in their shoes? Any fabulous plans for Valentine’s Day? What does your significant other do with the kids (that makes you cringe) when they are large and in charge without you?
Yes, I’m a day late on this blog post. But I’m here now. I’ve been working really hard to return to being a consistent and diligent blogger. Why? It makes me feel good. So, because of unexpected obstacles in my yesterday, you are getting a Thursday blog on Friday. How do you like them apples? That’s what I thought–you probably don’t give a flying fig. You’ve got plenty of things to sidetrack you from your own goals. I am only the center of my own universe.
But I’m not alone in that, we are all the sun and the planets of of life orbit around around us. We are jugglers. For gravity we have two hands–only TWO HANDS–to keep three or more balls in the air. Then some monkey starts throwing extra balls at us. It’s SO easy to get sidetracked and drop a ball or two.
When this happens, because it will, do not self flagellate with wet noodles. Seriously, it’s a waste of noodles.
Make some sauce or if you’re really tired, drench them in butter and grated cheese.
Have a good meal.
Pick up your balls. Yes, even the one that rolled under the radiator where the dust bunnies live.
Then toss them back up into the air and move on with your juggling. That’s all. Just do it.
It is a good practice for everything in life. Spend less time worrying about what you didn’t do and just move forward doing the things you need to. Last time I looked, complaining about not writing a blog post doesn’t produce a blog post. And trust me, staring at all the laundry you didn’t do this week only makes your kids have to turn their underwear inside out. Eat your noodles and toss your balls.
But digging in isn’t just for the laundry pile, it also is a strategy for your creative life–especially for writers. You WILL get sidetracked on your journey to create. You’ll be led astray by good things and bad things. Your balls will drop, roll and scatter at the most unexpected times.
Know how to pick them up and how to get home…
TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert
It’s Friday and I’m pretty excited about getting this blog post out to you. I’m also going to write today, too. Although I’m still pretty iffy on the laundry. Hey–nobody’s perfect.
How do you combat dropping your balls and being knocked off course? What’s your wet noodle of choice when beating yourself up? What’s your favorite way to eat noodles? Gosh, I want pasta now.
Happy Friday all–have a fabulous weekend and don’t forget to eat your noodles and toss your balls!
Woo Hoo!!!! On Sunday (January 31, 2016) I hit a HUGE running milestone. I’ve officially traveled over 2,000 miles since I started running. I’m probably irrationally proud of this feat, but I don’t care. If you’re a runner you probably understand, but if you’re not, I’ll try to show you how epic this felt to me.
First off, I didn’t start running until May 21, 2010, which means that I didn’t start until I was 40 years old. So, yes–you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. Over the years I’ve grown as a runner, and my runs now are much longer than they were in the early years (especially when my kids were younger–#runlikeamother) but ultimately I reached this goal in 403 runs and averaged 4.9 miles in the approximate 6 years and 8 months that it took me to do it. This was something I’ve stuck with, even when it was hard and it often was. Sometimes it still is.
I was also able to learn some other interesting things about my almost 7 years of running…
*I wasn’t fast, but I wasn’t slow either–averaging 10’15” miles.
*I burned a grand total of 204,241 calories which was still not the right amount according to my butt and my fascination with chocolate.
*I’ve run on every single day of the week, but Monday is my get it done day. And I don’t have a graphic for it, but I believe I’ve run more outside miles than treadmill miles.
*I’ve also become a morning runner which was not what I preferred when I first started. Now it’s how I like to start off my day, especially in the hotter months.
And the big question…how far would running 2,000 miles actually get me???
The closest match I could find would be an epic run from New York’s Empire State Building to Albuquerque, New Mexico which means that I could have passed out after getting a high five from my fellow writer/runner bud Caroline Starr Rose <3 How awesome is that????
And since I’m still having fun and don’t plan to stop, here are my future running goals…
*It’s 326 miles to the 2nd and my next Purple Milestone.
*It’s less than 1,000 miles until I hit 3,000!!!! Hopefully it won’t take me 3 plus years to get there.
*It’s 1,103 miles until I hit the black level on Nike+running.
*It’s another 3,106 miles until I hit VOLT status. *shakes with intimidation*
But what the heck–I’m planning on giving it a shot. If you had once asked me if I could run 2,000 miles I would have said you’re out of your mind. But I did it. So, I’ll keep shaking those rocks out of my socks and keep on moving. I wonder where it will take me next…
Over and over again, I’ve had the strange and slightly mystical situation of having books show up in my life–demanding I read them. When this phenomenon happens, it always makes me feel as if the Head Librarian of the Library of the Universe has a book recommendation for me.
It always starts off with the book I need to read, catching my eye in a very subtle way. Then, with increasing frequency, I’ll begin to hear people talking about or I’ll keep bumping into blog posts or reviews or social media posts referencing said book. If I continue to be dense about picking the book up, I’ll find that it continues to keep popping up in front of me in different locations. I’ll see it on a shelf, I’ll notice someone reading it or it will stare back at me from a magazine I’m reading.
Sometimes, I’ll go so far as to be compelled to pick up the book and flip to the cover flap, and yet I still won’t understand why I’m supposed to read THAT book. I must drive the Universe’s Head Librarian bat shit crazy sometimes.
It seems accurate that I always picture the Head Librarian at the Library of the Universe as Yvonne Craig in the roll of Bat Girl. It’s hard enough to be a Librarian at a book and mortar building and get people to read. Imagine being an unexplainable force of book nature. The Universe’s Librarian must be a little bit of a super hero to help the people who rationalize everything, understand that what we need shows up. And sometimes it’s a book.
One of the most memorable examples of Bat Girl, on her motorcycle, doing a high speed chase after me with a book in hand was with Malcolm Galdwell’s David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants.
This book was IN MY FACE. I saw it in magazines. I saw it on bookshelves. I couldn’t turn around without bumping into this book. From time to time I’d pick it up and contemplate it. I’d let my fingers run over the description before deciding that even though I’d read a couple of Gladwell’s books and was fascinated by them, I wasn’t ready to pick this one up at the moment. The wording didn’t overly resonate with me
In his #1 bestselling books The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell has explored the ways we understand and change our world. Now he looks at the complex and surprising ways the weak can defeat the strong, the small can match up against the giant, and how our goals (often culturally determined) can make a huge difference in our ultimate sense of success. Drawing upon examples from the world of business, sports, culture, cutting-edge psychology, and an array of unforgettable characters around the world, David and Goliath is in many ways the most practical and provocative book Malcolm Gladwell has ever written.
I wasn’t going to read it. At least not now. I convinced myself the book was showing up everywhere because Mr. Gladwell had some mighty fine marketing people. I thought it was a coincidence that this book kept stepping in front of my face. I was so naive.
I can remember the moment that book won the battle and I made the decision to read it. I sometimes wonder if maybe I subconsciously agreed to read it, in order to shut the Universe’s Librarian up. Either way, I was in my local airport and attempting to grab snacks for a family journey. As I stepped off the escalator and walked to the shop–there is was–directly in front of me. AGAIN. I picked up the book one more time and then sat it back down, telling the universe that it could relax because I was going to purchase it as an audiobook–ASAP.
And I did. And a couple chapters in, a lightbulb went off in my head. THIS book was filled with profound thoughts on dyslexia. That book that I didn’t think I would connect with, moved me, supported my instinctual thoughts, it enlightened me, it gave me a dialogue to share with my husband and my dyslexic kids and it added to a spark that had been growing inside me in regards to a manuscript that was forming. I needed that book. I love that book. And I reread it often, because it unfolds for me differently every time I return to it.
Thank you Bat Girl–for not giving up on me so easily. But because of the memorable persistence of that particular book, I have never taken the all knowing Librarian’s book recommendations so lightly again. You don’t have to hit me with a Bat-a-rang over and over again…forever. Now I listen closer and watch more carefully.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert didn’t have to work quite as hard to get me to pay attention. The Gift of Big Magic.
And most recently, When Breath Becomes Air, found me. I saw the cover on iTunes and without reading about it, I acknowledged that the title and the cover spoke to me, but I was in a rush and I’d have to check it out later. Then I opened a magazine and there it was. Immediately I understood it was for me and I had to know what it was about.
For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living?
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated.
When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.
What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.
Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.
I dropped everything and bought it on the spot. I’m reading it now. If you aren’t aware, my lovely mother-in-law was just diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. So, today I wanted to acknowledge the Universe’s Librarian for always having my back. I appreciate you.
What books has the Universe’s Librarian persuaded you to check out and read?
On mornings when I’m not running or running errands, after I get the boys all off to school, I look forward to plowing through my emails and knocking out a blog post so I can spend the lion’s share of the day working on my WIP. Doesn’t that sound delightful? Yeah, yeah–I know it’s not that easy. After all it is Monday (I wrote this yesterday) and every person in the house managed to drag a laundry basket upstairs in retaliation for my subversive parenting techniques…no one eats chips or watches football until their clothes are put away, their rooms are clean and their bathroom isn’t gross. So, now I have chores to do in-between my projects. But that’s not my only problem, there is also this guy…
By rights, he should be in a snow coma at the moment. He’s been outside non-stop for two days playing in the snow with the kids or by himself if every other human was exhausted. I figured by today, his get-up-and-go would most likely be his got-up-and-went and he’d pass out quietly in the corner, providing me with a quiet writing day.
No such luck.
Why doesn’t the dog understand that I NEED this writing day!!!! I’ve been a bad, bad writer and I’m in the middle of DRAFTVISION????
Wait, you don’t know what draftvision is? You do–your just blocking it out. It’s when you’ve drafted 75% of a manuscript and because you’ve struggled with some aspect of plowing forward to the end of the draft, you’ve started to revise the front end while still drafting the back end. Draftvision. It can be a cold mess. Ugly on the scale of the 2016 Blizzard Jonas.
I do have good news. Besides the fact that Jonas only dumped a mild 10 inches in my yard. (Thank you mother nature for the pass) I’m very pleased to announce that I’m no longer stuck on my work in progress, spinning my wheels on the big expanse of white page. I know what to write to get out of draftvision. But here’s the thing, even when you’ve finally been able to plot your escape–you’ve still got to shovel yourself out of that shit. There ain’t nobody coming along with a word plow who’s going to do it for you. Which ultimately leaves you with lots of work to do on your WIP, plus a blog post and mountains of laundry to climb and whether you want to be or not, you ARE outside with the frisky snow pup who just wants to play ball.
My compromise is to brainstorm my blog post while running the dog silly. Sometimes this means “mind-writing” a topic I’ve already been thinking about. And other times, like today, it means I’m hoping to be struck by inspiration while I’m hanging out in the good old outdoors.
Today my connections started firing when I tossed that first neon orange tennis ball across the field and into ten inches of snow. I hadn’t really thought it through. White snow. Orange ball. This was going to be easy. That’s what I thought until this happened…
Gone. I hadn’t expected snowball hide and seek. And it quickly became apparent (to me at least) that playing ball in the deep snow was a lot like struggling through draftvision. One minute your tossing your best stuff into the air and the next minute–BOOM! Ball is gone and you can’t find it anywhere. But you don’t panic because the snow is pretty pristine and there is a ball shaped space letting you know where to start digging to fix the problem.
But the dog isn’t close to being done yet and you realize you are still playing ball in the snow and the more you play, the more foot prints, dog paws and old ball holes there are lying around. Take your eye off that ball for a minute and you suddenly have to change your strategy for finding what you need. Now you have to begin looking for new clues to solve your problems. But eureka! You realize that as the snow packs down, initially it’s harder to see where the ball went, but now it’s easier to search by color. You wander around until you spot what you need to throw the next ball.
But now your sweating. Deep snow is tiring to trod through and the whole yard is starting to look a bit off. It’s just when you’re on the edge of leaving that ball out there until the spring thaw that you have to dig deep. You must get in there and start poking around until you find what you need. You do not have time to let that manuscript sit for a few months and lose momentum. Start moving stuff around until you make some progress. If you stumble around long enough (trust me–i know) you’ll eventually find something you can toss around, under all that mess.
And incidentally, as if finding these disappearing balls isn’t hard enough, you should also know that the balls you’re throwing aren’t traveling as far as they usually do. I’ve never been a major league pitcher, but momentum has always been my friend. I’ve relied on a little bounce, bump and roll to get some distance. But in draftvision, that ball stops where it lands, without getting a lot of milage or tiring out the dog and now you still have to go find it. Grrrr. After awhile, you may realize that even though you’re trying very hard, nothing seems to be working. In this case, you just might want a little help.
You NEED a critique or two to help you sort out what you’ve got going on. Sometimes that critiquer will tell you things you didn’t know, which is pretty freaking fabulous. Yay for new insights that solve old problems. But usually, the critiquer will do the same thing you are doing and tell you what you already know. Yup–it works like that sometimes. Believe it or not, you’re smarter than you know. But even though you’re a bright light, the black hole of draftvision has sucked the illumination out of your life. There’s no shame in it, some times it helps to have someone else flip your switch. It can help to see your process laid out from a different perspective…
Oh, that’s how you do it????
See–it isn’t magic. Do the work and you end up with a cold, orange ball at the end or a finished manuscript–whatever you prefer. Either way, you too, can get everything you’ve ever wanted. Be persistent. Believe in your story. Be willing to try different approaches as the rules for what your throwing on the page keep changing.
And so you’re aware (because tough things exist even if we don’t acknowledge them) none of this process guarantees you anything, other than the completion of your art to your satisfaction. No matter how hard you work at writing or how diligently you learn your craft–publishing is a wild card. No one can predict it. You can work hard to stack the odds in your favor like an arsenal of snow encrusted tennis balls and that’s a great thing to have in the fight to get published. But it’s important that your goal is always to write the best book you can write, regardless of where that takes you.
And there’s another important reason to have your own measuring stick for your work. Sometimes we do not know when draftvision turns to revision, which then turns into TOO MUCH revision. It can be a slippery, ice encrusted, slope and once we are on it, we start moving ass-fast downhill and don’t know how to stop sliding and get off.
At the end of my blog post plotting, I pocketed both bright orange balls for another day, trading them for a large stick that I tossed up into the woods. Somewhere between the toss and the run to find said stick, the pup forgot what he was looking for and spent the next umpteen minutes looking for his ball in every conceivable place. He was completely unaware that the orange ball part of his story was already over.
It’s important to know that all good games of fetch and stories have a beginning, a middle and an end.
Looking back I’ve realized that sometimes draftvision is completely unavoidable–like snow. It’s one of mother natures challenges. But when we find ourselves walloped by the blizzard of draftvision, it’s great to have some tactics to help you shovel out of there as quickly as possible…
- Look carefully at what you already have for the clues you need to move forward.
- Be tolerant of where you are in your writing and forgiving of how you got there.
- Then be positive about where you are going.
- Don’t be afraid to go digging, no matter how big of a mess it makes–journeys are important.
- Keep your eye on the ball. But if you lose track of it, don’t be afraid to ask someone else to help you. Perspective is key.
- Know the real reason you are playing ball in the first place. Understand what is in your control and what is out of your control.
- Don’t keep playing when the game is clearly over. There is a time to stop or you end up chasing the wrong things. Send that work out when it feels done, not when you think it’s perfect. There is no such dog.
- Drink hot chocolate–it makes everything better.
Have you spent time in DRAFTVISION before? What are your tips for getting out? Do you have a dog that makes you throw balls in the snow? What other pets mess with your writing time? Aren’t you glad dogs don’t wear clothes and don’t add to the laundry pile?
Hang in there and keep tossing balls in the snow and words on the page.