Mar

24

2015

Dropping Balls

Filed under: Pondering, Reading, Writing

My blogging has been sporadic at best.

I’m trying to get my act together. But the truth is I’m dropping balls left and right LOL! Somedays I drop the laundry ball…one of my favorites to “drop.”

Other days I drop the eat breakfast ball. Crap! Did I really manage to leave the house without eating? Cause I won’t be back for 4 hours. *checks to rearview mirror to be sure all three boys and dog made it into the car* 

I also tend to drop the “getting the dishes done ball” until they start climbing out of the sink. Or something starts to smell.

Additionally, the kids were moaning yesterday, because I dropped the “get the groceries they wanted ball.”  (PLEASE get the GOOD bread for sandwiches, school snacks, cranberry juice and dessert for God’s sake!)

And now *insert giggle* (I have to giggle because it keeps me out of full on panic mode.) I’ve got a spring break trip coming up in the future and my “pets, boys and personal preparations balls” looks something like this…

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Need I say more? You get the picture. But there is some really good news. I haven’t dropped the “writing ball.” I’m never as fast as I want to be, but I’m happy with my progress, so the high from that, makes it easier to maneuver around all the other balls scattered all over the floor LOL!

I’ve also been reading a ton, thanks to audiobooks. It’s my bonus when I’m walking the pup and throwing an actual ball. And this is not just entertaining multitasking. Every book I read is a master class in how to be a better writer–and often a better person. And just to prove how awesome it is to drop the “household chores balls” instead of the “reading balls.” Here’s a quote from one of the best books I’ve read in awhile…

“That which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny. Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves.”
Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain

I don’t know about you, but despite all the balls all over the floor, it feels like I’m manifesting something great.

What are you manifesting at the moment? What’s the “best” ball you’ve dropped recently?

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Mar

17

2015

Guidance and Inspiration

Filed under: Blogging, Check-it-out, Community, Family, In the Wild, Pondering, Publishing, Stuff I Love

Last week has left me needing guidance and inspiration from those who are wiser and more eloquent than I…

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“To be Jedi is to face the truth, and choose. Give off light, or darkness, Padawan. Be a candle, or the night.”–YODA, Dark Rendezvous

“It is not nearly so important how well a message is received as how well it is sent. You cannot take responsibility for how well another accepts your truth; you can only ensure how well it is communicated. And by how well, I don’t mean merely how clearly; I mean how lovingly, how compassionately, how sensitively, how courageously, and how completely.” Neale Donald Walsh

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
Helen Keller

“The most important thing is to not stop questioning.”
Albert Einstein

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt, This is My Story

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”
― John Lennon

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.”
― Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“Peace begins with a smile..”
― Mother Teresa

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Two wrongs don’t make a right, but they make a good excuse.”
― Thomas Stephen Szasz

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
― Margaret Mead

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”
― Abraham Lincoln

 

Please feel free to add to my list. <3

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Mar

12

2015

Perception Descriptions

Filed under: Pondering, Writing, Writing Style

Attitude is so often a product of our perception. Glass half empty? Glass half full?

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But yesterday morning I discovered that writing description is also a product of our perception. Let me explain…

I did not want to get out of bed yesterday. Sat/Sun was spring forward Daylight Savings Time (which I personally think needs to be abolished because internal clocks are REAL!) I was tired and cozy and wishing to stay that way, for at least another hour, if not more. But, not wanting to be a complete Debbie Downer, I reminded myself how happy and cheerful I was in the evening when it’s still light outside.

Perception.

But you know me, this train of thought was a delightful slippery slope. I bustled around getting the kids ready for school, reminding them to wear rugged shoes, because now that the snow was melting–EVERYTHING is muddy. I know this because I can’t keep the car, the floors or the dog and boys clean. Very quickly I’d fallen into complaining mud mode. Wasn’t it just days ago I had begged for this warm, muddy weather because I was sick of the cold and snow? It was. So now I needed to adjust my expectations and my perception. *sigh*

Since I’m a bit of a weirdo, the self analysis got me thinking about how awareness of perception is involved in how we write descriptions. And suddenly I realized that the seasons were a great way to concisely illustrate how to avoid cliche and use your unique perception to write great descriptions.

Cliche Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Seasons Negatively described: Mud and Allergy (Spring), Bug and Humidity (Summer), Raking and Gray (Fall), Frigid and Shoveling (Winter)

Seasons Positively described: Warmth and Flowers (spring), Fireworks and Ice Cream (Summer), Cider and Pumpkins (Fall), Hot Chocolate and Pine (Winter)

Seasons by color: Pastel (Spring), Green (Summer), Earth Tones (Fall) and White (Winter)

Seasons by food: Irish Soda Bread and Easter Eggs (Spring), Fruit and Veggies from the Garden (Summer), Turkey and Carmel Apples (Fall), Christmas Cookies and New Years Champagne (Winter)

I could go on and on and on, finding new ways to use words to capture the seasons in a non-cliche way, but I think that gives you the idea. I would love to hear your perception description of the seasons in the comments.

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Mar

10

2015

Book Auntie Braggery– Win THE BIG FIX by Linda Grimes

Filed under: Book Auntie Braggery, Book Reviews, Check-it-out, Reading, Stuff I Love, Wolf Pack, Wolfson Literary

May is almost here and there is more reason to be excited than just the thought of warm, snow free weather. You should be super pumped because the next installment of Linda Grimes’ Ciel Halligan series will be available on May 12th!!!!

 

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And trust me, you want to read this book. Actually, you want to read this series. (IN A FIX and QUICK FIX) How often do you get to read stuff that’s smart, creative, sexy and hilarious all at once? You can if you read Linda’s books. Here’s a little bit a about THE BIG FIX…

Linda Grimes’s sexy and hilarious urban fantasy series that began with In a Fix and Quick Fix continues in The Big Fix.

Aura adaptor extraordinaire Ciel Halligan, who uses her chameleon-like abilities to fix her clients’ problems—as them—is filling in on set for action superstar Jackson Gunn, whose snake phobia is standing in the way of his completing his latest mega-millions Hollywood blockbuster. There’s only one thing Jack fears more than snakes, and that’s the possibility of his fans finding out he screams at the sight of one. Going from hero to laughing stock isn’t part of his career plan.

Seems like a simple enough job to Ciel, who doesn’t particularly like snakes, but figures she can tolerate an afternoon with them, for the right price—which Jack is offering, and then some. What she doesn’t count on is finding out that while she was busy wrangling snakes for him, his wife was busy getting killed. When Ciel goes to break the sad news to the star, she finds out Jack was AWOL from her client hideaway at the time of the murder.

Ciel begins to suspect Jack’s phobia was phony, and that he only hired her to provide him with an alibi—but if she goes to the police, she’ll have to explain how she knows he wasn’t really on set. Up against a wall, Ciel calls on her best-friend-turned-love-interest Billy, and her not-so-ex-crush Mark, to help her set up the sting of a lifetime.

Told you it sounded great. Aren’t you jealous because I got to read it already????

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Kimberly’s Review of THE BIG FIX:

I love ALL of Linda Grime’s Ciel Halligan books, but THE BIG FIX made me go…”WHAT? I can’t believe she did THAT!!!!” And I mean that in the most flattering way. I’m still shaking my head LOL!

Grimes’ writing is creative, smart, intriguing, sexy and funny all rolled up. I haven’t enjoyed an adult series this much since I fell in love with the Outlander books. Grimes had better be writing fast and furious because I NEED my next FIX!

 

You can preorder THE BIG FIX here…

*Amazon

*Barnes & Noble

*IndieBound

 

Linda Grimes

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.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Linda is one of my Wolf Pack Sistahs–we share the same fabulous agent–Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary. <3 That’s how I scored an ARC of THE BIG FIX. And even though it’s mine and I pet it lovingly, I am willing to share my copy with one lucky winner because I love you. All I ask is that the winner review THE BIG FIX and help to spread the word about how awesome it is. (Yes, I’m pretty confident you’re going to love it.) Here’s how you enter…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to learn more about Linda Grimes, Ciel Halligan and THE BIG FIX? Check out Linda’s Website/blog. My blog question for the day is in the Rafflecopter giveaway. :o)

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Mar

3

2015

Take That Flag and Shove It!

Filed under: Drafting, Pondering, Writing, Writing Style

I wrote just over 2,000 words yesterday and I’ll be honest, it was relatively easy. Don’t get me wrong, it was still the, I have to force myself not to fart around on social media kind of hard, but the words came easy. And as I danced around happily while sticking a SILVER star on my March calendar, a piece of me still couldn’t be happy, in between dancing, because, obviously I can do this 2,000 word a day thing when I want to. Right?

But then I reminded myself where I am in the manuscript. I’m over 50,000 words into the draft and I’m a detailed drafter, not a slap it on and fix it later kind of a girl. At this point, characters have started to become familiar, the world has good definition and there is a light at the end of the tunnel akin to spring after a long, cold winter. I want to get there. I have a beginning, a middle and by golly I want and end. I don’t even care how messy that end might be. I just want one so I can stand on the top of a mountain and plant my revision flag.

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I love the revision flag. I LOVE revision. *sigh* But if I spend too much time blogging here, it will take me further away from the day when I’m shoving that flag…well…you get the idea.

Which do you prefer, drafting or revision? Do you write at a steady clip or are some areas of your process more lucrative than others?

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Feb

26

2015

Marley and Me–I mean Riley

Filed under: #lifeofriley, Family, Pondering, Stuff I Love, Writing

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Don’t let the sleeping puppy fool you…

 

Have you seen the movie Marley and Me?

Yesterday Riley had a Marley kind of a day.

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…

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Feb

24

2015

Do What You LOVE!

Filed under: Check-it-out, Pondering, Stuff I Love, Writing

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.

But that should never stop you…

*Adding the link for people viewing on their phones.

Because, no matter what obstacles are thrown in your path, the best thing you can do–the only thing you can do–is do what you LOVE!

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Keep writing and eating pizza. I’d love to hear your “best” rejection stories. That way, we’ll have them on record when we make it big. Keep handing people the pen, my friends!

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Feb

19

2015

The Best Things Happen When You Aren’t Looking

Filed under: Drafting, Pondering, Writing, Writing for Children, Writing Style, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

Sorry I missed you on Tuesday. I was thawing out.

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The whole family was away on a ski trip that was awesome but very, very cold. How cold you ask?
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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.

IMG_0418 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.

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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.

 

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Feb

12

2015

The 2015 NY SCBWI Winter Conference Part 2

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Conferences, Reading, SCBWI, Writing for Children

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!!!

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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

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Illustration courtesy of Flashlight Press

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…

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Congrats to all the illustrators who won awards. Your work is gorgeous.

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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.

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We also got to sing Happy Birthday to Jane. <3

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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…

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And we can’t forget to thank the SCBWI staff that makes these conferences happen…

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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

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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…

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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…

 

The next Keynote was James Dashner–Writing Commercial Fiction.

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James was a funny guy. He started off his speech like Letterman with a top 10 List.

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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.

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BG–Barry Goldblatt (Barry Goldblatt Literary)

JL–Jennifer Laughran (Andrea Brown Literary Agency)

TW–Tina Wexler (International Creative Management)

Moderated by BB–Brenda Bowen

Here’s some golden nuggets from the agents:

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

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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!!!

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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…

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This year’s Newbery winner, Kwame Alexander.

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Anthony Horowitz

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Laura Vaccaro Seeger

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Herve Tullet

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And James Dashner

And then it’s back home in time for a bit more snow…

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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.

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Feb

10

2015

The 2015 SCBWI NY Winter Conference Part 1

Filed under: Conferences, SCBWI, Touching the Surface

I dropped the boys at school.

I brought the puppy to Canine Kindergarten.

And then I made the great escape…

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.)

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My favorite picture of us <3

And here are some of the treats she brought for me…

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Illusions of Fate by Kirsten White.

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Two of The Maggie Malone Books by Jenna McCarthy and Carolyn Evans.

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The Fire Artist by Daisy Whitney.

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And a coveted ARC of The Big Fix by Linda Grimes!!!!

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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…

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It isn’t a conference if we don’t have Lin Oliver‘s conference statistics:

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* 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

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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

JC–Justin Chanda (VP and Publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

BH–Beverly Horowitz (VP and Publisher, Delacorte Press)

LG–Laura Goodwin (VP and Publisher, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers)

SOL–Stephanie Owens Lurie (Associate Publisher, Disney-Hyperion)

MODERATOR LO–Lin OLiver

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Just some highlights from the discussion…

JC–Adult sales are flat and children’s are up! *fist pump* BUT…teen sales are up on a handful of authors, but not the majority. And FYI the movie industry has a lot to do with that.

Ummm anyone want to make a blockbuster movie about TOUCHING THE SURFACE?

JC–Contemporary is not the only thing kids want to read.

JC–The picture book is NOT dead!

JC–Continued upswing in MG.

JC–reminder that the business is cyclical.

JC–Common Core has not killed fiction.

JC–We write and publish good books and let everyone else, especially the media, take care of themselves.

BH–Write a great book and people will talk about it.

LG–There is an ongoing battle with piracy.

LG–Social media has allowed our mouths to reach more people and allowed authors to be advocates for each other’s books. <3

SOL–A Nielsen’s survey says kids prefer physical books.

SOL–Smaller books can easily get elbowed out.

SOL–It’s difficult to break out new authors.

SOL–The biggest disruption to a writer (trying to write) is from the fans seeking their time and attention on social media.

SOL–There is a correlation between and author’s tweets and sales (but that doesn’t mean annoying buy my book tweets. Talking about fan interaction style tweets)

SOL–Think about more than “how do I get my book published” and focus on “how I can get my work to an audience.”

JC–Social media is great, but you have nothing if you don’t have a strong story. Focus on that.

JC–YA and MG have very different social media.

JC–When you’re looking for a publisher, they should be a home–a partnership. They should be someone who shares your vision but isn’t telling you what your vision is.

JC–I don’t really like publishing books–I like publishing authors and illustrators. <3

Time for the AM Workshop! Writing Young Adult Fiction with Liz Tingue (Editor, Razorbill, Penguin Young Readers Group)

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Some highlights from the Workshop…

*Read a lot and not just in YA.

*Have a social media presence that’s comfortable for you, but does not interfere with you getting your writing done.

*KNOW your characters inside and out.

*If you’re writing in 1st person it should come to you in a strong and organic way.

*Utilize maps and outlines for plot and  structure but don’t be afraid to stray from them.

*Get a supportive critique group and get comfortable with tough love.

*Persevere when the going gets tough, but don’t be afraid to walk away from a project if it’s just not working.

After a yummy break for lunch, it was time for my afternoon Workshop with Emily Clement (Associate Editor, Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic Inc.) Writing Literary Ficiton.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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?IMG_0299

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…

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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.

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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? 

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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!

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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*

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