Posts Tagged ‘Bonnie Bader’
It’s time for the NY 2017 SCBWI Conference!!!!
I just got back and of course I wanted to share the awesomeness with you.
Just so you know, it wasn’t exactly easy to get there this year…
On Thursday we got hit with a winter storm. My house got just over 10 inches of snow–resulting in a very happy puppy.
With a day off of school, I was kind of lucky because I got some extra sleep and had plenty of time to pack for the next day.
But not everyone was so lucky. I know of several people who couldn’t get their flights sorted out and missed the conference all together. That was a huge disappointment.
I knew I was going to be running a little late for Friday’s Intensive, but my train schedule got pushed back even more due to the boys having 2hr delays. I decided not to stress and go with the flow.
Chilling out and day dreaming while looking out the train widow really paid off. I got to see 4 adult and 4 juvenile American Eagles! And I even captured one on my camera and that made me extra happy.
While I missed most of the morning portion of my Friday Intensive–WRITING THE VERSE NOVEL–but made it for the first half of the round table sessions. Despite being late, I still had an amazing experience and learned a ton. I’ve never attempted a novel in verse before, but I’m intrigued, I enjoy reading them and I always feel that learning new things brings depth and color to anything I’m working on. So it was a great opportunity. And the good news was that I was able to get the handouts and I have access to the notes.
The lovely Bonnie Bader facilitated the Intensive.
Listening to Sonya Sones—The Nuts and Bolts and Safety Pins of Writing the Novel in Verse
*Don’t write a poem that makes a teenager feel stupid. It must be accessible.
*Our goal is to move people with our words–create an emotional response.
*Teens are present tense human beings.
*Read your work out loud with ear plugs. It allows you to hear your own voice.
We also did some fun exercises with Ellen Hopkins‘ session Balancing Verse with Story
Do you want to get your creative descriptions flowing? Try asking yourself some interesting questions like…
What does anger smell like?
What does happiness taste like?
What does sorrow sound like?
What does boredom feel like?
What does love look like?
You should have heard all the interesting and varying responses in the room.
And after another session of round tables, there was even time for a Q & A session with the intensive faculty.
(Sonya Sones, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Ellen Hopkins and Emma Dryden)
Done for the day, it was time to meet up with my friends (old and new) and fellow Lobby Rats for a yummy Italian dinner and lots of catching up in the–you guessed it–lobby!
Then on Saturday morning–despite how comfortable my roomie and best bud, Jodi Moore and I were in our cozy beds at the Hyatt Grand–we rolled on downstairs for coffee, bagels and the kick-off of the conference.
Starting off the day was some birthday singing for the one and only Jane Yolen!
This was followed by Lin Oliver‘s famous SCBWI State of the Conference Address.
Here’s how it all went down…
*40% Published and 60% Pre-Published
*States not representing? North Dakota and Wyoming 🙁
*Attendees came from 61 different countries to include Hong Kong, Australia, Spain and Egypt.
*Some of this year’s interesting Professions/Day Jobs were…
-Costume Shop Supervisor
-Attorney/Voice Over Actor
-Chairman of the Book Selection Committee (everyone was looking for this person LOL!)
-Crime Scene Detective
The first Keynote of the day was the always moving and inspiring Bryan Collier
Here are some of the things you should know…
*When he was 4yo–he saw HIMSELF in the picture book Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. He became obsessed with art and headed to NY–there was no plan B
*Be careful who you share your dreams with, even the people who love you will tell you to get a job.
*Your dreams should be so outrageous they scare you.
*Everything your awkward about is the very thing that makes you special. <3
*Creativity is not just a pond–it’s a river. We are moving!
*The world is waiting for you to dream.
*Sometimes our readers aren’t standing in the doorway. They are in a ditch–behind bars. And they are waiting for you.
Want to check out some of Bryan’s amazing work? Look for his illustrations in KNOCK KNOCK.
Next up was a Panel Discussion–Four Types of Picture Books: A Closer Look
Moderator LL-Laurent Linn
DS–Daniel Salmieri (Illustrator)
GP–Greg Pizzoli (Author/ Illustrator)
ADP–Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author/Editor)
AB–Andrea Beaty (Author)
There was so much great information offered by this panel, so I’ve picked my favorite pieces of advice and inspiration to share with you…
ADP–Bringing non-fiction to readers is like spinach. You have to keep serving it up until they get a taste for it.
ADP–I’m under the belief that if something excites you–it can excite the child.
DS–Don’t be afraid to draw ANYTHING–you’re in a constant state of getting better.
GP–Picture book advice 1. a picture book can be anything 2. it should be direct 3. keep it short.
LL–Ballet look so easy. Effortless. But those ballerina’s have bloody stumps for feet. Rhyme has to look equally effortless.
Next up was my first Break Out Session–World Building with Arianne Lewin
This was a fabulous workshop and very relevant to what I’m working on in my WIP. Here’s what you need to know…
*Creating a world that’s immersive will keep the reader reading.
*The world should unfold organically.
*World building applies to ALL books–it’s the anchor for your story.
*The world has to be believable and manageable.
*1st build atmosphere–it make the reader feel comfortable slipping in.
*If the character believes it–the reader will believe it. It’s in the details.
*Great examples of world building–The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Golden Compass.
*The world is revealed by what your character does–show it!
The Lobby Rats taking a lunch break
One for me and one for my roomie <3
Then it’s back to work…
After lunch it was back to another breakout session.
This one was Writing Middle Grade Fiction with Andrew Harwell, Senior Editor at Harper Collins
*MG readers ages 8-12 (grades 2-6)
*This means that the middle grade section in bookstores houses a WIDE variety of books in one area–Captain Underpants to The Golden Compass.
*MG readers are extremely sophisticated–but keep your eye on the main character–that is the story anchor.
*Never talk down to your readers.
*There is no one, right gold standard voice or style in MG. Do what works for you and your character.
*Plant seeds –details in the earlier part of your book that you can catch again at the end.
*If you have the details clear in YOUR head, you don’t have to over explain anything to the reader. It will make sense. Make your plotting masterfully done.
*Make sure you give your characters a breathing moment–hit different emotional registers.
*The specific details are anchored in the universal themes.
*Be prepared to use sensitivity readers.
The afternoon keynote by Tahereh Mafi is STILL giving me goose bumps.
Everything about this keynote was incredible. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t capture it all. It was her words, which flowed non-stop. It was her elegant demeanor. It was her power and resilience. It was her history and her goals for the future. If you ever get a chance to hear her speak–know you are in for an altering experience.
This is what I was able to capture…
*A thick skin will only insulate you from pain, and act good is a writer who doesn’t feel anything?
*Speaking of her mom, who had her skull fractured on the streets of Iran: grief was a luxury she was never able to afford.
*My thin skin helps me to exhale emotions onto the page.
*Those rejections keep you hungry.
*Not everyone will know our stories and back stories–our inspirations and aspirations–but SOMEONE will find it.
*Lean into your pain and let it shape you.
*If you don’t give up, you can’t fail.
*She wrote and queried FIVE novels before the one that sold.
This year, the walls between the ballroom and the bookstore were opened. I loved it! This is everyone rushing to get Tahereh’s book after her moving keynote.
Next up was the afternoon panel–Children’s Books and the Social Media World: A Panel of Influencers
Moderator by Martha Brockenbrough MB
TJ–Travis Jonker (blogger) @100scopenotes and @TheYarnPodcast
CLS–Cynthia Leitich Smith (author/blogger) @CynLeitichSmith and www.cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com
MW–Mathew Winner (librarian/podcast host/blogger) @MatthewWinner and @AlltheWonders
Here’s a sample of what we got to hear…
TJ–I love when a voice we love in a book carries over into the authors social media.
CLS–Calls out Debbie Ohi as someone who is doing it RIGHT! She has take aways for her audience, snippets of her art, a positive and friendly attitude.
CLS–Write your mission statement as an author.
CLS–Know when to step away from social media and write your book.
CLS–Author profiles with animals–especially quirky animals get more love.
Worth a try, right?
MW–I never set out to have an audience. I set out to share what I love.
MW–Being nice makes you cool!
Usually book signings are on Sunday, but every once in awhile we have a couple people who need to sign on Saturday.
My roomie, Jodi Moore talking to Andrea Davis Pinkney!!!! She was the sweetest to cast with and I’m constantly blown away by what an intelligent woman Andrea is. You must read her work–it’s incredible. I fell in love with this picture book and got a signed copy for my school library…
A Poem For Peter
And I also got to speak with Tahereh Mafi and tell her what an impact her keynote had on me. <3
And then it was time for the Gala with it’s the SCBWI MASHED POTATO BAR!!!
As if it was meant to be–I walked by and they opened this particular Mashed Potato Bar and I was the first one to use it ROTFL!
Hope you enjoyed my NY 2017 SCBWI Part 1 Recap. I’ll be sure to get you Part 2 as soon as I can.
Any questions about the conference? I’ll do what I can to answer them. Planning on going to the LA conference in July and want to be in the Lobby Rat know? Let me know and I’ll add you to the FB group. Or if you’re planning to attend a different SCBWI conference and would like to make sure the Lobby Rats are represented–let me know. We can arrange that <3
And if you want to play along in the comments and give Ellen Hopkins’ exercise a try, here’s your question…
What color was the NY conference and why?
You can answer this as an attendee or as an arm chair conference follower.
My conference was green like a leafy vine, because many of the ideas that were floating around in my head, were finally able to be connected because of what I learned and the people who were inspired me.
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.
It’s Day 2 of #LA15SCBWI and I can’t imagine a more inspirational start then hearing Dan Santat speak. Dan was this year’s Caldecott winner with BEEKLE, but what really makes it this keynote special is that Dan “grew up” in the SCBWI. Like many of the speakers I’ve heard over the years, he got his start in this tribe and he made that very clear…ALL IT TAKES IS A LITTLE TASTE: STORIES OF HOW THE SCBWI HELPED ME AND HOW I GREW AS AN AUTHRO WHEN I WASN’T AT THE CONFERENCE
Over the course of Dan’s keynote, he made us laugh and he imparted tons of wisdom and inspiration. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place at the end of his speech. Here was my best take aways from Dan…
*Understand why YOU like–don’t be censored.
*If you have a closed mind, you’re going to miss out on the beauty of things.
*Comic books are soap operas for nerds.
*Learn from others. Ex. BREAKING BAD is a study in character development.
*Read Goodreads reviews with some common sense. You know when someone is giving you useful information that can help you grow. Also read the bad reviews of the classics to gain some perspective.
*Study the fundamentals–when you understand them, you then have the freedom to move around.
*Learn by imitation–don’t become a clone, use it to ADD to your fundamentals.
*If you do something hard once, you know you have it in you to do it again.
*Find your voice–stop imitating and start INNOVATING.
*Do what you love when the work will find you.
*Do it because you are passionate about what you do.
*If you put money in the equation, you’re never going to find it. It’s like chasing a shadow.
*Live and die by your own sword. If you put your faith in yourself you will tread water and survive.
*You don’t want to live with regrets. If I had quit I never would have had the Caldecott Medal. *cue sobs*
Next up was the AGENT’S PANEL: INSIDE THE CHILDREN’S BOOK MARKET
JR—Jodi Reamer (Writer’s House)
AP—Alexandra Penfold (Upstart Crow Literary)
KN—Kristin Nelson (Nelson Literary Agency)
BG—Barry Goldblatt (Barry Goldblatt Literary)
BB—Brenda Bowen (Greenberg Associates)
JB—Jenny Bent (The Bent Agency)
Here’s the advice and information that I took note of…
AP–You’re not acquiring a book, you’re taking on a life.
BG–Competition to get manuscripts read by editors is immense, so your MS needs to be in the best shape.
BG–9 to 5? WHAT IS THAT?
BG–You are the one in the driver’s seat. You get to choose.
JB–I don’t care who you are–there will be downtime in your career.
JB–Respect and honesty on both sides are key.
AP–Write the book that can get you above the noise.
BG–Editors should have the ability to take a flyer because a great smaller book can become a huge best seller. Ex–WONDER
JR–Social media should be natural. It should be you.
BG–We are colleagues. We’re not out to undercut each other. You’re not competing with anyone in this room.
AP–You never know where the connections are going to come from.
AP–If it makes me feel–I’ll follow you anywhere.
BG–We get jaded, but then we see something that knocks us off our seats and want to sell it!
AP–If you have a rich reading life, you will have a rich writing life.
BB–Best promo for a book is the next one. Keep writing.
JB–Be a mensch–Be kind. Be helpful. Be generous.
JB–I see social media as an opportunity to be kind to people and share.
Next up was my first Workshop of the Day. BONNIE BADER–CHAPTER BOOKS: WHAT’S WORKING AND WHAT’S NOT
Some things that make a book–a chapter book…
-a milestone event
-a protagonist around the age of the reader (7-10 year olds)
-Roughly 80-120 pages
-size of type, density of illustrations
-expand the details of your character to make them unique.
-use a universal theme with a twist
What kinds of chapter books that are successful…
–Magic Tree House
–Junie B Jones
–Princess in Black
–George Brown, Class Clown
–The Dory Books (Dory Fantasmagory)
The next keynote of the day was Jane O’Connor–BORROWING FROM LIFE: CREATING A CHARACTER
Here were some Fancy Nancy style tips to remember…
*Leave out all the stuff that’s boring.
*Eavesdropping is crucial to writing.
*Middles are a bitch.
Jane was followed by Varian Johnson–IF IT WERE EASY, EVERYONE WOULD DO IT
Varian was open and honest and so touching with his ability to share his hard publishing moments with the audience. He had so much inspiration to share…
*The hard is what makes it great.
*We make the time.
*We all deserve to be part of the conversation, but we have to do the work.
*My job is to put words on paper. If the muse shows up that day–BONUS.
*Writing is a job that deserves to be treated as such. Set up a schedule.
*Don’t talk about it. Be about it.
*And while I’m not looking forward to my next failure…I know it’s coming.
*We’re writers…IT’S OUR JOB TO MAKE FICTION COME TRUE. <3
My second Workshop of the day was with the lovely Wendy Loggia–FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
Ia addition to hearing Wendy rave about my fabulous agent Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary and my Wolf Pack Sistah Kiersten White…
…I loved learning a little bit more about Delacorte Press. Did you know…
*Delacorte plans their books out way in advance to give them the best marketing attention they can give. If you were to sell a book to Delacorte today (8/15) It would not be slotted for publication until Spring of 2017.
*Delacorte does not have a acquisitions board. Editors can acquire what they choose.
*Delacorte does not compete with other imprints at Random House
*Wendy does all her own editorial reading.
*Why Wendy purchases a manuscript?
-loves the voice
-thinks it deserves to be published
Our next keynote was Molly Idle–YES, AND: SETTING THE STAGE FOR CRAZY CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT
Sorry–was having an afternoon brain fart or a caffeine low and missed getting a picture of Molly. Just imagine a highly energetic creative teaching us how to use theater to create stronger writing and illustration on the page.
Ummm no pictures here either. I swear I wasn’t sleeping LOL! This was a great panel on DIVERSITY IN CHILDREN’S BOOKS: CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS
IWG—IW Gregorio (didn’t attend due to illness)
This may have been my favorite diversity panel I’ve heard yet. Here are some bits from my notes…
VJ–You don’t need permission to write diversely, but you do need to do your due diligence. And remember you aren’t trying to write the experience of ALL the people–just the one that’s your character. Your research is not different than any other research for a character.
JC–I try not to overthink the issue too much.
VJ–I’m not a fan of the term, CASUAL DIVERSITY, but it’s when the characters featured are diverse, but the diversity isn’t the issue. Ex-Lando in Star Wars
NY–I’ve never been sassy a day in my life! (on sassy diverse sidekicks)
JC–Write and illustrate without fear and if you have fear, pretend you don’t.
And then it was time for the Saturday Gala! This year’s theme was Sparkle and Shine. And FYI the sugar cookies were amazing–I ate them before I could get a picture LOL!
I hope all this fabulous information is helping your writing to sparkle and shine. You can catch me first conference blog installment here…LA SCBWI 2015 Part 1 At the end of that blog, you’ll see that I’m still running a contest to win a signed copy of…
WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN AGAIN by Jodi Moore
So don’t forget to head over there and take advantage of the opportunity. I’ll be back on Thursday with LA SCBWI 2015 Part 3!!!
And we are winding down to the last day of the 2014 LA SCBWI Conference. And the jet lag is starting to lose it’s steam, so of course I arrange for an early morning Class of 2k12 mini breakfast reunion with Suzanne Lazear (The Aether Chronicles) and Caroline Starr Rose (May B and Blue Birds). It was worth every yawn to have some quality time with my girls. <3 This is my public service announcement for the day: My class of 2k12 friends were indispensable to me for the last three years. If you are slotted for debut publication, seriously consider becoming part of the Class of’s Contact me if you need help finding contacts in the up and coming groups. I’ll help you figure it out.
The official morning started off with Deborah Halverson and her always helpful Market Report. Besides the who, what, when, where and why of the children’s book market being incredibly dynamic, she provided us with an amazing handout…
Just another fabulous benefit of being an SCBWI member and attending these awesome conferences. *fist pump* Time to join people–this organization is fabulous and means the world to me. Here is what you should know…
*Up-swing in picture books
*Increased demand for highly illustrated early chapter books.
*In response to Common Core:
-Not a lot of acquisition changes. Same quality books–just might market them differently.
-Eye out for subject matter that touches multiple areas. The more hooks the better.
*Diversity projects are increasing but editors are looking for approaches that are not stereotypical or heavy handed.
*MG is finally coming into it’s own–promising place for single tittles.
*The bar is very high with books like WONDER but there are varying needs within this audience.
*MG is allows slow growth over several years. 2-3 year projections while YA is more likely to be evaluated in a quick splash.
*YA possibly over saturated. Editors being picky.
*Popular, established authors are getting sales.
*Trilogy is slowly dying.
*NOT MORE OF THE SAME!!!!!
*Contemporary realistic fiction getting a bump.
*YA lovers continue reading after aging out.
Next up was an amazing Keynote with Linda Sue Park–THE HOW OF IT: MAKING EVERY WORD COUNT
This presentation was the PERFECT combination of technically useful and emotionally inspirational. LSP is hard to beat, she is a master of craft and emotionally dedicated to her work. Here is what you should know…
*Don’t bore the editor–you want then to hang on your every word so make every word count.
*How? Use the tools of the writing craft–WORDS!
*Small changes make huge differences.
*ALWAYS put your finished MS away for several weeks before you send it out. Look at it again with fresh eyes.
*Use the word count function and whittle down your words slowly.
-Pick your best words and put them in the best order.
*Change your font, it will help you see your MS differently.
*Print your work out and read it in a different location–some place you don’t usually write.
*Read your work aloud from beginning to end or have someone read it to you.
*Words have become one of our cheapest currencies because of technology and social media, so it’s even more important that we value our words.
*An adult is never going to love and reread books the way they will when they fall in love with a book as a child–our books have to be worthy of being ready more than 62 times. (Daniel) <3
Our next Keynote was by Sharon Flake–WALKING WOUNDED: HOW TO KEEP WRITING AFTER YOU’VE HIT THE WALL. Her best take aways were…
*”Magic” can give you a false sense of confidence.
*Kids need to know that there is more than one way to be a human being.
*Remember it’s in you to make it through.
*I love writing so much that even when it didn’t feel good I kept going.
*It’s about being a connection.
My first Workshop of the day was with Bonnie Bader–LEVELED READERS AND TRANSITIONAL CHAPTER BOOKS.
As a mom and a former special education teacher I really wanted to make some sense of this area that always seems so inconsistent and confusing to me. I walked away with a very good understanding of how these books work or don’t work and how difficult they are to write. I feel like they are a sudoku puzzle for children’s writers LOL! I think when I get a little extra time on my hands I might play around with the sight word list a little bit and see if I’m any good at it. If you see me with chunks of my hair pull out, you’ll know what I was doing.
Time for the Golden Kite Luncheon!!!!!
This is when we honor the outstanding members of our tribe. This year’s Member of the Year was Ellen Hopkins for her above and beyond service to the SCBWI and it’s tribe members. Love her! We also celebrated our Golden Kite winners.
Peter Brown–Golden Kite Winner for Picture Book Illustration
Pat Zietlow Miller–Golden Kite Winner for Picture Book Text
David Meissner–Golden Kite Winner for Non-fiction
Tim Federle–Golden Kite Winner for Fiction
And Bill Konigsberg–winner of the Sid Fleischman Humor Award
Each of these award winning tribe members gave amazing, funny and inspirational speeches. Best crop of award winners I’ve heard as a whole. I left lunch full, inspired and motivated. Can’t wait to read their books!!!!!
My afternoon Workshop was with Bruce Coville–NO BUT SERIOUSLY, THE ART AND CRAFT OF WRITING A SERIES
Sorry no picture–we got right down to business and there was a lot to learn. One of the great things for me at the conference was that I was able to take some very interesting classes on new topics I’d never explored before. As a regular conference attendee, this made me very happy.
Here are a few tips about series writing from Bruce who has 15 series under his belt…
*Show up at your desk–when you are doing your work you will maintain a certain level of competence in your writing and some times you will be lucky enough to rise above your own abilities.
*Two most important times of creativity are coming in and out of sleep–use them to your advantage.
*Always go for royalties because you are betting on yourself–the 1st Hardy Boys book (with a packager) the author made $150 Doh!
*Craft without inspiration is basket weaving. Inspiration without craft is modern art. *insert Bruce giggle here*
*An outline is not an impediment to creativity.
-Bruce’s tend to be front heavy
-They never end the way he planned and that’s ok
*If you want to explore a world or character with more depth than one book–a series is the way to go.
*Conclude a story but throw in an unresolved cord.
*Create your bible.
-tells what the world is gong to be
-characters, side kicks and bad guys
-Show you are taking your work seriously
*Writing for a packager is a great way to hone your craft–you should always write a book better than what they are expecting.
*Problems with a series:
-keeping it fresh
-keeping it consistent (BIBLE)
-getting important info to the people who haven’t read the previous books
-knowing when to stop
*Our lives are series non-fiction <3
I told you I’d have more Tomie!!! We were still able to do his interview with Lin Oliver via Skype <3
His bits of wisdom and love…
*Being an artist is also the way you live your life.
*When you create your art–be prepared to be misunderstood.
And then after feeling like I had the biggest, warmest pep talk from my SCBWI Yoda/Grandpa–Judy Blume stepped onto the stage for an inspirational send off…
* I was far from a courageous child–except in my head.
*I was brave in my writing the way I wasn’t in my life.
*Judy’s take away word from the conference is FOCUS.
*Do not let anyone discourage you. If they try–get angry not depressed!
*Determination is as important as talent.
*It doesn’t ever get easier–persist.
*Ideas come from everywhere and you never know when they will arrive.
*Kick the critic off of one shoulder and the sensor off the other. Sometimes you just have to write a book and not worry about who is going to read it.
As if this wasn’t enough, Judy shared with us the ups and downs of a project she’s currently working on and how she would also be leaving the conference inspired to go back to her work. Just like me–just like everyone else in that room who had the pleasure of hearing one of our greatest idols speak.
After a long and powerful standing ovation for Judy, Lin Oliver closed with this…
“We picked a very difficult and challenging road–it’s so much better that we walk down it together–hand in hand and arm and arm.”
My Tribe–I am grateful. <3
Yes, I photo bombed Meg Medina LOL!
But then Jodi and I gave her hugs so she didn’t mind.
Chatting with Bruce Coville–he’s such a hoot! Always love his advice.
Me and Bruce Coville <3
Like Aaron Becker and Journey and Journey says…Don’t stop believing.
Fan girling over Maggie Stiefvater–helping me solve for X.
Megan McDonald of Judy Moody and Stink fame.
Love her–she’s fabulously hilarious.
Judy Schachner or Miss Judy as my 9yo likes to call her–signing her newest, adorable Bits & Pieces.
Judy talking picture books with Jodi Moore author of WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN. I want a collaboration–when Skippy Joh Jones moves in with my favorite Dragon.
And then it was over. Dinner with friends while talking about three days worth of awesomeness. Hugs goodbye. Suitcases packed and the pull to find your way home to family and the page where you left off in your own writing…
Hope you are as inspired as I still am over a week later. And my fingers are crossed that you enjoyed my conference recaps. See you on Thursday with a little conference bonus post before I put LA away until next year. <3