Posts Tagged ‘Jack Gantos’

Aug

3

2016

LA 2016 SCBWI Conference Part 1 (Friday) #LA16SCBWI

Filed under: Check-it-out, Class of 2k12, Community, Conferences, Publishing, SCBWI, Stuff I Love, The Class of 2k12, Touching the Surface, Uncategorized, Writing for Children

Hello… it’s #LA16SCBWI time…is there anybody out there? I know. I’ve neglected the blog, but for a good reason. Blogs are secondary to the writing and the writing has been my priority. But I LOVE my SCBWI conference blogs. They help me process everything I learned and I also love sharing a bit of the magic and insight with those who couldn’t make it. Plus I missed you. So, let’s go to #LA16SCBWI together!

 

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Compared to last year, my journey to #LA16SCBWI was a breeze. No hassles. Everything was on time. The Jet Blue snack was blue chips. I even had my roomie picking me up at the airport and we defied the laws of LA rush hour and made it to the hotel in a record amount of time for the afternoon. Everything was perfect until…

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My luggage lock wouldn’t come off. Really???? I think what happened was I accidentally twirled and twisted when I should have pushed and clicked–resetting the combo to a magic number I did not know. Grrrr. I thought about trying all the possible combinations then called the hotel desk and had a lovely gentleman cut it off for me. Crisis averted. Dinner was had and friends caught up. Easy Peasy. And when all was said and done, I fell asleep and never rolled over until morning. Not even the Biltmore ghosts could wake me.

Yes, the Biltmore hotel, the sight of #LA16SCBWI is supposed to be haunted. Do you see the wee ghosty on the SCBWI folder? I wouldn’t lie. Totally haunted. I’m positive, although I didn’t see, hear or sense a thing.

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But any building that looks like this inside must be haunted, right?

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BTW–sorry for the grainy pictures–I left my good camera at home by mistake. Boo!

But the ghosts aren’t really the important part–unless they inspire some fabulous stories. We were there to get our kid lit on and we took off running on Friday.

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Steve Mooser and Lin Oliver were on the scene–Lin entertaining us with stories of her senior prom and bachelor party at the Biltmore. Which by the way, was built in 1923 and was originally a cathedral. And this past weekend it housed…

-952 Full Time Attendees (with a 950 seat ballroom) Good thing there were always spatially challenged writers who had trouble finding their way around the building LOL!

-348 Published

-603 Pre-Published

-47 States. (West Virginia was absent and Vermont. But Lin figures they were still too busy feeling the Bern)

-15 Countries

-And there were some interesting primary occupations listed: 101 Full Time Artists, Cake decorator (because frosting is a legit medium), 93 FT Writers, A Writer/Shepherdess (and obviously a good one–never saw a single sheep in the Biltmore), 3 Paper engineers, a Bonsai Artist, a cluster? herd? swarm? flock? pod of lawyers? and a Retired Housewife. Lin didn’t know that last one was an option. Sign her up!

And our joke contest was Books in the Olympics–write your own headline!

In LA the faculty also marches in and shares their word of the conference. Here are some of my favorites from #LA16SCBWI…

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David Diaz–melarchy

Arthur Levine–personal

Justin Chanda–inclusivity

Ginger Clark–Brexit

Peter Brown–awkward

Nancy Castaldo–noble

Lisa Yee and Martha Brockenbrough–Wonder Woman

Alvina Ling–Breathe (she was congested)

Linda Sue Park–(for anyone who cares about kids) VOTE!

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The first Keynote Speaker of the conference was Drew Daywalt of crayon fame.

DOES THIS KEYNOTE MAKE MY BUTT LOOK BIG?

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Drew was funny and sweet as he talked to the group. Here are some of the most interesting things Drew had to say…

*Jack Gantos wanted Drew to write for children–he was his Obi Wan Kanobi

*Did you ever notice how crayons are in your house but you didn’t buy them?

*20 years later..”I told you so, idiot!” Jack Gantos

*First school visit he panicked but the librarian told him he could bring THE box of crayons LOL! A boy raced past”security” and jumped in his lap and said…”I love you, Mr. Daywalt.” It changed his life. <3

*Hollywood kicked me for 20 years and knocked me down and a million little hands caught me. <3

*Be true to your voice.

*Be vulnerable.

*Authors find meaning in the meaningless and define meaning in the meaningful.

*Don’t overstay your welcome. *waves*

 

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Next up was Pam Munoz Ryan: ONE WRITER’S CONFESSIONS

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Things she’s learned along the way…

*Getting published and discovering I could still fail.

*If you’re not struggling to learn something new, you’re failing.

*If you aren’t struggling, you’re setting your goals too low.

*I wasn’t self actualized to feel marginalized. (On not seeing herself represented in the books she read)

*Things that get you out of writer’s block–a deadline.

*I don’t have a muse, but I’m still waiting.

*I don’t write every day. A writer has a relationship with writing.

*Goal: I want the reader to sit down and turn the page.

*It still stings–writing doesn’t get easier for me.

*I write in a feeble attempt at immortality.

*I read to forget and I write to remember. <3

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Every conference has those bathroom breaks between speakers and they are perfect for coffee and meeting friends you’ve only loved on line. So pumped I FINALLY got to meet Lynne Kelly on of my fellow Class of 2k12 siblings. <3 Such a lovely treat.

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The next Keynote belong to Justin Chanda (VP & Publisher of four children’s imprints at Simon & Schuster)

THE STATE OF THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

Justin took the stage fighting the urge to suggest we unify the party. LOL! Here were a few things going on in the industry…

* 2015-2016 was a great year for independent books stores.

*Kid lit is doing well, but blockbusters are driving the overall sales while the mid-list are struggling.

*Blockbusters keep the lights on.

*It’s a big leap of faith to acquire a picture book. Because of that editors are selectively looking for character drive, humorous books that appeal to adults as well as kids. You have to be the best of the best to get a deal in this market.

*Advice: Write, Illustrate, Rinse, Repeat.

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Sorry it’s a little dark. Remember I forgot the one with the telephoto lens. Grrrrr But even so, I can vouch, this is my first break out session of the conference. It was a Pro-Track session with Don Tate on SCHOOL VISITS.

Don gave a sample of his own presentation, followed by advice and tips from himself and multiple experienced authors/illustrators. It was a wealth of knowledge.

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He also shared the fabulous Debbie Gonzales who works with the academic standards to create projects, presentations and study guides. She’s currently working with TOUCHING THE SURFACE and I’ll be excited to soon launch some fabulous new ways that TTS can be used in the classroom.

And my favorite tip from Don? GO WITH THE FLOW–IT’S NOT ALWAYS GOING TO GO AS PLANNED!

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Next up was the Editor Panel: THREE BOOKS I LOVED PUBLISHING AND WHY

SB-Stacey Barney–Senior Editor (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin)

KB-Kat Brzozowski–Editor (Swoon Reads/Feiwel and Friends)

AL-Alvina Ling–VP and Editor in Chief (Little, Brown)

MM-Melissa Manlove–Editor (Chromicle)

NP-Neal Porter–Publisher (Neal Porter Books)

MR-Matt Ringler–Senior Editor (Scholastic)

SS-Sara Sargent–Executive Editor (Harper Collins)

RS-Reka Simonsen–Executive Editor (Atheneum)

KS-Kate Sullivan–Senior Editor (Delacore)

Moderated by: ED-Emma Dryden (Dryden Books, LLC)

Each editor was asked to talk about three books they proudly published and talk about why they were meaningful. They also gave advice to the audience. I missed a few here and there and I can’t possibly effectively duplicate their gushing–but here’s what I can give you…

SB–Firebird, The Lions of Little Rock, A Crack in the Sea

      *Breathe, publishing is a marathon. It teaches patience. Work on your craft.

KB–RL Stein’s Fear Street Series, When the Moon Was Ours

       *Build a strong network of people. Publishing is small. Reciprocal relationships.

AL–Thunder Boy Jr, The Year of the Dog, Daughter of Smoke and Bone

       *Rejection is not personal.

MM–Picture This, President Squid, Josephine

       *Inspiration is electric, but it’s the lightening bolt that hits the person grinding the generator. You have to do the work.

NP–Giant Squid, School’s First Day of School, Ideas Are All Around

       *Do I HAVE to write this book? Is there intense feeling?

MR–Kill the Boy Band, The Hero Two Doors Down, Puppy Place Series (Because you can’t have a bad day picking out puppies for book covers ROTFL!)

          *Rejection can feel personal, but it’s an industry thing. Editors can’t always get what they want.

SS–Cruel Beauty, The Museum of Heartbreak, Last Year’s Mistake

          *Look for the window where you know what an agent/editor likes but then make it different.

RS–Enchanted Air, THE WICKED AND THE JUST (In caps because it’s a fabulous book by my Class of 2k12 sib J. Anderson Coats) and Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal.

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        *Write what you love.

KS–Ash, Rapture Practice, Passion Counts

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Next up was another Keynote with Jenni Holm: IT TAKES A FAMILY

Jenni shared lots of personal stories but this fact was key…If you’re going to write about your family, write about your mother’s family first LOL!

And then, just when you think you can’t do one more minute of conference, we got to celebrate the Golden Kite Award Winners and have a celebratory dinner.

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We even had a display in the lobby of our celebrated books for #LA16SCBWI

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And don’t forget the pyramid of chocolate. It was very yummy.

And on that sweet note, I’ll leave you to digest this first day of #LA16SCBWI and I promise I’ll be posting more soon.

 Want to see a little bit more of the Biltmore and it’s Hollywood History? Check out this video…

http://la.curbed.com/2013/10/4/10190584/watch-the-many-film-roles-of-downtowns-biltmore-hotel

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Mar

4

2014

The 2014 NY SCBWI Winter Conference – Part 1

Filed under: Conferences, Publishing, SCBWI, Writing for Children

It’s time for your 2014 NY SCBWI Conference Recap!!! But I have to start with an apology–I wasn’t able to figure out where the heck I “packed” my good camera. *pulls out hair* It drove me crazy all weekend long. I love my iPhone but for some of those shots, I really needed my Canon. But since there is nothing I can do about it–we are just going to have to use our imaginations. Pretend all those pics are crystal clear and fabulous.

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It’s not an international SCBWI conference without Lin Oliver giving the conference stats. I know I’m a dork, but I look forward to this every time I go.

*1,085 people in attendance

*867 women

*153 men

*65 people who refused to state what they were.

*We hailed from 47 states. What’s up with those two damn Dakotas? And yes, we’d all rather be in Hawaii too–so they get a pass this year. LOL!

*20 countries were represented–meaning 19 foreign countries and Canada. Love you, Canada!!!!!

*In addition to my local Shop Talk clown (which Lin stated I can not take credit for unless I AM the clown ROTFL!) We also had a Waldo Impersonator that no one ever found. Tricky little devil–where is that Waldo? And an Expert in No Particular Subject. I kid you not. It has become apparent that I need to get more creative with my registration packet.

*Because we writers are directionally impaired, this year there were extra staff at hand herding us in the right direction as we wandered around the hotel. The illustrators (with the amazing spatial awareness) were encouraged to go about their business as usual.

Then, as an inspirational treat, we got to listen to SCBWI success story and cancer ass-kicker Kristin Fulton. Go check out her website and read about her recent 2 book deal. *fist pump* photo

 

And besides Kristin being fabulous, the bonus we discovered when chatting, was a mutual friend–one of my fabulous critique partners. <3 Commence singing It’s a Small World.

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I was so captivated by Jack Gantos I never took a picture of him speaking, but here he is signing books at the end of the conference. I think that Jack may now hold the title for the longest Keynote title. What do you think?

Keynote: How everything I learned about fiction and nonfiction in picture books, poetry, short stories, novellas, or, angst, dialog, a hundred drafts, and good luck all end up in the crown jewel of literature: THE NOVEL.

After Jack was done with his keynote, I leaned over to a friend (a first time NY SCBWI attendee) and whispered…”FYI–if you went home right now, you would have gotten your money’s worth.” And it’s the truth. I wish you’d been there to take it all in. It was amazing. Because I love you, here are some of my favorite highlights from Jack Ganto’s keynote…

*A great character will carry a weak plot, but a plot will not carry a weak character.

*The reader has to feel what the character feels…without empathy you don’t have a good book.

*There is not one good ending–there is always two. (the external ending and the emotional one)

*If you see it, you want the reader to see it too.

*The reason we read books is to change. As writers we have to infuse change into our writing so the reader feels it. “If that character does not change–I would be ashamed to write the book.”

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Next up was the Keynote Panel: The Future of Authorship

PA–Paul Aiken (Executive Director, The Author’s Guild)

JF–Jean Feiwel (SVP Publishing Director Macmillan Children’s Books)

JFriJane Friedman (Web Editor, Virginia Quarterly Review)

AGAbbi Glines (Author)

TT–Timothy Travalini (Director of Children’s Acquisitions, Open Road Media)

Moderated by: LO–Lin Oliver

 

Here are their best bits of advice…

JFri–New tools and trends are driving the discovery of work in a noisy industry. Now that everyone  CAN publish, the DO publish.

PA–It has always taken persistence in this industry. What has changed? We’ve lost 60-70% of our shelf space. Picture Books need to be picked up and held to be discovered.

AG–I was turned down by agents 55 times, so I self published my first novel. It got really bad reviews because it was really bad LOL!

AG–Writing a book is like a muscle–it gets better with use.

AG–You want your followers (twitter) to be organic –they should want to hear what you are saying.

JFri-An author platform comes out of your body of work.

JFri–It isn’t going to take much more erosion for bookstores to be unsustainable.

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AM Breakout Session with my FABULOUS editor Anica Rissi  <3 — Writing Contemporary Fiction

There is soooooo much good stuff!!! I couldn’t even write it all down–but THAT was no surprise to me because Anica is an amazing editor. Here’s her best…

*If you continuously find yourself to be the exception to all the rules–you might need to reevaluate.

*Be a brave soul.

*NO ONE WANTS TO READ YOUR FIRST DRAFT!

*Revision is what makes you a publishable writer.

*Give the reader something to wonder about.

*We learn about people (characters) in context.

*Kids won’t wait around–write opening lines that engage

*Your story needs to have a plot arc and an emotional arc.

*Stories are universal–it’s your details that matter.

*You should be writing the story only you can tell.

*You can’t decide who your characters are and you can’t force it–teens will smell a fake a mile away.

 

I find myself at a natural pausing spot as I’m pouring over Anica’s advice and inspirational words all over again. Guess this means it’s time for all of us to stop here and savor what’s been shared. I know it’s already made a HUGE difference in what I’m currently working on.

What is the most recent piece of advice or inspiration that’s found it’s way into your process and informed your writing?

 

 

 

 

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