Posts Tagged ‘Jay Asher’

Feb

18

2016

The 2016 New York SCBWI Winter Conference Part 2

Filed under: Author Events, Book Signings, Check-it-out, Community, Conferences, Pondering, Publishing, Reading, SCBWI, Stuff I Love, Writing, Writing for Children

The 2016 New York SCBWI Winter Conference Part 2

I’m back…and I realized that in Tuesday’s SCBWI Conference Recap post, I forgot to tell you how cold it was outside when we woke up. Inside too, for that matter.

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Why I may have blocked it from my memory…

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This was the inside of my window on the 29th floor.

 

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But it did look rather pretty once the sun came out.

But I should probably stop giving you the cold shoulder and start filling you in on the rest of the SCBWI conference. When I left you on Tuesday…

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…a large crowd of Kid Lit SCBWI writers and illustrators were eating picnic style on the floor of the hotel lobby and Debbie Ohi couldn’t give away a piece of her black and white cookie. Yes, we are a strange group–just go with it.

After lunch I had my second Break-out/Workshop session of the day with Elizabeth Bicknell, EVP, Executive Editorial Directo & Associate Publisher Candlewick Press–WRITING PICTURE BOOK TEXT.

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Elizabeth Bicknell

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Some of the books she used to illustrate fabulous and successful picture books.

Good things to know…

*Candlewick only does children’s books.

*Don’t make your story about too many things.

*No Flashbacks.

*PB’s are like a little play.

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Topics in PB’s shift over time but here are currently popular story lines.

Up next was a Fireside Chat between Lin Oliver and Rainbow Rowell

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Lin and Rainbow are way too adorable together!

Here are my favorite take-aways…

*When you’re writing 1st person, you’re writing monologues.

*Good novelists have good memories.

*The best comedy comes at the moment of pathos. (The intersection of funny and sad)

*Like a dog returning to his own vomit–it’s a long and very funny story!

*Rainbow’s outlines are emails to her agent.

*Her plots are derived from characters. Using characters to fulfill a plot is very different than characters creating the plot.

*The shared texts we have now are pop culture–it’s no longer scripture etc…

*People find the references that are there for them.

*If I’d written girls when I was younger, I think I would have accepted more of what the world told me to.

*On writing in an Omaha Starbucks–Hey! Writing in a NYC Starbucks is a very different thing. They are like public restrooms that serve coffee! ROTFL!

*Not in the past, and maybe not in the future, but right now I am privileged to write full time.

*Publishing is a game of speculation. Everyone is guessing even though everything seems set in stone.

The next Keynote required no guessing at all to know it would be good. I’ve heard the fantabulous Kate Messner on numerous occasions and I’ve also heard nothing but wonderful things about Linda Urban and they were going to be talking about MUSIC, MOUNTAINS AND MOCHA LATTES: SUSTAINING A CREATIVE LIFE.

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Kate spoke first and talked about her own journey to reconnect with a manuscript by climbing mountains.

*Sometimes we need one small thing to keep going.

*If climbing one mountain was good for my writing, climbing 40+ would be amazing.

*Put your butt in your chair, but when you’re stuck, get up.

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Then Linda Urban talked about how she’d rather have her finger nails pulled out than climb mountains, but how she found the same creative inspiration in a little red ukulele.

*Playing the ukulele causes a rush I wasn’t getting while I was stuck in my MS.

*The dopamine it provided and a long trail of small musical success restored my creative confidence.

*The negative voice in my head got bored while I was playing.

And then the lovely Linda sang for us <3

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And as you might imagine, these two inspirational and creative authors were each other’s biggest fans. So, please remember, if you can’t find a creative outlet that will lead you back to your writing–find a friend to have a Mocha Latte–it will work every  time.

After all this inspiration there was a book signing with Rainbow Rowell, the Art Browse and the Gala dinner followed by multiple socials and of course my group of lobby rats hanging out in the lobby–sort of. Remember how cold it was? Well, that lobby was a wee bit drafty, so for the first time ever, the rats took to the underbelly of the hotel (like all good rats do) and moved out of the cold.

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But as always–we stayed up talking way to long. Always one of my favorite parts of the SCBWI conference.

With not enough sleep under our belts, it was time for coffee, bagels and Day Three of the SCBWI conference. Once again our uber fantastic illustrators blew me out of the water with their gorgeous art and Jane Yolen got me all choked up giving out her SCBWI Mid-List Author Grants.

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And it’s always our pleasure to thank the staff of the SCBWI for all they do to bring us together for these amazing conferences and to let them know how much we appreciate all they accomplish behind the scenes throughout the year.

Our first Keynote for Sunday was Rita Williams-Garcia and she talked about DO’S AND DON’TS IN CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING FROM A DEFINITE DON’T.

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Here are some of my favorites from Rita–she was both moving and funny as she spoke.

*I loved telling stories–or as my mother called it–lying.

*Live in The Plan: I took every step possible in be coming what I envisioned. (She wrote 500 words every night as a child and rented out her sister’s typewriter to do it.)

*Don’t pick your major based on the hot guy with the afro–he doesn’t have any hair now!

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Rita on really being faced with the prospect of editing a manuscript for the first time.

*Don’t stay with an uncontracted project too long.

*Don’t isolate yourself–TRIBE!

*Don’t block out criticism.

*Don’t be a know it all.

*Don’t stop writing–live in The Plan.

*Live with gratitude–do what you’re doing–you’re here!

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Next up was Jacquelyn Mitchard–SAY GOODBYE TO ALL OF THAT: THE QUEST FOR THE PERFECT ENDING.

Jacquelyn was literary, funny, thoughtful and informative–so much good stuff to digest.

*People love the 19th Century greats because the ending is so clear.

*The last sentence of a books, for some writers, is the first sentence they know about.

*Most books really don’t echo the promises made in the first pages.

*The reader doesn’t want it to end, so how do you make it okay for the reader? It should do more than tie up loose ends–your job is to lead the reader back into the real world.

*Leave room for interpretation.

*Say what you’re going to do, do it, then get the hell out.

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Since I don’t have a picture of the next panel, you should look at this one instead. This is what my hilarious friend, Scott Hammon, looks like after a Rocky-esque run up to the podium. He’s been waiting FIVE YEARS to win the SCBWI Conference joke contest!!! Watch out Jay Asher…Scott is very, very slowly creeping up after you. *grin*

Now back to the panel…

Moderator: RF-Ruben Pfeffer

AB: Alessandra BalzerVice President and Co-Publisher, Balzer + Bray and imprint at HarperCollins

EB: Elizabeth Bicknell–EVP, Executive Editorial Director & Associate Publisher Candlewick Press

GC: Ginger ClarkAgent, Curtis Brown, LTD

SD: Sarah DaviesAgent, Greenhouse Literary

AL: Alvina LingVP and Editor-in-Chief, Little Brown Books for Young Readers

The last panel discussion of the SCBWI conference was ACQUISITIONS TODAY: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES. This was a crazy interesting panel because it mixed editors AND agents and the quips and candor flying back and forth was both informative and entertaining. Once again I’ll be honest and say I spent more time listening to the fast flying information than taking notes. There was lots of information on preempts, auctions, bidding, multiple submissions and of course, everyone’s option on the lot. Check the #NY16SCBWI thread and TEAM BLOG for more detailed information on the panel.

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And I won’t lie. This finally Keynote is the one I waited the whole conference for. I cannot even begin to explain how much of a fan I am of Gary Schmidt. I had the opportunity to hear him speak at an LA SCBWI Conference and he blew me away. I’ve also had the chance to read his books with my boys. We very recently finished reading his newest novel, ORBITING JUPITER together. It is now my favorite Schmidt novel, which is saying something. And to more completely put this book in perspective, my 15, 12 and 10-year-olds asked that we put The 5th Wave on hold so we could read ORBITING JUPITER faster. I love my kids. <3

The final Keynote was entitled THE BOMBERS OF THE BOSTON MARATHON, AND THE PLANES OF 9/11 AND HOW ANTHONY WISHED THEY WOULD.

It would be madness for me to try and do anything other than write down what inspired and moved me as Gary spoke.

*Why is it that when a group of Kid Lit writers gets together, we get along? This doesn’t happen with adult writer, poets. It’s because we have the same mission–we do it for kids.

*”Nobody came because nobody ever does.” –Jude the Obscure   We are here to address this. We need to be the writers that show up.

*When an adult speaks to a child with honesty, they know that someone is telling them the truth and that despite the brokenness of the world–it is still worth living.

*We need to write for the kid sitting on the log who is waiting for someone to show up, because no one ever does.

          -Like Anthony during 9/11. He went outside to see if a plane was going to hit his building and when it didn’t, he was disappointed because it would have saved a lot of trouble. Is it any wonder that he’s serving a life sentence?

          -Like Jake, one year into his sentence. He loves the planets, especially Jupiter. When Gary sent him a book and a poster on the planets it was taken away. Once again, no one showed up.

          -Like Marlene, a high school student actively engaged in a writing activity with Gary. When two teen boys walk in (who don’t do anything wrong or intimidating) this girl shuts down completely. When they leave she reengages. What happened in her life, in this school that shuts her down like that?

*The deep heartfelt question that we must ask as authors is…what ails you? It is a question of human empathy.

*Story and art can reveal human empathy.

*Story insists on human complexity and multidimensionality.

*Watch what happens if you take the stance in life that EVERYTHING MATTERS.

*If you want to be a writer, you have to LOVE the world.

*The writer believes with her whole heart that we give the world more to be human with. There is a reason ISIS destroys art.

*We write to serve. We don’t tell the kids how to act, we sit down beside them on the log and we say the truth.

And that is why I love Gary Schmidt…

And that is why I rushed to his book signing table and proceeded to get all choked up as I tried to explain my heart, head and soul to a man who I’m pretty sure already knows it. Remember…he loves the world.

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Then there was the pleasure of meeting the newly minted Newbery Award Winner, Matt de la Pena. He’s the first Latino author to win the Newbery Medal for outstanding contribution to children’s literature with his picture book, LAST STOP ON MARKET PLACE. Matt is a fabulous SCBWI success story and we are all so proud of him and his accomplishments.

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I also had the pleasure of getting my books signed by Oscar winner William Joyce!

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And then I got to hang out and chat some more with Oprah Book Club author (DEEP END OF THE OCEAN) and editor-in-chief of Merit Press,  Jacquelyn Mitchard.

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Yes, the talent and advice this year were incredible.

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And I can’t wait to read MELT by SCBWI Spark Award winner Selene Castrovilla. We were able to hang out at the Gala and she is all kinds of fabulous and everyone is raving about this novel!

And then it’s over–or is it?

Not for me, because it was Valentines Day and my hubby met me in NYC and we got to see…

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The Broadway hit, CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT.

I was blown away. No seriously, it was incredible. I hope you all get the chance to see it–it’s a beautiful and timely book that is brought to life right in front of your eyes. It’s one of those plays that will change how you see the world and the people in it.

Once again, Kid Lit shows up and I’m so proud.

But even after dinner and a show…you’ll find your way home. Back to your family. Back to your writing. And back to your cat who really, really missed you.

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Oh, wait–it was the dog who really, really missed you and the cat who hates it when you leave. And then you wake up in the morning and she’s sitting on top of you (really close) so you can completely understand what you’ve put her through. LOL!

I hope, whether you made the SCBWI conference or just read about it, that you’re all inspired and ready to show up for your writing life. I know I am. And now that these blogs are done, I’m ready to move forward on my WIP.

Did anything in the conference or the recap really connect with you? How is it effecting what you are working on? Have you wanted to write, but haven’t been sure how to start? The answer IS to show up. You must start some time. Why not begin today. The SCBWI will teach you everything you need to know. And I’d be more than happy to point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend and see you next week.

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Oct

1

2013

TOUCHING THE SURFACE is out in Paperback TODAY! Enter to Win a Copy

Filed under: Apocalypsies, Author Events, Book Signings, Booksellers, Check-it-out, Class of 2k12, Community, Conferences, Contests, Dancing, Family, In the Wild, Publishing, SCBWI, The Class of 2k12, Touching the Surface, Wolfson Literary, Writing, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

 

 

HOLY GUACAMOLE!!!!!

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TOUCHING THE SURFACE is out in paperback TODAY!!!!!

Where you can find it:

*Amazon

*Barnes & Noble

*IndieBound

Can you believe it’s been almost a year since I became an author? And even longer since I sold my first book and got an agent. Here’s a little walk down memory lane. Humor me–I’m nostalgic today. So in no particular order because that would add a layer of organization I’m not capable of, here’s just a few of my most fabulous moments between finding my agent and birthing a paperback…

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Standing outside the Simon & Schuster offices.

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Apocalypsies at the LA SCBWI Conference!!!

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Meeting my agent (Michelle Wolfson) and editor (Anica Rissi) for the first time. <3

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The Class of 2k12!!!!!

The day I got my ARC of TOUCHING THE SURFACE!!!!

Came home from a run to find my ARC’s had finally arrived!!! Such a squee moment!!!

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The ARC!

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Authors, Simon & Pulse friends and Writer Buds at the NY SCBWI Conference. <3

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Bookmarks!!! Thanks Jeff Fielder.

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Bringing my book to the Golf Bag Holder (Eastern PA Poconos Mountain Retreat with Jodi Moore.)

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First book I ever signed went to Laurie Halse Anderson. Love her.

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This made it feel so real.

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Loved participating in the YAmazing Race with my Apocalypsies!!!

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First author event, even before my book was out. LOL! With my buds from the Class of 2k12. <3

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Making friends at BEA!!! Lisa and Kim.

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First BEA was even sweeter because I got to spend time with my fabulous agent. <3

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Blogger love <3  Finally got to meet Erica!!!!

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Joining YA Outside the Lines. 

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It was a BEA Apocalypsie event of awesome.

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Ummmm I got to hear JOHN GREEN!!!!!!!!!!!

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Made amazing new blogger friends. Kim and Grace. <3

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Hanging with Jay Asher at LA SCBWI–Dude, it was awesome.

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Joining the Bookanistas!

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Kimmiepoppins met Mary Poppins!!!! I met Julie Andrews!!!!

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Signing my contract!!!!!! I AM GOING TO BE AN AUTHOR!!!

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My book was at Bologna. Takes my breath away.

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Wow!

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My Yanni dance girls wearing TOUCHING THE SURFACE T-shirts. <3

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Signing books at my book launch.

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Good friends drove in from far away despite all the trouble with Hurricane Sandy.

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Just an amazing experience.

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Unable to thank my friends and family enough for their love and support on that special day.

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More book launch at Oblong Books. I LOVE that bookstore and everyone in it. <3

Kim and Dad at Powell Point-Grand Canyon July 1998

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Dad–there–even when he couldn’t be. The dedication.

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On bookshelves in bookstores.

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Kimmiepoppins finally gets a book launch in NYC after Hurricane Sandy delayed it. Mean Hurricane–awesome party.

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Woo hoo!!! I got to speak at the NY Public Library.

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I’m a fangirl–it’s A.S. King people!!!!!

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I’m a fangirl–it’s Sharon Creech people!!!!

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My first SCBWI faculty gig at the Eastern NY SCBWI Conference–where I got paid to talk with my hands about things I love.

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Connecting with teen readers and making hedgehogs. *grin*

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Loving on my writer mama, K.L. Going. <3 Wouldn’t be here without her.

And because you made it to the end of my reminiscing…you shall be rewarded with a chance to win a signed copy of the brand spanking new TOUCHING THE SURFACE paperback!!!!

 

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Aug

12

2012

The 41st Annual SCBWI Conference–Part 3–Sunday

Filed under: Class of 2k12, Conferences, SCBWI, The Class of 2k12

I think I mentioned earlier that this conference had some of the best panel discussions that I’ve been to at a SCBWI event. Up first on Sunday morning was the AGENTS PANEL–REALIZING YOUR CREATIVE DREAMS:WHAT THE PUBLISHING WORLD CAN OFFER YOU. (LO) Lin Oliver (Moderator)

(JC) Jill Corcoran

(DW) Deborah Warner (Filling in for Rubin Pfeffer)

(LP) Linda Pratt

(JA) Josh Adams

Here are their best pieces of advice…

What are you looking for?

JA-We don’t look for perfection, we look for potential that needs to be highly polished.

JC-Do your research. Pick 5 ideas you love , then pick the one that seems the most exciting. Be sure to research comp books. You can change the setting to make an idea you love more unique.

JA-We are looking for something that is truly unique. If we love something, we will find a home for it. What is expected of an author besides writing?

JA-Social media, tours, school visits, marketing. First books allow you take lots of time but after that, you’re expected to produce.

LP-Second books can’t be obscure and quirky. Your sales are being tracked (Book Scan) and you have to be pragmatic about what you pick in the beginning of your career.

JA-There is less time today to build a career.

Advice?

DW-Placing your second book is just as important as placing your first.

JA-Do your homework first. LP-Make decisions that progress your work, not just add another book. Selectivity. And be professional!

JC-About social media: Why do we all have to say EVERYTHING we feel. Have a filter. Be cautious and professional.

LO-Ask…Is this the highest and best use of your time.

Money?

JA-Children’s and YA have historically done thing differently than adult publishing and that is why we’re doing well.

 

Now on to the picture book panel. I’ve dabbled with picture books but don’t consider myself a picture book writer at this point in my career, but I am so glad that I stayed for this session. The wonderful insight and messages transcended the world of picture books and I walked away with a large amount of wisdom and inspiration–plus a whole bunch of laughs.

(JK) Jon Klassen

(AP) Antoinette Portis

(DY) Dan Yaccarino (Moderator)

(EY) Eugene Yelchin

(LW) Lee Wardlow

Trends?

EY-Trends? I don’t know what that means–we are in a very specific cultural moment. We must consciously be aware of being in THAT moment. We are helping to create the culture

JK-Trends apply more to novels because PB’s don’t have as much trouble explaining themselves. Don’t need comps the same way.

DY-We never get tired of hearing the same stories–we just want to have a unique delivery.

EY-You do your research, but it still has to filter through you.

JK-What makes a classic? It has something unreachable about it that makes you want to keep returning to it to try to figure it out. (GOODNIGHT MOON; GO, DOG, GO!)

 

The first breakout session of the day was one that is close to my heart. The Class of 2k7 (The founding class of 2k’s) is celebrating it’s 5th anniversary and of course that makes me a member of the 5th class to come through. Of course I had to attend this session by Greg Fishbone, Jay Asher and Greg Neri called CLASS OF 2K7: SOCIAL NETWORKING YOUR WAY TO THE VIRTUAL TOP.

Here are some of the stats on the Class of 2k7…

39 Members (13 Middle Grade and 26 Young Adult)

Releases: 17 Spring, 12 Summer and 10 Fall

When they started…

*They may have started as a group of balding male writers. LOL!

*Online marketing was very new and not the primary focus.

*MySpace was the big thing LOL! But it shows that social media is a moving target and you can put a lot of effort into something that just goes away.

Why group branding?

*Lends credibility to the authors–looks professional. There are groups beyond the Class of 2k series that do this also–like the Apocalypsies and the Lucky 13s.

*Joint presentations/signings make something an event.

*You better control your own spin.

 

Class of 2k’s Websites:

*Class of 2k7

*Class of 2k8

*Class of 2k9

*Class of 2k10

*Class of 2k11

*Class of 2k12

*Class of 2k13 They are just getting started!

Up next was the SCBWI Golden Kite Luncheon. If you’re not familiar with the SCBWI Golden Kite award, you can find out more about it HERE. The awards given out at this luncheon also include the illustrator awards, the humorous Sid Fleishman Award and the SCBWI Member of the Year Award, which was deservedly won by Suzanne Morgan Williams.

 And this year was also very special for me because Kate Messner won the Golden Kite Picture Book Award. Kate is a member of my SCBWI Eastern Upstate New York and one of the authors I used as a role model when I first started this journey. Congratulations Kate!!!!

And here are the other amazing winners…

So proud to see what the SCBWI is producing. Each book is a stone in a path that we are all creating together. I’m so amazingly proud to be a part of this tribe. After the luncheon I got to go to another breakout session with Ruta Sepetys!!! This allowed me to get an up close look at a Golden Kite award…too stinkin’ amazing!

Who needs an Oscar when you can have one of these? And of course, Ruta sent out a message of thanks to all of Verla Kay’s Blue Boarders when she saw Verla in her session too.

 

Okay, back to topic–which is–SELLING, PROMOTING & TOURING IN FOREIGN MARKETS. I wasn’t sure how much I’d get out of this session because I have 3 young kids and hopping on a plane and touring overseas isn’t going to be the easiest thing for me to do, but I’d learned so many fabulous things in my other sessions with Ruta that I couldn’t pass it up. I wasn’t disappointed. I learned a ton of information that will give me lots of advantages to dealing with foreign markets even if I’m staying right at home.

Here are some general tips that everyone will find useful…

*If you send video content–attach a script for easy translation.

*Have a selection of author photos because tastes vary widely.

*Create your own Q & A.

*Send thank you notes.

*sob* The last Keynote speaker of the conference. I hate saying goodbye to this kind of inspiration.  Gary Schmidt–THAT KID IN THE BACK ROW, THE ONE WITH THE RED SHIRT ON. Gary is the author of one of my favorite books–THE WEDNESDAY WARS.

*We are at our best with good and healthy routines. We need to pay attention to our surprises.

*I was put into Track 3 in first grade–I didn’t learn to read for a very long time.

*Never doubt your stories will effect kids.

*You write the stories that give your readers more to be a human being with.

*You will never learn to love art well until you learn to love what it mirrors better…the world.

-Love the world

-Love the stuff of your craft–words.

-Give your readers the deepest questions not easy answers.

-Pay attention

*Does the writing serve? We do not want to be hacks who simply seek fame and fortune. We are in a culture where we cease to cherish our children. We are called to cherish our readers.

The child deserves…

How do we get started?

Look.

 

Yes, it’s a miracle that I’m still alive today because by all rights, after that speech and all the others I heard at the conference, no one would have blamed me if my heart had burst. But that is how you should leave a conference so full of inspiration, hope and motivation that the touch of a feather would cause it to leak out of you. Now it’s time for the autograph party or as I like to call it…Kim gets to hug her heroes.

Of course, everyone feels the same way I do, so the line is outrageous LOL! But it goes rather quickly and it’s so worth it.

After hearing Eugene Yelchin in the Picture Book Panel I had to have this book, BREAKING STALIN’S NOSE. Can’t wait to read it with the boys!

 The second page of KINDRED SOULS by Patricia MacLachlan has a Red Tailed Hawk on it. Perfect.

Awww Bryan Collier blew me away with his keynote. From that moment on I became a life long fan. The SCBWI doesn’t get better than this.You must read DAVE THE POTTER!

I love Clare Vanderpool and can’t wait to read MOON OVER MANIFEST!

It’s Karen Cushman!!! Karen has published seven books since she started writing at age 50, including Newbery award winner THE MIDWIFE’S APPRENTICE.

OMG!!! My kids are going to be soooo jealous. They LOVED reading Gary Schmidt‘s  THE WEDNESDAY WARS together. It was such a wonderful experience to share my children’s enthusiasm for his writing with him. We can’t wait to read his next book, OKAY FOR NOW together.

Pictures are worth a 1,000 words and sometimes us writers CAN just leave it at that–or maybe I’ll have just a little bit more to say about Ruta on Wednesday LOL!

And then it’s over…waving goodbye to LAX.

This is still the only view I’ve ever had of the Pacific LOL!

Turning back around over the ocean and doing an LA fly by on my way home.

 

Can you spot the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza?  It’s the low building with a curved shape next to the white tower.

On Monday there was also a wonderful day of Intensives but I didn’t attend, I was ready to head home and see my family. On my way out, I did see this little cloud and I can only imagine that some day it will show up in one of my stories LOL!

Don’t forget that you still have a chance to win a Pre-order of TOUCHING THE SURFACE right HERE!

Now that you’ve had a virtual SCBWI Conference, what do you think? Interested in joining the tribe? Already a proud member? Find any authors that you would love to hear? Make sure you request them with your SCBWI RA for your local conferences. Or just check out their amazing books and if you do love them, be sure to take the time to write a review for Amazon, B&N and Goodreads. Your positive support means the world to all authors and illustrators. It will never go unappreciated.

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Aug

10

2012

THe 41st Annual SCBWI Summer Conference in LA–Part 2–Saturday

Filed under: Conferences, Contests, SCBWI, Touching the Surface

It’s Saturday. The alarm seems to go off earlier and by alarm I mean my roommate poking me with her finger. The Starbucks line seems longer and the excitement seems bigger. Maybe it’s the caffeine or maybe it’s because SCBWI Conferences are freaking awesome. Realistically–it could be both.

Starting off the morning with Karen Cushman and COURTING SURPRISE. She was fabulous so I must share some of my favorite bits of advice and wisdom…

*The function of freedom is to free someone else.

*Rules: Make your own rules, or better yet, don’t follow any.

*We find the unconscious gifts we give ourselves.

*There is a difference between and editor and a critic.

*Tell the truth–there are things we are morally certain of and that the kind of truth I’m talking about.

*Write with passion and heart.

*Lighthouses don’t run around looking for boats to save–they just stand there and shine. (My favorite)

I’m going to be honest–this year was the year of the Panels. The Editor, Picture Book and Agent Panels were among the best I’ve ever seen this time. I was truly impressed. This was the Editor Panel: HOW TO SUCCEED IN PUBLISHING–FINDING YOUR VOICE.

From left to right with some of their best tips…

(JB) Jordan Brown

(EH) Elise Howard

(NP) Neal Porter

(LO) Lin Oliver–Moderator

(FJ) Farrin Jacobs

(TB) Tamar Brazis

(LG) Laura Goodwin

How do you define voice?

LG–It’s what makes an author unique. Equated with style, not to be confused with being stylish. The more you know who you are the clearer your voice is.

EH–Read Dan Gutman’s faculty bio from the conference and 1,200 people knew who she was talking about. That’s voice.

FJ–Things can be “too voicey” and feel unnatural.

JB–Bad voice is when you are picturing an author in their house trying to write a scene instead of being swept into a scene.

What are the attributes of successful authors/illustrators?

LG–Flexibility

EH–They are a contradiction. When you send an editorial letter, they do what you’ve asked but they likely do it in their own unique way, bringing something new and unexpected to the table.

TB–The ability to revise–separate your ego from the project to make the work the best it can be.

FJ–They keep their “stuff” to themselves.

NP–Expensive presents. Ha!

JB–The knowledge that the editor and the author know that they are working together towards the same goal.

There is something special about Bryan Collier. Something very special. Once again he was one of those speakers who I listened to and wondered how my life could have been complete without knowing that he was in it. He blew me away when he talked about FROM A SEED TP A TREE. I’ll share some of him most moving bits, but know that it can’t possibly do him justice–he wears his heart on his sleeve.  Every emotion he has is illustrated clearly on his face and he is a charming, funny, intelligent, beautiful soul. If you ever get a chance to meet him…you will come back here and tell me that I was right.

*What I do with my work–I’m chasing HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON every time. *heart squish*

*On Ezra Jack Keats–I never met him and he never met me, but when he wrote the SNOWY DAY, he spoke to me directly.

*In high school–I loved sports, but nothing touched me deeper than making art.

*You have to protect and nurture this artistic seed inside of you, but you still have to eat. Give up the romantic notions and do what you have to do.

*On visiting the lobbies of publishing houses every week for seven years, in order to try to sell a book–The publishing houses didn’t know what they did to me when they let me sit in their lobbies. It was magical, incredible. Julie Andrews walked by one day. I just wanted to get there.

*Everybody’s afraid of your dream–nobody knows what is going on inside of you.

Of course I floated down to my first break-out session of the day…

Lots of fun and great information from Jay Asher–NO BOOKMARKS ALLOWED: HOW TO INJECT SUSPENSE INTO YOUR NOVEL

Jay used one of the greatest suspense stories of all time to teach us what we needed to know…

There’s a Monster at the End of This Book! LOL!

So what do we need to keep the bookmark from slipping between the pages?

*Anticipation

*You have to have one character the reader cares about.

*A satisfying ending is unpredictable, but you believe it had to happen just that way.

*Inject suspense

*Use chapter endings to your advantage.

*Suspense killers: bad dialogue, unnecessary description, forced motivation, vague action.

After a yummy break for lunch. (Frozen yogurt with M&M’s and chocolate sprinkles may have been involved.) We returned for another bang up keynote by Clare Vanderpool, author of MOON OVER MANIFEST. Clare was hysterical and moving when she talked about WRITING IN THE CROSSROADS: WHERE CRAFT AND CREATIVITY MEET.

Loved it when she talked about a little neighborhood boy who booked her to come into his classroom and talk. (too stinkin’ cute) He also asked her to sign his book–unfortunately for Clare it was the 4th Lemony Snicket book. ROTFL!!! Of course she did it. <3

*There is no “What to expect when your win the Newbery.” (Clare won as a debut author)

*Knowledge of craft can form the foundation to create.

*If we think we’re going to get our hands slapped every time we write a sentence, than it’s almost impossible to create.

*You really do have to put in the miles–just like running.

*It’s about writing, writing and more writing–you can’t learn to ride a bike without actually riding the bike.

*Sometimes we think something is wonderful and it’s not, but sometimes we think something is horrible and it is not.

* My theory is that the universe is made up of story.

Next up was Deborah Underwood and THE POWER OF QUIET.

Shhhh…

*It might look like I’m doing nothing, but at the cellular level I’m very busy.
*Quiet is not validated in our society at all.
*There are built in pauses in our life.
*We owe it to the kids who read our books to make time for quiet–great things come from those pauses.

Back to the last break-out session of the day.

Jordan Brown–WRITING FOR BOYS

False perception: Writing for boys=Writing for people who don’t like to read. It has less to do with the ability to read and more to do with how to pitch to boys.

*Boys won’t like reading if they don’t like what they’re reading.

*Boys live in a multimedia world.

*Rise of the “Do it Yourself Aesthetic.”

*Developing connections with authors and readers

Kinds of things that have boy appeal.

*Boys don’t like to be talked down to.

*Boys do like gross-out humor but they know when it’s just thrown in randomly.

*Don’t assume that the things they like in life (sports etc…) are the only connections they will make to reading.

*Tether your fiction to the truth.

*It doesn’t have to be a boy character, but it helps.

*Guys just want to be yelled at less. Avoidance. They aren’t all about the personal development like girls.

*High concept doesn’t mean low quality.

*Don’t be afraid of illustrations or technology.

Okay–I’m read to start to gush again. It’s time for more Ruta Sepetys, SCBWI success story and author of BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY.

 


Ruta talked about YOU CAN’T BREAK THE BROKEN: WRITING EMOTIONAL TRUTH

Ruta started to write because someone asked her what her story was and she dared to dig deep. She repeats often that history holds secrets, but it’s not just a political history that does this–it’s our own.

*How much of your emotional stuff are you willing to give?

*What is the novel only you can write?

*What scares you?

*What causes you pain?

*What do you wish would just go away?

*Expose your emotional truth, putting it behind your fiction–that is timeless.

*The things you are feeling–there is a reader out there who experiences the same thing.

*I met my savage self when I undertook this writing.

*You can’t break the broken–but you can glue yourself back together.

*Reveal yourself–you have a safety net–the SCBWI

By the time Ruta asked us “What is your story?” I was in tears and profoundly moved. Just like Bryan Collier, I can’t begin to translate the power of this keynote on to the page but I can tell you that I walked away feeling as if I give anything less than this to my writing than I’ve sold myself short.

Deborah Halverson did an amazing job with AN UP TO THE MINUTE SURVEY OF MARKET NEEDS AND TRENDS.

Just the broad strokes…

*Picture books–improved market, but still fragile.

*Chapter books–room for growth.

*MG–best spot for acquisition.

*YA–More successful that ever, but very dependent on the big list authors while the mid list authors are still struggling.

General Submissions:

*High use of agents (conference appearances and referrals)

*What’s in the slush pile is sent prematurely–not usually a thought out fit.

*It’s hard to find self-published authors who can turn into successful acquisitions.

Internal Mood:

*Cautiously optimistic

*Tastes of editors doesn’t change because of the market.

*Creativity is at the heart of what we do.

TIME FOR THE HIPPIE HOP!!!!!

Jodi Moore and Mike Jung

Amy Nichols and Me!!! (We’re blurry because we hippy hopping LOL!)

Me, Stephanie Ruble and Jodi Moore

Gretchen McNeil and Me!!!! Love her. <3

Debra Driza and Me…who knew she was so tall???

RA of Eastern Upstate New York…Nancy Castaldo in a fabulous jump suit!

Yes, we LOVE Lin Oliver!!!!

Leeza Hernandez had my favorite costume of the night!

Can you guess who this is? I’ll give you a hint from above…he loves Grover.

And don’t forget you can still win a Pre-order of TOUCHING THE SURFACE…HERE. 

PS. It’s now 2am and I don’t have the braincells to read this over. I’m too tired to ask a creative conversational question so pop in if you’ve got something to say and if it’s got typos or formatting bloopers…I’ll fix it later *yawn* Night…

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Aug

24

2011

SCBWI LA 40th Anniversary Conference-Part 7

Filed under: Conferences, The Class of 2k12

I don’t mean to scare you, but we are now HALFWAY through the conference.  And that’s only because I didn’t attend the Intensive Sessions on Monday.  I’ve never been to anything like this before.  It’s amazing and exhausting.  At this point, I’m sucking down ice tea, caffeine riddle soda and full-on regular coffee as needed. ( Read as–with an IV drip)  I’m breaking off glacier size hunks of dark chocolate from the stash in my bag.  So far, I haven’t missed a single keynote or workshop, but I’m openly weeping at the drop of a hat and running to the SCBWI store every break to hoard more books.  I may have even high-fived Jay Asher in the lobby.  He was totally cool with it though.  Ah…so where were we?


Norton Juster-AN ACCIDENTAL AUTHOR TELLS ALL 
Legenwait for itdary!

Here are your nuggets…
*The great puzzle for kids is what their parents are made of.
*Boredom is an undervalued commodity.  It is a mistake to banish boredom.
*My books were motivated by “trying to avoid doing other things.” Ha!
*The hardest thing to make kids understand is how to listen to their own voices.
*Being out of context is the one great, liberating thing in our lives.  Spend a lot of time out of context and help kids stay out of it as long as possible.
*Playing with words is my great disease.
My friend Edna Cabcabin Moran, taking in Norton Juster.
I always like to watch for the little messages that the universe sends to me. *heart squish*
Next up, I had a workshop session with Gary Paulsen.  I am going to save my notes for his keynote since there was a bit of overlap.  I’ll combine the best of the two for you later.  
And then there was shame.  My shame.  *sticks out hand to be slapped*  I have no excuse, except the hideous crash of all that unfamiliar caffeine in my system.  Oh, Mary Pope Osborne of MAGIC TREE HOUSE fame…I have done you wrong. *sobs*
Mary Pope Osbourne-A BRIDGE OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS
My brain has turned to mush.  I could see Mary up at the podium…talking…but it sounded like the teacher from the Charlie Brown specials.  The words would not go in.  I took no notes.  I fiddled with my camera…
Cute, huh?
I climbed over a row of people and went to the SCBWI store and fed the book habit–again.  Came back and ate some more chocolate.  It wasn’t her.  It was me.  *hangs head in shame*  
How will I ever feel good about myself again?
I GOT TO HOLD PEEPY!!!!!  And meet Lisa Yee. *heart squish*  
(My boys laughed so hard, when I squealed about holding Peepy. *snicker*)
I’m totally over exposed with Ellen Hopkins LOL!  I *heart* her!
She signed my copy of IDENTICAL…”A banned author to be!”
I hope I don’t let her down.  She is such a hero of mine.
Me and Cynthea Liu  
Cynthea is a major resource and support to the Children’s Book Writing community.  
I’ve learned sooo much from her.  Thank you!!!!
Jay Asher signing a copy of Thirteen Reasons Why for my babysitter Amy.
She’s the best and loves this book!!!!!
Nancy Castaldo (Best SCBWI RA evah!) and me.
Eastern NY SCBWI in the house!

Brought my own copy of HARRIS AND ME, a personal favorite, for Gary Paulsen to sign.

The wonderful Mary Pope Osbourne who DOES NOT sound like the teacher from Charlie Brown and is super sweet.

What time is it?  It’s almost time for the 40 Winks Anniversary Poolside Gala!!!!!

Everyone hanging out and getting on line for some food.

(Kim and Jodi) Got my bunny slippers!!!!
Surprisingly is was pretty cool out.

Jodi, Kim and Laura
Can you see my PJ’s?  Fiction that Rocks–The Class of 2k12

Captain Stupendous aka Mike Jung in his cape blanket with sleeves.  :o)

Jeff, rocking the dance floor in his night gown night shirt. *grin* Not my fault guys are so easy to tease.
It was at this point that I ran up to the room and dumped my sweat shirt and everything that did not fit into my name tag holder.  Take my word for it, dancing in bunny slippers just gives you really hot feet and a desire to throw your hands in the air and wave them all around!  What a great night!!
Phew, we made it through Saturday.  Now we’re almost done with the LA Conference blogs.  Are you clapping?  Seriously, that’s not nice.  *gives you the stink-eye*  I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled blather soon enough–then you’ll be sorry.  
Friday’s post will kick off (Sunday at the conference) with an Agent Panel and Gary Paulsen.

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Jun

6

2011

The Wall Street Journal vs. My Heroes–Darkness TO Visible

Filed under: Young Adult (YA)

I’m sure you’ve seen the article in the Wall Street Journal–Darkness too Visible.  Everyone is commenting on it and I don’t want to be redundant.  In short, the YA community is up in arms.  We had a visceral response to what was written and for multiple reasons.  Here are my favorite responses–Libba BrayLaurie Halse Anderson and the voices of everyone on twitter who commented on #YAsaves.


What I want to talk about is heroes.  YA is filled with them and I don’t mean the ones that are created in between the pages of books. (Although they can be pretty awesome too.)  I’m talking about the real heroes.  I have been a member, in some capacity, of the YA community for a long time.  I’ve been a teenager, a reader, an aspiring author, a friend and I will be a debut novelist in the Fall of 2012. Never, in all my different interactions with those in YA, have I ever met an author, publisher, editor or agent who wasn’t ultimately driven by their love of writing and their desire to bring something good into the world.


Yes, yes, yes–I know, publishing is a business and ugly things happen just like in any slice of life.  I’m not naive.  But I believe, that at the end of the day, most of what we do is driven by that insecure, bruised, shamed, lonely teenager in all of us.  We work as a team to bring these books into the world because we are trying to fill the void that was there when our book wasn’t.  This means something to us.  The person we are today and the one who never got past some really hard and ugly things.


In my opinion, the Wall Street Journal article opinion piece, will end up having done way more good than damage.  It has reminded everyone that we have real heroes that walk among us.  I have K.L. Going’s slogan pinned right next to my desk where I can see it every day.  “Be yourself.  Have an opinion.  Tell the World.”  Our heroes don’t just write the books, they step up and they stand out.  And while their words are a powerful tool–they almost don’t need to use them–they’ve mastered the art of “show don’t tell.”


I once told Laurie Halse Anderson that she changed my life by her ability to be so real, human and honest to me during those fragile times when I was just beginning to write.  She told me that she had once stood in the same place and others had done the same thing for her.  She told me…”This is what we do, we support each other and one day you will do it for the ones coming behind you.”  If I ever get lost, on my journey as an author–have no fear–I know where to turn.  I’ll be looking towards my heroes…


While my list of heroes in YA is longer than my left arm, today I would like to tip my hat to Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Ellen HopkinsLaurie Halse Anderson and Jay Asher for being brave and reminding us of the value of having a powerful and unique voice–on and off the page.

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