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