Posts Tagged ‘Justin Chanda’

Aug

9

2016

LA 2016 SCBWI Conference Part 2 (Saturday) #LA16SCBWI

Filed under: Check-it-out, Class of 2k12, Conferences, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Publishing, SCBWI, Stuff I Love, The Class of 2k12, Writing for Children

I’m back! And ready for #LA16SCBWI Part 2–Saturday.

You can’t start your day wrong with Jon Klassen: FINDING YOURSELF IN THE WORK

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In case you live under a rock, Jon is the fantabulous author/illustrator of the hat books and more.

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And according to Lin, he’s also one of the two hottest Canadians on the planet.

And we have one of them with us at #LA16SCBWI! LOL!

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NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 16: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the Catalyst Awards Dinner at Waldorf Astoria Hotel on March 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 16: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the Catalyst Awards Dinner at Waldorf Astoria Hotel on March 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

 

The laughs never ended after that comment, but Jon also brought his depth to the table in addition to his humor…

*”The worst thing you can think about when you’re working is yourself.” Agnes Martin

*Don’t think about your style.

*Your style is mysterious and should be opened up–but not by you.

*Take care of the machine that makes the style.

*Write the stories your brain is able to produce then evolve with your instrument.

*Stop trying to be creative. Don’t try to get a butterfly, you’ll get a car. Embrace the car. Force vs. Flow

 

Next up was Marie Lu: THE CREATIVE LIFE

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Marie was fabulous–I can not begin to tell you how professional, charming, sweet, honest and adorable she was. I was blown away by her work ethic and her ability to speak so eloquently about her experiences. Here’s some of her take aways…

*Was born in China and moved to the US when she was 5.

*New Orleans was VERY different than China LOL! Her first time out exploring was during Mardi Gras. ROTFL!

*Starting writing as a teen.

*Went to work at Disney and was surrounded by creatives for the first time in her life.

*Being published is NOT relevant to being a writer.

*Every writer proceeds at their own pace, in their own way. The process itself should be reward enough.

*Marie has received well over 500 rejections in her writer’s life so far.

*You can’t perfect something that doesn’t exist.

*With time and practice you will get there, but you have to finish something in order to progress.

*Rejection comes for all of us–don’t fear it. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you will thicken your skin in preparation for the really tough criticism.

*Talent is over rated–most of what gets you there is passion, perseverance and hard work.

*Accepting criticism is the key to growth.

*If the critique isn’t “correct” it only means that something isn’t working.

*A high tide lifts all boats. It’s difficult to tame the envy monster but know that books lift books and writers lift writers. <3

*Be brave and listen–none of know everything or are always right.

*Never defend yourself–listen.

*It’s scary to be called out but remember no one goes out with bad intentions.

*As scary as it is to put yourself out there as a writer–think about how scary it often is to be the reader.

*Those readers are worth the work of being brave. <3

*We are all in this together.

 

Then this happened…

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My Eastern NY SCBWI RA was chosen to give the keynote from last year’s crop of Crystal Kite winners!!!

Nancy Castaldo: THE TERRIFYING PATH TO PUBLICATION AND HOW IT ENDS

Hahahaha! I took no notes during Nancy’s speech. I was in the audience cheering, smiling, preening and proud. It was an  excellent speech. It had dogs and writing inspiration. It was fabulous. You should book her for your next event.

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Saturday’s first Break-Out session was with Justin Chanda: PRO-Track CAREER LONGEVITY

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Justin is the Vice President and Publisher of the four flagship children’s imprints at Simon & Schuster: S&S Books for Young Readers, McElderry Books, Atheneum, and the new Salaam Reads. AKA—BAMS! Here’s a look at publishing through the Chanda Filter. As always, I could listen to him talk for hours.

*Always keep communication lines open. Establish the chain of command.

*Communication from an assistant is coming from your editor. Treat them with respect.

*Never think of your agent as a tool.

*A good editor is there to challenge you–not rewrite your book.

*No one wants an unsuccessful book.

*Creative differences happen, but we are all on the same page.

*Always be realistic about achievable deadlines. Advance notice of realistic expectations is better than missed deadlines.

*Make sure your working on your book, not just working on marketing it. At the end of the day readers want books, not marketing.

*Advertising doesn’t work–especially with children’s books. And $10,000 doesn’t even move the needle.

*What does work? Word of Mouth.

*If you do book tours, it’s inevitable you’ll be at an event where no one shows up. Use it as an opportunity to be professional, make connections and be charming.

*School Visits–there is an entire other industry set up to support us.

*It takes time to get traction as a speaker at schools and conferences.

*Social Media–don’t get caught up in the echo chamber.

*Twitter is the best/worst thing to happen in Kidlit.

*Unforgivable Practices–Never air your grievances on social media.

*The most important thing you can do for self promotion is to get other people to talk about your work.

*Keeping the book alive after the first year–work on the next book. Your next book promotes your first book.

 

Even at #LA16SCBWI there’s time for Lunch!!!! But then we are back for Carole Boston Weatherford: THE POWER OF PREMISE

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I’m so sorry–I don’t have a lot of notes from Carole–she had one of those keynotes you just sit and soak in. She had me at… A premise is a promise that your manuscript will deliver on…

Next up was a panel discussion: INGREDIENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL PICTURE BOOK

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MOD-Laurent Lin–LL

JB–Jessixa Bagley (author/illustrator)

JP–John Parra (illustrator)

SR–Susan Rich (Editor–Little, Brown)

BS–Barney Saltzberg (Author)

DT–Don Tate (author/illustrator)

 

WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL PICTURE BOOK?

JB–the book has a completeness to it.

JP–magical feelings

SR–it has to stand up to weary parents and antsy toddlers.

BS–Rhythm of the page turn, element of surprise.

DT–Connection through emotions

SR–If we knew what the secret ingredient was we’d replicate it.

BS–Put Jon Klassen’s name on it. ROTFL!

ADDITIONAL GOOD ADVICE…

SR–there are hooks (curricular and seasonal) that can make your books stand out–don’t start with that.

BS–You have to be careful who you share your work with and at what stage.

JP–it’s up to us to define ourselves–be unique.

BS–Take your ego and bury it in a box in the backyard. There is wisdom out there to be heard. Show up daily.

 

And I was waiting all day for this one…

Neal Schusterman on MAKING MEANING: THE WRITER’S STRUGGLES TO FIND ORDER IN CHAOS, AND STORIES WORTH TELLING

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Neal started with an “adorable” representation of his 3rd Grade Teacher…

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I’ll let you use your imagination on how she influenced Neal. The good news is that he had a strong and persistent personality.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Neal also talked about the fallacies he believes surround the writing process.

*This is how you do it.

          -There isn’t one way. Do what works for you.

*Focus on your strengths.

           -If you want to be a writer you have to be well rounded and work on your weaknesses.

*Writer’s Block is real.

           -There’s no such thing. It’s writing when it’s hard and calling it that gives you permission to walk away. Being stuck it part of the process.

*If you build it, they will come.

          -They’ll be walking by on their phones *snicker* Keep building over and over.

*Never ask for feedback from someone you feed.

          -Family can be honest. My kids call me out.

*If traditional publishers won’t publish you, then e-pub.

          -I know this probably isn’t a popular view, but if e-pub was available  I never would have been traditionally published.

          -Gate keepers are there with there rejections for a reason. When I look back, my work deserved to be rejected,

           -traditional to e-pub is a little different.

*You must have your writing place

            -In high school I had that–it was called detention. Now I write everywhere and get inspired. Check it out…

Why Do We Write?

-It’s all about the reader.

-Deep down we have a belief we have something to say.

And a reminder…If we are doing it right, we are always terrified we aren’t doing it right.

And that was the end of the instructional part of the day, but it don’t worry–the day was far from over…

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I got to hang out and chat with Marie Lu and she signed my book!

I also got to check out all our fabulous illustrators at the Portfolio Showcase.

There were also Happy Hour Hangouts with the agents and editors.

Followed by the Red Carpet Ball

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Our costume goal for the costume contest was to pull out all the stops and glam it up Hollywood style. Nothing says glamorous Hollywood then Fred Astaire!

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I even had my tap shoes on.

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A class of 2k12 fancy meet up for me and Lynne Kelly or maybe Ginger?

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And I wasn’t the only one dressed up. The fashion police were on the scene. Some body was getting ticketed.

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There was also a long line of red carpets LOL!

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There were loads of people on the dance floor.

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And even the balconies were full.

And later when things wound down, it was lovely to take off your top hat and sit outside.

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And when you think there are no surprises left in the day…

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You come back to your room and wonder if you’re having some unexpected company LOL!

Hoping all this good advice resonates with you. Which bit of inspiration speaks the loudest for you?

And don’t forget to stay tuned for #LA16SCBWI coming soon.

 

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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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Feb

10

2015

The 2015 SCBWI NY Winter Conference Part 1

Filed under: Conferences, SCBWI, Touching the Surface

I dropped the boys at school.

I brought the puppy to Canine Kindergarten.

And then I made the great escape…

I was off to the 2015 SCBWI NY Winter Conference. I was giddy by the time I sat my butt on the train, because with the holidays, and the puppy and the boys and the snow, I was ready to get away. I needed a weekend where I focused on friends, writing and inspiration. Not to mention about 48 hours where the only person I have to clean up after was ME.

Settling into my seat on the train, I glanced out the window, saw a gorgeous American Bald Eagle in the tree, and then cracked open a book. You can all give a pleasurable sigh right along with me. *sigh* And then, as if good karma was touching me on the head with her magic finger, my hotel room was ready and I was off to meet my fabulous agent, Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary for lunch. (In case you’re wondering, Michelle is currently opened to queries, but be sure to follow the guidelines on her website.)

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My favorite picture of us <3

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

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Illusions of Fate by Kirsten White.

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

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The Fire Artist by Daisy Whitney.

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

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And here’s the new cover in case you’re wondering. OMG! I love it.

*does a happy dance* I can not wait to read them all!!!

Toting my cache, warm from Michelle Wolfson hugs, it was back to the hotel in time to meet up with all my friends. Some had done the Intensives and some were just arriving in NYC.

*Drum roll please* because it’s time to get to the stuff you really want to hear about…

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

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* 1,032 attendees

* From 47 states. Kansas, Wyoming, Oklahoma and North Dakota were missing–come on people–we need you there!

* There were people in attendance from 16 different countries *fist pump* With NY being the largest chunk of the pie followed by CA, MA and then NJ. Lin called the NJ folks out on their driving skills LOL!

* 32% of attendees are published and 375 folks were our talented illustrators.

* Start planning now so you can be in one of those seats next year!

The first Keynote of the conference was by Anthony Horowitz–Grabbing Young Readers From First Line to Last

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Just so you know, Anthony had an amazing British accent, so if I’m going to be truthful, the whole audience would have let him read the phone book and still enjoyed his keynote LOL! But he WAS an amazing speaker. His rapid fire jokes and insights had everyone listening and laughing. Here are some highlights…

* He spent lots of time in the boarding school library because that was the only place he felt safe and secure.

*The end of a chapter should never be an excuse to stop reading.

*At one point in his career he was worried his grave stone would read BIG in Belgium LOL!

*Harry Potter changed EVERYTHING!

*Writers are arsonists–setting the world on fire is their natural default.

*Children don’t just read books–they devour them.

*The first line is the thing the kids will read in the store.

*Write up for kids.

*I am a camera-kids are bombarded with images, your words need to create strong images that keep their attention.

*Writing is telepathy-if you’re excited about what you’re writing, chances are that you’ll have readers excited too.

*NEVER GIVE UP

Next up was the Keynote Editor’s Panel: Children’s Books 2015–Report From the Front Lines

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

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

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

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

MODERATOR LO–Lin OLiver

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Just some highlights from the discussion…

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

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

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

JC–The picture book is NOT dead!

JC–Continued upswing in MG.

JC–reminder that the business is cyclical.

JC–Common Core has not killed fiction.

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

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

LG–There is an ongoing battle with piracy.

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

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

SOL–Smaller books can easily get elbowed out.

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

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

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

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

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

JC–YA and MG have very different social media.

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

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

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

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Some highlights from the Workshop…

*Read a lot and not just in YA.

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

*KNOW your characters inside and out.

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

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

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

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

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

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This was a fabulous workshop. Best I’ve been to for explaining what literary fiction really means. In truth it has different connotations for different people. If you think literary fiction is dense, slow and boring, you’re probably reading writing that is UNSUCCESSFULLY trying to be literary.

Literary fiction is not about content–it’s about quality. It’s entertaining, but it’s also something more.

*Literary fiction needs to be about something that readers want to talk about because it engages them on an intellectual and emotional level.

*Readers of literary fiction crave authentic and original voice.

*Good writing without a plot is BORING not literary.

*YOU WANT YOUR LITERARY NOVEL TO ALSO BE COMMERCIAL!!!!!!

*Literary books are stories that break the rules and do not fit neatly inside their genres.

Time for another Keynote. This one Beyond Language: Creating Picture Books That are Read and Played by Herve Tullet

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I’m going to be honest–it’s hard to explain Herve Tullet. He is not your typical keynote speaker. His favorite word is HA! Which is the reaction he wants from his readers when they explore his books. He believes it’s the most exciting thing when he can illicit that word from someone else.

Ideally I would have videotaped Herve interacting with the audience, as he guided us through his brilliant books, the way he does when he meets with children. But that’s not allowed, so this is the best I can do to capture the magic.

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You must go out and buy his books and share them with children. <3

 

The last Keynote of the day was Kami Garcia talking about The Truth About Writing.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t take a lot of notes because I was so caught up in Kami’s speech.. Suffice it to say she’s a hard working, funny lady with a big heart. I adored how her and her writing partner Margaret Stohl filled a void, empowered girls, set a fabulous standard for boys and the whole time stayed super connected to the teens they were writing for. One of the most fascinating parts of the story was their journey to publication. Kami doubts they would have been brave enough to do it the same way if they’d been purposefully trying to publish. And it was also “good” to hear, that despite her incredible success, Kami gets as nervous and insecure as we do every time she’s writing something new.

Kami was also nice enough to sign a copy of her book and make a video message for my friend Jeannie who’s a HUGE fan and couldn’t make the conference. How cool is that?IMG_0299

The rest of the evening included an Art Browse, where everyone had a chance to check out the gorgeous portfolios of the illustrators attending the conference. This was followed by the Gala Dinner where you could find me in my favorite spot…

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THE MASHED POTATOE BAR!!!!!

After the Gala there was also several socials for LGBTQ, illustrators, new members/first time conference attendees and international attendees. And of course there is always the unofficial group of “Lobby Rats” that hangs out and talks half the night away. This wasn’t all the rats, we’re a large and transitory group, but this pic captured a bunch of us.

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The wonderful part of this is that some of the Lobby Rats have been doing this for years and some we just met for the first time that very evening.

If you’re thinking about coming to next year’s conference and you’re worried about not knowing anyone, know you can always contact me and we’ll make sure you have friends to eat with and buddies to hang out with. Worrying about being alone should NEVER be a reason not to come to the NY conference!!!  

I’m kind of thinking we should get Lobby Rats T-shirts. What do you think? SCBWI Lobby Rat? 

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And we now have the unofficial and very weird NY SCBWI Lobby Rats mascot, which was dressed up as Harry Potter this year. The costume kind of make it less creepy–but not much ROTFL!

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And some Lobby Rats are RA’s who have work to do and missed the photo. Love you, Stacy Mozer and thanks for all you do for the SCBWI. (((((hugs)))))

I’ll be back on Thursday with the second half of the 2015 NY SCBWI Winter Conference recap. But in the mean time, I desperately need to know your favorite toppings on your mashed potatoes. Mine are mushrooms, bacon, cheddar cheese and chives. *grin*

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Aug

7

2014

The 2014 LA SCBWI 43rd Annual Summer Conference–Part 2 Saturday

Filed under: Community, Conferences, Dancing, Publishing, SCBWI, Writing, Writing for Children, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

And I’m back!!!! And the answer to yesterday’s 2014 LA SCBWI 43rd Annual Summer Conference cliff hanger is that jet lag won again!!!! I WAS BACK UP AT 5 FREAKING 30 IN THE MORNING!!!!! *head thunk* On a positive note, I spent my extra two hours brainstorming my WIP’s while lying in my cozy bed. But that meant I didn’t get out of my room any earlier and this time the Starbucks line was too long to wait on. With a low caffeine and food gauge, I headed to the breakfast kiosk in the lobby where they were out of breakfast sandwiches for the next 5-10 minutes. (Not my lucky morning) With my face half melting off, I glanced back over at the ever lengthening Starbucks line and decided to wait. #teamkiosk I figured I’d purchase my fruit, coffee and my slower than slow sandwich NOW–and then while I drank my coffee and munched on my nectarine, I’d wait patiently for my breakfast sandwich to arrive. Grab and go. No. I was told there would be no coffee until my sandwich arrived. That’s how they did things. What? Obviously that had never met the likes of me before. *snort* I smiled and explained how my method would be so much more efficient and friendly and yummy and caffeinated. And they marveled at my brilliance and my witty banter and I drank my coffee and waited for my yummy sandwich while making friends with all the other people lusting for breakfast sandwiches. We really bonded. It was fabulous. <3

And despite the wait, I was blessedly on time for the first Keynote of the day.

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Justin Chanda (Simon & Schuster) THE STATE OF THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

He is an incredible speaker–funny, practical, informative, optimistic, realistic and just plain enjoyable to listen to. Here’s what you need to know…

*We are all in this together.

*Printed things on paper have not been eradicated…and drones are not delivering our books…yet. LOL!

*It’s a cyclical business.

*There is something BIG and NEW in YA–CRF (Contemporary Realistic Fiction) HaHa! It was just “discovered” in the last five years. #trends

*trends are unpredictable–undeniable– and you can not write to them.

*YOUR INDIVIDUAL VOICE IS THE BIGGEST CAPITAL YOU HAVE IN THIS BUSINESS.

*JC predicts YA is going to scale back, but ultimately this is a good thing because the market is saturated and the glut is preventing books from being marketed correctly.

*There is lots of room for books that speak to the true experience of middle graders.

*Great rise in gender neutral books.

*The market for PB’s seems to be strong.

-not enough shelf space for a HUGE resurgence

-PB’s are 1% of book sales

-focus is on 5-6 year olds

-humor is doing well

-strong identifiable characters resonate

*APPS are not books.

*On Common Core: When the next wave of educational stuff comes along we’ll still be buying good books because good books hit the mark without trying.

*No one goes into publishing to get rich–we are here for bigger things.

*We are experts at bringing books and stories to kids. The book comes first.

*We are writers–we need to write–social media and marketing is important but it doesn’t trump story telling.

*There are always readers outside of trends.

See…I told you he was fabulous.

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Next up was the Agent’s Panel: WHAT HOOKS ME

SD-Sarah Davies (Greenhouse)

SM-Steve Malk (Writer’s House)

EM-Erin Murphy (Erin Murphy Lit)

AP-Alexandra Penfold (upstart)

RP-Ruben Pfeffer (Ruben Pfeeffer Content)

LP-Linda Pratt (Warnick & Pratt)

LR-Laura Rennert (Andrea Brown)

MODERATOR: LO-Lin Oliver

 

LO–What hooks you?

AP-I want books that make me feel. Books that are as smart as the kids who read them.

EM-AUTHENTICITY. I don’t want to feel the hand of the author pushing.

SM-Reinventing and layering a fresh point of view over a classic.

SD-AMBITION. Not for money. But someone who works hard and has big ideas. They want to be the master of their craft.

RP-POTENTIAL. I want to make contact with a character that can bring me into their world . Details can be fixed later.

LR-Characrter drive, page turning, emotionally powerful. The exploration of universals in unique ways.

PL-INTRIGUE. Make me feel like THIS character should exist.

     -Also wants a professional cover letter.

LO-Tell us about cover letters?  

LP-A line or two that verifies you’ve done your homework. Followed by a brief summary of what your work is about. Add credentials at the end but leave out the “my kids love it.”

-Avoid comparisons to books that are too big. Comp titles are good to have but use them wisely.

SM-They bring the professionalism. Take it seriously and don’t sell yourself short. Proves your investment

EM-It helps the agent get the bigger picture of you and your potential career.

LR-Reading for a sense of the person behind the story. But remember the process of querying is like dating so don’t over share your scary stuff on the first date. :o)

AP-Don’t over promise and under deliver. Did you say what you meant to say.

SD-Calm down–it’s okay–it points the way to the writing. And writing a pitch is an art–so practice.

LO-How do you see your role when you take on a new client?

RP-I wear many hats–particularly what the client will benefit from the most.

EM-I’ll ask you to revise because it’s a skill and if you don’t have the skill, I can’t talk you up to editors.

SD-Revision–if the bar can be raised–it’s better for the sale.

 -I want to guarantee at the point of submission that we took that MS out as strong as we could make it.

RP-The potential of the brand

AP-Helping to hone their attention towards the second book.

SM-(Cutting in) Brand is a tricky word. Your brand is simply who YOU are.

LO-What makes you cringe?

EM-Submisions from prison. *cue whole ballroom cracking up*

LR-Something that feels formulaic.

LP-Dropped in the middle of ungrounded action. Wants to be vested in the character.

RP-Too much or not enough opening information.

AP-Lot’s of bad rhyme in PB’s–changing the trajectory of the story to meet the rhyme.

EM-Envisioning yourself as a celebrity instead of focusing on the writing.

SM-Making big mistakes that indicate you’re not that serious about what you are doing.

SD-Prologues with car accidents

-Same beginnings all the time.

-Prologue that’s different than the first chapter.

-Wakes up, gets our of bed and looks in the mirror.

*The beginning doesn’t have to be the beginning–fresh language that gets you into the story at a different place.

 

Even though the morning proved to be off to an amazing start–you can’t stop believing that there’s more. The next Keynote was from Aaron Becker–SOME ADJUSTMENTS WERE MADE ALONG THE WAY: ONE ARTIST’S JOURNEY.

Aaron started us off by getting the whole room to help him sing Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. You appreciate that transition now, don’t you? LOL! 
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Anyway–if I’ve got you mystified and you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about–you might not realize that the Aaron is the gifted author/illustrator of the 2014 Caldecott Honor book JOURNEY.


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Love, love love this wordless picture book. You can’t even begin to imagine how much story is hidden between it’s gorgeous, sweet, humorous, creative, magical illustrations. But it all made sense when Aaron talked about how stories are how we understands our lives. That is something that resonates with me down to my core. I also wanted to add that I have two young artist/illustrators at home and I took this shot of one of Aaron’s early masterpieces to show them how we grow as we practice our craft.

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It left them with their jaws hanging open and it reminded me that we continually have to work at our practice to reach the vision we have of ourselves in our mind. Time to get out my “red crayon” and make some magic happen on my pages. <3

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Mary Lee and Megan

I know my recaps can be a bit lengthy at times, but don’t get moody–get Judy Moody!!!! Next up was my first Workshop of the day with Megan McDonald and Mary Lee Donovan JUDY: FOREVER 8–CREATING AND SUSTAINING A SERIES.

Both Megan (the author of Judy Moody) and Mary Lee (Judy Moody editor-Candlewick) were amazing, funny and informative. The thrust of the presentation was about the unique choices that were made all along the course of Judy Moody’s development. The creativity in writing and marketing led to the launch of a beloved early chapter book series that has become a huge hit. Here are some of the takeaways…

*Megan made “me collage’s” to help her brainstorm and get to know her characters and her world.

*They avoided formulaic packaging. It’s uniqueness helped it to stand out.

*Judy Moody is a 3rd grader but her first book was 150 pages long. This was a little unique for 7-10 year olds. But they liked having a thick book to carry around.

*The book had short, episodic chapters targeting 7-10 year olds.

*The print was large with a lot of white space and frequent illustrations.

*At the time, bright colors were competing on the shelf so the craft paper design and unique shape caught people’s attention.

*Judy Moody was positioned as a new cast of characters that everyone needed to meet.

*Marketing was directed to a kid audience and a teacher audience. Word of mouth then helped Judy Moody reinvent the 3rd grade novel. <3

 

Next up I grabbed lunch on the go and headed over to my regional get together. I didn’t have time to take pics but there were french fries in my Big Fat Gyro and there was some debate about the authenticity of that. My RA was served in the same way in Greece. So anyone have any thoughts on this? It was a first for me. Very yummy, too.

 

Next up was a Keynote by Maggie Stiefvater A THEIF AND AN ARTIST STEALING STORIES FROM LIFE.

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Maggie is an amazing storyteller–as you might imagine from that series of pics. She’s just too animated to pin down LOL! But after listening to Maggie, I also began to think of her as a modern day renaissance woman. Very intelligent and loaded with all kinds of artistic ability in so many areas–writing, sketching and music. I was relieved that she wasn’t very good in the kitchen because I was starting to get a little intimidated and jealous. But considering how much amazing advice she shared and how it impacted my own thoughts on writing, I’m a fan-girl for sure. Some of Maggie’s best take aways…

*I am rarely creating things form scratch. I steal the soul of someone else and then as an artist I stitch it back together.

*The only way to get better at something is to practice.

*Shallow Thievery vs. Deep Artistry

-Learn to solve for X–things are not what is on the surface.

-It’s not about the punch, it’s about why he threw it and more importantly why he’d never thrown it before.

*It’s not write what you know (we don’t personally know that much to be interesting) It’s about WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW THE ESSENCE OF.

Love that!

And I get to hear the hilarious Megan McDonald talk again at her Keynote WRITER, WRESTLER, STUTTERER, SPY: FINDING YOUR VOICE AS A WRITER.

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The really cool thing about Megan’s keynote was that it was completely different than the info I’d heard in the morning. *fist pump* Most of her stuff was side split tingly hilarious stories that I couldn’t even begin to recount here, but I did pull this out and write it in my notes…

*If you want to write–find your splinter–the thing that is embedded, still sharp and hurting you. Write about that.

Day two of the conference seemed to be about repeat speakers, which was completely okay with me because I really enjoyed them just as much the second time around. My afternoon Workshop was with Justin Chanda–YOU HAVE YOUR 1ST (2ND, 3RD) CONTRACT(S) HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP AND HURT YOURSELF. 

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A seriously helpful workshop and one of the best PRO sessions I’ve taken. Right up there with those done by Ruta Sepetys. My only complaint was that it was too short. Would love to see the same workshop offered as an AM/PM two part workshop. Justin talked about some of the best and worst practices that could help or hurt an author after they’ve gotten a contract.

*The starting point for everything is your editor.

*Most important people on staff are the assistants–treat them that way.

*Do not say one thing to your editor and another to your agent and leave your agent to solve it. (ex. Editor: Can you have it to me in 4 weeks. Author: Sure, No problem. Author talking to Agent: There is no way I can do that in four weeks—please fix it. *weeps*)

-Run around becomes tedious for everyone

-We are all in this together.

-Always better to be honest.

*You have to stand up for yourself–it is your book.

*A good editor will never rewrite your book, they will help you make your vision clearer. “I will never win that argument if it’s not meant to be won.”

*Everyone is always working towards the same goal.

*Try not to send multiple emails in one week with different subjects.

*Don’t be afraid to ask questions, we love to talk about what we do.

*Remember to work on your book–consumers want books not marketing. You’re first job is to WRITE!!!!

*100’s of people touch your book along the process of publication.

*Everyone wants your book to work–no one is sitting in the back room trying to figure out how to screw you over.

*80% of tanked covers have been at the author’s insistence. Speak your mind but trust your team.

*80% of the books Justin publishes lose money. The top 20% is carrying the 80%

*Good marketing departments need to be nimble.

*There is a finite amount of marketing resources. And it’s usually unpredictable.

*Do not compare your publication plans with anyone else’s.

*Don’t spend your own money in a vacuum. Coordinate with your team to get the best for your money.

*Publication grows with you throughout your career.

*Highly recommends school visits as the best way to self promote. WORD OF MOUTH!

*Social media is the greatest and worst thing to happen to publishing.

-DO NOT VENT ONLINE

-DO NOT PLEAD YOUR GRIEVANCES IN THE COURT OF SOCIAL MEDIA.

*And like Debbi Oh always says…Another writer’s success doesn’t diminish your chance of success–cheer on other writers. <3

Phew!!!! I’m getting really tired. This may be one of the longest conference recaps I’ve ever had. It’s all because there was so much great information and inspiration. Like this next panel…

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A Marketing and Sales Panel–PUTTING YOUR BOOK IN THE HANDS OF READERS: HOW SALES, MARKETING AND PUBLICITY BRING YOUR BOOK TO MARKET with Felicia Frazier, Shanta Newlin and Emily Romero

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These ladies were fire crackers. This was hands down the best sales/marketing/publicity class I’ve been exposed to at a conference. Entertaining and informative–I wanted to hang out with this smart and charismatic ladies. Here’s my best takeaway from each of them…

SALES:

*We are so lucky–we have a replenishing source of kids EVERY YEAR! ROTFL!!!

MARKETING:

*Our business is a recommendation based business.

PUBLICITY:

*You have to see, hear or read about a book at least 5 times before you make a purchase.

As pumped as I was, my perky personality was getting hungry and starting to wilt. The final Keynote of the evening was Cynthia Kadohata MY LIFE: REAL AND IMAGINED.And yes, I forgot to take another picture. But here is my favorite takeaway…

*No matter what writing problem you have the answer is always somewhere in your life.

There–I did it. I made it through day 2. *nods off* BUT WAIT—It’s time for the 2014 Poolside Gala!!!!!!! It was Tomie Depaola’s 80th Birthday Bash: A Night in Old Italy. Since Tomie couldn’t be there, we did serenade him with a flash mob to That’s Amore. <3 A copy of that is floating around Youtube somewhere. Here’s a snap shot of the rest of the evening…

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The party was getting started. The view from my room.

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I was having trouble coming up with a costume and a friend suggested being an “old” tourist in Italy.

I immediately started channeling my Dad LOL!

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Nancy my RA stomping some grapes with me.

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Hanging out with my Shop Talk buddy Imogene–New York to LA!!!

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My Dad would have absolutely hung out with the Pope ROTFL!

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Lots of laughs all night.

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Jodi and Howard–dancing buddies <3

And then I fell asleep. Lies. Then I hung out in the lobby and talked with friends. And then I fell asleep. More Lies. Then I got in my PJ’s and talked with Jodi some more. ROTFL! But then I finally did fall asleep–and it was great until I …

Well, that’s a story for my finally recap post next Tuesday. We don’t want to overwhelm you–I don’t think this lengthy post can take one more word. Hope it was helpful and didn’t make your eyes bleed. In fact–as encouragement to write the last post recap, why don’t you let me know in the comments which bit of posted wisdom or inspiration resonates with you the most. And don’t forget my fries and gyro conundrum. See you next week.

 

 

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