Posts Tagged ‘Kate Messner’

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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Mar

11

2014

The 2014 NY SCBWI Conference–Part 3

Filed under: Check-it-out, Conferences, Publishing, SCBWI, Writing, Writing for Children

We are on the 2014 NY SCBWI conference recap homestretch!!!! But just like with attendance at a conference, even though you’re sad to have it come to an end, you should also be feeling those itchy fingers wanting to write and create now that you’ve been inspired.

One of the very best Keynotes of the Conference was by Kate Messner: The Spectacular Power of Failure

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Everyone in the room was affected by the power of Kate’s words. Why? There were multiple reasons, but the biggest were that  Kate’s a dynamic speaker and the topic was relevant to everyone. Relatable and inspiring. Here are some of her best moments…

*Why do a talk on Failure? Because we share the shame we feel over the fear of failure.

*Be Brave. But it’s okay to be afraid. Of course you’re nervous–>if it weren’t , it wouldn’t be worth doing.

*Fight or Flight Fear is different than Fear of Failure, but it’s just as strong.

*On Art and Fear: You learn how to make your work by making your work.

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I saved my chocolate fix for just the right spot…

*The act of sitting down to do the work brings on the idea fairy. (My idea fairy obviously likes chocolate-that’s why we get along so well.)

*Fail Fast, Fail Often: Sometimes losing can help you win.

*If we want to make art–failures are pretty good trail markers pointing us in the right direction.

*A problem that is insurmountable is manageable, when we talk to a friend. We are not afraid of our friend’s failures LOL!

*The only thing we can control is how we do our work. (Can I get an amen?)

*Failure let’s us be role models.

*High-stakes testing undermines divergent thinking. (I seriously LOVE this!)

Thank you, Kate–this pep-talk was exactly what I needed, right when I needed it. You’re the BEST! <3

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Next up…Keynote Panel: The Art of the Picture Book

SS–Shandra Strickland

OJ–Oliver Jeffers

MF–Marla Frazee

RC–Raul Colon

PB–Peter Brown

Moderated by AL–Arthur Levine (If I have to tell you who he is–you haven’t done your homework well enough)

 

Just a few little tidbits that stuck to me…

*SS–When something isn’t working: sometimes you have to walk away to figure it out.

*MF–It’s hard to know when a piece is going downhill. I keep thinking I can fix it.

*SS–Turning down a project that doesn’t resonate is an ability that comes with maturity.

*RC–The illustrator doesn’t just want to illustrate the text–they are there to extend it.

 

Additionally Peter Brown got into a lively debate about authors and illustrators having more connection and collaboration in the picture book process. Everyone else on the panel felt strongly about giving the illustrator room to create without the influence of the author. Peter understood this, but felt there were advantages for authors to learn to think more spatially. I will tell you that he was getting a lot of cheers from the picture book writers in the audience LOL! In my humble opinion, both sides of the debate were fascinating and relevant.

 

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I’m going to be honest–I was so bummed that Sharon Draper had to cancel due to a family emergency. I’d just finished reading OUT OF MY MIND with the boys and we are HUGE fans. But Nikki Grimes is such an eloquent speaker and writing royalty, I couldn’t stay disappointed. In fact, I could listen to her description of a girl’s first kiss all day long. Her voice. Her words. He perception and humor. It was amazing.

*I have been day dreaming for the better part of my life.

*It’s all right. Just keep writing. You’ll figure it out eventually.

 

Some other conference highlights as the big weekend comes to a close…

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Tomie dePaola giving out the Tomie dePaola Award for Illustration

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Jane Yolen giving out the Mid-list Author Grants (And it was her birthday!)

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Hanging out with my roommie. It was Jeannie Intrieri‘s first national SCBWI conference. I think she’s hooked. <3

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Getting more Kate Messner books for the boys and I to read. <3 We are uber fans!!!

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The hustle, bustle and blur of everyone trying to meet their favorite authors and get their books signed.

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And the moment you realize that it’s a l-o-n-g time until the 2014 LA SCBWI Conference in August. *le sigh*

I’ve done it! Another conference blog for the archives. Even though they are a lot of work to put together, I know I’m going to continue to look back at these memories and bits of wisdom and be so glad that I’ve journaled them. I also really enjoy how many people have told me how much they love the conference blogs. You guys rock!

What other kinds of blog posts–here or on other sites–do you find the most useful/memorable?

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May

13

2013

Recap of the New England SCBWI Conference–NESCBWI13

Filed under: Apocalypsies, Book Signings, Class of 2k12, Conferences, SCBWI, The Class of 2k12

Here’s my recap of the New England SCBWI Conference for the second time. I got this half done for Friday when my oldest son’s school transportation had the drivers go on strike and then my other two kids came down with strep. I decided to postpone the post and finish it over the weekend.  I saved it and and then the gremlins that live in my computer erased only the part I’d finished. *head thunk*

I arrived at the conference at around noon on Friday and did all of the standard checking-in and hugging friends things. Then it was off to the first sessions.

Friday 5/3/13

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A Intensive–KEYWORD BY WORD: CREATE A PLAND TO BRAND. SELL, AND PROMOTE YOUR NOVEL with AC Gaughen and Hilary Weisman Graham

I love attending events by my Apocalypsies and Class of 2k12 siblings. So much fun!

Favorite take-aways…

*Everyone IS buying bookmarks and everyone WANTS bookmarks for swag, whether you like it or not LOL!

*Twitter is the most popular place (debut author questionnaire) to focus your social media push, but tumblr is where the teens are.

*  *  *

Workshop B–MANAGING YOUR WRITING; MANAGING YOUR LIFE WITH PEGGY DEITZ SHEA AND JANET DOUCETTE

This session started off with some relaxation and focusing techniques. I became so relaxed I forgot to take a picture and may have almost fallen asleep at one point LOL!

Favorite take-aways…

*Are you here?

*Women are great multi-tasks but being a multi-tasker is not in your best interest. You can get stuck on the bridge between the right brain and the left brain.

*Requests (received or given) should always include the right to decline and a clear expectation of fulfillment.

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Keynote–PANEL DISCUSSION: AN UNCENSORED DISCUSSION ON EDGY YA

Favorite take-aways…

*Be true to the work.

*Should the parent be the gate-keeper or do children effectively police their own reading material?

Saturday 5/4/13

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Keynote–THE WORDS WE CHOOSE TO SAY by Sharon Creech

A HUGE fan-girl moment for me!!!! Yes, she really glows in real life. <3

Favorite take-aways…

*Find your own voice, your own rhythms–it makes you a better writer.

*Use it all (great ideas) when you’re writing. New stuff will grow. Words generate words.

*Don’t be in such a hurry to publish your story. Time may allow you to deepen it. There could be something profound under there.

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C Intensive–REAL REVISION: BIG PICTURE AND LINE BY LINE with Kate Messner

I LOVE Kate! That’s all.

Best take-aways…

*Revision is finding and strengthening the heart of your story.

*You can’t revise, to bring about the heart of your story if you don’t know what the heart is.

*Writing off-draft can help you understand things.

*Trying something you’re not great at can free you up.

*Use a mentor text to guide your way.

*Make what you need to explore and fix your book. (Charts, maps, timelines and outlines)

If you want to learn more about Kate’s amazing revision tips–check out her book REAL REVISION.

 

Time for lunch and another amazing Keynote with author/illustrator Grace Lin

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Stephanie, Megan and Kendra

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Annie, Me, Jodi and Eileen

Best take-away from Grace Lin’s keynote (sorry I don’t have a picture)…

You’ll be your best self when you are yourself in you writing and art. <3

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Workshop G–THE ART OF THE OUTLINE with Elisabeth Papdemetriou

Best take-aways…

*Don’t confuse learning the skill (of outlining) with the act of outlining.

*Plot and character are inseparable.

*Outlines should include every single scene in your book.

*Have your closing scene echo your opening scene.

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 And I FINALLY got to meet Jo Knowles. I’ve participated in JoNoWriMo for years and Jo was one of those warm and giving authors who mentors those around her–plus I love the books she writes. Check out her latest, PEARL which won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award!

 

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Workshop H–THE POWER OF POINT OF VIEW with Linda Urban

She is hilarious by the way.

Best take-aways…

*I believe we are living in an increasingly 1st person world. 1st person is only going to grow. Writing in 3rd person may allow you to stand out.

Saturday’s Autograph Party!!!!!

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Katie chatting up the awesome Nova Ren Suma.

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Sharon Creech signing for my friend’s daughter who is her BIGGEST FAN!!!!!

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Of course I’m I HUGE fan too!!!!!

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Jodi chatting with Jodi.

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Kate Messner signing a book for the Fishkill Frogs!

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Lynda Mullaly Hunt, author of the MG novel ONE FOR THE MURPHYS, signing and making friends.

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Greg Fishbone (Class of 2k7) and AC GaugheBrendan (Class of 2k12) hanging outIMG_5096

REVISING A CAREER: TIMING, TRUST & TEAMWORK with Brenda Reeves Sturgis, Emma Dryden and Karen Grenick

Favorite take-aways…

*Don’t quit–ever. <3

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Some down time in the Sheraton while waiting for the Ballroom to open up.

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The Books for Boston collection bin.

Check out some of the inspirational messages written in the books going to Boston.

Sunday 5/5/13

Panel Discusion–SCULPTING STORIES FROM FACT: FOUR WRITERS OF HISTORICAL FICTION SHARE STRATEGIES

Sarah Lamstein, Jeannine Atkins, Padma Venkatraman and Pat Lowery Collins (Boo my picture didn’t come out!)

Favorite take-aways…

*I tried to pack Padma in my suitcase. All four authors were great, but she stole the show. LOVE her!

*When story and history collide–story always wins. (PV)

*The attitudes of the times plays a role in the story/plot. (SL)

*The reasons writers aren’t diagnosed as schizophrenic is that we listen to the voices in our head instead of conversing with them. (PV)

*Create a LOVELY FILE to put all the darlings you cut–then you will always have them. (PV)

I Intensive–ADVANCED PLOTTING with Chris Eboch

I was very busy in this small, pro-track class and you guessed it–I forgot to take a picture. *smacks own hand*

Favorite take-aways…

*If your main problem can’t be introduced early, find a way in, something that gives a hint.

*Be careful not to open too fast. Give the reader a little time to get acclimated.

*Action without context is not a good thing.

*Likable character plus a bad situation makes the best story.

*Real life drama needs to be set up correctly to be believable to the reader.

You can find our more about Chris Eboch and advanced plotting HERE.

Workshop N–THE YIN AND YANG OF CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT with Kami Kinard

More Apocalypsie love!!!!! And yes, I was too busy meeting Kami in person for the first time that I…didn’t take a picture. Should have gotten one of us together. Drat!

Favorite take-aways…

*Add believable traits to your characters.

*Characters with both good and bad motives and traits naturally create much desired tension.

*Books are about physical, emotional and spiritual journeys.

Kami posted some stuff on humor from another of her sessions on her blog. You can catch it HERE!

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And because I always have to buy one more book LOL! Hanging with the AWESOME Padma Venkatraman, author of CLIMBING THE STAIRS. <3

Me, Padma, Jodi and Megan

And then it was time to say goodbye and drive home. NESCBWI was an amazing conference and I’m so glad I got the chance to grow. It truly had the feel of an International SCBWI Event but with the intimacy of a smaller conference. Lots of fun and I hope to be able to attend again next year too! Have any of you been to NESCBWI before? Any new authors that you’ve now got to put into your TBR pile?

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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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