Posts Tagged ‘Kimberly Sabatini’

Nov

7

2017

Silver Bay Falling Leaves Eastern Upstate NY SCBWI Retreat 2017

Filed under: Check-it-out, Conferences, Critique, Drafting, Kimberly Sabatini, Publishing, Revision, SCBWI, Writing, Writing for Children

Hello dear readers! It’s been so long since we’ve chatted. I’ve missed you. But as we’ve discussed–I have no intention of filling up your inbox with random chatter. Although I am super capable of doing it.

Instead I’ve promised to only blog when I had something relevant to add to the conversation. And here I am with a brief recap of the 2017 Silver Bay Falling Leaves Eastern Upstate NY SCBWI Retreat. I have to share this SCBWI event with you for a number of reasons–I met amazing people, learned fabulous things and I think you’d love to come to this event next year! So let me tempt you.

The weather was beautiful when I arrived at Silver Bay and I took advantage and walked around a bit. I was happy  that I’d brought my good camera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After checking in and getting my bearings, it was time for dinner and our first round of workshops.

*WORKSHOP #1 Gestalt: or 1+1=More  Words and Pictures in Picturebooks by Rotem Moscovich (Executive Editor at Disney-Hyperion)

And if you look closely at Rotem’s display of fabulous picture books, in the middle of the bottom row you’ll see my forever friend and editor for TOUCHING THE SURFACE, Anica Rissi’s THE TEACHER’S PET. Rotem told everyone all about Anica’s art note perfection and the magic that ensued because of it. Interested in finding out more about The Teacher’s Pet? Have Anica come and visit your class and tell you the story herself <3

And I don’t want to forget to tell you some of Rotem’s best words of wisdom…

*Gestalt=more than the sum of it’s parts.

*The best picture books are composite texts that combine the text, the illustrations and the input of the reader.

A great example of this is ONE SPECIAL DAY by Lola M Schaefer and Jessica Meserve

*WORKSHOP #2 The Body Electric by Katherine Jacobs (Senior Editor, Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)

And here are Kate’s best bits…

*Characters are the best way to engage your reader. Follow the characters–>sing the body electric!

*Resist the urge to over describe your characters, but be sure to KNOW those characters.

*Flat characters vs Round Characters. Round characters are surprising, unique and multi-dimensional.

*Motivation: What does your character want?

*Conflict: you need a problem that can be solved.

 

And then it was back to the main building. Want to take a peek?

 

The inside is great too. 

 

 

And if you’r anything like me and thinking of heading here next year for the first time, you might like to know what the rooms look like. So, let’s head upstairs…

 

 

 

Yes, we had real keys and wooden doors. And the most adorable, clean and cozy rooms…

 

 

On Saturday, we spent the morning broken up into critique groups. I brought five pages of my current YA work in progress and my group was super helpful. I also want them to finish writing all their projects and get them published–so I can read them! In the afternoon we had our one-on-one critiques with our editor/agent mentor. I brought a chapter book project for that and got an insanely amazing amount of help from Grace Kendall. More from her later. <3

In between lunch, critiques, and dinner we had some glorious free time for writing, sharing, hiking or whatever else you wanted to do.

I planted my butt at that round table and got in several hours of work. It was fun to shove a pair of ear plugs in my ears and enjoy being “alone” around so many writers. And productive!

Then it was time for evening workshops. And my apologies–my pictures from these workshops went missing. *grrrr* WAIT!!!! I FOUND THEM> ADDING THEM IN BELOW.

 

*Workshop #3 Non-Fiction Proposal Writing with Hilary Van Dusen (Executive Editor, Candlewick Press)

Here are some of the things Hilary is looking for in a Non-Fiction Proposal…

*Demonstrates passion

*Proof that the author has done their research

*A summary

*Outline

*Sample chapter or two

*A sense of the author–who they are and what they are about

Workshop #4 It’s Not A Race: How to Find and Build the Perfect Pacing for Your Manuscript with Grace Kendall (Editor, Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers/Macmillian)

Here’s what Grace thinks you need to know about pacing…

*What is pacing? Character + Plot + Purpose = Pacing

*Your sense of pacing is different for each purpose.

*Why is pacing a problem? Too slow = bored reader and too fast = reader loses empathy. Additionally, bad craft creates distrust in the reader.

*You can use pacing like any of your other creative tools. (character, voice, diction etc…)

*You can look at pacing at the book, scene, paragraph and sentence level.

 

And then it was time for the Big Falling Leaves Birthday Bash!!! It’s the 10th Anniversary of this retreat and we celebrated at the Boat House…

On the mantle are book covers of Falling Leaves success stories. <3 More are preparing for their book birthdays in 2018 and beyond…

 

Our fearless leader, Nancy Castaldo and her Left hand Lois, Lois Miner Huey and her Right hand man, Greg Matusic. Thanks for EVERYTHING guys!

And here is our fabulous faculty from left to right: Hilary, Rotem, Kendra, Grace, Kate and Jennifer

On Sunday morning we packed up our suitcases, but we still had a half day of awesomeness. We even get to have a toasty fire…

*Workshop #5 Be the Hero of Your Own Writing Process with Kendra Levin (Executive Editor at Viking Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House)

Here’s some tips on how to be a hero…

*There is a universality to the creative process.

*The happiest people can find a way to extra meaning from anything that happens to them.

*Heroes: Protect, Serve and Make Sacrifices.

*Having a step-by-step plan and having goals is key to being a writer.

*Know your strengths and weaknesses. Actively address the areas where you need the most work.

*Writing for young people REALLY DOES MATTER!

Want to find out more about how to be the hero of your own writing process?

 

The Hero is You by Kendra Levin (Life Coach for Writers)

Next we jumped to the Editor/Agent Roundtable for an intimate Q & A Session before our last speaker of the conference.

*Workshop #6 Best Practices for Maximizing Your Books’ Success with Jennifer Laughran (Senior Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency and Bookseller)

What to do to increase your success…

*Website–think of it as your business card. (contact info, links to social media, blog if you have one)

*On your website have a pre-order page/book page (include ISBN, links to buy the book including Indie options, Skype/school visit info and curriculum guide if you have it.)

*Have a Press Kit on your website.

*Present yourself the way you want to be perceived.

*Never vent business or rant like a crazy person on line.

*Give to the writer community–don’t just be a taker.

*Introduce yourself to local booksellers.

*Figure out what your niche is and lean into it.

*Find out what about you is unique that you can share with readers. Find ways to add value to what you are doing.

*Publicists and Marketing: other people are more likely to help you if you are helping yourself.

Want more of this fabulous advice? Check out Jenn’s Podcast–the link is on her website.

 

And then it was time to go home–and work! I’m still so energized. Falling Leaves gave me so many new friends and an incredible amount of insight into my projects–particularly one I was very stuck on. Sometimes all it takes is a trust fall with your tribe. <3

Any questions about the retreat? I’ll happily answer what I can or point you in the right direction. And I have one more question before you go… This question is inspired by the book DEVOTED by Jennifer Mathieu. We used it as a learning text in Kate’s presentation.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
Mary Oliver

 

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Feb

14

2017

NY 2017 SCBWI Conference Part 1

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Conferences, Fun and Games, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Middle Grade, Pondering, Publishing, Reading, SCBWI, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing for Children

It’s time for the NY 2017 SCBWI Conference!!!!

I just got back and of course I wanted to share the awesomeness with you.

Just so you know, it wasn’t exactly easy to get there this year…

On Thursday we got hit with a winter storm. My house got just over 10 inches of snow–resulting in a very happy puppy.

With a day off of school, I was kind of lucky because I got some extra sleep and had plenty of time to pack for the next day.

But not everyone was so lucky. I know of several people who couldn’t get their flights sorted out and missed the conference all together. That was a huge disappointment.

I knew I was going to be running a little late for Friday’s Intensive, but my train schedule got pushed back even more due to the boys having 2hr delays. I decided not to stress and go with the flow.

Chilling out and day dreaming while looking out the train widow really paid off. I got to see 4 adult and 4 juvenile American Eagles! And I even captured one on my camera and that made me extra happy.

While I missed most of the morning portion of my Friday Intensive–WRITING THE VERSE NOVEL–but made it for the first half of the round table sessions. Despite being late, I still had an amazing experience and learned a ton. I’ve never attempted a novel in verse before, but I’m intrigued, I enjoy reading them and I always feel that learning new things brings depth and color to anything I’m working on. So it was a great opportunity. And the good news was that I was able to get the handouts and I have access to the notes.

The lovely Bonnie Bader facilitated the Intensive.

Listening to Sonya SonesThe Nuts and Bolts and Safety Pins of Writing the Novel in Verse

*Don’t write a poem that makes a teenager feel stupid. It must be accessible.

*Our goal is to move people with our words–create an emotional response.

*Teens are present tense human beings.

*Read your work out loud with ear plugs. It allows you to hear your own voice.

We also did some fun exercises with Ellen Hopkins‘ session Balancing Verse with Story

Do you want to get your creative descriptions flowing? Try asking yourself some interesting questions like…

What does anger smell like?

What does happiness taste like?

What does sorrow sound like?

What does boredom feel like?

What does love look like?

You should have heard all the interesting and varying responses in the room.

And after another session of round tables, there was even time for a Q & A session with the intensive faculty.

(Sonya Sones, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Ellen Hopkins and Emma Dryden)

Done for the day, it was time to meet up with my friends (old and new) and fellow Lobby Rats for a yummy Italian dinner and lots of catching up in the–you guessed it–lobby!

Then on Saturday morning–despite how comfortable my roomie and best bud, Jodi Moore and I were in our cozy beds at the Hyatt Grand–we rolled on downstairs for coffee, bagels and the kick-off of the conference.

Starting off the day was some birthday singing for the one and only Jane Yolen!

This was followed by Lin Oliver‘s famous SCBWI State of the Conference Address.

Here’s how it all went down…

*1,121 Attendees

*40% Published and 60% Pre-Published

*States not representing? North Dakota and Wyoming 🙁

*Attendees came from 61 different countries to include Hong Kong, Australia, Spain and Egypt.

*Some of this year’s interesting Professions/Day Jobs were…

     -Costume Shop Supervisor

     -Attorney/Voice Over Actor

     -Chairman of the Book Selection Committee (everyone was looking for this person LOL!)

     -Crime Scene Detective

     -Dog Groomer

     -Podiatrist

The first Keynote of the day was the always moving and inspiring Bryan Collier

Here are some of the things you should know…

*When he was 4yo–he saw HIMSELF in the picture book Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. He became obsessed with art and headed to NY–there was no plan B

*Be careful who you share your dreams with, even the people who love you will tell you to get a job.

*Your dreams should be so outrageous they scare you.

*Everything your awkward about is the very thing that makes you special. <3

*Creativity is not just a pond–it’s a river. We are moving!

*The world is waiting for you to dream.

*Sometimes our readers aren’t standing in the doorway. They are in a ditch–behind bars. And they are waiting for you.

Want to check out some of Bryan’s amazing work? Look for his illustrations in KNOCK KNOCK.

Next up was a Panel Discussion–Four Types of Picture Books: A Closer Look

Moderator LL-Laurent Linn

DS–Daniel Salmieri (Illustrator)

GP–Greg Pizzoli (Author/ Illustrator)

ADP–Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author/Editor)

AB–Andrea Beaty (Author)

There was so much great information offered by this panel, so I’ve picked my favorite pieces of advice and inspiration to share with you…

ADP–Bringing non-fiction to readers is like spinach. You have to keep serving it up until they get a taste for it.

ADP–I’m under the belief that if something excites you–it can excite the child.

DS–Don’t be afraid to draw ANYTHING–you’re in a constant state of getting better.

GP–Picture book advice 1. a picture book can be anything 2. it should be direct 3. keep it short.

LL–Ballet look so easy. Effortless. But those ballerina’s have bloody stumps for feet. Rhyme has to look equally effortless.

Next up was my first Break Out Session–World Building with Arianne Lewin

This was a fabulous workshop and very relevant to what I’m working on in my WIP. Here’s what you need to know…

*Creating a world that’s immersive will keep the reader reading.

*The world should unfold organically.

*World building applies to ALL books–it’s the anchor for your story.

*The world has to be believable and manageable.

*1st build atmosphere–it make the reader feel comfortable slipping in.

*If the character believes it–the reader will believe it. It’s in the details.

*Great examples of world building–The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Golden Compass.

*The world is revealed by what your character does–show it!

The Lobby Rats taking a lunch break

One for me and one for my roomie <3

Then it’s back to work…

After lunch it was back to another breakout session.

This one was Writing Middle Grade Fiction with Andrew Harwell, Senior Editor at Harper Collins

*MG readers ages 8-12 (grades 2-6)

*This means that the middle grade section in bookstores houses a WIDE variety of books in one area–Captain Underpants to The Golden Compass.

*MG readers are extremely sophisticated–but keep your eye on the main character–that is the story anchor.

*Never talk down to your readers.

*There is no one, right gold standard voice or style in MG. Do what works for you and your character.

*Plant seeds –details in the earlier part of your book that you can catch again at the end.

*If you have the details clear in YOUR head, you don’t have to over explain anything to the reader. It will make sense. Make your plotting masterfully done.

*Make sure you give your characters a breathing moment–hit different emotional registers.

*The specific details are anchored in the universal themes.

*Be prepared to use sensitivity readers.

The afternoon keynote by Tahereh Mafi is STILL giving me goose bumps.

Everything about this keynote was incredible. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t capture it all. It was her words, which flowed non-stop. It was her elegant demeanor. It was her power and resilience. It was her history and her goals for the future. If you ever get a chance to hear her speak–know you are in for an altering experience.

This is what I was able to capture…

*A thick skin will only insulate you from pain, and act good is a writer who doesn’t feel anything?

*Speaking of her mom, who had her skull fractured on the streets of Iran: grief was a luxury she was never able to afford.

*My thin skin helps me to exhale emotions onto the page.

*Those rejections keep you hungry.

*Not everyone will know our stories and back stories–our inspirations and aspirations–but SOMEONE will find it.

*Lean into your pain and let it shape you.

*If you don’t give up, you can’t fail.

*She wrote and queried FIVE novels before the one that sold.

This year, the walls between the ballroom and the bookstore were opened. I loved it! This is everyone rushing to get Tahereh’s book after her moving keynote.

Next up was the afternoon panel–Children’s Books and the Social Media World: A Panel of Influencers

Moderator by Martha Brockenbrough MB

TJ–Travis Jonker (blogger) @100scopenotes and @TheYarnPodcast

CLS–Cynthia Leitich Smith (author/blogger) @CynLeitichSmith and  www.cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com

MW–Mathew Winner (librarian/podcast host/blogger) @MatthewWinner and @AlltheWonders

Here’s a sample of what we got to hear…

TJ–I love when a voice we love in a book carries over into the authors social media.

CLS–Calls out Debbie Ohi as someone who is doing it RIGHT! She has take aways for her audience, snippets of her art, a positive and friendly attitude.

CLS–Write your mission statement as an author.

CLS–Know when to step away from social media and write your book.

CLS–Author profiles with animals–especially quirky animals get more love.

Worth a try, right?

MW–I never set out to have an audience. I set out to share what I love.

MW–Being nice makes you cool!

Usually book signings are on Sunday, but every once in awhile we have a couple people who need to sign on Saturday.

My roomie, Jodi Moore talking to Andrea Davis Pinkney!!!! She was the sweetest to cast with and I’m constantly blown away by what an intelligent woman Andrea is. You must read her work–it’s incredible. I fell in love with this picture book and got a signed copy for my school library…

A Poem For Peter

And I also got to speak with Tahereh Mafi and tell her what an impact her keynote had on me. <3

And then it was time for the Gala with it’s the SCBWI MASHED POTATO BAR!!!

As if it was meant to be–I walked by and they opened this particular Mashed Potato Bar and I was the first one to use it ROTFL!


Cheers!

Hope you enjoyed my NY 2017 SCBWI Part 1 Recap. I’ll be sure to get you Part 2 as soon as I can.

Any questions about the conference? I’ll do what I can to answer them. Planning on going to the LA conference in July and want to be in the Lobby Rat know? Let me know and I’ll add you to the FB group. Or if you’re planning to attend a different SCBWI conference and would like to make sure the Lobby Rats are represented–let me know. We can arrange that <3

And if you want to play along in the comments and give Ellen Hopkins’ exercise a try, here’s your question…

What color was the NY conference and why?

You can answer this as an attendee or as an arm chair conference follower.

My conference was green like a leafy vine, because many of the ideas that were floating around in my head, were finally able to be connected because of what I learned and the people who were inspired me.

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Nov

23

2016

YOUR Work, YOUR Way

Filed under: Community, Pondering

Sometimes we forget it’s okay to do YOUR work, YOUR way.

A young boy and girl dressed as a superheroes stands on a rock with arms raised while on a California Beach. The surf and waves wash the sand around them and they are ready to work as a team to accomplish great things as they look out to sea. Image taken in Orange County, California, USA.

Everywhere I look there are people standing up.

They are using their super powers for good instead of evil.

And what I’m noticing is that no two heroes look alike.

There are those who are loud and brash–shouting from the roof tops. They stand up in front and demand to be seen and heard. They are a force of nature. They don’t only hold the line–they push it forward.

Some work quietly. They are industrious even though they are never in the spotlight. They work with slight of hand and relentless focus. You might never know they were there–but you would absolutely feel their loss if they didn’t show up.

We also have level headed mediators. Those who walk with one foot in two different worlds–breaching divides and listening for the opportunities to change a tide from the other side. They have cool heads, warm hearts and an almost endless capacity for empathy.

And then there are heroes that live in the places we fear the most and understand the least. They are pushed down relentlessly. Their power is waking up and doing life over and over again–despite the resistance. They lead by living.

There are so many of us.

And we are so different from each other.

But we are ALL needed.

Be careful in this electrically charged climate that we don’t alienate each other, believing there is only one way to fight for right.

No super hero should be made to feel as if they are less because their power isn’t the same as someone else’s.

There is no manual on how to fight evil and support love.

When we are fighting for equality for everyone–it seems silly to judge HOW someone uses their best self to create a better world. We are all unique and that is our true strength.

Today I’m taking a moment to remind myself that I bring something special to the moment and the movement. Sometimes I don’t even know exactly what it is, but I know it’s there.

I’m reminding myself that I don’t need outside validation from other people to know my true heart and my true soul and my true intentions.

I know I won’t always get everything right, but it will not keep me from both trying and always reevaluating how I can do a better job and be a better person.

I’m taking a moment to remind YOU that in this time of great energy and emotion…

it’s okay to do YOUR work, YOUR way.

And I’m reminding myself not to judge what is unfamiliar. I believe no one should judge a person for helping in the way that feels the most organic to them.

We need ALL the people and ALL their super powers. And I don’t want you to think that what you have to offer isn’t important. If you love and you try and you care and you are doing the best that you can–then you are necessary. Don’t get discouraged.

“I am the one thing in life. I can control. I am inimitable. I am an original”

-Aaron Burr, Wait For It

Don’t give up–do YOUR work, YOUR way.

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May

19

2016

Where in the World is TOUCHING THE SURFACE?

Filed under: Author Events, Book Signings, Booksellers, Check-it-out, Community, Fun and Games, In the Wild, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Publishing, Reading, Touching the Surface, Writing for Children, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

Where in the world is TOUCHING THE SURFACE? Well, let me tell you…

Here are some of the upcoming events, where you can get signed copies of TOUCHING THE SURFACE and hang out with me and talk about writing, agents, publishing and books. You know I ALWAYS love to talk about books.

Fasten your seatbelt…here we go!

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Right around the corner (THIS SATURDAY) is the 2016 Millbrook Literary Festival.

Saturday, May 21, 2016
10:00AM – 5:00PM

I’ll be hanging out all day, chatting with readers and signing books. And if you have the time, don’t miss this fabulous panel…

You’ve Written a Novel For Teens: Now What?– 4:00 – 5:00pm

YAModerator: Jake Wizner with panelists Gail Carson Levine, Jennifer Castle, Barbara Dee, and Kimberly Sabatini.

Join young adult author Jake Wizner (Spanking Shakespeare) as he talks to Newbery medal honoree Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted), and award-winning authors Jennifer Castle (The Beginning of After), Barbara Dee (The (Almost) Perfect Guide to Imperfect Boys), and Kimberly Sabatini (Touching the Surface) about the paths that they took to get their work published. How did they decide which age group to write for? Find out what it takes to succeed in the world of young adult and middle grade literature.

There is so much to do in quaint Millbrook–visit the shops, grab some fabulous food and make a day of it! You can find the full list of authors and panels HERE.

*   *   *

And where in the world is TOUCHING THE SURFACE next?

B-Fest

 I’ll be DOUBLE TROUBLE at B-FEST, the TEEN BOOK FESTIVAL at Barnes & Noble!!!!

Touching the Surface cover =-blurbTouching the Surface cover =-blurb

What is B-Fest???

B-Fest is the place for teens to:
•Be in the Know and participate in fun, interactive trivia and games based on popular teen series and books
•Be First to receive exclusive content like chapter samplers and advance reading copies of upcoming teen book releases
•Be Part of the Story and participate in writing workshops, meet authors and illustrators and express their fandom through cosplay and photo ops with popular character standees
•Be Rewarded with prizes, giveaways and enter-to-win items
•Be Heard and Influential by giving Barnes & Noble and publishers feedback through social media campaigns and vehicles for their feedback in stores during the weekend

And what will I be doing at B-FEST???

Do you have a reader at home, who loves to write and might like to be an author someday? Bring them to see me at B-FEST. I’ll be sharing my insights on writing, agents and publishing. I can answer your questions about how to get started or where to go next on your current project. I’ll also be signing copies of TOUCHING THE SURFACE while I’m there. And of course, I love talking about anything involving YA Books–so stop by and we’ll hang out!

I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble (Poughkeepsie, NY) on:

Saturday, June 11 at 1 PM
2518 South Road
Poughkeepsie, New York 12601

Sign up on FB for event updates.

And I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble (Mohegan Lake, NY) on:

Sunday, June 12 — TBD
3089 E Main St
Mohegan Lake, NY

More info to come on B-FEST as the events get closer. Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

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May

12

2016

The Alice Curtis Desmond Award

Filed under: Author Events, Awards, Check-it-out, Community, Family, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Publishing, Stuff I Love, Touching the Surface, Writing for Children

Last Friday, May 6th 2016, was a magical night. It was so amazing, it’s taken me almost a week to digest it enough to be able to share it with you.

I finally became the official 2016 recipient of the Alice Curtis Desmond Award!

And if you remember me talking about it, I also was able to spend my evening in the company of two additional and very fabulous award winners…

Andy Chmar–The Patricia Adams Award

and

Salman Rushdie–The Hamilton Fish Award

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After an hour of mingling and a fund-raising auction for the the Desmond-Fish Library, I was able to take a few pictures of the venue. Only a few because I was going to be the first speaker of the evening. And I won’t lie, I was more than a bit nervous giving my first acceptance speech to 250 people, with one of them being the iconic Salman Rushdie.

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I arrived at my seat with my To Kill A Mockingbird Purse, perfect for the occasion, to find signed copies of two of Salman Rushdie’s books on my seat. <3

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Everyone filing into The Roundhouse Beacon. Hard to believe this gorgeously renovated place was an old, run down factory when I was a kid.

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Such a big crowd! I’ve never spoken in front of that many people before. *butterflies*

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Here’s my seat!! I won’t be able to eat a think until I’m done. So glad I was going first, because the food was amazing and I eventually did get to enjoy it.

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I don’t have pictures of me speaking–yet. My Mom was able to attend the event and took a few and there was a professional photographer at the event, so I’m hoping to be able to share a few more pictures at a later date. *fingers crossed*

Part of the awesomeness of the evening was having my extremely sweet husband introduce me and hand me my award. And while he may have interjected a small bit of teasing into his speech, he once again made me feel incredible. He’s not only my biggest fan when it comes to my writing, but he’s also makes me feel like an incredible human being. I felt so loved. I find myself thinking about his words every day. <3

Then, I not only survived my speech, but according to feedback–I nailed it! Which meant the hours I spent writing and practicing paid off. It also meant my insanely shaky hands and at one point, trembling body, didn’t effect my voice. *phew!*

And here was my reward…

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I MUST get this framed!

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And I was also presented with two of Alice Curtis Desmond’s books. I can’t wait to read them.

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Each book has this moving bookplate inside. Whenever I have one of those inevitable crappy moments as an author, I’m going to pull one of those books out and read…

To

Kimberly Sabatini

in recognition of her distinctive contribution

to Children’s Literature

And then I’ll get back to work.

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Here’s my only picture of Salman Rushdie as he was being interviewed by Hamilton Fish.

Mr. Rushdie was intelligent, funny, thoughtful and engaging. I could have listened to him all evening.

And the cherry on my sundae came later in the evening, when I had the privilege of speaking with Mr. Rushdie after the presentation of his award. He spent several minutes asking me about my publisher, my writing and my book. It was a surreal experience I won’t ever forget.

 And if all of the above wasn’t humbling enough, I had the opportunity to look at the award winners who walked before me…

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I’ve had the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of so many amazing writers who have come before me. Now my goal is to be worthy of boosting up those who will come after. It’s time to get back to work to ensure that the Alice Curtis Desmond Award is the first of many.

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May

3

2016

I’m Committed to my Growth

Filed under: Blogging, Check-it-out, Pondering, Writing

Today I’m saying something out loud that I’ve been thinking for awhile–I’m committed to my growth.

One of the many ways I’m honoring this commitment is by spending less time on the internet and attached to my phone. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you, my fabulous cyber friends, but the more I look, listen and learn, the more I realize that the internet isn’t the best place to spend my time. Let’s be honest–a lot of bullsh*t goes on over there–a lot.

So, I’ve decided I’m not committed to my bullsh*t. Instead I’m committed to my growth.

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What does that mean?

It means I’ve watched my writing productivity sky rocket when I prioritize deep work over shallow work. Read DEEP WORK: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport if you want more information about what that entails.

I’ve also realized that I love this blog and very much enjoy writing it–when I organically have something to say. But, if I have to spend too much of my quality writing time and family time thinking about what to pen–I probably didn’t have to struggle with a post that day. And I don’t need to apologize for it. If it was that hard to write, then you probably didn’t want to read it anyway.

And yesterday I saw a great quote on Elizabeth Gilbert’s FB page that resonated with me…

“Nothing will bring you greater peace than minding your own business.”

It’s come to my attention lately that when I’m too engaged in social media, I feel the need to have opinions and give commentary on things that really aren’t my business. This is especially true in this political climate. The truth is, I never walk away, from minding other people’s business, feeling welcome or believing I made positive change. In fact, I usually feel anxious and frustrated–occasionally a little sick to my stomach. And internet trolls are horrifying. I’ve decided I want to limit my exposure to that kind of stuff.

And then there is that insane addiction going on where you can’t talk to a person without them having their face in their phone. It’s so disheartening when you’re at a restaurant and their right in front of you on FB. Or your having a conversation with someone and you lose the face off. But, since I’m more dedicated to trying to mind my own business, I’m not going to talk more about what kind of bullsh*t that is. I’m just going to say that I don’t want to be that person. I can’t change them and I’m aware of that. But I don’t have to be rude–that’s my choice. I want to be a listener. I want other’s to feel valued when they are around me. And I’m also trying to stop using my phone as a mental pacifier. I used to be able to be with myself for more than 30 seconds without needing to be entertained. How can I grow when I’m not thinking? When I’m not day dreaming? And putting my phone away is another opportunity to pull out a book and read!

And then there’s the hype about needing a crazy social media presence. And I hate to admit this… there are a ton of fabulous authors that blog and do crazy social media–and I read their posts and follow them–but I’ve never bought or read their books.

I am skeptical about how social media translates into book sales and success as an author. I’m not saying it can’t happen or that a strong presence doesn’t have some beneficial side effects, but I’ve become convinced that it’s not the best way for my growth to occur. If time on social media directly translated into book sales and followers–I probably would have sold more books. #hardtruths

Do you see what I’m declaring here?

I’m still going to be on social media, write a blog, have a smart phone and adore my laptop. But I need to make sure that I’m functioning like an intelligent human being. I need to use these things as tools. I do not need to let them use me. I must be sure they aren’t ruling my life. Instead, I have to be running the show and doing productive things that matter.

Today I’m taking another step towards balance and sanity.

I’m committed to my growth.

Share your thoughts if it resonates.

I’ll see you when I see you.

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Apr

26

2016

Virtual Book Club–DEEP WORK

Filed under: Book Reviews, Check-it-out, Reading, Stuff I Love, Writing

More often than I can count, I read a book that intrigues me. It doesn’t matter if it’s kidlit, adult, fiction or non-fiction. When an interesting book strikes, you want to share it and discuss it with your people. It really makes me wish I was part of a book club. Starting one is on my bucket list, but until then, I think I’ll have to start a virtual book club here on my blog.

Many books

Here’s what I’m reading…

DEEP WORK by Cal Newport

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One of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you’ll achieve extraordinary results.

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.

In DEEP WORK, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four “rules,” for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.

A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, DEEP WORK takes the reader on a journey through memorable stories-from Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods to focus his mind, to a social media pioneer buying a round-trip business class ticket to Tokyo to write a book free from distraction in the air-and no-nonsense advice, such as the claim that most serious professionals should quit social media and that you should practice being bored. DEEP WORK is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.

Deep Work: Cognitively-demanding, requires focus without distraction, and you apply hard-to-replicate skill sets.

Shallow Work: More logistical/basic tasks that don’t require tremendous amounts of attention or skill.

I’m not finished reading this yet, but clearly I find it intriguing enough to want to share it with you. It was pointed out to me by a fellow writer–she was raving about how it changed her outlook on her writing process. Already I’m agreeing with her. I’m intrigued, especially since I signed up to participate in #WriteDaily30 with Linda Urban in the month of April. What I’m finding as I read and write is that this book and that challenge have overlapped. The concepts reinforce each other and I think I’ve learned some valuable take aways from having both show up at the same time. I love when the universe sends me a message and I’m alert enough to make the connections.

So, if there are any of you out there who are looking for some guidance, clarity or inspiration for getting focused and being productive with your craft, art or career–then maybe it isn’t a coincidence that you stumbled upon my virtual book club today.

Have you read DEEP WORK? Are you intrigued enough to want to read it? If you do decide to read it, make sure you come back and let me know what you think.

 

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Apr

19

2016

Mind and Matter

Filed under: Drafting, Pondering, Revision, Running, Writing

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I can’t run right now. *growls* I mind and it matters.

The weather is perfect.

And up until last week, I was kicking milage butt. I was on track for one of my best months of running to date.

And now–not so much.

It started with some mild leg pain. But it wasn’t too bad, more like a sore muscle, so I was running through it. And it always felt better after the run. But even so, I started to notice my runs were getting slower. And instead of the leg warming up over the course of the run and feeling better, it began to hurt throughout the whole run. Clearly I was compensating for something wrong by changing my gait and now more of my leg was beginning to hurt. At this point I realized “running it out” wasn’t going to be the answer.

Boo!

I was going to have to stop running and rest the leg, which means I need to find other ways to keep up with staying in shape and eating right. Exercise is essential, because I may be willing to count those calories and hold myself accountable, but I’m not capable of doing it without some extra calories providing me with real food in moderation.

But here’s the problem…running is the quickest, most efficient way I know of, to stay in shape. I’m not saying there aren’t others, but this is the one that works for me. So, this means I’m now stuck finding other ways–more time consuming ways–to get a somewhat comparable burn. And I also have to go to a podiatrist and get my inserts checked. *sigh* And all of this takes time. Time I need for my writing.

You see where this is going, right?

WRONG!

And while all the changes have been inconvenient, the truth is that I’ve committed to writing at least a little bit every day this month with #WriteDaily30 a challenge run by Linda Urban. And because I’ve eliminated my excuses and decided that a little is better than nothing at all–I’m making daily progress on my writing. Really good progress that makes me happy.

So, what I’m trying to tell you is that I’m really grumpy because I can’t run and my leg is being a pain in the leg. But I’m also really excited because I got retrained on the nautilus machines at the gym and some day I’m going to be kinda buff. And then the pup is  dog-wagging excited that I’m taking him for longer walks. And despite it all, the writing is getting done because as I was recently reminded that it’s all about mind over matter…if you don’t mind being flexible, it won’t matter.

When has mind over matter worked for you? Have you had to cope with a running or sports injury? Were you climbing the walls?

 

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Apr

14

2016

Write Daily 30

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Stuff I Love, Writing, Writing Style

This month I am participating in Linda Urban‘s Write Daily 30 (#WriteDaily30) challenge. This has been wonderful for me. You set your own goal and try to meet it every day for the month of April–but you do it in a hard working, supportive group.

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Here are my list of reasons why any writer should grab a group of friends and do a Write Daily 30 #WriteDaily30 Challenge…

*Checking in and knowing your friends are watching helps you stay accountable.

*Setting your own goals allows you to do exactly what you need to do. Your choices can be specific to you and the project your working on. My goal is to show up for 15 mins and work on my WIP. This is a great goal because my problem is STARTING, but once I begin I almost always do a lot more than I expected. Score!

*Having to check in everyday creates a new view of scheduling–you WILL carve out the time you need to meet your goal. Even if it means bringing your lap top to Little League practice.

*You may make wonderful discoveries–like how much you get done at Little League practice when no one else is bugging you or interrupting you. You may begin to wonder why your child hadn’t signed up for Little League earlier.

*You”ll probably learn or be reminded of some important lessons about writing in general because you consistently engaging with your work. The biggest for me so far, is about the importance of staying in a close relationship with my manuscript. When you do this, you spend less time working to place yourself back into your work. When you stay in the moment, you improve your writing. Time away from your manuscript is important at other times in your process but not when I’m trying to complete that MS.

*I’ve also discovered that the small bits add up. When I look at each individual day, more often then not, I find myself wishing for bigger numbers. But a funny thing happened when I stopped and added up those word counts–I realized that even if I only did a little bit on some days–those numbers were adding up and I’m pleased with the results. Not doing anything, because you don’t think you’ll get enough done, is just plain stupid. This is a much better approach.

 

Since it’s only April 14th–I’m almost at the halfway mark of Write Daily 30 (#WriteDaily30.) I’ll try to check back in at the end of the month and let you know how I did and tell you about any other additional insight I gained by participating.

Have you done this kind of group writing challenge before? I’ve done #NaNoWriMo (a monster challenge) and #JoKnoWriMo (which is very similar to this one.) What works for you? What are some of your best tips? Planning on getting involved with a writing challenge or starting your own? Have any questions?

 

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Apr

12

2016

SUPREME VIRAL RESONANCE COMMANDER

Filed under: Check-it-out, Marketing, Pondering

SUPREME VIRAL RESONANCE COMMANDER

viral |ˈvīrəl|
adjective

2 relating to or involving an image, video, piece of information, etc., that is circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another: a viral video ad | the video went viral and was seen by millions.

resonance |ˈrezənəns|
noun

1 the quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating: the resonance of his voice.
• the ability to evoke or suggest images, memories, and emotions: the concepts lose their emotional resonance.

 

Viral on Colorful People Buttons

I’ve been thinking about a a concept I’ve privately termed VIRAL RESONANCE. When something or someone explodes into awareness, seemingly blowing over the tipping point between obscurity and popularity, I believe a key component (making that person or content stick) is personal connectivity. There is something honest in the transaction that resonates with the receiver. Then everyone wants to share their connection with someone else, creating that glorious snowball effect.

I know, I get excited too.

But this theory, as fabulous as it is, has certain pitfalls. Connectivity can’t be mandated and honesty lives in the eye of the beholder. Truth can be as unique as a fingerprint–as maddening as that may seem. One person can’t decide what inspires and sets a fire under another person.

If viral resonance could be controlled and I was elected the SUPREME VIRAL RESONANCE COMMANDER, Donald Trump would be fading into obscurity right before your eyes. In fact with my grand position, I’d build a 30 foot wall around Donald Trump, a cone of silence. No, wait–make it 40 foot wall and HE can pay for it. *pauses for a moment to enjoy the tingles*

If I were the Supreme Viral Resonance Commander...

Sadly, I am not the SUPREME VIRAL RESONANCE COMMANDER. But I am curious…

In your life time–whether it’s books, movies, art, people, toys, fads–whatever. What are some of the most fascinating things you’ve seen resonate with people and then go ape shit viral? And why do you think that particular thing or person made such a huge connection and had such an impact? Give me your best and your worst viral examples. Let’s discuss. Can this phenomenon be predicted in any way? Replicated? What do YOU do to bring viral resonance to your work? And can I please be elected SUPREME VIRAL RESONANCE COMMANDER?

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