Posts Tagged ‘Linda Sue Park’

Aug

16

2016

LA 2016 SCBWI Conference Part 3 (Sunday) #LA16SCBWI

Filed under: Awards, Check-it-out, Community, Conferences, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Publishing, Reading, SCBWI, Stuff I Love, Writing, Writing for Children

It’s time for my last installment of my #LA16SCBWI recap. I apologize for taking so long. I’m usually well done with these by this point, but my kids, my own writing, and other life stuff has kept me busy. But I’m here now and I have lots of great information to share with you about the LA 2016 SCBWI Conference.

 

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Lin and Steve strategically kicked off Sunday mornings #LA16SCBWI offerings with the Agent Panel. After an evening of dancing and kid lit shenanigans at the Gala–only the promise of finding an agent can get the sleepy masses out of their beds LOL!

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Agent Panel: Acquisitions Today

VWA–Victoria Wells Arms (Victoria Wells Arms Literary)

GC–Ginger Clark (Curtis Brown, LTD)

KH–Kristen Hall (Catbird)

BS–Brooks Sherman (The Bent Agency)

ERS–Erica Rand Silverman (Stimola Literary Studio)

TW–Tina Wexler (ICM Partners)

MOD-Lin Oliver

Here are some interesting bits and pieces of the conversation…

KH–(Talking to her kids) On quitting her job and starting her own agency… I’m fine. I’m covered in hives, but really I’m fine.

TW–After her intro…”I should have just said I was a cat person.”

ERS–I’m looking for people who are purposeful in their craft.

TW–Do I love it? AND… Can I sell it?

KH–Relies on her instinct when picking clients.

BS–Doesn’t worry about what will sell. If he likes it, he’s willing to dive in.

GC–On queries: No voice of the MC. No gimmicks. Not overly personal. PROFESSIONAL! All authors used in comps should be no older than 5 years!

KH–Loves all the opposite query things that GC does ROTFL!

 

Then it was time for the Art Award Announcements!

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The Mentorship Winners.

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The Showcase Honors.

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And Showcase Winner–Oge Mora

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And speaking of fabulous illustrators, next up was a Keynote by Sophie Blackall: FORAGING FOR STORIES: HOW TO JUSTIFY EAVESDROPPING, LOITERING AND BUYING THINGS ON EBAY

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Sophie was a natural storyteller and it was hard to pick out the individual threads to share because everything she said was woven together so interestingly. But I’ll do my best to pick out a few things for you…

*I collect things.

*I’m inspired by my fellows.

*One must always pay attention.

*Missed Connections–> the Measles Project.

*I rode the subway in NY, made eye contact with a stranger and ended up in Bhutan.

*Why is yoga still so hard? Because you are constantly pushing your limits. –>Apply that concept to your writing.

*Kids notice your trivial transgressions. Details matter.

*We make mistakes, but we should strive not to.

*The gestation of a book may be the best part.

*Toni Morrison writes into the light. “It’s not being in the light–it’s being there before it arrives.”

*The making part IS the best part. Do not hoard your ideas–use them all now. Something else will arrive.

Next up was my first Break-out Session of the day. I got so lucky picking Neal Schusterman-DON’T TELL DAD I TOTALED THE UNIVERSE: LESSONS IN WORLD BUILDING LEARNED THE HARD WAY

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This was an incredible workshop. If you ever get a chance to talk world building with Neal–I suggest you take it. What I loved about his advice and techniques were how accessible they were. The focus was not on High Fantasy which isn’t what I write. And his approach was clear, logical and easy to assimilate into your own process. Plus he was inspirational and funny. Here is some of the best things I learned…

*There are no rules but the ones you make.

*Be prepared to live by your rules. There are ramifications to the rules that you make.

*Be LOGICAL!!!!

*You don’t have to address all the changes the butterfly effect has on your story, but you have to KNOW them.

*Rules can be problematic, but they can also be tools.

*Bring the reader in slowly.

*Stories are about people, no matter what world you are building–resist putting the world in front of the characters.

*Learn to write characters in the real world first–then move to world building.

*Master world building with shorter works.

*Too much info on the world can be confusing to the reader.

*When you are world building on existing mythology, you have to bring something new to the table, a twist.

*IF YOU CAN’T KEEP TRACK OF YOUR WORLD IN YOUR OWN HEAD, IT’S TOO COMPLICATED FOR YOUR READER!

*Start with the concept of the world. Find characters that fit into the world. Then work to balance the two.

*The world grows as you go along, that’s why revision is so important. By the end you know the world and the characters, then you have to go back and be sure that everything is consistent.

*Follow the exciting, shiny idea within your manuscript–even if you didn’t plan for it–otherwise the writing will be boring.

After lunch, Linda Sue Park did a fascinating afternoon Break-Out session on CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARDS: HOW JUDGING HAPPENS.

I took a picture–I swear I took a picture. But the phone goblins ate it. I’m still missing my good camera. I can’t believe I didn’t bring it. Maybe I need one of those lens attachments for my phone. Any recommendations?

Anyway–this break-out was Linda giving us back ground and information on the judging of kid lit awards and her personal experience doing the judging. There was so much interesting information woven into Linda’s narrative, but I’ll try to pull out some nuggets that will enlighten you.

*When judging the National Book Award in 2006

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*Getting from 50 books down to the ones we wanted to discuss as a group was very difficult.

*Used a weighted math system to get down to the groups top 20 books.

*No one goes over these books the way the committee does–it is legit.

*The were the first committee to have a graphic novel as a finalist.

*The process was super time consuming. Linda couldn’t write for a year and sometimes resented not having a choice in what she could read.

*On judging–if you do this–you will never feel bad about not winning an award again. There are so many good books, deserving books out there.

*If you see Linda Sue Park–ask her how the truffles were? I promise, it’s a great story.

Next up was the always informative Deborah Halverson with the UP-TO-THE-MINUTE MARKET REPORT

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Here is some of the newest market info complied by Deborah…

*Overall children’s publishing revenue dipped very little–not a lot of movement.

*YA fiction sales dipped by 3%–the Divergent factor. (dips following movie years)

*Non-fiction kids up by 17% due to adult coloring books

*Audiobooks up 24% making up 10-14% of children’s books

*Expansion as a theme. 60 new Indies this year. 660 since 2009. Stable but flat.

*New codes for YA on the bookshelves allowing for more customization and discovery.

*31 new imprints in the last four years.

Market Trend–How Your Current Projects Fit Into the Marketplace

PICTURE BOOKS

-vigorous

-quality and creativity are being rewarded. Think: LAST STOP ON MARKET PLACE

-creativity in language and text

-dominated by younger PB’s

-some have longer texts where hope is strong and feels justified

-plenty of room for the illustrator to have story telling room

-character driven

-Write a single title–>series possibility comes later

-diverse characters/actively looking for diversity

-historical fiction/biographies…ordinary people who change the world

-looking for marketing potential, story telling and personal connections

MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

-a great place to be

-agents say editors are asking

-open field–literary and commercial balance

-wants beautiful language, superb execution

-slow build that garners awards and longevity. Think OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon Draper

-room for serious subject matter

-historical fiction–there are lesser known people to explore or new twist on well knowns

-multi-author series are still strong

-stand alones embraced too

-risks that don’t feel gimmicky

-non-fiction–fresh engagement-something unexpected

-MG is not wrapped up in a single trend at the moment

-looking for humor, adventure, realistic fiction

-serves a diverse audience but doesn’t make diversity an issue

-story trumps trends

-sweet spot falls between literary and commercial

-voice that masters the MG sensibility and funny bone

-in historical fiction a contemporary voice gives access–think Hamilton on Broadway

-realistic fiction and fantasy

YOUNG ADULT
-still happening but market saturation

-there are the big stars and the rest of us are duking it out for a space

-everyone is super careful/cautious about what they take on

-you need something different and stand out in a crowded market

-be careful about realistic contemporary–its been done

-blending genres–create fresh magic systems–think GRACELING

-non-speculative

-layered female friendships*

-exploring grey areas*

-on twitter… #MSWL  (Manuscript Wish List)

The internal mood of publishing…

*We are in a good place.

*Not being lambasted by trends.

*Room for thinking creatively.

*Not relying on only one thing.

*Publishing has settled into the mind set that we CAN change and adapt.

*An active author contract initiative underway

*Discovered we were doing it right all along.

Next up was a Keynote by one of SCBWI’s best, Ellen Hopkins: KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE REAL PRIZE

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Ellen had the whole place in tears as she told the story of how life and writing intersect…

*Garbage writing is why they invented revision.

*In this day and age, books are candles in the darkness. And for some children, they are a lifeline.

*Keep your eyes on the real prize: making a positive difference in young lives.

And the final and closing keynote came from the one and only RICHARD PECK <3

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*We gather today because misery loves company. *giggle*

*The barbarians are at our gates now–with phones in their hands–playing Pokemon. And they might die never knowing WE are the people who augment reality.

*There are 250 million texts and not a semi-colon among them.

*Where do you get your ideas? Isn’t it odd to suggest we can’t THINK of them?

*Schools don’t build foundations–they build upon them.

*Readers are not looking for authors in their books–they are looking for themselves.

*Throw out and rethink the first chapter after you have the table of contents for your real story.

*It’s never to late to be who you might have been” -George Elliot

And now that Richard Peck has reminded you who you are meant to be, it’s time for the autograph party.

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Richard signing a book for the Desmond Fish Library who gave me the Alice Curtis Desmond Award

If you can see the iPad on the table, with Richard Peck—it was a part of me having a beautiful, full circle moment. This spring I had the privilege of being awarded the Alice Curtis Desmond Award and had to give my very first speech. And this speech was in front of another award winner–Salman Rushdie. Yup, it was a sweaty palm, heart racer. But I lived to tell the tale and what I was showing Richard was how I quoted HIM in my speech. And how I also heard Richard speak at my very first NY conference and clearly he had an impact on me then and over the years. And how he used the quote from my speech in his keynote and I couldn’t stop smiling at having the chance to share it all with him. Here’s that speech…

 

Being here tonight is both thrilling and a little terrifying.

I’m in awe of the esteemed company I get to keep this evening.

Compared to my fellow award winners, I’m at the beginning of my career. This is my first professional nod of recognition.

Receiving the Alice Curtis Desmond award reminds me that sometimes, our FIRST experiences do the most to shape our middles and our endings.

The acclaimed children’s author, Richard Peck once said… “–nobody BUT a reader, ever became a writer.”

When I hear that, what immediately comes to mind–are families, schools and libraries. They are the gate keepers that shape so many first experiences.

I still have my FIRST library card. I was the girl who had more books than Barbies.

In fact, I never went into the stacks without a large, paper grocery bag. I needed something big enough to hold my treasures. Those books held the world.

In the 6th grade, my English teacher read to my class… “In Flanders fields the poppies blow. Between the crosses, row on row.”

It was the FIRST time I understood how powerful writing could be. The meanest teacher I knew, was moved to tears—by words.

In the 10th grade, my class read THE GIVER by Lois Lowry. It was the FIRST time I realized I wasn’t alone. There were other people in the world who asked the same strange questions I did.

The summer before my senior year in high school, I took stock of who I was and what I wanted to be. I compared myself to some of my heroes: Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller, Anne Frank and Mahatma Gandhi.

It was the FIRST time I declared myself woefully inadequate to be anyone’s hero. I lost something that day.

On January 1, 2005, eighteen years later, I lost my father, but I finally found my voice. It was the FIRST day I decided to bravely live up to my own potential.

After my FIRST novel was published, my Mom, an extremely avid reader, told me I was the FIRST author she’d ever met in person. It wasn’t the first time I made my Mom proud, but it was one of my favorites.

My husband has always been my FIRST and most enthusiastic supporter. And because of it, there is an exceptionally large group of twenty-something single males, who work in IT Audit, who’ve read my young adult novel. #uniquemarketing

And I shouldn’t admit it, but when my boys were 2, 4 and 6 they ran out of clean socks and underwear because I was writing. It wasn’t the first time it happened, but it was the FIRST time they called me out on it. We bought more.

Then the day came when I received my FIRST letter from a fan. I’d become someone’s hero after all.

And now, because the clock and good story telling demands it, I need to make my ending reflect my beginning–by returning to the library, where I started.

I want to thank everyone at the Desmond Fish Library, not just for honoring me with my FIRST award and hosting such an incredible evening, but also for all you do–you bring books and readers together. You share my FIRST love and I could not be prouder to be a part of this community. Thank you so much.

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I adore this guy! <3

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Pam Munoz Ryan and Esperanza Rising

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Sophie Blackall had the longest line in the room.

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Getting my CHALLENGER DEEP signed by Neal Schusterman

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I had an amazing conversation with him. So fan-girling!

Totally goof-balling around with Drew Daywalt of Crayon fame!

Don’t ask–I don’t know ROTFL!

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Jon Klassen–what would he have done if I’d grabbed his hat and run? And how often does that happen???

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And then we were hungry! Because fan-girling is kind of hard work.

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And ice cream after dinner will certainly do the trick!

And it might even work tonight as a reward for getting this last #LA16SCBWI blog post done.

Hope this helpful. If you have any questions about the conference or SCBWI conferences in general, feel free to ask. And remember–if you’re heading to your first conference and you don’t know anyone, let me know and I’ll be sure to help out and introduce you to some new friends.

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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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Aug

12

2014

The 2014 LA SCBWI 43rd Annual Summer Conference–Part 3 Sunday

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

And we are winding down to the last day of the 2014 LA SCBWI Conference. And the jet lag is starting to lose it’s steam, so of course I arrange for an early morning Class of 2k12 mini breakfast reunion with Suzanne Lazear (The Aether Chronicles) and Caroline Starr Rose (May B and Blue Birds). It was worth every yawn to have some quality time with my girls. <3 This is my public service announcement for the day: My class of 2k12 friends were indispensable to me for the last three years. If you are slotted for debut publication, seriously consider becoming part of the Class of’s Contact me if you need help finding contacts in the up and coming groups. I’ll help you figure it out.

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The official morning started off with Deborah Halverson and her always helpful Market Report. Besides the who, what, when, where and why of the children’s book market being incredibly dynamic, she provided us with an amazing handout…

 

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Just another fabulous benefit of being an SCBWI member and attending these awesome conferences. *fist pump* Time to join people–this organization is fabulous and means the world to me. Here is what you should know…

*Up-swing in picture books

*Increased demand for highly illustrated early chapter books.

*In response to Common Core:

-Not a lot of acquisition changes. Same quality books–just might market them differently.

-Eye out for subject matter that touches multiple areas. The more hooks the better.

*Diversity projects are increasing but editors are looking for approaches that are not stereotypical or heavy handed.

*MG is finally coming into it’s own–promising place for single tittles.

*The bar is very high with books like WONDER but there are varying needs within this audience.

*MG is allows slow growth over several years. 2-3 year projections while YA is more likely to be evaluated in a quick splash.

*YA possibly over saturated. Editors being picky.

*Popular, established authors are getting sales.

*Trilogy is slowly dying.

*NOT MORE OF THE SAME!!!!!

*Contemporary realistic fiction getting a bump.

*YA lovers continue reading after aging out.

 

Next up was an amazing Keynote with Linda Sue Park–THE HOW OF IT: MAKING EVERY WORD COUNT

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This presentation was the PERFECT combination of technically useful and emotionally inspirational. LSP is hard to beat, she is a master of craft and emotionally dedicated to her work. Here is what you should know…

*Don’t bore the editor–you want then to hang on your every word so make every word count.

*How? Use the tools of the writing craft–WORDS!

*Small changes make huge differences.

*ALWAYS put your finished MS away for several weeks before you send it out. Look at it again with fresh eyes.

*Use the word count function and whittle down your words slowly.

-Pick your best words and put them in the best order.

*Change your font, it will help you see your MS differently.

*Print your work out and read it in a different location–some place you don’t usually write.

*Read your work aloud from beginning to end or have someone read it to you.

*Words have become one of our cheapest currencies because of technology and social media, so it’s even more important that we value our words.

*An adult is never going to love and reread books the way they will when they fall in love with a book as a child–our books have to be worthy of being ready more than 62 times. (Daniel) <3

 

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Our next Keynote was by Sharon Flake–WALKING WOUNDED: HOW TO KEEP WRITING AFTER YOU’VE HIT THE WALL. Her best take aways were…

*”Magic” can give you a false sense of confidence.

*Kids need to know that there is more than one way to be a human being.

*Remember it’s in you to make it through.

*I love writing so much that even when it didn’t feel good I kept going.

*It’s about being a connection.

 

My first Workshop of the day was with Bonnie Bader–LEVELED READERS AND TRANSITIONAL CHAPTER BOOKS.

As a mom and a former special education teacher I really wanted to make some sense of this area that always seems so inconsistent and confusing to me. I walked away with a very good understanding of how these books work or don’t work and how difficult they are to write. I feel like they are a sudoku puzzle for children’s writers LOL! I think when I get a little extra time on my hands I might play around with the sight word list a little bit and see if I’m any good at it. If you see me with chunks of my hair pull out, you’ll know what I was doing.

Time for the Golden Kite Luncheon!!!!!

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This is when we honor the outstanding members of our tribe. This year’s Member of the Year was Ellen Hopkins for her above and beyond service to the SCBWI and it’s tribe members. Love her! We also celebrated our Golden Kite winners.

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Peter Brown–Golden Kite Winner for Picture Book Illustration

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Pat Zietlow Miller–Golden Kite Winner for Picture Book Text

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David Meissner–Golden Kite Winner for Non-fiction

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Tim Federle–Golden Kite Winner for Fiction

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And Bill Konigsberg–winner of the Sid Fleischman Humor Award

Each of these award winning tribe members gave amazing, funny and inspirational speeches. Best crop of award winners I’ve heard as a whole. I left lunch full, inspired and motivated. Can’t wait to read their books!!!!!

 

My afternoon Workshop was with Bruce Coville–NO BUT SERIOUSLY, THE ART AND CRAFT OF WRITING A SERIES

Sorry no picture–we got right down to business and there was a lot to learn. One of the great things for me at the conference was that I was able to take some very interesting classes on new topics I’d never explored before. As a regular conference attendee, this made me very happy.

Here are a few tips about series writing from Bruce who has 15 series under his belt…

*Show up at your desk–when you are doing your work you will maintain a certain level of competence in your writing and some times you will be lucky enough to rise above your own abilities.

*Two most important times of creativity are coming in and out of sleep–use them to your advantage.

*Always go for royalties because you are betting on yourself–the 1st Hardy Boys book (with a packager) the author made $150 Doh!

*Craft without inspiration is basket weaving. Inspiration without craft is modern art. *insert Bruce giggle here*

*An outline is not an impediment to creativity.

-Bruce’s tend to be front heavy

-They never end the way he planned and that’s ok

*If you want to explore a world or character with more depth than one book–a series is the way to go.

*Conclude a story but throw in an unresolved cord.

*Create your bible.

-prevents contradictions

-tells what the world is gong to be

-characters, side kicks and bad guys

-plots

-maps

-Show you are taking your work seriously

*Writing for a packager is a great way to hone your craft–you should always write a book better than what they are expecting.

*Problems with a series:

-consistent deadlines

-keeping it fresh

-keeping it consistent (BIBLE)

-getting important info to the people who haven’t read the previous books

-topping yourself

-knowing when to stop

*Our lives are series non-fiction <3

 

I told you I’d have more Tomie!!! We were still able to do his interview with Lin Oliver via Skype <3

 

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His bits of wisdom and love…

*COURAGE

*Being an artist is also the way you live your life.

*When you create your art–be prepared to be misunderstood.

And then after feeling like I had the biggest, warmest pep talk from my SCBWI Yoda/Grandpa–Judy Blume stepped onto the stage for an inspirational send off…

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 BE BRAVE…

* I was far from a courageous child–except in my head.

*I was brave in my writing the way I wasn’t in my life.

*Judy’s take away word from the conference is FOCUS.

*Do not let anyone discourage you. If they try–get angry not depressed!

*Determination is as important as talent.

*It doesn’t ever get easier–persist.

*Ideas come from everywhere and you never know when they will arrive.

*Kick the critic off of one shoulder and the sensor off the other. Sometimes you just have to write a book and not worry about who is going to read it.

As if this wasn’t enough, Judy shared with us the ups and downs of a project she’s currently working on and how she would also be leaving the conference inspired to go back to her work. Just like me–just like everyone else in that room who had the pleasure of hearing one of our greatest idols speak.

After a long and powerful standing ovation for Judy, Lin Oliver closed with this…

“We picked a very difficult and challenging road–it’s so much better that we walk down it together–hand in hand and arm and arm.”

My Tribe–I am grateful. <3

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Yes, I photo bombed Meg Medina LOL!

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But then Jodi and I gave her hugs so she didn’t mind.

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Chatting with Bruce Coville–he’s such a hoot! Always love his advice.

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Me and Bruce Coville <3

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Like Aaron Becker and Journey and Journey says…Don’t stop believing.


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Fan girling over Maggie Stiefvater–helping me solve for X.

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Megan McDonald of Judy Moody and Stink fame.


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Love her–she’s fabulously hilarious.

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Judy Schachner or Miss Judy as my 9yo likes to call her–signing her newest, adorable Bits & Pieces.

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Judy talking picture books with Jodi Moore author of WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN. I want a collaboration–when Skippy Joh Jones moves in with my favorite Dragon.

And then it was over. Dinner with friends while talking about three days worth of awesomeness. Hugs goodbye. Suitcases packed and the pull to find your way home to family and the page where you left off in your own writing…

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Hope you are as inspired as I still am over a week later. And my fingers are crossed that you enjoyed my conference recaps. See you on Thursday with a little conference bonus post before I put LA away until next year. <3

 

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Aug

31

2011

SCBWI LA 40th Anniversary Conference-Part 9

Filed under: Apocalypsies, Conferences, SCBWI

This is it!  I’m ready to finish this up and move on.  Fasten your seat belts and get ready for your final SCBWI LA Conference installment!

This is not John Green.  Not a single one.

Nova Ren Suma, Julie Strauss-Gabel and Michael Bourret fill in for the missing John Green. (unable to make it due to medical issues)  I was seriously bummed not to get to meet one of my favorite authors, but so happy for my friend Nova (author of IMAGINARY GIRLS) to get this opportunity.  

I wasnt the only Nova fan!  Every crowd should have an enthusiastic Mike Jung in the back LOL!  (If you’re lucky)
Some highlights from their discussion…
*Nova-When something really scares you, its probably the right thing to explore.  I picked Michael as an agent because he pushed me to grow as a writer.
*Michael-I know that I’ve lost out on clients because I’ve been honest about what my expectations were.
From my own experience, I can’t agree more.  A great fit with your agent is the foundation you need and it will increase the chances that you’ll find an editor who is also an amazing match.
Time for the 2011 Golden Kite Awards Luncheon
We had a wonderful slide show, looking back over 40 years.  It was amazing.  Wish it was posted some place so that I could share it with you

This was dessert.  Everything about this made me smile.

Listening to the speeches of the Golden Kite recipients.  They were fantastic–so proud of them.

A special keynote from the impeccable Richard Peck.  I adore this man.  

Hanging with the Apocalypsies…Emily, Kim, Tamara and Mike.

This is when that big lunch and dessert became a problem.  Navigating the halls in a chocolate coma, I didn’t get to Bruce Coville’s workshop in time to get a seat or a piece of rug.  This picture was taken from the door with my hands up over my head.  The good news was that I could hear him just fine.

Bruce Coville-AT THE INTERSECTION OF PLOT AND CHARACTER: THE PLACE WHERE STORIES HAPPEN.
GAHHH!!!! Every word out of this man’s mouth is genius.  I’ll try to pick the best ones to share with you…
*Stories happen when a character is forced to make a difficult choice.  NEED DRIVES THE ACTION.
*Use yourself, steal from everyone around you.  Cast the book as if you are writing a play.
*Characters should have…
     -an agenda (theirs, not yours)
     -some inconsistencies (do you know anyone who doesn’t?)
    
*Plot is what happens when desire meets obstacle.
*If there is no chance to crash if you have not jumped.
Because the universe is fair, and wanted to make up for my inability to even cross the threshold of Bruce’s workshop, I was able to snag front row seats for the final keynote of the conference.  *squee*  While we waited for…drum roll…Laurie Halse Anderson.  We decided to take some pictures.  Guess who joined us?  Linda Sue Park!!!!!

Jodi, Laura, Edna, Amy N., Linda Sue Park, Kim and Amy S.

Then Linda switched out with our buddy Jeff so he could get in the picture too!
Laurie Halse Anderson-DARING THE UNIVERSE
Laurie, means so much to me.  I can’t put into words the effect that she has had on my life, the impact she has made.  The places I’ve dared to go because I knew I had a friend along for the journey.  Yes, because of her I have become someone who dares to disturb the universe.  I love that, I love her and I want a T-shirt that says it!  

Here is what you just can’t miss…
DO YOU DARE DISTURB THE UNIVERSE?
*Art disturbs the universe.  When we create it we make our neighbors nervous and our politicians fret.  
*We gather here to collect our courage.
*Revolutions of the soul are a scary thing.
*If you don’t jump, the wings never come.
*To write is to terrorize yourself.
*When things get bad, just remember, BABY…YOU’RE GOING TO DIE.  Puts it in perspective. Ha!
*It is your obligation to disturb the universe the best that you can.
*THIS IS OUR WORK.
*In 20 years, you will be more disappointed in the things you didn’t do than the ones you did.
*In children’s literature, we are not competitors, we are co-conspirators.
And here are the best co-conspirators that any of us could possibly have.  *sniff* 
Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser taking a bow after 40 years of love, dedication and brilliance.  <3

Dan Santat signing a book for the boys.

Kim and Dan giving K.L. Going the thumbs up.  (Dan is illustrating her new picture book)
The amazing author/illustrator Marla Frazee.  I adore her picture books.  *heart squish*

No one can blame me for sneaking Jon Scieszka the bunny ears.  He’s just mad because he didn’t think of it first. LOL!

No need to get teary about the end of the conference–yet.  It’s off to KidLit Night at the Pink Taco!!!!

What you don’t know is that we’re hungry enough to eat the table!  (Can you see me leaning in?)

Apocalypsies!!!!  Gretchen, Kim, Emily and Debra.  I love these gals!!!!

We ate.  We hung out.  A few of us even did the Pitch Slam with Mary Kole. 
 It was so hard to say goodbye to everyone.  The conference was amazing, but it was time to go home to the other people we love, to return to our writing, to once again sleep more than 4 consecutive hours and to begin to dream about going again next year.  Ummm and to do laundry.  *head thunk*
I know that these recaps have been endless.  I hope I was able to capture a little bit of the magic of the experience and share it with you.  Because honestly, I wish you’d been there too.  If you have any recommendations for things you’d like to see in future conference blogs–let me know and I’ll see if I can make it happen.  Hope to see you at a conference soon.  :o)

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Feb

4

2011

The 2011 NY SCBWI Conference – Part 3

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

I’ll admit it…it was tough getting up on Sunday morning. I stayed up until about 2:30 am talking with my roommate Jodi Moore.  She’s just launched her web site and her very first picture book,  WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN, will be out May 1st.  We had plenty to talk about.  *squee*

After dragging our luggage to the lobby to be checked, we headed to the ballroom-wanting to make sure we had great seats for the morning’s first keynote speaker, Sara Zarr.

But before she came out, we got to see the award winning art of our amazing illustrators.  Everyone’s work was spectacular and make sure you check out Showcase Winner, Leeza Hernandez’s web site.

We also gave a nod to the wonderful SCBWI Team Blog.  If you want to know anything at all about what happened at the conference stop by The Official SCBWI Conference Blog.  You’ll feel as if you were right there.  Equally as hard-working and fantastic is the staff at SCBWI…


*insert applause*

All right, now we can get back to Sara Zarr.  I promise-you don’t want to miss this.  It was special…


 
This is a hard speech to write about.  I’ve refrained from reading any post on the topic because I thought it would be best if I captured my feelings from my perspective.  When I critique a MS, I always jot down whatever comes to mind along the way.  I want to give the writer, the experience of how I reacted as a reader-I think that’s valuable.  The same is true with my response to the keynote.  Sara’s words, without a doubt, affected everyone in the room who listened.  I can’t tell you what they discovered, but I can tell you what they meant to me…

Standing at the podium was a very emotional experience for Sara.  One of those full circle moments when you find yourself standing at the end of something and the beginning of something else.  After 5 years of writing, Sara came to the NY SCBWI Conference as an attendee.  She came angry and frustrated.  She was hoping to figure out the system, network, find the answers.  

What she found out was that 5 years of writing just wasn’t enough, her agent wasn’t the right agent and she found herself back at square one.  She returned home and did all those things that she thought would finally make her enough.  She returned to the NY SCBWI Conference in 2005.  I was one of the worst experiences she’s ever had.  She left her purse hanging on the back of her chair and lost it.  She wondered if being kicked when you’re was down is a sign.  

We’ve all been there.  My baby is called TOUCHING THE SURFACE and it goes something like this…

Life-altering mistakes are meant to alter lives.

At seventeen, Elliot Turner feels like she’s a failure in life and in the afterlife.  She’s died for the third time and until she can remember her past and figure out the growth plan for her soul, she’s stuck at the Obmil Center for Progression…

At a NY Conference a couple years ago I waited in line for two hours to pitch my book to a very wonderful agent who was volunteering his time.  He looked at me and said…"Dead girls are out, I’d put that in a drawer for at least a decade and forget about it.  What else have you got?"  

I had nothing.  Damn.  

I’m not sure what made Sara, once again back at square one, keep going but I’m glad she did.  Just the way I’m glad that I’ve kept going.  For me, it’s always been the speeches, made by someone who used to be standing where I am.   Other people’s journeys and wisdom keep me going when I find myself back at that lonely little square.  I’m addicted to the feeling that the people in the room genuinely care, whether they’re in the seat next to me or on the stage.  

Sara, after getting misty eyed with awe at where she was standing and what it took to get her there, announced the following…

She was going to give the speech she needed to hear when she was the one sitting in the audience.  

I believe that giving that speech was an amazing act of courage.  I want to share it with you, but I can’t duplicate her humor, or effectively illustrate her ability to look within and portray herself honestly.  What I can tell you, was that sitting and listening to her made me feel less alone.  My neurosis had company.  

So I will share with you the many things she said that resonated with me, but understand that bullets, no matter how witty or insightful, can not take the place of the things that sat between the words.  It was an honor to have been there.

*The time between when you’re a beginner, but before you are a professional is one of the hardest in your life.

*If you’re blessed with mental health…lucky you!  LOL!

*Creative people do it for life-there is no end game.

*We need other people.

*Only other creative people get it when it comes to the joys and struggles of your work.

*It takes a tremendous amount of faith to live a creative life.  We have faith that all the good stories haven’t been used up by other artists.

*We have unsustainable habits: It’s not practical to be typing with one hand in a bowl of M&M’s. *giggle*

*Is understanding the business side of writing important? Hell yes-but you need to know the value of that on your life.

*Do things that take your mind off yourself-writing is a solitary business.

*You can start to believe in your rejections more than you believe in your capacity to learn and grow.

*At the end of the day-what do you want to create?   Relationships.

I know I feel as if I made a friend…thank you Sara.


No act stood a chance of following the standing ovation that Sara received…except this one.  Now it was time to laugh.  

Look Who’s Laughing: How to Do Funny for Young Readers and Why.

*Mo Willems
*Lenore Look
*Marvin Terban

Moderator-Leonard Marcus

I wish I could share all the wit and wisdom but I took bad notes.  I didn’t want to interrupt the laughing.  I was having too much fun.    Near the end, Mo said…The fundamental difference between kids and adults is that the kids are shorter.   I have to agree…we know they both love to laugh.

I’ve had the good fortune of hearing Linda Sue Park speak at my local Eastern NY SCBWI Conference.  She was amazing.  I knew what I was getting ahead of time and I still wanted to run up and hug her after she was done speaking. She talked about CONFIDENCE…

*Where things get stressful is in between-the area where you want something, but don’t know if you have the goods.

*Don’t believe in yourself, believe in the work.

*If you read a lot, you begin to build a mental standard in your head-it gives you a vast store house of stuff to compare to.

*How long does anyone spend to be a professional/master at anything?  You have to invest a whole lot of time to get good at anything.  The training for writing is reading.

*The thing about NOT believing in yourself…is that there are so many opportunities.

*If you’re NOT afraid of a challenge-that is NOT courage-it’s a malfunction in your brain chemistry.  Courage is what happens when you’re afraid.

*You never love a book the way you do when you’re a child.

*(After a young boy told Linda Sue that he had read her book 62 times) I try to make every sentence I write worth reading 62 times.  *heart squish*

Yes, my friends-she too got a standing ovation and it was well deserved.  I swear I could have floated out of that room when everything was over.  I was so pumped I didn’t even mind the line for the autograph party…

I needed to get all the way down to that far door before I could get in the "real" line.  Who cares-I had plenty to think about on line.

Elephant and Piggy…opps…I mean Mo and Me LOL!



Linda Sue Park…focused on the work.  Awesome!



Sara and Me…new friend and inspiration. 

Conference over.  Well almost…

There is something to be said about daydreaming while having a really good egg, ham and cheese sandwich as you’re sitting on the floor of Grand Central Station.  It’s as good a place as any to realize that someday is the very best place for your train to be heading…

So tell me…who inspires you?

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