Posts Tagged ‘Linda Urban’

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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Feb

18

2016

The 2016 New York SCBWI Winter Conference Part 2

Filed under: Author Events, Book Signings, Check-it-out, Community, Conferences, Pondering, Publishing, Reading, SCBWI, Stuff I Love, Writing, Writing for Children

The 2016 New York SCBWI Winter Conference Part 2

I’m back…and I realized that in Tuesday’s SCBWI Conference Recap post, I forgot to tell you how cold it was outside when we woke up. Inside too, for that matter.

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Why I may have blocked it from my memory…

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This was the inside of my window on the 29th floor.

 

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But it did look rather pretty once the sun came out.

But I should probably stop giving you the cold shoulder and start filling you in on the rest of the SCBWI conference. When I left you on Tuesday…

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…a large crowd of Kid Lit SCBWI writers and illustrators were eating picnic style on the floor of the hotel lobby and Debbie Ohi couldn’t give away a piece of her black and white cookie. Yes, we are a strange group–just go with it.

After lunch I had my second Break-out/Workshop session of the day with Elizabeth Bicknell, EVP, Executive Editorial Directo & Associate Publisher Candlewick Press–WRITING PICTURE BOOK TEXT.

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Elizabeth Bicknell

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Some of the books she used to illustrate fabulous and successful picture books.

Good things to know…

*Candlewick only does children’s books.

*Don’t make your story about too many things.

*No Flashbacks.

*PB’s are like a little play.

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Topics in PB’s shift over time but here are currently popular story lines.

Up next was a Fireside Chat between Lin Oliver and Rainbow Rowell

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Lin and Rainbow are way too adorable together!

Here are my favorite take-aways…

*When you’re writing 1st person, you’re writing monologues.

*Good novelists have good memories.

*The best comedy comes at the moment of pathos. (The intersection of funny and sad)

*Like a dog returning to his own vomit–it’s a long and very funny story!

*Rainbow’s outlines are emails to her agent.

*Her plots are derived from characters. Using characters to fulfill a plot is very different than characters creating the plot.

*The shared texts we have now are pop culture–it’s no longer scripture etc…

*People find the references that are there for them.

*If I’d written girls when I was younger, I think I would have accepted more of what the world told me to.

*On writing in an Omaha Starbucks–Hey! Writing in a NYC Starbucks is a very different thing. They are like public restrooms that serve coffee! ROTFL!

*Not in the past, and maybe not in the future, but right now I am privileged to write full time.

*Publishing is a game of speculation. Everyone is guessing even though everything seems set in stone.

The next Keynote required no guessing at all to know it would be good. I’ve heard the fantabulous Kate Messner on numerous occasions and I’ve also heard nothing but wonderful things about Linda Urban and they were going to be talking about MUSIC, MOUNTAINS AND MOCHA LATTES: SUSTAINING A CREATIVE LIFE.

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Kate spoke first and talked about her own journey to reconnect with a manuscript by climbing mountains.

*Sometimes we need one small thing to keep going.

*If climbing one mountain was good for my writing, climbing 40+ would be amazing.

*Put your butt in your chair, but when you’re stuck, get up.

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Then Linda Urban talked about how she’d rather have her finger nails pulled out than climb mountains, but how she found the same creative inspiration in a little red ukulele.

*Playing the ukulele causes a rush I wasn’t getting while I was stuck in my MS.

*The dopamine it provided and a long trail of small musical success restored my creative confidence.

*The negative voice in my head got bored while I was playing.

And then the lovely Linda sang for us <3

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And as you might imagine, these two inspirational and creative authors were each other’s biggest fans. So, please remember, if you can’t find a creative outlet that will lead you back to your writing–find a friend to have a Mocha Latte–it will work every  time.

After all this inspiration there was a book signing with Rainbow Rowell, the Art Browse and the Gala dinner followed by multiple socials and of course my group of lobby rats hanging out in the lobby–sort of. Remember how cold it was? Well, that lobby was a wee bit drafty, so for the first time ever, the rats took to the underbelly of the hotel (like all good rats do) and moved out of the cold.

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But as always–we stayed up talking way to long. Always one of my favorite parts of the SCBWI conference.

With not enough sleep under our belts, it was time for coffee, bagels and Day Three of the SCBWI conference. Once again our uber fantastic illustrators blew me out of the water with their gorgeous art and Jane Yolen got me all choked up giving out her SCBWI Mid-List Author Grants.

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And it’s always our pleasure to thank the staff of the SCBWI for all they do to bring us together for these amazing conferences and to let them know how much we appreciate all they accomplish behind the scenes throughout the year.

Our first Keynote for Sunday was Rita Williams-Garcia and she talked about DO’S AND DON’TS IN CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING FROM A DEFINITE DON’T.

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Here are some of my favorites from Rita–she was both moving and funny as she spoke.

*I loved telling stories–or as my mother called it–lying.

*Live in The Plan: I took every step possible in be coming what I envisioned. (She wrote 500 words every night as a child and rented out her sister’s typewriter to do it.)

*Don’t pick your major based on the hot guy with the afro–he doesn’t have any hair now!

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Rita on really being faced with the prospect of editing a manuscript for the first time.

*Don’t stay with an uncontracted project too long.

*Don’t isolate yourself–TRIBE!

*Don’t block out criticism.

*Don’t be a know it all.

*Don’t stop writing–live in The Plan.

*Live with gratitude–do what you’re doing–you’re here!

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Next up was Jacquelyn Mitchard–SAY GOODBYE TO ALL OF THAT: THE QUEST FOR THE PERFECT ENDING.

Jacquelyn was literary, funny, thoughtful and informative–so much good stuff to digest.

*People love the 19th Century greats because the ending is so clear.

*The last sentence of a books, for some writers, is the first sentence they know about.

*Most books really don’t echo the promises made in the first pages.

*The reader doesn’t want it to end, so how do you make it okay for the reader? It should do more than tie up loose ends–your job is to lead the reader back into the real world.

*Leave room for interpretation.

*Say what you’re going to do, do it, then get the hell out.

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Since I don’t have a picture of the next panel, you should look at this one instead. This is what my hilarious friend, Scott Hammon, looks like after a Rocky-esque run up to the podium. He’s been waiting FIVE YEARS to win the SCBWI Conference joke contest!!! Watch out Jay Asher…Scott is very, very slowly creeping up after you. *grin*

Now back to the panel…

Moderator: RF-Ruben Pfeffer

AB: Alessandra BalzerVice President and Co-Publisher, Balzer + Bray and imprint at HarperCollins

EB: Elizabeth Bicknell–EVP, Executive Editorial Director & Associate Publisher Candlewick Press

GC: Ginger ClarkAgent, Curtis Brown, LTD

SD: Sarah DaviesAgent, Greenhouse Literary

AL: Alvina LingVP and Editor-in-Chief, Little Brown Books for Young Readers

The last panel discussion of the SCBWI conference was ACQUISITIONS TODAY: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES. This was a crazy interesting panel because it mixed editors AND agents and the quips and candor flying back and forth was both informative and entertaining. Once again I’ll be honest and say I spent more time listening to the fast flying information than taking notes. There was lots of information on preempts, auctions, bidding, multiple submissions and of course, everyone’s option on the lot. Check the #NY16SCBWI thread and TEAM BLOG for more detailed information on the panel.

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And I won’t lie. This finally Keynote is the one I waited the whole conference for. I cannot even begin to explain how much of a fan I am of Gary Schmidt. I had the opportunity to hear him speak at an LA SCBWI Conference and he blew me away. I’ve also had the chance to read his books with my boys. We very recently finished reading his newest novel, ORBITING JUPITER together. It is now my favorite Schmidt novel, which is saying something. And to more completely put this book in perspective, my 15, 12 and 10-year-olds asked that we put The 5th Wave on hold so we could read ORBITING JUPITER faster. I love my kids. <3

The final Keynote was entitled THE BOMBERS OF THE BOSTON MARATHON, AND THE PLANES OF 9/11 AND HOW ANTHONY WISHED THEY WOULD.

It would be madness for me to try and do anything other than write down what inspired and moved me as Gary spoke.

*Why is it that when a group of Kid Lit writers gets together, we get along? This doesn’t happen with adult writer, poets. It’s because we have the same mission–we do it for kids.

*”Nobody came because nobody ever does.” –Jude the Obscure   We are here to address this. We need to be the writers that show up.

*When an adult speaks to a child with honesty, they know that someone is telling them the truth and that despite the brokenness of the world–it is still worth living.

*We need to write for the kid sitting on the log who is waiting for someone to show up, because no one ever does.

          -Like Anthony during 9/11. He went outside to see if a plane was going to hit his building and when it didn’t, he was disappointed because it would have saved a lot of trouble. Is it any wonder that he’s serving a life sentence?

          -Like Jake, one year into his sentence. He loves the planets, especially Jupiter. When Gary sent him a book and a poster on the planets it was taken away. Once again, no one showed up.

          -Like Marlene, a high school student actively engaged in a writing activity with Gary. When two teen boys walk in (who don’t do anything wrong or intimidating) this girl shuts down completely. When they leave she reengages. What happened in her life, in this school that shuts her down like that?

*The deep heartfelt question that we must ask as authors is…what ails you? It is a question of human empathy.

*Story and art can reveal human empathy.

*Story insists on human complexity and multidimensionality.

*Watch what happens if you take the stance in life that EVERYTHING MATTERS.

*If you want to be a writer, you have to LOVE the world.

*The writer believes with her whole heart that we give the world more to be human with. There is a reason ISIS destroys art.

*We write to serve. We don’t tell the kids how to act, we sit down beside them on the log and we say the truth.

And that is why I love Gary Schmidt…

And that is why I rushed to his book signing table and proceeded to get all choked up as I tried to explain my heart, head and soul to a man who I’m pretty sure already knows it. Remember…he loves the world.

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Then there was the pleasure of meeting the newly minted Newbery Award Winner, Matt de la Pena. He’s the first Latino author to win the Newbery Medal for outstanding contribution to children’s literature with his picture book, LAST STOP ON MARKET PLACE. Matt is a fabulous SCBWI success story and we are all so proud of him and his accomplishments.

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I also had the pleasure of getting my books signed by Oscar winner William Joyce!

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And then I got to hang out and chat some more with Oprah Book Club author (DEEP END OF THE OCEAN) and editor-in-chief of Merit Press,  Jacquelyn Mitchard.

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Yes, the talent and advice this year were incredible.

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And I can’t wait to read MELT by SCBWI Spark Award winner Selene Castrovilla. We were able to hang out at the Gala and she is all kinds of fabulous and everyone is raving about this novel!

And then it’s over–or is it?

Not for me, because it was Valentines Day and my hubby met me in NYC and we got to see…

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The Broadway hit, CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT.

I was blown away. No seriously, it was incredible. I hope you all get the chance to see it–it’s a beautiful and timely book that is brought to life right in front of your eyes. It’s one of those plays that will change how you see the world and the people in it.

Once again, Kid Lit shows up and I’m so proud.

But even after dinner and a show…you’ll find your way home. Back to your family. Back to your writing. And back to your cat who really, really missed you.

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Oh, wait–it was the dog who really, really missed you and the cat who hates it when you leave. And then you wake up in the morning and she’s sitting on top of you (really close) so you can completely understand what you’ve put her through. LOL!

I hope, whether you made the SCBWI conference or just read about it, that you’re all inspired and ready to show up for your writing life. I know I am. And now that these blogs are done, I’m ready to move forward on my WIP.

Did anything in the conference or the recap really connect with you? How is it effecting what you are working on? Have you wanted to write, but haven’t been sure how to start? The answer IS to show up. You must start some time. Why not begin today. The SCBWI will teach you everything you need to know. And I’d be more than happy to point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend and see you next week.

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May

13

2013

Recap of the New England SCBWI Conference–NESCBWI13

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

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

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

Friday 5/3/13

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

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

Favorite take-aways…

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

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

*  *  *

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

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

Favorite take-aways…

*Are you here?

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

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

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Keynote–PANEL DISCUSSION: AN UNCENSORED DISCUSSION ON EDGY YA

Favorite take-aways…

*Be true to the work.

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

Saturday 5/4/13

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Keynote–THE WORDS WE CHOOSE TO SAY by Sharon Creech

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

Favorite take-aways…

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

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

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

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

I LOVE Kate! That’s all.

Best take-aways…

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

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

*Writing off-draft can help you understand things.

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

*Use a mentor text to guide your way.

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

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

 

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

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Stephanie, Megan and Kendra

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Annie, Me, Jodi and Eileen

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

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

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Workshop G–THE ART OF THE OUTLINE with Elisabeth Papdemetriou

Best take-aways…

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

*Plot and character are inseparable.

*Outlines should include every single scene in your book.

*Have your closing scene echo your opening scene.

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

 

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

She is hilarious by the way.

Best take-aways…

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

Saturday’s Autograph Party!!!!!

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Katie chatting up the awesome Nova Ren Suma.

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

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Of course I’m I HUGE fan too!!!!!

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Jodi chatting with Jodi.

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Kate Messner signing a book for the Fishkill Frogs!

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

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

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

Favorite take-aways…

*Don’t quit–ever. <3

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

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The Books for Boston collection bin.

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

Sunday 5/5/13

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

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

Favorite take-aways…

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

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

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

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

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

I Intensive–ADVANCED PLOTTING with Chris Eboch

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

Favorite take-aways…

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

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

*Action without context is not a good thing.

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite take-aways…

*Add believable traits to your characters.

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

*Books are about physical, emotional and spiritual journeys.

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

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

Me, Padma, Jodi and Megan

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

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