Posts Tagged ‘Martha Brockenbrough’
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 Sones—The 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…
*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
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!
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.
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!
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…
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.
But any building that looks like this inside must be haunted, right?
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.
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!
-47 States. (West Virginia was absent and Vermont. But Lin figures they were still too busy feeling the Bern)
-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…
–Lisa Yee and Martha Brockenbrough–Wonder Woman
–Alvina Ling–Breathe (she was congested)
–Linda Sue Park–(for anyone who cares about kids) VOTE!
The first Keynote Speaker of the conference was Drew Daywalt of crayon fame.
DOES THIS KEYNOTE MAKE MY BUTT LOOK BIG?
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.
*Authors find meaning in the meaningless and define meaning in the meaningful.
*Don’t overstay your welcome. *waves*
Next up was Pam Munoz Ryan: ONE WRITER’S CONFESSIONS
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
*Write what you love.
KS–Ash, Rapture Practice, Passion Counts
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.
We even had a display in the lobby of our celebrated books for #LA16SCBWI
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…
It’s here, it’s here–it’s finally HERE! The #NY16SCBWI Winter Conference. And while we froze our writer and illustrator parts off this year–you know we still had a blast. Right along with the arctic blast. Here’s the highlights of the weekend…
I was thrilled to be able to head down bright and early–very, very early…
…for The Professional Author’s Forum Intensive. For all you PAL members of the SCBWI, this was such a lovely addition to the weekend. You should absolutely look for more of these PAL events in the future.
We started off the day with the fabulous and hysterical Lin Oliver and the chance to introduce ourselves and state our questions and goals. It immediately cemented us into a workshop style, intimate group instead of an audience in a lecture.
Lin Oliver, SCBWI Executive Director
Half the room of the PAL Intensives
After the intros, we got down to business with the very informative Agent, Ruben Pfeffer talking about PUBLISHING WITH MULTIPLE HOUSES (INCLUDING WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR EDITOR LEAVES)
This was a very informative session, focusing on the reasons to publish or not publish with multiple houses. He hit upon the strategic, contractual, our preferences, economic need and circumstantial factors.
Agent, Ruben Pfeffer (Ruben Pfeffer Content, LLC)
Next up was the I always get nervous around him even though he gives me no reason to, but come on he was the editor for the Harry Potter books, Arthur Levine chatting with Lin Oliver about LONGEVITY; HOW TO SUSTAIN YOUR CAREER.
Arthur Levine, Publisher, Arthur A. Levine Books and Lin Oliver
Here are some of my favorite bits from the conversation…
*What is essential about people doesn’t change despite our fears about publishing.
*Produce a BODY OF WORK–stop flogging just one thing.
*Find contemporary analogies to your book AFTER you’ve written it.
*When we get sucked into our anxieties, we lose track of what stories we can write and who wants to read them.
The next fabulous collaborator for the Intensive was Martha Brockenbrough, author and SCBWI TEAM BLOG talking about DEVELOPING A SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM THAT’S APPROPRIATE FOR YOU.
I’m not kidding–I’d love to see Martha do a detailed, whole day intensive just on this topic alone. She is a wealth of information and there were more questions than time to hear all her answers.
Martha started off by reminding us of our tendency to believe that when it comes to social media–If we build it they will come…
That would be a NOPE.
But don’t worry, she gave everyone a wealth of advice on building relationships, finding your audience and focusing on platform, being positive, looking long term and being authentic. She was also able to compare and contrast FB, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Goodreads. And this was followed by tips on how to keep it all manageable. If you ever get a chance to take a workshop with Martha, I highly recommend you take advantage of it.
After a quick and yummy lunch break, we were back in the saddle again hit the iconic kid lit author, Jane Yolen–ISSUES IN BEING A MID-LIST WRITER.
Among a plethora of informative and inspirational information, Jane reminded us that as Mid-list authors, we could be writing three kinds of books…
- A Head Book-The book you’ve been thinking about because research or experience had made you curious.
- A Heart Book-You don’t know why you have to write it, but you just do. It’s about you, but it’s also about the kids too.
- A Pocketbook Book-You know you can sell it $
She also reminded us to write the best book you can and don’t forget to nudge yourself in the path of luck.
Next up, was BRANDING YOURSELF: CHALLENGES IN WRITING MULTIPLE GENRES AND CATEGORIES with Linda Pratt Agent, Wernick and Pratt Literary and Jacquelyn Mitchard Author and Editor-in-Chief of Merit Press.
Jacquelyn Mitchard (Deep End of the Ocean–Oprah’s Book Club)
Here are some of the highlights…
*YA is not a genre, it’s a category.
*Being Branded means that you’ve gotten to the point where readers will buy your book in any category or genre because it is recognizably YOU!
*There’s nothing you want more than to be a habit.
*If you wanted to be careful, you should have been a dental hygienist ROTFL!
Bonnie Bader was up next and I forgot to take her picture! What? But you don’t need to see her to benefit from her talk on SUPPLEMENTING YOUR INCOME. Bonnie gave us valuable information on Packaging, Work for Hire, License work and Ghost Writing. But you can see Bonnie sitting next to Arthur Levine during our Summary, Conclusion and Questions time. And of course they had to kick us out after 5pm because there was so much to discuss with the faculty of the day. It was an amazing group.
And I’ll leave Friday behind with this great reminder from Arthur Levine…
“Our job is not to start trends, it’s to write books.”
After lots of meet up hugs with friends, a large group of us heading for dinner at Grand Central’s Oyster Bar (picture to come when Zainab figures out how to send it LOL!) the typical behavior of Lobby Rats hanging out in the lobby and not enough sleep (I can’t help but talk to my roomie Jodi Moore for half the night) it’s time to OFFICIALLY kick off the conference.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2016
This group is more than ready…
For Lin Oliver’s conference stats:
*337 Published authors and 815 pre-pubbed
*48 states were represented. Considering the weather in NY we excused Hawaii for ditching us. But we also decided that maybe the reason North Dakota was ditching us was that no one lived there. :o)
*19 Countries in attendance including the USA
*Our ranks included a micro biologist, coffee roaster, oil trader, ventriloquist and a psychic!
The first Keynote of the day was William Joyce–BOOKS ARE LIKE THE ICE CREAM SANDWICH: HOW NEW TECHNOLOGY DOESN’T CHANGE MUCH OF ANYTHING BUT IT’S KIND OF COOL
William immediately had us cracking up, telling the story of how he forgot why he’s picked that topic when he first agreed to be a conference speaker LOL! But he quickly found the original thread and sewed it all up for us.
*Books=Ice Cream Sandwiches–hard stuff on the outside and good stuff in the middle.
*When people put a book on an app or e-device they claim they are doing it because they want the story to be “interactive.” What the heck do these people think happens when you read a book? You interact with it *head thunk*–to call something interactive it has to be more than just reading it on a screen vs between a cover.
*On starting his own Multimedia company: “Don’t make anything crummy.”
*Strong and better realities of a start up: Having to tell new, young employees they had to pay taxes. LOL!
*I highly recommend winning an Oscar–it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my clothes.
Oscar Win – Moonbot Studios from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.
*Doing THAT (see above video) with all those young kids–amazing!
And if you want to see something fantastic…check out the app IMAG-N-O-TRON:The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.
But be sure to come back to this blog and keep reading because I’ve got a Panel Discussion up next. THE BIG PICTURE: CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING: NOW AND IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
MOD: Lin Oliver
MT: Megan Tingly–Executive Vice-President and Publisher, Little Brown Books for Young Readers
AP: Andrea Pappenheimer–Senior Vice-President, Director of Sales/Associate Publisher HarperCollins Publishers
ML: Mallory Loehr—Vice-President, Publishing Director, Random House/Golden/Doubleday Books for Young Readers
JF: Jean Feiwel—Senior Vice-President and Director, Feiwel and Friends/Macmillian Children’s Publishing Group
JA: Jon Anderson—President and Publisher, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
I hate to tell you this–but this was such a good session that I listened without taking as many notes as I should have. I apologize but I’m pretty sure Team Blog will have some excellent tweets and recaps for you.
Then it was time for the day’s first break-out session or workshop. There were so many great sessions to choose from, but I picked CREATING TEEN CHARACTERS with Martha Brockenbrough and Rainbow Rowell.
For this session I pulled up some rug in order to stretch my legs. Here were some of my favorite take-aways…
*Art inspires art
*I didn’t experience the events that happened in my books, but music got me to those places.
*It’s fiction, you get to make it up. (Oh, wait–Dragons ARE fake!)
In order to balance out my recap posts, I’m going to save the rest of the conference for your Thursday reading pleasure. While you wait, you can get a good laugh at all of us eating picnic style in the lobby.
And remember–if you’re there at next year’s conference–Debbi Ohi will share her cookie with you. She couldn’t get anyone to split it with her!!! If she’d only showed up BEFORE I ate all that chocolate. *sigh*
See you on Thursday with the #NY16SCBWI Conference Recap Part 2! While your waiting, tell me what session was your favorite if you were there. Or which one you would have loved to attend.
In case you’re wondering, by Day 3 of #LA15SCBWI I’m a little tired. But I’m not alone. You should have seen what happened when we had a coffee break and there was no coffee left! Kinda funny actually–is it still called a keg stand when you’re twisted upside down to get your mouth around the dregs of a coffee urn?
Anyway–now that I’ve fried your brain, it’s time to hear the Sunday morning special. Deborah Halverson and the UP-TO-THE-MINUTE MARKET REPORT.
I never miss this keynote–Deborah goes to great lengths to keep us up-to-date on publishing and trends. My fingers were flying as I took notes. Here’s a bit of what I captured…
*Last year’s children’s book sales were highly impacted by movies. Think The Fault in Our Stars, Insurgent etc… But even so, sales are not flat in the children’s market.
How to understand how what you’re already writing (no following trends please) fits in…
-short and bold
-illustrations tell 1/2 the story. Ex-Sam and Dave Dig a Hole
-Non-fiction still of interest-particularly narrative non-fiction
-Common core related books seem to be settling down. There’s still room for growth, but not explosive growth.
-PB’s that have layers
-funny character driven that has series potential
-there is room for new series
-Diary of a Wimpy Kid has become a very popular format
-MG has perked up
-Everything goes in MG
-Slow and steady can sometimes break out as a hit. Ex–Wonder
-Editors are seeing a wide selection in their inboxes but still not enough diverse submissions.
-WANT: Books with a literary soul and commercial legs
-Editors are intensely selective
-Seeing a lot of contemporary in their inboxes. People are often too quick to writ to the “middle” and hit genre expectations.
-beyond a black and white view of the world
-deep personal experiences
-looking to diversify their lists so it’s not all contemporary when the pendulum swings
And in the internal world of publishing…
-our past sense of unbalance is stabilizing.
-eBook subscription packages are a thing.
-Indie sales are up due to the Buy Local movement, slower eBook growth and publishers rethinking their practice.
Next up was our second morning keynote by Stephen Fraser—MIDDLE GRADE PERFECTION: WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM CLASSIC AND BEST SELLING BOOKS
Poor Stephen, he ended up in the seat next to mine at breakfast one morning and we chatted. FYI he’s a tremendously pleasant guy to talk to as you’re shoving muffins in your mouth. But as the conference went on, Jodi and I (my breakfast buddy and roomie) kept bumping into him. Our fear was that he might think we were stalking him. But really, we just kept turning up in his path like pennies. Hopefully he feels richer for having met us. LOL!
But on to the fabulous keynote…
*MG readers are some of the most loyal readers in the book world. They are strong, willing attentive readers but they are also strong critics.
If we examine the classics and best sellers, what do we learn from them?
1. Charlotte’s Web–Carefully crafted writing
2. Stone Fox–Drama
3. The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles–Imagination
4. The Clockwork Three–Mix genres, don’t be afraid
5. Heart of a Samurai–Bring history to life
6. Holes–Use humor
7. James and the Giant Peach–Be unapologetic and have fun
8. Junonia–Write to the emotional age of the child
9. Missing May–Place is character
10. Sarah Plain and Tall–Bring a visual quality to your work, make each word resonate
11. The Secret Garden–Let joy spill out
12. Harry Potter–Don’t worry about length
And that is your MG reading list for the fall. <3
The third keynote for the morning was Shannon Hale–Opening up the Clubhouse: Boys, Girls and Genderless
Shannon was INCREDIBLE. There has been so much on the internet lately that has made me sad and discouraged about all things boy, girl, man, woman, feminine, masculine etc… Truth be told, I found myself shutting down because the heart of most of the rhetoric was about raising people up–even if we have to do it by knocking other people down so we can get a leg up. I found it spiritually discouraging. Shannon was different. She was honest. She was thoughtful. She was hopeful. She was generous. She was above all on Team Human. Here’s some of what moved me…
*You are not NO thing. You are something–with YOUR thing. (On writing in your own voice and style.)
*Shakespeare wasn’t afraid of writing interesting women. I don’t know what happened?
*Boys–why are you so afraid of Princesses???? I’m so sorry you have to live in such fear. ROTFL!
*Boys, who told you you can only do half the stuff? (On girls being told they can do or be anything.)
*It’s NOT an equal playing field for women authors or boy readers.
*Boys are taught to be ashamed if they want to read a book about a girl or a “girly book.” We have a lot of work to do.
*Quoting editor Jordan Brown when asked where the Judy Blume for boys is? “Judy Blume is the JUDY BLUME for boys!”
*It wasn’t until people read novels about people in other circumstances that they were able to empathize. Reading novels creates empathy.
*Can you dig it? I CAN DIG IT!
At this point in the conference I came up with not one conference word, but two. Here’s what came together for me as the conference was winding down…
MINE–I picked this word because one of the messages thumping me over the head over the weekend was that it will be my unique voice, heart and soul that will sell my books. Chasing trends and the success of others will only leave me in the shadow of others. I don’t want to be standing beneath or behind anyone else. I intend to shine my own light.
TOGETHER–This made me laugh because my words are so oppositional, but while my writing is mine and mine alone–publishing is so much harder to navigate if you are alone. My tribe is instrumental in me reaching to be a better writer. They help me keep my inner compass pointed in the right/write direction. They inspire me and remind me that this isn’t easy for anyone. They mean the world to me.
My first Workshop of the day was with Allyn Johnston and Mem Fox–LET’S TALK PICTURE BOOKS…Q&A AND SOME READ ALOUD FUN
Let’s just start off by saying I could listen to Mem read picture books for days. That voice! But in addition to captivating the audience with her fabulous PB’s. Here is what Allyn and Mem had to share…
*I’m inspired by emotional experiences.
*I don’t want 5 of your 20 manuscripts–I want the one you care about–the one that’s going to change the emotional temperament of the reader.
*You should have only enough words that you’re ready to turn the page when the child is done reading the pictures.
*Adults are so much more inept at reading and understanding the illustrations than children.
*Worry more about the soul of the story than the word count. <3
*Beautiful language doesn’t undercut illustration.
*Illustrator notes are outrageous.
And it’s time for the Golden Kite Luncheon & Awards presentation with a keynote by Dan Yaccarino
SCBWI Member of the Year–Lee Wind!!!!!
“My tribe–my family.”
For Picture Book Illustration–Melissa Sweet and THE RIGHT WORD
“I hope we all find the right word whenever we need it.”
For Picture Book Text–Kristy Dempsey and A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT: ONE BALLERINA’S DREAM
“By writers and illustrators, I mean friends and fellow dreamers.”
“Deep joy is only found in fulfilling our purpose.”
“I write to discover my own empathy–or to be honest–to work towards it.”
Kristy has been someone I’ve followed and admired on social media since I first started my journey as an author–it was amazing to see someone who has inspired me–have an impact on more of her peers. Her speech was incredible. <3
For Non-fiction–Candace Fleming for THE FAMILY ROMANOV
When the universe kept raising the question…who is interested in that?
“You are.” <3
For fiction–Deborah Wiles for REVOLUTION
“I am a product of my professional organizations. SCBWI.”
“Giving my heart away has been the secret to finding it.”
And the Sid Fleishman Award was given his son Paul Fleishman to…
Michelle Knudsen for EVIL LIBRARIAN
And from Dan Yaccarino‘s Keynote…
*Good work is never perfect.
*Don’t forget the power of visualization. Take time to picture your dreams happening every day.
*Get addicted to the divine spark of inspiration–try to bring the divinity of that spirit into your stories.
My afternoon Workshop was with Jordan Brown–FIVE PRINCIPLES OF REVISION
Just and FYI I will go to hear Jordan Brown talk about anything publishing related and quite a few things outside that topic too. He’s fabulous. I was taking notes like a boss because he had at least 45 principles I needed to remember. Here’s some of his best and most useful bits…
*Revision is hands down the most important part of the writing process.
*Your book should be about the most important story of your main character’s life.
*It’s hard to get perspective on your own work.
*You shouldn’t think of revision as an extension of the first draft.
*Revision is the opposite of drafting.
-DRAFTING is peeling back layers.
-REVISION is putting back layers that are more refined.
-Nothing is sacred.
-Character drives plot.
-Revision more often than not starts with cutting.
-Surprise yourself–if it feels familiar to you, it’s probably familiar to the reader too.
-Don’t be afraid to smart small–revision can be overwhelming.
*There are always things that are clearly important at the end of a book that weren’t at the beginning–go back and plant clues.
*READ, READ, READ!!!!!
The final keynote of the conference was by Kwame Alexander: #BasketballRules Kwame’s NEW #LA15SCBWI Keynote (Because Varian Johnson stole his other one Hahahaha!)
Rule #1–It might look like a long shot but you’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Rule #2–Put in the work.
Rule #3–There’s no single formula for success, but you have to have a game plan.
Rule #4–A loss is inevitable.
Rule #5–When the game is on the line, don’t be afraid, grab the ball and take it to the hoop.
Rule #6–You’ve got to have teammates. It’s important to surround yourself with people who believe in you. Look around…we are going to do great things.
And while that ends the formal part of the conference, you know I was in line half the afternoon to get my books signed and talk to all of these amazing authors and illustrators.
Candace Fleming–yup–we both joined the SCBWI when we were 12 LOL!
I loved talking about writing with Anna Shinoda and Debra Wiles also, but we chatted so long I got hustled on my way and never got a picture with her LOL!
I was so stoked to finally get this book in my hands and to see Martha Brockenbrough have such an amazing moment. She has been a friend and an inspiration for such a long time. I consider myself so lucky to have her in my life.
And I finally met my online buddy, Varian Johnson.
Yup, I may have cried a little with Shannon Hale, but you can’t blame me–she moved me to tears. <3
I’ve been getting books signed by Dan Santat for years. It put a smile on my face to see all his hard work come to his greatest success to date. I KNOW there will be so much more in store for him.
And then before I knew it, it was Monday and I was on my way to the airport, full of ideas, inspiration and determination…and too many books in my suitcase.
I had to pull out 13lbs of Baby Dragons and Beekles out of my suitcase to avoid a $50 luggage charge. But that’s okay–I always feel better when my signed treasures are close at hand.
If you missed the first two installments for the #LA15SCBWI Conference Recap, you can find them here…
LA SCBWI 2015 Part 1
LA SCBWI 2015 Part 2
I would love to see you there next year and if you have any questions about the conference, I’d be happy to answer them for you. It’s really a fabulous event, worth planning for if you’re able.
I had the perfect flight lined up for #LA15SCBWI. (The 44th Annual SCBWI Summer Conference) I was leaving NY at 1pm which gave me enough time to get the dog and the boys where they needed to be and plenty of time to get settled in LA before the conference kicked off on Friday morning. That was the plan, anyway. After getting through security I realized I had an hour delay on my Virgin America flight, so I grabbed a sit down lunch. Then that one hour delay turned into a two hour delay.
So I read my magazines–standing up so I’d be ready for that 5+ hour flight.
And I also checked on the puppy. Riley is the 10 month old GSD in the middle. I am the spy LOL!
And of course I checked the #LA15SCBWI twitter feed, where I discovered that @alioop7 (Sky Pony Editor Alison Weiss) was on the same flight. Let’s just say we bonded by the time we arrived in LA–MUCH later than we’d planned. After the 2 hour mechanical delay, this is how it went down…
Everyone is loaded, but it’s starting to drizzle.
Hmmm doesn’t look like we’re getting off the runway. A big storm is rolling in.
The airport closes completely and we are stuck on the runway for over 3 hours. But…is that a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel? Yeah–not so much. It’s back to the gate to fuel up and hear more potential bad news. Now I’ve got my fingers crossed we get off the ground some time tonight. And I’m grateful that I didn’t have my kids stuck on the plane for five hours prior to the five hour flight. All those kiddos were fabulous BTW! And eventually, as the sun was setting, we were finally heading out.
We arrived at the hotel at 11:37pm which was 2:37am EST. *yawn*
I’d like to tell you I went right to bed, but I was in a room with my favorite writing roommate–Jodi Moore and her baby dragon!!!!
I think we both fell asleep mid-sentence. Basically nothing unusual.
After coffee and breakfast and more coffee, the first order of business was finding my RA the fabulous Nancy Castaldo.
I was proud to be her one and only Eastern Upstate NY attendee. We need to at least quadruple that number next year–start your conference fund NOW!
And then we are in conference mode. Poor Lin Oliver, she was suffering with a horrible tooth ache, but you’d never know it. Such a trooper!
Every year the faculty lines up to introduce themselves and they are each responsible for shouting out one word that is representative of them at the LA conference. Here were some of my favorite words…
preparation (the H is silent)
These words and my experiences over the conference always help me to come up with my own word or words as a takeaway. So watch for that in my last recap post.
And you can’t forget Lin’s Conference Stats. No Conference is complete without them…
*19 Countries in attendance
-This year we were missing West Virginia and New Hampshire.
There were also 225 different occupations listed on applications…
*car pool coordinator
*VP of transformation
*incentives manager for Victoria’s Secret
and my personal favorite…
*International small arms dealer–mostly doll arms LOL!
You’ve got to love us wacky children’s writers.
The first Keynote of the conference was with the legendary Mem Fox: INSIDE THE WRITER’S HEAD–THE WRITERLY THOUGHTS THAT LEAD TO SUCCESS.
If her rich voice and hilarious expressions weren’t enough, Mem also shared tons of wonderful and inspirational information with us. Here were my favorite bits of advice and encouragement…
*Adults love soggy sentimentality that makes kids want to throw up.
*Timeless books arise from genuine events that touch the author, not necessarily sadness.
*When writing picture books she keeps four children in mind…
-One on her lap
-One on the couch
-One in bed
-And the rest in the classroom.
*Mem WANTS to write books that kids don’t completely understand. She’s not here to keep kids trapped in familiar language.
*I can kindle a love of language or I can kill it.
*Rhythm is in the marrow of your bones if you’re a picture book writer. Often books are written as if word choice doesn’t matter–rhythm matters.
*Without the right words, the death of a book is imminent, which gives new meaning to the end.
Next up was the Editor’s Panel.
AW—Alison Weiss (Sky Pony Press)
SS—Sara Sargent (HarperCollins)
RM—Rotem Moscovich (Disney-Hyperion)
AJ—Allyn Johnston (Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster)
JSG—Julie Strauss-Gabel (Dutton/Penguin-Random House)
JB—Jordan Brown (Balzer+Bray/Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins)
Moderator: WL—Wendy Loggia (Delacort/Penguin Random House)
I’ve heard MANY editor panels over my years of attending conferences, this one was very, very good. Lots of laughs, information, support and tough love. Here are the highlights…
SS–Fantasy–think escapism, swoony, transportive.
RM–Send me your awesome things.
AJ–Fresh take on universal themes. I want goosebumps. I want to read it again. Lots of room for illustrations.
JB–Character. We are doing our best work when we are expanding the reader’s capacity for empathy.
AW–Something that shakes up my own perspective.
JSG–Sense of humor.
Other bits of wisdom I jotted down…
JSG–I admire risk–even if it falls apart. I’m willing to work with that. It speaks to ambition.
JB–On the flip side, envy can be a powerful and useful emotion.
Time for our first Workshop of the conference. SMALL PRESSES: THOUGH THEY BE SMALL THEY BE FIERCE with Alison Weiss (Sky Pony Press), Rana DiOrio (Little Pickle Press) and Emma Dryden.
This was awesome new information for me. I haven’t had a ton of small press exposure. Here are some of the things I learned…
*Small presses are very collaborative and involved with their authors.
*Accessibility–you know who is touching your book.
*Small presses think outside the box with how they market.
*They are often very involved with unique collaborations that are very helpful for their books.
And now that I’m full, it’s back to work LOL!
Time for Meg Wolitzer and SWITCHING HATS: WRITING FOR ADULTS AND YOUNG ADULTS
And here is some of her random awesome…
*The hilarious writers say they get their ideas from Cleveland.
*A novel is a sort of concentrated version of who a person is. A bullion cube of sensibility.
*We want novels to feel like an approximation of life.
*If you know what preoccupies you, then you know what to write. Write what obsesses you.
*Self censorship is to be avoided–write as if everyone you know is dead.
*Write the book that reflects who you are when no one else is looking.
*The world will whittle your daughter down, but a mother never should.
Next up was Adam Rex–HOW I MAKE PICTURE BOOKS
LOVE THIS…There should be picture books for every age. It’s not a form that people should grow out of.
Next was another workshop with Wendy Loggia–FINDING YOUR YA VOICE
*I think it’s possible to hone a voice that’s authentic to you and captures your reader.
*Voice is the first thing I look for and it’s non-negotiable.
*I know I’m reading something good when I’m swept away and not thinking about the author.
Oh boy–sorry to interrupt this workshop with a critique. This was my first LA crit–I was looking for a little guidance on an unusual project I’ve been messing around with. Just so you know, Bonnie Bader was super awesome and helped me so much.
***NOW BACK TO WENDY***
*Establishing multiple voices is HARD!
*What sets Delacorte apart? We do our own editing.
The last Panel of the day was the SUCCESS STORY PANEL: TIPS ON HOW TO REALIZE YOUR DREAM
This was a GREAT panel!!!!
Moderator LW—Lee Wind
Across the board, every single person on this panel was persistent, putting in years of effort and hard work to cross into success. My biggest take away was there are no short cuts. Here are some of their best bits of advice…
SL–On attending an SCBWI conference…I felt as if I owed it to my story to go.
MB–Family comes first, but you shouldn’t be making sandwiches when you can be making stories.
MB–There is always a moving target in publishing–what satisfies us are the meaningful relationships.
MB–Resistance makes you stronger.
LW–The pressure is making us diamonds! #sparkleandshine
MC–It should ultimately be a joyful process.
MB–Just finish the draft–it’s got to be finished.
After a full day of conference fun, there was the PAL bookstore where I adopted a whole bunch of baby dragons!!!
And–because I love you–I bought an extra signed copy of WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN AGAIN by Jodi Moore for a special giveaway.
Coming… September 1, 2015 from Flashlight Press
A dragon friend understands the ups and downs of becoming a big brother
Preparations are in full swing to welcome a new family member in this sequel to the award-winning When a Dragon Moves In. A young boy has become a big brother and he and his beloved dragon dedicate themselves to entertaining the little baby. But when the drooling, crying baby somehow charms the dragon and his attention, the boy decides he’s had enough of this baby business. Adult readers will see the dragon as the boy’s alter ego—eager to cuddle with the new baby before the boy himself feels quite ready, then as a conduit to the boy’s acceptance of the baby, and finally as kindred spirit with whom the boy can commiserate. Younger readers will love the boy’s wonderful, though perhaps invisible, dragon friend who helps him be a good big brother.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Please spread the word about the contest if–I’d love to see this dragon find a wonderful new home. And watch for the rest of my conference recap blogs coming next week.