Posts Tagged ‘Nancy Castaldo’
I’m back for Part 2 of my NY 2017 SCBWI Conference Recap!!!
And like these two guys, I’m a bit confused…
(Scott Hammon and Justin Brancato)
I can’t remember exactly when, during the conference a few of these pictures happened.
So–I’m gonna go with it and just kick off with them.
This is just a shot giving you an idea of how big the conference tribe is.
Some of our SCBWI Faculty getting ready to go on stage and take a bow!
And over in the corner was all our fabulous RA’s who volunteer their time and experience. <3
We love you RA’s!!! How did I not get my conference picture with my RA Nancy Castaldo?
And then it was officially the Sunday Morning Conference Kick-off…
I love the awards!!!
Art Portfolio Honors
Art Portfolio Winner
Then we had the Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grants for talented Mid-List authors who have stalled in their publishing career. This is to remind them of their talent and how much we all still believe in them.
Only one of our Mid-List Author Grant Winners was in attendance. I think the weather kept many people from making it. But you can see what this kind of recognition from your peers can mean. <3
We were all choked up.
Next up was the Tomie dePaola Award for Illustrators. I’ve been watching talented artists receive this award since I’ve been coming to the NY SCBWI Conference and I was shocked to learn this was going to be the last time it’s given.
Moving forward, it will now become the Narrative Arts Award and it will still have “Assignments” <3
So, for this year’s winners–it must be extra special.
And there was another big announcement. On the horizon, the SCBWI will be doing a new project called BOOKS FOR READERS.
Two times a year, the tribe will come together to bring books to readers in need. The room was energized at the idea and now we are all waiting to hear more about the new project.
And then it was time to get down to the business of the day–The Current Landscape of Children’s Books
KG–Ken Geist (VP, Publisher, Orchard Books, Scholastic Press Picture Books, Cartwheel Books, Readers, Branches and Little Shepherd)
AH–Andrew Harwell (Senior Editor, Harper Collins)
CH–Carrie Howland (Senior agent, Empire Literary)
EK–Eileen Kreit (Vice President and Publisher, Puffin/Penguin Young Readers Group)
EN–Edward Nescarsulmer IV (Agent, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency)
Here’s the highlights…
AH–Yes, literally everything about children’s books is more important than ever.
EK–Pointed out the changes (cuts) occurring related to the NY Times Best Seller List are due to relocated resources needed to meet the current demand for political news. (I guess the politicians are getting us coming and going.)
KG–Authenticity matters. You can’t lift a flap on an ebook. Picture Books are here to stay.
AH–MG and YA readers are already discerning. Many of 2016’s award winners were already becoming best sellers before their win.
EN–Your brand is your name connected with excellence.
KG–Ha! We “actually” have a wrestling mat in Acquisitions. (On fighting for books you love)
EN–Mergers in publishing have happened for a reason–Penguin/Random–they were digging in. They were announcing to everyone–“we are here to stay.”
And, much to my delight, I found a friend of friend in the audience while waiting
for my next breakout session to start. His name is Hamlet <3
Next up was a Sunday Workshop–this was something we hadn’t done before and I really enjoyed having another fabulous break out session added to the conference.
This session was two pronged and packed in a HUGE amount of intense information.
Writing Within and Across Identity Elements with Cynthia Leitich Smith
How to Write About Difficult Subjects with Ellen Hopkins
Can brought her information at a fast and furious pace in order to give us as much knowledge as she could in a short time. Here are some of the things I was able to capture…
*51% of children today are people of color.
*We are all related.
*When writing, non-human characters are sometimes the ultimate diversity.
*Everything you write will be criticized. Be diligent–be brave.
*Books that feature diverse characters are not there just for a specific type of reader. And the diversity is not there just to teach you something.
Then Ellen mesmerized the audience with her personal stories, letters from readers and samples of her own writing…
*These are the kids we don’t wan to believe exist, but it’s true.
*Never self-censor–tell what needs to be told.
*Be TRUE TO CHARACTER!
Sara and I signed in at the front desk right after the UPS delivery LOL!
And for the last Keynote of the conference we were privileged to hear from Sara Pennypacker. And I was even luckier than most, because Sara made a stop at my boy’s school before the conference and I got to see her in action during a school visit and got some quality time to hang out with her and my friend and Pop-up Engineer Courtney McCarthy who was the book fairy for all the magic that happened for Book Fair an Drop Everything and Read Week.
I wrote like a fiend, trying to capture the best of Sara–here it is…
*We are all doing the same thing–in our own way we are trying to make order out of chaos.
*People who are passionate about what they do (in any area of life) never fail to inspire me. Surround yourself with people who walk with light instead of darkness.
*Write a HELL, YES manuscript–one that makes the agent, editor, publisher and reader say HELL, YES–I must have this!
*Creation is a river and rivers become stagnant if blocked. The best thing a river does is flow. We are all part of the river.
*Story illuminates in a way facts never can.
*Children are the best audience–children are free of adult boundary issues.
*Kids build bonds through characters they love. If an author loves a character. And a kid loves a character. Then ergo–the kid loves the author. This is why Ellen Hopkins stays in the parking lot for 2 hours after school visits because those teens know she doesn’t judge her characters–that she loves them–meaning they can trust her because they will be safe with her. They find her in the parking lot. <3
*Writing Tip–leave room for the reader. Don’t do it all yourself, it’s not a monologue.
*Writing Tip–The story is the boss.
*It’s not about me–story serves the reader.
-Say it with Sara…”If I were God’s own spiritual advisor–I would understand it’s not my job to preach.”
-Authors are not parents.
-Our job is to allow children to safely experience things we don’t actually want them to experience.
*Kids need to hear stories.
*Sometimes the problem exposes the wound that is REALLY the problem.
*Story is a template for kids.
*Children need to tell their stories.
-“There is an evil in the world because people aren’t allowed to tell their stories.” Carl Jung
-I write for children because they can’t write their own stories for themselves. Now I write to give the child a template to use to say…THIS is my story.
-All those people who allow children to to tell their stories may never know what a great and impactful thing they have done. (Thank you librarians and teachers and those who encourage voice)
*Join the SCBWI and then go out and persist!
*Go out and subtract a measurable amount of evil in the world. <3
And get your books signed by the authors and illustrators who have spent the conference teaching you and inspiring you…
Illustrator, Brian Floca and MOONSHOT
Love his art work in this book!
Totally, NOT BORED hanging out with my bud Debbie Ohi <3
Me and Sonya Sones
Signing for the readers at GUFS
The fierce and fabulous Ellen Hopkins!!!!
And Tomie DePaolo…an incredible picture book team
And as we were leaving the autograph room one of my friends pointed to the floor and said…
“this is where the magic happens.”
And my response was…
“then let’s be where the magic happens.” <3
Never be afraid to put yourself where the magic happens.
And that doesn’t change when the conference is over and you head back home…
Remember there will be snow on your windshield and a million other things that would like to keep you from your work.
But don’t let it stop you.
Every conference I attend, I realize that a word or a theme usually floats to the top of my conscious and reminds me what I need to know about myself, my writing and my process.
My take away from New York is PURPOSE AND PERSISTENCE!
I have a purpose in this writing world and I must work to fulfill that.
I believe that the myriad of obstacles that have been put in my path are not there to dissuade me from my work, but have rather been designed to ensure I do my BEST work.
I know I might never reach my own excellence if the world accepts my mediocrity.
This means my challenges are my gifts.
I believe I have a purpose and I will persist and my world will be a better place because of it.
In the comments, feel free to share your own writing manifesto.
Remember–your words have power and magic happened when you put them into the world.
And if you are able–come and join me in LA in July. There can never be too many Lobby Rats at a conference. <3
I’m back! And ready for #LA16SCBWI Part 2–Saturday.
You can’t start your day wrong with Jon Klassen: FINDING YOURSELF IN THE WORK
In case you live under a rock, Jon is the fantabulous author/illustrator of the hat books and more.
And according to Lin, he’s also one of the two hottest Canadians on the planet.
And we have one of them with us at #LA16SCBWI! LOL!
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 16: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the Catalyst Awards Dinner at Waldorf Astoria Hotel on March 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
The laughs never ended after that comment, but Jon also brought his depth to the table in addition to his humor…
*”The worst thing you can think about when you’re working is yourself.” Agnes Martin
*Don’t think about your style.
*Your style is mysterious and should be opened up–but not by you.
*Take care of the machine that makes the style.
*Write the stories your brain is able to produce then evolve with your instrument.
*Stop trying to be creative. Don’t try to get a butterfly, you’ll get a car. Embrace the car. Force vs. Flow
Next up was Marie Lu: THE CREATIVE LIFE
Marie was fabulous–I can not begin to tell you how professional, charming, sweet, honest and adorable she was. I was blown away by her work ethic and her ability to speak so eloquently about her experiences. Here’s some of her take aways…
*Was born in China and moved to the US when she was 5.
*New Orleans was VERY different than China LOL! Her first time out exploring was during Mardi Gras. ROTFL!
*Starting writing as a teen.
*Went to work at Disney and was surrounded by creatives for the first time in her life.
*Being published is NOT relevant to being a writer.
*Every writer proceeds at their own pace, in their own way. The process itself should be reward enough.
*Marie has received well over 500 rejections in her writer’s life so far.
*You can’t perfect something that doesn’t exist.
*With time and practice you will get there, but you have to finish something in order to progress.
*Rejection comes for all of us–don’t fear it. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you will thicken your skin in preparation for the really tough criticism.
*Talent is over rated–most of what gets you there is passion, perseverance and hard work.
*Accepting criticism is the key to growth.
*If the critique isn’t “correct” it only means that something isn’t working.
*A high tide lifts all boats. It’s difficult to tame the envy monster but know that books lift books and writers lift writers. <3
*Be brave and listen–none of know everything or are always right.
*Never defend yourself–listen.
*It’s scary to be called out but remember no one goes out with bad intentions.
*As scary as it is to put yourself out there as a writer–think about how scary it often is to be the reader.
*Those readers are worth the work of being brave. <3
*We are all in this together.
Then this happened…
My Eastern NY SCBWI RA was chosen to give the keynote from last year’s crop of Crystal Kite winners!!!
Nancy Castaldo: THE TERRIFYING PATH TO PUBLICATION AND HOW IT ENDS
Hahahaha! I took no notes during Nancy’s speech. I was in the audience cheering, smiling, preening and proud. It was an excellent speech. It had dogs and writing inspiration. It was fabulous. You should book her for your next event.
Saturday’s first Break-Out session was with Justin Chanda: PRO-Track CAREER LONGEVITY
Justin is the Vice President and Publisher of the four flagship children’s imprints at Simon & Schuster: S&S Books for Young Readers, McElderry Books, Atheneum, and the new Salaam Reads. AKA—BAMS! Here’s a look at publishing through the Chanda Filter. As always, I could listen to him talk for hours.
*Always keep communication lines open. Establish the chain of command.
*Communication from an assistant is coming from your editor. Treat them with respect.
*Never think of your agent as a tool.
*A good editor is there to challenge you–not rewrite your book.
*No one wants an unsuccessful book.
*Creative differences happen, but we are all on the same page.
*Always be realistic about achievable deadlines. Advance notice of realistic expectations is better than missed deadlines.
*Make sure your working on your book, not just working on marketing it. At the end of the day readers want books, not marketing.
*Advertising doesn’t work–especially with children’s books. And $10,000 doesn’t even move the needle.
*What does work? Word of Mouth.
*If you do book tours, it’s inevitable you’ll be at an event where no one shows up. Use it as an opportunity to be professional, make connections and be charming.
*School Visits–there is an entire other industry set up to support us.
*It takes time to get traction as a speaker at schools and conferences.
*Social Media–don’t get caught up in the echo chamber.
*Twitter is the best/worst thing to happen in Kidlit.
*Unforgivable Practices–Never air your grievances on social media.
*The most important thing you can do for self promotion is to get other people to talk about your work.
*Keeping the book alive after the first year–work on the next book. Your next book promotes your first book.
Even at #LA16SCBWI there’s time for Lunch!!!! But then we are back for Carole Boston Weatherford: THE POWER OF PREMISE
I’m so sorry–I don’t have a lot of notes from Carole–she had one of those keynotes you just sit and soak in. She had me at… A premise is a promise that your manuscript will deliver on…
Next up was a panel discussion: INGREDIENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL PICTURE BOOK
JB–Jessixa Bagley (author/illustrator)
JP–John Parra (illustrator)
SR–Susan Rich (Editor–Little, Brown)
BS–Barney Saltzberg (Author)
DT–Don Tate (author/illustrator)
WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL PICTURE BOOK?
JB–the book has a completeness to it.
SR–it has to stand up to weary parents and antsy toddlers.
BS–Rhythm of the page turn, element of surprise.
DT–Connection through emotions
SR–If we knew what the secret ingredient was we’d replicate it.
BS–Put Jon Klassen’s name on it. ROTFL!
ADDITIONAL GOOD ADVICE…
SR–there are hooks (curricular and seasonal) that can make your books stand out–don’t start with that.
BS–You have to be careful who you share your work with and at what stage.
JP–it’s up to us to define ourselves–be unique.
BS–Take your ego and bury it in a box in the backyard. There is wisdom out there to be heard. Show up daily.
And I was waiting all day for this one…
Neal Schusterman on MAKING MEANING: THE WRITER’S STRUGGLES TO FIND ORDER IN CHAOS, AND STORIES WORTH TELLING
Neal started with an “adorable” representation of his 3rd Grade Teacher…
I’ll let you use your imagination on how she influenced Neal. The good news is that he had a strong and persistent personality.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Neal also talked about the fallacies he believes surround the writing process.
*This is how you do it.
-There isn’t one way. Do what works for you.
*Focus on your strengths.
-If you want to be a writer you have to be well rounded and work on your weaknesses.
*Writer’s Block is real.
-There’s no such thing. It’s writing when it’s hard and calling it that gives you permission to walk away. Being stuck it part of the process.
*If you build it, they will come.
-They’ll be walking by on their phones *snicker* Keep building over and over.
*Never ask for feedback from someone you feed.
-Family can be honest. My kids call me out.
*If traditional publishers won’t publish you, then e-pub.
-I know this probably isn’t a popular view, but if e-pub was available I never would have been traditionally published.
-Gate keepers are there with there rejections for a reason. When I look back, my work deserved to be rejected,
-traditional to e-pub is a little different.
*You must have your writing place
-In high school I had that–it was called detention. Now I write everywhere and get inspired. Check it out…
Why Do We Write?
-It’s all about the reader.
-Deep down we have a belief we have something to say.
And a reminder…If we are doing it right, we are always terrified we aren’t doing it right.
And that was the end of the instructional part of the day, but it don’t worry–the day was far from over…
I got to hang out and chat with Marie Lu and she signed my book!
I also got to check out all our fabulous illustrators at the Portfolio Showcase.
There were also Happy Hour Hangouts with the agents and editors.
Followed by the Red Carpet Ball
Our costume goal for the costume contest was to pull out all the stops and glam it up Hollywood style. Nothing says glamorous Hollywood then Fred Astaire!
I even had my tap shoes on.
A class of 2k12 fancy meet up for me and Lynne Kelly or maybe Ginger?
And I wasn’t the only one dressed up. The fashion police were on the scene. Some body was getting ticketed.
There was also a long line of red carpets LOL!
There were loads of people on the dance floor.
And even the balconies were full.
And later when things wound down, it was lovely to take off your top hat and sit outside.
And when you think there are no surprises left in the day…
You come back to your room and wonder if you’re having some unexpected company LOL!
Hoping all this good advice resonates with you. Which bit of inspiration speaks the loudest for you?
And don’t forget to stay tuned for #LA16SCBWI coming soon.
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…
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.
Lots of people groan when they hear non-fiction, especially kids. The first thing that often comes to mind it BORING! But I’m here to tell you that you’re just not reading the right books. Here are some of my favorite children’s non-fiction reads that will knock your socks off.
1. Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World by Nancy Castaldo
Anyone who has ever spent time with a dog knows that dogs love sniffing! They sniff out hidden food, dirty socks, and the visitor who comes to the door. But some dogs work with police officers, soldiers and even scientists to put their “sniffers” to work. Sniffer dogs make use of the amazing biology behind their noses to protect people from bombs, catch criminals smuggling drugs, or help researchers locate a hard to find snail in a forest.
A dog’s nose is so sensitive that if a human could see as well as a dog could smell, we would be able to see the small letters on an eye chart from four (four!) miles away. Is it any wonder then that dogs can be trained to find missing people in piles of rubble or a certain flower blooming amongst hundreds or thousands of other smells?
In Sniffer Dogs you will meet many dogs and their handlers and learn all about their jobs. Some of these dogs are raised from birth to detect blood sugar levels in their owners. Others are rescued from animal shelters and their boisterous personalities help make them excellent sniffer dogs. Featuring a balance between science and social science, Sniffer Dogs will appeal to dog lovers and science lovers alike.
My boys LOVED this book so much. It’s loaded with pictures, vignettes and so much interesting information. All I can say is that next time I see Nancy she’s in trouble because my kids are REALLY pushing for a puppy and we are considering. LOL! If you already have a dog, you’ll learn a TON about what makes your dog an amazing sniffer. And I’m always a sucker for a book that has inspirational heroes in it. This is an all around great read for kids and adults. My copy is being passed around the family as we speak.
2. Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at a remote site at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the world’s most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.
Bomb is a 2012 National Book Awards finalist for Young People’s Literature.
Bomb is a 2012 Washington Post Best Kids Books of the Year title.
Bomb is a 2013 Newbery Honor book.
I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Steve speak more than once and I loved hearing his transformation from “boring” text book writer to award winning author. He has learned the art of capturing the truly interesting tidbits of our history and is able to weave them together in a story like fashion that begs you to turn the page. Bomb was a captivating read and after finishing it, my boys have gone on to read more about Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust out of curiosity. We’ve also read some of Sheinken’s other books and they don’t disappoint either.
3. Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka
How did Jon Scieszka get so funny, anyway? Growing up as one of six brothers was a good start, but that was just the beginning. Throw in Catholic school, lots of comic books, lazy summers at the lake with time to kill, babysitting misadventures, TV shows, jokes told at family dinner, and the result is Knucklehead. Part memoir, part scrapbook, this hilarious trip down memory lane provides a unique glimpse into the formation of a creative mind and a free spirit.
Funny man, Jon Scieszka has always been a favorite at in the Sabatini house and I’ve seen crowds roar with laughter when he gives a presentation, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I had tears running down my face reading the chapter about the Scieszka boys on vacation in the backseat of the family station wagon. I swear it was the best laugh I had in 2014. My kids still talk about it and after we got done reading it together, I kept finding boys in bed pouring over the stories again and again.
4. Ick! Yuck! Eew! Our Gross American History by Lois Miner Huey
In history class, you’ve studied people who lived long ago. But do you know just how gross daily life was in the United States around the time of the American Revolution? • People rarely bathed. • They didn’t wash most of their clothes regularly. • Their teeth were rotting. • Bedbugs feasted on people as they slept. • Lice crawled through their hair (and their wigs) day and night. Ready to step out for a breath of fresh air? Well, look out, because the streets were filled with poop. Don’t believe it? Hop in a time machine and travel back to June, 1770, in the pages of this book!
Just put Lois’ book in my shopping cart for my own boys! I’ve been long over due to read this one and I’m so excited. I was in the audience when Betsy Bird was singing it’s praises and that is all the confirmation that I needed! The boys are going to love this one. Merry Yucky Christmas to Me :o)
5. Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones
Discover how Lauren Kate transformed the feeling of that one mean girl getting under her skin into her first novel, how Lauren Oliver learned to celebrate ambiguity in her classmates and in herself, and how R.L. Stine turned being the “funny guy” into the best defense against the bullies in his class.
Today’s top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.
Sadly, bullying can happen at any time in your life, but for kids who look upon their favorite authors as rockstars–this is a powerful book. But it always helps to know you’re not alone. Dear Bully is a heartfelt reminder of how deeply the kid lit community is invested in it’s readers. So proud to be a YA author. <3
If I haven’t convinced you to buy non-fiction with these fabulous suggestions, remember that non-fiction is becoming a very big component of the common core curriculum. And while lots of the things about core curriculum give me hives–I LOVE anything that gets kids to read diverse material. Reading non-fiction with your kids is strengthening an important intellectual muscle that will serve them well in school and in the future. Go out and buy and read these amazing books!!!!!
Are there any great non-fiction children’s books that I need to put on my TBR list? Please share!
I’ll be back next week with more holiday book buying suggestions. Please feel free to share these with all your reader friends. I know all of these authors will be mighty appreciative. You can find more of my Best Books Holiday Shopping Blogs here…
*Best Books Holiday Shopping Guide-Some of Kim’s 2014 Favorites
Just this past weekend (September 21-22) I got the chance to sail into inspiration at the Eastern NY SCBWI Regional Conference. It was a fabulous event for multiple reasons…
*This is my local conference and I love supporting my local SCBWI in anyway I can. This was the very first SCBWI conference I ever attended (back in June of 2007) and it was a life changer for me. I am here to tell you I would not be a published author if it were not for the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators)
*Because this was a local conference, I had the good fortune of have more of my Eastern NY buddies able to attend than I do at most conferences. I seriously love this group of writers and I never get to spend as much time with them as I would like. This was a treat.
*The Faculty was INCREDIBLE! And no, I’m not just saying that because this was my first time as conference faculty. LOL! Although, it was an awesome experience. I’m saying that because it was an incredible line up with speakers who have or who need to grace the SCBWI international stage. But just so you know, this is absolutely an area where I’d like to see some personal growth on my part. I have proposals developed for future SCBWI events so keep your fingers crossed that I get selected.
So, let’s get to the conference recap…
After registration and a warm welcome from the ship’s captain (RA Nancy Castaldo) We had the honor of listening to a Children’s Literature legend–Jerry Pinkney. Seriously, I could stare at his art and listen to his thoughtful stories all day.
Here are some of Jerry’s best thoughts during his Keynote Speech about ENVIRONMENT, TOOLS AND PROCESS
*His mom read him Hans Christian Anderson and it informed his work.
*His parents supported his artistry–in fact he drew on his bedroom walls and when they became full, his dad would repaint them white.
*He uses poetry to interpret our history and to help bring to light the roll people of color played in our past.
*Jerry Pinkney is dyslexic and to compensate, he is very organized with his art. *fist pump* A big HUG going out to another awesome dyslexic!!!! Yes, you know I hugged him–I do that.
Session #1–An Editor and An Agent Discuss Acquisition (Jennifer Laughran-Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency and Elise Howard-Editor and Publisher of Algonquin Young Readers)
Here are some of the best take aways from this session…
*When you write a good query/pitch, it will get used in the publishing process.
*In most cases, titles change.
*When submitting a PB manuscript, use illustrator notes sparingly (to explain a visual joke that can not be understood through the text)
*It’s okay to break the querying rules if and only if your manuscript is so fantastic I’m obsessed with it. If it’s that good I’ll read it scribbled on a cocktail napkin. (But yours is not that good.) LOL! Jennifer Laughran
Session #2–PUBLISHING NUTS AND BOLTS with Harold Underdown
I’m a huge fan of Harold to start with. I’ve seen him speak before and he’s written The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Children’s Book Publishing. He’s a fabulous source of information on a broad swath of children’s literature topics and you can’t get better than picking his brain. Here are some great take-aways from his Saturday session…
*Platform: in children’s writing it is not a necessity to come with one–it will develop over time.
*Picture Book writers are going to have a hard time finding an agent. Kids commercial fiction needs an agent.
*Kids have different developmental needs and have diverse tastes. This is a wonderful thing but it makes writing for them challenging.
*Picture Books are not just ONE thing.
*Study what’s on the shelves now, not what is on your shelves–Books are always evolving.
*Study the books on award lists.
*On formatting a manuscript–ALWYAS FOLLOW THE RULES.
Lunch was YUMMY! I have no pictures, I was too busy inhaling it. There was soup and salad with chicken or beef. The rolls were warm and toasty and the cookies were scrumptious. In fact, they were so good, I wasn’t even focused on the DEBUT AUTHOR PANEL right after lunch!!!!!
Ummmm I have no notes for you LOL! I was doing double duty being moderator and panelist along with Lizzie Foley (REMARKABLE) and Lisa Amowitz (BREAKING GLASS) But I do have pictures (Thank you to everyone who shared them with me!!!!!)
Yeah, I talk with my hands a lot. *giggle*
Next up was an Agent Panel–REPRESENTING OUT WORK with Amy Boggs (Donald Mass), Melissa Turk (Melissa Turk & the Artist Network) and Jennifer Laughran (Andrea Brown)
All three agents gave a ton of insight into how they operate, what they’re looking for and the general ins and outs of working with an agent. Here are some of the highlights…
*Your query should leave out the “it’s a fast paced …” part of the cover flap. (AB)
*Don’t hand any paper (synopsis) to an agent at a conference. It will burn their hand. LOL! Follow submission guidelines and reference the conference. (JL)
*On contracts: Every little word id there because it happened to somebody. (AB)
*Good questions to ask an agent in an interview: What books do you like that you don’t represent? What books do you dislike? (JL)
*PB Writers or Author/Illustrators should query one MS but have 3 or 4 fleshed out MS’s in the wings.
Next there was a book signing!!!!!! I LOVE getting a chance to share TOUCHING THE SURFACE with new people and talking about their projects and aspirations. I made so many new friends this weekend.
Autographing was followed by dinner and then…
A DESSERT CAFE WITH ELIZABETH BIRD (Youth Materials Specialist for the New York Public Library)
Let me just tell you, I was blown away by Betsy’s Keynote and the dessert selection was the bonus!!! YUM!!! But I would have adored her talk even without a HUGE side of chocolate yumminess. But since it was there…BONUS!!!! I apologize because I didn’t take a lot of notes or tweet–I was simply a captive listener. But if you’d like a taste of what Betsy has to offer, I highly encourage you to check out her blog–Fuse #8. It’s amazing!
Kim Sabatini, Betsy Bird, Harold Underdown, Lois Miner-Huey and Nancy Castaldo
On a side note–Betsy incorporated Lois’ fabulous book Ick! Yuck! Eew!: Our Gross American History into her presentation and raved about it, not remembering that Lois would be in the audience. How cool is that??? All my teacher buds, be sure to check this one out because it’s got librarians cheering.
After such a fabulous day, I went home completely pumped, totally exhausted and full of too much chocolate. But I needed to get over it quickly because I still had the SUNDAY INTENSIVES!!!!!
There were three choices for the Sunday event…
*Harold Underdown: MANAGING YOUR CAREER IN A CHANGING MARKET
*Kendra Levin (Editor, Viking) MEET YOUR CHARACTERS: HOW MOTIVATION DRIVES STORY
*Semadar Megged (Art Director, Philomel) PORTFOLIO EXAMINATION AND DISCUSSION
They all sound great, don’t they? I picked the session with Harold. It was a small intimate group and I learned a metric ton of stuff. I didn’t tweet or take pics because I was interactively engaged and that is a great thing. After two hours of intensive we finished off the conference with an amazing presentation from Steve Sheinkin, author of BOMB. Steve is a former text book writer with a passion for history and a drive to turn our past into really honest and interesting stories so that kids can remember and enjoy them. I was also very impressed with the idea that most of out history lives in gray area. The text book writers and those who influence them have created a world of black and white. Steve pointed out that no one wants to hear there is good and bad in everyone, particularly their heroes.But maybe that narrow way of thinking is in the past–because with the accolades that Steve is getting for his writing and research, I think history books are changing for the better.
Let’s face it, no matter how long an SCBWI conference is, it ends too soon. So, before I go, some candids proving how much everyone was enjoying it…
Kim and Linda–your neighborhood Shop Talk Coordinators!!
Jeannie and I met because she almost knows my brother LOL!
Some of our Shop Talkers doing a pile on. <3
I love being a mentor for talented young writers. Kim and Danielle. ((((hugs))))
Kim and Linda hugging on our awesome RA!!!! Thanks for everything, Nancy. <3
And that’s a wrap. Any questions about the conference? Want to know more about our Hudson Valley Shop Talk? We want YOU!!!! Anyone take notes for the debut author panel. I’d love it if you threw a highlight or two from the presentation in the comments. What conference are you planning on doing next? Want more info on the SCBWI??? Just let me know what you need to know. And plan on coming to #EastNYSCBWI next time. <3
I always like to start of the recap with some of Lin Oliver‘s Conference stats. I’ll be honest, it’s soooo much funnier when she lays them out, but I do still think they are interesting even when she’s not delivering.
The 41st Annual SCBWI Summer Conference had…
46 States (Yes, the Dakotas and a few more were missing again!)
411 Published and the remainder Pre-published
171 Males (Yes–we stole their bathroom again.)
122 Undeclared (They had more bathroom options than anyone LOL!)
This year’s opening ceremonies included an Olympic theme and we even had a
torch match to help kick things off. And kicking things off meant we got to hear about TIMELESS books from the great Arthur Levine.
The question was asked…Should we look at a book with timelessness in mind? Do you have an answer? Opinion?
For this Keynote, we looked at the books that spanned Arthur’s career–the ones he felt were timeless.
*MIRETTE ON THE HIGHWIRE
*THE ROUGH-FACED GIRL
*THE GOLDEN COMPASS
*WHEN SHE WAS GOOD
*HOW ARE YOU PEELING?
*THE SNOW DAY
Throughout the whole conference, this theme was revisited in many other keynotes and sessions, all with differing opinions on what makes something timeless, but almost everyone seemed to agree that it couldn’t and shouldn’t be predicted.
*PREPARE FOR SHAMELESS PLUG*
On that note, I will not be so bold as to say that my friend Mike Jung‘s up and coming Arthur Levine book will be timeless–but I’m pretty sure that GEEKS, GIRLS AND SECRET IDENTITIES is going to be made of awesome!!!!!
*BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING*
The second keynote of the morning was NEVER ABANDON IMAGINATION by the very funny Tony Diterlizzi.
Tony started out with an amazing quote…
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
― Albert Einstein
Ummm how did I live my life not knowing that one?
But here are some of Tony’s best lines too…
*Imagination has to be instilled at a very young age. In my opinion–when they pop out!
*Each year, as I get better at my craft, I’m another year further away from the kid in me.
*All that Dorothy, Wendy and Alice ever wanted was to go home. There is a longing to be in a place that makes us feel safe and loved.
*I’m a Jedi. (On Star Wars love…all the best ones are *wink*)
It’s Apocalypsie Time!!!!!
One of my buds from the debut group of authors called the APOCALYPSIES is the lovely Lissa Price, author of STARTERS. And she had a wonderful breakout session called HOW TO APPLY SCREENWRITING TECHNIQUES TO MAKE ANY BOOK BETTER.
Lissa helped explain high concept movies and books.
*High concept is to be thought of as an internal phrase, not something we should be using in queries or throwing around with editors. It’s how we need to visualize our own work to make it very competitive.
*High concept creates an “ah-ha” moment in one or two sentences–often with a touch of emotion and/or irony.
Lissa then became hands on with the crowd, helping them to tweak pitches and first lines to their best advantage. She was also very clear that not all books are high concept and literary works can be equally as successful, but how they capture the attention of agents, editors and readers is very different.
And there may have been some Apocalypsie goofing around that Lissa had to deal with also LOL!
Next up was Sara Shepard talking about SCANDALS, LIES AND MURDERS: HOW TO MAINTAIN MOMENTUM IN A SERIES.
Sara is the author of the PRETTY LITTLE LIARS and LYING GAMES series. Here are some of her best bits…
*Know who your murder is before you set out.
*Always incorporate a red herring into the series.
*Leave a bit to chance. The narrator has to be a little bit unreliable, especially is suspicion is cast upon them.
*You have to be willing to change.
The next Keynote of the day was Patricia MacLachlan–REVISING MY LIFE.
I really didn’t take many notes, I sort of just soaked her up and enjoyed every minute of her speech. Aside from writing HILARIOUS!!!!! and putting hearts all over the page, I captured this one to keep…
Childhood is powerful–children experience life along side us. We are all children. The child knows all…
My next break out session was with Ruta Sepetys. I’m going to warn you. You are going to be hearing a lot about Ruta from me. I am going to refrain from gushing like a fool right off the bat, but consider yourself warned. You may want to come to the blog prepared for full-on-hero worship because it is inevitable.
Ruta–don’t hate me. I have many flattering pics of you and I fully plan to use them, but this one just captured how funny and accessible you were and it made me smile. This breakout session, MEDIA PREP: AUTHOR TIPS FOR RADIO, TV AND PRINT COVERAGE was part of the PRO Track–classes designed for the student who has different needs now that they are published.
I now have an endless amount of information to contemplate. Here are some of the broad strokes…
*Develop message points
*Distill them down to sound bytes
*Bridges allow you to communicate your message with a less than perfect question
*Pivots allow you to take something negative and turn it positive
*Never wing it…EVER!
The last Keynote of the day was HOW A DUMBASS LIKE ME GOT 100 BOOKS PUBLISHED by Dan Gutman. As you might imagine, this speech was funny, irreverent and very smart. Dan started off by giving us a list of advice starting with…
#13 Ignore all advice
#12 Join SCBWI (which negates number 13)
#11 Be persistent
#10 Try everything
#9 Don’t get stuck in a rut
#8 Become famous (like Madonna and then you can write anything and someone will print it LOL!)
#7 Find something really popular and then write something better
#6 Never write on an empty stomach (use paper)
#5 Break the rules
#4 Promote the hell out of yourself
#3 Take the Bull by the horns
#2 Use your strengths
#1 There is NO SECRET…when you do what you love, you love what you do.
Time for the Pizza Party and Book Sale honoring SCBWI Published Attendees. *yum and squee* Next year I’ll have pizza AND a book!!!!
Jodi Moore holding down the fort while Verla Kay had to step away. Seriously, doesn’t every one want to be Verla, mom of the Blue Boards?
Woo hoo!!! Got to meet fellow Apocalypsie Robin Mellom (Author of DITCHED) with her new MG novel THE CLASSROOM. Already loved DITCHED so had to get a copy of this one for me and the boys!!!!
I didn’t list the event times like I sometimes do, but in case you’re wondering…Jodi and I, registration and the Starbucks line were in full swing by 7:30 am and the Book Sale finished at 7:30pm. Somewhere after that hunted down dinner before I stayed up too late talking. For clarity, there was a quick break for lunch and I got to share a meal with my lovely RA for SCBWI Eastern Upstate New York—Nancy Castaldo. (Fun pics coming in future installments LOL!)
Don’t forget that I have an on going contest to win a pre-order of TOUCHING THE SURFACE right HERE! The contest will be open the whole time I’m recapping the conference. Stop over to win!!!
Are you tired yet? Any presenters that I’ve convinced you that you must see? Oh, my friend, you ain’t seen nothing yet! Be back on Friday with more.