Posts Tagged ‘Shop Talk’




The Truth About Sleep Away Camp and How to Find Me Quicker than a Little Unidog

Filed under: Author Events, Blogging, Book Signings, Check-it-out, Community, Conferences, Contests, SCBWI, Touching the Surface, YA Books, YA Outside the LInes, Young Adult (YA)

Today I’m cross-posting over at YA Outside the Lines and talking about The Truth About Sleep Away Camp. There may be 80’s permed hair for your amusement!

yaoutsidethelines copy


Just a reminder, you still have time to enter my write a review contest!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I also have some up and coming events…

*I’ll be at Oblong Books and Musics HVYAS Birthday Party!! More info HERE!

*Children’s Writer or Illustrator and located in the Hudson Valley? Join us for our local SCBWI Shop Talk Meeting in August. For more information, feel free to contact me directly.

*I’ll also be faculty at my very first conference, which is also the very same conference I first attended as a newbie. Yea, pretty WOW! Registration is still open for the SCBWI Eastern NY Conference on September 21-22nd. Lots of amazing speakers and opportunities.

*September 28th I’ll be part of a fantastic line-up at the Warwick Children’s Book Festival. Details Here

*October 17th I’m thrilled to be a part of the Ulster BOCES FALL INTO BOOKS CHILDREN’S & TEEN LITERATURE CONFERENCE in Kingston NY. I adore hanging out with librarians!!!


And good news…finding me is not nearly as hard as finding a little unidog. So, come hang out and we’ll squee and hug and talk about books and maybe eat some chocolate. I usually have some stored in a bag or pocket somewhere.

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Plans for the Next Forty Days

Filed under: Booksellers, Check-it-out, Community, Contests, Family, In the Wild, SCBWI, Touching the Surface, Wolfson Literary, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

Okey dokey–let’s catch up.

Sorry there was no post on Friday. The server for my web host was down Thursday into Friday. But I’m back now and I’ll try to get you updated on everything. Soup to nuts.

First off, it’s *gasp* THIRTY FIVE days until TOUCHING THE SURFACE hits the shelves. Back in February 2011 the birth of TOUCHING THE SURFACE seemed like it was light years away. And now that it’s almost here…

…it seems as if I’m going to run out of time long before I run out of things to do to get ready for this amazing new chapter of my life.

Since I know I will never be “ready” the least I can do is invite you to share in the chaos with me.

On October 30th, TOUCHING THE SURFACE’s official book birthday, I’m going to have a launch day challenge. Tweet, Facebook or email me a picture of TOUCHING THE SURFACE out in the wild and you’ll get a chance to win this…

Which is really this…

A silver origami crane necklace. I have one of my own and I’ve given one to my agent Michelle Wolfson and my editor Anica Rissi. I’ve been holding on to this one for the big day.

Of course I’ll be reminding you about the contest again right before the launch.

My very first author event will be taking place in ELEVEN DAYS! I’ll be doing a reading of TOUCHING THE SURFACE at COTA (Celebration of the Arts) in Hasbrouck Park–New Paltz, NY.

The event takes place from 11am-5pm but I’ll be reading at 1:30pm. Afterwards I’ll have swag to sign for anyone who is interested. And OMG! I’m reading right before one of my larger than life writing mentors, KL Going. I don’t know how I’m going to keep from bursting into a million pieces from a combination of pride and nerves.

I also have several wonderful book launch events planned and I’m hoping that if you’re nearby, you’ll be able to attend one.

*The first event is a NYC Cocktail party on Thursday, November 1st at 7:00pm, thrown by my very wonderful husband–yes, I am the luckiest girl in the world. The information is HERE. Feel free to add yourself to the evite or if you’re having trouble, just contact me with your name and email and I’ll add you to the group.

*The second event is going to be held on Saturday, November 3rd at 2:00pm at the Poughkeepsie, NY Barnes & Noble. You can find out more about this event HERE. The Poughkeepsie Barnes & Noble is a fabulous bookstore and I am so excited to be launching my book there. This B&N is the site of my local SCBWI Shop Talk, the place where I began learning how to be a writer. It has so many wonderful writerly memories for me. It is also the closest bookstore to my home, so you know I’ve spent a lot of quality time there. This is my community bookstore and I can’t believe I’m going to get to share this day, surrounded by people who have known and loved me since I was just a little kid. Signing my books here will be a mind blowing experience.

*The third event is going to be held on Sunday, November 4th at 4:00pm at Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck, NY.

This is one of two very special indie bookstores in my area and I can’t freaking believe that I’m going to be the author at a Hudson Valley YA Society event!!! I love going to these events to eat cookies and drool on my favorite authors. I can’t tell you how many times my husband and my boys and I have attended these events and then talked the whole ride home in the car about how someday they might ask me to do a book signing. Surreal.

Oblong books is asking for an RSVP to the event and if you can make it, you can respond on Facebook or RSVP at Oblong.

If you can’t make any of the formal book launch events–I’m completely bummed–but Oblong is taking orders for SIGNED COPIES OF TOUCHING THE SURFACE. I’ll be signing them that very afternoon, so there is a really good chance that the book will have residual festiveness tucked between the pages. How awesome is that?

Oh, and before I forget–I’ll be activating my newsletter function really soon, so don’t forget to sign up at the bottom of any page of this website.

Wow! I think I finally have all the up dated info properly laid out for you, so Wednesday we can get back to chatting about regular stuff LOL! But before you leave, my friend Linda Hanlon has recently been clarifying her bucket list. And this post absolutely is going to give me a few things to check off on my own list. So, I’m wondering what’s on your bucket list? Since not everything in life revolves around books (really?) I’ll also tell you another one of the things on my bucket list…I’d love to learn to play the piano. My list is L-O-N-G so I’ll add in more in the comments. Feel free to leave more than one.

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Let’s Talk Shop Talk

Filed under: Community, Critique, SCBWI, Uncategorized, Writing

I don’t know if I mentioned that my friend Linda Hanlon and I have taken over as co-conspirators co-coordinators for The Hudson Valley Shop Talk. This is my local writer’s group for the SCBWI Eastern New York. We had our second meeting of the year yesterday (I missed the first get together due to attending the New York SCBWI Conference) so for me, it felt like the first. I’ll admit it–I was a little nervous but I think it went well. We are still in a kind of transitional phase, trying to see what works best for the group. But I thought I’d share some of my thoughts with you and see what you guys like out of your writer’s groups.

First of all, this group is a very mixed bag. Not everyone will be able to attend all the time, there will be a mixture of illustrators and writers from picture book to novel and there will also be a range of members from newbie to published.

This is a tough group to work with. Because of the diversity it can be very hard to meet everyone’s individual needs IF you think of Shop Talk as primarily a place to get a critique done on your work. But you guessed it–I don’t think of it that way. I know you’ve heard me mention this before, but I think of these Shop Talk meetings as a tribe gathering place–almost like a family reunion. All good families have a mixture of people at varies ages and stages of life and for Shop Talk to be an effective tool for all of us, I think we need to treat it as our tribal reunion for the month.

Here is what I see happening at a successful Shop Talk…

*Information and resources are readily available-Anyone new, walking in for the first time, should have a plethora of information about the SCBWI at their finger tips. Every month we will be adding more resources to our reference documents.

*A monthly book club where we all read one PB and one MG/YA book and briefly discuss it as WRITERS. It’s an optional exercise but it helps us all to learn to read with an eye towards craft.

*A monthly topic. On Saturday we talked about critique groups. We touched upon the traditional skills that are needed to give feedback. We also addressed a common occurrence–negating our own worth when it comes to giving feedback. We need to acknowledge that our critique skills will grow with time and practice, but that we are all capable of giving a thoughtful response as a reader. Then we discussed a blog post by Kristen Lamb, which suggest that we would benefit from  being a Non-Tradtional Critique group. I have to agree. It is my personal belief that there is a limited amount a large, mixed, rotating group of people can truly do for each person’s individual manuscript. Instead we need to focus on learning general critique skills, working with big picture plot/synopsis critiques, creating relationships that will result in successful critique partners/groups and beta readers. We also need to utilize the diversity in our tribe to foster mentorship within the group. I began attending Shop Talk meetings with no real knowledge or skills about writing or publishing–I learned everything I know from the SCBWI and other children’s writers. I feel that there is no better way to say thank you for what I was given than to pay it forward. I’m inspired by the idea that the Hudson Valley Shop Talk will be a community where we all share and learn from each other.

*We need to take it to the streets–or the book stores or the restaurants or online. For this group to harness the power of it’s members we need to be in contact more than just for 2+ hours a month. Friday some of us will be heading to one of our local independent bookstores for a YA author event. We’ve got an online group on Facebook to help stay in touch and we’ll be putting together an email list so we can stay connected. Additionally,there are SCBWI conference events, book festivals and more coming down the pike. I’m excited to get to know everyone a little bit more.

I’ll be honest–I’m sure some of our best laid plans–well you know how that goes LOL! But I’m hopeful and really, isn’t that the best way to be? So, now it’s time for you to step up dear reader–whether you’re in my local Shop Talk or not. You don’t even have to be in a writer’s group to have an opinion of what you’d like out of a group. Spill.  Tell me your wishes. Share your best tips.


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Freaky Friday Interview – Heather Chriscaden Versace

Filed under: Freaky Friday, SCBWI, Touching the Surface, Writing, YA Books

If you’ve seen the movie Freaky Friday, you know that its premise is about change and growth through role reversal. For my Friday Blog entry I thought it would be interesting to interview aspiring authors–writers who spend lots of time reading the interviews of published authors and dreaming of the day when they might get their book on the shelves..

Today’s Freaky Friday Interview is with the very talented by shy Heather Chriscaden Versace.  Heather and I are members of my local SCBWI Shop Talk.  So we’ve gotten a chance to read each other’s work,  hang out in person and cause all kinds of trouble in our local Barnes & Noble.  You’re going to love her, so let’s not wait another minute.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Heather Chriscaden Versace and I am a music lover and a bookworm.You can bet that if I am not playing or teaching or listening to music, you’ll find me with my nose in a book or at the computer writing stories of my own.
Music has always played a large role in my life, and I have played many instruments, including piano, clarinet, electric bass, and double bass …and once I even played a version of Misty on the nose flute that had the audience in tears (OK, so maybe they were tears of mirth).
Music has taken me around the world -from Seattle to New York City, from Poland to Japan,and from the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Bogotá, Colombia to Leonard Nimoy’s living room.
Music was the course of my studies in college.
I earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in Double Bass Performance from WSU, and then became the first student to earn a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from the University of Oregon.
Since then, I have spent time as a full-time freelance jazz bassist, a full-time teacher of college music theory and ear-training, a teacher of private music lessons, and, always, a closet composer of music and stories.
Wow! You’ve seen and done so much. It’s incredible. So…what made you start to write for kids and what the heck is a nose flute? :o)
As soon as I realized that people actually wrote books (that they weren’t just placed on library shelves by fairies), I wanted to write them — don’t worry, this was when I was about six years old. Since then I was always writing one thing or another that I was convinced would be my first “novel.”
Then, in middle school, though I was still an avid reader, I started to get really serious about music, and at the same time my passion for writing dimmed because I wasn’t inspired by the writing we were required to do in school.
Since then, my life has been all about music. That is until three years ago, when this nagging urge to write a book reappeared unannounced on my doorstep. Instantly we became fast friends again. 
I didn’t really choose to write for children, so much as the most compelling story that presented itself to me happened to involve a 13-year-old girl. But that being said, I do love middle grade and young adult literature. Young people that age are at such an exciting time in their lives – walking the tight rope between discovering their uniqueness and figuring out how they fit in in this crazy world. 
As for the nose flute … hmmm. It looks like a hard plastic binky, really. You play it by changing the shape of your mouth the way you would if you were whistling a tune … but at the same time, you have to blow through your nose to produce the sound. It sounds a little like a slide whistle. There are some videos on youtube for those who want to see and hear it for themselves. Unfortunately, many budding nose flute careers have been derailed by the common cold : )
In fact, here is link to a video…

OMG!!!! That was more “interesting” than I’d expected. ROTFL!!! So glad you sent the link LOL! 

So does your WIP have a nose flute in it? Can you tell us about it?
Haha. No, my WIP doesn’t have a nose flute in it … yet. You may be on to something there …
At any rate, my main character, Edra Edwards, does play the flute. She wants to be a great composer and is off to Camp Komeekha, a summer music camp in the Catskill mountains. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned: she bombs her audition and is placed last in all performing groups, she is not selected to study composition with her idol, Maestro Dupree, and her beginning composition teacher seems to have it out for her. 
At the same time, strange things are happening at camp. There is a warning from Tristan Bridges — a camper who supposedly fell off the top of Komeekha Falls nearly 15 years ago. It is assumed to be a hoax until a mysterious man dressed in gladiator attire is seen roaming the forest, and a student is injured while hiking the trails alone.
When Edra has a particularly bad day, she breaks the rules and heads up to the cave behind the waterfall. As she explores the cave, she finds a passageway to a beautiful meadow, but before she has time to check it out, someone grabs her from behind, and everything goes black.
The following weekend, Edra and two friends return to the cave to investigate. They don’t find the meadow, but they do find an old journal – the journal of Tristan Bridges. The journal is the first of many discoveries as the three are pulled into the mystery of Tristan Bridges and find themselves in a race to rescue him.
Ohhh sounds intriguing!!!! I can’t wait to read all of it!!!  Ummmm one last question…see I can’t stop myself.  What are your top five books–ya know–the ones that would make you get our the old nose flute and do a jig?
Okay, I’m going to cheat on this one because I’m a series girl and always have been. There’s just something wonderful about finding an exciting world inhabited with characters you love – and then getting to spend an entire series with them.
So here are my favorite series, some which had a great impact on me as a child, some as a teen, and some not so very long ago:
1) Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time series
2) C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia
3) Anne McCaffrey’s Harper Hall Trilogy
4) J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series
5) Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games Trilogy

Thank you so much Heather.  I’d stick around and chat a little longer but I’m heading out to get a nose flute.  Shhhh don’t tell anyone.  *wink*  If you would like to find out more about Heather’s books and music, you can find her on Facebook.  Have a great weekend.  :o)

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