I'm Taking the Week Off...
This is my one and only post of the week. I'm taking Thanksgiving week off to concentrate on eating pie.
Stop back on December 1. I'll have something to talk about.
If you fear you'll miss me for the week and want updates on my trip to State College, Pennsylvania including whether I talk my husband out of leaving on Friday morning so we can have dinner in Athens with Nikki who he went to high school with but hasn't seen in 20 year and recently reconnected with on facebook (really?) and whether or not I learn how to use all the features of my anniversary gift iPhone, feel free to follow me on Twitter.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I'm Taking the Week Off...
Friday, November 21, 2008
Blog of the Week:
Written anonymously by an assistant to an literary agent who says he (going with the universal masculine here--I have no inside info) rejects 95% of what comes in, The Rejecter has been posting answers to readers' questions and offering honest advice to writers querying agents since 2006. The Rejecter is also an agented writer with several books under contract, so there's a both-sides-of-the-desk perspective to the blog.
Why did you start your blog?
When I was submitting to agents years ago, and not working for one, I would have loved to have had this blog and find out who that scumbag was who rejected all of my queries. Now I can explain, sometimes at length, why I am not a scumbag out to crush all of your hopes and dreams, unless your novel is really bad and/or racist. Then, dream-crushing time it is.
Why are you anonymous?
It allows me more freedom to talk about my work. Not that I'm anyone significant in publishing anyway and if you said my real name in a group of agents they would know it, but I can safely say "I rejected this" or "I rejected that" without it being a slur on my boss, who does know about my blog. I think she even read it a few times. I don't quote people's query letters, but I do say stupid things people do to prevent other people from doing them, and I couldn't do that if I wasn't anonymous. Theoretically I could, but it might get me into trouble. Also, I'm fairly sure a ton of queries would reference me or be addressed to me at work if I said where I worked.
What do you offer your blog readers?
Whatever they want, really, aside from reviewing their queries for them. Most of the blog is me answering questions or posting about something that I feel would answer some questions about what to do or not do when submitting to agents. Also the publishing industry is very complicated, and I make some attempts to explain it, and why most people are rejected (their books are bad), and why most authors don't make money (books are not a profitable enterprise and most lose money for the company) and why agents charge 15% (because time is money and they will spend a ridiculous amount of time on your book if you are a client and not make minimum wage for it in the end).
Here's a link to The Rejecter. Be sure to read comments to the posts--there's some good and useful discussion there.
The Twilight Reviews Are Pouring In...
In case you're living under a vampireless rock, it's opening day for the movie version of Stephenie Meyer's wildly popular Twilight.
Here are some links to Twilight reviews:
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Art and the Economy:
Laurel Snyder, PW and NY Times...
On her blog today, author Laurel Snyder offers some interesting comments on art and poverty as prompted by the recent economic downturn and how it's affirming to writers and other creative types. Here's a snippet:
See, to pursue a writing life, to really make literature and art the center of things, you have to accept a certain amount of uncertainty, poverty, etc. You decide you’ll be a waitress forever, and never own a fancy handbag. You live in a studio apartment, eat cheap. Ideally, you do this (not because you’re selfish and singleminded, but) because you’re choosing to prioritize art and social commentary and intelligent community and the life of the mind BEFORE handbags.Click here for the full post.
I've always admired writers who choose to pursue their art and all the sacrifices that go along with that. It makes it all the more exciting when contracts are gotten, awards are won, bestseller lists are made. I'm not sure that pursuit is something I could handle myself. I need the steady paycheck, the paid vacation, and the boss.
There was some good news in terms of the economy and children's books offered recently in PW. In a piece on wholesalers and the holiday season, they report that "Nearly all wholesalers expect children's books to be strong this year..." Click here for the full story.
My favorite economic news reported recently is about the Lipstick Index, what The New York Times calls "that frivolous financial barometer that says cosmetics sales rise in direct relation to free-falling finances." Cosmetic sales have gone up 40% in the last few months.
Books are just as cheap as cosmetics. How do we get everyone to put down that makeup, step away from Sephora, and go spend that $25 at a bookstore?
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Winter Blog Blast Tour Is Happening Now...
It's the second day of the Winter Blog Blast Tour in which a number of authors are interviewed on a number of sites about books for young readers. There's a good line up of blog tour links on teen librarian Jackie Parker's blog, Interactive Reader.
Authors participating include Kathleen Duey, Louis Sachar, Ellen Datlow, recent DAotM Laurel Snyder, and many more.
Tips on Facebook on the YALSA blog...
This post on YALSA's blog called "The Amazing Power of Facebook" is directed toward teen librarians who are looking to connect with teen readers through the social networking site. I think a lot of the tips could apply to writers looking to connect with young readers through facebook, however.
Check it out and let me know what you think.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Namrata Tripathi Moving to Atheneum...
Just read this on Anastasia Suen's Children's Book Biz News blog (which you all should bookmark):
Namrata Tripathi, currently Senior Editor at Disney/Hyperion, will move to Atheneum as Executive Editor in December.Here's a little on Namrata from my August SCBWI conference post about a panel she participated in with other emerging editorial voices:
Namrata Tripathi describes herself as part analytical and part nurturing. She works on picture books through YA fiction and describes her style as eclectic/literary. She learned from Brenda Bowen that “interesting people make interesting editors.” Her interests are varied, including picture books, nonfiction, fiction, and funny, quirky, truthful, and heartbreaking all appeal to her.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Blog of the Week:
Author Carrie Jones says she started blogging "while I was a student to keep up with Sarah Aronson, Ed Briant, Bethany Hedgerus and so many other people who had graduated from Vermont College's MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. It was very informal and mostly we all said, 'I miss you.' 'I miss you, too.' 'My narrative arc stinks.' 'Mine's worse.' 'Oh, yeah, my character is a one-dimensional stereotype.' "
Later editor Andrew Karre, then at Flux, acquired Carrie's first book, Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend (a 2008 Cybil Award finalist). "He told me that I needed to have a blog, so my posts started to change a little bit. They morphed again when I was running for office. I just lost. It's hard to write posts from the point-of-view of your cat when you're a political candidate."
Things like featuring her cat as a guest blogger make Carrie's blog a pleasure to read. "Those kind of posts are for fun and they help me to take writing a little less seriously. It's hard to worry about the fact that I'll never be nominated for a National Book Award when I can make my cat talk about it instead," she says. "It's a way of processing, I guess. Plus, it's freeing. Your cat or your dog or John Wayne can say things I could never imagine saying. Recently, I had a blog post where John Wayne was telling me to stop worrying and just write some words. Somehow in that tiny blog post I realized: what it was I was worrying about; why I was worrying about it; that it wasn't actually a problem. John Wayne is magic like that." (See her book Girl, Hero for more John Wayne magic.)
Carrie's advice for keeping your blog entertaining, she says, would to be the same as her advice for writing:
- Just write and don't worry.
- If you want to write about a hamster falling in love with a lobster that's okay. Someone will think it's clever.
- Write the kind of blog you want to read. If that's clever, then go with that. If it's full of links? Do that. If it's all about you making dinner, that's good too.
- Pictures are your friends.
- Complaining ALL THE TIME is not always helpful, but it's ok to complain sometimes.
- Respond to comments and comment on other people's blogs. It's the nice thing to do. Your mom would be proud. Blogging is a kind of conversation and nobody wants to listen to one person talk the entire time unless, of course, that person is M.T. Anderson or Tim Wynne Jones.
Carrie's next book Need will released in late December from Bloomsbury. The cover is beautiful. Check it out.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Win Art By Daniel Wallace...
Writer's Digest is currently holding a sweepstakes and the prize is art by author and illustrator Daniel Wallace (of Big Fish fame). Daniel illustrated WD title Pep Talks, Warnings & Screeds, and we're giving away two if his original illustrations from the book as well as 10 copies of the book itself.
Since this is a sweepstakes and not a contest, you don't have to do anything or write anything, just share your contact info for a chance to win. I wish I could enter because I really dig Daniel Wallace, but I'm not allowed.
Here's a little info on Pep Talks:
Pep Talks, Warnings & Screeds is a one-of-a-kind approach to writing advice. With laugh-out-loud stories and aphorisms by George Singleton and whimsical illustrations by Daniel Wallace, this book of important lessons and cautionary advice for writers is not only easy to swallow but also enjoyable and satisfying--imagine cough medicine that tastes like chocolate cake. Writers will gain an understanding of writing and submission basics--all with heart, humor, and a poetic palette that is distinctly, wonderfully Southern.Here's a link to an Q&A with the author, George Singleton. And here's the cover.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
How Publishing Is Like Fashion
Or What I Learned from Daniel Vosovic...
Last night I attended a book signing (at my fabulous local bookseller Joseph-Beth) with fashion designer Daniel Vosovic, who was in the top three on season 2 of Project Runway.
Daniel (I'll call him by his first name because I feel like I know him from TV) was adorable and interesting and talked a lot about both working on his book, Fashion Inside Out: Daniel V's Guide to How Style Happens from Inspiration to Runway and Beyond--he said wonderful things about editors, so he's obviously very wise--and building his career as a designer. (The audience for this event for the most part was young and very stylish--there were quite a few fashion design students in attendance.)
As Daniel spoke about his career path, I noticed some parallels between the fashion world and the publishing world.
First, Daniel pointed out, in fashion you're making something from nothing. When your end product is, say, a cocktail dress, a designer starts with an idea, follows her vision as a creator, collaborates with industry professionals, and comes up with a final product that people will critique and talk about and that may or may not catch on. Substitute "YA novel" for "cocktail dress" and "writer" for "designer" and you see where I'm going.
In fashion and in publishing there are always trends, and while both authors and designers should pay attention to them, they should follow their own muses and create what's in their hearts rather than trying to copy the success of others.
The thing that struck me most as Daniel talked was his answer to a question from a young-and-well-styled audience member. Throughout the evening, he had been referring to his many contacts in the fashion world, his time in Florence and London and his current home of New York. He was asked if it's possible to break into this fashion circle when you're starting out.
Yes, he said without hesitation, because you make your own circle. You must network. As a student, Daniel networked with seamstresses, models, stylists and photographers. Like him, many of them have gone on to bigger careers and remain part of his inner circle.
Think of a writers' group starting out with half a dozen unpublished writers getting together to critique. After a while of working together, members begin to find agents and get a book deals. Published members share connections. They introduce other group members to publishing professionals at conferences. Suddenly everyone's doing well, has books on the shelves, and is presenting at SCBWI conferences. That's making your own circle.
(Note: Daniel shared what he felt was great advice from a well-established designer--if you're going to take to heart the praise of your work, you have to do the same with the criticism. Good advice in a critique situation.)
A great exercise in creating circles is going on now in the way of The Comment Challenge: 21 Days of Community, the brainchild of Lee Wind and Mother Reader. This challenge, which kicked off on November 6th, presented kidlit bloggers with the opportunity to visit other blogs and leave comments, thus both supporting others in the community and raising the profile of their own blogs. Check out the list of participants here and visit their blogs. And visit Mother Reader for updates.
Monday, November 10, 2008
New Writer's Digest Event at the WD HQ...
With the help of Greg the Conference Guy we've cooked up a new event for writers that will take place in the Writer's Digest offices in Cincinnati (home to my messy gray cubicle).
Here's the scoop:
Writer’s Digest University: Editors’ Intensive
what: Your chance to learn first-hand from publishing experts.
when: December 13-14, 2008
where: WD HQ, 4700 E. Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH
how (much): Single Admission Cost: $199
This is something we've been asked about for years, so we've finally decided to open our doors for a publishing event, featuring panel discussions and manuscript critiques. Participating editors include:
- Jane Friedman--Publisher & Editorial Director, Writer’s Digest
- Chuck Sambuchino--Editor, Guide to Literary Agents and Screenwriter's & Playwright's Market
- Joe Stollenwerk--Director, WritersOnlineWorkshops.com
- Alice Pope--me--Editor, Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market and Novel & Short Story Writer's Market
Participants will also get to meet one-on-one with a WD editor who will provide a critique of either your query letter and proposal package (up to 50 pages), or the first 50 pages of your manuscript—plus offer a customized list of possible markets for your work.
The event, which is limited to 50 attendees, also features door prizes and an on-site bookstore with special discounts and sales. Plus, you’ll take home fun freebies that include a subscription to WritersMarket.com and a WD Writer’s Resource CD.
Click here for more information and to register.
Kindle, eBooks Discussion in The Horn Book This Month...
Lately I've had Kindle on the brain. First was the Oprah to-do in which Ms. Winfrey declared it to be her favorite new gadget and said it changed her life. Then I started seeing tests for a Kindle version of CWIM. (It's OK but not great at this point. It seems the Kindle's not awesome with books that are not straight text. There are some funky icons and weird caption placement and things like that, but I'm told Kindle users are used to such things. I was surprised how good the images showed up, however.) Getting our Market Books (as well as a host of other F+W Media titles) ready for Kindle and other electronic readers is a hot project around here.
Seeing the CWIM test was actually my first in-person encounter with the Kindle. I can understand it's appeal, but I'm not sure it's a gadget I'll be snapping up any time soon. I'm in love with the printed book. The feel. The smell. The piles in the corner of every room. The 87 boxes of them I have to back every time I move. I don't mind lugging a book in my carry-on luggage. And at $359, I'd rather buy an iPhone or a really awesome pair of boots.
When I opened my November/December issue of The Horn Book which a big section titled "When e- Is for Reading," in which several writers discuss reader-gadgets, I read it with great interest. Here's a bit from Stephen Roxburgh that puts things in perspective:
And, for the moment, let’s not engage in the “death of the book as we know it” debate. Technology is the means to an end, and not necessarily the end of a means. Think about the fact that people still walk, bicycle, ride horses, drive cars, take trains, and fly to get where they are going. When we read, we have a goal in mind. We are going somewhere.Click here to read the rest of Roxburgh's piece along with the others.
Anybody out there tried the Kindle? Do you like it? And what do you think of CWIM on the Kindle?
Friday, November 07, 2008
Blog of the Week:
Jolie Stekly answered a few questions about her blog, Cuppa Jolie, in the midst of a Western Washington SCBWI Retreat. (She was about to walk out the door to pick up Patti Lee Gauch when I emailed her.) Jolie, a former elementary school teacher, is currently a Regional Advisor for the Western Washington SCBWI and has just finished revising a NaNoWriMo rough draft.
Tell me a little about your blog?
I have a What the Buzz? section on my blog where I say: “In this blog I chat with baristas about books, interview authors, buzz about coffee spots, and blather about writerly issues and the other stuff on my mind.” Really, I mostly blather. This is actually a great personal reminder that I need bring some more focus to the first three.
When I started Cuppa Jolie, I decided to combine all the passions that collide in my writing life: books, coffee, and people. Plus, I had some sort of delusion that as I started to interview authors at cool coffee spots, they’d start to invite me to get together with them at their favorite places. Crazy, I know, but one can dream. Really, I dream about one day chatting with Judy Blume over lattes and pastries as I secretly pinch myself because I was talking to my childhood fave. Hey, crazier things have happened.
Cuppa Jolie debuted in August. Wy did you decide to start blogging?
Peer pressure. Really. It started with the cutest couple in the children’s book world, Laini Taylor and Jim DiBartolo. For a good year, every time I saw them, they’d ask me when I was going to start a blog. They wouldn’t leave me alone about it and it became quite obsessive—okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but they convinced me I should do it. Laini and Jim couldn’t say enough about the ways it’s helped them connect with the larger children’s book community. And, you know, they were right. I’ve been amazed at the connections and friendships I’ve made in a few short months.
What would you say is the purpose of your blog? As a new blogger, did you learn anything helpful at the Portland conference?
A purpose? Yikes. That makes it seem like what I’m doing, what I’m saying/writing, is important. Like it might matter to someone else. Well, actually, I hope it does, even the silly stuff. If I can make someone say, Hey, I do that, too! or I have days like that! or even if they just laugh or nod their head, then good deal. Not only does it make me feel good, but I hope it does for those reading.
A purpose not intended but has been great: Letting my family (across the country) get a glimpse into my writing life which is quite separate from my personal/family life. (Hi, Grandpa! Love you.)
As for the Kidlitosphere Blogging Conference in Portland, I almost didn’t attend, but I’m so glad I did. One of my biggest takeaways from the conference—comment on other blogs. Before I started blogging myself, I read many, but never commented. I mentioned in one of my posts that I almost felt like a stranger peering in a window, not wanting to get caught, not wanting the blogger to know I was curious. I have a completely different attitude as a blogger. I LOVE when people leave me comments, not only that, but if you’re a blogger yourself, it’s a great way to start getting to know others in the industry. So comment!
Can you give any advice to writers just beginning to create a presence in the blogosphere?
That’s a tall order! But the first thing that comes to mind is to dive in and go for it. Also, be yourself. This actually makes me think about a session at the conference presented by the wonderful and very successful blogger, Mother Reader. While I may have just said to dive in, do think it over a bit (just not too much or you might never do it). Find your niche; find your purpose and what will work for you personally. Another huge piece of advice Mother Reader shared was to consider a group blog so that the responsibility can be shared. But now that I spilled all that very well-intended information, I’m not sure if I’ve followed a bit of it (other than being myself).
Blogging is fun. I think it was one Miss Alice Pope who commented early-on in Cuppa Jolie’s history and told me it’s addictive. You’re right, Alice. It really is.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
SCBWI New York Conference Registration Now Open...
You can now register online for the 2009 SCBWI Winter Conference (or the rocket ship conference which I decided I'm calling it from now on. You should all call it that--it would be fun.) It takes place January 30-February 1 in at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.
To entice you, here's the list of speakers:
Keynotes:(I'll be there and I'll be blogging.)
Jay Asher, Bruce Hale, Richard Jackson, Jarrett Krosoczka, Julius Lester
Michael Bourret, Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Edward Necarsulmer IV, Michael Stearns
Kathy Dawson (Harcourt); Caitlyn Dlouhy (Atheneum); Claudia Gabel (Random House); Jennifer Greene (Clarion); Michelle Nagler (Bloomsbury); Scott Piehl (Director, Design--Disney); Martha Rago (Exec. Art Director--HarperCollins); Jennifer Rees (Scholastic); Tim Travaglini (Putnam); Tamson Weston (Hyperion)
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Egmont USA announced new hires including Greg Ferguson as editor (he was at Harper Children's) and Nico Medina as managing editor (he was at Viking Children's). The company has acquired 15 titles for their launch list, starting in fall 2009.
Below is the recently created listing with information provided by Elizabeth Law. (Egmont did not make the 2009 CWIM, but will appear in the 2010 edition):
EGMONT USA 443 Park Ave South, New York NY 10016. Estab. 2008. The Egmont Group was founded in 1878. (212)685-0102. Website: www.egmont-us.com. Acquisitions: Elizabeth Law (VP & Publisher), Regina Griffin (Executive Editor). Publishes 5 picture books/year; 5 young readers/year; 20 middle readers/year; 20 young adult/year. 25% of books by first-time authors. "Egmont USA publishes quality commercial fiction. We are committed to editorial excellence and to providing first rate care for our authors. Our motto is that we turn writers in authors and children into passionate readers."
Fiction Picture books: animal, concept, contemporary, humor, multicultural. Young Readers: adventure, animal, contemporary, humor, multicultural. Middle Readers: adventure, animal, contemporary, fantasy, humor, multicultural, problem novels, science fiction, special needs. Young Adults/Teens: adventure, animal, contemporary, humor, multicultural, problem novels, science fiction, special needs. Upcoming titles: Leaving the Belleweathers, by Kristen Venuti (Fall 09); Back, by Julia Keller (Fall 09); The Cinderella Society, (Spring 2010).
How to Contact/Writers Only interested in agented material. Fiction: Query. Responds to queries in 4 weeks; mss in 6 weeks. Publishes a book 18 months after acceptance. Will consider e-mail submissions.
Illustration Only interested in agented in material. Works with 5 illustrators/year. Uses both color and b&w. Illustrations only: Query with samples. Contact: Alison Weiss, Editorial Assistant. Responds only if interested. Samples are not returned.
Terms Pays authors royalties based on retail price. Pays illustrators royalties.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Best Books of 2008 Lists from PW and Amazon...
It's that listy time of the year...
Publishers Weekly recently compiled their list of best books of the year in numerous categories. Here are the first five on each of their lists of best books for young readers. Click here to read all the lists complete with descriptions of each of the books.
Children's Picture Books
- In a Blue Room, by Jim Averbeck, illus. by Tricia Tusa (Harcourt) (Yay Jim who use to live in the Nati!)
- The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum, by Kate Bernheimer, illus.by Nicoletta Ceccoli (Schwartz & Wade)
- The Day Leo Said I Hate You!, by Robie Harris, illus. by Molly Bang (Little, Brown)
- Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, by Mem Fox, illus. by Helen Oxenbury (Harcourt)
- A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, Marla Frazee (Harcourt)
- Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson (Simon & Schuster)
- The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 2: The Kingdom on the Waves, by M.T. Anderson (Candlewick)
- The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, by Jeanne Birdsall (Knopf)
- Masterpiece, by Elise Broach (Holt)
- Graceling, by Kristin Cashore (Harcourt)
- The Year We Disappeared: A Father-Daughter Memoir, by Cylin Busby & John Busby (Bloomsbury)
- What the World Eats, by Faith D'Aluisio, photos by Peter Menzel (Tricycle)
- Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, by the National Children's Book and Literary Alliance, intro. by David McCullough (Candlewick)
- The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West, by Sid Fleischman (Greenwillow)
- We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, by Kadir Nelson (Hyperion/Jump at the Sun)
(And remember--it's never too early to start holiday shopping for your literate loved-ones.)
Early Morning Voting in Ohio...
I got to my my polling place at 8 a.m. and there was not much in the way of lines. It took me a total of 11 minutes to cast my vote. The polling place was calm, and the workers seemed very on top of things. Many of my co-workers have different stories of long lines and at least slight confusion. (One voted near the college campus and there were a lot of problems with dorm dwellers not being able to prove their residency.) Two and a half millions Ohioans voted early, and I heard about a lot of long lines for the early voters. (A co-worker told me about a 3-plus hours wait at a polling place last night--the voters in line ordered pizza.)
How did it go for you all?
Monday, November 03, 2008
Blogging the Vote...
Click over to Chasing Ray today to find links to non-partisan thoughts on voting from all over the blogosphere (from authors, illustrators, reviewers, librarians).
As for me, I think it's important to vote for many reasons, one of which is that I live in Ohio, and pretty much no one can win the Presidency without winning Ohio. I feel like my vote counts! Voting makes me feel like a part of something. It make me feel important and powerful on some level. Tonight I'll be going over a sample ballot to make sure I have my ducks in a row when I get to the booth. Tomorrow I'll be getting up extra early to get to the polls. (There aren't many things that makes me get up extra early.)