Tuesday, March 31, 2009

National Poetry Week Goings-On...

If you're looking for ways to get your daily shot of the poetic during April (which, of course, is National Poetry Month) here are two great options:

  • Poetic Asides' Poem-a-Day Challenge. Poet's Market editor, blogger (and my super-duper co-worker) Robert Lee Brewer is holding his annual Poem-a-Day Challenge on the Poetic Asides blog. Throughout April Robert will post a daily poetry prompt and poets are encouraged to post their prompt-inspired work on the blog (every day if they're up to the challenge). In May Robert's 50 favorite poems will be offered in an e-book. It's all free and there's no registration to complete--poets simply write and post.

Monday, March 30, 2009

An Interview with Me on Market My Words...

This morning on the Market My Words blog you'll find a Q&A with me. Click here to read it. (Every week Shelli (Twitter: @srjohannes) offers a "Marvelous Marketer" interview on Market My Words.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Blogger of the Week:
Casey McCormick, Literary Rambles...

The "About Me" on Casey McCormick's blog Literary Rambles describes her as an "aspiring author, amateur photographer, coffee craver, and (tired) mother of two–trying to find my place in the writing world . . . join me," she says, "as I struggle and thrash against the bonds of my doubt and insecurity." I'm certain her bio resonates with many writers who include Literary Rambles on their online reading lists. Here Casey talks about the evolution of her blog and offers terrific advice to other writers on making their way in the blogosphere.

How long have you been blogging and what prompted you to start? What did you hope to accomplish?

I had been blogging on and off for about six years (never regularly or well) before I started my writing blog in April of 2008. I had recently joined the Absolute Write forums and thereafter found myself reading the blogs of both published and unpublished writers. I was immediately
sucked into the time-consuming black hole that is blog stalking (but not in a creepy way, I promise!) The kid lit community is just amazing and full of awesomeness, but I doubt I need to tell anyone reading this blog that!

What did I hope to accomplish? In the beginning I had no idea what I wanted to do with my blog. I wanted a presence in the writing community and was happy to remember to post once a week or month or… ever at all. I considered myself a terrible blogger but I wanted to be like all the
other cool kidlits. My very first blog post says “new” in the subject line and “encourage” in the body and that’s it. That’s how much I didn’t have to say. A year later, I’m blogging almost daily and Literary Rambles has definitely taken a more professional turn. Looking back on the first six months of my blog is like looking at my first manuscript, i.e. cringe worthy.

What kind of posts can readers expect on Literary Rambles? What are your regular features?

I didn’t have any regular features until I started something called “Wednesday’s Word Count” late last year. After a post I wrote about goals and how beneficial they are to writing, I decided to create a weekly post where we could publicly state our writing goals as a means of encouragement and motivation. It hasn’t been extremely popular, but it’s always there, and it helps me to know that I have at least a few eyes on my weekly word counts.

More recently, I began a feature called “Agent Spotlight,” which is significantly more popular. The idea behind Agent Spotlight was to condense the task of researching an agent into a blog post. I find whatever information I can including interviews, quotes, preferences, pet peeves, realistic response times, etc. and then try to include what people are saying about the agent, whether good or bad. I openly invite readers to post their experiences with the spotlighted agent in the comments (even anonymously, if they prefer) or to e-mail me if they feel I should have the information prior to the post’s launch. Those go up on Thursday and I really can’t wait until I have a large list of Spotlights for writers to reference.

Beyond those weekly recurrences, I post helpful links, random publishing news, contests, questions, goals, the occasional article on writing, and whatever else I can come up with to keep me blogging. Recently some friends and I have been doing a 30k in 30 (one) Days writing challenge, which you could consider a concept-cousin to NaNoWriMo, and I’d love to do more challenges like it in the future.

Your blog lists other places readers can find you online. Do you participate in other blogs and in what capacity?

The only other blog I actively belong to is a group blog called Flashy Fiction. What is it? Seven writers give flash fiction prompts seven days a week. It’s a ton of fun and a great place to practice or loosen up for a day of writing. We keep it very low-key and nonjudgmental. Writers of every caliber are welcome as long as they respect the rules, which are under the 411 link on the sidebar. My prompts go up on Tuesday.

I love your To Read Montage. (I have two giant and precarious nightstand stacks myself.) How quickly do books move to your Reading spot on the blog?

Not fast enough! It really depends on the book and the amount of time I have for reading. Isn’t that always the case? Some books I’ll read in hours, others take me a few weeks. I try to read a minimum or two or three books a month but I certainly wish I had time for more.

Could you offer some advice to writers new to the blogosphere?

If you’re interested in networking and building a platform for little more than time, then definitely get into blogging. Just remember that whatever you say reflects back on you. No matter what you post on your blog, keep an underlying tone of professionalism. If you’re journeying toward publication, your blog will eventually be a means for publishing professionals to assess you as a person, and the person behind the pages matters, too.

Also, give your blog time to grow. You’ll probably start off slow and that’s fine. I did. I have a post on my blog called “Blog Topics for Writers” that you can find here if you’re stumped. The best way to get a following, at least in my opinion, is to give as much as you take. Get out there and participate in the blogging community. Comment on other writer’s blogs, but don’t bother unless you have something genuine to say. After you get into the swing of things, try finding something unique to offer your readers. If you’ve got something good, word of mouth will be your vessel from there.

If you’re not the blogging type or just don’t feel ready, I’d encourage you to at least make a profile that you can comment from. Beyond the joyous advantage of making friends, you can make a name for yourself so people will recognize you later if you ever do start a blog or become

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are Movie Trailer...

The boy and I are very excited about this! (It's directed by Spike Jonze and stars Catherine Keener, Max Records, Mark Ruffalo, Lauren Ambrose and James Gandolfini. Where the Wild Things Are opens October 16th. My calendar is marked.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Two New Agents Join Firebrand...

Firebrand Literary has recently added two new agents to its staff (which includes Michael Stearns and Nadia Cornier).

From the agency press release (which I retyped from a PDF so if there's a typo it's mine):

Firebrand Literary has expanded it's agenting team with the addition of Danielle Chiotti, formerly senior editor at Kensington, and Stacia Decker, formerly an editor at Harcourt.

Chiotti and Decker will be responsible for expanding the Firebrand list into the nonfiction and adult fiction book markets. Authors interested in representation should check the Firebrand website for information on how to submit.

Click here for a link to bios for all of Firebrand's agents
. Also checkout of the Firebrand blog. (I love the "Overheard at Firebrand" posts.)

And note the new logo and look for the website. (See my interview with Michael Stearns from last May for the old logo.)

NYC Teen Author Festival--My First Day...

I arrived in New York on rainy Thursday to catch the last few days of the Teen Author Festival. That afternoon I met my friend Aaron Hartzler (who is the Director, Communications & Design for SCBWI) for a 4 o'clock reading at the 67th branch library featuring Rachel Vail, Courtney Sheinmel, Martin Wilson, Lisa Ann Sandell, and Cecily Von Ziegesar (pictured below in my rather dark photo, L to R, holding up their books).

Oh...I really adore listening to authors reading their own work. There's something sort of magical about it. I'd love to have a continuous bedtime rotation of YA authors reading me a few chapters every night before I fall asleep. Courtney Sheinmel told us she got the idea for her book My So-Called Family, featuring a girl whose father was a sperm donor, from a "The Today Show" story. Cecily Von Ziegesar read a scene from an early Gossip Girl title showing us the book version of why Blair Waldorf didn't get into Harvard (no cocktail parties or text messages involved). Rachel Vail's reading from her upcoming book Lucky offered humor and a great character. Lisa Ann Sandell's writing was lyrical and beautiful and I wasn't surprised to hear that her book A Map of the Known World is her first first prose work, her previous books written in verse. As for Llambda Literary Awards finalist Martin Wilson--after the reading teens were fighting over who got to read his book What They Always Tell Us first as he gave his copy to the library.

And that was another wonderful thing about this reading: teens. There were a bunch of them. And they (pretty much all) paid attention and they asked thoughtful questions and they seemed to have a relationship with the YA librarian which was wonderful to see.

After the reading we were off to Books of Wonder for the debut of Tiger Beat, the first-ever all-YA-author band including Libba Bray, Daniel Ehrenhaft, Barney Miller, and Natalie Standiford. Tiger Beat's opening act was David Levithan and Rachel Cohn (rockin a flannel shirt and eye liner) offering readings from their book Naomi and Eli's No Kiss List (in both English and German!) and a reenacted scene from the movie version of Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist.

Then Tiger Beat seriously rocked (they were, like, good) and everyone cheered.

And waved foam Tiger Beat rock'n'roll hands.

Oh--and attached to Books of Wonder: a cupcake place! Aren't they pretty. (The chocolate icing was fantastic.)

Last, here's a reenactment of part of Aaron's conversation with the girl who sold us cupcakes. (I forget her name. I will call her Kara.)

Aaron: Hi Kara. Are you excited about the authors here in the store?

Oh. I'm not really into young adult books.


I'm sixteen.

What do you read?

Neil Gaiman.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'll Be in NYC for the Teen Author Festival Tomorrow...

And all weekend. So:

  • I may or may not be blogging throughout the weekend, but I will definitely post about the NYC Teen Author Festival events I attended when I'm back at work next Tuesday.
  • I will be doing much much tweeting, so if you follow me on Twitter, look for my posts.
  • If you're there, find me and say hi. (You know what I look like because you see my picture whenever you visit my blog. Just remember the me-not-really-being-blue thing.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Writer's Digest Has a New Online Bookshop...

If you like Writer's Digest Books (and I hope you do because CWIM is one of them) and you like cheap books (and who doesn't?) you should check out our new Writer's Digest Shop.

Some cool things about the new Shop are discounts (20% off or more), free U.S. shipping if you spend $25, and a Member Reward program which is cool in that once you spend $100 you get an additional 10% off all the other stuff you buy from the shop in the future. And since the shop just had it's grand opening, there's an extra 10% off any books you order before April 15th-- which makes the 2009 CWIM a real bargain. Here's the secret 10%-off code: WDPB0309.

There's an area featuring writing books focusing on Children's & Young Adult (published by WD and others), but also an array of other great offerings including our Elements of Fiction and Write Great Fiction series which everyone seems to love. And Jane Yolen's wonderful title Take Joy is currently on sale for $7.50.

P.S. Check out the new Writer's Digest Community Facebook page. We need fans.

P.S.S. We've got a survey open about online writing courses and we'd love to have your opinion. It's only 10 questions, so if you have a minute click here to take the survey.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Blogger of the Week:
Donna McDine--Write What Inspires You!...

Donna McDine worked as a cashier, a personal assistant, and a web designer before she figured out where she belonged--in the world of children’s books. She placed 12th in the children's/YA category of the annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition and recently signed her 1st book contract with Guardian Angel Publishing for The Golden Pathway.

Donna joined Stories for Children Magazine as Marketing Manager in January 2009, where she is responsible for featured guest interviews, establishing sponsorship and advertisers, and customer service inquiries. Her publishing credits include more than 15 print and ezine publications and she's a member of SCBWI and Musing Our Children. Visit her website and her blog--Write What Inspires You!--which she talks about below.

Why did you decide to start your blog?

When I started taking children’s writing courses in 2006, I started hearing about the importance of making your presence known and creating your platform. Of course, my initial reaction was “What the heck is a platform?” The Internet truly brings the world to your fingertips and with research and networking I have met many established authors along the way who gave me sound advice and guidance on starting a blog. I began my blog, Write What Inspires You! in May 2007 and have never looked back.

What’s the focus of your blog?

My blog offers writers of all levels an opportunity to learn from veteran authors with personal interviews, book reviews and valuable writing information links to writer’s resources. Up-to-date info will keep readers informed on upcoming events at the Metro NY SCBWI, Eastern NY SCBWI, and Musing Our Children. I am subscribed to several newsletters and when I come across a topic I think would be of interest to others I post part of the article with a link back to the newsletter, such as, Publishers Weekly, The Horn Book, SFC Newsletter for Writers, and Children’s Book Insider. Over time, my blog (I’m sure like many others) has taken a life of its own on.

What kind of posts will readers find there?

My posts vary and lately I’ve been focusing on hosting children’s authors with an interview posting and quite often a book review the day before the author visits. We encourage readers to leave comments and/or questions for the guest author to respond to. It creates a true give and take forum, one that I feel my visitors enjoy. Many times, a visitor will meet an author they never knew about or has known and this gives them the opportunity to “pick the brain” of the guest author.

What’s your advice for writers just dipping their toes into the blogosphere?

Start out slow. Clip ideas to blog on and blog 1-2 times per week. You will find over time, the ideas begin to flow and blogging will be a snap. Gather links to websites and blogs you find valuable (this helps tremendously in building a network). Comment on other blogs--this is important in getting yourself known and returning traffic back to you. Ask questions--no question is silly. At one time whoever you are chatting with was new to blogging too and I’m sure they will be more than happy to help you out.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Brother Was Bored and Tallied the Words in Green Eggs and Ham...

My brother has always liked to count things. (Years ago he figured out that may parents were married for 10,000 days, so we threw them a 10,000 day anniversary party, for example.) He recently had surgery on his shoulder and is off work for a few weeks and apparently he's making the most of the extra time by doing things like counting the number of times each word appears in Green Eggs and Ham. Here's his word tally. (It's Seuss' birthday month, after all.)

  • 85--I
  • 84--not
  • 61--them, a
  • 44--like
  • 40--in
  • 37--do
  • 34--you
  • 26--would
  • 25--eat
  • 24--and
  • 21--will
  • 19--Sam, with
  • 15--am
  • 14--could
  • 11--here, green, eggs, ham, the
  • 9--train, there
  • 8--or, anywhere, house, mouse
  • 7--on, dark, box, car, fox
  • 6--tree
  • 5--so, say
  • 4--me, may, be, goat, see, rain, try, let
  • 3--boat, that
  • 2--are, good, they, thank
  • 1--if
A little Green Eggs and Ham bonus: Here's a link to Jesse Jackson reading it on SNL. (I'd have put the video on my blog, but the embedding is disabled.)

On the GLA Blog: Agent Kelly Sonnack...

Guide to Literary Agents editor Chuck Sambuchino posted an interview with agent Kelly Sonnack who recently joined Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Here's a snippet:

I’d love to see more well-written and clever middle grade fiction. There’s a need for it right now and I see a lot of potential in this market. I’d also love to see more memoir for kids – especially cultural memoir about growing up in different countries, identity, and living across cultures. We are a colorful world, and I’m not sure that’s reflected adequately in children’s lit quite yet.
Click here to read the full interview.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Michael Bourret Visits Editor Unleashed...

Today at 1 p.m. eastern time, agent Michael Bourret of Dystel & Goderich will be the guest in the forum on Editor Unleashed. Stop by and ask him a few questions. (I just may be there too.) (And I assume it will be in the Guest Agents & Authors area.)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

My Blog Will Be Quiet for a Few Days...

I'll be out of the office for a bit, dear readers, and won't likely post until Wednesday of next week. Please stop back then or check out my Twittering in the meantime--you can see the feed over there on the right of my blog.

New on my Links List:
The Publishing Trends Blog...

I've just added a blog to my "Alice Recommends..." list: The Publishing Trends Blog.

Here's their description:

Publishing Trends has been the definitive news source for the book publishing industry since 1994. The blog is a forum for our writers, subscribers, and the publishing industry at large to share news and commentary throughout the month. For more in-depth articles, charts, and the full PT experience, visit www.publishingtrends.com.
Be sure to click over to the full articles they link to in today's post for some interesting reporting on how publishers are effectively using Twitter. I think writers and illustrators who tweet can apply some of the recommendations in the article to their own strategy--for example not thinking of Twitter as a promotional vehicle so much as a place to personally connect with your audience:
“The publishers that use Twitter best are the ones who let the person running the account put a personal spin on their posts, not just announcing every press clipping or YouTube clip that comes down the pike.”
They also offered several posts on the recent TOC conference that might interest you including one on called 5 Things We Learned About Teens at TOC.

Since Publishing Trends Blog is not updated frequently, I subscribed to their FeedBurner and get an email whenever they have a new post. With the many changes afoot in the publishing world these days, visiting this blog is one way you can stay on top of what's being talked about.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Writer's Digest Editors' Intensive
March 21-22...

In just a few weeks we have a great event coming up at the Writer's Digest HQ here in the Nati--a Writer's Digest Editors' Intensive.

Late last year when we came up with the idea to do an event for writers here in our offices, I admit I was a little worried. Don't get me wrong--I thought it was an excellent idea. (We've got an amazing amount of writing and publishing knowledge in our collective WD brain and we're all about sharing it with writers.) But we didn't have a lot of time to promote it and we were asking people to come to Cincinnati in winter two weeks before Christmas. (I didn't really want to be in Cincinnati in the winter two weeks before Christmas.)

I was so excited when the event quickly sold out (people came from all over!) and even more excited to feel the energy in the room the first day of our event. The writers who attended asked great questions and gave us such positive feedback. I really felt like we were giving them what they needed and helping them. And it was limited to just over 50 attendees, so our event really had a more intimate feel than many others.

Because the response to our first event was to tremendous, we've schedule four more Editors Intensives for 2009, the first on March 21-22. Besides a full day of presentations and Q&A (on topics like revision, networking, and pitching), attendees get a 30-minute one-on-one critique of the first 50 pages of a manuscript, a free sub to WritersMarket.com, and a CD featuring Writer's Digest interviews. And (since our December attendees told us they would have liked more time to hang out with us and each other) there will also be informal Saturday night mingling.

You can click here to get all the information on our Editors' Intensive. (It's cheaper if you register by next Wednesday.) Note that although I'm on the list of editors presenting, I actually will not be--I couldn't pass up the chance to attend the NYC Teen Author Festival (which you will certainly be hearing about on my blog and my Twitter account.) I'll be presenting at the June and the October Intensives. Rest assured, however, that my co-workers handling the March event are awesome.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

SCBWI 2009 Golden Kite Winners Announced
Plus: Introducing SCBWI Team Blog!...

Here's some exciting breaking news...

The 2009 Golden Kite Winners!

Fiction: Down Sand Mountain by Steve Watkins (Candlewick)

Nonfiction: A Life in the Wild: George Schaller's Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts by Pamela S. Turner (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Picture Book Text: A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton (Candlewick)

Picture Book Illustration: Last Night illustrated and written by Hyewon Yum (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Golden Kite Honor Recipients:

Fiction: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (Henry Holt)

Nonfiction: The Mysterious Universe: Supernovae, Dark Energy, and Black Holes by Ellen Jackson, photographed by Nic Bishop (Houghton Mifflin)

Picture Book Text: Before John Was a Jazz Giant by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Henry Holt)

Picture Book Illustration: I Love My New Toy illustrated and written by Mo Willems (Hyperion)

In addition to cash grants of $2,500, SCBWI's Golden Kite winners receive an expense-paid trip to Los Angeles to attend the awards ceremony at the Golden Kite Luncheon during the SCBWI Summer Conference in August. Editors of the winning books are recognized as well.

And speaking of the summer conference...

After I successfully live blogged SCBWI's New York event in February (thanks to all of you who visited the conference blog), I've been invited to do the same for the Los Angeles event in August. And because LA is too big for little ol' me to cover alone, I've assembled a crack team of energetic and enthusiastic bloggers to help. SCBWI Team Blog will cover the LA events, live blogging session and festivities (with a little Twitter thrown in for good measure).

SCBWI Team Blog members are Jolie Stekly, Jaime Temairik, Paula Yoo, Suzanne Young, and Lee Wind who are also giving their readers the scoop on the Golden Kite winners.

I've added a special SCBWI Team Blog links list to my blog (look to your right) and between now and the conference Team Blog members will, from time to time, offer insider info, interviews and general conference scoop on our individual blogs--so visit them, bookmark them and/or follow them. (At conference time we'll all contribute to one Official Conference Blog). Big fun! I'm very excited.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Did You See the Google Logo Today?...

If you click on it, you get a Seuss search. (Do the ever-changing logos always do that? I've never clicked on one before.)

I hope you're all doing something Seuss-y today, the anniversary of the birth of Theodor Seuss Geisel. (He is, of course, a fellow Pisces. Isn't everyone brilliant a Pisces, left handed, or both?) At the very least have some pink cake or Green Eggs and Ham.