Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Pitch Slam...

Our conference yesterday was really fabulous. We had more than 500 attendees, writers of all sorts. And our program got great reviews from both the conference goers and the agents who took pitches. There were 60 of them. One told me that the caliber of pitches she heard were the best she's gotten at a conference in the past 3 years.)

I manned the pitch room for children's and YA agents Michelle Andelman from Andrea Brown Literary, Jennie Dunham of Dunham Literary, Jessica Regel and Jennifer Weltz from Jean V. Naggar Literary and Tuna Wexler from International Creative Management. They were troopers, most taking pitches for two full hours. It was wonderful to observe an agent's face light up when she was excited by a pitch and talk to the writers whose three-minutes went well. Most of the writers were able to pitch to several or all of the agents.

Ode to the Union Guys...
My first job before our conference yesterday was to greet people as they entered the Javitz Center and direct them to the conference location. (Take the stairs to your left down to the escalator on your right and you'll find the check-in table. No, I'm sorry, there's no coffee. No, Starbucks is not open today...) What's cool about being in Javitz before BEA kicks off is that you get to see the show floor being set up. It's pretty amazing that they take this giant empty space and in three days turn it into gorgeous shiny carpeted booths full of books. The Freeman dudes work hard moving giant crates (hence the Watch for Forklifts sign in my I'm-way-too-tired-to-type photo essay from yesterday), assemble walls, run electricity, hang banners and the like. And no one even turned on the air conditioning for them.

Here's a cool photo of the inside of Javitz featuring the book TV bus and the very orange ladder that the head Freeman stood on for the morning meeting of union guys. (I eavesdropped.)And here are a few big crates waiting to be moved. This is the entrance to the show floor.

BEA Conference: K.L. Going...

One of my favorite conference session yesterday featured author K.L. Going discussing writing for the YA audience. She offered an interesting glimpse into the history of YA and how to define this often muddy category of books for young readers, and she delved into plotting and characterization.

It was great to spend some time with this author whose work I so admire. And extra exciting exciting for me because K.L. is doing a book with us on writing and publishing the YA novel which is due out this fall. You'll be hearing more about it in this space as the pub date draws closer. It's so good.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

BEA Day 1: A Photo Essay ...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

In NYC...

After racing to the airport, a non-eventful flight, and a really long line for a taxi, I and my co-workers safely made it the New York, and checked out the scene at the Javitz Center. The rooms are set up for our conference tomorrow, the F+W Publications booth is ready to go (we've got a really cool big red sign suspended from the ceiling--pictures later--so it will be easy for directionally challenged me to locate my HQ), and we have to be back to prepare for registration in less than 12 hours.

I'm hitting the hotel restaurant and going to bed early. Tomorrow will be a long day. I'll tell you all about it as the day progresses (so long as I the convention center wi-fi is cool.)

Excited About BEA...Can't Sleep...

It's quarter to 5 in the morning and I've been staring at the ceiling for about an hour, my brain all a twitter thinking about my trip to New York. Did I pack too much? Did I not pack enough? Am I forgetting anything? What should I read on the plane? Which day am I meeting which person at which booth? Will my shoes be comfortable? Where's my cell phone charger? What does one wear to children's author speed dating?

So I though I'd do something a little more productive and remind you all to visit my blog a bunch over the next week or so for my perspective on the BookExpo. Now I'm going to try to squeeze in 3 more hours of sleep. Wish me luck.

Friday, May 25, 2007

36th Annual SCBWI Summer Conference...

I was very excited when the mail arrived in my inbox yesterday because it included the (snazzy) brochure for the 36th Annual Summer Conference, an impressive shindig SCBWI throws every August in (the really nice part) of Los Angeles.

Here are a few cool things about this year's conference:

  • New tracks and series of sessions are offered including Creating the Series, Increasing Your Revenue & Books Sales and Poetry Master Class with Lee Bennett Hopkins, along with tracks for illustrators and published attendees.
  • Four contributors to the 2008 CWIM are on the faculty: author Kathleen Duey, Delacorte editor Krista Marino, Henry Holt associate art director Laurent Linn, and the Class of 2k7.
  • Other cool presenters such as Cecil Castellucci, John Green, Cynthia Leitich Smith.
  • If all goes well (my fingers are crossed), the conference will be the first place the 2008 CWIM is available.
If you have the time and budget to attend this event, I highly recommend it. If you can't, I'll give you the play-by-play right here. (If you'd like to read my account of conference goings-on from last year, visit August 2006 in my blog archive. I kicked off my blog at the event!)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Important BEA Prep: Footwear...

I leave for New York for the BookExpo America on Tuesday. I've got my materials together, contacted people about meeting up, figured out my schedule, and geared up for the conference. I've even planned all my outfits. Except the shoes. I've admitted before in this space that I have a shoe problem. I've got many many shoes. Many many. Some are wearing to work shoes. Some are going out to dinner shoes. Some are going to the park or grocery store shoes. None, however, are walking around BEA/walking around New York shoes.

I ran to the mall at lunchtime and purchased potential New York shoes #5 and #6. I've taken two pairs back, decided one pair is strictly park/grocery store, and one is TBD (unworn, receipt in box--comfy, but I'm not sure if they're cute). I just cannot spend six days wearing cruel shoes. No matter how many free books I get, it's not nearly as fun if my dogs are barking. How do New Yorkers (and my friend Suzanne with her adorable high heel wardrobe) do it? I recently read an interview with Sarah Jessica Parker (who, by the way, is from the Nati), and she said she often runs into fans around New York and they always check out her shoes and are disappointed to find she's in flip flops instead of 4-inch Jimmy Choo stilettos.

Once I solve my shoe dilemma, I'll be ready to go. Don't forget to visit my blog for updates on BEA including lots of pictures.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chuck's Newsletter on All Things Agent...

Guide to Literary Agents Editor Chuck Sambuchino will kick off his GLA e-newsletter tomorrow. "The purpose of this is newsletter," Chuck says, "is to keep readers updated on news, tips and great resources around the Web, regarding literary agents, screenwriting agents, writers' conferences and writing opportunities in general." To sign up visit the GLA page. If you'd like to see sample, click here. The newsletter will be biweekly.

I'll be launching a CWIM newsletter in the near future myself. Feel free to sign up now, but be patient, friends. Gotta get the 2008 CWIM to the printer first. (And go to BEA.)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Feeling the Judy Blume Love...

I keep seeing Judy Blume mentions lately. First because Simon & Schuster recently released a new paperback version of Forever. (Raise your hand if you and all your friends sneak-read this book in 7th grade, got caught, and got the nuns all in a tizzy.) I imagine this frequently banned classic would seem pretty tame to today's One Tree Hill-watching teens--perhaps I'll pull out my old copy and read it on the plane on the way to New York next week and see what all the fuss was about.

Getting even more buzz is a compilation of essays titled Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume. I gotta say, Blume was one helpful lady for me, as a kid in the '70s. Where else could I get some answers to questions about menstruation (I was right there with ya, Margaret), masturbation and sex in the privacy of my own paperback? I think most of all, I learned I was not alone in the exercise of adolescence.

I also had a revelation about...breakfast cereal. I remember it vividly as I read Deenie. There was a scene during which the title character is making breakfast and she's sprinkling her bowl of cereal with raisins and brown sugar and such. It was as if a whole new world of breakfast options were opened to me the moment I realized that one does not have to eat one's corn flakes just as they are in the box. I know this sounds silly, but it was very exciting at the time. (Even back then, I was very into all things food. You may recall my 2002 CWIM "From the Editor" in which I told the story of when my mom banned me from watching "The French Chef" with Julia Child when I was 9 or 10.)

Thanks, Judy.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

New York Times Book Review Children's Section...

I'm a little late passing this on considering it's Thursday, but I was just straightening my house and found the New York Times Book Review special children's section from this past Sunday. (My husband hid it under all the sections I never read.) This special section offers reviews of new rhyming poetry books and picture books about jazz, among other things.

I'm not much of a a fan of jazz music. That's an understatement--really hate jazz. With the exception of an Ella tune here and there, I can't stand it for more than a few minutes. (In conversation, I would normally paraphrase Augusten Burroughs expressing his feelings about jazz, but it's too un-PC to post. See Magical Thinking.) However, I always seem to adore the artwork that winds up in books about jazz for young readers. Maybe I just need to see jazz and not hear it. There are a couple of examples of wonderful jazz illustration in the Times piece. Zeebopadoo!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Kicking Off Alice's Summer Reading Program...

I've admitted in this space several times that I really dig TV. Sometimes I even worry that I harbor a perhaps unhealthy level of love for my TV friends. I'm still reeling from the abrupt cancellation of The Gilmore Girls. (Found out last week during a promo spot--that's no way to break such news to a girl.) I long for the days when a could enjoy a new episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the best show ever). And I've never quite come to grips with the passing of Phil Hartman. (I don't want to talk about it.)

But this time of year, I'm a little relieved that rerun season is upon us--and I can find some book friends and get caught up in their lives. So I've officially kicked off Alice's Summer Reading Program. (That just means lots of books, little TV--I like naming stuff if you haven't noticed.)

I started not with a single book, but with Scott Westerfeld's trilogy, Uglies, Pretties, and Specials. And I started my morning yesterday by barfing. The good news was I was home all day in bed with Specials and I finished it, every high-adventure, distopian-fantastical, must-keep-reading-even-though-I-really-need-a-nap page of it. Main character Tally is one book friend who will be kicking (or, most likely, hover-boarding) around in my mind for a while.

In two weeks, I'm off to the BookExpo in New York, where free book are everwhere. There's rampant free book gluttony. It's a veritble free book orgy. (I'm a wee bit giddy thinking about it.) I'm schlepping a laptop and blogging from the events, starting with our writer's conference and continuing throughout the weekend, so remember to visit this space often starting May 30th. I know you want to hear about the children's writers speed dating event.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Harry Potter--Good for Sales, Not for Profits...

I've been talking about this with my co-workers lately: Do retailers actually make money selling Harry Potter? So I was excited to see a discussion of the topic on GalleyCat today. Seems not.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I like This--You Should Visit (an ongoing series)...

I just learned about Editorial Anonymous, "a blog of a children's book editor." Who she or he is, I have not a clue. Oh the intrigue of the anonymous Blogger! (Think Miss Snark, Evil Editor.) They willfully share their knowledge, thoughtfully answer our questions, let us in on the inside scoop--all the while keeping their identities secret. Curiouser and curiouser (as the other, more famous, Alice would say).

Online Conference Guide...

In a comment to my post below, Donna Alice asked, "Is there a website that keeps the reader up to date on upcoming conferences?" You can check out ShawGuides Guide to Writers Conference & Workshops. You can search by a number of criteria, including date, location, and type of conference. (It's a free service.) Also visit SCBWI's website for their events calendar and click on Regional Events.

I'm not sure how often these sites are updated, however. I only visit them once in a while. If any one else knows of a good source for conference info, please post a comment.

P.S. Don't forget about the BookExpo America Writer's Digest Books Writer's Conference coming up on May 30th in NYC.