Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Have Arrived in L.A....

After uneventful travel (the most exciting thing that happened was walking through the air puffer thingy in the airport), I'm here in L.A. and checked into my lovely room at the Century Plaza. I've already run into Steven Malk, Lindsay Davis, Sara Pennypacker, Donna Bray, Marla Frazee and my pal Kevan Atteberry.

They remodeled the lobby bar and I'm not sure that I like it. (It hasn't been the same since Darlene left anyway.) But it sure is hoppin, filled with conference goers having snacks and cocktails and catching up. I plan do a bit of my blogging there--it's fun to see who walks by.

The faculty dinner is in two hours but I need a snack first, so I'm off to nibble and see who I see.

More later--and conference session reports tomorrow. (I present in the morning myself!)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Getting Ready for the SCBWI Conference...

Yesterday I went over my presentations, copied handouts, printed my boarding pass, planned my outfits, wrote a list of things not to forget, and stayed up until 2 a.m. packing (which means I'll either be terribly tired today or one step closer to adjusting to west coast time).

It was tough getting to sleep last night. The mix of excitement over the conference, anxiety over the public speaking, and stress about being out of the office for so long swirling around my head made like a double shot of espresso. I lay there taking inventory of my suitcase rethinking my outfits and practicing my presentation imagining everything that could go wrong with my laptop.

This morning I'm feeling good, but sleepy. But I've got five hours on the plane today to rest up. And I can't wait to get to Los Angeles. Walking into the Century Plaza on the first day of the event is so exciting. Conference-goers are checking in and meeting up. Faculty and staff are moving about the hotel. You can feel the buzz starting to build--by Friday morning it will be present and strong.

I'll post again when I get to L.A. and tell you who I've seen and what I've heard.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Call for Debut Authors for the 2010 CWIM...

The 2009 CWIM is now in the stores, so I'm beginning to work on my lineup for the 2010 edition--which means I'm looking for a few debut authors and/or illustrators to feature in my annual First Books article!

Picking my lineup for First Books is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. It's so much fun to hear from first-timers--and so hard to choose just four or five. (I often come up with a theme based on the types of replies I've gotten, which helps me narrow it down. First Books in the 2009 CWIM, for example, features all debut picture books.)

If you are interested in being featured in First Books, here are the rules and guidelines:

  1. Email me at, subject line "First Books."
  2. Tell me about your debut book including the title, publisher, genre and approximate publication date.
  3. The book must be available in some form by November (so it can be read before you're interviewed).
  4. A cover image must be available by January 2009 (because I don't want to feature a book without showing the cover).
  5. Please include links to your website or blog if you have one.
  6. No self-published books please.
  7. Tell me something fun/interesting/exciting/unusual/inspiring about you/your book/your path to publication.
  8. E-mails must be received by August 8th. (I'll begin reading through them when I get back from the SCBWI conference.)
  9. I'll be in touch with those I've chosen by the third full week of August; otherwise you likely will not hear from me--I simply don't have time to contact everyone, although I wish I could. (I may acknowledge receipt of emails, however, depending on how busy I am and/or how much I do or do not feel like doing other work.)
  10. Debut authors not chosen to be featured in First Books could be chosen as Debut Authors of the Month, featured in my CWIM newsletter and blog throughout the year.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Agent Interview on GLA Blog...

Visit the Guide to Literary Agents blog for editor Chuck Sambuchino's interview with Lilly Ghahremani of Full Circle Literary. Ghahremani is interested in children's, YA, or middle-grade books about the middle east, as well as graphic novels.

Chuck does lots of agent interviews and always offers useful advice on all things agent. (And note that the 2009 edition of Guide to Literary Agents is now available--notice how well it coordinates with CWIM.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

How Could I Forget to Mention This?....

I've been so happy to not be fretting over my blog being locked that I forgot this important little happening: the 2009 CWIM is now available! And it's a beaut, if I do say so myself: more articles and interviews than ever; a First Books featuring all picture book authors and illustrators; interviews with Sherman Alexie, Katherine Applegate, Scott Westerfeld, Jay Asher and lots more; a roundtable with Coretta Scott King Award winners; articles by Kirby Larson, Cecil Castellucci, Kathleen Duey, Allyn Johnston, Andrew Karre, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Lisa Wheeler and so many other fantastic contributors on myriad topic. And of course info on hundreds of books pubs, mags, agents, conferences, contests, and other useful stuff. I'm very excited!

If you're a contributor (if you wrote an article or were interviewed) I'll be sending every wonderful one of you a copy very soon. So don't go out and buy one. (Unless you want to share then with your writer and illustrator friends. Then be my guest.)

If you're an SCBWI Regional Advisor or Assistant RA (anywhere in the world) I'll be sending you a copy as I have the past several years. It's the least I can do to thank you for your volunteer awesomeness. (Note to self: request address list from Sally at SCBWI tomorrow.)

In the very near future I'll be offering some excerpts here on my blog (when I'm not whipping myself into a frenzy of excitement over attending the SCBWI conference) so stay tuned.

Allyn Johnston Names Her Imprint...

(Drumroll please...)

Beach Lane Books is the name for Allyn Johnston's Simon & Schuster imprint. (A logo will be forthcoming.) Saying it aloud makes me feel happy and relaxed. And long for a vacation.

P.S. I'm happy to have access to my blog once again! It was locked for a time due to an overzealous spam-detecting robot employed by Blogger. But my dear friends at Blogger heard my cry (after a few tries) and took care of things. Be sure to visit a lot starting July 31st as I blog about the SCBWI L.A. conference.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Merriam-Webster adds 100 New Words to the Dictionary...

One hundred new words are now included on Merriam-Webster's website and will be included in their next dictionary editions available in September.

As usual there are some techy words on the list like webinar. There are also culinary editions like edamame (yum) and proseco (double yum). And, finally, an official word to describe people like me, a vegetarian who eats fish--pescatarian--and a name for misheard song lyrics--mondegreen (which I find a tad malaprop-ish).

I enjoyed this particular quote from John Morse, Merriam-Webster's president and publisher,

"There's a kind of collective genius on the part of the people developing this technology, using vocabulary that is immediately accessible to all of us. It's sometimes absolutely poetic."

As a frequent word maker-upper, I've always loved that the English language is so dynamic. It really is rather wonderful, powerful even, that we coin new terms as we need them and they so quickly take a place in the lexicon.

Now if only my my spell check function would automatically update when words become official.