Friday, August 14, 2009

Upcoming Writer's Digest Conferences...

While I'm still enjoying an nice buzz from the LA SCBWI conference (visit the conference blog if you haven't already), I thought I'd mention a few upcoming Writer's Digest events that will get me high on publishing once again.

First up is the Writer's Digest Conference: The Business of Getting Published which takes place in New York September 18-20 at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. This conference focuses on marketing and promotion, career building, and social networking, and also includes a poetry slam, manuscript critiques, breakfast discussions, a great lineup of speakers (including WD editors), and a smashing location in New York City. (I'll be heading there straight from the beach, so look for the darker pink, well-rested version of me.)

Next up is our latest Writer's Digest Editors' Intensive which takes place October 3-4 at our Writer's Digest HQ here in the Nati and features a day of informational sessions and panels offered by WD editors (including yours truly), an evening mingling event, and a day of manuscript critiques.
I always feel like attending a conference is like playing while you're working hard. You spend a few days taking in endless amounts of useful information, but also enjoying the networking and social aspect of being in a room full of like-minded people. I think it's glorious.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My SCBWI Summer Conference Tweets Transcript (#SCBWI09)...

Stealing an idea from Lee Wind (who says in Hollywood, it's referred to as "liberating" an idea), I've collected all the tweets I posted from the time I left the house for the SCBWI Summer Conference until I got home--when I wasn't blogging, I was tweeting. (I may have corrected a few misspellings and boo-boos.) Click here to find all the #SCBWI09 posts and see what everyone at the event was saying.

  • The last thing I want to do first thing in the morning: clean up cat barf. Guess what I just did?
  • My (awesome) brother just picked me up for the airport. I know, I'm surprised as you are that I got up this early.
  • Worst CVG security line ever! Walked straight on to my (exit row) seat when I got to the gate.
  • A guy in the back of my plane had a seizure. First time I've been on flight where they paged for a doc. Nice delay in CVG. Just left LAX!
  • Why are LA cabs always uncomfortably hot?
  • The cabbie has hockey playing curious George hanging from his rear view mirror which makes me like him better. Wish he would get off phone
  • At faculty dinner sitting with @EllenHopkinsYA, @Suzanne_Young, David Diaz and others. The bartenders make fab cosmos.
  • David Diaz kicked our butts at Hannah Montana Uno #SCBWI09
  • Ahh. King size hotel bed. Goodnight, tweeps. Lots of tweets and blogging tomorrow! #SCBWI09
  • #scbwi09 SCBWI TEAM BLOG @PaulaYoo; @leewind; @cuppajolie; @jeaimetem; @suzanne_young #followfriday
  • Breakfast with Team Blog in The Breeze. Everyone is playing with devices. We start conference coverage in an hour. #SCBWI09
  • Just went last in the faculty word parade. My word: blog! #SCBWI09
  • Sherman Alexie has the room laughing. #SCBWI09
  • Sherman Alexie can go seamlessly from tragedy to comedy. #SCBWI09
  • Sherman Alexie has perhaps the best story ever about how books helped him get through childhood. #SCBWI09
  • Sherman Alexie: "I'm rich but I still have class issues." #SCBWI09
  • Sherman just dropped a very appropriate F-bomb. #SCBWI09
  • Sherman: "The book is safe. The book is where I can hide." #SCBWI09
  • Sherman: "It's easy to hand a book to a kid that's about that kid." The challenge is to engage a kid in a book that isn't. #SCBWI09
  • It's super cold in the conference ballroom but David Wiesner's beautiful images will warm me up. #SCBWI09
  • David Wiesner is showing clips from The Shining in relation to his process. Makes sense in person. #SCBWI09
  • David Wiesner loves him some movies. Now he's discussing 2001: A Space Odyssey. #SCBWI09
  • But really, is it any surprise movies inspire Wienser? Look at his books if you're not sure. #SCBWI09
  • Lobby court restaurant is trying to starve me and make me late.
  • Lin Oliver is telling contest winner jokes. There are some witty peeps here. Oh--door prizes! #SCBWI09
  • Editor panel going on. I love listening to editors discuss books they're passionate about. #SCBWI09
  • Ari Lewin from Hyperion: bookstores love series. Stand alone connected stories, even better. # SCBWI09
  • RT @gregpincus: #scbwi09 Tweetup tonight at 9 in the lobby bar area. Come say "hi" or something longer than 140 characters!
  • Agent Marietta Zacker is reading the first paragraph from an unpublished novel she says "gives her shivers" every time she reads it #SCBWI09
  • Marietta Zacker said she recently counted how many manuscripts her agency receives daily. Answer: 10. #SCBWI09
  • Check out the secret stuff behind the book jacket of Frank Portman's latest novel, Andromeda Klein
  • Just rode the elevator with a guy who bathed in cologne. I can still smell it. #SCBWI09
  • Karen Cushman just took the stage. I love her books. #SCBWI09
  • Someone's phone just rang. Karen Cushman: "Sounds like the ice cream man is here." #SCBWI09
  • Cushman: Writing is like exercise. I wanted to do it, planned to do it, but never got around to doing it. Until she was in her 50s. #SCBWI09
  • Karen Cushman quoting a poet: Write what you know. This should leave you with a lot of free time. #SCBWI09
  • Karen Cushman: I figured I could say 'shitty first drafts' since Sherman said 'f*** you' yesterday. (Big laughs.) #SCBWI09
  • Karen Cushman: Tell the truth--the emotional truth, the truth of your passion, the truth revealed from your research. #SCBWI09
  • Karen Cushman: publication isn't the only reason to write. Let go of the outcome. #SCBWI09
  • Karen Cushman: Like Flannery O'Connor, I write what I can. #SCBWI09
  • Holly Black is leading an active discussion on critique groups. Blog posts soon. (No wifi in Brentwood room.) #SCBWI09
  • Holly Black always wears cool shoes. #SCBWI09
  • Holly Black just had the people in her session write something, swap with a partner, and tell each other what's good about it. #SCBWI09
  • Ellen Hopkins: "The $8000 advance I got for Crank was not life changing." #SCBWI09
  • Ellen Hopkins: There were dark phases in my life. I got through them. I worked them into my writing. #SCBWI09
  • Ellen Hopkins is making me cry. I wish you were all here listening to her story. #SCBWI09
  • Ellen Hopkin's Crank sold on 75 pages. #SCBWI09
  • It took 2 1/2 years for Crank to hit the NY Times bestseller list. #SCBWI09
  • Ellen Hopkins: Learn the rules before you break them. #SCBWI09
  • Courtney Bongiolatti (S&S); "Literal hell or metaphorical? Because that would be important for the synopsis." #SCBWI09
  • #SCBWI09 Conference F-Bomb Count--number of keynote speakers who have have dropped the f-bomb so far: 4. (I'll update you as f-bombs happen)
  • Wendy Loggia (Delacorte) googles writers before she takes them on. So watch what you say in the blogosphere, tweeps. #SCBWI09
  • Wendy Loggia: Contrary to popular belief, we do not take pleasure in crushing writers' dreams. (She's given a great session). #SCBWI09
  • Our sundae came with an extra gravy boat of fudge
  • Holly Black: Fantasy has real stuff to say about our own world and real things to say about us. #SCBWI09
  • Holly: We have to believe in the fantastical when we read it. World building is one of most difficult things for fantasy writers. #SCBWI09
  • Holly Black: In many ways fantasy resembles historical fiction. #SCBWI09
  • Holly Black's crazy theory: fantasy plotting is slightly different than non-fantasy plotting
  • Holly Black: When I started, I wrote a lot of scenes with elves sitting around drinking coffee and experiencing ennui. #SCBWI09
  • Doing last minute presentation prep for my breakout session Practical Online Promotion. #SCBWI09
  • I'm talking about twitter
  • Just left the Golden Kite Luncheon. Getting ready to blog Marla Frazee's session, How Your Words Inspire Me to Draw Pictures #SCBWI09
  • Marla Frazee: I [illustrate] one page at a time and I do them in order. Because I'm a Capricorn. #SCBWI09
  • Elizabeth Law: Egmont's profits go to children's charities. They are technically a not-for-profit publisher. #SCBWI09
  • Elizabeth Law: Writers need to know what the hook is for their books. Elevator pitches aren't two minutes long. #SCBWI09
  • Elizabeth Law: She thinks agents are important and advises writers to find one. "I rely on agents to weed things out for me." #SCBWI09
  • Elizabeth Law: "Winslow the Whale spouted emotions through his blow hole." (Posted because it's just as funny out of context.) #SCBWI09
  • Elizabeth Law on social networking: Join networks, make comments, make friends, don't be embarrassed to talk about your work. #SCBWI09
  • Elizabeth Law: "If anyone does introduce me to my future husband, there's a contract for you at Egmont." #SCBWI09
  • @mbrockenbrough That was one excellent banana.
  • @chavelaque Thanks! And thank you for contributing. (Everyone be sure to read Cheryl's great piece on revision in the 2010 CWIM.)
  • I'm having my final breakfast at The Breeze at the Century Plaza. (I recommend the oatmeal.)
  • On my way to my least favorite airport LAX. (It is no CVG.)
  • My cab driver's name is Igor. That's kinda cool. I've never met an Igor. (He's a very good driver.)
  • Just drove past a Live Nudes place right next to Carl's Jr. I'm so not in the Nati.
  • I'm standing in the line to get to the next place I will stand in line. LAX: you are living up to my expectations.
  • Number of times 20-something dude in security line said 'dude' in his 5-minute phone call: 13. (I counted.) Dude. His Vegas trip ROCKED!
  • I'd forgotten all about humidity until it smacked me in the face outside the airport.
  • Back in the Nati and stuck in LA-style traffic. But someone's here to help.

SCBWI Summer Conference: Fantastic...

I'm back in the Nati, the humid humid Nati, and still coming down from the from the fantastic SCBWI Summer Conference in LA. If you weren't there I hope you followed the event on our equally fantastic Official SCBWI Conference Blog.

I'd like to thank the super-extra-fantastic members of SCBWI TEAM BLOG--Jamie Temairik, Jolie Stekly, Lee Wind, Paula Yoo, and Suzanne Young--for their hard work and dedication to covering the conference.

Here we are at our first SCBWI TEAM BLOG meeting.

TEAM BLOG's posts, photos and video were terrific (not to mention fast and furious) and I think we offered a good taste of the conference and shared some useful information for those who weren't there as well as for attendees who could only attend one session at a time. (We could attend 6, and a few times we attended 9 or 10.) If you haven't visited the Conference Blog, click here to check it out.

And below are a few more of my photos from the Blue Moon Ball on Saturday night. (I posted some on the conference blog after the event.) There were drink tickets. There were quesadillas. There was dancing. And, of course, there were outfits.

This year they're blue butterflies;
st year they were literary lady bugs.

This conference-goer's cow stopped jumping
the moon to pose for a picture.

These Royals fans were happy about the party theme.

This conference-goer got wiggy with it and
enjoyed the Mexican food buffet.

Jay Asher is without mermaids but still ready to
disco as he poses with Linda Sue Park.

I'm not sure if she's a superhero or a cheerleader who mistook
her pom-pom for head gear.
Either way I like this outfit.

This wizard is concerned about wrinkles.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Day One of the SCBWI Summer Conference--The Blogsplosion Has Begun...

SCBWI TEAM BLOG has been posting live since the 38th Annual Summer conference kicked off this morning with the amazing Sherman Alexie.

Please be sure to visit the Official SCBWI Blog for reports throughout today and on through the conference close on Monday including keynotes, breakouts, events, parties, and more.

Also be sure to follow SCBWI TEAM BLOG on Twitter:
Jaime Temairik
Jolie Stekly
Lee Wind
Paula Yoo
Suzanne Young

And for a full rundown of Twitterverse conference coverage, search #SCBWI09

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Exclusive SCBWI TEAM BLOG Video Interview: Zombie Sock Puppet David Wiesner...

Visit CocoaStomp for Jaime Temairik's latest exclusive TEAM BLOG video interview with illustrator, Caldecott winner and Summer Conference keynote speaker David Wiesner who takes the form of a zombie sock puppet! (This is Jaime's brilliant follow up to yesterday's interview with zombie sock puppet Dan Yaccarino.)

Two days from now: Blog-mania! Stay tuned...

Monday, August 03, 2009

Exclusive SCBWI TEAM BLOG Interview: Kathleen Duey...

Kathleen Duey has published more than 70 books for readers of all ages with a focus on historical fiction and fantasy. Many of her books are titles in her middle grade series: American Diaries; Survival; The Unicorn's Secret; and Hoofbeats. The Faeries Promise, a four-book set for young readers, will be out in 2010. Skin Hunger—first of a dark YA fantasy trilogy—was a 2007 National Book Award Finalist. Sacred Scars, the second book in the trilogy, has just been released and Kathleen is writing the final book now.

Other projects in the works include Free Rat, the near-future odyssey of a damaged and unwilling hero; A Virgin’s Blood, a thorny and complex love story; and Russet an ongoing Twitter novel, written in 140 character bursts. She's also written several terrific pieces for past editions of CWIM (which always makes this editor terribly excited).

Here we discuss
among other writerly topicsfear.

How long have you been attending the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA? Where were you career-wise when you first attended?

Hmmmm. Wow. About 14 years, I think. I have missed a few national conferences over that time, not many. I had published three books before I discovered SCBWI, but it was still like stumbling into a gold mine posted with signs that read: Take what you need. Come back often.

You say on your blog that “dark, atypical fantasy” is your new love. What’s atypical about your current work, the A Resurrection of Magic trilogy?

There is little that IS typical. There are two stories that go back and forth, every other chapter. There are two protagonists. One is written in a first person voice, the other is in third person. The stories happen about 200 years apart and the first story causes the second one. By the end of the trilogy, in the first story, almost 200 years pass. In the second story about 8 years will have passed.

The setting is the city of Limori. Because of the time span, the culture the characters live in has changed. Because it is a fantasy, a few of the characters are alive in both stories. Magic is a burden, a blessing, a secret, a cause for revolution, abuse of power—all things human are included. It is a very realistic fantasy.

The second book in your trilogy, Sacred Scars is an August release. Will it be available in the conference bookstore so I can get a copy? Would you tell me and my readers a little about the book?

Sacred Scars is out now and will be at the conference. I think they will have Skin Hunger (first in the trilogy) as well and a few of The Unicorn’s Secret (for 2-4th graders) too.

This is all I can say about Sacred Scars without spoilers: The stories of both characters absolutely astounded me as I wrote the second book. It is almost two hundred pages longer than the first book. Hahp’s sheltered life is far behind him now, he has to face choices no one should have to face. And Sadima’s kind heart leads her into terrible danger.

At the SCBWI Summer Conference you’ll be offering a breakout session on building a novel. Who should attend and what do you hope your attendees come away with?

Thanks for asking about this. Anyone at any level of skill who is writing novels for any age group should consider coming. I want to walk through novel structure in a different way, one that includes art and heart, not just craft. Competent novels are harder and harder to sell, in large part because of SCBWI’s wonderful resources, more and more people can write pretty well. But I think too many of us learn the rules—which are far more “teachable”—and lose the spark—which is more “discoverable”.

To move from my very competently written paperback series to the kind of books I am writing now, I had to recover the deeper parts of my own artistic process. It was tricky at first. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I set it aside and why, and I very purposefully set out to get it back. I hope to help others avoid the same detour.

You’ve said that your Twitter novel Russet has given you a creative jolt of “raw fear.” Why is it important to experiment and delve into things that are a little scary?

I have written three answers to this and erased them. Here is the real one: I remember standing on a stage in high school, shaking, holding my guitar, taking a deep breath and forcing myself to sing to an auditorium full of my peers. I didn’t think I would live through it. And when it was over, they clapped and cheered and I was happier than I ever remembered being in my life. I went home and wrote three songs, each one better than I had ever written before, many journal pages, and I practiced harder for months afterward.

Writers don’t get that performance jolt often, if ever. Our writer-friends and editors help us, we rely on extensive revision, and, in addition to all that, most of us adhere to pre-defined, marketable forms. I wanted the jolt back; I wanted to perform. And in order to complicate my life further, I decided to do a kind of literary improv. Every time I add text, I am scared to death. Once I post it, I don’t touch it again. I don’t plot ahead or outline. And I am very happy, awake, and alive artistically just now.

Tell me about that experience of writing Russet. How have readers responded? (Feel free to answer in more than 140 characters. Or not.)

I need more than 140 for this: The Twitter format was largely accidental. I had signed up for Twitter a year prior, but hadn’t done anything with it. One day I got a little e-notice that someone was following me. Following what? I had never posted. I couldn’t imagine writing anything of interest in 140 characters or less. I would rather spend my time writing stories than figuring out how…hmmmmm. It hit me: Weird format, real-time, no story in mind, just character channeling, online and live, very public…and it could blow up in my face a hundred ways. My heart started to thud. Perfect.

Russet’s audience is expanding rapidly. People write to say they love the story. Me, too. The whole text can be found here. It’s about 100 pages of story compressed into 23 pages of tweets.

And speaking of fear, attending an SCBWI conference for the first time can be a little scary. What advice can you offer conference attendees (particularly first-timers) on getting the most out of the event?

Before you go, decide what areas of your writing or art need the biggest boosts. Look at the workshops with those areas in mind and choose accordingly. If I am not sure of a session, I often stand at the back so I can slip out without disrupting anything and go stand in the back elsewhere.

Collect attendees’ and whoever else’s business cards and jot down who/why/what on the back. LOTS of people put together critique groups that last for years from conference acquaintances. Make sure everyone understands copyright and swears never to forward your work to anyone else without your permission. (Which you should never, ever give them.)

Eat well and get to sleep at reasonable hours so you can make the most of the conference. (With the exception of Saturday night. We must dance.)

Make use of conference attendee gatherings to learn how to critique and be critiqued. Both are important. If you see me walking past, invite me. If I can, I will join you.

Will you be formally critiquing manuscripts during the conference? Critiques, too, can be scary for new writers. What’s your advice on getting the most from a critique meeting?

I am critiquing. I almost always do. First, remember this: It is your book, your story, YOURS. Second, remember this: Because it is yours, you have almost no chance of seeing it objectively. None of us can. So listen carefully and with an open mind. Ask questions, take notes. You can winnow it all out later and use what seems right as a starting point for your own re-evaluation, and toss what doesn’t. This was a huge realization for me: The fix might best be made by making small changes over thirty (or forty or two hundred) pages, before or after the page upon which the problem was spotted.

Your keynote address is titled “Transmutation: Books That Matter.” Why transmutation as theme? How does this word apply to your career?

Well, I love that word, the old meaning of turning base metal into gold. For me, that describes the process of writing a book. And I think it applies to everyone’s careers. Especially now. We are at a turning point for books, for literature, for mankind, womankind, childkind. If we want literacy to survive, we need to make it indispensible to the next generation. And to do that we need to write books that really matter. And for screen culture kids, that will take art in its biggest, baddest, broadest sense, as well as craft.

You’re giving the closing address of the conference. Do you feel pressure to end with a bang? (And is going last scary?)

Pressure? Yes.
Scary? No. Terrifying!

photo: Sonya Sones

Exclusive SCBWI TEAM BLOG Interview with Karen Cushman...

Visit Jolie Stekly's Cuppa Jolie blog today for an exclusive TEAM BLOG interview with Newbery winner and SCBWI Summer Conference keynote speaker Karen Cushman.

We're counting down to the Summer Conference ... only four more days! More exclusive interviews to come this week (including one right here), and then our conference blog-o-rama begins.