Monday, August 31, 2009

Additional classes taught by Ann Gonzalez

In addition to Ann Gonzalez's online class, Writing for Teens and Tweens (mentioned in the previous post), Ann will also be teaching two classes this fall at North Seattle Community College:

Writing for Children and Young Adults
Thursday nights 7:00pm - 9:00pm, beginning on Oct. 1, 2009

Writing for Children and Young Adults is a craft and workshop class. Learn
the guidelines for writing for children and young adults, techniques for
strengthening your prose, and, best of all, join with other writers to
write, read, and receive feedback on your work in process.

Write a Novel in 30 Days at North Seattle Community College
Monday nights beginning Oct 19, 2009

Do you have a novel in your head, one you've been dying to commit to paper
but you haven't had the time? That's exactly why National Novel Writing
Month was invented -- to give you and the more than 100,000 other writers a
valid excuse for making the time to write. Who knows you may discover, as I
did, that you're a nano-novelist who writes best when writing all at once.

Ann Gonzalez, author of RUNNING FOR MY LIFE, a nanowrimo novel published in April, 2009. For more information contact

Ann Gonzalez class and book trailer

One of Ann Gonzalez's students liked her class enough to make a book trailer for RUNNING FOR MY LIFE, Ann's novel that grew out of NaNoWriMo.

And speaking of her classes, the next session of her Writing for Teens and Tweens is set to start on September 13. This is a no risk class -- $100 for 8 weeks with a money-back guarantee. (Does anyone else offer that? I think not!)

In addition to weekly lessons on aspects of craft the class is designed as a workshop and writers are allowed to submit up to 15 pages a week for feedback. Please contact Ann at for more information.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

An interview with Robert McKee

There's an interview with Robert McKee, author or STORY, over on StoryLink:

Beyond imagination and insight, the most important component of talent is perseverance - the will to write and rewrite in pursuit of perfection. Therefore, when inspiration sparks the desire to write, the artist immediately asks: Is this idea so fascinating, so rich in possibility, that I want to spend months, perhaps years, of my life in pursuit of its fulfillment? Is this concept so exciting that I will get up each morning with the hunger to write? Will this inspiration compel me to sacrifice all of life's other pleasures in my quest to perfect its telling? If the answer is no, find another idea. Talent and time are a writer's only assets. Why give your life to an idea that's not worth your life?

Read the entire interview here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Good news for Kirby Larson

In honor of the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Best Friends Animal Society featured the Two Bobbies in their very cool e-zine, Top Story!

And don't forget to stop by Kirby's blog for the latest installment in her boy books vs. girl books discussion.

Novel Writing: The Elementals

Here's a workshop for novel writers:

What: Need help starting or finishing your novel? In this workshop, we'll take the elemental approach by focusing on setting, character, structure, and the writing practice. Through the alchemy of short writing exercises, discussion, and lecture, you will gain new confidence and skills to write your novel. This workshop is geared for beginning and experienced writers who are interested in writing adult or young adult novels.

Where: In the Columbia Riverside Lodge meeting room, along the Columbia River, in Stevenson, WA. It's an easy (and gorgeous) drive east from Portland (about 50 minutes).

When: September 19 & 20, 2009, 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both days.

How Much: $250 for the workshop. $50 deposit to hold your spot. Class size is limited. Payment in full due September 1.

Who: Critically acclaimed author Kim Antieau has had seven adult and YA novels published, including ones from Penguin, Houghton Mifflin and Simon & Schuster. Antieau's previous novels The Jigsaw Woman and Coyote Cowgirl were shortlisted for the James Tiptree Award. Her YA novel Broken Moon was honored as a Junior Literary Guild selection. Her work has been translated into French, German, and Japanese. Her short stories have appeared in best of the year anthologies and been recommended for the Nebula award. She has edited two literary magazines, taught writing at the college level, and facilitated workshops for over twenty years.

Some discounts and partial scholarships are available. • • 509-427-7196

Friday, August 28, 2009

UW Extension Writing for Children Certificate Program now enrolling

This just in...

The 2009-10 University of Washington Writing for Children certificate program is now enrolling.

Investigate the world of children's fiction and nonfiction, including picture books, chapter books, and novels. Learn to bring your own tales to life and captivate children's imaginations. Discover how to transform the idea of a story into an enthralling narrative, page by page.

The program, which consists of three 10-week courses, begins in October 2009.

Instructors are Donna L. Bergman (Autumn 2009“Foundations” course), Nina Hess (Winter 2010 “Intermediate” course), and Brenda Z. Guiberson (Spring 2010 “Capstone” course). For complete program details and registration information, please see their website.

What's it mean to have a great hook?

The Guide to Literary Agents asked Jay Asher for his picks of great hooks in the fall catalog. Here are some of his choices:

Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman. A high school underdog’s tarot card readings become strangely accurate.

As You Wish by Jackson Pearce. A teen falls in love with the genie sent to grant her three wishes.

Claim to Fame by Margaret Peterson Haddix centers on a young TV star who can hear whatever anyone in the world says about her.

DupliKate by Cherry Cheva. An overscheduled teen starts seeing double: suddenly there are two of her.

The Espressologist by Kristina Springer centers on a matchmaking barista who links up her friends based on their coffee orders.

For the rest, visit Guide to Literary

It's illustration Friday!

Illustration Friday is a weekly illustration challenge . Every Friday they post a new topic and you have all week to come up with your own interpretation. Topics are picked each week from a list of suggestion that have been emailed by participants.

There's also an art forum meant to build a creative community, discuss creative issues, ask questions or just get feedback on your work.

Learn more here.

7 big myths about publishing

Writer's Digest has a useful piece outlining 7 myths we might have about publishing books: that the contracts are too complicated for any normal person to understand, that our publishing team is now like family, that once a book gets purchased it must be perfect. For the whole list, click here.

Why you need a proactive agent

Editorial Ass explains why it's a good idea to investigate your agent thoroughly before signing, to make sure you're working with someone who follows through.

Here's the thing: editors have developed a habit of hiding their heads in the sand. I can speak on behalf of not all editors, but most. We have so much work--so many deadlines to meet in-house, and so many proposals and manuscripts to read--that if an agent doesn't follow up about a manuscript there is a 9/10 chance we're not going to read it (certainly not going to buy it).

When an agent doesn't follow up, they're demonstrating a number of things, the foremost being that they don't EXPECT the book to sell. "Oh nope, this is no hot property, take all the time you need" is the message we get. And honestly, it takes 15 minutes for an editor to know whether they want to read more or not--not 4 months, or 6 months. Sure, we need a kick in the pants to pick the manuscript up. But if you wait 4 or 6 months to give us that kick in the pants, we'll never, ever, ever get herded into, say, auction on that book.

Read the rest.

Dear Google, don't be evil

The Open Book Alliance, which includes tech companies Yahoo! and Microsoft, and author, publisher and library groups, has written a "manifesto" challenging the Google Book Search settlement.

The settlement is bad for consumers and book-lovers: It deliberately thwarts competition in the emerging e-books market, creating a digital book monopoly that will inevitably lead to fewer choices and higher prices for consumers of digital books...

The settlement is bad for libraries and schools: While a handful of large and well-funded university libraries participated in the Google book-scanning effort, many other educational institutions and libraries will be forced to pay monopoly prices...

The settlement is bad for authors and small publishers: Unless they act to opt out of the proposed settlement by Google’s deadline, authors and other writers lose rights to the fruits of their labor...

The settlement sets a dangerous process precedent: The proposed settlement far exceeds the bounds of a typical legal settlement. It privatizes important copyright and public policy decisions. It abuses class action procedure to create an exclusive joint venture between Google, AAP and the Authors’ Guild, strengthening Google’s dominance in search and search advertising and creating a private monopoly for the sale of digitized books.

Read the rest.

Be a Cybils '09 judge

The Cybils are a literary award given by bloggers across all categories of children's literature. They're looking for judges:

The Cybils '09 season is launching soon and we need judges in every genre of children's and YA literature. If you:

  • blog about some aspect of children's or teen books on at least a somewhat consistent basis;
    or contribute regularly to a group blog about same;
  • know a thing or two about what kids/teens are reading these days;
  • are planning to be reading obsessively over the next few months anyway

...we may have a spot for you.

You start by emailing us at cybils09 (at) gmail (dot) com. It's a group email so that our organizers can get excited when they see the names coming in from prospective volunteers.

More information here. Thanks to Gail Martini-Peterson for the heads up.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Girl books vs. boy books

Kirby's blog today looks at what makes a "girl" book and what makes a "boy" book. Very interesting. Do check it out.

Cutting 10 to 20 percent

Darcy Pattison offers four ways to slim down your novel: study the beats, cut scenes, combine scenes and use brisk prose. For the whole scoop, visit her blog.

Objections to the Google Book Settlement

Writer Beware reports that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has issued a statement on the proposed Google Book Settlement, to which it plans to file a formal objection.

Read the objections here.

Terry Pratchett interview on SLJ

Terry Pratchett fans, take heart. There's a swell interview of him on SLJ, and he even talks about his early-onset Alzheimer's and how he's working through it. Here's what he has to say about the success of NATION:

Let me put it like this: I knew I had written a good book. I knew it was good, mostly because I almost appeared to be channeling it rather than writing it. Nevertheless, in reality, I am surprised at the awards the book is picking up in the U.S., especially since my career in America was more or less a flat line until 1990. Then, oh glorious day! I suddenly ended up with two fine editors, for both children's and adult books, and even a publicist who knew how to spell my name, for all of which I am really thankful. It was a huge second chance and awards like this are a tribute to their help and encouragement.

Read on...

Writing through interruptions

Here's a thought-provoking quote:

”You can revise bad writing, but you cannot revise a blank page. Give yourself permission to write junk, then fix it.”
For the rest of a helpful Kristi Holl piece on writing through interruptions, click here.

First picture book on phone

It was only a matter of time:

Apple joins with publisher to put first picture book on iPhone
Apple, the technology company, has linked up with a British publisher to launch the first children's picture book on a mobile telephone.

By Richard Savill
Published: 2:36PM BST 23 Aug 2009

Winged Chariot Press has published The Surprise by Sylvia van Ommen, which tells the story of a sheep which makes a gift for a friend, on the iPhone.

Parents can download The Surprise for 59p direct to their iPhones, and children can follow the illustrations on the touch-sensitive screens.

Apple 'to launch tablet touch-screen computer' Neal Hoskins, of Winged Chariot Press, said: "At home many parents already share their laptops and phones as digital entertainment devices with their children.

Now, they can use and enjoy them together.

"The Surprise is the first of many creations on this platform, giving you fantastic and wonderfully drawn images, as well as fun animation and storytelling."

The publisher said the backlit screens meant children would also be able to read stories at bedtime.

Martin Salisbury, a children's literature expert and illustrator, said: "Overcoming my innate fear of the screen and lifelong attachment to the turning of the printed page, I was pleasantly surprised by the ease and elegance with which it was translated into this digital form.

Read the rest

Is it just me or does the price--about 95 cents--seem rawther low?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kirby Larson's gender discussion

It's now live on her blog! Check it out--and remember, the first commenter gets a signed copy of HATTIE BIG SKY.

Karla Kuskin on reviewing children's books

In a vintage Horn Book piece, Karla writes something quite lovely, something we can all aspire to when we're writing picture books:

Like poetry, a picture book has to be written in two ways. It must work when read aloud, and also when read silently to oneself. Every syllable counts. Most important, the well-chosen words need to be simple but never simplistic, clear and strong enough to interest a child and hold her attention. Style alone is not sufficient. When Isaac Bashevis Singer won the Nobel Prize for Literature he announced that there were "five hundred reasons why I . . . write for children." One was that, "they still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity . . . " Another was: "They love interesting stories." Short, interesting stories are the structural steel that supports the illustrations in picture books. Look up "illustrate" in a Webster's Unabridged. The root is illustrare. And among the definitions are "to light up, illuminate, embellish, shed light upon, to throw the light of intelligence upon, to make clear, to elucidate by means of a drawing or pictures." And all that is just what wonderful illustrations do, and have done ever since books were first illuminated in medieval times by talented, cloistered hands.

Read the rest here.

Girls vs. boys: the throwdown

Kirby Larson has organized the Ultimate Throwdown on Gender in Books.

Following the SLJ article that suggested making characters boys when it makes no big difference to the story, and a rebuttal on MSN Entertainment written by a certain opinionated person whose name rhymes with Schmartha, Kirby's adding even more voices to the debate.

Starting around noon today, you can read a lively series of posts exploring the question of gender and reading/writing featuring the likes of librarians Jerene Battisti and Nancy Pearl and writers Erin Blakemore, Dave Patneaude, Rodman Philbrick, Jon Sciezska, Joni Sensel, Terry Trueman and Ben Watson, plus avid reader, Tyler Larson (NYU Film School grad, Associate Producer at HBO, and son of a certain blogger).

What a great lineup! She's also giving away an autographed copy of HATTIE BIG SKY to the first commenter each day. So you can't miss this. I'm bringing popcorn. And maybe a Hefty bag to protect my clothing from tomatoes. I hear that Ben Watson kid can throw.

Click here to go there.

Nice idea for a book launch

Barbara Jean Hicks is pairing her launch with a fundraiser--and we can participate even though she's moved to another region (sniff, sniff). She writes:

A percentage of all store purchases from Friday 8/28 through Sunday 8/30 will go to the Rio Healthy Kids Initiative if you mention you are part of the Rio District Fund Raiser. That includes all books, magazines, cards, toys, CD's, DVD's, BlueRay and even food items from the in-store Starbucks!

If you live far away or can't make it to the store, you can still participate.

Find the items you want at and calling the Ventura store at 805-339-0990 to place a phone order. Purchases will be shipped free of charge from a B&N warehouse near you.

If my book is among your purchases, the store will send you a signed bookplate in a separate envelope. When you place your order, tell the customer service rep if and how you'd like the bookplate personalized. If you prefer to have the book itself signed, you may also order a copy directly from the store for a $3.99 shipping fee added to purchase price.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

SCBWI Illustrator's Gallery is up and running!

Be sure to log in to and check out all the new features that continue to appear with the launch of their new website! (Note: your password may need to be all UPPERCASE to log in if you haven't changed it since the new site launched.)

If you are an illustrator (or just want to browse some great artwork), check out the new Illustrator's Gallery! To add your illustrations, just click "Manage My Profile" and then on "My Portfolio" on the left. (If you don't see "My Portfolio", it's probably because SCBWI doesn't know you're an illustrator. Just modify your profile by checking the illustrator checkbox. Then try again.) Once you've uploaded images, your name will pop up in a search at the Illustrator's Gallery, and others can see your portfolio online anytime. We hope to be seeing you there soon!

Also, the new Market Report is now available to SCBWI members. To view or print a copy of the new SCBWI Market Survey, log in as a member, then click on "Resource Library" > "SCBWI Publication Guide Online" > "Market Surveys". There you can download a PDF file called "2009-2010 SCBWI Market Survey".

And, as long as you're logged in anyway... don't forget to update the rest of your profile, including a photo and publication list!

Getting to Know Elana Roth (and David Patneaude)

Sept. 8 will be here before you know it (and it's a Tuesday, people. TUESDAY!). Prepare for the meeting by getting to know our special guest Elana Roth, an agent at the Caren Johnson Literary agency.

Elana has a big Internet presence:

Here's the Caren Johnson Literary Agency site and blog

On AgentQuery

And an interview on Alice's CWIM blog

Here's her own blog

And she's also on Twitter

Our very own David Patneaude is one of her clients. He gave us the inside scoop on what she's like, what she likes and what he's working on.

- What are you working on these days?

I'm working on several things. Among them are a YA mystery, a YA coming-of-age written in verse, some preliminary ideas for a speculative YA, a short sports story, a short SF novel that may get longer, and an early reader. Which one of these eventually gets most of my attention is up in the air right now, but because I've pretty much finished my work on EPITAPH ROAD, which is due out in March, I do have time to devote to the next project or projects.

- How did you and Elana Roth come to work together?
I was looking for a new agent, going through some possibilities online, and came across Elana while she was still at her former agency. According to her bio, she was looking for the exact kind of story that I had recently completed and was hoping to place. I sent it EPITAPH ROAD to her, and the rest is history.

- What’s your working relationship like? Does she give a lot of feedback? Encouragement? Or are you past such things?
I think we have a good working relationship. She's not afraid to give me her opinions, but she's not a micro-manager. She'll tell me what she thinks needs revising without telling me exactly how to make the change. And I have enough confidence in her opinion that I'll go ahead and revise without dragging my feet (much, anyway). I appreciate the fact that she's prompt and accessible. If I call or e-mail her, which I try not to overdo, she gets right back to me. She's also not timid about expressing her ideas to the publisher, and she's knowledgeable enough and respected enough that the publisher listens. She's a strong advocate for both me and my book.

My experience so far is that she gives the right amount of feedback--not a lot, but enough to be useful. Enough that I don't feel like I'm lacking guidance. Fortunately, she has given me encouragement, because there are times when every writer needs it.

- What sort of person is going to be a good potential client for her?
A good potential client would have to pay attention to Elana's likes and dislikes and have something that would fit solidly in the "likes" category. I'm speaking for her here, but she has a strong interest in big-picture, high-concept stories, and by that I mean stories in which something significant, something that goes beyond just the everyday personal kind of conflict, happens. And the writing has to stand on its own. If a writer has something on the quiet side, I would guess Elana wouldn't be a good match for that writer.

Be sure to check out Dave's site--you can see all his fantastic books there. Meanwhile, here's the cover for EPITAPH ROAD. March 2010 feels like an awfully long way away.

Shannon Hale on evaluating books

From her blog:

Years ago, when I started subscribing to the New Yorker, I was disappointed in the movie review section. The reviewer didn't rate the movies! He just talked about them for a page or two, discussing the choices the director, actors, and screenwriters made, analyzing the pieces, opining on what worked and what didn't, and comparing that movie to others and to current happenings in the world. But he didn't give me any evaluative starrage! A thumb up or down! A quick and easy way to sum up the quality of the film and therefore decide for me if it was worth my time and money! I resented that. For a while.

But after a year or so of reading his reviews, he became my favorite movie reviewer out there. How much I would rather sit inside his discussion of the movie, his observations, even when I disagreed, then have the whole flick discarded as a number. I find it enlightening, fascinating, thought-provoking. But he is a rarity. As are book reviews online that discuss and observe rather than rate. I wonder how the focus on rating is affecting, even transforming, our individual reading experience and attitude toward books.

In my opinion, there are more interesting questions to ask myself after reading a book than what I would rate it. What was the author trying to do? Did she succeed or fail for me? What devices did she use to create her tone, to reveal characterization, to paint a world?

Read the rest.

What writing a first draft is *really* like

Heather Vogel Frederick has a swell post featuring writers talking about the first draft. Here are three entries. For the rest, visit her blog.

“Writing a first draft is like starting off on a long journey in your car, and even though you don’t know your destination, your annoying GPS says, ‘recalculating’ at every turn you make.” — Mary Jane Auch

“Julia [Durango] says ‘it usually comes with a heaping side dish of revelation and discovery’ — and a pile of steaming mussels even though you thought you were ordering the lamb. At least that’s my experience in both writing and ordering food at a restaurant in France. Bon appetit!!!!” — Andrea Beaty

“Writing the first draft is the process of discovering everything you left out or got wrong in your outline.” — Fred Bortz

Good news for Wendy Wahman

DON'T LICK THE DOG has been accepted to the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show.

Also, she wonders if anyone knows of a good but reasonably priced art framer. If you do, visit her at her blog (where you can see her amazing art), and drop a note.

PALs: a low-cost promotional opportunity

There are a lot of reasons to love can keep track of what you've read and what you loved about it, you can compare book tastes with friends. But for published authors, here's another reason: they facilitate book giveaways for you.

I've done this twice and been amazed at how many people entered the contest. I think it was something close to 2,000--2,000 avid readers. (Granted, my last book was for adults, but still. Children's literature is very hot these days.)

It's really easy to sign up, and you just need to be willing to send a copy of your book to the winner. (You might want to restrict to U.S. recipients if international mailing isn't your thing.)

The rest of the details are here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

SCBWI WWA Bellingham Network September Schmooze

Come join the Bellingham Network for our September Schmooze.

TOPIC: Keeping All Hats in the Air: How Do You Juggle All the Aspects of Your Writing or Illustrating Career?
WHEN: Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
WHERE: The home of Kjersten Anna Hayes. Please RSVP to and Kjersten will reply with directions.

There’s the researcher hat, the networking hat, the business hat, the reader hat and the editor hat – whew! With so much other “work” to do, it can be difficult to find the time to actually write or illustrate. Let’s get together and talk about priorities and goal setting. How do you juggle all the aspects of your writing and/or illustrating career?

Click here for more information about our SCBWI WWA Bellingham Network or for more information on schmoozes.

Freelancing: turning ideas into productivity

If you're a freelancer, you know that the lack of structure can be one of the hardest parts of the job. Ritu over at has some concrete suggestions for turning an idea into an actual product:

  • Generate ideas
  • Eliminate ideas
  • Set goals
  • Make a to-do list
  • Manage your time
  • Develop a "productivity strategy"
  • Take appropriate actions

To find out more about each step, read the whole post.

Interestingly, the same steps also apply to the act of creating children's literature. In my experience, the big difference is the amount of time it takes to get paid (8 years and counting).

Farewell to Karla Kuskin

Karla Kuskin, author of 50 children's books (and illustrator of many), died over the weekend in Seattle. The New York Times has a fine obituary for Kuskin, who at one point spoke to the SCBWI WWA chapter.

A poem she wrote has wonderful advice for writers; it will resonate in my head for a long time:

Write about a radish
Too many people write about the moon.
The night is black
The stars are small and high
The clock unwinds its ever-ticking tune
Hills gleam dimly
Distant nighthawks cry.
A radish rises in the waiting sky.

PW Starred Reviews

Some familiar names here:

  • Robin Cruise, for BARTLEBY SPEAKS!
  • Laini Taylor, for SILKSINGER (illustrated by the fab Jim DiBartolo)

Read the rest of the Publishers Weekly list of stars so far (and the actual books, too, dagnabbit!).

Congratulations to those who have stars on thars. Apologies if I missed any.

Calendar: Upcoming Events

For additional information regarding the following events, please see the event descriptions in our calendar to the left.

Nancy White Carlstrom: IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, ANNIE CLAIRE -- Ultimate Tuesday
Tues, Aug 25, 2009
Secret Garden Books, Ballard

Laurel Leigh, Writing Your Own Stories Free Mini-Workshop

Thurs, Aug 27, 2009
Village Books in Bellingham

Jo Gershman, Watercolor From The Very Beginning
Sun, Aug 30, 2009
Daniel Smith/Seattle Store

Friday, August 21, 2009

Introduction to graphic novels

If you're intrigued about these but don't yet feel comfortable in the genre, the Horn Book has a classic article offering basic info in Q&A format. Her first couple of questions:

Q What’s the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel?
A Most simply, length. A comic and a graphic novel are told via the same format, officially called sequential art: the combination of text, panels, and images. Comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels are in this sense all the same thing, but comic books stretch a story out to about thirty pages, whereas graphic novels can be as long as six hundred pages.

Q What’s the difference between American comics and Japanese manga?
A There are a few key differences between American graphic novels and Japanese graphic novels, or manga. While superhero comics still dominate the U.S. market, in Japan there is a much wider diversity of topics, from romantic comedies to historical fiction to how-to comics, and they are published in both weekly and monthly installments. Japanese comics work with a complex language of visual signals, from character design to sound effects to common symbols. The biggest difference is obvious: Japanese comics are from another culture and were never intended for export. In some ways, Japan’s pop culture is like ours, but in many ways it’s not, and learning the secret code that opens up those stories for us is one thing that makes manga so appealing to American readers.

Read the rest.

How to write a query letter

The folks at Upstart Crow have a swell little writer's toolbox. If you're struggling to write a query letter, do check out this annotated version. It tells you how you should format, what you should put where, and what you should look out for. (It's a PDF, so you'll need a reader.)

For the rest of the toolbox, click here.

Anatomy of compelling tweets

Deb Ridpath Ohi is awarding "Golden Marmots" to agents, editors, and authors who hit the bullseye with their tweets. If you're wondering how to do this well, check the Golden Marmots for inspiration (and you can nominate people, too).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Good advice on length of MG/YA novels

This comes from Kristin Nelson's blog:

When I was at RWA, I did a workshop with my client Ally Carter. We were the only workshop at that conference that addressed anything in the Children’s realm. Let me tell you, the session was packed (to my surprise).

Anyway, the point of our workshop was this: people who want to write young adult always ask the wrong questions and we want to point that out and explain what the right question should be.

The best part of the workshop was the PowerPoint slides. We’d put up the wrong question on screen and you could feel the in-drawn breath of the entire audience. They had been thinking exactly that wrong question!

So sure enough, Sara got an email today from an aspiring writer asking one of those exact wrong questions. The person asked what is the right word count/length for his/her middle grade or young adult novel.

Gong. Wrong question.

The right question is this: how important is pacing in my middle grade or young adult novel?

See, it’s not about word count (look at the latter Harry Potter and Twilight books for goodness sake). Those books got some meat on them there bones—and it’s not just because they were hugely successful so therefore the author could use whatever length she wanted. It’s about pacing the novel so well, readers don’t mind length.

This September, I’ve got my first middle grade novel publishing. Helen Stringer’s SPELLBINDER is a whopping 372 pages long. And folks, this isn’t in larger print. It’s a long middle grade novel. But the trick is that it can’t feel like it when reading. The pacing has to be absolutely perfect. If it is, readers and editors will not quibble about the length.
So don’t ask me how many words or pages your project needs to be because I can’t tell you. If you are on the low side (like under 50,000 words for YA or under 40,000 words for MG), you might not have developed your story enough. However, I don’t know that for sure until I read it. Maybe you have written the perfect 30,000 word MG novel. I have no idea.

But what I can reinforce is this: asking about word count or page length is definitely the wrong question.

Marketing, for introverts

A few of us were talking Monday night about introversion and how so many of us in this field describe ourselves that way. It's actually comforting to know that's the norm--it really doesn't feel like it when you're at a conference or big meeting and see everyone actually making eye contact with other people.

This is why I'm finding myself rather taken lately with Shrinking Violet Promotions, a blog dedicated to marketing advice for introverts. But it's really a lot more, and there's a great interview up there now with Maggie Stiefvater, who wrote the bestselling paranormal romance SHIVER. (It debuted at No. 9 on the NYT list, making it a breakthrough book for her after an earlier novel scored a "low four-figure" advance. Sweet!)

They post once-weekly on Mondays. Here's where you'll find them.

#Kidlit chat transcripts

If you've missed these industry-related "chats" on Twitter (and yes, I am using air quotes here because actual chats using actual chat room technology are a better experience, people), you will love the transcripts Greg Pincus is posting on his site.

Here's the link.

Notice how the transcripts are getting longer as these things catch on. Apparently I am the only one in the world who's still hung up on '90s-style chats. Excuse me while I polish my hipster glasses and practice my ironic poses. Oh, the '90s. You were so sweet and tasty.

Please note: Greg will talk with us about social networking at our October meeting. You won't want to miss it.

SCBWI Oregon Retreat in Silver Falls

There's still room at this October retreat if you're itching to get away for a weekend to write, draw, network, improve your craft...and take naps.

Many of the faculty there are familiar names up here: Laura McGee Kvasnosky, Kathryn O. Galbraith, and Mary K. Whittington. Other faculty are: Mary Kate Castellani, Associate Editor, Walker Books for Young Readers; Kohel Haver, Arts Attorney; and Maggie Lehrman, Editor: Amulet/Abrams.

Here's the rest of the information you need.

Good news abounds

Maureen McQuerry writes that she's signed a two-book deal with Abrams/ Amulet for publication in 2011 and 2012.

And Holly Cupala has a publication date--June 22, 2010!--as well as spots on GoodReads and AuthorsNow. She's doing great work building her platform and audience before publication, so watch her at Brimstone Soup for a model of how it should be done.

Book recommendation

I've been reading I'm Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears, a collection of idioms and their origins by Jag Bhalla (published by National Geographic). It struck me that this is a useful little thing for writers.

Bhalla's premise is that "languages make visible what's important to their users."

The same goes for our characters. What expressions reveal your characters' hearts? You might refer to this book for inspiration--both for ways you can customize language and for characters who might spring into your head because of the chewy idioms you encounter.

And speaking of chewy, the Russian expression for gossip is to "have itchy teeth." To "sweat seven shirts," to Italians, means "to work hard." The Spanish or Chilean way to say the same thing is "to peel the garlic."

Check the book out on Amazon or Indie Bound.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Building your online profile

Have you made your Google profile yet? It doesn't take long, and it's one more free way people who type your name into the search engine can find you.

What is this Steampunk thing?

Apparently it's the new trend in submissions. Novelist Arthur Slade gives his take:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Interview with Tomie dePaola

Industry Moves

From Publishers Weekly:

Jill Santopolo will join Penguin Young Readers Group as executive editor of Philomel Books, effective August 17. Most recently, she was senior editor with the Balzer & Bray imprint at HarperCollins Children's Books, and had held the same position with Laura Geringer Books. Authors she has worked with include Peter Abrahams, Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond, Delia Ephron, and Melissa Sweet. She is also the author of the Alec Flint Mystery Series (Scholastic).

Read more on the Children's Bookshelf.

Are you a PAL? What that term means for you

Are you a PAL? Go check! You might need to act.

In recent years, SCBWI has created a new membership level known as PAL, which stands for Published and Listed. It signifies that your work has been (or soon will be) published by a publisher or magazine that appears on one of SCBWI’s Market Survey lists, and you therefore have professional standing.

PAL membership level determines whether you can be included in the organization’s speaker directory, and it’s also one of the criteria our Western Washington region uses to determine eligibility for certain events and opportunities. Self-published authors and illustrators do not qualify.

If you are an SCBWI member, GO NOW to, log in (remember that your password is all uppercase now), and check your profile. If it doesn’t have you listed at PAL status--and you won’t be by default--complete the fields required to claim it (which involves indicating the publisher of your last book or magazine piece). If your publisher doesn’t appear in the list, there’s an appeal process--you can initiate it simply by entering your publisher’s name and completing the form.

Considerations include whether the products are available in brick & mortar stores or just online, as well as whether the publisher has been in business for more than a year. Educational and work-for-hire publishers ARE included, although they are not yet listed online. You can always download the PDF version of the appropriate Market Survey and check there.

We are planning future events geared specifically to the needs of our seasoned pros, and one important way we’ll know whom to invite and accept is by the status in your profile. So, if you’re one of our PALs, please make sure we know it!

What's it like to be published?

Kimberlee Conway Ireton is seeking an agent for her YA novel, but has had a taste of publication in the adult market. How has it changed her life? Here's a portion of her blog post:
When I got the contract to write my book two years ago, my husband teased me. “It’s like you’re in the NBA,” he said. “Every writer wants to be published, just like every basketball player dreams of being in the NBA. And you’re in.”

It was true. By my own novice writer’s standard, I had arrived: something I wrote was going to be published with my name on the cover! It was a lifelong dream come true. I was ecstatic.

And then, in October last year, my book was published. It’s a beautiful book (I kiss the feet of the designers) and I’m proud of it. But here’s the thing: if Doug is right that publication is the writer’s version of the NBA, then publishing one book with one small press is the equivalent of bench warming. And the problem with bench warming is that no one sees you play. The big name big shots are out there making the baskets and winning the game, and you’re sitting on the sidelines, hoping your coach will put you in. And of course, he doesn’t. Because you’re a benchwarmer. And that’s what benchwarmers do: they warm the bench.

Read the rest.

YALSA's YA Lit Symposium

YALSA's next Young Adult Literature Symposium will take place Nov. 5-7, 2010 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There is an opportunity for authors to speak.

The 2010 symposium theme is Beyond Good Intentions: Diversity, Literature, and Teens. Today's generation of teens is the most diverse ever. Does today's young adult literature reflect the many different faces, beliefs and identities of today's teens? What impact is this generation having on young adult literature and vice versa? Join YALSA as we explore the depth and breadth of contemporary literature in search of an answer to these questions.

Preconference Proposals
YALSA is now accepting preconference proposals for the 2010 symposium.
The preconference must relate to the 2010 symposium theme and can be either a
half- or full-day event that takes place prior to the symposium. The preconference will take place on Nov. 5. Proposals are due Oct. 1.

Symposium Proposals
YALSA is now accepting proposals for programs relating to the theme at the 2010 symposium. Programs are 90-minute sessions that will take place between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Nov. 6 or 8 a.m. and noon on Nov. 7. Proposals are due Oct. 1.

Paper Presentations
Paper presentations are 20-minute sessions that will take place as part of a 90-minute program between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Nov. 6 or 8 a.m. and noon on Nov. 7. Accepted papers will be published by YALSA after the symposium. Proposals are due Oct. 1.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A page-turner that will keep you in stitches

Forgive the puns; enjoy the video.

Book from Christopher Galasso on Vimeo.

Mock Caldecott blog

Here's a great way to keep on top of all the new and excellent picture books coming out: the Mock Caldecott blog posted by the children's department of an Indiana library.

It's not quite the same as sitting on the floor of a bookstore surrounded by a stack of books, but it sure is easier (especially when you have small children who don't quite know the cost difference between a bookstore and a library).

Also, here's the list of Caldecott winners from 1938 to the present day.

(Thanks to Kjersten Anna Hayes, whose blog I pillaged for the mock-Caldecott link.)

Attention Deb Caletti fans

The wonderful author of WILD ROSES and other fabulous books now has a Facebook fan page.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Member of the Year Reflections and Shoulda’s

Sara Easterly didn't have any advance warning before she and Jolie Stekly won the SCBWI Member of the Year award, so she didn't have time to prepare a speech or organize, well, anything. But she did want to share some reflections on what the award means to her:

I’m fresh back from the SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles, where Jolie Stekly and I were honored with the SCBWI Member of the Year award. The award was a complete surprise – something I never would have expected – to be among the ranks of previous winners like Susan Burgess, Judy Enderle, Erzsi Deak, Esther Hershenhorn, Priscilla Burris, and Richard (!) Peck.

Sitting in the Hyatt ballroom for the Golden Kite Luncheon, it was special enough to be among dear Western Washington friends that included our current regional advisor team, scholarship recipient Allyson Schrier, and the one and only Karen Cushman. I was anxiously awaiting Bonny Becker’s speech for winning this year’s Golden Kite Award for A Visitor for Bear. But as Steve Mooser was talking about the other awards, I confess to getting slightly distracted.

Jaime Temairik, my graphic novel partner-in-crime and the Assistant Regional Advisor during our RA term, is entirely to blame. I couldn’t figure out why she kept turning around to videotape what I assumed was my melting ice cream. But then (and for those of you who know Jaime, you’ll know why this makes sense), I kept thinking that she had to be seeing something super artistic in it that my writerly brain just couldn’t vision. Maybe something that cleverly tied into our current WIP!

So as I sat there pondering what was so special about that slushy mound of leftover vanilla ice cream, all of a sudden I realized Steve was saying something about two people getting the award this year… then something about our booth at ALA in 2007… then I think there was a bit about our conference… and, as the levers in my brain finally started clicking and my face began heating up, I caught the words “regional advisors.”

My inner critic was in the middle of scolding me for being so big-headed as to think this had anything to do with me when Steve announced our names. The next thing I knew, Jolie and I were being asked by Steve and Lin Oliver to come up and say a few words in front of the mere 1,100-person audience.

Completely stunned, we walked on stage and, probably sounding like a giddy school girl, I recall mentioning how much I love the SCBWI and how much it means to me and omigosh, what a big surprise this was. All very true things. But the delivery was silly and quick and all the deeper things I also wanted to say popped into my head the second my foot stepped off that stage.

What I wish I could have articulated in all my shock and excitement is this:

Steve’s mentioning of the ALA booth referenced our exhibit during the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in January 2007, which was held in Seattle that year. The meeting is notorious for attracting close to 10,000 library professionals from across the country.

Participating in a major conference such as ALA was a first for the SCBWI, and our exhibit strategy and booth design were something we pulled together in a matter of weeks, thanks to the support of Lin, Steve, and RA Chairperson Cheryl Zach. More than 160 librarians and an array of editors and publishers visited the SCBWI booth, in addition to a host of students, writers, illustrators, and fans. We had an overwhelming response from our community of amazing authors and illustrators. Altogether we accepted 35 of them who made appearances and signed books in our booth, including freshly announced Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Newbery Honor medalist Kirby Larson.

It’s such an honor to receive the Member of the Year award largely the result of ALA, in addition to all of the hard work we lovingly poured into our regional conferences. But Jolie and I don’t deserve all the credit.

First and foremost, a huge thanks goes to each of the authors and illustrators who participated in ALA – without whom there wouldn’t have been a reason to be there. And a big thanks to writer-illustrator Kirsten Carlson, who designed the gorgeous booth and its accompanying components. Fellow RAs Esther Hershenhorn, Julie Lake, and Carmen Bredeson were instrumental during our planning phase, so they deserve kudos, too. And appreciation is owed to all of the other RAs who’ve been so encouraging and excited to make use of the booth, which has since been shipped all over the world to various SCBWI events, most recently the summer ALA conference.

This is getting long-winded – which, I’m sure, is exactly why Steve and Lin prefer to keep this award a total surprise to its recipients. After all, with advance notice the Member of the Year speech could easily drag and the whole point of the awards celebration is to honor the Golden Kite and Sid Fleischman Award winners.

So I’ll wrap by saying what a great honor and pleasure it was to receive such a lovely thank you for the work that Jolie and I have done in this region – a big bonus, really, for an opportunity that I feel so lucky to have been part of. Jolie, Jaime, and I had massive amounts of fun throughout our term, and the value that I’ve gotten back from the SCBWI and through my role as RA isn’t even close to quantifiable.

Some highlights, though: Close, lifelong friendships… satisfaction in helping grow the careers of our members… insights into the industry… personal leadership and career development… the ability to whip up regional conferences worthy of only the wildest dreams… and now, the opportunity to relish the accomplishments of our new RA team – Joni Sensel, Laurie Thompson, and ARA Kim Baker – as they carry the torch forward for our chapter and for the SCBWI as a whole, already leaving their own mark.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. (And omigosh, what a big surprise this was!)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Good news for Robin Cruise

Robin, who's recently moved here, has a new book out this month:

Bartleby Speaks! marks the first-time collaboration between acclaimed Kirkland-based children’s book author Robin Cruise and award-winning illustrator Kevin Hawkes.

The new picture book (August 2009) from Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers celebrates the unique nature of every child—and highlights the quiet power of listening.

Kirkus Reviews describes the book as a “sweetly underscored paean to the beauty of quiet,” and in a starred review, School Library Journal proclaims: “Youngsters … will ask for repeated readings.”

Cruise’s previous picture books include Only You, illustrated by Seattle-based Caldecott Honor winner Margaret Chodos-Irvine, and Little Mamá Forgets, illustrated by Stacey Dressen-McQueen. Visit her at her website:

Introducing Tales from the Trenches

Are you a newly published or prolific author and/or illustrator? Has your work appeared in book or magazine form? Have you just landed an awesome agent? We want to hear your story!

The printed Chinook has a new ongoing column called Tales from the Trenches, in which we interview authors and illustrators about their work and how they got started. If you have achieved Published and Listed membership status in SCBWI and would like to participate, please answer three of the following questions and send your responses to

We're looking for interesting stories that will inspire and inform our members. We might edit your answers for length and content, so please keep your answers brief but punchy. We look forward to hearing from you!

  • Where did you get the idea for your story?

  • How do your stories take shape in your head or on paper? For example, do you brainstorm organically or do you use an outline?

  • How old were you when you wrote your first story? What was it about?

  • Tell us about your path to publication. Did anything unusual or unexpected happen?

  • Did you receive any rejection letters in the process? If so, how many? What did you do after reading them?

  • Who have been your biggest coaches and cheerleaders during your career?

  • Have the books you read as a child influenced your writing or artwork in your career?

  • For illustrators: what is your process for illustrating someone else’s text? How do you “see” someone else’s characters?

  • Have you ever been surprised by an illustration you did? Has something unexpected ever appeared in your work?

  • If you are an author or illustrator who has published multiple titles, how do you manage your time so that you can continue to work on new books and promote your existing books?

  • When writing a series, how do you stay true to the voice or voices of the series? How do you keep track of changing events and characters from book to book?

Upcoming Class: Writing Children's Literature

Upcoming Class (attention Bellingham people, this one's for you!)

Writing Children's Literature:

Location: Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA
Taught by: Nina Laden, Paul Owen Lewis and Laurel Leigh

Turn passion into product! Three professionals conduct a series of classes offering their insight, skill and unique perspective in writing children’s literature to help you fire up your own creative abilities. With expert guidance, you will experiment and sample the field exploring children’s fiction and nonfiction, including picture books, chapter books, middle-grade books, and books for young adults. Focus will be placed on essential literary elements such as plot, character, setting, dialogue - and that all-important first chapter. All you need is paper, pencil and the courage to begin. Your passion for children’s books has another chapter: a product of your own!

Total contact hours: 30
10 sessions/10 weeks
September 21 – November 23
Mondays, 6:30 – 9:30 pm

Upcoming Class: Write Your Novel in a Month

Write Your Novel in a Month
Saturdays at the Bellevue College North Campus
October 3rd – December 12th
10:00 a.m. – 12 noon
No class 11/28

Is writing a novel one of your life-long dreams? Join Lois Brandt and her students as they hook up with 100,000 writers worldwide for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The first classes prepare you for the noveling process, with practice in characterization, setting, plot, voice, and dialogue. Then we're off and writing our 50,000 word manuscripts. During the last two classes we will plan for revision. This is a great way to write your novel in a supportive environment. Cost $195.

Questions? Contact

To register go to Bellevue College continuing education

Get to know Ruta Rimas

She'll be at our fall retreat on the water. Here's what she had to say to Terry Pierce:
My role is to be the champion of my authors/illustrators, through every step of the process. From our Balzer + Bray team meetings, to the oft scary Acquisitions meetings with sales, to Cover Strategy meetings, and our seasonal launch meetings, I advocate, advocate, advocate. And then, I advocate some

Read the rest!

Do you think your office is messy?

If so, then you really need to see how some of these noted fantasy and sci-fi authors work. I think there's probably some world-building going on beneath the stacks of books. Cockroachtopia! (Which I say in the nicest way possible).

Check it out here.

Diary of Anne Frank: a Disney movie?

From Variety:

Disney has acquired pic rights to a new rendition of "The Diary of Anne Frank," to be written and helmed by David Mamet. Mamet will produce with Andrew Braunsberg.

The film will be an amalgamation of the famed diary; the stage adaptation by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich; and Mamet's own original take on the material that could reframe the story as a young girl's rite of passage. Frank, who died at 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, became an icon of the Holocaust after the post-war publication of the diary that she kept during the two years that her family hid in a secret attic apartment in Amsterdam.

Braunsberg, best known for producing "Being There," spent a year gathering the rights from the Anne Frank Estate as well as the estates of Hackett and Goodrich. He met with ICM's John Burnham, who recommended Mamet. Mamet sparked to the opportunity tell the story, and he is already writing the script.

Read the rest.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How to query Upstart Crow

The new agency, founded by Michael Stearns, is now taking submissions. You'll find their guidelines--along with each agent's tastes--on the new Upstart Crow site.

Nathan Bransford's publishing glossary

This is really useful, covering everything from advances to wholesalers. Confused about a term? Look it up here.

Have a question? Ask Penny!

Our region has a new source you can turn to with all your burning questions about children's literature...

- How do I format my manuscript?
- How tall is the stack of money I will be sleeping on once I sell my 3,500-word picture book about my blind hamster, who also did the illustrations?
- Will it help me make sale if I offer to exfoliate the chapped heels of my editor and/or her assistant?

Actually, probably only one of these questions would get an answer. But if you want to sate your curiosity about an industry-related topic, write to Penny Withapen at Penny's lover colleague, Seymour Goodart, will address illustrator inquiries.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer guide to freelancing

Ever thought about freelancing?

These 10 tips are sound, starting with being prepared for each situation. (I once impressed a potential client by choosing thematically related paper clips. He noticed, and assumed I was the sort of person who didn't gloss over the little details.)

Other tips:
- have appropriate support around you
- have the proper tools
- create work-life balance

For all 10 tips, click here.

Deborah Reber chats with young authors

Deborah Reber and the teen authors of her LOUDER THAN WORDS books series have been doing live video chats every night this week from 8-9pm EST / 5-6pm PST.

The chat is being hosted by a bunch of different blogs and websites, including Debbie's blog, Smart Girls Know. Here's the rest of the schedule.

Meanwhile, Publishers Weekly is covering the event. Congratulations, Debbie!

Our chapter shines at the conference

Sheesh, it was almost EMBARRASSING how famous our chapter was at the SCBWI national conference in Los Angeles.

Jolie Stekly and Jaime Temairik represented as members of the official blog team. Be sure to read the posts--you'll really get a sense of what you missed.

Allyson Valentine Schrier was honored with a scholarship to attend the conference.

And Jolie and Sara Easterly, our incredible former RAs, were honored as SCBWI members of the year for their outstanding work. They deserved it--and then some.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Orcas Island Writers Festival

The Orcas Island Writers Festival will be held this year from September 17-20.

Deb Lund will be teaching a picture book writing workshop on September 17th.

Ellen Lesser, a MFA instructor from Vermont College, will be teaching a fiction
workshop (suitable for YA) on Sept 18-20th.

There will be other workshops, events, and performances as well.

Information can be found at<>

Please note: workshop submissions must be received by Aug. 25, 2009

Calendar: Upcoming Events

For additional information regarding the following events, please see the event descriptions in our calendar to the left.

Thu, Aug 13
Village Books in Bellingham

Fri, Aug 14
University Book Store, U district Seattle

Sat, Aug 15
Ballard Public Library, 5614 22nd Ave. NW, Seattle, WA 98107


Sun, Aug 16
Secret Garden Books, Ballard

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Revision Tips Galore from the Summer Revision Smackdown

If you missed the Summer Revision Smackdown at the blogs of Holly Cupala and Jolie Stekly, don't fret - here is the lowdown on the fabulous array of revision tips they gathered from the cream of the author and illustrator crop (plus a few publishing experts!):

  • Jill S. Alexander, YA Historical Author, on revising to immerse your reader in the mosh of your story
  • Molly Blaisdell*, Picture Book, Middle Grade, NF, and YA Author, on analyzing your manuscript for revision
  • Nathan Bransford, Curtis Brown Agent, on his Revision Checklist
  • Janet Lee Carey*, Fantasy & Middle Grade Author, on the Dream Mind and the Day Mind
  • Bruce Coville, Middle Grade and YA Author, on pruning out overused words and phrases for a tighter manuscript
  • Sarah Beth Durst, YA Fantasy Author, on powering through first drafts and revising one aspect at a time
  • Tina Ferraro, YA Author, on organizing the revision strategy
  • Liz Gallagher*, YA Author, on becoming a stranger to your work
  • Stacey Goldblatt, YA Author, on revision must-haves (hint: bulletin board, playlist, time to read)
  • Lorie Ann Grover*, YA Verse Novel and Board Book Author, on giving your book the gift of one day
  • Brent Hartinger*, YA Author, on setting your work aside and letting the subconsious take a crack at revision problems
  • Kjersten Anna Hayes*, Illustrator, on brainstorming, parachuting, and embracing the spirit of play
  • Justina Chen Headley*, YA Author, on being gentle with yourself but hard on your work
  • Kelly Holmes, Author and YAnnabe blogger, on creating a plot board
  • Carrie Jones, YA & YA Fantasy Author, on steps to revise your Stupid Novel Masterpiece
  • Beth Kephart, YA & Adult Author, on reading and rewriting for authenticity
  • Kirby Larson*, YA Historical Author, on taking walks and letting your mind make unexpected connections
  • Realm Lovejoy*, Graphic Novel Author/Illustrator, on writing, surfing, and "just do it" mode
  • Vivian Mahoney, Writer and HipWriterMama blogger, on breaking your project down into manageable chunks
  • Robin Mellom, Writer and Disco Mermaid, on notes for the second draft
  • Edward Necarsulmer IV, Children's Director at McIntosh & Otis Literary Agency, on how to "wow" him with a submission
  • Catherine Onder, Editor at HarperCollins, on keeping your prose immediate and direct
  • Darcy Pattison, Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Novel Metamorphosis Author, on making opening pages immediate and active
  • Mitali Perkins, YA Author & between-cultures blogger, on BIC and other strageties to get through the very hard first draft to revision
  • Paul Schmidt*, Illustrator, on striking the balance between perfection and sponteneity
  • Joni Sensel*, YA and Middle Grade Fantasy Author, on creating tension by adding interruptions and diversions
  • Emily Wing Smith, YA Author, on staring down self-doubt
  • Kristin O'Donnell Tubb, Middle Grade Author, on using Darcy Pattison's shrunken manuscript technique
  • Melissa Walker, YA Author, on just saying "no" to too much revision
  • Paula Yoo, YA Author, on cutting the final paragraph for a crisper manuscript

Other cool stuff:

The original SRS winner: Martha Brockenbrough*
CocoaStomp by Jaime Temairik*
Inspiration from around the kidlitosphere
Jolie's Monday Moments writing prompts*
Revision Conversations We Can't Afford to Miss

Hopefully these tips will tide you over until next year's Summer Revision Smackdown (begins June 1st). We hope to see you!

(*local WWA folks - our own treasure-trove of experts!)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Headed to SCBWI in LA!

I won't be posting too much in the next few days--the SCBWI national conference in L.A. will eat all my time.

Meanwhile, head on over to CocoaStomp for Jaime Temairik's gut-busting interview with illustrator Dan Yaccarino.

Jolie Stekly offers a Cuppa Chat with Karen Cushman, and she also wants to know your questions about the L.A. conference--so do ask them!

For the rest of the SCBWI conference blogging team, visit:
Alice Pope (she has a great interview with Kathleen Duey)
Lee Wind
Suzanne Young
Paula Yoo

You can follow conference chatter on Twitter, too.

SCBWI in LA: Jealousy!

Alas, I'm not going to the SCBWI Conference in LA this year, but last year's was one of the best I've attended...!

So if you're not going, either - or even if you are - keep up with the goodies at the brand new SCBWI Conference Blog. Some highlights: an interview with Ellen Hopkins, Keynote Speaker interviews, and pics from the NY Conference.

Plus, you can follow the SCBWI team twittering:

  • To follow Alice Pope on Twitter, click here.
  • To follow Jaime Temairik on Twitter, click here.
  • To follow Jolie Stekly on Twitter, click here.
  • To follow Paula Yoo on Twitter, click here.
  • To follow Suzanne Young on Twitter, click here.
  • To follow Lee Wind, click here.
  • Follow SCBWI by clicking here, where you'll find links to all SCBWI Conference Blog posts.

  • We hope to hear about your experiences, too!

    Monday, August 3, 2009

    Time to sign up for another year of regional programming

    SCBWI WWA’s 2009-2010 season will begin in September as usual, but we’re getting a 24-hour jump on the fun: This year, our Professional Series Meetings will be held on the second Tuesday of each month, instead of Wednesdays as has been our habit.

    We will continue to meet on the Seattle Pacific University campus at Demaray 150, but we’re moving our meetings to Tuesdays to accommodate the university’s schedule. Mark your calendars now.

    Registration is open now--don't forget to sign up for programming!

    Apply for the Inside Story

    SCBWI Western Washington would love to celebrate your new book at The Inside Story, a twice-yearly salon to celebrate the new books of local authors and illustrators.

    If you have a book coming out on a Fall 2009 list, you might be eligible to apply for the Fall Inside Story, which will be on Wednesday, Oct 28, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Third Place Books (17171 Bothell Way NE in Lake Forest Park).

    The application is now available and will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis (with priority given to SCBWI members or anyone who has signed up for 2009-2010 SCBWI Western Washington regional programming.)

    The DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS IS AUGUST 20, 2009. Please see the website for eligibility details and additional information.

    Application instructions: The application is a PDF form, and you’ll need Acrobat Reader to open, complete, and submit it by e-mail. Open the file, fill out the form, and click Submit in the upper right. You’ll be asked to enter your name and e-mail address. That’s it!

    (Dana Sullivan did our illustration.)

    New Barbara Jean Hicks book

    Barbara Jean Hicks has a new book out on August 11:

    She's getting nice reviews, and here's a link to a podcast on Just One More Book.

    Helpful plot tips

    Daily Writing Tips has a collection of tips for plotting:

    1. Read one of the many books about plot, for example 20 Master Plots and how to build them by Ronald B. Tobias.

    2. Describe the story you plan to write in one sentence. If you can’t say what your book is about in one sentence, you don’t have a clear enough idea of what you’re trying to do.

    3. Decide what the main character wants more than anything else in life. The plot will grow out of this desire.

    For the rest, visit the site.

    Saturday, August 1, 2009

    New Yorker blog post on worst children's books debate

    The debate got nasty, so I didn't link to this. But the New Yorker pulled out an interesting comment from LeVar Burton, Reading Rainbow host (and Star Trek: The Next Generation fave).

    He doesn't like The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister, and he has an interesting reason why. Click here to read it.

    Writing challenges: 500/1,000 words a day

    Debbie Ridpath Ohi, who offers daily diversions for writers, has two challenges. If you want to write 500 words a day, click here. For the 1,000-word-a-day challenge, click here.

    Fantastic Mr. Fox trailer

    This one's for the adaptation of the Roald Dahl book.