Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
From his blog:
1. What is The Big Idea?
It’s a feature presented here on Whatever, up to twice-weekly, in which authors discuss their latest books, to the delight and edification of Whatever’s up to 45,000 daily readers.
2. Why would I (or the writer I represent) want to be part of it?
Because Whatever readers love books (hey, they’re visiting the blog of a professional writer), there’s lots of them, and because The Big Idea feature is linked to all over the Internet, drawing in readers from elsewhere — all of whom like hearing from the author what it is that makes their book so damn interesting. As Leverage television show writer John Rogers recently wrote:
[T]his series of blog posts… has allowed me to discover more fine new fiction in a year than all the online reviews I’ve plowed through in the five previous.
Read the rest.
Thanks to Val Serdy for the link.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Doesn't this sound like fun?
Trudi's having an fossil fest July 10 at Skamania Lodge. She'll read from Mom, There's a Dinosaur in Beeson's Lake, talk about fossil formation (she wrote a nonfiction title on Fossils for Scholastic a few years ago), and show some of her favorite fossils - trilobites. Kids will get to make a trilobite bookmark and she'll have the usual assortment of games, prizes, food, and fun.
From the news release:
Stevenson, Wash. - (May 3, 2010) - Skamania Lodge, an all-season mountain resort in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, announces its Bed & Book-fest event with best-selling local children’s author Trudi Strain Trueit, Saturday, July 10, 2010. Trueit will host a reading from her newly-released book “Secrets of a Lab Rat #2: Mom, There’s a Dinosaur in Beeson’s Lake” as well as lead children in a trilobite bookmark-making workshop and creative writing exercises. The activity will also include a milk and cookie reception with the author.
Skamania Lodge’s Bed & Book-fest event featuring Trudi Strain Trueit includes a copy of Trueit’s book “Secrets of a Lab Rat #2: Mom, There’s a Dinosaur in Beeson’s Lake”, participation in Trueit’s trilobite bookmark-making and writing workshop and a milk and cookies reception. The event is available to Skamania Lodge guests for $15 per child. For more information about Skamania Lodge or to make reservations, please visit www.skamania.com or call (800) 221-7117.
from the under 5 list:
And Then Comes Halloween
by Tom Brenner, illustrated by Holly Meade
(Candlewick, $16.99) 978-0-7636-3659-3
The excitement and fun of this favorite holiday fill the pages of this book. Lively watercolor and collage illustrations.
*Don’t Lick the Dog: Making Friends with Dogs
written and illustrated by Wendy Wahman
(Henry Holt, $16.95) 978-0-8050-8733-8
Simple rhyming text and vibrant, playful drawings offer good advice to young children who encounter new dogs. (4-6)
(the star means outstanding merit)
from the 5-9 list:
Zelda and Ivy: Keeping Secrets
written and illustrated by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
(Candlewick, $15.99) 978-0-7636-4179-5
In three easy-to-read stories, siblings Zelda, Ivy, and Eugene have dramatic, humorous adventures. Animated
from the 9-12 list:
by Peg Kehret
(Dutton, $16.99) 978-0-525-42177-1
After a difficult journey to unite with her twin, Sunny realizes that home is where there is love and caring. (10-14)
from the 14 and up list:
North of Beautiful
by Justina Chen
(Little, Brown, $16.99) 978-0-316-02505-8
Terra, beautiful and talented but insecure, struggles to create a life that is not defined by her portwine birthmark and bullying father. (14-17)
Our past faculty made good appearances, too: Grace Lin, Mitali Perkins, Patty Lee Gauch, Lisa Graff, Suzanne Morgan Williams, and Chris Crutcher.
Thanks to Laurie Thompson for putting together this list. And congratulations to everyone on it.
From Cover to Cover: A Picture Book Class
Are you brimming with picture-book drafts after NaPiBoWriWee? Do you have a drawer full of stories clamoring to be completed and polished? Then I have the class for you! Together, we’ll explore your ideas for their marketability, review your drafts to make them the best they can be, discuss the importance of making a dummy book even when you’re not an illustrator, and tackle submission guidelines. All in four weeks! The class will be conducted online, with up to eight participants. I will send out an email at the beginning of each week with information, guidance, and writing prompts. Then as you send in your work, I’ll send each of you feedback. We’ll work on one story a week. I encourage all participants to critique as well. We learn best from each other. Come write and revise some stories with me!
Length of class: Four weeks
Payment by check or Paypal
Start Date: July 5, 2010
Registration ends: June 20, 2010
About me: I am a freelance editor and author who acquired, edited, and managed more than a hundred books in all kinds of formats as an editor at Scholastic. I have also written thirty books, including THE EVERYTHING KIDS’ EASY SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS BOOK and TICK-TOCK SHARKS. My picture book, THE SPOOKY WHEELS ON THE BUS, will be published by Scholastic in July 2010. In my spare time, I am the editor of The Chinook, a quarterly newsletter for the Western Washington chapter of SCBWI, and I’m a member of the Northwest Independent Editors Guild. Visit my website, and contact me at jemills1 AT gmail.com.
For me, picking out a new book is as simple as reading its first page. Does it grab me? Do I want to read more? Do I want to read it badly enough to: a) check the book out? b) spend my hard-earned money on it?
As writers, it’s our job to draw the reader in, to make them care enough to keep turning the pages. One of the tricks-of-the-trade is to ask a story question. Story questions are statements that beg answering, situations that must resolve. Story questions can be monumental or minuscule and are woven throughout a story from beginning to end. When a story question is posed at the beginning of a book, it is called a hook. In general, hooks should occur within the first few sentences of the beginning of a story. Here are three examples of hooks (all first sentences):
* “The morning the wagon came to take Monette away, the air was biting crisp and a sheen of frost covered the canefields.” — The Dreaming by Michele Torrey (manuscript) (The hook: Why is a wagon coming to take Monette away, and where is it going to take her?)
* “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.” – To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (The hook: How did Jem break his arm?)
* “It was almost December and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.” — The Giver by Lois Lowry (The hook: Why is Jonas beginning to be frightened?)
Read the rest.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Check it out here.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
If you have questions, hop on over to her blog and fire away.
She's planning to post answers in mid-June, and we'll be sure to post a link on the Chinook Update. Meanwhile, as soon as our SCBWI WWA critique group page is updated, I'll include a link. If you subscribe to our regional services, one of the benefits is critique-group placement.
FEE: In advance: $40 attorneys and paralegals; $15 artists and students. At the door: $45 attorneys and paralegals; $20 artists and students.
Find more info on the Hugo House site.
Her play She's the One, a story that explores the art of hallucination, will be showcased in an evening of new work by Seattle Playwrights' Studio, Friday evening June 11, at 7 p.m. in the ArtsWest theatre in West Seattle.
Her play Coming Clean, a story of the burden of secrets, will be performed in a festival of short one-acts, July 9 and 10 at Driftwood Theatre in Edmonds.
Our next issue of The Chinook will focus on submission and promotion.
Who among you has an interesting insight into the vast and somewhat confusing world of submission? Perhaps an unusual path you took? Some interesting and diplomatic perspectives on some of the newer publishing houses and imprints? Creative ways to handle rejection letters, such as using them to repaper the bathroom? Tips on how to handle THE phone call--the one we all wait for with the juicy offer?
And does anyone have suggestions from personal experience on unique ways to promote oneself as an author and/or illustrator in this busy world of social media and instant communication? We want to learn from you!
Please send your articles and ideas to me at tfttnw AT gmail.com. Even if you're not quite sure how to formulate your thoughts into an article, drop me a mail. We'll work on the piece together! I look forward to reading your sage advice.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
If you remember waaay back to the Illustrator Panel at our conference in April, Jaime Temairik mentioned taking an online class from Alyson B. Stanfield called Blast Off (it has nothing to do with pants.)
The class is starting up again on May 19th ($97 for May 19 - June 11) and you receive daily (weekday) pdfs and mp3s for the class. These are do-at-home exercises, you don't have to dial in or read anything at a certain time each day or in any time zone.
More information can be found at Alyson's website. This class is a terrific blend of motivation, coaching, and practical business tools you can use to take your art career to a new level.
You'll be working on the following.
- Commit to accepting responsibility for your life
- Capture your Vision and plan to enact it
- Monthly financial worksheet (getting a grip on your financial situation)
- 2010 Plan for continuing education and handling your information overload
- Identify tasks you can hire out (or let go of)
- Complete a challenging (but workable) plan for the entire year
Monday, May 17, 2010
Mindy's young adult romance short story, GHOST IN THE BATTING CAGE was published with Bridgehouse Press (UK). She was a winner in the 2009 Seattle Romance Writer's Early Bird pitch contest and has published articles and a short story with the The Washington State History Museum's e-zine, COLUMBIAKids. Mindy holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. To learn more about Mindy, visit her website. Contact her about the class at mindy AT mindyhardwick.com
By Debra Lau Whelan -- School Library Journal, 5/12/2010 2:00:00 PM
As if severe budget cuts weren’t enough, Washington’s Kitsap Regional Library has suffered another huge blow—someone stole 1,348 picture books valuing nearly $23,000 from its Port Orchard branch.
“Nearly all of the titles stolen were newer books or new copies of classic titles,” says Branch Manager Kathleen Wilson. “From Barbara Abercrombie’s The Show and Tell Lion (S & S, 2006) to Charlotte Zolotow’s A Father Like That (HarperCollins, 2007), the entire alphabet of picture books was picked through by the thief.”
Read the whole thing.
(Thanks to Jennifer Mann for sending the link.)
Sunday, May 16, 2010
I don't know about you, but my afternoon plans today are completely set: I'm headed to Dubsea Coffee at 9910 8th Avenue SW in Seattle to see new art by Jaime Temairik.
The party is from 2-4 p.m., and there will be cookies, iced coffee, and an art activity for kids. (What, no pole dancing? OK, on second thought, I'm totally fine with that.)
Don't miss Jaime's show. Check out her portfolio here.
Secret Garden Books is throwing a shindig for Nikki McClure, the author/illustrator of MAMA, IS IT SUMMER YET?
The event is at the Ballard branch of SPL, at 2 p.m. on June 12.
Nikki's cut-paper illustrations are amazing, and she's going to demonstrate how she does it. She'll also sign books.
Congratulations, Joni! I don't know how you do all you for SCBWI and still have time to write books people love--you're an inspiration for us all.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
I'd been corresponding here and there with author Chris Barton for probably over five years--and by "corresponding" I mean that he would send me a manuscript and then I would decline it, but invite him to send more. During that time he eventually found a fantastic agent, who sent me a manuscript titled "Shark vs. Train." I was intrigued by that title. And when I read the manuscript, I was intrigued even more. Heck, I was more than intrigued, I was in love. It was so wacky, so deliciously random and bizarre, and best of all, it was so childlike and child friendly.
The concept is this: a train and a shark battle it out in different environments. For example, who wins when they're underwater, in Shark's natural habitat? Shark, of course--Train helplessly sinks to the bottom of the ocean. But Train wins on the train tracks, while Shark struggles to pull heavy cars. But then Shark wins at a pie-eating contest, and Train wins in a burping contest. The battle goes back and forth until towards the end you realize that neither one is winning. This is one of my favorite "nobody wins" pages:
Read the rest, or watch the trailer:
Thanks to Laurie Thompson for sending the link.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Anjali Banerjee's new middle grade novel, SEAGLASS SUMMER, is available today from Wendy Lamb Books/Random House! In SEAGLASS SUMMER, 11-year-old Poppy Ray, an aspiring veterinarian, spends the summer with her Indian uncle at his animal clinic on a Pacific Northwest island.
Here's the description:
Poppy is in for big surprises. She loves tending to the dogs, cats, and even a bird, and she discovers the fun of newborn puppies and the satisfaction of doing a good job. But she learns that there's more to caring for animals than the stethoscope and cotton swabs in her Deluxe Veterinarian First-Aid Kit. She's not prepared for quirky pet owners, gross stuff, or scary emergencies. With help from a boy named Hawk, a chunk of seaglass, and a touch of intuition, Poppy gains a deeper understanding of the pain and joy of working with animals.
ALL STAR LIST OF AUTHORS AND AGENTS
HEADLINES WHIDBEY ISLAND WRITERS ASSOCIATION
MINI-CONFERENCE JUNE 12
What: Whidbey Island Writers Association 2010 Mini-Conference
When: Saturday, June 12, 2010
9:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m (Registration 8-9 a.m.)
Where: Private Homes on Whidbey Island
Who: 18 authors and literary agents including Jamie Ford (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet), Valerie Easton (Seattle Times gardening columnist), Kirby Larson (Newbery Award winner), and Cherry Adair (romance writer) (see www.writeonwhidbey.org for full list of presenters)
Why: To expose aspiring and experienced writers to published authors or working literary agents with information that may improve their writings or offer the potential for publication.
Registration: www.writeonwhidbey.org; 360-331-0307
Cost: $110 All-Day Mini-Conference ($90 WIWA members)
$40 Earlybird Class: Crafting the Perfect Pitch 7:45-8:45 a.m. ($35 WIWA members)
$20 Mini-consults with agents ($15 WIWA members)
$55 Meet Elizabeth George Benefit Dinner 5:00-8:00 p.m. ($50 WIWA members)
Here's the official invite from editor Stephanie Lile:
Join us as COLUMBIAKids e-zine turns two! This year we’re exploring “the story behind the story” with amazing PNW authors Kirby Larson (Hattie Big sky, Nubs, COLUMBIAKids “Sayonara”), Randall Platt (Hellie Jondoe), Anjali Banerjee (Looking for Bapu, Seaglass Summer), Mindy Hardwick (COLUMBIAKids “Pigs Go To Market” and “Tales of the Lighthouse Keeper”), and the editors of COLUMBIAKids.
If you’re curious about researching and writing history for kids, don’t miss this program. If you’re intrigued with homesteading, ghosts, orphan trains, internment, animals, or mummies, this night is for you. It’s a fun and enlightening evening for readers and writers of all ages. The program is FREE and the museum is open to the public until 8pm. Book signing to follow the program.
My college alumni magazine had a really interesting piece about research being done on language, and whether thought drives language or vice versa. For a long time, scientists have thought that language expresses your thinking, but doesn't necessarily shape it.
But a cognitive scientist named Lyra Boroditsky is shaking that up a bit. Here's an excerpt from the article:
"In English," she says, moving her hand toward the cup, "if I knock this cup off the table, even accidentally, you would likely say, 'She broke the cup.'" However, in Japanese or Spanish, she explains, intent matters.Read the rest of it (it gets really interesting where she reveals that a Spanish speaker is less likely to remember key details about accidents--perhaps precisely because the language doesn't provide a structure for that).
If one deliberately knocks the cup, there is a verb form to indicate as much. But if the act were an accident, Boroditsky explains, a smile dancing across her lips as she translates from Spanish, the speaker would essentially say, "The cup broke itself."
The question is: Does the fact that one language tends to play the blame game while the other does not mean speakers of those languages think differently about what happened? If so, what might linguistic differences tell us about cognition, perception and memory—and with what implications for such perennial debates as the influence of nature versus nurture? Welcome to the intensely spirited academic debate on which Boroditsky has spent the last decade shining a bright new light.
So what might this have to do with fiction? Well, imagine that a character's expressions reveal the way she sees the world. Let's say she's someone who can't apologize or take responsibility for something. She might say, "The car crashed." That's a really basic example, of course--not to far from the cup example. But you could reveal all sorts of things about your character, the world you're building, and your metaphors and themes by playing with this idea. Have fun!
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Voice is one of the most difficult writing terms to define and pinpoint. We might know it when we see it, but what's voice made of, really? You hear so often that agents and editors want "new voices" and "compelling voices" and voice voice voice. So what is voice? How do you cultivate it? And how many rhetorical questions do you think can I fit into one post?Find out on Nathan's blog.
Voice, at its most basic level, is the sensibility with which an author writes. It's a perspective, an outlook on the world, a personality and style that is recognizable even out of context. You could drop randomly into a David Sedaris story or an Ernest Hemingway novel and probably guess the author within a few paragraphs because they have strong, unique voices. An author's voice is often imitated (think: Tolkien), but a truly original voice can never be duplicated.
So what makes a good voice? How do you cultivate one?
We’ve all read them: books that stupify the senses for the first few pages or — ack! — the first few chapters. Like the literary troopers we are, we wade through those mind-dulling pages, meanwhile muttering incantations, It will get better . . . Any minute now something wonderful will happen . . .
If even the pros fall prey to such yawningly slow beginnings, how much more susceptible is the novice writer? Very, as it turns out. Often novice writers begin their stories thinking that they have to tell us everything up front in order for us to understand what’s going on. I’ve read middle grade manuscripts in which twenty or more characters are introduced in the first chapter alone, not because those characters were necessary to the chapter, mind you, but because the writer was under a “can’t-leave-anything-out” evil spell. The irony is, these tell-all openings are less intelligible than if the writer used a “need-to-know” approach.
So where should you begin your story? The general rule of thumb is to begin your story at the moment your character experiences a dramatic life change:Read the rest.
You would be surprised at how little information is really needed before the story is off and running.
- On the day the girl’s father mysteriously disappears.
- On the day the high school valedictorian opens the letter from Harvard, declining him admittance.
- On the morning of the fire.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The following is said to be an exact translation of the letter sent by a Chinese editor to a would-be contributor whose manuscript he found it necessary to return: ‘Illustrious brother of the sun and moon: Behold thy servant prostrate before thy feet. I kowtow to thee, and beg that of thy graciousness thou mayst grant that I may speak and live. Thy honored manuscript has deigned to cast the light of its august countenance upon us. With raptures we have perused it. By the bones of my ancestors, never have I encountered such wit, such pathos, such lofty thought. With fear and trembling I return the writing. Were I to publish the treasure you sent me, the emperor would order that it should be made the standard and that none be published except such as equaled it. Knowing literature as I do, and that it would be impossible in ten thousand years to equal what you have done, I send your writing back. Ten thousand times I crave your pardon. Behold my head is at your feet. Do what you will. Your servant’s servant. The Editor.’– The Literary World, March 23, 1895
SCBWI Western Washington is seeking workshop presenters for our 2010-2011 year. Our chapter holds monthly Professional Series Meetings from October through April, and hosts an annual conference each spring.
We welcome fresh and compelling workshop ideas for any of these events! Download the Workshop Presenter Application.
The advisory committee will be discussing these proposals early next month, so get yours in ASAP.
Now that it is official, I can let you know that Emily Van Beek has left Pippin Properties to join Folio Literary Management and help them build their children’s book division.
Pippin Properties is still alive and doing great with Holly McGhee at the helm, so this just gives all of us more opportunities in the industry.
Here is what Emily says she is looking for:
I am exclusively interested in acquiring projects for young and teen readers, from picture books by author / artists, to authentic and fresh middle-grade fiction, to lyrical and daring YA.
I am especially interested in representing young adult novelists. I’m looking for voices that won’t be ignored. I am open to considering all sorts of YA from dystopian fiction to paranormal, mysteries to well-written chick lit, coming-of-age, “I’m not dead, but I’m not alive either”, the lyrical, the literary, and the laughable.
I believe it was Ursula Nordstrom who once wrote (of the process of considering a manuscript) something along the lines of: “If you can resist it, do.” A tough love sort of approach to the process, but it’s a litmus test I often use to help me decide if I am the right agent to represent a particular project and to help an author achieve his or her publishing goals.
Emily officially starts on May 24th.
Read more of Kathy's blog.
These days it seems like everyone's book marketing budget is a little tighter. If you're feeling the pinch, or if you're just looking for some great free stuff to do on your own, here are some tips that could help keep you on track.
1) Buy your domain name as soon as you have a title for your book. You can get domain names for as little as $8.95. Tip: When buying a domain always try to get a .com and stay away from hyphens, i.e. penny-sansevieri.com - surfers rarely remember to insert hyphens.
2) Head on over to Blogger.com or Wordpress.com and start your very own blog (you can add it to your Web site later).
3) Set up an event at your neighborhood bookstore. Do an event and not a signing, book signings are boring!
Read the rest.
Monday, May 10, 2010
She was too modest to send word herself, but Judy Enderle let us know about this exciting award for Jennifer. So very well deserved!
You can read all about it here.
This workshop will focus on ways to generate and evaluate titles by analyzing those of existing books for children and young adults. Lenae teaches creative writing and childhood literature at Northwest University. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University, where she specialized in poetry, a genre that requires frequent title generation. A number of her poems have been published in literary journals, and not one of them was called “Untitled.” She is currently writing two young-adult novels.
Then, we'll meet meet Karen Cushman, who'll tell us how she finally came to write after years of talking about it a speech titled IN DREAMS BEGIN RESPONSIBILITIES.
Here's a recap of the blog tour we did last month with Karen:
Kim Baker, our assistant regional adviser, asked her some questions about her writing process. Read up on them here.
Laurie Thompson, our co-regional adviser, has a blog about nonfiction--something that overlaps plenty with the historical fiction Karen writes so beautifully. Read it here.
Kirby Larson, a colleague and Newbery honor winner, has both a review of the book AND an interview AND she is giving away an ARC to the person who invents the best Meggy Swann-style curse. Here's her review. And here's her interview.
Emilie Bishop--who contributes to the historical fiction blog Damsels in Regress--has a great interview tailored to people working in that genre. You can read the whole thing here.
And finally, Allie Costa, a California gal who writes the popular book-review blog Slayground, has an interview with Karen about all of her books. You'll find that one here.
Our Professional Series Meetings take place at Seattle Pacific University - Demaray Hall, Room 150. Registration at 6:45 p.m., program at 7:00 p.m. Get Map and Directions here. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month.
Illustrator Craig Orback has an event this Friday night, May 14 at Village Books in Bellingham at 7 p.m. for THE CAN MAN.
Craig will be doing a Powerpoint presentation on how THE CAN MAN was created. He'll also read from it, and there is also an art exercise for kids. Signed copies will be available for sale. He has been getting some great press in places like the Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune and The Hartford Courant in Connecticut.
Craig realizes many of you are pretty far south but hopes you will consider making the trip Fairhaven where Village Books is located. Quaint Fairhaven near Bellingham is a great destination paired with a drive
up beautiful Chuckanut Drive!
Here is a link for more information on the event.
(Note from Martha: Village Books is one of my favorite stores, and Craig's right about the drive. What he didn't mention is that there's a converted British tour bus down the street where you can choose from about 50 flavors of soft-serve ice cream. AND...I read THE CAN MAN to a class of third graders. They were spellbound.)
A bear forages for food, climbs into its tree nest, and scales the snow-capped Himalayas in Moon Bear by Brenda Z. Guiberson, featuring cut-paper illustrations by Ed Young. Out this month from Holt, the book spotlights the Asiatic black bear, also known as the moon bear, for the white crescent-shaped marking on its chest.
A concluding author’s note addressing the plight of this endangered species is accompanied by photos of moon bears living in a China sanctuary run by the Hong Kong-based Animals Asia Foundation, which will receive a portion of the proceeds from the sales of Moon Bear. The publisher has also launched an on-line campaign to adopt a moon bear—with readers’ help.Read the rest.
are teaming up to craft a unique on-screen storytelling experiment.
A short (15 min.) pilot will be filmed on Friday afternoon/evening, May 28, in Everett.
The filmmakers are searching for a published children's author and illustrator who are willing to participate in their little adventure.
The age range of the participants is 9-11. For details, contact Hank Isaac at pointsource AT gmail.com.
Saturday, June 5, 2010, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Orcas Island Public Library, Conference Room, Eastsound, Washington
Whether you write (or want to write) adult, middle grade, or young adult fiction (or most genres, for that matter), these hands-on activities will provide the kindling you need to ignite new stories. Create characters with unique voices, sizzling settings, and plots that keep readers blazing through your pages. Deb Lund is the author of several picture books, including her celebrated “Dino” series and her latest book, Monsters on Machines.
Registration is available online.
For more information, visit the Orcas Island Writers Festival site, or call Festival Director Barbara Lewis
Find more about Deb Lund at her blog or website.
COMING FROM OFF THE ISLAND?
We have reserved rooms at the beautiful Cascade Harbor Inn for the retreat. Ask for the Water View Rooms Group B with 2 Queen Beds per room for $98.60 per night, or $102.77 with tax. These rooms can be shared with other
participants. Up to four people can stay in the rooms with no additional charge. Be sure to mention the Orcas Island Writers Festival when making your reservation at Cascade Harbor Inn's site.
Cascade Harbor Inn
1800 Rosario Road, Eastsound, WA 98245
(800) 201-2120 (360) 376-6350 FAX (360) 376-6354
Friday, May 7, 2010
Read the whole post.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Join Ann Gonzalez, MFA and author of Running for My Life, and a group of other writers in an eight-week workshop class where you will learn aspects of craft, receive revision notes and support, as well as an occasional push to help you reach the end.
No one walks away from this class without getting their money's worth since it comes with a money-back guarantee. At $125 for 8 weeks it's possibly the cheapest way to receive editorial notes on your work-in-progress while learning about the craft of writing at the same time.
The next session begins on May 16. Contact Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to sign up.
Most of you have heard, I'm sure, about the horrendous rains and flooding in Nashville and surrounding areas. As far as I know, all Midsouth members are accounted for. Cheryl's home was four houses away from the evacuation zone! Several of my friends have lost everything, and one had to be rescued from a second-floor window in a canoe.
Many people didn't have flood insurance because they don't live in a flood plain. This flooding is truly an unheard-of event, so this doesn't mean they were careless or lax. Two of the Midsouth's enterprising members, Amanda Morgan and Myra McEntire, have put together a relief effort called "Do the Write Thing for Nashville" where they will auction off all sorts of writing-related goodies, including critiques by agents and editors. I don't know who these agents and editors are, but Amanda reports that the site has had a great response. There will also be signed books and other goodies.
Please alert your readers to this site and to their Facebook page, as there will be some great services to bid on. It would be great if you or your members wanted to make a donation of a book or a critique too, of course!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
After blogging for four years as editor of Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market (a position I just left), next week I'll begin blogging full force for SCBWI! (Please pardon our dust--we're still under construction.)
This blog will be similar to my last--but more so. I'll post a little more frequently and include more SCBWI news. And, as a member of SCBWI TEAM BLOG, you'll find pre-conference news and interviews here as well (leading up to the Annual Summer Conference which starts July 30th. Click here to register.)
You can read the rest here (and find the link on the left-hand side of this page).
“My story is about a man, a woman, and two dogs. It’s a modern-day retelling of Pride & Prejudice, except the characters of Jane and Mr. Bingley are a tad hairier than in the original.”
Confession time. That is an honest-to-God excerpt from the first query I ever wrote. And, yes, I actually sent it out the door. Ten times.
You probably won’t be shocked to learn I received ten rejections, and you’re probably wondering why you’re reading a post on queries from someone who’s unpublished. Well, thankfully, I’ve made some progress since that abysmal beginning. Although I’m still waiting for the life-changing phone call from Dream Agent, I am finally winning the battle of the query and getting more requests than rejections. Here’s a strategy that has helped me go from public humiliation to killer query.
Step One: Pull Out Some Quirk
Most agents seem to like some degree of weird. So don’t let their first impression be déjà vu. For example, rather than introduce your main character as a middle-aged high school teacher, focus on a weird quirk or trait, such as: “Mary Olson is a middle-aged drama teacher with a paralyzing fear of heights.”
Good advice abounds:
My friend Jane* has a tendency to tell really boring stories. She inflicts you-had-to-be-there stories, I-find-this-to-be-funny-but-you-might-not stories, and this-is-interesting-but-not-well-told stories on us all the time.
In college Jane started noticing that when she was telling a story, people started picking their nails, looking past her for the nearest exit, or falling asleep on the spot. Even when she could feel that the story was dying a soporific, painful death, Jane couldn't stop herself -- she felt she had to finish it to the end. She so desperately wanted her stories to work that she grasped for something that could save them, any lifesaver that could bring them home. Jane peaked when she was telling a story and, just as my eyelids began to flutter, she blurted out: "And then there was a dragon!"
Don't do this in your manuscript.
As appealing as this may sound -- and as hilarious it is to picture a dragon in line with your character at the grocery store -- don't do it. Adding a dragon or a long-lost brother or slutty secretary or a conveniently placed key under the doormat to the castle is not the fix for a broken story.
Read the rest. (LINK NOW FIXED.)
Monday, May 3, 2010
Also, she keeps a bag of rejection letters under the bed of her apartment in New York (which is the sort of thing you say when you also have real estate in other parts of the country).
Read more of the collected rejection quotes from Meg Cabot at Debbie Ridpath Ohi's blog, Inkygirl.
I’ve heard other writers say that when they get a rejection letter, they post it on the wall of their office. A well-known poet I know says his walls are just plastered in them. I have never understood this; it’s one of those things that fly over my head and I’m too ashamed to admit I don’t get it. My own office has hand-painted cards from people I love, art books and poetry books open and propped up. Do the rejection-plasterers find punishment inspiring? Maybe it proves to them that they exist, that at least they’re trying, seeing their name written over and over in print like that, on letterhead from coveted presses and magazines. I assume, maybe incorrectly, that writers who plaster their walls in rejections actually do so because they are in the what-doesn’t-kill-you-makes-you-stronger camp. It makes you stronger like a callus makes your hands stronger when you’ve worked with them awhile. But a callus of the soul or heart isn’t supposed to be a good thing.Read the rest.
When I receive a bunch of rejections (an inevitability as a writer) I am always left facing the reasons I’m writing in the first place, so I can know why to keep going. And I’m faced over and over again with the somewhat uncomfortable fact that one of the reasons I write is to get approval. But the reasons I write change, depending on which one I need. I’ve written them out below, and I’d love to know if anyone has anything to add to this list, especially those writers on who are further along in their careers, and know the feeling of holding their own book in their hands.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Tim Gillner offered illustrators a specific look into his job as art director at Boyds Mills Press: what he looks for from an artist in terms of samples and websites, how and when an agent comes into the process, what types of contracts Boyds Mills offers, and where he looks for artists.
Tim came prepared with many “how-not-to” samples of samples. Don’t send glitter, ornaments, originals, view-masters, beribboned dummies, or other gimmicks. It doesn’t help sell your art. Do send postcards with one image, your name, website, and phone number. Send samples each quarter. If an image grabs him, he’ll go to your website—having a website or online portfolio is a must. Make it easy to navigate so viewers can find the art they’re looking for. Fewer great samples are better than many weak or undeveloped styles.
Tim works directly with illustrators as well as with art representatives and agents. They can be “the devil and the angel”. Whether it’s better to have one or not is up to the artist.
Boyds Mills Press offers two kinds of contracts: work-for-hire, and advance against royalty. Spot illustration, nonfiction and black-and-white work for poetry books is often acquired on a work-for-hire basis. Picture-book contracts are based upon payment of an advance plus royalty. Boyds Mills never remainders their books, so the royalty timeline is usually extensive.
As for artist searches, Tim relies heavily on the website http://www.picturebookartists.com. He also uses and keeps source books, such as PICTUREBOOK. Although somewhat expensive to advertise in, these source books do get into the hands of people who use them, and usually provide the artist with tear sheets, and an online presence as well.
Art Director Tim Gillner walked his audience through the picture-book process at Boyds Mills Press, starting with submissions. Over 500 manuscript submissions are received each month, but perhaps only ten are read, and then maybe just one of those gets to an editor.
Once the editor wants to acquire a story, and if he/she can "sell" the manuscript to the publisher, then the art director partners with the editor to find the right artist for the job. Tim usually chooses at least three possible artists, because time and work conflicts can prevent an illustrator from saying yes. Once an artist has been secured, the schedule and price are negotiated.
The working relationship between artist and art director involves allowing the illustrator to bring his or her own interpretation to the manuscript. During the approval and revision stage, Tim has often "fought" to win the publisher over on artwork that the publisher at first rejected, such as black and white illustrations for a picture book. Once the sketches are approved, then the artist creates the final art. Tim stressed that this must conform to the sketches. He also stressed the importance of leaving space for text.
The lengthy process of producing a book involves scanning the art, designing the text, creating an F&G (a folded-and-gathered mock-up), performing color checks, producing plates, and conducting sometimes exhausting press/color checks. Tim cautioned illustrators that the original colors of their art will never be perfectly reproduced. Boyds Mills Press prefers to have its books produced in the U.S.—the publisher has more control over the production timing and transport time. From manuscript acquisition to printing and binding, the picture-book process will usually take at least a year and a half, and can easily take up to three years.
Suzanne Selfors: How a Reincarnated, Middle-Aged Dwarf Became an Immortal 16-Year Old and How it Almost Killed Me
After finishing the revisions on her last book, Suzanne Selfors described the experience as the most hellish of her life. With eight books published in four years, she's a veteran at revisions, but she admits that every book she writes gives her a different set of problems when it comes to revising. Revising often requires gutting your rough draft, maybe even killing off a character or two, so keep your chin up and hang tight.
#1. Finish your story before you revise any of it.
#2. Write your first draft behind closed doors (don't give it to your critique group during this time).
#3. It's okay if your first draft is sh*t.
#4. Let the first draft marinate at least 6 weeks, but give it to your critique group while you take a break from it.
#5. When you begin to revise, take everything out that is NOT the story.
The revisions that transformed her adult novel into a YA novel were traumatic, and Suzanne had to remind herself why she was writing the book and what she loved about it in order to keep going.
She suggested that writers keep asking themselves the most important questions: What does your character want? Is there conflict resolution? Has the main character changed by the end of the novel?
The single most important takeaway from her talk was: "Don't feel like you're a failure!" It's the revising that makes or breaks a book, so don't give up.
Sara Crowe: My Favorite First Pages (or How to Make an Agent Fall in Love with You in Four Pages or Less)
Sara Crowe, literary agent with Harvey Klinger Inc, a full-service literary agency in New York, shared with us examples of first pages that caught her eye and then explained why. Of the projects she represents, most of those first pages haven’t changed.
Sara loves to see first pages that establish voice. Voice includes an engaging emotional truth and sets a tone for the rest of the novel. For Sara, it must be endearing and honest.
The second element she looks for is the character. She wants to meet the main character by means of a description that shows who they are. She looks for word choice and again, the voice. She warned, though, that too much description is “not good”.
After character, Sara looks for the hook. This is the element that makes the reader ask, why?
The fourth element that will make her fall in love with your first pages is authenticity. She recalled spending teen summers in Nantucket when the police would send out decoys to find out where the party would be that night. They could always spot the fakes by what they wore (touristy T-shirts) and how they spoke. “Dude, where’s the party?” Not authentic. Teens will easily detect a fraud.
Sara concluded by warning her audience of three first-pages turnoffs: clichés, lots of dialogue in the opening, and prologues that aren’t really prologues.
Paul Rodeen, the founder and president of Rodeen Literary Management, spoke about his path to becoming an agent. He developed from a self-described jock who hid his interest in literature, to the editor of the student-run fiction magazine at his college, to a graduate student at Denver Publishing Institute, to an agent at Sterling Lord Literistic, and finally to being the founder and president of Rodeen Literary Management.
He currently represents between 20 and 25 clients and would like to build his list up to about 50. The five things that Paul looks for when reading submissions are: conflict, voice, character development, setting, and pace.
According to Michael Bourret, social networking is a tool writers can use to create a voice online and develop a community around their books, ideas, and more. Your first job as a writer is to write good books; it is important not to waste time on social networking if it interferes with your writing. That said, there are two things to consider when exploring social networking: How does this build my brand, and who am I reaching?
Start networking as soon as possible. At minimum, start with a website (professionally created to be sleek, not slick) and make sure that your website has rotating content on the home page.
After that, explore the various social networking tools by seeing what your favorite authors are doing on Twitter, MySpace, or Facebook, and reading what others are saying. You don’t have to be everywhere, just make sure that you’re creating a positive brand and identity online.
If you blog, post regularly and re-post links to create community. Most important, always consider your audience and be professional. Agents will explore writers/illustrators with no presence on the web; they will not explore people with a negative presence on the web.
Lynne Polvino, editor at Clarion Books—an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt—spoke about the additional responsibilities and challenges involved with writing and publishing picture books in a challenging market.
She gave tips on how authors and illustrators can best position themselves for success and stressed the importance of being knowledgeable about the market by providing relevant resources. She also talked about the importance of creating an online presence through author websites, blogs, and social networks such as MySpace or Facebook.
She promised us a talk titled “more cowbell, less vampires,” and Elizabeth Law—Vice President and Publisher of Egmont USA—delivered. Never mind that there was no audio in the room and she had to do the Christopher Walken bits herself.
We got some insight about what she’s looking for in submissions, and she gave us the analogy of a “big tomato”: something juicy, specific, and personally identifiable. She's not looking for a formula or to fill a slot on her list. Rather, she's looking for something she recognizes and likes.
Elizabeth learned this the hard way by publishing something she didn’t like but thought would make a lot of money. She’ll never do that again, she says.
There are a number of questions she has to answer every time she buys a book. Here are a few:
• Who is the audience?
• Where will it sell?
• What is it like and how have those books sold (she doesn't love this part)
We should know what the selling points are for our own books. "Tragically, 'this book is really great' does not work."
But it can once a book is published, and this is her strategy for helping a good book do well.
“You get behind it and bang the drum for it,” she says. “WHEN YOU REACH ME was not an easy book to sell into bookstores. It just kept on selling, and then Rebecca Stead went on NPR, and it sold 40,000 copies in a month.”
Note to any NPR producers who happen to be reading: Elizabeth says she’d sleep with one to be able to sell that many books.
Sundee Frazier, born and raised in Washington and proud of it, won the 2008 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent. The main character of her first novel, BRENDAN BUCKLEY’S UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING IN IT, was originally written as a girl, Brenda.
Changing the gender of her main character led Sundee to question whether or not there were actual differences between the genders. She asked dozens of children’s book authors for insight, filmed their answers, and shared that video with conference attendees.
Boys versus girls? Sundee shared a handout which included information from an anthropological study of how boys tend to express their emotions. She warned that the study was only partially useful, and potentially harmful to writers of boy characters. She cautioned against reactive writing. “The most important thing to do,” she said, “is to capture the essence of complex, quirky human beings.”
Her advice to writing believable boys? Write characters from the inside out. Find emotional authenticity. Recreate experiences from our own emotions. Sundee shared a writing exercise to help us break through our emotional prison walls.
She concluded by sharing a couple of practical tips for writing believable boys, reminding us that it is the “emotional core” of the main character that connects him to the reader.