Saturday, February 27, 2010

Contest: Win a consultation with Greg Pincus

You'll remember Greg Pincus from our October Professional Series Meeting--he explained how savvy social media decisions helped him land a two-book deal with Arthur A. Levine Books.

Now, Greg's giving away one of his amazing social media consultations. He'll give you advice on how you can better use technology to further your career (and those of other people). To enter, comment on his blog by Sunday evening and recommend a blog you find useful.

Even if you don't want to enter, be sure to check out all the blog recommendations. You might find just the inspiration you need.

Enter the contest at The Happy Accident.

Friday, February 26, 2010

You're invited to the South Sound Schmooze

This comes from Kiki Hamilton, who's organizing events for SCBWI folk who live south of Seattle.
We will be holding our monthly SCBWI-South Sound meeting at Barnes and Noble in Olympia at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 2.

This is a casual get-together without a speaker, where we discuss what we’re working on as well as what’s happening in the world of writing. Last month we shared some first pages, so people can bring their first pages along too. (Please have them double-spaced and in standard manuscript format.)

Because I need to give B&N a headcount, I will need people to confirm with me by noon on Monday if they’re attending. kikihamilton AT .

What makes a good romance

Greenwillow Books editor Martha Mihalick has a thoughtful blog post on the art of romance:

I’m a sucker for a good romantic storyline. In books, movies, tv shows, songs . . . whatever. But what makes a romance plot thread a good one? I mean, I know it when I see it, but I’ve been letting this question percolate for a while to try to articulate the answer a little. And two things that have crossed my path in the last few weeks have helped to clarify it for me a little.

The first: Entanglement Theory. If you wikipedia that, you’ll come across a pretty dry definition. But I was clued into it by the To the Best of Our Knowledge podcast from January 23, “The Wonder of Physics.” At the end of the episode a writer explained it as the quantum physics theory that when two subatomic particles are spend a significant amount of time in each other’s orbits, they shadow each other . . . even after they are separated. If one spins a certain way, the other will, even if it’s moved far, far away. It gives me little goosebumps when I think about applying it to us, too, and the people we let enter our orbits–whether romantic, platonic, or family.

The second: the poem that Molly posted yesterday, “Those Who Love” by Sara Teasdale.

Those who love the most,
Do not talk of their love,
Francesca, Guinevere,
Deirdre, Iseult, Heloise,
In the fragrant gardens of heaven
Are silent, or speak if at all
Of fragile inconsequent things.

And a woman I used to know
Who loved one man from her youth,
Against the strength of the fates
Fighting in somber pride
Never spoke of this thing,
But hearing his name by chance,
A light would pass over her face.

But without further ado, here’s what I’ve come up with as some keys to a good romance. I’m sure there are things I’ve missed, or exceptions to the rule. Feel free to point those out in the comments!

Read the rest

Get a bad review?

Jay Asher, one of the keynote speakers at our annual conference, has great advice on how we can handle the reviews of our published work:
After Thirteen Reasons Why came out, it took me a looooong time to get comfortable with the idea that not everyone was going to appreciate my book the way I thought it should be appreciated. One person may call it “quite possibly the best book I have ever read” and someone else may call it “a waste of my time.” One person may claim the book made her “treat people better and have more respect for myself” while someone else thinks it contains “no moral value whatsoever.” One person may say her “heart goes out” to Hannah while another person owns a heart which “could not feel any empathy towards her.”

Your part of the author/reader conversation ended the moment you turned in your edits. From then on, the only thing that will change about your story will be the people reading it. Their prejudices, their life experiences, and their understanding of the world will frame every single page they read. Every word! As they read each line of your story, that line essentially disappears from your book and moves into their head. (Scary, I know.) Your brain may have written the story, but their brain is going to interpret it based on however their brain is wired at the moment.

And there’s nothing you can do about it.
Read the rest on his blog. (And if you're planning to go to the conference but still haven't signed up, don't delay much longer. Spots usually sell out.)

The ebook platform for kids?

GalleyCat had this fascinating item about the Nintendo DS (a new version of it, anyway). The thing to note here is that this particular toy is the iPhone/Holy Grail/fetish object of the 5-and-up set. It could have huge implications for children's books:

Retailing for $189.99 and coming in both burgundy and bronze editions, the Nintendo DSi XL will help the gaming company grab a spot in the eBook universe.

The new device will launch with a stylus, a screen 93 percent larger than the Nintendo DS Lite model (pictured), and special eBook package. According to the company, the new device will launch March 28.

Here's more from eBookNewser: "In June, according to BusinessWeek, the company will introduce '100 Classic Books,' a collection of public domain works for reading on the DSi XL. The collection will cost $19.99. Obviously, this is a move to avoid being eclipsed by Apple's iPad, which will be used by many--as are the iPhone and iPod Touch--to play games, most likely more sophisticated ones that its smaller cousins can handle."

Go to GalleyCat.

Eagle Harbor Books turns 40

I'll skip the midlife crisis jokes and get straight to the important stuff: they're having a party tomorrow. Go if you can!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Page Ahead turns 20--and gives away its 2,000,000th book!

From the inbox:
Dear SCBWI Western Washington,
Thank you for all your support to inspire a love of reading in Washington's kids in need. We appreciate your enthusiasm, and would like to invite you to join us in celebration of a milestone--we're giving away our 2,000,000th book! On Friday, March 12th at Van Asselt Elementary, we'll have a short presentation, including a book reading by First Gentleman Mike Gregoire and a performance by Radio Disney. Immediately following, we'll give away our 2,000,000th book. I've attached the invitation, and please feel free to pass this along to anyone you feel might be interested in joining the fun. We hope to see you there!
- LeAnne Chow, Community Outreach Coordinator

Simon & Schuster: how to promote yourself online

Simon & Schuster explains how to set up a blog, what you can do on social networking sites, the differences between the book-related social networking sites like GoodReads and Shelfari, and how you can get your pretty face on YouTube.

Check it out here

Daily eye candy

Check out the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. There's a virtual tour (you'll find the link on the left).

Catch Maus?

Art Spiegelman's coming to Puyallup next week. Details on Ticketmaster.

Thanks to Joni Sensel for the link.

Quote of the day: Neil Gaiman

"Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lies that are hurting our careers

Jennifer Crusie (beloved, wise, hilarious, helpful) has an essay on the Big Lies we tell ourselves. Are you falling into the trap?
  1. A writer isn’t a real writer until she’s published.
  2. A writer has to distort herself and deny her own stories in order to write to the trends and catch an editor to publish her. (Can you write babies, cowboys, daddies, secrets, or amnesiac brides?)
  3. Any publication is better than no publication.
  4. Staying in a bad publishing situation is better than leaving because God forbid a writer should be unpublished again once she’s finally achieved the goal.
Read the whole thing here.

A writer's payday

Peg Kehret has an entertaining and thoughtful post up about the work we do and the money it brings.
Kids sometimes ask me (usually to their teacher’s or parent’s chagrin) how much money I make. I respond by explaining how royalties work. They assume that if I wrote the book, I get all the money from the book’s sales so they are often outraged to learn that when they purchase a paperback book for $6.99, my share - a standard six percent royalty - is forty-two cents. I then explain that my agent gets fifteen percent of everything I earn, in this case, six cents. So that puts my share at thirty-six cents per book. I’m considered a business by the State of Washington so I pay a Business and Occupation Tax and, of course, I pay federal income tax, as well. Why would anyone in their right mind work for such a pittance?
Find her answer at her blog.

5 tips for success from the San Francisco Writers Conference

Here are the first couple, which come from Jane Friedman's blog on Writer's Digest:

I took my first trip to San Francisco to speak and attend the San Francisco Writers Conference. It was a fabulous event, and I covered as much as I could on Twitter.

Thanks to the work of Jeanne V. Bowerman (Writer's Digest's favorite Twitter pimp), you can download a rough transcript of #sfwc Twitter tips by clicking here: SFWC.doc (195.5 KB)

Here are my favorite 5 tips from presenters that appeared on Twitter:
  1. Philippa Burgess: You need to win the hearts and minds of people before you win any dollars. Philippa gave a terrific (standing-room only) presentation on how authors can brand themselves. This particular tip conveys how important it is to build an audience interested in what you have to say before attempting to sell a book (to editors, agents, or readers).
  2. Alan Rinzler: Early intervention is really critical for a writer to get good feedback (from a professional, not family/friends). This was the most often repeated advice, and longtime editor Rinzler made a passionate and convincing case for it. (So did Patricia Davis, through the metaphor of a three-eyed baby.)
Read the rest.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On rejection

Here's an amusing post on famous writers and the blistering rejections they've seen.

And here's the blog of some guy who's racked up 11,000 rejections (and managed to sell 80-some stories).
I confess that I am both highly flattered and somewhat dumbfounded to
be the subject of such literary interest. I assure you that I don't
think of myself as particularly successful, from a publishing
standpoint, and I have received far more rejections than acceptances.
Since I imagine some of your readers are interested in hard numbers, I
have received approximately 11,100 rejection letters over the past
fifteen years--as well as one phone rejection (from the late,
brilliant George Plimpton at the Paris Review); since I've published
eighty-two stories, that's a decidedly low acceptance to rejection
ratio. I suppose the key to the limted successes that I have had is
perseverence. And a great deal of good old-fashioned dumb luck. And
the reason I keep doing it so simple that it may disappoint some of
your readers: I love writing stories.
I saw a few comments yesterday of the "oh, how inspirational" nature. I don't share this. He says he loves writing stories. Yes, don't we all.

To make a story great, though, you have to be willing to work on it. You don't send it off, still warm and bleeding, from your typewriter, your computer, or from the parchment you've made from your own tender inner thighs.

It's great this guy is writing so much--unless you're an editor who's received 200 submissions from him. I bet his success rate would go up if he chose the best story he'd written and worked on it for a few months, rather than sending an average of three queries a day.

My point, and I do have one, is that you shouldn't send anything out that you haven't polished to the best of your abilities, worked through with critique partners, read aloud, and pondered.

Write as much as you want. But send what's going to help you succeed. 11,000 rejections is a huge waste of time.

Doug Keith in the NYT

Illustrator Doug Keith got nice praise this weekend in the New York Times.
By David Michael Slater. Illustrated by Doug Keith.
Simply Read. $16.95. (Ages 5 and up)
This wordless book begins perfectly, with an image of two bored siblings fighting on the sofa in Grandfather’s study while he looks on morosely. Then he opens a secret door leading to a cobwebby attic where a mysterious tome awaits: like characters in a wittier version of the Magic Tree House series, the brother and sister fall through the pages and into perilous adventures involving snow monsters and pirates. We get the message, and so do they.
To see all the reviews, go here.

Something worth pointing out: Doug and Rollin Thomas teach a class in children's book creation at Pratt.

Jaime Temairik will be teaching one at the University of Washington this summer.

Peggy King Anderson teaches at Bellevue Community College.

Craig Orback teaches at a couple of spots.

We have a really strong region--if you want to boost your skills, consider taking one of these classes. You won't regret it.

I'll post updates about signups and the like in the blog, and keep links to available classes in the widget on the left-hand side of this page.

He had me at "undead folks ... after our brains"

Adding the zombie cat? Even better. Check out Stix & Bones, a new comic by our colleague Darrell Toland.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Daniel Handler/Lemony Snicket event postponed

Daniel Handler, the genius behind Lemony Snicket, was coming to Benaroya Hall on March 5 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Seattle Arts & Lectures series.

It's been postponed till fall, though. This means we can all go to Joni Sensel's book launch on Friday without worry that we're missing out on an Unfortunate Event.

On plagiarism and "mixing"

Joni has a great post on a new plagiarism scandal--this time involving a German teen who's getting praise for her work, despite ripping parts off wholesale from another author.

Read what Joni has to say
. (And right on, Joni!)

Free watercolor painting class

Dana Sullivan sent this along--I was out last week, which is why I wasn't able to post it in time for the first class. But here it is:

This February, Seattle artist, Molly Murrah, is leading a special 5-week live watercolor painting class in the Creative Techs worldwide classroom. I "attended" Molly's experimental first class a couple of months back and it was excellent! Not only is Molly a fabulous artist, but she is also a fabulous teacher who comes to class prepared with examples and easy-to-follow exercises. Creative Techs is a Seattle based Macintosh support and training company, so a watercolor course is far outside their usual area of expertise. But their one-time experiment was such a hit that they are extending the watercolor course to 5 weeks. And if there is a large enough audience for more hands-on artistic classes, Molly’s got a whole series of classes to follow this watercolor course.

Course Dates: Fridays, February 19 – March 19, 2010
Time: 11am Pacific (Seattle) [Other Time Zones]
Duration: 90-120 Minutes
Cost: The LIVE event is FREE to attend!

Check it out and enroll here.

Are you down with OPP?

If you have no idea what OPP is, apparently you were elsewhere when Generation X was having its frisky way with the radio waves.

Today, though, it stands for Other People's Pixels, which is a service that builds websites for illustrators.

One of our colleagues, Elizabeth Sattler, used it to build her new site.

Check out Other People's Pixels.

Good news for Nina Hess

A novel she edited--SUCKS TO BE ME--was featured on NPR in a piece about vampire novels. Bloody excellent! You can read all about it here.

Good advice on writing picture books

Tara Lazar, an aspiring author, has this great blog post on thinking strategically about your ideas before you begin writing.

A typical day as a newbie writer: sit down at the computer, start writing.

At least, that’s what I did two years ago. I got an idea and I didn’t stop to think: is this a good idea? Is it marketable? Has anyone written something like this before? Nope. I just wrote, motivated by my muse.

And perhaps this was good back then. I was honing my skills, finding the right words, crafting sentences, building stories.

But they were looooong stories. At an average 1,500 words my tales were neither picture books nor chapter books. I insisted I was writing picture storybooks, and I used Patricia Polacco’s body of work as an example of how my stories could be published, not realizing, c’mon, she’s PATRICIA POLACCO.

It took me a while to learn to THINK before I write.

Read the rest. (And if you haven't read the Patricia Polacco books she's talking about, get thee to a library. They're amazing.)

Pacific Coast Children's Writers Workshop

Take part in a team-taught seminar for writers of character-driven MG and YA novels at the eighth annual Pacific Coast Children's Writers Workshop.

It'll be held Aug 20-22 at the Pajaro Dunes private beachfront facilities near Santa Cruz, CA. There are spots for 30 savvy and/or published writers, "active observers," and teen readers and writers.

Faculty includes Kate Harrison, a senior editor at Dial Books/Penguin; Ted Malawer, an agent at Upstart Crow Literary; and author-consultant Laura Backes, publisher of Children's Book Insider.

The theme is "A Novelist's Toolkit: Architecture, Archetypes, and Arcs."

There are open critique clinics, master classes and interactive pre-workshop assignments. For the most critique options and lowest fees, apply by April 10 or asap. Limited enrollment may be open through July.

For more info, or to apply to work in the teen program, contact Director Nancy Sondel through the Children's Writers Workshop site.

Are you an author 2.0?

Simon & Schuster thinks you should be. The Creative Penn blog tells you how.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Headed to WWU's Bond Conference?

Are you planning to attend the Bond Children's Literature Conference on March 6? SCBWI WWA is considering whether we might be able to organize a presence there. In 2009, Northern Network members hosted a table featuring published authors offering school visit opportunities, as well as membership information.

If you're planning to attend and would be interested in being involved, please contact Northern Network coordinator Angi Hansen, YAscribe AT, and let her know. Thanks!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Win a chat with an agent

Mark McVeigh, a former editor who's set up shop as an agent, is running a contest on his blog. Recruit 10 friends to follow him, and he'll have a 15-minute phone or Skype chat with you.

Get the details here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Why is Tina Fey in the Chinook Update?

Because she's Tina Fey. Hush up and watch. (Oh, but I kid. She says something funny about confidence being 10 percent hard work and 90 percent delusion, and it seemed like a useful thing to keep in mind.)

Write an article for the printed Chinook!

Feeling crafty after cutting and pasting all those handmade valentines? Full of exciting revision ideas and suggestions after writing and rewriting romantic sonnets? Brimming over with thrilling new ways to deviously devastate a dastardly handsome villain or invent idiomatic inklings of invisible plot twists?

The May issue of The Chinook is dedicated to craft-based articles to get you ready for the Summer Revision Smackdown. So share your knowledge, write up a short but insightful article, and send it along to editor Liz Mills at jemills1 AT by March 22.

And as always, if you're an author or illustrator with PAL status, and you're interested in participating in our Tales from the Trenches column, email me at tfttnw AT

Schmooze it up in Bellingham

The SCBWI Western Washington Northern Network wants to extend you an invitation to our March Schmooze. Because of the upcoming Annual WWA SCBWI Spring Conference, we will not be having a meeting in April, but will join together again in May.

Northern Network Schmooze

March 2, 7:00-9:00 pm

Planning and Outlining Stories”

How do you develop your story ideas? Whether you write novels or picture books, we invite you to come share your planning process. Our host, Rebecca, is a recent graduate of Vermont College’s MFA program: Writing for Children & Young Adults. We are sure to have a stimulating discussion.

Space is limited to 12 participants, so please RSVP Rebecca Van Slyke as soon as possible:

Hope to see you there!

Be one of the first to own The Can Man

Craig Orback illustrated this beauty, and he writes: "I have received copies of my picture book THE CAN MAN! (Written by Laura E, Williams, Lee & Low Books) It is officially released next month. Here is a description of the story:

"Money is tight, and Tim's family cannot afford to buy him a skateboard for his birthday. Watching a local homeless man called The Can Man collect empty soft drink cans gives Tim an idea. He will collect cans too, and cash them in for the redemption money. Soon Tim has reached his goal--until a couple of chance encounters with The Can Man change everything. Told with honesty and respect, this timely story shines a perceptive light on current social concerns. Readers will be encouraged to think beyond themselves and celebrate the simple acts of kindness and sharing that make a difference in people's lives.

"If you would like to purchase a signed copy from me send me an email to I charge $20 which includes shipping and taxes! I will have some events coming up this spring in the Puget Sound area so please visit my blog in the future to learn more."

(And check out the Chinook Update and the calendar on the left, because we'll list those events, too.)

Researching a historical novel?

Then check out this blog by Monica Pierce, who writes for adults and is working on some YA. She lists her top 5 research services and why she loves them.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Published authors: promote your work at a historic resort

Here's a swell promotional opportunity for some of our published members. Read on--applications are due tomorrow.
Hello from Kim Ricketts Book Events!

We are currently seeking children's book authors for a series we're running at an historic resort here in Washington. The dates of the events are March 27-28 and July 9-10. Authors for these events will garner significant publicity via press releases, pitching to local media, Kim Ricketts Book Events newsletters and website, and resort newsletters and website. Your involvement in the event will feature a reading from your book(s) and book signing on the first day and then leading an activity for parents and/or children that goes along with your work.The selected authors will receive overnight accommodations during the event.

To be considered, please e-mail with a description of your book, press kit and ideas about what activity you could lead for the audience by Friday, February 19. Thank you!

Great post on school visit fees

Stasia Kehoe has an illuminating post on the subject of fees authors and illustrators charge schools for their visits. Here's an excerpt:

Almost all authors do charge for school and library visits, generally in the form of a daily honorarium plus travel and expenses (I recommend stipulating something like "up to 3 (or 4) presentations per day"). EXCEPTIONS: (1) If the publisher is paying for your travel and hotel for a book tour or other promotional event, standard protocol is to waive fees for any schools you visit in conjunction with a publisher-funded trip. (2) If you have reached out to a school or library (instead of them contacting you) because you will be in their area, it is typical to charge a reduced, flat fee and no travel expenses.

Read the rest.

Nathan Bransford's query forum

Have a query? Submit it for a critique from his readers.

Then again, you could also join one of our local critique groups. Lois AT will hook you up.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Let's hope this trend dies a quick death

Found this on Kristin Nelson's blog:

This is the latest rally cry in publishing. One of my authors just found out today that her publisher is not going to be doing ARCs for her book. But it’s not just for her title but for all the mass market titles at this house.

Gone. They’ve decided that it’s too costly to continue with the current economic conditions.

For those of you who don’t know, ARC stands for Advanced Reading Copy. This is the main tool in terms of getting reviews and influential blog posts about the upcoming release. Savvy authors can use those ARCs in a variety of ways such as making them available for special promos or having them handy at events or conferences where booksellers attend. And this is just the tip of the ice berg of uses for the ARC.

Read the rest

Having published a couple of books, I can tell you that people notice when a publisher is unwilling to spend money on a title. It means no reviews, no publisher-set-up book events...which means no one talks about the book, few stores order it, and your work fades into the mists unless you happen to be a genius at self promotion.

Quote of the day: C.S. Lewis

"No one who bothers about originality will be original, but try to tell the truth & you'll become original."
--C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

10 do's and don'ts when you're writing a synopsis

Writer's Digest has a great list of tips. Here's the start:

1. Do keep in mind that this is a sales pitch. Make it a short, fast and exciting read.

2. Do establish a hook at the beginning of the synopsis. Introduce your lead character and set up a key conflict.

3. Do remember to always introduce your most important character first.

4. Do provide details about each of your central characters (age, gender, marital status, profession, etc.), but don’t do this for every character—only the primary ones.

5. Do include the characters’ motivations and emotions.

And the rest

Book trailer for EPITAPH ROAD by David Patneaude

Doesn't this make you want to read the book?

Monday, February 15, 2010

New agent alert: Mandy Hubbard seeks MG/YA

Mandy Hubbard has joined the D4EO Literary Agency where she will concentrate on YA and Middle-Grade fiction. Here's the announcement:

Mandy began her career in publishing on the other side of the desk: as an author. Her debut novel, PRADA AND PREJUDICE, (Razorbill/Penguin-- June 2009) is in its fifth printing. She has four other books under contract, divided among Harlequin, Llewellyn Flux, and Razorbill/Penguin.

Mandy interned at The Bent Agency before joining D4EO Literary, where she is now building her list, focusing on YA and Middle-Grade fiction.

Mandy is interested in a broad range of YA/MG, whether they be contemporary or historical, fantasy/paranormal or realistic. She loves books with a heavy focus on romance, as well as “issue books” with a strong voice. If your book has a high concept or a big hook, she wants to see it.

If your story includes portals to fantasy worlds, wizards or dragons, it’s probably not for her. Please, no chapter books, pictures books, poetry, non-fiction, or books for the adult market.

To query mandy, send your query letter, along with the first five pages of your manuscript (both pasted into the body of an email) to

See more

The darker side of some children's book authors

Jim Whiting sent this Babble blog post, which reveals some of the less savory facts about Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein and other beloved creators of children's books.

Check it out, if you have the stomach.

It certainly makes me wonder how much bearing the views of an artist have on the merits of the art. There are definitely authors whose work I admire and whose political views I consider repellent. How much do you care about stuff like this? Comment below, if you're so inclined.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Kirkus Reviews back on track

From Publishers Weekly:

By Diane Roback -- Publishers Weekly, 2/11/2010 12:30:00 PM

On hearing the news of the sale, and rebirth, of Kirkus Reviews, to Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon, we spoke with children’s and YA editor Vicky Smith, about moving forward.

The February 1 and February 15 issues, she said, were being worked on by Kirkus staff as they awaited completion of the deal. Those issues have been combined into one and will mail imminently. March 1 will likely still be “a smidge late,” but the plan is to be completely back on schedule starting with the April issues.

Smith said she has hardly skipped a beat, in terms of scheduling reviews. “When the interested buyers presented themselves,” Smith said, “I just went straight back to work and assigned as if there had been no absence.” She gives much credit to her core group of “incredibly dedicated and wonderful” reviewers. “They were so eager to start writing again,” she said. “I’m incredibly grateful to them.”

Read the rest

Celebrate Joni Sensel's new book

Our very own RA, Joni Sensel, has a new book coming out--and you'll definitely want to be part of the experience.

Librarian Betsy Bird called the first book in the series, THE FARWALKER'S QUEST, a book that will touch readers and stay with them "for years and years."

The sequel, THE TIMEKEEPER's MOON, is on its way, and Joni's having a party to celebrate at Secret Garden Bookshop in Ballard.

The party's at 7 p.m. on March 5 at Secret Garden, which is at 2214 NW Market St.

Joni promises moony trivia with prizes and Farwalker flat apple pie. Yum!

Unbearably cute

Julius Santiago has embarked on a yearlong bear-a-day project. Check it out! (And thanks to Liz Mills for the link.)

Good news for Lois V. Harris

Her brand new book, CHARLIE RUSSELL: TALE-TELLING COWBOY ARTIST, made the Washington State Historical Society’s COLUMBIAKids Northwest Book Swap Winter List.


(Be sure to check out Columbia Kids Northwest Book Swap. There's an interview up there now with Bonny Becker.)

Polly Horvath at Ballard Library

Author Polly Horvath reads her new book NORTHWARD TO THE MOON on Thursday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m., in the Ballard Public Library.

Secret Garden Books is sponsoring, and says this: "Polly Horvath is one of the most highly acclaimed children’s book authors writing today. Among her many books are Everything on a Waffle (Newbery Honor Book), and The Trolls (National Book Award Finalist), and My One Hundred Adventures. Her books have been chosen by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Post as Best Books of the Year, and by Booklist and Kirkus Reviews as Editors’ Choices. She has won numerous Parents’ Choice Awards in addition to other accolades and honors. Polly lives in British Columbia with her family.

Jane, the beloved character readers fell in love with in My One Hundred Adventures, returns in Northward to the Moon, its companion novel. Combine a National Book Award–winning author’s indelible poetic writing style and a character that feels so real she might walk into the room, and you have a literary classic in the making.

The story picks up after readers have left Jane’s sleepy beachside home in Massachusetts for the icy fields of Saskatchewan. Jane’s stepfather Ned’s position as a French teacher ties them to this cold new climate, but when it’s discovered that Ned doesn’t speak a lick of French, Jane’s free-spirited family—including her younger sister, Maya; her little brothers, Max and Hershel; and her poet mother—must forge a new path. As readers learned in My One Hundred Adventures, when thirteen-year-old Jane hopes for excitement, the unexpected has a way of finding her. A phone call from Ned’s dying, elderly friend, Mary, sets off a string of events that bring Jane’s family on an endless trek that seems to take them Northward to the Moon. "

Thursday, February 11, 2010

More genius on plot from Jennifer Crusie

How does she write all those bestselling romances? Here's her technique for structuring plots that work. Excellent!

Techno hate and ink pots

Michele Torrey has a blog post that's fun to ponder on a Thursday. Here's an excerpt:

All this has got me thinking. Just how and when did my life became so interconnected with computers, the Internet, and email? Just when did my entire day get flushed down the loo if my computer froze or had to spend a week with Dr. PC? Anymore my days consist of dozens of emails, electronic manuscripts, copyedits in WORD, htmls and pdfs and jpgs and tifs, chirps and tweets. In fact, there’s so much techno “support” for my career that I can hardly get any writing squeezed in there.

Check out the rest

FREE promotion for your latest book

This comes from the prolific and generous Jim Whiting:
All published SCBWI members are invited to feature their recent work in Kids’ Book Author of the Week, a regular feature for Grand (as in grandparents) e-zine. Joni Sensel, Suzanne Selfors, Amanda Noll, Royce Buckingham, Anjali Banerjee, Deb Caletti, Samantha Vamos and Pam Withers are among the local authors who have taken advantage of this excellent opportunity. One author reported receiving several orders within 24 hours after she went live on the site.

To participate, send a blurb about the book, your bio, a cover image, author photo and list of other books to Jim Whiting at For the book itself, include the name, publisher and pub date, genre, number of pages, recommended ages and price. You can also provide links to a sample chapter, reviews and/or your website. Perhaps the most important element is the hook: Why would grandparents want to buy your book for their grandkids? To whom would the book especially appeal?

Check out the feature at Submissions are posted in the order in which they are received.

Kids Heart Books Day

Craig Orback sent this along:
Mockingbird Books in the Green Lake area of Seattle is hosting authors and illustrators at an event this Saturday, Feb. 13--it's called Kids (Heart) Books!

Here's the info from the store:

On Saturday, February 13th from 10-3, Mockingbird books is participating in Kids (Heart)Books, a Valentine event at several local independent bookstores. Joining us are some of our favorite local authors and illustrators who you will LOVE meeting. Come and talk to them about their books, which will be available for purchase and autographing. Our guests (and the title of one of their books) will be:

Sara Anderson - Day at the Market
Mary Jane Beaufrand - Primavera
Bonny Becker - Visitor for Bear
Tom Brenner - And Then Comes Halloween
Heather Davis - Never Cry Werewolf
Arthur Dorros - Papa and Me
Liz Gallagher-Opposite of Invisible
Laura Kvasnosky - Zelda and Ivy series
Craig Orback - Hot Pursuit (1:00-3 pm)
Julie Paschkis - Building on Nature: the Life of Antoni Gaudi
David Patneaude - Thin Wood Walls

The day will also be a time for your children to show their creative sides. An art station will be set up for the kids to decorate their own valentines. Please tell your friends and neighbors about this fun opportunity. Call the store for more information (206) 518-5886
Other area bookstores are participating, including Parkplace Books, University Bookstore, Edmonds Bookshop, Eagle Harbor Books, Liberty Bay Books, Third Place Books, Queen Anne Books, Secret Garden Bookshop.

These stores all do an amazing job of supporting local authors. Why not return the love on Saturday?

Character emotion makes the plot

Martha Alderson (a.k.a. The Plot Whisperer) has a post on how a character's emotional transformation drives the plot. Here's the beginning:

Some writers excel at pithy banter. Others create dramatic action. The writers I most admire are the ones who in their own natural style convey a character's emotional personality in scene through active, non-verbal communication with just the right frequency and intensity.

I have written extensively about how moviegoers and readers identify with stories through the characters' emotions. When we connect with the characters on an emotional level, the interaction become deep and meaningful. Well-written scenes that include characters' emotions allow the audience to viscerally take part in the story and bond with the characters.

In my work as a plot consultant, I developed the Scene Tracker Kit to help writers track their scenes one-by-one. To reinforce the significance of emotion in creating compelling scenes, two of the seven essential elements on the Scene Tracker template revolve around emotion.

Check out the rest

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The best book ever

Wow, it's like someone has put a secret camera in my office and is recording my methods of working. Weird that they're calling me "Lev," though.

9 traits of sympathetic characters

Darcy Pattison has a series up about sympathetic characters (and good villains). Here's the first part of the one on what makes characters sympathetic--something you need to do to keep readers engaged:

Help Your Readers Identify with Your Characters. We tend to identify with characters who are like us in some way. They play certain roles in a family, do certain types of work, are concerned about things we are concerned about. In my story, G is a big brother who is forced to take care of his little sisters, and does it well, almost heroically well. He’s making sacrifices to do this, which helps also. The problem is that G must leave his sisters behind when he goes on a quest. So, I’ve got to work hard after that to keep him sympathetic.
  1. Physical Descriptions. We like beautiful people. Graceful. Striking. Attractive. The problem here is not to over do it and not to rely on it.
  2. Altruism. Orson Scott Card, in his classic Characters and Viewpoint, describes three levels of altruism, or the unselfish concern for the welfare of others. (BTW, did you know that Card has a new book out in the Ender series, Ender in Exile? If you’re an Ender fan, you gotta read it!)
    • Victim: A character who is the victim of suffering (jeopardy, pain, evil) will evoke sympathy, but also pity for his/her weakness and a touch of contempt for allowing him/herself to become a victim.
Here's the rest.

Thinking about beginnings

When the topic of first pages (due March 20 for the conference) came up last night, I thought about this blog post by Kristin Nelson, which includes an action-packed beginning by Linnea Sinclair. Immediate scenes make for great openings. They can be hard to write if you don't know what your story is. Once you have a draft, though, you can go back to your original beginning and find the scene that makes for the best starting point.

Here's Kristin's preamble:

Because we’ve been talking about openings, what works, what doesn’t, I wanted to show you an example from an author who is the master of action in the opening pages. Nobody does it better than Linnea Sinclair.

I would also recommend reading this author, even if this isn’t your genre, in order to learn about escalating conflict. Beginning writers often suffer from the fact that they don’t have enough conflict to drive their stories forward in a meaningful way.

Linnea is the master conflict, of raising stakes continuously through her novels. In fact, she often teaches a workshop on doing just that.

So let’s take a look at the opening of GABRIEL’S GHOST. Notice how she balances the action with setting (paragraph 1 & 2). Then in paragraph five, she raises the stakes even within this scene. Sprinkled throughout this opening paragraphs are key details on where our main character is (prison planet), who she was (fleet officer), why she is there (the court martial).

Folks, this is top-notch writing. In fact, you have to nail it this well for genre fiction or it just doesn’t work. I’d like to think you need to nail a form of this for literary fiction too—something aspiring literary writers often forget. Learn to write a plot-driven scene. You won’t use it the same way as one does in genre writing but it will teach you solid pacing—something a lot of aspiring literary works lack.

Here's the rest

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What you need before you query

The literary agent Janet Reid has compiled a handy chart. Here's the start of it:

query letter ....................................yes,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,yes.............. yes


dedicated query/author email
,,,,,,,yes............ ,,,yes.......... ....yes

word count
.....................................yes,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,yes.............. no

Check out the rest.

Counting down the top 100 children's novels

Betsy Bird has some sort of mad, mad experiment going.

She is listing the Top 100 children's novels as submitted by her readers AND providing lengthy information about each author as well as multiple versions of covers and film trailers where they exist.

And who says there is no porn in children's libraries?

That porn joke was sort of uncalled for, wasn't it? Sorry.

Contest: the future of children's books

WIRED magazine is having a Photoshop contest in which we are to imagine the future of children's books. Get your details here.

Is my imagination lame in that I envision children's books that 1) repel stains; 2) resist tears; 3) take themselves back to the library?

Thanks to Kirsten Carlson for the link.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Good news for Lois V. Harris

She writes:

My box of Charlie Russell: Tale-Telling Cowboy Artist books just arrived--the book, my second inspiring picture book, looks great--wahoo! I’m inviting everyone to its launching on Tuesday, March 2 at 10 a.m. at the University Village Barnes & Noble. Look for me in my Stetson hat (Santa brought it.)

Tips on honing your YA voice

Alan Rinzler's blog has some tips from agents for aspiring YA writers:

Wanna write a scorcher for the booming YA market? OK, here’s the secret: The first thing you need to do is create an authentic, quirky, true-to-life voice. The story and characterizations in Young Adult fiction are crucial too, of course, but the most important element is that distinctive narrative personality.

The strongest and most powerful voice is a first person “I” narrator that draws the reader right inside a young character’s head. Third-person can also work.

Always go for an honest voice that captures how teens really think and talk to each other. Never talk down. Never be phony or try to sound cool. That’s the bottom-line advice from three very active literary agents in the genre. Scroll down for more from our interview.

Read the tips from agents

Note: there is a sort of confusion conflation of young adult and middle grade. So ignore that part and the part that talks about the length of these books. :-)

Apply for an SCBWI grant

SCBWI members can apply for a variety of grants during the year. Here's a list of deadlines, near and far:

Work-in-Progress Grants
Completed application and accompanying materials must be postmarked no earlier than February 15th and must be RECEIVED BY March 15th.

Barbara Karlin Grant
Completed application and accompanying materials must be postmarked no earlier than February 15th and must be received no later than March 15th.

Member of the Year
Nominations can be made by sending email to Stephen Mooser or mailing a letter to the SCBWI Executive Office before May 1st.

Martha Weston Grant
Letters must be postmarked on or after May 1st until or on June 10th.

Sue Alexander Award
Varies by year, typically must be submitted around June 15th. See conference brochure for details.

Portfolio Award
Varies by year, typically must be submitted around June 15th. See conference brochure for details.

Amber Brown Grant
Applications may be submitted between November 1st and December 31st.

The Golden Kite Award
All submissions must be RECEIVED no later than December 15, 2009

Sid Fleischman Humor Award
All submissions must be RECEIVED no later than December 15, 2009

Magazine Merit Award
Entries must be submitted ON or BEFORE December 15th of the year of publication (entry year).

To learn more, visit the SCBWI awards page.

Struggling to do a synopsis?

Here's one way of doing the one-page synopsis of your story from the blog of Jennifer Hubbard, author of THE SECRET YEAR:
Once upon a time, I did some posts about synopses. I said there were three basic types I'd encountered: the one-line, the one-paragraph, and the one-page. I proceeded to blog about the first two, and even did a postscript, but then I shamelessly left you hanging on the third one.

As I may have confessed in those earlier posts, I'm not a big fan of the one-page (sometimes it's two-page) synopsis. I can see the value in a one-liner: writers get asked all the time, in casual conversation, "So what's your book about?" And the one-paragraph version is useful in a query. But when it comes to going longer than that, I would much rather write the book than write a long synopsis of the book.

Still, we sometimes need to write that kind of synopsis, perhaps for a grant application, or when selling a project that hasn't been written yet.

I've heard of people doing this in a chapter-by-chapter format; that's certainly one way to proceed. I haven't used that format myself, but in writing this post, I looked back at the first successful sample of a one-pager that I did use. It's the synopsis for a project that got me into the Rutgers One-on-One Plus conference a few years ago. Here's the approach I used, FWIW:

  • 1st paragraph: General statement of what the book was (contemporary YA) and what it was about (essentially, the one-line synopsis). Included the "hook" and mentioned the main characters.
  • 2nd paragraph: Described the setup, what the main character wanted, and the first plot complication.
  • 3rd paragraph: Described next plot complication, and described main character's central dilemma.
  • 4th paragraph: Described novel's climactic scene.
  • 5th paragraph: Mentioned subplots and summarized how main character changed.
I also tried to write the synopsis in the same general tone as the manuscript. The synopsis was also accompanied by a three-page writing sample; I used the first three pages of the novel. (For writing samples, it's almost always recommended to use the opening pages.)
Here's more about her book.
Follow her on twitter: @JennRHubbard

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Darcy Pattison Novel Revision Retreat Nearby

Did you miss Darcy Pattison's novel revision retreat when she was here a couple of years ago? Or didn't have a novel drafted then, but now you do? Darcy only does a few of these around the country each year, and here's your chance to catch her reasonably nearby. She'll be at Stonefly Lodge in beautiful Ashton, Idaho, on April 30 - May 2, courtesy of SCBWI Utah/Southern Idaho. WWA co-regional advisor Joni Sensel plans to go (and recommends it highly) -- consider joining her!

  • Workshop, lodging, and food costs $350 per person (does not include photocopying, workbooks, and travel)
  • You must have a completed novel manuscript.
  • You must commit to 4-6 weeks of pre-retreat homework, including reading three other complete manuscripts and workbook assignments.
  • Limited to 20 registrants, first-come, first-served.

Registration and manuscript draft due February 20, 2010. You may split your registration fee into two payments of $175 each. The first is due Feb. 20, the second is due March 30. More details here.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Quote of the day: Toni Morrison

"We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives."
--Toni Morrison

Friday, February 5, 2010

Professional Series meeting: Margaret Nevinski and Erik Brooks

Are you ready for Tuesday's meeting? We have two great speakers lined up.

Mini-Session: CULTURAL AUTHENTICITY IN FICTION with Margaret Nevinski.

When we write outside our own ethnic culture, how can we provide an authentic experience for young readers? Or can we? Cultural authenticity in our fiction involves complex issues of cultural appropriation, relationship to a culture, authorial choices, and emotional truth. Margaret confronted this issue in books she wrote for the school market, including REMEMBERING MINIDOKA and RUBY BRIDGES. She has an M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she worked on middle-grade fiction. Come add your voice to the discussion of how we, as writers for children and teens, can strive for cultural authenticity in our work.


Ten years ago, in April of 2000, Erik’s first book was published. One heartbreaking publisher bankruptcy, six publishers, 15 books (even one written by a MINOR celebrity) later, Erik shares his trajectory of experience from a want-to-be illustrator to full-time published author/illustrator. And he is still learning every day. Erik wrote and illustrated THE PRACTICALLY PERFECT PAJAMAS, OCATAVIUS BLOOM AND THE HOUSE OF DOOM, and SLOW DAYS, FAST FRIENDS. He has also illustrated many books written by others.

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.

100 things about a novel

Alexander Chee waxes poetic about the way novelists work. Here's the first few things:

  1. Sometimes music is needed.
  2. Sometimes silence.
  3. This is probably because a novel is a piece of music, like all written things, the language demanding you make a sound as you read it.
  4. Sometimes I have written them on subways, missing stops, like people do when reading.
  5. It begins for me usually with the implications of a situation. A person who is like this in a place that is like this, an integer set into the heart of an equation and new values, everywhere.

Read the rest.

Speak up for librarians

A librarian sent this our way. These people need our voices, so if you have time, please consider speaking up in support of their work:

The federal jobs bill was introduced this morning in the Senate, and despite a $20 billion provision for public service jobs, library workers are left out. A vote might come as early as Monday.

ALA's position is that libraries have suffered federal, state and local funding cuts. We are THE free community link to the Internet for many citizens, and we are providing the means and training for job seekers.

My own library system has cut, demoted and laid off staff, but our branches are busier serving the public than ever before. Other libraries are cutting staff, hours, materials and services. Many have upcoming levy lid lift elections for operating funds. If those fail, more draconion cuts will result.

This link makes it easy for you to send a message to your Senators--the software sends your message to the appropriate legislators automatically. Please consider completing this form and sending it, in turn, to others. That's easy, too.

Thanks very much. Yes, cops and firefighters deserve support through this bill, but library workers are filling a day-to-day community need for millions of citizens in the middle of our own funding crisis. Help us preserve jobs and be there for our citizens in need.

Here's the link.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Early-bird registration for SCBWI-WWA confernce ends 2/9!


It's been just three weeks since SCBWI Western Washington launched registration for our 19th Annual Writing and Illustrating for Children Conference, but:
  • we're already over 60% sold out
  • many of the additional opportunities are very nearly full
  • and there are  just a few days left to claim the special early-bird discount! 

We want to see you there, so please act now to reserve your space and save.

To register, click here.

Congratulations to Brenda Guiberson!

LIFE IN THE BOREAL FOREST by Brenda Z. Guiberson (Henry Holt and Company) is on the recommended list for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children. Congratulations, Brenda!

BTW, Brenda didn't send us this little tidbit, so we're glad we caught it. Please remember to send us your good news when it happens--we don't want to miss a chance to do our little happy dance!

Help critique a student's work

Leigh F., a Senior at Cornish College of the Arts, is doing a thesis on how children cope with their parents having cancer. The final product will be a children's book she writes and illustrates.

She would like people to critique her work on Feb. 11 from 10:00-10:30 a.m.

Contact her at leigh4prez AT for information on location.

Good news for Clare Meeker

Her CHARGE AHEAD book, which was commissioned by KPBS public television in San Diego as part of a national Raising Readers grant to promote reading in the schools, had a celebrity launch in December. Three members of the San Diego Chargers football team read the book to an audience of kids and to Sesame Street's Elmo.

As part of the project, she will teach a week of writing workshops in the San Diego schools in February on creating jump rope rhymes. There are photos of the event on her website.

Learn more here

Paul Schmid Wonder Book launch

On Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. Secret Garden Bookshop is celebrating the launch of THE WONDER BOOK, illustrated by our own Paul Schmid (and written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who is no slouch herself).

Check out Paul's work here--is it any wonder he took our chapter's top illustration prize a couple of years ago?

Here's what Suzanne at Secret Garden has to say:

There’s nothing more festive or exciting that joining friends of an author at a party to launch that book out onto the cosmos. F. O. G. (friend of the Garden) Paul Schmid has illustrated his first book for young people, and it’s a biggie! Amy Krouse Rosenthal (the author of his book) has written some hugely popular books for kids, including Cookies and Christmas Cookies, illustrated by Jane Dyer; The OK Book, It's Not Fair!, and Yes Day!, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld; and Little Pea, Little Hoot, and Little Oink, illustrated by Jen Corace; and Spoon.

Inside The Wonder Book you will find stories, short poems, lists, palindromes, visual treats, and random observations. Some parts are happy, some sad-ish, some silly, some serious, some crunchy, some with a soft center. You can open the book up anywhere and read. So the beginning could be the end, and the end could be the beginning. But I guess the middle is always the middle. . . .

Join us for treats, games, and Wonderful celebration. Free.

Here's the book trailer.

Bond Children's Literature Conference: early bird registration ends 2/12

There are some great speakers lined up at Western Washington University's Bond Children's Literature conference, which happens this year on March 6. (Marla Frazee! Linda Sue Park! John Green! Gerald McDermott!)

Early bird registration is open until Feb. 12. They've got some great speakers lined up this year. Details are below. For registration information, go to their website.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Scholarships to Highlights Children's Writers Workshop at Chautauqua--deadline approaching!

Since the Highlights Foundation Scholarship Program was first established in 1988, more than 275 scholarships have been awarded to applicants who wish to attend the Foundation's Annual Children's Writers Workshop at Chautauqua, New York. These scholarships make the experience of Chautauqua possible for many individuals who might otherwise not have the opportunity or the resources to participate.

Individuals with a serious interest in writing for children and who have an established financial need are invited to apply. Scholarship applications are evaluated on an ongoing basis by the Highlights Foundation Scholarship Committee. Scholarships vary in the stipend awarded depending on an applicant's requirements and the funds available. Funds for scholarships come from two sources: a Foundation Endowment Fund or scholarships that are funded annually by donors.

This year the scholarship committee will be considering applications in two groups. It works in your favor if we receive your application early. The final deadline is February 12, 2010, but you are encouraged to apply BEFORE that date.

For more information on the Foundation Scholarship Program or to receive an application form, please contact:
Kent L. Brown Jr.
Executive Director
The Highlights Foundation

New featured illustrator tells all (about the SCBWI Int'l conference in NYC, anyway)

You may remember John Deininger as the 2nd Runner-up in the Juried Art Portfolio Contest at our 2009 annual writers and illustrators conference. He also received recognition there for an Outstanding Work in Progress for his picture-book manuscript, Beep. Now, we're happy to announce that he's the latest featured illustrator on our very own web page!

John has also compiled a wonderfully detailed post about the SCBWI International Winter Conference in New York City last weekend--from an illustrator's perspective! The main points:
  1. Be yourself, be unique.
  2. Put your heart into it, be emotional, be passionate.
  3. Keep going and going.

He has TONS more detailed and specific notes, though, including his conference doodles! Click here to read more.

Thanks for sharing, John. We hope you keep going and going!

Maureen Johnson gives writing advice

Today's eye candy: Gustaf Tenggren illustrations

Read all about the Golden Books illustrator who, after a tough experience at Disney, "resolved that he would never again waste his skills building a reputation for someone else."

Query contest: ends Friday

Kathleen Ortiz, an associate agent and foreign rights manager at Lowenstein Associates, is having a query contest on her brand-new blog. All you have to do is retweet it and post in the comments area before midnight Friday.

Check it out.

California Young Reader Medal nominees

Don't worry--the medal isn't made out of young readers. But do celebrate, because Bonny Becker's A VISITOR FOR BEAR made the list!

Western Washington SCBWI, represent!

Our chapter made an excellent showing in New York, and many were able to share dinner together. Don't they look happy and exhausted? If you're curious about the conference, be sure to ask these people about their experience.

From L-R: Jennifer Mann, Jet Harrington, Karen Robbins, Kaaren Pixton (Oregon), Laurie Thompson, Lucy McAlister, Joni Sensel, Dawn Simon, Traci Bixby. Not pictured: Angi Hansen, plus another half-dozen regional writers and illustrators who got better offers for dinner. ;)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

5th Annual Field’s End Writers’ Conference

Lots of familiar face presenting at this conference--it sounds great!

Registration is open for the 5th Annual Field’s End Writers’ Conference to be held Saturday, April 17 at Kiana Lodge, on the shores of Agate Passage just north of Bainbridge Island. Enjoy a day of camaraderie, inspiration, and learning about the art and craft of writing.

This year’s keynote speaker is environmental journalist Bruce Barcott, 2009 Guggenheim Nonfiction Fellow and author of The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw, named one of the best books of 2008 by Library Journal. Award-winning poet and performance artist Dr. Gloria Burgess will be opening speaker, discussing “Creative Perseverance: For Such a Time as This.” Founder and Principal of Jazz, Inc., her books include Legacy Living and Dare to Wear Your Soul on the Outside.

Several authors for children and young adults will offer presentations: Anjali Banerjee on “Knowing When to Stop Revising”; David Patneaude on “What If? What Then?”; Alma Alexander on “It’s Not Just Harry’s World”; Carmen T. Bernier-Grand on “Writing Vivid Biographies for Children”; and Joni Sensel on “Green and Growing: Ecology Topics for Children’s Fiction.” Children’s book author George Shannon serves as Master of Ceremonies.

Publicist Alice B. Acheson will present a workshop, “A Dozen Steps to Find a Literary Agent or Publisher.”

Other features this year include a professional panel of three industry experts examining the topic “Writing Outside the Lines: State of the Industry,” a “Writing Aerobics” hands-on workshop with Kathryn Galbraith that will jump-start your writing by using all of your senses, and an open reading session. The event also includes a continental breakfast, delicious salmon or vegetarian lunch, and a cheese and wine book signing reception.

Please visit to register.

Jane Yolen at SCBWI

Kathy Temean published a great list of tips from Jane Yolen:

Here’s the start:
  1. No exclamation points.
  2. Easy on the adverbs.
  3. Don’t let your characters float by giving them endless dialogue.
  4. Have fun.
  5. BIC – Butt in chair. HOP – Heart on Page.
  6. P not F – Passion not fashion. Write what you like.
  7. Remember your story does not have to have a happy ending – just a meaningful ending.
  8. Fall through your story. Bury yourself in your work.
  9. You don’t have to be the best, just be the best you can be,
  10. Find the right word.
  11. First lines should portend what is going to happen.
  12. Exercise your creative muscle everyday. If you write one page everyday, you will have written 365 pages, more than you need for a novel or 73 picture books.
Check out the rest.

The Amazon mess

Val Serdy sent this along:

John Scalzi has a great post today about how the writers are getting screwed by the kerfuffle between Macmillan and Amazon. These writers are losing money, and potentially losing future book deals when their sales numbers come in lower during this quarter. He recommends going out and buying their books at other sellers to support the authors.

Scalzi is usually extremely snarky, but I loved this post, especially:
the sales that [Macmillan authors] are getting cut out of here are going to make a real and concrete difference to them when it comes time to tally up royalties, and when they’re trying to sell that next book.
So rather than focus on what should happen to Amazon or Macmillan, here’s an idea, and here’s my point: let’s us focus on the writers, who are getting kinda screwed here. None of this is their fault, it has nothing to do with them, and they don’t deserve to lose sales and their livelihood while this thing goes down. If you want to make a statement here, don’t make it against a corporation, who isn’t listening anyway. Make it for someone, and someone who will appreciate the support.

Support the authors affected. Buy their books.

and Macmillan’s children and teens book list.

And this part is just my opinion, but...I am a St. Martin's author. I also own a Kindle and have bought many a thing from Amazon. I include links to their store from all my sites.

Amazon's move here revealed a lot about the company: They are not about selling books. They are about selling products, and their primary strategy in selling is to sell at the lowest price. Apparently, there is a cost to that for all of us. If Amazon doesn't like our publisher, our books might disappear in a weekend. Who's to say that if Amazon doesn't like the content of our book, they might at some point make it disappear, as well?

Amazon is NOT about supporting authors, nor is it about making books available to readers, as this move makes perfectly clear. They'd rather not sell a book than sell it for anything less than a rock-bottom price.

This is why I'm not linking to Amazon's novel contest. You can find it if you're curious. But I'd rather stick with traditional publishers--who at least love stories--for as long as I can. I'll also be sticking with local bookstores wherever possible.

Have a different opinion? Share it below, please.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Rebecca Stead on the SPL Shelftalk blog

Linda Johns let me know that Rebecca Stead, author of the Newbery Award-winning WHEN YOU REACH ME is the library's featured blogger today--just in time for her visit tonight.
This month’s guest blogger is Rebecca Stead, author of When You Reach Me, a middle-grade novel that just won the Newbery Medal (the most distinguished honor in children’s literature). Rebecca is in Seattle today to visit schools, chat with Nancy Pearl for an upcoming episode of Book Lust on the Seattle Channel and to read tonight at the University Village Barnes and Noble (7 p.m., 206.517.4107). We’re thrilled that in the midst of a busy book tour, Rebecca took the time to share what she’s been reading — and what she will soon be reading.
Click here to see what Rebecca's reading.

The inside scoop on 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 the Spring 2010 list, you may be eligible to apply for the Spring Inside Story, which will be on Wednesday, April 28, from 6:30-8:30 at Mockingbird Books, 7220 Woodlawn Avenue Northeast, Seattle. Applications are now available on our website 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.)

Please make sure that you meet all the eligibility criteria listed on the website before you apply. Applications must be submitted by email to the email address on the application form.

The deadline for applications is Feb. 20. Please see "Frequently Asked Questions About Inside Story" on the website for additional information about The Inside Story.
We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Meg Lippert
Inside Story Chair