Archive | September, 2015

13 Notes on the Magic of 13 SCBWI Conference

30 Sep

2015logoMagicof13It’s been 13 days since The Magic of 13 conference in Cleveland this month. I’ve had time to review my notes and relive the magic. And it was magical! On Friday, I was able to participate in an intensive class with Jodell Sadler of the Sadler Children’s Literary Agency and have a one-on-one manuscript critique with Nikki Garcia, Assistant Editor for Little Brown Books for Young Readers. Then I spent the full day, Saturday, attending workshops with Jodell Sadler again; and Marie Lamba, Associate Literary Agent with the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency; Kendra Levin, Senior Editor with Viking’s Children Books, the Penguin Young Readers Group; and Victoria Selvaggio, Associate Agent with the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. What a lineup! I talked with wonderful authors like Mary Kay Carson, Miranda Paul, Shutta Crum, Michelle Houts, and Liz Coley. However, there were other wonderful authors and illustrators I missed, like Denise Fleming, Gloria Adams, and Sophie Cayless… the days were just to full to see everyone! And of course, I met and worked with countless other writers and illustrators who attended the workshops. Oh, how I wish I had a week with these extraordinary people!

With the passing of 13 days since the Magic of 13, I want to share 13 things I learned with you. Hopefully these 13 tricks will help you get where you want to be in your writing and publication.

  1. Tell your story. Begin at the beginning. Go until you get to the end. Then stop.

2. Be on every page with the reader. See what they see, hear what they hear, smell what they smell, feel what they feel.

3. Use vivid words to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. Use fun and interesting language. Make your words work hard, make them pull double duty when engaging a reader.

4. Determine your character’s core values. These will guide his/her actions. Apply the emotional truths of what you know to new situations for your characters. You may never have been lost in a jungle like your character is, but you do know what it feels like to be lost. Use that to guide your character through unfamiliar territory.

5. The road to publication comes from employing plot, poetry, pauses, and personality. 

6. Form allegiances with other writers. Support each other. Champion each other to do your best.

7. Study your craft. Find mentor texts and professionals to guide you along the way.

8. Find inspiration in those who have gone before you.

9. Forge your own processes. Don’t be afraid of doing things differently than what ‘everyone else’ says you should be doing.

10. Have a strong hook. Your story must be easy to pitch. Prepare a one sentence log line, a description that can be used to promote your work. It must evoke feeling.

11.Stay current on today’s market and know where your book fits. Yours should be the same but different. It must fit into a market audience.

12. Be aware of your social media presence. Contribute to the promotion of yourself. Be professional. Be positive in your social interactions at all times.

13. Have fun! If you’re having fun, your reader will have fun!

…and now for the magic…

Abracadbra… Poof!

shutterstock_46365388

 

America’s White Table

7 Sep

937671America’s White Table written by Margot Theis Raven and illustrated by Mike Benny (2005)

A beautifully told story of the white table which is set for one person, one who will not be attending dinner. This table is set in many home across the country and in every mess hall in the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corp since the Vietnam War ended. It is set for those men and women who are Missing in Action or Prisoners of War. Each item on the table is symbolic, a lemon slice and grains of sand for a soldier’s bitter fate and the tears of their families, a white candle for peace and a red rose for our hope in their return. This is the story of a little girl who learns the meaning of the table from her mother and her Uncle John who served in Vietnam.

Margot Theis Raven’s words are powerful. In just a few short pages, she delivers the message of ‘a little white table’ and what it means to thousands of Americans. Look carefully at each page, on several spreads are the lines to the first verse of ‘America – My Country ‘Tis of Thee’ written in ghost-like print across the text and illustrations.

Mike Benny leaves images in our minds just as powerful as the words. You can see the love and pride, sorrow and pain in the faces of the characters. The images of Vietnam are done in sepia color and transport the reader to another day and age.

This is one of my favorite books celebrating Veterans’ Day. I like to read it for just about any patriotic holiday. But if you’re like me, you won’t be able to read it with dry eyes.

It’s Not Quite Fall Yet

7 Sep

Don’t get me wrong, I love Fall as much as the next guy. More than some. I love the crisp mornings, the sweaters, the colors, the bonfires, the apple picking…

But today, I mourn the end of summer. As I took one last dip in the pool, toweled my wet hair, and glanced back at the light fading on the water, I said a quiet good-bye to a summer tradition.

For as far back as I can remember, the pool has been my summertime hang-out. My parents took me to the pool before I could walk. I took my kids to swim lessons, practices, meets, and parties. I applied sunblock and lotion, packed fruit and water bottles, and read novels from the water’s edge. I splashed with my grandchildren and paddled backward as they swam to me. I sat in the shallow end drinking an adult beverage with friends and floated on rubber tubes in the scorching sun.

Night has fallen on Labor Day. So tomorrow, begins the first official day of… what? There must be a name for the 16 days between Labor Day and the beginning of Fall. Post Pool… Pre Pumpkin… dog-pool-float-1

Don’t fret, sad puppy. Halloween is 54 days away. Thanksgiving is 80 days away. Christmas is 105 days away.

But the pool reopens in 266 days!

%d bloggers like this: