Monday, August 27, 2007

Top 10 Things NOT to do at a Children's Writer's Conference

10. Bring a pet Dalmation. Nope. Don't event think about it.

9. Arrive intoxiated on anything other than caffeine.

8. Arrive either without caffeine or without the financial means to acquire caffeine when necessary.

7. Say, "I prefer to use my pen name on my name-tag, since my real name's on the sex offender registry..."

6. Critique a fellow attendee's manuscript to within an inch of death, and then cry and storm out when they do the same to yours.

5. Forget your pen and ask the editor sitting next to you whether they have one that you can borrow.

4. Hand every agent you meet a pastel, perfumed resume with your lingerie-clad glamour shot attached.

3. Wait until the keynote speaker is about to share the punchline of a joke and then loudly ask those sitting around you: " What the heck is an SASE, and why don't these crazy people realize that the synonym for the word WRITER is spelled SCRIBE not SCBWI?!!!"

2. Insinuate to ANYONE that your novel is better than or even similar to J.K. Rowling's or J.M. Barrie's.

And the #1 thing NOT to do at a children's writer's conference:

1. Bring your entire novel manuscript and attempt to read it aloud to every editor that you can corner in the elevator! ("But wait, Editor Smith, don't leave! It get's even better in chapter 17! And look, I've added my own illustrations...!")

Monday, August 13, 2007

Raleigh SCBWI Schmooze a HUGE Success!

Before the flood of writers arrived, members of the planning committee assembled our classy plastic wine glasses amongst the shelves at Quail Ridge Books. Cheese and wine, fudge and chicken anyone?
Big thanks to our speaker Stephanie Greene for all of her tips on writing chap books and PB's! Great info! Thanks for taking the time, Stephanie.

Ashley, a teen writer (in more ways than one,) educates three published writers/illustrators on what teens look for in good writing. Kudos to Ashley for being the youngest writer at the schmooze!

Checking out Mike Tyson's award-winning illustrations.

Kathy and Jenny conduct a drive-by crit session:
"Now I really like what you've done with your characterization over here..."

Now we look forward to the SCBWI Carolinas 15th Annual Conference in Durham, on September 28-30, 2007. See you there! Don't forget to bring your children's writing-related costume for Saturday night! And stop by here in early September for a list of essential items to bring to any writing conference. Hint: ""a large, stuffed dalmation" did NOT make the list. :)

It's Away!

Into the mail it goes! I've sent the first few chaps and synops of my novel out to an agent. Now begins the waiting to see whether she wants to look at more of the manuscript, or whether she says that this one's not for her... In the meantime, another one of my crit friends has read over the manuscript and given me some ideas on sections in the middle part of the book that would benefit from some tweaking. So, since I've got some time while waiting to hear back from this agent -- 3 weeks to 6 months, I've been told -- I'll be tweaking and hopefully making the novel better while I wait. What are you working on? Post a note and let me know.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Hey, writers, what d'ya know?

What do I know?

Off-hand, I know that a vertical vs. horizontal take-off promotes the best trajectory for a space-jet to enter low-Earth orbit; that there are tomato plants about to blast off on the shuttle Endeavor; and that the Karman line separating Earth from space is at an altitude of 327,ooo feet.

Am I an astronaut? A scientist? An over the top Star Trek fan?

Nay, my friends, I'm a children's writer...

I know that the prison fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia is where Alexei Petrovich was imprisoned and probably died; that the Moscow subway-system contains some of the coolest stained-glass windows in the world; and that the traditional colors of a matryoshka doll are red, black and yellow. Am I a historian? An art critique? An ex-KGB spy?

Nay, my friends. Again I say, I'm a children's writer.

Whether we're writing fiction or nonfiction, the story for all writers is the same. We say `write what you know' and research what you don't. And because of this we get the fun experience of becoming slight-experts about a lot of very unusual things. Just like the librarians, who love trivia games with a passion, we writers pore over books, court documents, thesis, disertations and web pages on every topic under (and beyond) the Sun. Whether it's bionic-hands, man-eating plants, or wild cats who love to swim -- were into it.

So, perhaps we writer-researchers ought to challenge the librarians to a dual on the trivial pursuit board - at our local libraries, 7pm. (Granted, our friends, the librarians are very knowledgeable, but I think we could give them a challenge for the trivia grand prize).

And for those in other professions who might suggest that being a children's writer is easy, requires only creativity, and leads more to child-like goofiness than to mensa-like brain-growth, perhaps we should say this ... traverse your posteriors in our direction, compatriots, the battle of wits has begun. : )