After the Conference

business-conference-learning-7095Just wrapped up a conference around here–well, technically, it was St. Patrick’s weekend–but it takes a few weeks to wrap up things, right?

Or maybe that’s just me. I’m one of the behind-the-scenes people at the conference now and oh. My. Word. Lots going on behind those curtains!

Of course, all most attendees see is the smoothly flowing conference, the practically perfect workable AV system, the charming faculty and helpful volunteers. It all goes mostly like clockwork, the gears fitting together nicely to make a great conference. But it takes a lot of grease to get that job done and so I need a lot of rest after the conference to recuperate.

I’m not sure I needed almost three weeks back in the day but I’m not going to dive deep into that pondering. I’m just going to thank my lucky stars that my legs aren’t cramping anymore (and someone, please remind me not to wear new boots to a conference). I’m reading one of the books I purchased: Ranger Nader and the Sunstruck Phantom by Kam Karem, (pseudonym of friend, TK Read). Take a look here for more on this fast-paced science fiction adventure. And I’m fixin’ to deliver all the board books I purchased for all my friends with babies/grand-babies. (There are four of ’em!)

And very soon, I’ll start writing again, applying everything I learned in between running around like a chicken with my head cut off. For now, I was able to write a post at the Muffin: “What Kind of Conference Attendee Are You?” and…um…this post right here.

And I feel pretty darn good about that.

(Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels–thanks!)

Friday’s Fun Finds, Kidlit Style

I do so love my regional SCBWI conferences, and honestly, I could list a dozen reasons why. But for today, I’ll stick to the two that Cathy-on-a-Stick helped me find this past weekend in Decatur, Georgia, when Springmingle hit the town.

2015-03-14 13.49.04You know how you read a book because you meet an author somewhere online and you love the book and then you find out the author is coming to your little hometown conference so you finally get to meet her?

I love when that happens! So you can imagine how thrilled I was when Kami Kinard showed up and we finally had a chance to meet in person and, you know, chill a little. Her books are fun and funny and engaging and smart. Pretty much like Kami.

2015-03-13 18.54.16And then there’s the author who is your keynote speaker and you see the title, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, and you think I have to read that book and after you do, you think everyone should read that book. So I was thrilled to meet Meg Medina, too!

Well. You can see why Cathy-on-a-Stick was pretty much beside herself, havin’ fun, kidlit style.

Rutgers One-on-One Plus Conference News! (And More Tips!)

So I am not gonna lie. I have been dashing to the mailbox for the last couple weeks, looking for that envelope from the Rutgers One-on-One Plus Conference. My desk overlooks the front of the house and when I would see the mail truck go by–zoom! I was down the stairs and out the door. I knocked down the Beneficent Mr. Hall more than once. (Not to worry. He just rolled to the end of the driveway where I graciously helped him up.)

Finally, I got my letter. Of acceptance. Wheee!

Yeah, you have to apply to attend the conference. Now, honestly, I have no idea how many people apply. They accept around 8o writers because around 80 professionals (editors and agents, mostly) attend to provide one-on-one mentoring. Maybe only 80 writers send in the packet. I don’t care. I felt special. For about 2 minutes. Than I read the letter and felt a little panicky.

You don’t know who your mentor will be. You also have an opportunity for what they call 5-on-5–and you don’t know who those five mentors will be, either. But you do know who the 80 mentors will be.

Now, I am a writer who believes in being prepared before I hit a conference. You can read all about it over at The Muffin today. And if you do, you’ll see that I like to research speakers. Not in a creepy, stalker way. Just the normal, crazed writer way.

THAT’S A LOT OF PROFESSIONALS TO RESEARCH.

I’m just sayin’. So you might not see much of me for a month or so. And P.S. I’m even going to let the Beneficent Mr. Hall fetch the mail.

With Leap Day, You Get Extra: Editor Kristin Daly Rens

Leap days are extra, so I thought it’d be swell to give you an extra bit of wisdom from Kristin Daly Rens (senior editor from Balzer & Bray/Harper Collins) who spoke at the conference. Plus, I had a pic of her with Cathy-on-a-Stick and that’s always a bonus, right?

So Kristin (who is funny, delightful, smart, and charming and I’m not just saying that because she happened to do my formal critique) spoke about dialogue and plotting. But (and I’m sure this will come as no surprise to you) I cannot find my plot notes. So we’ll be sharing dialogue notes today.

She had a ton of great tips about dialogue, and examples of sparkling banter in books. Um, apparently, I did not write down the book titles. But Debra Mayhew, who sat next to me, wrote down every single book mentioned and then she shared them on her blog. (Why thank you, Deb!).

So now, let’s dash to Kristin’s tips, starting with what to avoid in dialogue.

AVOID SAYING SOMETHING YOU’VE JUST SHOWN. (Yes, I know that seems like common sense. But it’s a terribly common problem and one you should check for when editing your manuscript. Because…

TOO MUCH DIALOGUE SLOWS DOWN THE STORY (Who knew? I LOVE dialogue. In fact, I tend to read the dialogue in books and skip all that descriptive stuff. But it occurred to me that I can do that because I read good books where the dialogue is used correctly. How so, you wonder? So glad you asked.

DIALOGUE SHOULD BE SIGNIFICANT  (Every word of dialogue should matter to the story. Every. Single. Word. Yes, you want to be authentic, but not so authentic that you bore your readers. So don’t put in all those umm’s and uh’s. Put in the words that matter and most importantly…

PUT IN THE WORDS THAT MOVE THE STORY FORWARD  (That tip speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Get it? Speaks for itself? Um, yeah…we’ll just move on. Like your story should do with great dialogue.)

Because now I think you have enough dialogue information to make your own banter extra sparkly. And you’ve got an extra day to do it!

Finding SCBWI Southern Breeze’s Newsletter

If you haven’t become an SCBWI member yet, maybe the latest newsletter from my region, Southern Breeze, will spur you on!

The newsletter’s online now, so it’s easily accessible right here. What makes this particular newsletter a keeper is all the information, not to mention registration form, for the fall conference in Birmingham. I can’t believe the great line-up scheduled for this event-and I don’t know how I’m going to cram everything in that I’d like to do.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way. And thank goodness, I know the way to Birmingham! Join me there in October. (But first, go finish reading the newsletter. And read al-l-l-l the way to the end. Because that’s where you’ll find my article, “While You Are Waiting”!)