After the Conference: Mind=Blown


Friend Tracey M. Cox fan-girling over LSP. 

So I’m back from my Southern Breeze SCBWI conference and yesterday, I realized I hadn’t written my blog post for WOW!Women-on-Writing that was scheduled for today, and I had this moment. I actually considered sending a quick note saying, “Get someone else to write something because my brain is fried and I can’t think of anything, much less make sense!”

I did not even skip out on my Muffin posts when Mister Man up and died on me so I took another moment to calm down. I had a cuppa. And then, quite sensibly, I thought, I wrote about the conference. You can read “Top Tips for Writer’s Conference Attendees” and let me know if I made sense.

To be honest, some conferences are better than others. And this one will land in the top of my “Best Of…” list:

Best of keynote speakers with Linda Sue Park. If you ever have a chance to hear her, please go. You will be inspired and energized. And if you haven’t read her Newbery-award-winning novel, The Single Shard, please read it. Yes, it’s middle grade but that’s beside the point. It will expand and enrich you, no matter how old you are.

Best of intensives with Scholastic editor, Matt Ringler, and a roundtable manuscript critique workshop. Not because he raved about my manuscript (he didn’t), but because when you hear an editor respond in five minutes or so to 4 pages of a manuscript, you get a ton of great information and insight into an editor’s thought processes. And not just for your own work but for all the manuscripts in the room. So if you ever have that opportunity at a conference, please be brave and sign up for it.

Of course, your brain will be fried and you won’t make much sense for a couple of days, but I think that’s a fair trade out.

Though in my case, it might not be that noticeable…


The Zen and Zany Roller Coaster

germany-duisburg-tiger-turtle-106155So it’s March already and that means I’m gearing up for my regional SCBWI conference next week (I mentioned it at The Muffin in “Scheduling Success”).

That also means I’m going back and forth and up and down between sheer panic and zen moments. Something like this:

Panicky Cathy: Oh my word, I can’t believe I signed up to read my manuscript OUT LOUD FOR FEEDBACK in an intensive! What was I thinking? HAVE I LOST MY MIND?

Calm Cathy: I am one with the writing universe. All shall be well. No one will be listening, anyway.

PC: Of course they’ll be listening. That’s what they’re there for! An editor will be listening! And what if he’s the SAME person who’s doing my manuscript critique? Did I put my real name on that manuscript? How long does it take to get a name change???

CC: I am one with the writing universe. All shall be well. This is my tribe, they love me. At least, they claim to love me…do they love me? I mean really love me? Or–

PC: THEY HATE ME! And they’re Southerners! Everyone knows Southerners are much too polite to admit they despise you. If I hear one “Bless your heart–”

CC: I am one…all shall be…okay, stick a fork in it, I’m done. Sooooo…I’m gonna need a pen and a good fake name. What do y’all think of Harper Lee?


But I Have A Good Excuse

bird-crow-black-animal-53187I’m just going to say it: the universe is trying to teach me a couple of lessons in humility. Because every time I write a Muffin post about a certain topic, I’m caught eating crow.

This time, the topic is “The Importance of Being Current,” which honestly, is VERY important. And yet, here I am, taking a look around in various digital spots, realizing that I have not, in fact, been so good at keeping things current.

Well, that’s okay, because that’s pretty much what I admitted to in the Muffin post. And I even tried to update my bio at SCBWI but because they’ve had a recent (and terrific!) update, I’m unable to change my photo and perhaps make other changes.

But here, at my website and blog, for cryin’ out loud, I thought I was pretty darn current! I said as much in my little blurb at the end of the post. I bragged about my currentness (and yes, that may not be a word but I’m in too much of a state to think of the right word. That’s how bad this situation is).



pexels-photo-633432There were two books. And I’m going to jump on that ASAP. And add ’em to my SCBWI bio as soon as I can get into my SCBWI bio. (But if I’m being perfectly honest, ASAP may not be that soon. I’ve taken on a new position in Southern Breeze, my SCBWI region, as Co-Assistant Regional Advisor, and I am running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Hopefully, I’m making more sense than a chicken without its head, but I can’t make any promises. Still, I managed to circle back around to a bird, so there’s that.)


Those Passionate Self-Publishers


Books in the wild!

I always have a great time at the writer workshops I co-sponsor. (Well, not me personally. The Southern Breeze region of SCBWI technically is the sponsor. I’m just the smiling face up there, introducing the talented writers and illustrators and agents who come to share their wisdom. The awesome Gwinnett Public Library System is the other generous sponsor.) But the last workshop was especially fun because it was on self-publishing, and writers who go that route are especially passionate.

They have to be, if they hope to find success along that road.

In traditional publishing, you have publicity people behind you, getting your books out there to the public. Some houses do a lot; others do considerably less. Still, they get your book off to the right start so it can land in bookstores and libraries.

But those who go the indie route must start at the beginning of publishing and work very hard to get a book…well, anywhere. So self-publisher types tend to be real go-getters, and I love their enthusiasm. Heck, before the workshop was over, I was seriously considering that route for one of my books that hasn’t been picked up by a traditional publisher yet.

Anyway, during the workshop, talk eventually came around to promotion and getting your book out there. Maybe that’s what inspired me for today’s post at the Muffin, Paying It Forward the Write Way.

I think it’s pretty good advice whether you’re self-published or traditionally published. What do you think? Maybe I’ll have another workshop on your suggestions. (Well, not me personally. Ugh. You know what I mean.)

I Have a Really Good Excuse

2011-03-30 12.54.32

It started when the county chopped down my favorite half pink, half white dogwood.

It’s the end of March and I know that means it’s time to report on my month’s doings (or not doings, as the case may be). But really, I have a good excuse for this month’s slacking off. Come to think of it, I have several good excuses.

As I mentioned above, there was the whole tree cutting debacle. The county is widening a main road up the street from me and it was bad enough when they took out enough pines to build a small village of log houses. But The Special Dogwood that makes me smile every time I pass its blooming March splendor (and I pass it a lot)? How could I be expected to write through such a blatant disregard for my tree?

Then I had that SCBWI conference, and there’s a ton of stuff to get done before a conference, right? Totally legit excuse for not getting the writing going.

And then I also had a reception in Athens at the Georgia Children’s Book Awards and Conference. Not for my books; SCBWI was there to promote our regional authors, the ones who like to network and get those school visits. Also a totally legit excuse because there was also a lot of stuff to get done before the reception.

I did manage to get several books read even though I had that very bad, horrible, no good cold (also a legit excuse for lollygagging, by the way). Let’s see, I think the total read was five, so I’m still a couple of books ahead on my Goodreads goal. I had to wait two months to get Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir by J. D. Vance, but it was well worth the wait and my good read pick of the month.

I got fired up about a picture book idea after the conference and I’ve written a rough first draft so there’s that. And I managed a couple of blog posts, too. Which brings me to today’s post over at The Muffin where I talk about “When You Don’t Want To Write.”

March was…challenging, remembering how the Beneficent Mr. Hall was so great about shoring me up during the March conference craziness. But sometimes, just when you think you want to throw in the towel, someone comes along.

So a big thank you to Lovely Lisa for a long lunch. And for being there, just when I needed shoring up. I can highly recommend long, long lunches with a writer friend for those times when you need a good excuse for whatever ails you.

And here’s hoping your March was delightfully full of words and writer wisdom; I’d love to hear all about it. It also shores me up when I hear about my writer friends’ successes (and yeah, I could use some fall back good excuses, too, just in case April slaps me upside the head. The county is not nearly done).