A (Very) Few Juicy Conference Tidbits!

17239771_238234963314008_2215424444750180242_o

With pal and agent, Sally Apokedak at SM’17

Remember when I said I’d tell you all about Springmingle’17? And then really, I just told you about Patricia MacLachlan and Jacquelyn Mitchard and Cathy-on-a-Stick?

Well, today I’m going to deliver on that promise and tell you about the doings at the conference. Except I’m afraid I’m still going to direct you to another spot to get all–well, some; okay, just a few–of the details.

See, writer friend Sherri Rivers who’s over at GROG, a group blog made up of a lot of kidlit writers, asked if I’d share about the conference and of course I said sure. And then she asked a lot of questions about the conference and at that point, I ran into a bit of a sticky wicket. Because a. I am the worst at taking notes at conferences; I always assume I’ll remember stuff–and lots of times I do. But b. this was not one of those times.

This was the time I attended a conference with a very bad, no good, horrible cold. And so I was there, but perhaps I was not all there, if you know  what I mean. Even so, I remembered the keynotes and honestly, despite my very bad, no good, horrible cold, this was one of my most favorite Springmingles! Because even with a very bad, no good, horrible cold, I came away buzzing with eagerness to write, and maybe even a little joy blossoming in my soul again.

So I hope you’ll zip over to GROG–it’s an excellent blog with tons of great writing information so join in that fun!–and read “Flying High with SCBWI Southern Breeze.”

And now that the very bad, no good, horrible cold is gone, I have some writing to do. Hope this spring is busting out with all kinds of words for you, too!

Advertisements

An SCBWI Two Things Tuesday

scbwi-logoI love Two Things Tuesday–they always remind me of the Doublemint commercials: A double pleasure’s waiting for you!

So Thing One, the SCBWI Southern Breeze conference, coming March 13th-15th in Decatur, Georgia. It’s our Springmingle event and we always have a great time, with a great slate of kidlit professionals. Take a look at the brochure to see the wonderful folks who’ll be presenting and speaking this year. (There’s still time to register!) And new this year is a portfolio reception, book launch and book signing on Friday evening.

We’ve always had all of these events, actually, but we’re doing things a little differently this time around. We’ve invited industry professionals, like librarians and book sellers, reading teachers and literacy advocates to attend the Friday evening activities. It’ll be a fun opportunity to get to know our Southern Breeze authors, both the new ones who’re launching books, and the…er, ones who’ve been around for a while. If you’re attending Springmingle, you’re invited, too. And if you’re one of those kidlit professionals in my neighborhood, and want an invite, please let me know!

But if you’re not in my neighborhood, then I hope you’ll take a look at Thing Two, our Southern Breeze blog. And not just because yours truly happens to be plastered up there, with a post about schmoozes and how you can orchestrate a great workshop event like that in your region. There’s other interesting stuff on the blog, too.

But yeah. Mostly because of the schmooze thing. (And now I’m sending the Beneficent Mr. Hall out for gum. Dang if I’m not craving Doublemint now!)

Cathy-on-a-Stick Pops Up at Springmingle (And Runs Amok)

Usually, I go to writer’s conferences and walk halfway around a room to avoid the tables with all the books.

I sit on my hands, leave my wallet at home, eschew adult beverages–well, there are all kinds of tricks I use to keep from buying more books. But Cathy-on-a-Stick has a mind of her own. It’s not much a mind, and rather flat, but still. She would keep heading to the book table at Springmingle, the SCBWI Southern Breeze conference this past weekend. Every time a speaker finished, I felt this…this tug. And before I knew it, I had a stack of books.

2014-03-29 05.39.53Agent and author Ammi-Joan Pacquette had all these books about ghosts and they were picture books and middle grade (which come on, ghosts AND PB’s and Middle Grade? I was doomed from the start). Plus Joan was so darn sincere and engaging in her talk. She called to me–so I bought one of her books.

2014-03-29 05.32.26And then Vicky Alvear Shecter went on and on about Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead. She sucked me in with her humor and expertise and Anubis tidbits. Who knew the Land of the Dead could be so darn entertaining? So before I knew it, Cathy-on-a-Stick was in the line for an autograph.

2014-03-29 05.48.12Elizabeth Dulemba was nearby, explaining that her muse had grabbed her in North Georgia and wouldn’t let go till she told the story in A Bird on Water Street. You cannot argue with the muse. And apparently, you cannot argue with Cathy-on-a-Stick either. There she was again, stick-deep in Elizabeth’s book.

2014-03-29 05.53.44I was just about to make a dash for it when, out of the corner of my eye, I spied Ruth Sanderson’s books! A whole pile of books with the most gorgeous covers ever, of woods and castles and princesses and–oh. My. Word. Fairy tales. And stained glass windows of saints. Stick a fork in me, I was done (for).

2014-03-29 05.56.52Wait, I take that back. I was not quite done. Janice Hardy’s book, Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, was calling my name. I tried to resist, I really did. But Cathy-on-a-Stick whispered in my ear, “Really? You think you can afford to pass on this gem of writing craft?”

Ahem.

2014-03-29 05.36.37And as I glanced over at Cheryl Klein (Executive Editor at Arthur A. Levine Books, a Scholastic imprint), I thought how much her book, Second Sight, An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults, had helped me on my writing journey. I’d won her book three years ago, so at least I didn’t have to buy that book at the writer’s conference, too.

But I’m pretty sure she and Cathy-on-a-Stick were up to something. I’m kinda afraid to check my credit card bill.

 

 

Springmingle Writers and Illustrators Conference

ImageHaving someone write a lovely post about a topic you were planning to write about is like having a day off. So here’s Janice Hardy (who is quite lovely herself and chock full of writer wisdom!) espousing on an upcoming SCBWI conference:
 
Springmingle is the annual regional conference for Southern Breeze, offering writing workshops and sessions with agents, authors, and editors to help writers and illustrators learn the skills they need to get published. Meet editors, art directors, and agents who are looking for new talent. Connect with a friendly, supportive group of authors and illustrators. 
 
It’s a fantastic conference for writers and illustrators of juvenile fiction and non-fiction from picture books to young adult novels. Not a SCBWI member? No problem. Non-members are welcome and encouraged to attend. In fact, it’s a great way to meet the members and see if it’s a group you’d like to join.
 
The conference faculty includes: Lucy Ruth Cummins, Art Director Simon & Schuster; Cheryl Willis Hudson, Creative Director Just Us Books; Ruth Sanderson, Author/Illustrator; Cheryl Klein, Editor, Arthur Levine Books; Ammi-Joan Paquette, Agent, Erin Murphy Literary Agency; and Jo S. Kittinger, Award-Winning Author.
 
Looking for Feedback? 
Both formal and informal critiques are available. Formal critiques are $40, informal are free. The deadline for face-to-face critiques has passed but you have till Wednesday, February 26 for a written critique so act fast if you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity!
 
For a peek at how agents and editors think, there’s the Image/Eight panel. Attendees can submit the first eight lines of their manuscript or an opening illustration for a free review by a panel of conference faculty.

Springmingle takes place on March 28-30, 2014 at the Atlanta Marriott Century Center. 
Conference tuition is $195 for SCBWI members, $225 for non-members, or $205 for students. 
Advance registration is required and spaces are limited for some activities.
 
For more information please visit southern-breeze.scbwi.org.

I’ll be there–and Janice will be there, too. Y’all come join us and have some writing fun at Springmingle!

  

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!