Matt de la Peña, All-Around Swell Author

I just got back from Wik’13, the SCBWI conference in Birmingham, and as always had such a delightful time. But I’m sort of kicking myself for not signing up for Matt de la Peña’s intensive on dialogue. I know it would’ve been swell.

He was the keynote speaker–I laughed, I cried, I learned. (I might not have actually cried, unless it was from laughing. But seriously, he’s an engaging speaker. If he’s ever in your area, go see him. And take your boy readers.)

So I bought one of his books,

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and it’s a great read. But more than that, it’s a good template for wanna-be published authors like me (and maybe you, too). It’s a well-crafted story, with layered characters and terrific pacing and plotting. And I’m not just saying that because Matt very graciously agreed to have his picture taken with Cathy-on-a-Stick.

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Or wrote such a sweet note when he signed his book.

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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.


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.

Mingling and Moving Forward

So I had a lovely time at Springmingle, the Southern Breeze’s SCBWI conference this past weekend in Atlanta. It’s all over, as they say, but the transcribing of the notes.

Er…I did take notes. When I’m listening to presentations on writing fine dialogue or how to punch up a plot or what makes a thriller, I scribble furiously. But when I’m listening to a speech that’s inspiring and thoughtful and just fills my soul with all those writerly words I need to hear, the notes sort of drift off into a word or two. Oopsies.

So I’m sorry that I can’t share Kirby Larson’s points from her wonderful keynote speech. But I can direct you to her blog where she lists all the books she mentioned (that was lucky, huh?) and you can follow her posts to get a little inspiration and/or information. (By the way, is it only in the South where mac ‘n cheese is a vegetable? I mean, if you go through the cafeteria line, where else are they going to put mac ‘n cheese???)

Anyway, I picked up her latest book, The Friendship Doll, and of course, Cathy-on-a-Stick had to get in the picture with ’em. (I think my pic was a little miffed that the pics on the book were all wearing delightful outfits while Cathy-on-a-stick was a tad under-dressed for the occasion.)

And I did remember the last poem that Kirby read called “God Says Yes to Me” by Kaylin Haught. I love the last lines…

what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

Yep, I’ll keep going to conferences (and probably forget to take notes). But that’s okay. I’m listening and learning,  writing and growing. And someday, I’ll get my Yes.