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?


Cathy-on-a-Stick Makes a Comeback

So I could tell you all about the amazing bits of writer wisdom I sucked up from all the amazing speakers at the SCBWI conference I just attended.

Or I could direct you to the Muffin where I expounded on some of my best “After the Conference” tips and advice (and I’d love to hear yours, too).

But what I really want to dish about is this pic:

Mitchard and MacLachlan

And yes, that IS the New York Times best-selling author Jacquelyn Mitchard AND the Newbery award winner (for Sara Plain and Tall) Patricial MacLachlan. And yes, that’s Cathy-on-a-Stick right in the middle of ’em.

First, let me just say this: if you ever have an opportunity to hear either of these women, you must go. And I mean, run, don’t walk, to whatever venue they’re appearing. Because both of these glorious women–authors, moms, business persons–are simply two of the smartest, wittiest, warmest and honest women I’ve ever met.

And here’s the conversation we had about Cathy-on-a-Stick after they signed my books:

Me: Can I get a picture of y’all with Cathy-on-a-Stick?

PM (who is nearly blind so could not see details of what I was holding): What is that?

JM takes C-o-a-S.

Me: It’s just a picture of me, on a stick.

PM: Well, that’s stupid. (Or did she say silly? Ridiculous? It doesn’t matter. It was clear she thought it was stupid. And I had to agree with her. )

JM. No, it’s not. I think it’s pretty clever. (Or did she say cute? Whichever, it was clear she thought Cathy-on-a-Stick was funny. And I agree with that as well.)

PM shrugs. I tell her that Jane Yolen had the same reaction but she was a good sport about it. PM does not seem too impressed but she was not going to let Jane Yolen one up her.

JM: Take the picture!

And so now I have this wonderful picture and I laugh every time I look at it, thinking of Patricia MacLachlan dissing Cathy-on-a-Stick and Jacquelyn Mitchard coming to my pic-on-a-stick’s defense.

Oh my word, I do so love an SCBWI writer’s conference!


Finding The Right Writer’s Conference (Or No More Excuses)

___7019062I can’t remember if I told you about Pat Miller’s Non-Fiction for New Folks Writer’s Conference coming this fall in Texas, but I sure meant to tell you all about it!

So here’s the most important thing you need to know: the Early Bird discounted rate ends on September 1st!

Well, that may not be the most important thing you need to know. Probably you want to know about Pat Miller, who’s running the workshop. And I can tell you that she’s altogether delightful and a wonderful writer and really knows the business of non-fiction writing. If you’ve thought about non-fiction writing AT ALL, you might want to know this:

You are eight times more likely to be published
as a nonfiction writer than you are as a writer of fiction.
–Peggy Thomas, NF 4 NF Faculty member and co-author of Anatomy of
Nonfiction: Writing True                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Stories for Children

So if I weren’t already booked for our Southern Breeze SCBWI conference on the very same weekend, I might be there.

But since I am, I’d love to see you at WIK’14!

If you write for children, fiction or non-fiction, or if you’re an illustrator, too, I hope you’ll come join the fun. Lots of agents, a couple editors, TONS of know-it-all authors (who are happy to share everything they know!) will be in Birmingham, AL for the event. But if that date doesn’t work for you, check out the calendar of events offered by SCBWI and look for one in your corner of the world.

Hey, that reminds me of Shaw Guides to Conferences, because maybe you’re not a children’s writer. You can check out this site for all the latest news about any writer’s conference (or workshop) all over the globe!

So really, you can’t blame my bad memory on missing conferences any more.

(LOTS of other excuses will spring to mind, I’m sure, what with y’all being such creative writers. But it’s all on you, friends, I’ve done my duty.)