Shaking Loose the Sand in September

ImageEven though it’s been forever a long time not so long ago, really, that I went to school in September, I still get totally excited after Labor Day. I just want to go out and buy a bunch of pencils and sharpen them into really, really sharp points.

That is to say, I’m ready to get down to business. Thank goodness, I have a wonderful conference to attend in October and the presenters are zipping around on a blog tour right now. So any sand left between my toes (or in my brain) shakes out along the way.

Maybe you have a few grains of sand you’d like to shake loose. Follow along with me and get your pencils ready to take notes. 

And oh, look! Agent Jennifer Rofe from Andrea Brown Literary is going to be HERE on Friday! So y’all come back now, you hear? (Uh-oh. It appears a little Southern has slipped into my writing. I’ll work on that, too.)

Blog Tour Schedule:

Aug. 28            Author Matt de la Peña at Stephanie Moody’s Moodyviews

                        Editor Lou Anders at F.T. Bradley’s YA Sleuth

Aug. 29            Author Doraine Bennett at Jodi Wheeler-Toppen’s Once Upon a Science Book

                        Author Robyn Hood Black at Donny Seagraves’ blog

Aug. 30            MFA program director Amanda Cockrell at Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog

                        Illustrator Prescott Hill at Gregory Christie’s G.A.S.

Aug. 31            Author Heather Montgomery at Claire Datnow’s Media Mint Publishing blog

                        Editor Michelle Poploff at Laura Golden’s Just Write

Sept. 3             Author Nancy Raines Day at Laurel Snyder’s blog

                        Author Jennifer Echols at Paula Puckett’s Random Thoughts from the Creative Path

Sept. 4             Editor Dianne Hamilton at Ramey Channell’s The Painted Possum

                        Author Janice Hardy at Tracey M. Cox’s A Writer’s Blog

Sept. 5             Author / illustrator Sarah Frances Hardy at Stephanie Moody’s Moodyviews

                        Agent Sally Apokedak at Cheryl Sloan Wray’s Writing with Cheryl

Sept. 6             Agent Jennifer Rofe at Cathy Hall’s blog

                        Author / illustrator Chris Rumble at Cyrus Webb Presents

 

Editor Katherine Jacobs Answers Your Writing Questions

7526163ec544a115faeb352335de435cI know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, oh, I hope she picks my question. And now you’re thinking, wait a sec. I didn’t send any questions for editor Katherine Jacobs.

But I sent a couple questions about books, and publishing, and writing. I was lucky enough to pick Katherine from the hat of professionals who’ll be presenting at the upcoming SCBWI-Southern Breeze hosted Springmingle conference here in Atlanta (February 22-24th). So you’ll get answers to your questions. Or at least the five questions I asked.

1. What are a couple of your favorite reads from childhood? And do they influence what you look for in a manuscript today?

One of the most influential books of my childhood was The Giver. It was the first science fiction or dystopian story I had ever read and it made a big impression. I think that it taught me the power and art of an ambiguous ending. I still prefer when complicated novels leave something open ended or up for interpretation rather than tying it all up in a neat bow.

I also really loved prairie stories when I was a kid: Little House on the Prairie, Sarah, Plain and Tall, and the American Girl, Kirsten. I believe these stories taught me that you can take ordinary slices of life and make them extraordinary through the telling.

2. What is the ONE aspect of a manuscript that will grab you immediately and make you say, “Yes. This is the story I want to edit.”

The number one thing I’m looking for when I’m reading manuscripts is an emotional connection to the work. I expect stories to make me feel something whether it’s joy or sorrow, horror or delight. Usually, I think that’s achieved through a character I love or relate to or recognize.

3. What, if any, trends do you see in children’s publishing? Do you like what you see, or NOT like what you see coming along?

I’m very enthusiastic about the future of children’s publishing. I think it’s a growing genre that every year attracts more respect from the literary establishment and attention from the general market. One trend that I like in particular is the emphasis on the interaction between text and illustration, whether that’s in picture books, middle-grade fiction, nonfiction, or the growing graphic novel category.

4. I know all those writers attending Springmingle 2013 will want to know the answer to this question (BEFORE we send our manuscripts!): What’s your biggest pet peeve in a manuscript?

I don’t like manuscripts that talk down to the child reader. I think that kids are a diverse and smart bunch, and I like submissions that respect them and realize they are capable of great emotional and psychological maturity.

5. And finally, can you give us a little peek at what you’ll be speaking on at Springmingle? Inquiring writers want to know!

I’ll be speaking about myself, Roaring Brook Press, the in-house acquisition process, and I’m hoping to have a new talk about character ready for the Springmingle conference.

So there you have it. The answers to all your burning writing questions. Didn’t I tell you I knew what you were thinking?

 

77a9521da74d2374a25df2e5733c39e4It’s not too late to sign up for this wonderful conference! You’ll see Katherine Jacobs and all these other wonderful authors, illustrators and an agent, too, who are visiting blogs to answer even more questions:

Jan. 21: Will Terry, illustrator, at Elizabeth O. Dulemba’s blog

Jan. 22: Beck McDowell, author, at Bonnie Herold’s “Tenacious Teller of Tales”

Jan. 23: Nikki Grimes, author, at Gail Handler’s “Write From the Soul”

Jan. 24: Jill Corcoran, agent, at Donny Seagraves’ blog

Jan. 25: Chad Beckerman, creative director, at Laura Golden’s blog

Jan. 28: Katherine Jacobs, editor, at Cathy C. Hall’s blog

Jan. 29: Mark Braught, illustrator, at Vicky Alvear Shecter’s “History with a Twist”

Jan. 30: Carmen Agra Deedy, author, at Ramey Channell’s “The Moonlight Ridge Series”

 

Oh! I almost forgot. You’ll see me at Springmingle 2013, too. So please join us for a weekend of fun and writing. You and I both know you want to come.

 

Tuesday Tips on Photo Use and Conference Do’s

When last we spoke, I shared about the upcoming WIK’12 conference and the lovely Doraine Bennett’s writerly wisdom. PLUS, I gave all the stops on the WIK blog tour. But I completely forgot to add a great post from Bonita Herold and Janice Hardy over at her blog, The Other Side of the Story.

Even if you’re not close enough to attend our Southern Breeze SCBWI conference, you’ll want to read their “ABC’s of Attending of a Conference.” It’s chock full of tips (well, 26 plus a couple extra) and advice on conference-going. And I guarantee there will be at least a few do’s that you haven’t considered.

When you have all that good info in your head, zip over to read Roni Loren’s post about the use of photos on blogs, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr. She has some eye-opening information as well, specifically on copyrighted photos. Even if you’re sure about every photo you use, I guarantee there will be something you haven’t considered.

They’re both well worth a look and I’m sure you’ll be all the richer for checking them out. Much like Cathy-on-a-Stick who visited the Parthenon. In Nashville, TN. (But at least it’s my own picture.)