Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ah, the Wonders of Self Publishing

First we have My New Mommy, explaining to kids why mom needs a tummy tuck (helpfully written by a plastic surgeon), and now this.

Even if the topic weren't laugh-out-loud funny, the preachy prose would be. I won't pick on the illustrations, as they do at least seem to be, er, inspired by the subject matter.

Thanks to Word Wrangler for turning me onto it (the book, that is).

(BTW, I do not think self publishing is bad in and of itself. There are some excellent reasons to self-publish, and there are many quality self-pub'd books out there. But that's a post for another time.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

SCBWI Poconos Retreat Highlights

Last weekend's SCBWI Eastern Pennsylvania retreat in the Poconos turned out to be the most productive and worthwhile writing event I have ever attended. And I've been to a few, to be sure.

I'm about a week later than I'd intended posting these highlights, but we can blame the conference itself for that. It left me so motivated and inspired, I came home and wrote and wrote and wrote, making more progress on a new YA novel (yes, YA!) than I've ever made in one week.

I'm going to share just a couple of notes here, because, well, if you want more, you should fork over the money next year and experience it for yourself.
  • A breakout session by Jill Santopolo of Laura Geringer Books on adding emotional depth to your writing was for me the main event. Just what my writing needs, and Jill did an incredible job showing us a number of ways to draw the reader into our stories. I'll share just one: When writing dialogue, instead of having your character say exactly what she means, have her "say it slant," in Jill's words. That is, allow the dialogue to imply the thought without stating it explicitly.

  • My manuscript critique by agent Rebecca Sherman of Writer's House ranked among the best crits I've ever received. One and a half typed pages of notes! There was something in my middle-grade manuscript that didn't quite work, and Rebecca not only helped me figure out what that was but gave me terrific direction on how to fix it! Good stuff! One piece of advice Rebecca gave that others may find helpful as well: It is OK to make your MC slightly dorky, but be careful not to go overboard. Readers want to relate to the MC, so they may be turned off by someone who has to work too hard to be popular.

  • I wasn't sure what to expect from Gene Barretta's talk on the career journey. Gene writes and illustrates picture books, a talent which is about as foreign to me as crafting and playing the didgeridoo. But he was entertaining and funny and had lots of adorable pictures of his son. And I found it fascinating how he has brought his experiences working in television and puppetry to his current line of work. As he noted, any experience you have in life can be used to inform your writing.

  • Middle-grade author Jordan Sonnenblick had me laughing so hard, I forgot to take a single note. But, I do remember this: If Scholastic ever lures you to their offices for a Big Meeting to talk about Book Deals and Contracts, you might want to leave the kids back at the Big Fancy Hotel Room they put you up in. (I'm guessing I have about as good a chance at becoming the world's greatest didgeridoo player as I do at needing that piece of advice, but hey, you never know!)

  • T.A. Barron's talk (which actually kicked off the conference, though I've saved it for last here) was truly inspirational and did not leave a dry eye in the house. In particular, he made one seminal statement, just as an aside, really, but it struck a chord ... that the distinction between heroism and celebrity in our society is terribly skewed. So, so true. That observation planted a seed for me, a seed that I plan to grow into the theme of the aforementioned new YA WIP.

So all in all, a wonderful investment for me. All the sessions were terrific, not to mention the networking. Always great to see old friends and meet new ones, and the Pocono retreat offers lots of time and opportunity to do that. Hope to see some of you there in 2009!

Monday, April 14, 2008

What Is Nut Now?

For the past few days, lots of folks from all over the world have found my site in their quest to find information on "nut now." At least, that's what my SiteMeter stats tell me.

First, my apologies ... I have no information relating to "nut now" on this site.

Second, what is it? If one of you could please leave a comment letting me know what this "nut now" craze is about, I'd really appreciate it!

Now ... as for our regular programming, I will be posting in another day or so some of my notes from the SCBWI Eastern PA conference. The authors, editors and agent gave lots of terrific writing and market advice, and I look forward to sharing a few of the highlights.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I'm Back ... and Bewildered

I'm back: Sorry I haven't posted in so long. I've been swamped at work, and Joe and I recently got back from a 10-day trip to San Diego. Am hoping to get back in the saddle now. And since I'm heading up to the Eastern PA SCBWI Poconos Retreat this weekend (yeeha!), I hope to have some good stuff to post soon!

I'm bewildered (and also flattered): Somehow my very humble blog has made SCBWI Scotland's short list of author links, along with legends Jane Yolen, Harold Underdown, Dottie Enderle, Margo Finke and just a few others! Check it out here. Especially odd since technically I'm not an "author" yet, not having been published. But, I'll take it ... and may the Power of Positive Thinking lead me to fulfill my apparent destiny!