June 29, 2009

The Write Way to Run

Among my top ten favorite activities: running and writing. On Twitter, the worlds have collided. I was recently introduced to #momsrunning on Twitter - thank you TimeOutMom. The popular series of books, Chicken Soup for the Soul posted a call for submissions on Endurance Sports (running, biking, swimming). The submission deadline is September 30th, 2009. The guidelines ask how do you fit your sport into your life? Tell them about your races, your experiences - whether you are an amateur or a pro. No question, running makes me a better writer. Nothing like a trail run, on a beautiful fall day, through Valley Forge National Park to get the creative juices flowing again. On more than one occasion the dog and I have come home exhausted. But I am smiling - the writer's block is gone. How about you? Love to run? Love to write? Submit your story to Chicken Soup for the Soul. If your story is published, you can celebrate with a run.

June 26, 2009

Living a Life of Rhyme....

Rhyming picture books are more fun to read aloud - right? Talk to any teacher, librarian or parent and they will tell you the same. Kids also agree. But what about writing in rhyme? My critique group is under strict instructions to stop me if I attempt another rhyming manuscript. They have been given full permission to throw themselves in front of me screaming, "Don't do it, don't do it!" And yet, I've done it again - and they didn't stop me. (Hello ladies - you know who you are) No one loves their rhyming books more than me. However, I practically danced with joy when revising my prose manuscript. Change that scene? Sure, no problem! Delete an entire sentence? Okay, done! Why the angst about writing in verse? The popular notion (among people who have never actually published a children's book) is that rhyme is easy. It is - if you don't mind agonizing for hours (days? weeks?) over one word AND you already have an actual story behind the rhyme. A stand-alone story, complete with a story arc and conflict. Some sage advice from the blog of children's author Jane Yolen - "The trick of writing a picture book- so far as there is a trick- is to be a prose writer with a poet's sensibility. Or a poet who is comfortable with the story. " Wow, this is a wonderful summation of what editors/agents are telling us at workshops. Yes, reading in rhyme is fun. Yes, everyone thinks they can do it. Yes, you must have a true story behind the rhyme. Yes, rhyme is often forced. Yes, you may have a great story, but the editor can't see beyond the poor rhyme and meter. Your manscript may be terrific without the rhyme. Why not give that a try also? You may save yourself countless hours of unnecessary work. And when it's revision time? A heck of a lot easier. Think carefully before embarking on a life of rhyme.

June 23, 2009

Publishing execs on Twitter

Check out this excellent video:"Twitter Publishing at the 140 charactersconference". Publishing execs discuss Twitter, the value of social networking and how the publishing world is/will be affected. At a recent NJSCBWI conference, all the marketing buzz was about Twitter and blogs. I've jumped on the Twitter bandwagon, and learning my way around the network. It doesn't take long to understand the limitless marketing possibilities. I found this video on Geoffrey Fox's blog.

June 21, 2009

Just in time for Father's Day...

I know a lot of great dads out there (top of the list - my husband and my own dad) and I bet you do also. Chicken Soup for the Soul has a call for submissions. Book title "Thanks Dad." Give your favorite dad a well-deserved pat on the back and submit your story. Lovely way to be published. Just do it quickly - stories must be submitted by June 30th. Mine is already in....

June 18, 2009

Vampires, Princesses and Bullies....

You meander into the children's section of your local bookstore. You are surrounded by books about vampires, princesses, wizards and bullies. "Wow," you think to yourself. "These books are the hot sellers. This is what I should be writing." STOP! We have all heard it before, but the thought is difficult to resist when you are struggling with a historical fiction manuscript. At the NJSCBWI conference we heard it straight from the mouths of agents/editors: Do Not Follow A Trend! These books may be popular now, but this is an equation you need to remember: 1 (year to write) + 1 (year to find publisher/agent and contract) + 1 (at least one year if it's a PB to illustrate) = 3 1+1+1= 3 Three years is the approximate number of years before your picture book manuscript will appear on the bookshelves. Guess what? The trend is over. Gone. Completely overdone. Kaput. The answer: write what you love. You will be spending a lot of time with this manuscript. Your passion will shine through. Two good posts on this same subject: Nathan Bransford, agent, Curtis Brown and Tara Lazar, excellent review of agent panel at SCBWI conference.

June 13, 2009

SCBWI-NJ Conference - More Fabulous Writers

The NJ -S.C.B.W.I conference was chock-full of terrific debut authors. Below are some folks, and their books, that I had the pleasure of meeting:

Cynthia Willis wrote Dog Gone and will release shortly her new novel, Buck Fever. Cindy and I met through a mutual friend and became Facebook friends. She is a lovely person and if you like dogs, you'll love her book! http://www.cynthiawillis.com/

Albert Borris wrote Crash Into Me.
Albert faced enormous physical challenges this year and he is truly inspiring. Albert is a school counselor, working with teens. http://www.albertborris.com/

Nancy Viau wrote Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head.
Nancy is a real marketing whiz and very popular for school visits.

Cyn Balog wrote Fairy Tale. She has two more books and a baby on the way.
Now that's busy!

June 10, 2009

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Conference

Hooray for the coordinators of the NJSCBWI conference this past weekend! Kathy Temean and Laurie Wallmark did an amazing job. Approximately 250 attendees and 25 editors/agents. Author Richard Peck, Newbery winner and E.B. Lewis, Caldecott winner, were inspiring, magical and above all, simply nice people. I frantically scribbled, in an effort to catch some of their amazing quotes as they spoke. Below are some of my favorites. Hope they inspire all you writers as well:
"We are growing older while our readers remain the same age."
"All stories turn upon epiphany - when everything changes and you can't go back."
"Establish the narrator's voice on the first line. The first line captures the reader." example:
"Where is Papa going with that ax?" (Charlotte's Web)
"Knowledge that does not come through the heart is dangerous."
It takes 10,000 hours to perfect your craft.
"Artists should never be aware of their style. Dead in the water. Should be fun, not work."
"You gotta love the doing."
"Artists are the critical thinkers of society."
Stay tuned to my blog for more information about other fabulous people at the conference.

June 5, 2009

NJ SCBWI Conference

Off today to the NJ SCBWI conference in Princeton, NJ. If you aren't attending this year, be sure to note it on your calendar for 2010. The NJ coordinators are a fantastic group of folks who never fail to organize a fantastic conference. The two days are chock-full of workshops ranging from a debut author panel and their first book experiences to agent/editor discussions. I'll be a speaker on the First Book Panel along with three MG/YA authors: Cynthia Chapman-Willis (author of two books: Doggone and Buck Fever), Albert Borris and Cyn Balog. We hope to offer inspiration for attendees, as we recall our experience of how we finally landed a contract. Keynote speakers include Newbery Award winning authors, Richard Peck and EB Lewis. An incredible 25 editors/agents are attending. Houses represented include: HarperCollins, Random House, Dutton, Dial and Highlights Magazine. Be sure to check back on Monday for a recap of this exciting weekend.