Things I Learned or Re-learned
"Launch My Career" by author Alan Gratz
- Say "I think the audience of such and such a book will enjoy my book." Not "My book is the next such and such book.
- Find editors and agents in the SCBWI "Edited By" section with the Market Survey and Agents Directory.
- Advances are usually paid half at signing and half on acceptance of final draft for novels.
- Say "That is an awesome offer! Thank you so much. May I have a few days to think about it?" Then get an AGENT!
"Agent Panel" by Jennifer Rofe, Liza Voges, and Sarah LaPolla
- It's all about the writing.
- Ask yourself why you're writing what you're writing.
- Know who your reader is.
- Look at the Core Curriculum.
- Summer is a bad time to query agents because of all the teacher/writers being off during the summer.
- Agents get way more rejections than writers do!
"Keynote Address" by SCBWI President and author of 60+ books, Stephen Mooser
- Digital going strong, but books are here to stay.
- Make consumers aware of what good literature is.
- Ask how your book could fit into technology.
- Story must be terrific and unique.
- Be persistent.
- Giving weather reports are good practice for mood and setting.
- Give your characters a grand entrance.
- Follow your weirdness.
- Don't rush it.
"Am I Wasting My Time if I Rhyme?" by author Kristy Dempsey
- Beware of unnatural phrasing, forced rhyme, near rhyme, inverted word order, and meter that's off.
- Consider natural accents by using the word in as many sentences as you can think of to test the word in question.
- Have fun!
"The Shape of Things to Come" by editor Daniel Nayeri
- A few big publishing houses now have three separate divisions: hard back division, paper back division, AND now a separate digital division.
- Embrace the digital world.
- Marketing team will market your book.
- A publicist will publicize YOU.
- Electronic Rights vs. ENHANCED Electronic Rights
- Simple enhancements that let the book remain a book:
- searchable text
- wiki definitions
- hyperlinked index
- embedded media
- light animation
- "All art aspires to the immediacy of music." --???
- The BEST app ever is The Elements.
"Character, Humor, and Series in a Chapter Book" by author and SCBWI President Stephen Mooser
- First book in a series the hardest to write because you're trying to get to know your characters.
- End chapters with a cliffhanger.
- The subplot needs to help solve the main plot.
- Have 3-4 main characters who can work together.
- Ways to add humor:
- incongruity (a cheerleader in a mudpit)
- reversal of roles (a nerd in the easy class)
- gentle foibles (weaknesses get them into troublesome situations)
- If you stare at 5 words long enough, you'll think of a story.
"Author's Round Table" with various authors
- Don't spend your time blogging or building a website when you should be writing.
- Your blog can stand in as a simple website.
- Craft comes first.
- Be persistent!
"The So What Factor" by agent Jennifer Rofe
- Why does it matter?
- Why should the reader care?
- Emotional impact - create characters that readers can care about.
- Compelling plot - put your characters in a tree and throw rocks at them, then help them down.
- Connectivity - everything that happens must happen for a very specific reason.
- Your characters must grow and change as they go through obstacles.
- They must make difficult decisions.
- Mostly applies to novels, but can still apply on a much smaller scale to picture books.
"Farewell Keynote - We Are All Apprentices" by editor, Molly O'Neill
- We are in careers that we never stop learning.
- "Every book is its own mystery."
- "I think we learn best from the books we love best."
- Study the books from the gaps in our lives, from the time we quit reading kids books to the time we picked it up again.
- Pursue things that fascinate you.
- Mistakes and doubts help us learn.
- It's important to get your story to a point that you believe in it before you seek advice.
- Each book we write must be our own best book.
BOOKS/LITERATURE MENTIONED THROUGHOUT THE CONFERENCE:
- "For the Young Who Want To" poem by Margie Pearcy
- The McBroom stories by Sid Fleischman
- websites: Verla Kay, Harold Underdown, Editors and Preditors
- Writers Market
- Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
- Surfer Chick by Kristy Dempsey
- Hack the Cover by Craig Mod
- The Elements, an app
- The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown (for cliffhangers)
- 101 Black Cats, and Disaster in Room 101 by Stephen Mooser
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
- Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
- The Giver by Lois Lowry (perhaps the first dystopian novel ever)
- Dear Genius by Ursula Nordstrom
- The Gates of Excellence by Katherine Paterson
- The Making of a Writer by Joan Lowery Nixon
- A Christmas Goodnight illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright
- Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeline L'Engle
- But I'll Be Back Again, memoir by Cynthia Rylant
- A Dog's Way Home by Bobbie Pyron
BOOKS I BOUGHT:
- Surfer Chick by Kristy Dempsey (picture book)
- Being Frank by Donna Earnhardt (debut picture book)
- Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew by Ursula K. Le Guin
- It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences. by June Casagrande
- The Encyclopedia of Writing and Illustrating Children's Books by McCammon, Thornton, and Williams
Keep on keepin' on...