Monday, April 28, 2008

LA Festival of Books!

Yesterday I attended the largest book event in America, The LA Festival of Books. I attended an author panal called, Tween Writing: Stuck in the Middle with You. It was fantastic. The authors who sopke were, Gennifer Choldenko (who wrote one of my favorite middle grade novels, Al Capone Does my Shirts), Lisa Yee (Millicent Min) and Linda Urban (A Crooked Kind of Perfect). They all read from some of their books and they all have such wonderful tween voices! I highly reccomend picking up their books to read. They were asked some fantastic questions by the moderator, Susan Carpenter. I paraphrased some of their answers.

Gennifer Chodenko spoke enthusiatically about how she really is a 12 year old at heart (the rest of the panal laughed in agreement) and tapping into that to write for tweens is not hard for her at all. Linda chimed and said that her concerns are an 11 year olds concerns. Like what are the rules? How do I learn them? I really connected with that. That is definetly one of the reasons I am drawn to writing for children.

Gennifer said something very poinent when they were asked about how they think about their audience during the writing process. She said she didn't. But she said to know that when you laugh at her stuff while you read it, know that she was laughing too. I understand that. I always know I am writing well if I am connected to it emotionally weather it be sad or happy.

Linda Urban talked about her beginings in the book biz as the marketing director at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena California. I was lucky enough to have worked with her there for two years. I have to admit I felt such a sense of pride and inspiration to see her up there now a real live author! Yea Linda! (And Linda if you are reading this, sorry for getting a little misty when I talked to you afterwords. I am not a cry baby honest! But you truly are an inspriation!) Linda spoke about when Gennifer had her book signing and writing workshop at Vroman's and brought a huge stack of drafts she had written for one manuscipt. Linda said how great this was to see. We don't have to be perfect on the first draft! That is such an important thing to remember.

Linda also told how she knows when she is "in it" when she forgets she is writing in the chair, when that is all gone and when all that matters is the people, their story. I love that!

Lisa Yee told funny stories about how she finds writing gold in everyday life. It is there, if you just open your eyes...

They said so much I can't possibly write it all...I highly recommend going to these panals if you can next year. It's free, so you have no excuse to not go if you are a writer in LA.

Thank you Linda, Lisa and Gennifer!

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Writer's Life...

Just got the monthly (?) SCBWI newsletter and there was a quote I very much related to and thought I would share it with you...

"I may not have a quiet
studio where I can shut
the door for several hours
a day, but I have my
clipboard and I can write
sitting on the sofa with a
baby hanging onto my knees.
I can stop in the middle
of a sentence to comfort
her after a tumble. I may
not get exactly the same
thought back, but the new
one might be even better."

~ Anna Grossnickle Hines

Throw in some baby drool and that's me perfectly...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

SCBWI Writer's Day!

I had the pleasure of attending the SCBWI Writer's Day in San Gabriel (LA area) this month. It was so inspirational! The speakers were fantastic.

Patricia Lee Gauch, a writer and editor, gave a passionate speech about putting your heart into your writing. Finally someone speaking my language! Someone who understands the feelings, the passion involved in writing. She told the enraptured group, "I want to hear your heart in your writing...really see...don't just reproduce, but interpret life...Begin at the heart...We must hear the heartbeat...The passion for the story is the wind in your narrative sails...We walk by our character step by them into existence..." That really got me going. It was all I could do to not start writing right there on the spot. She also read passages from some of my favorite books: Stargirl, Because of Winn Dixie and Speak. Which I have put in my pile of books to read again. Thank you, Patricia!

Erica Silverman spoke about early chapter books (She writes the Cowgirl Kate books). That was facinating and to tell you the truth I didn't think it would be. I didn't think that was my genre, but she really opened by eyes. I have a story I've always thought was a picture book, but in actuallity I think it's an early chapter! No wonder I've been stuck on it. Thank you Erica!

There was a panel of authors, Cecil Castellucci, Caroline Hattan and Sally Jones Rogan, who relayed their paths to publication. It was very intersting to see how other people found their way from typed pages, to an editor's desk to the book on the shelf. Very inspirational. I learned how important it is to go to functions like Writer's Day and other SCBWI events so you can actually meet editors and other writers. I also learned it wouldn't hurt to try to find an editor to get drunk in a bar with...hee hee.

Gail Carson Levine, author of Ella Enchanted, spoke about writing in the fantasy genre. I love that she said that "the reader will go anywhere with you." I so believe that, that is if you believe entirely in your world too (which goes back to Patricia's thoughts on really feeling the heartbeat).

The last speaker was Elizabeth Partridge who writes biographies. I don't think I'll ever write one, but Elizabeth made the process absolutely facinating and I have even more of a respect for bio writers now.

The day was great. I highly encourage anyone intrerested in children's writing to go to these events. Next time it's my goal to meet more people. I tend to get a little shy in these "networking" situations...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My First Post!

Welcome to my blog! I am a children's writer on the verge of publishing (I can feel it! I can really feel it!). Here I will be musing about reading, writing and anything else that I feel worth writing. I hope you enjoy reading it and commenting as well!