Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tantalizing Tidbits from the Feast

Our Western Washington SCBWI conference is two weeks in the past now, and still some of the wonderful snippets of wisdom and tantalizing tips stick in my mind, and continue to to nourish me.

I'll not forget Nina Laden (ROMEOW AND DROOLIET) reminding us, "If you don't make mistakes, you may not make anything."

And Deb Lund (MONSTERS ON MACHINES) reading her unforgettable poem about that inner voice that harasses us as we write, and summing it up by telling us, "Sometimes we have to revise our own story, that story we tell ourselves."

Krista Marino, Senior Editor at Delacorte, reminded us to take cute out of our dictionary, when talking about children's books.

Nathan Bransford (Agent, Curtis Brown Ltd.) gave us his pet peeves for story beginnings: Don't start your book with
  • the weather
  • your character waking up
  • looking in the mirror
  • sarcastic characters (too flip and negative)
Steven Malk (Agent, Writer's House) says it's great to be aware of trends, but don't write to them.
He also advised us to be nice to everyone, not only because it's the right thing to do, but also because you never know when that editorial assistant may become the Senior Editor.

Kelly Sonnack (Agent, Andrea Brown Literary) told us to avoid
  • forced pace-building (suddenly, quickly, at that moment)
  • copious tears (only one tear per story)
  • faces draining white or blushing
  • exclamation points!

Justina Chen (NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL) encouraged us to "say yes to the emotional truths of your heart."

And Sundee Frazier (BRENDAN BUCKLEY'S UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING IN IT) told us she has to write, that she cannot deny that creative part of her being. "I could not deny the One who created me."

I've offered just a few nibbles of that wonderful feast that was spread before us at our unforgettable Feed Your Genius conference. Now fully fueled, it's back to work. Happy writing, everyone!

Picture above: Some of my favorite people in the whole world--Molly Blaisdell, Janet Lee Carey, me, Katherine Grace Bond, Holly Cupala, all members of our Diviner Writing Group, all of us enjoying the Conference Feast

Monday, May 18, 2009

Meet The Creature

Oh yes, I admit it was wonderful and scary at the same time.
Our Western Washington SCBWI conference this weekend, that is.
The joy! Bubbling, bursting all around us as 400 writers, illustrators, agents, editors, joined together in a Giant Monster Mash, to figure out together how we can do the very best books possible for kids. We had workshops, gab-fests, and lots of food.

More details coming, but for now I leave you with this picture of our Mystery Guest, who made an early morning appearance Saturday to start us all off on our Adventure-Filled Weekend.

Flying High at the Kid Lit Party.

Wow! Just got back from our Western Washington State SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Conference, and I am flying high! I feel like a balloon filled with helium, ready to soar. So many wonderful writers, editors, agents, all eager to share, each having a special gift to enrich us.

The Kid Lit party Friday night was a time for us to just hug and rejoice in being together again, some of us who don't get to see each other often. Okay, so it was in the Mariott Hotel Bar and we could have little drinks and snacks to go along with our vibrant conversation. My good friend Mary Jane Beaufrand treated me to a strawberry daiquiri. I don't usually drink, but it was so deliciously filled with strawberries, and made me feel quite brilliant and happy. (See picture, above left, Mary Jane striking in turquoise blue, surrounded by, left to right, Sue Nevins (Mockingbird Books) and on Mary Jane's other side, Rene Kirkpatrick (Third Place Books), Janet Lee Carey, whose wonderful book, STEALING DEATH, will be out soon; Justina Chen, author of the amazing NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL; Holly Cupala, whose yet untitled but amazing YA book you are all going to love; and moi. Janet, Justina, Holly and I are all in the same wonderful writing group, the Diviners. Lucky girl am I!

Scroll down this blog to see our whole wonderful group--or most of us, in the archived blog, July 27, 2008.

Another joy for me at the Kid Lit party was having several of my writing students attend: See the pic on the right with four of them from my Bellevue College Advanced Class, The Magic of Writing for Children. From left to right they are: Jacquie Hill, Don Jenny, me, Erik Pulkka, and Neil Hoyt. We are going to be seeing published books from this crew--I'm looking forward to autographed copies, down the road!

I'll be blogging more about this wonderful SCBWI conference--the Kid Lit conference was just the start!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A papier mache Pig

I'm back from Santa Fe, after a joyous visit with my four-year-old grandson Weston.
Our main project while I was there? A papier mache pig.
Weston always has a list of projects for us to do when I arrive, and the Pig Project was the one on top. We started with a pink balloon, fully inflated, and attached toilet paper roll ears, snout and legs.

Sometimes the simplest of materials, those basic things of life can be the beginning of something wonderful, be it a new story idea for a book, or a papier mache pig. It's a good thing for us to remember as writers!

Weston and I proceeded to make a very sloppy paste, and to tear hundreds of strips of paper. These we had to slather on, layer by layer, over our pink balloon pig. What a messy process! Reminds me of that middle stage of writing a book, all those pieces that have to somehow be layered in and on our story.

Then we had to let it sit for awhile and dry. Yep, just like our book, when we get that first draft done.

After that we attached a Baker's clay tail, such a lovely curly tail.

But oh my, wouldn't you know it, when we tried to poke in the Tail End the whole inside of the pig exploded (that pink balloon) and there was a gaping hole in our beautiful pig.

Repairs needed. Some major, some minor. We made more paste. Tore up more newspaper. Slathered on more layers. Attached the ears more firmly. Let it dry again.

Ah, lovely! This pig version was much better. Those ears looked so cute at that new angle, and our pig was firm, fat and fully dry.

Weston and I painted him a lovely crimson, and Weston put on the finishing touches--his eyes and nostrils. Such a wonderful pig.

Such a wonderful story.

May you all have a joyful week, enjoying your stories and life, even if the process is sometimes messy. Even if your story, or your day explodes.

Just keep at it, slather on a little more paper and paste, and let it dry. Sooner or later, you'll wind up with a new creation, more lovely than before.