- Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
- Chuck Norris is the reason why Waldo is hiding.
- Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door.
- Contrary to popular belief, America is not a democracy, it is a Chucktatorship.
- Some kids wear Superman underwear. Superman wears Chuck Norris underwear.
- When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
TIPS ON QUERIES:
- Never start a query with a rhetorical question.
- Be professional. Including a little personal info is fine, if it relates to your ms.
- Absolutely find the submission guidelines for each editor you query. Do not send a snail mail sub to an editor who accepts only email.
- Personalize each query letter. The temptation is to write one query and send it to everyone. Be sure that you're following each individual agent/editor's submission guidelines.
- There is no need to say, "I'm looking for representation/publication." This is assumed by the fact that you're sending a query.
ANATOMY OF A FOUR SENTENCE SYNOPSIS:
- Who is the protagonist and what do they want?
- What's standing in their way?
- How are they going to get around the obstacle?
- What compliations arise from their course of action/promise of conflict?
Brian points out that the synopsis in the query letter should be short. It doesn't (in his opinion) need to give away the climax, but it does need to indicate some idea of what the climax might be. Lastly, he said it's important to remember rejection of a ms is highly subjective. The fact that you can pick up a published book and hate it is proof of that.
Example four-sentenct synopsis by Brian:
Jason Scott has one dream that will make his senior year complete: he wants to take a starred first for acting in the state high school one act play competition. But when Ms. DeRosa, the Lincoln High School drama coach, opts to do a play with an all-female cast, the curatin seems to fall on his hopes. Determined to win the acting award, he forms a student-run drama club and enters the competition with a different one act play that he's directing and starring in. With three rounds of competition to pass before the state finals, Jason must fend off mutinous divas, scheming stagehands, and an escalating war of sabotage between the rival casts that threaten to derail both productions.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Did you know NaNoWriMo has a YOUNG WRITERS PROGRAM? Kids write a novel in a month, just like the adult NaNo, but they can set their own word goal. There are downloadable Young Novelist Workbooks that offer writing prompts and help with character, plot, setting, etc. They have different books for elementary, middle school and high school. Plus, kids get encouraging emails from authors like Jerry Spinelli and Phillip Pullman.
For teachers, they've created lesson plans, access to teachers-only forums and incentive kits for classrooms that include posters, progress charts, buttons and stickers. Not to mention, the chance to write a novel in a month, right along with their classroom.
And! For each event, they'll loan up to 25 AlphaSmart Neos to classrooms in need of word processors. Even the shipping is covered.
Kids can participate with their class or school, or in a small group or as an individual...or even with Mom or Dad. For more info, go here. Registration is already open, so make sure you head there with alacrity!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Brian started off with a quiz question.
What does the number 280,000 represent?
Anyone? It's the number of books printed in 2008. That's up from 100,000 in 1993. (FYI...A good part of that increase is due to self-published books.) Brian talked next about how much writing has changed in recent years. Mark Twain didn't have to worry about a Facebook account, and Madeline L'Engle didn't Twitter. But we should. Writers today can't just sit in a room and write. Because, of that 280,000 number, about 30,000 were juvenile books (picture books, middle grade and young adult). Considering that the vast majority of manuscripts are rejected, we can do the math and understand the staggering number of manuscripts writers are competing against. What do we do put ourselves ahead of the pack? Brian has three suggestions.
1. Be cognizant. Know the market.
Know what's on the shelf now: Jane Eyre is a classic, but it probably wouldn't be picked up today.
Know what each house specializes in: Don't send a PB ms to a YA house.
Know what the media is saying about kids' books.
Read Publisher's Marketplace to see who's buying what and how often.
READ, READ, READ.
2. Be present physically.
Get to know your local booksellers and librarians!
Book Tours are mostly a thing of the past. They're expensive and often result in an author sitting at a table alone, not selling a single book.
Capitalize on library or book store associations, like YALSA or Indiebound. Your local librarian or book seller can put your book in the hands and minds of others across the country, but you have to make that first contact.
Book events you do should be selective and special. A book launch party is a great example. But if you're in Pittsburgh, don't schedule a book signing with every store in town. Most likely, you'll get just a couple people at each one.
If you do want to get a bookstore to schedule a signing for you, do the work for them. Say "I have 200 friends in the XYZ metropolitan area who would love to buy a book from me."
Meet other writers! Networking in the writing community is a great way to create a presence and promote your book.
3. Be present spiritually. ie, Maintain an online presence.
These days, writers need Facebook/Myspace/Twitter accounts.
Get a professional email address! Don't use your 'hot-blond-mama@ hotmail. com' address to correspond with editors and agents. Email addresses are free at yahoo.com, live.com and others.
It is essential to have a webpage. It's better to have one that involves your name, instead of one that involves your book title. 1: If the book is picked up, the publisher could change the title. 2: You'll have to create a second webpage for your next book.
Start a blog. Write regularly, once a week at a minimum.
Leave great, pithy comments on other authors' blogs. They'll read it, then click over to your blog to see what you're about. Some will become followers.
Networking is very important. Conferences, chat boards, blogs, etc. Participate in them to make friends and influence people.
Purchase www. yournamehere. com
Social networking: Do it.
On-line behavior: Be professional. Don't write about personal problems or how much wine you drank last night. And don't bad-mouth other writers or books.
Editors and agents google you. Yes. They do. What do you want them to see?
Find innovative ways to promote yourself. For example, the funny video letters on youtube created by John Greene (An Abundance of Katherines)
Book trailers are becoming popular.
Check into Backspace. com
Check into publicity groups, like 2K9 and 2K10.
Finally, every writer should have a copy of The Savvy Author's Guide to Book Publicity.
That's it for today. I have two more Boise Conference posts for next week: Lin Oliver on Humor and Brian Farrey's Four-Step Guide to the perfect query synopsis.
Be sure to check back on Friday for my Friday Favorite. I found a fantastic one for this week!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Our first presenter was Lin Oliver, executive director and founding member (38 years ago) of SCBWI. If you ever get the chance to meet her, do. She's a lovely, warm, witty, riotously funny person. She shared with us the thirteen best pieces of writing advice she's ever heard.
1. Define yourself as a professional. Call yourself a writer, give yourself a place for your writing to occur and do other things representative of your new job.
2. Find your own voice. Judy Bloom's advice for finding your voice: Write the kind of book you like to read.
3. Write from empathy--not an urge to teach, preach, reminisce or be sentimental. Kids don't want to read a story about how cute kids are.
4. Paula Danziger's three rules for a solid plot:
A. Come up with a character you LOVE.
B. Decide what they want MOST in the world.
C. Decide what's keeping them from it.
5. It's not a children's book if the kid doesn't solve the problem.
6. Susan Patron's advice: Start the book on the day that's different.
7. Write in scenes. A scene starts the moment something new happens in the story.
8. Bruce Coville's advice: Follow your weirdness. (I very much cotton to this.)
9. Mine your embarrassment.
10. Eavesdrop. Listening is the most important skill of a writer. We are students of humanity.
11. Read your work aloud!
12. Do your market research. Don't send your picture book manuscript to a YA only publisher. You waste your time and money, the editor's time and you brand yourself as a non-professional. See item #1. There are many tools available for us to use:
A. SCBWI Market Report--lists agents, houses & submission guidelines, plus more.
B. SCBWI Monthly Bulletin--gives info about which editor is moving where
C. Read books! If your manuscript is a MG fantasy, find MG fantasys you like and see
who published them.
D. There is an "edited by" section on the SCBWI website to see who edited those books
that match your manuscript.
E. They also have a calendar of contests, awards, grants, and conferences--all of which a
professional author will be interested in!
13. Enjoy your creative life. Revel in the things that make you creative. Don't stare at the cursor blinking on your blank word doc. Take a walk, take a nap, take a shower, read a book...do whatever it is that inspires you. Inspiration has to happen before word one hits the page. And when you get to a stubborn point in your manuscript, the brainstorm that solves it will more likely happen in the shower than in your computer chair. As Sid Fleischman said, "In writing, nothing is wasted except the paper." Finally, spend a lot of time hanging out with other writers. They're the best inspiration of all. (To that I can attest!)
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Hank liked my novel and asked that I keep in touch with her about the status of it. Recently, I had some monumental bad news on it, which I shared with her.
She sent me an email -- both commisurating and encouraging.
I emailed back to assure her I wouldn't be disheartened; that I heartily believed in my favorite quote from Winston Churchill:
Never give up. Never, never, never give up.
(You have to read it in that bull-dog English accent for the full effect.)
Hank wrote back and said she was sending me something that was tacked up on her bulletin board right that very second!
She did, and it was this magnet, which now lives on my filing cabinet. Isn't that funny?