Lots of good news!
I had a little celebration yesterday. I learned that my tongue-in-cheek poem “Elegy to My Hotel Bed” is included in the July/August issue of the SCBWI Bulletin. I haven’t received my hard copy of the Bulletin yet, but a friend who had checked the publication online alerted me. Appropriately, when it was released online I was staying in a hotel to attend the New Jersey SCBWI conference. I hadn’t known when the poem would appear, so that was a nice surprise.
More good news?
Last weekend I met several of my online writing friends. As a member of Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 picture book challenge group I have connected with numerous people I had never met face-to-face. I had been exchanging manuscripts with Marcie Colleen for several months and finally got to see the personality behind the words! I’m sorry to say I didn’t meet all the 12xer’s who were there, but that just means I’ll have to attend another event. Katie Davis made AMAZING pins that we can proudly sport to any writing conference.
Is that all the good news?
Nope. The rain wasn’t the only thing that came in torrents last weekend. Inspiration flooded into my work. I hate writing about the conference in the past tense; I want to hold onto that energizing feeling.
I’ll try to summarize a few high points of the workshops I attended. I’ll start today and continue over the following weeks.
I arrived before lunch on Friday to attend Heather Alexander’s pre-conference Intensive, “Voice Lessons – Defining Character Through Voice.” Heather used two music videos of the same song performed by different artists (it’s been awhile since I listened to Nirvana!) to illustrate the impact of different voices.
Something I’ve been working on in one of my own manuscripts is strengthening the interior voice, making sure the emotional stakes for my character are put on the pages and not just in my head. Heather said that this is a key element often missing in submissions, and without it a reader can’t understand what is truly important to the characters. This means another look at my pages . . . .
|Photo courtesy of Heather Alexander|
Heather used several writing exercises to bring her points home. I left with a list of books to read (or reread) including Okay for Now, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, and Origami Yoda.
After the intensive I had a critique with editor Rotem Moscovich from Disney/Hyperion. Over the course of the weekend I heard some people say they hadn’t signed up for intensives because they weren’t “ready.” My advice is that critiques with professionals are an amazing opportunity that everyone can learn from. They can help you get from not ready to ready. The object isn’t always to get an immediate contract offer (although that would be nice!), the object is to improve craft and move forward. If you don’t want to show an agent or editor something that really “isn’t ready,” there were critiques with amazing authors who have been down the same path and were willing to share their expertise. I had one of those as well.
Friday night at the mix and mingle I eschewed standing in line for food over talking to people. I left hungry, but happy. The other writers, agents and editors I spoke with were genuinely engaging folks.But no wonder. The entire writing community is focused on bringing great books to kids, certainly something to be happy about!