Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday Tweet Roundup: Pre-Conference All #LA10SCBWI Edition

I leave tomorrow for the SCBWI Annual Summer Conference so I've been busy planning outfits, looking over presentations, printing out boarding passes, making lists, filling in my calendar...

I'm. So. Excited!

Before I head off, I give you a mini tweet roundup featuring only tweets using the official Annual Summer Conference hashtag:

Visit Twitter and search under #LA10SCBWI to experience the buzz from conference goers as well as SCBWI TEAM BLOG (because when we're not blogging we'll be tweeting). If you can't attend, you'll feel almost like you're there and if you are attending you'll feel like you didn't miss a thing (because, really, there's so much happening and you simply can't go to everything).

@leewind Add to your #LA10SCBWI plans: #SCBWI Summer Conference Tweet Up Sunday 5:30pm Hotel Lobby


@combsmaggie New blog post about my goals for #LA10SCBWI

@alicepope Will someone come over and help me pick outfits for the #LA10SCBWI conference? I need help packing. And I need to go shopping.


@DHeiligman What's the dress code for #LA10SCBWI writing is easier than packing.

@gracetopia why YOU need to bring your spatula to SCBWI: #LA10SCBWI/depy19 

@amysundberg Excited for #LA10SCBWI - this will be my first LA conference, but the one in NYC was a blast!
@HeatherTrese @_JessicaLove Wootwoot! I really can't even describe my excitement. #bestweekever #LA10SCBWI

@inkyelbows Whether or not you're attending #LA10SCBWI, kidlit/YA authors will learn from @scbwi's pre-con blog:
Thanks for the reminder Debbie. Now to make a nice big link :  

For those of you who will be tweeting from the conference, here are the Twitter handles of all the SCBWI Annual Summer Conference faculty (the ones who have then and use them, in no particular order) courtesy of TEAM BLOGGer Jaime Temairik:
@guysread (Jon Scieszka)
@christinaDG (Christina Gonzalez)
@susanuhlig (Sue Ford)
@priscilla_design (Priscilla Burris)
@alexisinca (Alexis O'Neill)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Someone's Filling My Shoes: An Interview with the New CWIM Editor Chuck Sambuchino

As you are probably aware, before I started up this SCBWI blog, I spent a number of years working on Market Books for Writer's Digest, with my foremost responsibility (and greatest joy) being the editing of CHILDREN'S WRITER'S & ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET. I worked on the book for 18 years. I raised it from a baby. And I let it go.

CWIM has now landed in the capable hands of Chuck Sambuchino, who's got a few years at WD under his belt, first working on WRITER'S DIGEST magazine, then going onto edit GUIDE TO LITERARY agents and maintaining a popular and terrific blog covering all things agent. Chuck is also a humor book writer, with his book, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK to be released in September 2010 from Ten Speed Press/Crown. His first book was writing-related: the third edition of FORMATTING & SUBMITTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT. He's a produced playwright and a writer for both national and regional magazines with more than 600 articles have in print. He's represented by Sorche Fairbank of Fairbank Literary Representation.

In addition, Chuck is a husband, cover band guitarist, chocolate chip cookie fiend, and owner of a flabby-yet-lovable dog named Graham. He's also a good pal of mine. (I wouldn't trust my baby with just anyone.) We recently chatted about CWIM.

The former editor of CWIM worked on the book for nearly two decades and I hear she was pretty awesome and everyone liked her. How do you plan to fill her stylish shoes?

She does have stylish shoes. Well, from working on my blog and book, I’ve met a lot of kids agents and authors, and I will have to dip into all my contacts to make sure I’ve got my finger on the pulse of kids writing. CWIM has always sold well because it’s a great resource, so I have no intentions of any radical overhauls. The plan is just to produce good articles and give people the best markets possible.

I know that you have been bitten by the writing for young readers bug, right?

My personal writing at this point has been a lot of nonfiction and some fiction scripts (stage plays, screenplays). But I would love, love, love to write kids stuff--MG and YA--as I go along. I’ve already conspired with some co-writers on projects, and it just becomes a matter of carving out time to write and polish work.

Any favorites books for young readers you've read recently?

I’m reading THE DUFF right now (like everyone else, it seems). Besides that, I’ve been reading a lot of adult narrative nonfiction. I kind of go in waves.

Are you open to queries for the 2012 CWIM?

I am open to queries for CWIM, but I warn you that I will not review them for 4-10 weeks, depending. But people are free to submit article ideas to me. Send them to chuck.sambuchino(at)fwmedia(dot)com with “Query” in the title. I urge people to query about helpful and unusual topics. I also accept pitches for my other book, GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS, though I buy fewer articles for that title. Besides that, if you’ve written a book and are looking for ways to promote your work, consider a guest column of any kind for my GLA blog:

Are you looking for debut authors?

I assume you mean the recurring “First Books” feature that runs in CWIM and I would say I currently have no plans to change/overhaul that feature--so that’s a yes. People should send me material about their debuts. I also feature debut writers for the “Breaking In” section of WRITER'S DIGEST, so there are multiple options--though be advised I get a LOT of publicists banging down my door to get their people in.

You've got a great blog for GLA. Why should children's writer's read your blog?

Simple--I interview kids agents all the time and also let people know when new kid agents pop up. I delve deeper into what agents want. If an agent wants “YA,” I try to find out what kind of YA they really want to receive (e.g., “no vampires, but more contemporary stuff”). Also, lots of published kids writers do guest columns for me and share their wisdom in the process.

Are the new 2011 market books out yet?

Almost! The 2011 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and the 2011 CHILDREN'S WRTIER'S & ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET both land in the first 10 days of August. You can find them at any major bookstore, or online at our shop (which offers the same discounts as Amazon). The new GLA is packed with new agencies and is as awesome as awesome can be. I assume the 2011 CWIM rocks, too, but you can speak to that better than me. [Alice says: It does]

Will you be at any upcoming conferences where writers can meet and pitch you?

I just spoke the Northern Ohio SCBWI (maybe you were there and we met!). Other than that, I’ll be at the following in 2010: Clarksville Writers Conference in Clarksville, TN (July 30-31); Wrangling With Writing in Tucson, AZ (Sept. 24-26); Surrey International Writers Conference in Surrey, BC, Canada (Oct. 22-24); Vegas Valley Book Fair in Las Vegas, NV (Nov. 6); and San Francisco Writing for Change in San Francisco, CA (Nov. 12-13).

Monday, July 26, 2010

Featured Blog: Rose Cooper Talks About From the Mixed Up Files...of Middle Grade Authors

There seem to be a ton of blogs out there run by groups of young adult authors, but not much in the way of blogs which focus on the wonderful world of middle grade. In early June that all changed with the inception of FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES...OF MIDDLE-GRADE AUTHORS.

MIXED UP FILES "is the group blog of middle-grade authors celebrating books for middle-grade readers. For anyone with a passion for children’s literature--teachers, librarians, parents, kids, writers, industry professionals."

Debut author Rose Cooper is one of the 30 plus voices behind the blog. Here she talks about their philosophy, keeping things organized, what they post, why she signed on, and why she writes for the MG crowd. 

How did MIXED UP FILES come about? How did all these middle-grade authors get together? Why a blog focusing on MG?

Elissa Cruz is the brilliant brain behind MIXED UP FILES. She told me that, as a blogger and MG author, she felt alienated in a world of YA and she longed for a group of like-minded bloggers. It took her nearly a year of thinking about it before taking the plunge and hoping for the best.

Elissa put a call out on her blog and started a thread on Verla Kay's message boards asking for a few who might want to join her. Only expecting a few responses, she had more than 30 people wanting sign on in less than a week. Elissa is not one to shy away from a challenge so she took all offers and thought bigger. It was at that point she realized "something magical was happening."

What's the mission for the blog? What kind of audience are you hoping to reach?

Our mission is to come together as group blog of middle-grade authors celebrating books for middle-grade readers. We offer regularly updated book lists organized by unique categories, author interviews, market news, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a children's book from writing to publishing to promoting. Our audience is for anyone with a passion for children’s literature--teachers, librarians, parents, kids, writers, industry professionals.

How/why did you personally get involved?

A friend from my online critique group, Mindy Weiss, gave me a heads up on what Elissa was planning. She thought I would be a good fit for this new blog since I since I just recently had an MG book deal. I absolutely loved the idea once I heard about it and I wanted to get involved because I felt the same--that not everyone realizes what MG is all about and we need a larger online presence.

There are a lot of you participating in the blog. Is anyone "in charge?" How do you keep things organized?

While Elissa is the backbone, Wendy Martin is in charge of the technical aspects of the site. As far as content goes, it really is a group effort. Each member is in charge of a section of the site as well as their individual posts, so it always runs smoothly. To keep organized we have the forums which help with communication and a calendar that allows us to keep tabs on the rotating topics.

The blog has only been up-and-running for less than two month and you've had posts featuring interviews, new releases, giveaways, even defining the MG reader. What else is in store?

If check out our very first post you can see what our plans include. And it’s a pretty long list! We definitely have something for everyone and you can always count on more contests and giveaways! Currently we are working on a For Kids Page, where the website mascot will be hanging out. In the fall there’s a plan for a special MG giveaway to one lucky school or library. We are always thinking up something bigger, better, or more interesting to share with our readers. We love hearing what readers want to know, so we always take their comments into consideration.

What draws you to writing for the MG audience? Tell me about your upcoming books.

MG is the age I can really relate to, as I remember those in-between years and how difficult and awkward they can be. As you try finding your place in the world, it seems like there's always conflict, drama, and unavoidable situations and I like to draw humor from those. The voice just clicks for me and I’m drawn to it in a way that’s hard to explain.

My debut humor middle-grade series, GOSSIP FROM THE GIRLS' ROOM, A BLOGTASTIC! NOVEL  will be released January 11, 2011 and RUMORS FROM TEH BOYS ROOM, A BLOGTASTIC! NOVEL will be released spring 2012 by Random House. I am lucky enough to be both author and illustrator of these books. You can visit my website for more info on my books at

Can you offer some advice for those writing for the MG audience working toward publication?

Remember who your readers are--you don’t want to sound like an adult writing for tweens. Tap into your inner child and remember what it's like to be in their shoes. The words shouldn't sounds forced or fake. It's also a good idea to spend time around that age group to get an idea of the latest trends and slang.

Lastly, don't give up. It can be a difficult and often frustrating road to publication, but the end is so rewarding. It took me six years of rejections, revisions and pity parties, but you need to remember to believe in yourself and your writing. Without that, you can't have success.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wish You Were Here

After weeks of pre-conference interviews I'm off on a pre-conference vacation so I won't be posting with my normal vigor this week. (I need to save all that energy so I can be polite and pleasant for the whole week during which I am sharing a vacation house with all of my in-laws. The soothing sounds of the ocean will help. Let's  hope.)

The SCBWI blog will be back up to full speed on Monday--at least for a few days. I'll be flying to Los Angeles for The Big Event on Thursday the 29th, then all my blogging will be in the form of live conference coverage with the fab SCBWI TEAM BLOG over on the Official SCBWI Conference Blog. Don't miss it!

Monday, July 19, 2010

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Pre-conference Interview: Jennifer Hunt

The time draws near for the 2010 SCBWI Annual Summer Conference and today I offer yet another TEAM BLOG pre-conference faculty interview. I've talked with the amazing Editorial Director of Little, Brown Books for Young readers, Jennifer Hunt.

Jen oversees the acquisition and development of all MG and YA fiction for the Little, Brown. She edits an impressive list of award-winner, bestselling and über-popular authors including Sherman Alexie, Sara Zarr, Cornelia Funke, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Pseudonymous Bosch, Cressida Cowell, Walter Mosley, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Jewell Parker Rhodes. (She is also the proud editor of SCBWI’s very own Aaron Hartzler!)


You worked in marketing, at MONEY magazine, and in adult editorial before you began working on books for young readers. What drew you to publishing for this audience?

I really love the idea of marrying narrative with a visual component, which I truly got the experience of when I worked at TIME magazine. I worked for the website, and we were able to work with the writers from the magazine but also add interactive and visual elements to the stories. While that’s what initially drew me to it, what’s kept me in it and made me passionate about it are the intelligent, creative, hard-working people that are a part of the “children’s creative community.”

You're kind of an editor rock star, working with many award-winning and popular authors (Sherman Alexie, Sara Zarr, Cornelia Funke, to name a few). Why do you think you're you so good at spotting the gems? And can you mention some upcoming books you're particularly excited about?

Hahaha. That’s very kind of you to say. What’s been great for me at Little, Brown is that I’ve been given the freedom to acquire the things that I love, and that’s truly how I make my acquisitions. I never care about anything other than the writing and it doesn’t matter to me if the writer is established or just starting out. If I hear it on the page, I’m excited about it. And my focus never wavers from my goal--which is to create great books for kids and teens. Books that hopefully shed a unique light on their experiences.

I’ve been very thrilled about a book that just came out, SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi. This is a writer whose work blew me away from the first page and I’m thrilled that teens will have a chance to experience his master level of world-building and storytelling. I’m also very excited about a middle grade I have coming out called NINTH WARD by Jewell Parker Rhodes, which is a coming of age story that takes place during Hurricane Katrina. Some of my favorite stories to work on are about kids who are easy to overlook--which doesn’t mean that their lives are uninteresting. I love it when a writer is able to bring them to life with the level of exquisite detail and dignity that they deserve.

What qualities attract you to a manuscript? What should writers be concentrating on?

Voice is first and foremost, because I feel it’s the most difficult thing to teach or master. And as an editor, if I feel someone’s able to catch my attention with a great voice, it gives me a great deal of confidence that we can conquer any other problem their manuscript might have.

Why do you participate in SCBWI events? What do you get out of them?

As I mentioned earlier, I love the children’s creative community as a whole. We’re a unique bunch and it’s fun to be around other people who are as excited about kids and books as I am. I also want to honor the efforts that people make to learn more about the industry and to strengthen their own craft—so I’m always happy to participate in this because I want to say thank you for making the effort to take your work seriously. I consider it an honor to be asked. What I get out of these events, hopefully, is the opportunity to work towards strengthening editors’ and writers’ common goal of bringing our best to this genre.

You're doing a session called PEAK TO PEAK: HOW TO BUILD A CAREER AFTER YOUR FIRST BOOK. Can you give us a teaser?

I believe in excellence of all kinds and what I hope this talk will do is help writers build a foundation. In creative work, I think it’s really important to have a goal and purpose beyond what’s right in front of you, and I want to talk about keeping oneself motivated by and focused on creative excellence for the long term.

Any other words of wisdom/advice you can offer those working toward publication? 

The most important thing to focus on is your writing, and nothing is going to make you better at it than sitting down and doing it. No amount of networking, blog reading, tweeting, etc. can substitute for making sure your number one priority is working on your craft. Because, ultimately, that’s what’s going to capture an editor’s attention.

Click here for information and to register for the Summer Conference where you can glean more wisdom and tips from Jennifer Hunt and all the other fabulous editors on the faculty.

Friday, July 16, 2010

In the New This Week

Fridays on the SCBWI blog, I share snippets of and links to some of the publishing/media-related news I've read during the last week that I found interesting, helpful, and/or fun. Click titles to get to the full articles.

Below you'll find two pieces on the habits of Gen Y, a nice post about sales reps and indie bookstores, a new PW blog, an Anne Frank graphic novel, Canadian children's book awards finalists, what the Twitterverse had to say to publishers, reporters waxing on about what's wrong with Amazon and the literature apocalypse, and--wait for it--nothing at all in any way related to vampires.

My last news bit links to PW's piece on an upcoming children's literature documentary called Library of the Early Mind. Check out the trailer below. It's pretty cool.

13 Tips For Actually Getting Some Writing Done (HuffPo)
One of the challenges of writing is...writing. Here are some tips that I've found most useful for myself, for actually getting words onto the page:

Pew: Gen Y to remain active social networkers (cnet)
Generation Y is using online social-networking tools now and will likely continue to do so for the next 10 years, Pew Internet Research found in a recent study. According to Pew, which surveyed technology experts on the future of social networking, 67 percent of respondents believe that those born in the 1980s and 1990s will be "ambient broadcasters" on social networks in 2020. They will continue to "disclose a great deal of personal information, in order to stay connected, and take advantage of social, economic, and political opportunities." Just 29 percent of respondents said that by 2020, Generation Y will have "grown out" of social networks, finding other interests to entertain themselves.

Brown Named President of Klutz
Scholastic has hired Matt Brown, co-founder and “play czar” at strategic innovation company big BOING LLC, to head up its Klutz division. Brown joins Scholastic as president of Klutz and a senior v-p at Scholastic Inc., a new role occasioned by the recent retirement of Klutz co-founder John Cassidy, and the departure earlier this summer of Debra Lande, who joined Klutz as publisher last year. Brown will be responsible for the creative direction and strategic development of the Klutz division.

An Ode to Sales Reps Josie Leavitt
 (Shelf Talker)
After another delicious breakfast meeting yesterday, (with Deb Woodward, one of the best reps around) I am reminded again how important sales reps can be to an independent bookstore. A good sales rep can act as an extension of the store with the publisher acting as an advocate for you with all publishing departments.

PW Launches New News Blog (PW)
Today PW launches PWxyz, a new blog dedicated to up-to-the-minute publishing news, information about authors and publishing houses, e-books and e-readers, and analysis of book news from all over the Internet.

Anne Frank story published as graphic novel (AP)
AMSTERDAM – The Anne Frank House Museum launched a graphic novel version of the teenage Jewish diarist's biography Friday, hoping to bring her story and death in a Nazi concentration camp to a wider audience.

The Trouble With Amazon
Jeff Bezos loves numbers. In a speech in May to graduates at his alma mater, Princeton University, he recounted a childhood memory: when, driving with his grandmother, a heavy smoker, he calculated by how many years her addiction would reduce her life expectancy. Announcing the result from the back seat, he expected praise for his deft math. But his grandmother just burst into tears.

Finalists announced for 2010 Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards (CCBC site)
The winners of the English-language awards will be announced at an invitation-only gala event at The Carlu in Toronto on November 9, 2010. The winners of the Prix TD de literature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse will be announced at an invitation-only gala event at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal on November 2, 2010. Overall, $110,000 in prize monies will be awarded.

Twitter Conversation #dearpublisher Address eBooks
(eBook Newser)
Yesterday The HarperPerennial Twitter feed started a conversation on Twitter with the hashtag Dear Publisher #dearpublisher, starting a conversation between readers and publishers. Today eBooks have come up a lot. Topics have included everything from pricing and distribution to design and agents. Here are a few:

Study: teens spending seven hours a day in front of TVs, computers
(Globe and Mail)
For parents who fret about the amount of time their kids devote to electronic media, consider this: In Ontario, hundreds of thousands of teens spend nearly seven hours a day staring at a computer or TV screen. The number surprises even researchers familiar with this growing trend and is likely to take a serious toll not only on adolescents' physical health, but on their emotional and mental well-being as well.

Apocalypse now? No, but we've lost our cultural way (guardian)
Last week I wrote about Lee Siegel's provocative suggestion that the novel is dead, and loads of you wrote to take issue with the idea. Quite rightly, in my view. I've been thinking about those reactions to that blog, and reflecting on the apocalyptic tone of so much current cultural commentary, typified by Siegel. At the moment, the dominant note is usually strident, and all-or-nothing: "The novel is dead", "The book is history"; "The movies are bankrupt"; "The sky is falling"; "We are all doomed", etc. That's a caricature, but it captures the mood of many interventions about "the condition of literature" question.

Authors: Where Do I Sign?
When "Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough" was published earlier this year, its Los Angeles-based author, Lori Gottlieb, nabbed the brass ring: an appearance on "The Today Show." Far more problematic was securing a slot for a book signing at one of the Manhattan branches of Borders or Barnes & Noble.

New Film on Children's Book Authors and Illustrators (PW)
Jean de Brunhoff’s Babar stories, or more specifically Adam Gopnik’s interpretation of them as part of the common language of childhood in the New Yorker in September 2008, serve as both title and inspiration for an upcoming film on children’s literature, Library of the Early Mind, directed and produced by Edward J. Delaney and co-produced by Steven Withrow.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Pre-Conference Interview: William Low

Our latest TEAM BLOG Annual Summer Conference faculty interview is courtesy of Jaime Temairik who offers part one of her conversation with illustrator William Low on her blog CocoaStomp.

William is offering a Premium Workshop called PUSHING PIXELS: PICTURE BOOK ILLUSTRATION IN THE DIGITAL AGE .

Here's a bit from Jaime's post in which she offers a nice roundup of previous TEAM BLOG interviews with a number of the amazing Summer Conference speakers.

Click here to read the full post.

More great pre-conference interviews popping up all over. Jolie's been talking to Ginger Clark, Arthur Levine. Suzanne's chatted with Rachel Vail. Lee's whooped it up with Paul Fleischman. Alice has gabbed with Jennifer Rees, Francesco Sedita. And Martha Brockenbrough brought down the INTERVIEW HAMMER—Mac Barnett, Rubin Pfeffer, Gennifer Choldenko, Greg Pincus, and Gail Carson Levine.

You've read all about Mac McCool here on CocoaStomp. So it is with great pleasure that I add another name to the pre-conference interview pile of goodness, William Low!

And after reading this, you may think, dang, I wish I could sit in on this workshop series. And the good news is, you still have time to sign up for it! A few spots are left, but they are dwindling fast.

I'll be flying to LA for the conference two weeks from today! I'm looking forward to meeting William and the other faculty members I haven't gotten a chance to meet in person as well as catching up with old friends. (I'm most excited about seeing the awesome TEAM BLOG and bringing conference coverage your way.)

For those of you who would like a taste of William Low's work, check out this video in which he discusses digital illustration and demonstrates techniques.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday Tweet Roundup

Welcome to my humpday Tweet Roundup. Today's tweet soup: a stock of tips and advice, heaping spoonfuls of craft and vampire, a dash of this, a dash of that, topped off with a couple crispy conference croutons. (Don't miss @LindaJoySinglet's SCBWI conference tips.)

Click on the Twitter handles (@name) to see the original tweets (and get to each tweeter's page should you wish to follow them). Follow the links included below to read the articles or blog posts these tweeters recommend.

Remember--whether you're signed up with Twitter or not, you can read tweets and click links to find helpful blog posts, useful articles, and timely news bits (like the ones below).

@davetabler: RT @CynLeitichSmith: 20 Tips for Attending @SCBWI conferences by @LindaJoySinglet
@angelamatteson: @GaiaBordicchia some of my pics and notes from the 2009 NY SCBWI conference:

@BostonBookGirl: I get so disappointed when people start a query talking about their awesome job & then move on to "so, my completely unrelated novel..."

@chavelaque: #pubtip No need to leave 2 spaces after sentence-ending punctuation in your MS. We have to reduce it to 1 space for typesetting anyway.

@agentgame: Having the title of your book and/or your name in the subject line makes it a bit easier to keep piles of e-queries sorted.

@RachelleGardner: Writers - dealing with pass letters? Sometimes it's not about your book:

@PublishingSpy: Self-Publishing Should You Tell Literary Agents & Editors About ...: Should you tell literary agents and editors......

@thecreativepenn: Author's round table - advice to younger self via@davidwoodauthor

@AdviceToWriters: In America, the race goes to the loud, the solemn, the hustler. If you think you’re a great writer, you must say that you are. GORE VIDAL

@mitaliperkins: Folks at @charlesbridge show off their new Imagine imprint of books:


@PWKidsBookshelf: Karen Lotz named joint group managing director of Walker Group, in charge of Candlewick, Walker Books UK, Walker Australia

@PWKidsBookshelf: Also, be sure to check out PW's newest blog, PWxyz, giving tidbits of industry news from PW editors all day long.

@kelcrocker: Arthur Levine, an amazing editor at Scholastic and a great supporter of SCBWI, is blogging!


@PWKidsBookshelf: Josie fesses up: sometimes working in a bookstore can be... boring? But not entirely. See why.


@inkyelbows: Revamping my Writer's Guide to Twitter:

@inkyelbows: 10 writing tips that can help almost anyone, from Janet Fitch:

@AdviceToWriters: "6 Reasons a Premise Sentence Strengthens Your Story" (via @KMWeiland)

@Swellbooks: Bad idea: re-reading ms after subbing. It always seems awful when it's too late to make changes. #whydoidothistomyself?

@BlytheWoolston: RT @CynLeitichSmith: gr8 post 4 writers, parents! RT @LauraSibson In Which #Buffy Forces Me 2 Discuss Birds & Bees

@GalleyCat: Author Marta Acosta posts her vampire novel for free on @scribd; lands deal with Tor Books:

@GalleyCat: Author Meg Cabot picks the sexiest vampire


The_Pigeon: Dining Room Doodles, with guest doodles from pals @studiojjk, @hollyblack, @hodgman, Rebecca Guay & mo'

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Pre-conference Interview: Ginger Clark

Jolie Stekly offers the latest SCBWI TEAM BLOG Annual Summer Conference faculty interview on Cuppa Jolie--she interviewed Curtis Brown agent Ginger Clark, a first-time LA conference presenter.

Ginger will offer two sessions at the Summer Conference: HOW TO APPROACH AGENTS WITHOUT SCARING THEM OFF and BRING YOUR QUESTIONS: AN AGENT ANSWERS THEM ALL. She'll also participate in a panel LITERARY AGENTS VIEW THE MARKETPLACE.

Here a bit form Jolie's post:

How can it be that the SCBWI summer conference is only a few short weeks away? Is it that the weather has been so cold it doesn’t seem possible that the end up July could be that close? Okay, I suppose that only goes for those of us in the Pacific Northwest. But still! How excited are you to be there? Or…OR are you still deciding? There’s still time. You don’t want to miss the many fab agents attending and critiquing, like Ginger Clark.

As Jolie said, there's still time to register for the event--don't you want an agent to answer all your questions? Click here for registration info.

What Are Your Favorite Blogs?

I set up this SCBWI blog in May and since then I've been meaning to put up some recommended blog lists but for some reason I keep putting it off. There are just so many good industry blogs to choose from, and the task of creating the lists is a tad on the tedious side. It's kind of like cleaning out my closet. It's not awesome while I'm doing it, but I'm always very happy with the results when it's finished.

Whenever I decide I need my closet cleaned out, I ask someone to come over to keep me company, offer moral support, and give me some you'll-never-fit-into-that-again tough love. Once I get a helper on board, it's smooth sailing, and usually turns out to be fun.

So, dear readers, will you be my blog lists helpers? I've certainly got my own list of favorites, but I'd like to know what blogs you visit regularly.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE BLOG? Here are some categories to consider:
  • author blog
  • editor blog
  • agent blog
  • publisher blog
  • group blog
Leave me a comment or send me an email ( My recommended blog lists will appear over there (----->) in mid-August.

Monday, July 12, 2010

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Pre-conference Interview: Jennifer Rees

I'm particularly excited about interviewing Scholastic Press editor and Annual Summer Conference speaker Jennifer Rees because she got her start in children’s books working as a children’s bookseller at my favorite hometown bookstore, Joseph-Beth Booksellers.

At Scholastic, she acquires and edits fiction and nonfiction picture books, middle grade fiction, and YA novels. Some of the recent titles she worked on  include SWIM! SWIM! by Lerch; FINALLY by Wendy Mass; WISH I MIGHT by Coleen Murtagh Paratore; AFTER EVER AFTER by Jordan Sonnenblick; EVERLASTING by Angie Frazier; SELLOUT by Ebony Wilkins; LIFE, AFTER by Sarah Darer Littman; FEVER CRUMB by Philip Reeve; and MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins. (You might have heard a little about that last one.)

At the Annual Summer Conference Jennifer will offer two sessions--YOUR VOICE IS YOUR VOICE: KEEPING IT REAL and WHAT'S HOT, WHAT'S NOT.

At the 2009 NYC SCBWI Annual Winter Conference you said that you're interested in risky writing. What do you mean by that?

I hear writers say a lot, "I have an idea for a story, but I don't think I could really do it justice" and I think what they mean is that they are afraid of charting new waters or exploring territory they are unsure of, so they think it's better to follow trends (which is why I have a zillion paranormal submissions right now) or some safe formula, rather than striking out on their own. I think they are afraid of their own ideas.

But I'm not looking to publish stories that have been written about in the same way a zillion times over; I'm looking for stories that delve into new terrain (emotional, psychological, genre, format, narratively, etc). So, by "risky," I guess I'm really talking about writing that is personally risky for a writer and which dares not to follow a trend. For one writer that might be taking on a subject that requires a lot of research, for another it might simply be writing about what they know (i.e., what they believe is boring, when of course it's probably fascinating to others).

A great story doesn't have to be a blockbuster or explosive or involve some new creature or new world (though those things certainly have potential). I'm reading THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE right now and I'm fascinated by it. The writing is beautiful, the characters are amazing, and while the story is about everyday things in the life of one girl, the author [Jacqueline Kelly] makes it so very compelling and delectable (and funny!). If that manuscript had crossed my desk, I would have been jumping up and down with excitement!

What wows you in a manuscript? 

That is a very hard question to answer! I think it’s difficult to predict what will wow me. A story is such an enormous fusion of multiple elements. Voice is up there on my list--if I really connect with a writer's voice I will go anywhere they take me. An interesting plot, too. But mostly I'm wowed by stories I can't stop thinking about and ones that I find myself wanting to tell everyone about. I can't tell you the number of manuscripts I read that are fairly decent, but which I've already forgotten about by the very next day. Of course, stories are subjective and what might wow me might bore someone else! That's the tricky part, I guess. But a great story, a truly great story, stays with me forever. That's what I want to publish.

You accept agented material only, correct? 

Yes, and from SCBWI members, though they may get a form rejection letter, and I'm sorry about that, I am, but I'm afraid that otherwise they'd never hear from me ever, ever again. It's a nice letter, I promise.
Before you became an editor at Scholastic Press you worked as a bookseller. Does that experience affect your editorial work? 

Yes! After two years of hand-selling books to readers at the wonderful Joseph-Beth Booksellers, I still rely on that experience. From writing flap copy, to working with the designer to come up with the perfect book jacket, to what I acquire, to sales presentations, my experience as a bookseller informs the way I think about and respond to books, and the way I present those books to our own sales teams. I want to acquire and edit books I love, but I also want them to sell. That's the goal. Being on the floor of a bookstore day in and day out, you see what kids pick up and what people come in asking for. And you get to look at all the books from all the publishers. I visit bookstores a lot now. Once in a while (okay, all the time), I will hand-sell my books to unsuspecting customers. They walk away happy! I miss those days!

Why do you participate in SCBWI events? What do you get out of them? 

I truly enjoy speaking to writers! It's not always easy for me to sit behind a desk. l like hearing the buzz and seeing what people are reading and talking about. It's why I miss my bookselling days, I guess. I also love to hear about what people are working on, and I'm always inspired by everyone's commitment and enthusiasm for what we all do every day. I also really, really hope that I will run into a writer who will send me something terrific that I will publish to great acclaim!

One of your conference sessions is called WHAT'S HOT, WHAT'S NOT Can you give us a teaser?

Very sneaky of you. Well, I can't make any promises, but you're not going to want to miss it, let me tell you!

Any words of wisdom/advice you can offer to those working toward publication? 

Do your research on publishers, agents, and editors, and of course, read, read, read!

Friday, July 9, 2010

In the News This Week

Fridays on the SCBWI blog, I share snippets of and links to some of the publishing/media-related news I've read during the last week that I found interesting, helpful, and/or fun. Click titles to get to the full articles.

This week you'll find news on a Charlesbridge acquistion, a new imprint for teens by teens, a study that finds many young women check Facebook first thing in the morning (I'm beyond the demographic, but I do keep my iPhone next to my bed for a reason),  news on Suzanne Collins' print run, and a slideshow from ALA for those of us who missed it.

Also James Patterson proves that an author can sell eBooks into the millions (as long as that author is James Patterson), libraries are moving into malls (Richard Peck must be so conflicted), an essay on what the TWILIGHT phenomenon says about love and American girlhood, and another on why vampires don't really make good lovers (everyone knows werewolves are better).

Charlesbridge Buys Imagine Publishing (PW)
Charlesbridge Publishing has acquired Imagine Publishing, a publisher founded in 2009 by Charles and Jeremy Nurnberg to do children and adult titles. Charles Nurnberg, the former CEO of Sterling, will stay on as v-p and publisher of the Imagine imprint, while Jeremy will become v-p of sales for Charlesbridge, reporting to associate publisher Mary Ann Sabia. Charlesbridge is taking over distribution of Imagine titles effective immediately. The company had been one of the original clients of BookMasters Distribution Services for which Jeremy Nurnberg served as head of sales. 

The Meduim is the Medium (NYT)
Recently, book publishers got some good news. Researchers gave 852 disadvantaged students 12 books (of their own choosing) to take home at the end of the school year. They did this for three successive years. Then the researchers, led by Richard Allington of the University of Tennessee, looked at those students’ test scores. They found that the students who brought the books home had significantly higher reading scores than other students.

Libraries Moving Into Shopping Areas To Attract Patrons (psfk)It’s one of the main tenets of business that you bring your product where the demand is the highest and it’s most likely to get noticed. But what if your goal is to get today’s youth excited about reading? Logic says if you want to find the customer you’ve got to reach their favorite haunts, which in today’s society often includes the local mall.

The First Thing Young Women Do in the Morning: Check Facebook (Mashable)
Young women are becoming more and more dependent on social media and checking on their social networks, according to a new study released earlier today by Oxygen Media and Lightspeed Research. In fact, as many as one-third of women aged 18-34 check Facebook when they first wake up, even before they get to the bathroom.

Teenagers in Love
With TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE (Summit Entertainment), the third installment of the teen-vampire film franchise based on the books by Stephenie Meyer, it's clear that the movie version of the series has become its own thing, a multipart organism that operates independently of the matrix that generated it. Like the Harry Potter movies, the TWILIGHT films cater--some might say pander--to fans of the books. But three films in, the source material has become vestigial to the viewer's enjoyment--it's possible to be interested in TWILIGHT based on the movies alone. After finishing the first book in the series, I wouldn't pick up another Meyer novel for anything less than a five-figure raise. But I wouldn't miss a TWILIGHT movie. Not because the films are good, exactly, but because they are terrifying, transfixing, and, yes, moving bulletins from the trenches of contemporary American girlhood.

James Patterson Sells More Than 1 Million eBooks (eBook Newser)
James Patterson has sold more than a million eBooks, 1.14 million to be exact. The Hachette Book Group claims that he is the first author to do so.

Children's Books at ALA: A PW Photo-Essay (PW)
Librarians, publishers, and authors braved the heat and crowds to attend ALA's annual conference, held late last month in Washington, D.C. Numerous authors and illustrators mingled with librarians and signed copies of their books. 

Scholastic Announces 'Mockingjay' Print Run, Tour Details
Teens, tweens, and adults alike are eagerly awaiting the arrival of MOCKINGJAY, the third and final book in Suzanne Collins’s dystopian Hunger Games trilogy. And come August 24, they shouldn’t have trouble getting their hands on a copy: Scholastic has increased the book’s initial print run to 1.2 million copies, up from 750,000 copies. Additionally, the trade paperback edition of THE HUNGER GAMES will go on sale in the U.S. and Canada on July 3, with a 500,000-copy first printing. 

Medallion to Publish YA Titles by YA Writers (PW)
Medallion Press is venturing into unfamiliar territory, in announcing the launch of its new Ya-Ya line of fiction and nonfiction for young adult readers ages 13-18. Not only is the Ya-Ya line intended for teen readers, but the titles in the imprint will actually be written by teen authors.
Curse of the Greedy Copyright Holder
"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal," wrote T.S. Eliot. I am neither poet nor thief, so when I wanted poems at the start of each chapter in my recently published memoir, I sought permission. The poem that best describes my experience is "The Odyssey," navigating as I did between the Scylla of non-responsive copyright holders and the Charybdis of fee-seeking attorneys.

A Vampire Does Not Make a Good Lover (HuffPo)
I haven't jumped on the Twilight bandwagon yet. Chances are I'm not going to. I realize there are now many women out there that are gasping and would like to pull me through the computer screen, shake me violently, and ask me what in the world can possibly be wrong with me. I assure you, I am fine. Judging from my friends, it seems the most devoted fans are in the 20- and 30-something crowd and nearly all women. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen a male post anything about being on Team Edward on Facebook.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Celebrating Former SCBWI Staffer Sam Wasson's Publishing Success

Those of you who've attended SCBWI Annual Conferences in the past probably remember the smiling face (and bow ties!) of Sam Wasson, who has been pitching in around SCBWI headquarters since he was a teenager. Here's a photo of Sammy helping SCBWI's Director of Special Projects Kim Turrisi facilitate manuscript & portfolio critiques at last year's summer conference in Los Angeles.

We are all very proud that Sammy, a child of SCBWI, is enjoying healthy sales and rave reviews for his latest book FIFTH AVENUE, 5 A.M.: AUDREY HEPBURN, BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, AND THE DAWN OF THE MODERN WOMAN. We know it's not a kid's book, but Sammy has worked tirelessly to make the SCBWI a success in the past, so we're excited to tell you about HIS success.

Tardy Wednesday Tweet Roundup

Welcome to my day-late Tweet Roundup. (Hope you read my interview with Holly Cupala yesterday--if you check out that post and leave a comment, you could win a book! I'll pick a winner on Monday.)

Today I offer a light lunch of tweets which link to some great posts and articles on craft, technology, interviews, and events among other things. Be sure not to miss Elizabeth Law's ECLIPSE movie review, which is linked to below. (I love her bit about hair.)

Click on the Twitter handles (@name) to see the original tweets (and get to each tweeter's page should you wish to follow them). Follow the links included below to read the articles or blog posts these tweeters recommend.

Remember--whether you're signed up with Twitter or not, you can read tweets and click links to find helpful blog posts, useful articles, and timely news bits (like the ones below).

@andrewkarre: RT @literaticat: People who query unfinished mss: Take the energy you'd use to research & send queries & use it to FINISH THE BOOK!

@RachelleGardner: Why I'm not all that concerned about trends in publishing:

@Ginger_Clark: Authors: there is a big difference between heroine and heroin. #pubtip
@ElanaRoth: Bad sign: When my first reaction to your title is, "That's not a word." #queries

@thecreativepenn: Point of View Demystified via @indieauthor

@ingridsundberg: Just Listen: What to do when getting a professional critique -

@Swellbooks: Ever spent so much time in a character's voice that your own emails, etc., start to sound like him or her? 

@janefriedman Ultimate iPhone apps for writers (30+ creativity & productivity boosts) - what are your favorites?

@colleenlindsay: Does your company own your tweets, blog posts & YouTube videos? Smart post about social media & the workplace:

@fastcompany: Big news week for Amazon, they just Upgraded the Kindle DX, All But Concedes Defeat to Apple

@Bookgal 10 Tips For Maximizing Your Discoverability On YouTube: via @addthis

@victoriastrauss: This article doesn't really answer its question (does Twitter sell books?) but interesting nonetheless
@PublishersWkly: Older readers love their Kindles and other digital reading devices.


@erindowning: @novaren @brainbliss Hey, guys? @michaelbourret just emailed me to tell you to get back to work. :)


@aliciapadron: My post at the PBJ's. Mo Willems awesome interviews!

@ericluper: Editor Cheryl Klein (@chavelaque) interviews editor Jill Santopolo:
@kelcrocker: Great interview with Printz winner and #YaLit superstar @libbabray in SLJ:

@yalsa: YALSA Blog: Why ALA WAS Awesome (in which the word “awesome” is used far too much): Now that my post-ALA buzz is b...

@TotallyWriteous: The SCBWI conference is one month away. Are you registered? 
@mitaliperkins: "The Newbery Banquet, or My Cinderella Night" by @pacylin, Newbery Honor Awardee


@GalleyCat: Author Molly Ringle has written the worst sentence of the year:


@EgmontGal: By popular demand (ok, by one person asking for it), here again is the link to my review of Eclipse

@colleenaf: My boyfriend is making me watch Eclipse tonight. #OppositeOfEveryoneElseInTheWorld

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Blog Tour Stop: Debut Author Holly Cupala

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming (I'll post a Tardy Wednesday Tweet Roundup tomorrow) to welcome author Holly Cupala. Holly's stopping by the SCBWI blog during her well-orchestrated whirlwind virtual world tour to support her debut novel TELL ME A SECRET (HarperTeen), which pubbed June 22.

Holly's first book was published with a little help from SCBWI (more on that below), and it's a truly a compelling read. Here the debut author tells how she found her agent, talks about voice, offers some marketing tips and more.

Visit her website for her full tour schedule. During the tour she'll be giving away prizes each week for blog comments (signed books each week, t-shirts, music, journals, gift cards, etc.).

Speaking of giveaways: I have an ARC of TELL ME A SECRET up for grabs! Just post a comment about Holly's interview and I'll pick a winner at random.

If you'd like to continue to follow Holly on her tour, her next stop is tomorrow at LoveReadingX.

And if you'd like to stop by on your own promotional blog tour, I'd love to have you. Email me at

You’re an SCBWI success story. Where/when/how did SCBWI play a part in your path to publication?

All along the way! I’ve been a member for years, have been very active in SCBWI WWA (Asst. Regional Advisor, newsletter design), and have attended lots of conferences. A few years ago, SCBWI gave me a Work-In Progress Grant for TELL ME A SECRET (then titled Brimstone Soup), and I met my amazing agent at an SCBWI event.  They taught me how to write and who to talk to, and have been a tremendous support at every step.

How did you get together with your agent Edward Necarsulmer IV? Why is he a good fit for you?

Luck of the draw. I was randomly assigned to his table at the SCBWI Writer’s Intensive event, and after 500 words, he said, “W-w-w-w-wow. I…don’t know if I have anything to add to that.” He asked me to submit it immediately, even though there were other agents looking at the full manuscript. Both he and another agent offered to rep me. You’d think it would be fun to dole out a rejection, but it absolutely wasn’t! I have a tremendous amount of respect for both of them. I chose Edward because he was so passionate about the story, and I just had the sense that we would work really well together--and we do. On the downside, he was the one who wanted revisions…and I knew he was right. So I also appreciate that he makes me work harder!

TELL ME A SECRET is hard to put down. (I stayed up until 2 AM-ish finishing it in one sitting.) Can a writer work toward developing a compelling voice or do you think it’s an either-you-have-it-or-you-don’t proposition?

Thank you, Alice! I’ll confess, the voice didn’t come to me right away. I had the arc and supporting characters, so I wrote for a little while just trying to find the story. Miranda’s voice came to me at a most inconvenient time (speaking of the middle of the night). I had a new baby, was totally sleep deprived and just getting to sleep when the first lines of the novel flashed through my mind: “It’s tough living in the shadow of a dead girl.” That’s when I knew exactly who Miranda was, and why her story was so urgent. I definitely think voice can be develope--through reading, writing, and simply getting out of your own way. I think doubt can be one of our greatest enemies.

Your book also deals with a compelling topic, teen pregnancy. Tell us what motivated you to tackle that topic.

I didn’t set out to write an intense YA novel…actually, it was probably the last thing on my radar when a major life event changed everything for us. Before that, I was writing nice picture book manuscripts and Chicken Soup-y stuff, nothing too personal. But all of that changed when we lost our first daughter at birth. So many wonderful friends--especially kidlit friends--surrounded us through that and simply wouldn’t let me quit. The idea came to me very suddenly, and I could feel the weight of it. This was a story I was meant to write. So I kept working on it as we had another little girl (she’s five now!). It was very hard, but also very healing.

Your teen characters, especially your MC Miranda, feel so real. (There’s no "Secret Life of the American Teenager" nonsense going on in TELL ME A SECRET.) Can you offer some advice on creating authentic characters?

The night Miranda’s words flashed through my mind, she became real. Before that, I could only define her in relation to other characters--which, as it turns out, is a major theme in the novel.  Characters can have secrets, flaws, fears…but on some level it boils down to intuition. How well can you know someone? How much of them is you? Think about them, dream about them, fear and hope for them…all of that will come out on the page.

Your (7-week!) blog tour seems to be running like a well-oiled machine. And from this end I can tell you’re very organized and on top of things. Can you offer some promotion tips to other new authors?

Tell Me a Secret
I’m glad it appears that way! All I can say is, Excel is my friend…and my husband is a gem! I’m grateful to all of the hosts who have been excited about the book.

Self-promotion can be such a weird undertaking. How do you allocate resources? What’s the most important promotional strategy? What if you’re terrified of networking? I say, figure out what you like to do, what you do well, and focus on that. I hate networking, but I love to make friends. I’m good at graphics. I can now say I’m very good at Excel! Above all, have fun—the first time only happens once, so give it your all.

Tell us about your involvement in readergirlz. How long have you been involved and in what capacity? How has your involvement ultimately helped your writing career?

Readergirlz was begun by four award-winning Seattle authors, and I have been so fortunate to work with them! They invited me to join a few months after they launched, and I have been doing graphics and special projects ever since. If you see a banner or poster or event trailer, I probably did it! So much of readergirlz is about connecting people who love YA lit, and I think that has been a real value for me--being a part of the community.

What's next for you? Is there a work in progress you can tell us about?

 STREET CREED (tentative title, Fall 2011) is another YA set in the same vicinity as TMAS--in fact, a few characters make cameo appearances! It’s about Joy, a sixteen year-old girl who runs away from her suburban home to meet up with a band of street kids in Seattle--including a boy called Creed. She has secret reasons for leaving, and every one of the characters has a reason to run. At its core, it’s about what it means to love.

I know you’ve gotten some helpful advice from author friends along the way. What advice would you pass along to my readers?

Author friends Kirby Larson (HATTIE BIG SKY) and Randy Powell (TRIBUTE TO ANOTHER DEAD ROCK STAR) have said, “Write through the bad stuff.” I’ve held onto that through a lot of bad stuff! I think it’s essential to write as honestly as you can the first time and get to the end--you can always go back and fix it up. What may seem bad at the time can sometimes contain the most truth.