Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Twitter Archeology: Layers and Layers of #NY12SCBWI

Twitter gives a fascinating window into the three days (intensive Friday + Saturday and Sunday) of the Lucky 13th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City.

A few tweets were re-tweeted more than 100 times, spreading the information to literally tens of thousands of ‘followers’ – the name for groups of people sharing brief tweets (messages under 140 characters.)  The most re-tweeted of the conference:

@cuppajolie “You ban those books, you ban those kids.” Chris Crutcher #ny12scbwi

There were some great quotes independently tweeted by lots of people, like:

@Emberchyld #NY12SCBWI Sunday in three tweets 3) “There’s an agent on this earth whose divine assignment is to represent you.” – Regina Brooks #inspiring

(That line by Regina - who tweets as @serendipitylit - was also tweeted by @kitgrindstaff, @bananas, @mbrockenbrough, myself - @leewind, and re-tweeted a lot!)

Another conference moment that spread widely across the twitter-sphere:

@VLeeMahoney IMPORTANT tip → @scbwi If you can’t sum up your work in two sentences, you probably need to revise –Ginger Knowlton #NY12SCBWI

Twitter is also a great way to follow the people talking about your interests… so I highly recommend “following” SCBWI Team Blog members @leewind @jaimetem @mbrockenbrough @cuppajolie @suzanne_young as well as the scbwi twitter feed @scbwi and other conference attendees who shared tweets that resonate for you.

You can also search twitter by subject, and the conference has its own hashtag: #NY12SCBWI

By searching on that, you can work your way through the levels and days of mini-posts like an archeologist, finding people, information and inspiration that reveal a unique view of the conference.

Here are some layers of twitter I uncovered (and it’s backwards, because just like an archeological dig, you have to start at the top and work your way down through the layers to discover the civilization beneath…)

@jeniw “I love books that can potentially change a reader’s life. I’m also a big sucker for books that make me cry.” @planetalvina #NY12SCBWI

@mimicross: “The Heart wants what the heart wants” @literaticat at LGBTQ&A meet up with @leewind & @planetalvina #ny12scbwi

@KimSabatini Nurture every connection. It’s a small community, play nice.—Ginger Knowlton #NY12SCBWI

@storyconnection “Think about making books w global reach. Middle grade is the new YA.” Regina Brooks, Serendipity Literary Agency @serendipitylit #NY12SCBWI

@atlanticmoira After a welcome home hug, my son said, “You smell like New York” #ny12scbwi 

@DebtheWise Incredible conference. Incredible information. Incredible people. #ny12scbwi. See you next year!

@airliebird #ny12scbwi was so inspiring! I’m going to make a greenhouse around my ideas, FOCUS, and keep putting my stories out there!

@jeni2 “An engaged author with a platform is one of the best things a book can have.” –Editor Tara Weikum #NY12SCBWI

@illustratorsam So sad it’s over :*{ #NY12SCBWI

@loishoffman Things that make you go hmmmm… “The moon is always full when you’re on it.” - @ChrisRichman (Upstart Crow Literary) #ny12scbwi

@SamuelWalters74 Home from #NY12SCBWI – my “to do” list is now about as long as my … my novel! So many ideas … to the revision cave!

@illustratorsam I can hardly wait to get back home and go to the library. I have a HUGE list of Children’s books to read (and re-read!) #NY12SCBWI

@annelieseArt I’m already missing #NY12SCBWI and all of the amazing people that I met this weekend! But I’m so excited to go and make art now!!!

@zlikeinzorro @literaticat Great LGBTQ panel. #NY12scbwi needs more of those!

@natashasinel I won the door prize – tuition to LA conf! Feel like I won the mega millions! And now life is good. #NY12SCBWI

@SaraFujimura Mission accomplished! Got @cassieclare to sign bks for my teen #GirlScouts (& me too!). #NY12SCBWI #yalit

@kim_bak Great conference! Hung out w/friends, saw @saraagent, met my editor, learned/got inspired, set up @scbwiwwa speakers… *nap* #NY12SCBWI

@MLCillustration Also got John Rocco’s autographs!! We hit a goldmine of illustrators here at #NY12SCBWI. Great weekend…But I miss my bed!

@bananas Hear hear! @leewind: Standing Ovation for Lin, Steve, Sara and all the SCBWI staff for pulling off #NY12SCBWI

@leewind: “So go out there, and go create.” Kathryn Erskine’s Keynote Finale at NY12SCBWI 

@SamRVamos #FF: @leewind & @jaimetem @mbrockenbrough & @cuppajolie Great writing/editing tips fr SCBWI Team Blog @ SCBWI 13th Annual Winter Conference in NY. #NY12scbwi 

@RodriguezCindyL Just fell in love with Kathryn Erskine at #ny12scbwi

@mbrockenbrough Kathryn Erskine: “Talent isn’t enough. You’ve gotta have grit. Talent + determination.” #NY12scbwi

@mbrockenbrough Kathryn Erskine on research: “If you want to know what a Scotsman wears under his kilt, find one who’s willing to show you.” #NY12scbwi

@mbrockenbrough Kathryn Erskin is giving us an Oprah moment, almost: She has sandalwood-scented tea light candles for us. Awww! #NY12scbwi

@NeelySSimpson #NY12SCBWI To be creative you have to take care of yourself – Kathryn Erskine

@JustAGirl_LJ #NY12SCBWI Did Kathryn Erskine read my private journal? self doubt, guilt are regular visitors in my soul

@mbrockenbrough: Kathryn Erskine: “If you ever think about hanging it up, think about the one kid out there who needs you.” #NY12scbwi

@cameron_crane “I like the idea that my best books are yet to come.” – Peter Brown #NY12SCBWI 

@bananas OH: my brain can’t hold any more brilliant information! #NY12SCBWI #WritingConferenceProblems

@JustAGirl_LJ At my first conference in 2007, ebooks were a “joke”. This year, “transmedia” is a common phrase. Publishing is changing so fast. #NY12SCBWI

@ktubb @kim_bak: Hallelujah. RT @leewind “Middle Grade is the new YA.” Regina Brooks at #NY12SCBWI” :)

@scbwi Take away from the agent panel: work on those first pages, lots don’t read synopsis. Not hooked by writing = won’t read the rest #NY12SCBWI
@KimSabatini My job is to come up with ways to position a book. Regina Brooks #NY12SCBWI

And that's barely back to the agent's panel on Sunday! See how much fun it is?  And those are just the tweets that resonated for me.

Go do your own twitter search now, and uncover a twitter archeologist's view of the craft, business, inspiration and community that was the #NY12SCBWI experience!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Lucky 13th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference Starts Tomorrow!

In keeping with the celebratory spirit of a whole weekend packed with kit lit business, craft, inspiration and community, here's "The Joy Of Books"

I found this amazing stop-motion video here, via author Terri Farley.  Thanks, Terri!

And as you travel and prepare for the conference, make sure to catch up on all the pre-conference faculty interviews at the Official SCBWI Conference Blog.

Here's a cool tip for conference attendees:

If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can download the free mobile guide to the 13th Annual Winter Conference. You'll be able to plan your day with a personalized schedule,  get schedule and room  information and read speaker bios.  You can also browse maps of the event space at the Hyatt, share pictures and follow the #NY12SCBWI Twitter feed direct directly from the app. 

To get the guide, choose one of the methods below: 
Download 'Guidebook' from the Apple App Store or the Android Marketplace
Visit   http://guidebookapp.com/get  from your phone's browser 
Once you have the Guidebook App search "SCBWI" under "download guides" and download "SCBWI Winter Conference".

The app is compatible with iPhones, iPads, tablets, and Android devices.

Whether you're attending or not, you can follow along at both the Conference Blog and with our twitter hashtag, #NY12SCBWI

Illustrate and Write and Conference ON!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Staying Current - What are you going to read from 2011?

Linda Sue Park spoke at the 2007 SCBWI Summer Conference about how you really need to immerse yourself in reading the kinds of books you want to write.

If you want to write picture books, she said, then you need to read 1,000 picture books.  She lowered the number for novels (I believe it was to 500) but her point was loud and clear: How can you successfully write it if you don't understand the format in your bones?

And it's true for illustrators as well - you'll become a better illustrator if you've studied 1,000 illustrated books!

Yet with all the Children's and Teen books (including self- and vanity- and print-on-demand) coming out every year, how do we decide what we're going to read?

There are three main ways:  Best sellers.  Awards.  And word of mouth.

Best sellers. 

Publishers Marketplace recently published a list of the 15 top selling print books as tracked by Nielsen BookScan in the outlets they cover for juvenile titles.

2011's Top 15: Juvenile Books 
1 THE HUNGER GAMES*, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic; trade paperback; 9780439023528) 1,578,000
2 DIARY OF A WIMPY KID 6: CABIN FEVER, Jeff Kinney (Amulet; hardcover; 9781419702235) 1,563,000
3 CATCHING FIRE*, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic; hardcover; 9780439023498) 985,000
4 INHERITANCE, Christopher Paolini (Knopf Children's; hardcover; 9780375856112) 900,000
5 MOCKINGJAY*, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic; hardcover; 9780439023511) 853,000
6 THE SON OF NEPTUNE, Rick Riordan (Hyperion; hardcover; 9781423140597) 699,000
7 THE THRONE OF FIRE, Rick Riordan (Hyperion; hardcover; 9781423140566) 535,000
8 DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE UGLY TRUTH*, Jeff Kinney (Amulet; hardcover; 9780810984912) 524,000
9 ELF ON THE SHELF*, Carol Aebersold (CCA&B; hardcover; 9780976990703) 500,000
10 THE WIMPY KID DO-IT-YOURSELF BOOK*, Jeff Kinney (Amulet; 9780810989955; hardcover) 488,000
11 DIARY OF A WIMPY KID 2: RODRICK RULES*, Jeff Kinney (Amulet; hardcover; 9780810994737) 338,000
12 GOODNIGHT MOON*, Margaret Wise Brown (Harper Festival; 9780694003617) 329,000
13 DIARY OF A WIMPY KID*, Jeff Kinney (Amulet; hardcover; 9780810993136) 309,000
14 THE LOST HERO*, Rick Riordan (Hyperion; hardcover; 9781423113393) 294,000
15 DIARY OF A WIMPY KID 3: THE LAST STRAW*, Jeff Kinney (Amulet; hardcover; 9780810970687) 289,000

*These editions were first published prior to 2010
And of course, the NY Times, USA Today, and many other publications have their own best-seller lists to consult.


You can also look at the Award winners, which tend to come out the following year (so in 2012 we'll find out which books won for 2011.)

Just yesterday the ALA announced the top 2012 awards in children’s and young adult literature as the finale of their ALA Midwinter Meeting!

There are LOTS of authors and illustrators you'll recognize and cheer on - and some of them you can even congratulate in person at #NY12SCBWI!

Like John Rocco, whose "Blackout" was named a Caldecott Honor Book!  And Peter Brown, whose book "Children Make Terrible Pets" was made into the Andrew Carnegie Medal-winning best children's video!

Little, Brown, HarperCollins, Henry Holt, Delacorte Press/Random House, Scholastic, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Lee and Low and Macmillian are all well-represented among this year's winners... and among our #NY12SCBWI faculty!

The Cybils nominations for 2011 are out as well (these are the book blogger awards.) And here are some past award lists to explore:

SCBWI's 2011 Golden Kite Awards

SCBWI's 2011 Crystal Kite Winners

The 2011 Newbery Winner and Honors Books

The Other 2011 Association for Library Service to Children Award Winners

And there are also diversity-focused lists and awards, like the 2011 Rainbow Books (for GLBTQ kid lit), the Coretta Scott King Book Award Recipients (awards given to African American authors and illustrators for outstanding contributions to literature for children and young adults) and the Sydney Taylor Book Award (books for children and teens that portray the Jewish experience.)

Word Of Mouth.

Talk to others and get their recommendations.  Booksellers.  Librarians.  Friends.  Read kid lit blogs and book reviews. 

For those of us creating content for children, it can also be fascinating to focus on a single editor's output by looking at the lists of published books that accompany their conference bios, and also the "edited by" document at scbwi.org.  (Here's how to find it:  sign in at scbwi.org, go to the resource library, just getting started, SCBWI publication guide online, getting started: preparing and submitting your work, click on "Edited By: A House-by-House Listing of Editorial Credits" and it will download as a pdf. file to your computer.  An excellent resource!)

So this year, let's heed Linda Sue Park's advice - and read broadly and deeply in our genre and age category!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SCBWI members working to ensure that every child in America has access to an effective school library program

Many members of the Kid Lit Community are taking action via this petition at whitehouse.gov, that states:

Every child in America deserves access to an effective school library program. We ask that the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provide dedicated funding to help support effective school library programs. Such action will ensure more students have access to the resources and tools that constitute a 21st century learning environment. Reductions in school library programs are creating an ‘access gap’ between schools in wealthier communities versus those where there are high levels of poverty. All students should have an equal opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to learn, to participate, and to compete in today’s world.

"The fight for school libraries continues" is how  Erica Silverman, SCBWI member, author and librarian put it.

My thanks to Erica and Martha Brockenbrough, SCBWI Team Blog member and author, for sharing this information with me so I can share it with you.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Technology in Publishing: Embedded Videos in E-books!

A QR code... think of the possibilities!

From the world of nonfiction publishing, this is really interesting:

As reported in publishers lunch and The Hollywood Reporter

Rachel Ray is moving to Atria.  After nine books with Clarkson Potter, Ray tells the WSJ she wants to make her new cookbooks "exciting for people using their Nooks or iPads" and says she was attracted by a Tom Watson golf book Atria published last year that used QR codes editorially to link to instructional videos.

Atria says they will use QR codes in Ray's THE BOOK OF BURGER, due in June, to link to instructional videos as well.

Here's the info on the Tom Watson golf book, that sells it with this twist on the technology:

Special Bonus for this multimedia eBook edition: Each chapter includes an embedded, instantly viewable video of Tom Watson teaching key lessons.
Of course, this twist on the technology makes me wonder what we kid lit authors could do with this in our nonfiction... and fiction! 

Ask yourself:  What might YOU create?

Exciting times we live (and write and illustrate) in!

Enjoy the adventure,

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Community: Announcing Three New Social Events at #NY12SCBWI (and the answer to the question: Just how much fun are these conferences?)

Here's the scoop on three community-building and networking events happening at the upcoming Lucky 13th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference on the Saturday night (January 28, 2012) after the Gala Dinner:

Find the LGBTQ in SCBWI
7:45pm-8:45pm Saturday January 28, 2012
Room: Broadway

Started at SCBWI's 2008 Summer Conference in Los Angeles and held at every conference since, a group of editors, agents, art directors, authors and illustrators will meet informally to discuss LGBTQ publishing, the submission process, who is interested and what kinds of stories they are interested in.

Maybe you've written a book about or for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer or questioning youth; maybe you're interested in doing so, and you're not sure where to begin; maybe you are just curious to learn more about this vital corner of the market for young readers. Whatever your interest in the subject matter, all are welcome. Bring a friend and any questions you may have.

Hosted by SCBWI Team Blog's Lee Wind, our special guests for this event will be Editorial Director at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Alvina Ling and agent Jennifer Laughran

Alvina Ling is Editorial Director at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers where she has worked since 1999. She edits award-winning children's books for all ages, from picture books to young adult novels, with some nonfiction mixed in. Some of the books she has edited include Newbery Honor winner Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, a young adult series by Libby Bray (The Diviners), as well as the middle grade novel The Land of Stories among many others. She contributes to the children's book blog Blue Rose Girls at http://www.bluerosegirls.blogspot.com

Jennifer Laughran joined Andrea Brown Literary Agency in 2007. Her clients include Daniel Pinkwater, Calef Brown, Matt Faulkner, Jackie Dolamore, Ilsa J. Bick, Eric A. Kimmel, L.K. Madigan, Adam Selzer, Tara Kelly and Kate Messner, and many excellent debut authors. She is always on the lookout for YA and middle grade fiction with unusual, unforgettable characters and vivid settings. You can find her online at http://literaticat.blogspot.com

Illustrator Social
7:45pm – 8:45pm Saturday January 28, 2012
Room: Salon II

Please come join us for this unique and fun opportunity to meet with your fellow illustrator conference attendees, as well as your SCBWI Board Illustrator Committee members! It’ll be a time for networking, sharing of wisdom, thoughts and tips from conference veterans, reviewing what was gleaned from the Winter Conference thus far, and voicing your suggestions for future illustrator Intensives! Just bring yourself and a few of your business/promotional cards for our networking exchange opportunity.

International Gathering
7:45pm-8:45pm Saturday January 28, 2012
Room:  Alvin

Gather with other internationals attending Winter SCBWI conference!

There are over 50 international SCBWI members attending the Winter conference this January so after the Gala Dinner head to the ALVIN room and meet your fellow international attendees from Canada, Australia, England, Spain, Germany, Mexico, UK, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, Hong Kong, France, and the Netherlands.

Christopher Cheng (Co-Chair SCBWI Advisory Board and Co-Regional Advisor Australia and New Zealand) will also advise you about the latest developments for the upcoming SCBWI Bologna gathering and about the Asian Festival of Children's Content (afcc.com.sg) gathering held in Singapore each year. These are two conferences that need to be on your radar and in your planning.

And we also want to know about your region too, so come prepared to share your tales, ask questions, and wave your flag!

The Answer To The Question of just how much fun is the conference...

There's so much vital information, and incredible opportunities to advance your career at these conferences.  There's craft and business and inspiration, lots of networking, and let's be honest - fun - to be had as well.  Imagine hanging out with your tribe for a whole weekend!

How much fun are we talking about?  Check out this video that members of the Pen and Ink blog put together at this past SCBWI Summer Conference.  (Clearly, they were in a pirate mood...)

And There's One More great Kid Lit Community Event the weekend of the conference - 

The New York Kid Lit Drink Night!

Organized by Chrstina McTighe (@LaFabuliste on twitter) and other fabulous New York Kid Lit folk (including @newsboyhat, @Aunt_Feather, and Mackenzie Reide) to overlap with #NY12SCBWI so all us out-of-towners can attend, it will be held Friday January 27, 2012, at 8pm at Public House on 41st and Lexington.  Right around the corner from the Hyatt!

So now you have great social/networking/community stuff to do both Friday and Saturday night!

Community. It's such a big part of attending the Lucky 13th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference.

And you know, just by reading this, you're part of our community.

We hope to see you there!  

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Walter Dean Myers is the latest National Ambassador For Young People's Literature!

"I think that what we need to do is say reading is going to really affect your life"

-Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers  is the new national ambassador for young people’s literature!

The New York Times says:
"the choice of Mr. Myers represents a departure from his predecessors* and is likely to be seen as a bold statement. His books chronicle the lives of many urban teenagers, especially young, poor African-Americans. While his body of work includes poetry, nonfiction and the occasional cheerful picture book for children, its standout books offer themes aimed at young-adult readers: stories of teenagers in violent gangs, soldiers headed to Iraq and juvenile offenders imprisoned for their crimes. While many young-adult authors shy away from such risky subject material, Mr. Myers has used his books to confront the darkness and despair that fill so many children’s lives."

* Previous National Ambassadors for Young People's Literature have been Katherine Paterson and Jon Scieszka

Walter (with 90 books published so far!) has won the Coretta Scott King Award, the Michael L. Printz Award, and has been a National Book Award finalist. 

And I love his grasp of how vitally important books can be for kids and teens:

He will receive a medal at the Library of Congress next Tuesday. One of the first things he expects to say is that reading is not a Victorian pastime.
“People still try to sell books that way — as ‘books can take you to foreign lands,’ ” he said. “We’ve given children this idea that reading and books are a nice option, if you want that kind of thing. I hope we can get over that idea.”

Congratulations, Walter!

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Fourth Annual Comment Challenge Starts Today!

Want more traffic on your blog?

Want to raise your profile in the world of children's literature?

Want more readers?

Want to be a vital member of the children's literature community?

Okay, I know that sounds like you're being spammed or perhaps mistakenly Tivo-ed some infomercial, but hold on, because Today is the start of the fourth annual Comment Challenge!

Cooked up by MotherReader and myself back in 2008, the idea is that it takes 21 days to form a new habit.  And the habit that does all of those things above (more traffic, higher profile, more readers, greater sense of belonging to the kid lit community) is to comment on other kid lit community blogs.

The challenge is to comment on FIVE kid lit blogs a day for 21 days.  Any five.  You choose.  (The members of SCBWI Team Blog (Lee, Martha, Jolie, Jaime and Suzanne), as well as the lists at the kidlitosphere site are both good places to start.)

So in those 21 days you're aiming for 100 comments (and yes, you get one day off for good behavior.)

Just five a day for a healthier, happier YOU.

You can sign in over at MotherReaders and we'll be doing weekly Wednesday check-ins at my home blog, "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?"

MotherReader and I will have some fun give-aways for randomly chosen participants, but the real prize is creating an awesome new habit of engaging more fully with our community.

So how about it?

Are you up for The Comment Challenge?

Sign up now!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Year, and a Fresh Take on First Lines

Happy 2012!

The New Year feels like a great time to share with you this great resource from Darcy Pattison, OPENING LINES: 12 Ways To Start a Novel.

Darcy has taken the ten major ways you can start your novel and illustrated them with the  “100 Best Lines from Novels,” as chosen by the editors of the American Book Review.  She's also added two additional categories of ways to start that didn't show up in the 100, but are used, often in more innovate formats and graphic novels.

The first line of "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville (the #1 Best Line in the American Book Review's 100) is an    "I AM" opening, where you're meeting a character and the first-person narrator is giving a summary or a judgment about themselves.

The 100 best lines is fascinating reading on its own, but Darcy's breaking it down into categories in this way reveals patterns that are inspirational for writers and illustrators as well.   - How are you going to start to tell the story you want to tell?  Viewpoint on Life, Mid-Action, Set Up, Let's Meet Jack or Jill, I am... (and that's only five of them!)

What I love most about Darcy's article is the challenge built into it: 

Can you take your current first line of your work in progress, and re-work it in ALL twelve of these ways?

What a powerful tool to give us 12 new first lines for our novels!

It's the beginning of a story full of possibility...  and a new year full of possibility as well!

Illustrate and Write On,

p.s.  Darcy will be on faculty at the upcoming #NY12SCBWI, and you can find out more about SCBWI's Winter Conference in New York City, January 27-29, 2012 here.