Month: January 2011

Gems from the SCBWI Winter Conference 2011

Posted on

Huge discovery this weekend: Twitter isn’t only for organizing revolutions. It’s also good for keeping tabs on what’s happening at that awesome conference across the country you weren’t able to attend.

Who knew?

OK, in all honesty, I did know that. But the coolness of Twitter hit home this weekend while I was here in Arizona and a slew of my writer friends were cavorting at the SCBWI conference in New York.

Cavorting. Seriously.

I followed the #ny11scbwi hashtag to glean those gems the attendees shared from the keynotes and breakout sessions. And now I’m going to share some of the best tweets (in my opinion) from the conference. I hope you find them helpful, or at least entertaining.

@FirstNovelsClub First Novels Club Prioritize during revisions–don’t garden while the house is on fire!

@alicepope alicepope Rachel Griffiths: I just want to fall into an authors world. I don’t like it when writers try to write to trends.

@KathyTroidle Kathy Troidle “A haunting phrase and little more, imagination take wing and soar.” -Lois Lowry

@LPP_Media Rana DiOrio “Reach into your past. Give your happiness, sorrow, anxiety words.” Lois Lowry

@ohthattanya Tanya Now for a novel to succeed it needs to be both high-concept AND literary. – Alexandra Cooper, Simon and Schuster.

@kimmiepoppins Kimberly J. Sabatini Breakout One-Alessandra Balzer-be able to distill your book into one sentence. The essence of the book.

@cynthiajabar cynthia jabar Come up with a LOGLINE for a pitch 4 your book. Hunger Games meets Finding Nemo. Alexandra Cooper

@cynthiajabar cynthia jabar What does Alessandra Balzar/Harper look 4 in projects? Voice,groundbreaking concept,world building,read a-loud quality,heart

@teenwritersbloc Teen Writers Bloc “You have to be open to all ideas if you want to be a writer. You can’t plan where you will end up,” says R.L. Stine

@kimmiepoppins Kimberly J. Sabatini Jules Feiffer-I’m always entertaining the possibility of failure but don’t let it get me down..

@mbrockenbrough Martha Brockenbrough Sara Zarr: The time between when you’re no longer a beginner but haven’t broken into the business is the hardest in your career.

@mbrockenbrough Martha Brockenbrough Sara Zarr: Your life is your greatest creation. The life that you create for yourself…

@mbrockenbrough Martha Brockenbrough Sara Zarr: … and the love for that life may be the only thing that is totally, completely yours.

KathyTroidle Kathy Troidle Crafting a creative life that is steady, sane, sustainable results in small progress that grows, matures and gives back to u

@FirstNovelsClub First Novels Club Your creative life should be engaging: expand you, not reduce you to word count & computer screen.

@KathyTroidle Kathy Troidle “Your creative life is engaging, taps into something deep within you that matters, that moves you, excites you. ” – Sara Zarr

@mbrockenbrough Martha Brockenbrough Sara Zarr: Be choosy about who you share the deep issues of your creative life with.

@kimmiepoppins Kimberly J. Sabatini @sarazarr only other creative people get it when it comes to the joys and struggles of our work.

FirstNovelsClub First Novels Club Zarr: Have a faith based creative life. Have faith that what matters to you matters to others and will one day reach them.

@FirstNovelsClub First Novels Club Zarr: Take care of yourself! There’s no artistic romance in being self-destructive.

@KathyTroidle Kathy Troidle “Learn what habits feed your creative life and what things thwart it” @sarazarr

@emcguirestudio Erin McGuire Zarr: “Take care of yourself! There’s no artistic romance in being self-destructive.”

@mbrockenbrough Martha Brockenbrough Sara Zarr: What I’ve learned is, the battle is not the book…disenchantment is the mother of all obstacles.

@alicepope alicepope Zarr: Those small moments of human connection I try to make happen in my stories are worth all the pain of getting there.
@alicepope alicepope Zarr: The answer is always in doing the work.

@mbrockenbrough Martha Brockenbrough Lenore Look: Remember that your character is 50 percent you, and 50 percent what you create.

@ToyGuru Mary Rose Play with words, use anticipation, embarrassing moments, shock value of inappropriate behavior, reversal of expectations.

@mbrockenbrough Martha Brockenbrough Lenore Look: “I think the court jester’s role was to enable the king to look carefully at things that were hard to look at.”

@kimmiepoppins Kimberly J. Sabatini Mo Willems: my philosophy is that the difference between kids and adults is that kids are shorter.

@kimmiepoppins Kimberly J. Sabatini LSP-where things get stressful is in between, the area where you want something, but don’t know if you have the goods.

@mbrockenbrough Martha Brockenbrough Linda Sue Park: Don’t believe in yourself. Instead, believe in the work.

@mbrockenbrough Martha Brockenbrough Linda Sue Park: Read. If you read enough great stories, novels, poems and memoirs, you begin to build a mental standard.

@mbrockenbrough Martha Brockenbrough Linda Sue Park: It takes a certain kind of courage to sit down and face a blank screen or a canvas.

@alicepope alicepope Park: If you’re not afraid of something, that’s not courage–that’s some kind of malfunction in your brain chemistry.


What Are You Waiting For?

Posted on

It happened again the other night. I’d made a new acquaintance, and in the course of our chatting, the subject of writing came up.

“I have an idea for a story,” she said. “I’ve even written some of it.”

“Why don’t you finish it?”

“Yeah, I should. I will. Someday.”


On Monday, a fellow writer and friend of mine passed away after a very brief battle with cancer. Her death was sudden. Shocking. My first thought on hearing the news was, “How is this possible?” My second thought was, “She never finished her novels.”

To my knowledge, she’d written three, but never completed them. I don’t know why, but I suspect it had something to do with Someday.

Not long ago, Laurie Young wrote a guest post at The Parking Lot Confessional called Writing Scared. Please read it. Laurie put a lot of wisdom into that post, wisdom that has hit home for me this week.

Yeah. Writing scares me. Well, not so much the writing part as the sending-out-for-others-to-read part.

But dammit, I don’t want to leave this earth not having tried.

I’ll resist the temptation to post the “carpe diem” clip from Dead Poets Society. But can you stomach a few quotes?

How do these strike you?

To always be intending to live a new life, but never find time to set about it – this is as if a man should put off eating and drinking from one day to another till he be starved and destroyed.  ~Walter Scott

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite.  Or waiting around for Friday night or waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil or a better break or a string of pearls or a pair of pants or a wig with curls or another chance.  Everyone is just waiting.  ~Dr. Seuss

As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do.  ~Zachary Scott

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life.  But there was always some obstacle in the way.  Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid.  Then life would begin.  At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.  ~Fr. Alfred D’Souza

You will never find time for anything.  If you want time you must make it.  ~Charles Buxton

Many people die with their music still in them.  Why is this so?  Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live.  Before they know it, time runs out.  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Fear not that life shall come to an end, but rather fear that it shall never have a beginning.  ~John Henry Cardinal Newman

And this one for my friend Derek:

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. ~ John Lennon

At the end of my philosophical gnawing, all I’m left with is a question. A simple question that breaks the legs out from under all of my excuses. It’s a question I pose to you here in all seriousness.

What are you waiting for?

How to Make a Magic Wall (and How It Can Help Your Writing) – via The Parking Lot Confessional

Posted on

I got crafty today over at The Parking Lot Confessional, writing out the instructions for creating a Magic Wall. A Magic Wall is like a bulletin board, only better. It’s a great tool for those times you need help brainstorming, visualizing and organizing your story ideas and plots. I highly recommend it. And I hope you find it useful.

How to Make a Magic Wall (and How It Can Help Your Writing) Okay, show of hands: Who here prefers working old school when it comes to outlining and plotting your novel? Who here at times prefers pens and notecards to keyboards and LCDs? Who here is ready to get crafty? Good. Because I'm going to teach you how to make a Magic Wall. What? You've never heard of a Magic Wall? A Magic Wall is a piece of fabric that is just tacky enough (i.e., sticky, not obnoxious, though it could be that, too) that paper will … Read More

via The Parking Lot Confessional

Latest news

Posted on

This week over at The Parking Lot Confessional, our topic is Kickstart Your Writing. I wrote a post called: Starting Is Half the Battle. I hope it inspires you to start whatever it is you’re putting off.

And in other news, the second issue of Liminal went live today! This issue is full of poetry, fiction and artwork; and the contributors are from all over the map. From Arizona to Egypt. Check out what these talented teens have created.

If you know of any talented teens looking for a forum for their work, please encourage them to submit their best. I’m already reading work for the next issue.

As always, thanks for reading. 🙂

I told you it was good.

Posted on

Today, A.S. King won a Printz Honor for her awesome book, Please Ignore Vera Dietz.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz

I told you it was good. So go read it already!

Congratulations, Amy! Well deserved.