Forgive me, LiveJournal, for I have not blogged. It has been—cringe--practically eight months since my last posting.
But, in my defense, it’s been kinda hectic. What with the digital/ print battle going on at one gig, and the threat to cut my hours (and, correspondingly, my salary) at another, with the to-be-expected emotional and practical reactions to those situations, with the house-hunting and the moving and the wedding planning and the rewriting of the MG fantasy novel and the revising of the MG fantasy novel and periodic attempts to sleep… Let’s just say, “blog” has been on my to-do list for ages without my making even a slight effort to cross it off.
But that all changes today, with the annual Top 10 Best Things I Heard at the Annual Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Conference. So without further preamble…
10. “Begin as you mean to go on.” –Kathleen Duey
Author of Skin Hunger, a National Book Award finalist, Duey started out writing paperback series. I’ve heard her speak before, but this is the first time I heard about how difficult those years were—cranking out stories that were not totally her own, fitting into the format of a publisher’s series idea. But now she’s focusing on her own stories, the fantasies she always meant to write, and it hasn’t been an easy transition. As someone constantly torn between the money-making work that she doesn’t love, and the not-yet-money-making work that she wants to focus on, I empathized.
9. “I go on blind dates in New York City—you can bloody well send your manuscript in.” –Elizabeth Law
I don’t think it’s fair for an editor to be so entertaining. It raises the bar too high for submissions.
8. “People will often pay more than they should, but they never pay more than they want to.” –Stephen Fraser
I’m not totally sure that’s true of my own purchasing style, but I loved hearing it from this agent, speaking about publishers and manuscripts.
7. The first day of the annual conference, each faculty member has to walk up to the podium, introduce himself, and give the audience a word.
“My word is friendship. IT IS NOT A VERB.” –Richard Peck
No comment necessary.
6. Later in the conference, the SCBWI regional advisors introduced themselves and offered a word, too. Unfortunately, I cannot properly attribute the following to the RA who cracked me up by saying it. She explained that when she was a little girl, growing up Catholic, she used to wait for the priest to offer the “cookie blessing”: “Oreo… Domino… Nabisco,” she chanted.
(Okay… non-Catholic may not be quite as entertained as I was. I think I refrained from snorting, but can’t be absolutely sure.)
5. “Luck is something we create.” –Ellen Hopkins
I absolutely believe that.
4. “Fairies are out there.”—Jenn Rofe
A not insignificant part of making this top 10 list is the joy of taking quotes out of context. This Andrea Brown Literary Agency agent was speaking about paranormal fiction trends, not making a metaphysical statement. (Or was she…?)
3. “You can’t be mad at someone for being a werewolf. It’s not reasonable.” –Holly Black
2. “No matter what kind of book you write, or who you’re aiming it for, you’re going to save at least one person.” –Sherman Alexie
This was a running theme throughout the conference, as authors shared some of the intensely personal anecdotes their readers share with them. I love to think about this, as someone who specializes in humorous fantasy stories. No Ellen Hopkins, I. And so sometimes I wonder, where’s the lasting value in a story like mine? Sure, those were the kinds of booksI loved as a kid—but is my writing only about entertaining? And is that enough reason for it to be out there? It’s not always easy to remember that, even from a fairy tale, readers can pick up tips for dealing with life stuff.
1. “All of you are enchanters, and all of you are potion-makers.” –Ingrid Law
Weavers of words and of worlds. Let’s not forget it.
Till next posting (and it will be less than eight months away. I swear!)...