Sunday, November 16, 2008

Encore! and my predictions

I was at RI College yesterday for SCBWI and ASTAL's Encore! Event. It was a meaty workshop, offering writers of all levels great tools for improving their craft and marketing skills. I'd thank the wonderful committee for putting on this event, but that would be a bit awkward, since I was part of it. :-) But here's a quick overview.

Act 1: John Bell began with a workshop on plotting, explaining how the powerful and the plausible must be balanced in a plot. He offered techniques for getting past plotting roadblocks. For my work in progress, WITNESS TREE, I'll be looking for ways to make two story problems work against each other....Thanks, John!

Act 2: Mark Peter Hughes led us through character development exercises, defining and shaping our characters through showing, dialogue, and voice. While I can show my character, and get her to talk, I'm going to need to work on that "voice" stuff...

Act 3: Padma Venkatraman taught us how to write a terrific query letter that made an editor want to read more. So now I'm wishing I could snatch back the query I mailed out Friday, and tailor my bio more specifically to match the project...

Act 4: Sarah Shumway, recently editor at Dutton, currently Senior Editor at Katherine Tegen Books, taught us how to make connections between good writing and writing that sells well in pitching our manuscripts to editors.
In speaking about current trends, she feels that vampire books are done, and she's seeing more romances that deal with other supernatural creatures. But she said that those who want to jump on this new trend are probably already too late.

*So here is my prediction for future trends in children's literature. Remember, you heard it first here! After the recent election, we'll be seeing a greater call for multicultural books. And with the downturn in the economy, there will be a move toward sweeter, gentler, even nostalgic children's books.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Missing Keet and Savvy

I've been a bit frantic lately. My parakeet, Kiwi, went missing. He simply disappeared. We've always given him the "fly" of the house, but he usually sticks fairly close to his cage. He's a conservative sort. But Saturday morning I woke up and no parakeet.
He hadn't been looking well lately, sitting on his perch all fluffed up. He is an elderly bird. But where could he have gone? My husband and I searched everywhere. Any ideas anyone? Any similar experiences?
I've had Kiwi for years and years, so the house feels very odd without his cheerful chirp. Even my puppy, Willow, keeps going over to his cage to look for him. Sigh!

On a more cheerful note, I recently finished a marvelous book. It's SAVVY by Ingrid Law. Mibs Beaumont is just about to turn 13, that ominous birthday when a Beaumont's savvy strikes. She doesn't know if she'll have the power to roil up hurricanes like brother Fish or create new ground like grandpa. But maybe her savvy will help her save her father, who was in a terrible accident...Mibs twangy narrative is ripe with surprises and humorous twists in this unique coming of age novel.
Editors tell us that its an author's unique voice that often sells a manuscript. I can certainly see why Dial took this wonderful novel.

Monday, November 3, 2008

New England SCBWI Writer's Salon

Over the weekend, I attended a New England SCBWI Writers' Salon on improving your public speaking. It was led by the dynamic Charlesbridge editor, Yolanda LeRoy. (In her other life, she's a performer.)
Yolanda had all sorts of great tips--keep that mike two fingers away from your mouth! And I even received a personal critique of a speech about THE BLACK REGIMENT OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION that I've prepared for a group of retired Naval Officers.
But perhaps the best part of the event was the chance to meet and mingle with other authors and illustrators looking to advance their careers.
Thank you so much, Melissa Stewart, for organizing these Salons! For a list of future Writers' Salon topics and dates, visit the New England SCBWI website at

And I also have a personal announcement. My new website is up and running. Take a look and let me know what you think at