Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Writer Friends and Artist Types: Post Conference Recovery


Friday night, I entered the Industry Party at the hotel. Dozens of agents, editors, and publishers ate cheese and drank wine in the SAME room as me. **major fangirl squee**


Donna and I observed the Rock Stars of the Children's Book World, interact with each other, and guess what? They are regular people. They eat and drink like us. They have hopes and dreams like us. The only major difference between US and THEM? They possess the power to catapult us to the stars or smash us against a brick wall.

So...okay, maybe they're more superhero, than rockstar, but you get the point.


Post-Industry party, we met new SCBWI friends from New England and Kimberly Sabatini, at the bar. Kim is the author of Touching the Surface. **fangirl squee*** And yes, I did squee in front of her--she's just a down to earth person who happens to have a YA novel published. (I know, awesome right?!?!)


We met these new friends via Twitter.
(Remember my advice from the other day--it really works. Try it. You'll like it.)

It's not easy meeting people out in the real world. There's always that awkward getting to know you stage. You talk about the weather, your kids, the school...

Small talk. I hate small talk. I'm not good at it. I don't enjoy it. I like to know upfront whether I like this new person and if I see myself maintaining some type of friendship past the 'Hi-Bye' stage.

BUT when I meet a writer or another artist type, I don't need to explain why I hide in my house for days at a time and peck away at a keyboard. I don't need to justify why I love to read but forget to clean, or why there are piles of books, papers, pens, journals, and more books spread throughout my house. They already know...
          They get me.

I call them Instant Friends.
Instant friends are made when you go to conferences and events with like minded people. You skip the small talk and start talking about your favorite book or your current project.
 
They understand how much it crushes you to get a form rejection letter, but they don't say, "Honey, you'll get a 'yes' one of these days."


They grab you by the hair and yank you back up, brush away the tears, hand you chocolate, and tell you to get back to work. There also might be some degrogatory comments made about the agent's poor judgement, but... you didn't hear that from me.

Find places where you can meet like minded people. Whether you're a writer, an illustrator, a fisherman, a realtor, a soccer player, or just a plain old Jo find a place where THEY get you!! It makes all the difference.

Is that Donna Boock, E.B. Lewis, Kim Briggs, Alison Green Myers, Peggy Collins, Kari-Lynn Winters, Alma Fullerton, Ruth Ellie-McNally Barshaw (Ellie McDoodle), at the SAME table?
Why, yes it is. Thank you for noticing!             
Are more than half of the people published authors and/or illustrators, perhaps even a Caldecott winner or two? Why, yes they are.

Go to conferences!! THEY get you, and you get INSTANT FRIENDS. You just might meet a few superheroes of your own!


Write on,
Kim





Monday, February 24, 2014

Brain Dump: Post Conference Rewrap

Eyes swollen                                                                 Check
Business card holder empty                                          Check
Brain swirling with a gazillion ideas                            Double check
Woke up an hour early to start my creative exploration?..............................................   
     













Woke up an hour early?............................................OOPs!           
           
At the NYSCBWI Conference, Illustrator, Tommie dePaola suggested we wake up early each day and begin our creative endeavors while the rest of the world sleeps.


His Theory: The brain is tired when you first wake up, but it's also free of outside stimulation. Therefore, if you start working the brain first thing in the morning, amazing new ideas will flow.


For me, not so much. I was tired, overloaded, and under exercised.
           I needed a BRAIN DUMP.
I dropped the kids off at school and went for a run. During that hour of running, I came up with ten solid blog posts, bought two dresses for my next conference, made a shopping list, decided to enter two writing contests, made up a 'To Do' list for the upcoming week, and a rough outline of a new book idea. (IPhones are AWESOME.)

Running or some type of exercise combined with fresh air stimulates my brain. I can dump the extra stuff floating around and really focus. 



But that's what works for me.


Creativity is a subjective business. What works for Tommie doesn't work for me. What works for me, may not work for you.


Other ways to Brain Dump: yoga, meditation, reading, sketching, journaling, staying up late, writing sprints, deadlines-self made or appointed, crowded places, quiet nooks, long walks, rainy days, car rides, yelling, crying, laughing, eating


How do you Brain Dump?


Write on,
Kim


Friday, February 21, 2014

Go to Conferences!

Tomorrow morning, I pack my bags and head off to the SCBWI Conference in New York with my writing BFFs and Ink Sisters, Donna Boock and Alison G. Myers. As I sit at my laptop, I realize what a long way I've come since my first writing conference.

Two years ago, I toyed with the idea of going to a conference to network, maybe form some connections, and learn some new things. A great friend of mine suggested I go to a small conference and ease into the waters.



But I don't ease in, I plunge.






The next day I signed up to attend the New York SCBWI Conference. I knew the conference would be big--SCBWI (Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators) is an international organization. I just didn't realize how BIG! Writers, Authors, and Illustrators poured out of the elevators and into the meeting rooms.

The conference didn't start until Saturday, but that didn't stop me from meeting people Friday night. I got on the official website and found out about a get-together for
out-of-towners. Perfect. Through the Twitter feed, I hooked up with soon-to-be published authors, Liz Coley and Claire Caterer (both now published), and another YA writer, G.G. Silverman. My first writer friends...**HEART*SQUEE**



Saturday, I met dozens of writers, authors, and illustrators. Some I keep in touch with through various social media, but not like Liz, Claire, and G.G.


And then I went to the Gala and met Alison. It was love at first sight. Alison and I started a critique group in March of 2012, but we didn't become the Ink Sisters, until we met Donna at the SCBWI Eastern PA Pocono Retreat in May 2013.


My Ink Sisters are invaluable to me. We laugh, we smile, we cry, we critique, we rewrite, we laugh, we eat chocolate, we drink wine, we laugh...


My point, GO to conferences.
                          TALK to people.
                                      GIVE them your card
                                                 STAY in touch


The connections you make are priceless. You can chat all you want on Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler, Pinterest, Instagram..., but there is nothing more powerful than the face to face.
And don't be afraid of the cost. Conferences are expensive, but there are scholarship opportunities available through SCBWI at the local and the national level. You just have to look. Volunteer to help. You never know, when good things will come your way.
A conference is an investment in your career. Save money and GO! You might just find your own writing BFFs.


Write on!
Kim













Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why YA?


I tend to write in a YA voice. It comes naturally. Not sure why.
         Maybe I never grew up.
              Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment and want to repeat my same
              mistakes over and over again.
                          Maybe I remember what it's like to be young and free and full of
                          possibility.


I spent a lot of time in high school. No, I didn't repeat a year--4 years and I was out of there, but I taught American Lit to Freshmen, Sophomores, and the occasional Junior and Senior, who did fail once or twice. I watched them rise and fall and rise again.
     
High School is all about firsts.
First boyfriend, first kiss, first job, first car...
It is amazing and terrifying, beautiful and tragic.


Everyone remembers high school--for better or for worse.
                       No one wants a...


But there are moments we want to relive for the rest of our lives.



That's why I write YA.