May 17, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Finally Friday! And a beautiful Friday here, so let’s kick the weekend off with some good ol’ fifteen-word book reviews:
2. Emily’s Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary
Made me realize there were a few Salems in the US. Some outdated racial awkwardness.
3. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
A romantic comedy with stunningly complex characters. Portia can be cruel, Shylock can be sympathetic.
4. We Are in a Book by Mo Willems
Metafiction for the preschool set, as only Willems can do.
5. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Robin Hood with a kickass lady thief? Teen Annie would have been all over this!
May 17, 2013 § 9 Comments
One step closer to publication–copyedits!
Copyedits are different than the editorial letters you may get from your editor. These all deal with the nitty-gritty of your manuscript–consistent spelling, where the commas should be, if your character is supposed to be going to the moon on a Tuesday or Wednesday, etc. Basically, copyeditors are like Nancy Drews for the book world.
This week I received my copy-edited manuscript from Candlewick and, thankfully, it was a pretty painless process. This is probably helped by the fact that I a) have worked in publishing, so I’m familiar with the process/terms and b) I’m a huge grammar nerd at heart. I feel like copyediting is basically a game in which you have to find all the secret, hidden mistakes. Get all the points with correct grammar!
A few things my copyeditor caught:
When I switched the spelling of one minor character’s last name and then switched it back.
- Missing words in quotes by Amelia Earhart (which is probably why I shouldn’t try to type while holding a book open).
- That if Halloween is on a Sunday, Christmas shouldn’t fall on a Tuesday.
- Missing commas (a comma fan like I am was only too happy to put them in).
- When I try to use words that almost sound like the one I actually meant to use.
I’m so happy that someone went through my manuscript and was able to pick out all these little errors that would have looked so horrific in print. And I’m even more psyched that this means we’ve taken another big step in the editorial process!
May 8, 2013 § 11 Comments
In her keynote speech at NESCBWI, Sharon Creech mentioned, “Words generate words.” She was talking about the act of inspiration, and how ideas come to you, but I think this is also a good lens with which to look at rest of the weekend. Enthusiasm sparks more enthusiasm, creativity creates more creativity.
Which is one reason I like going to conferences like NESCBWI. When you put a bunch of writers and illustrators in a room, our excitement and dedication and talents are amplified, which is a pretty cool thing to be a part of. Writing can be a very solitary business and even though the internet has made it easier to connect with like-minded people, you can’t beat the feeling of gathering in one place for a weekend.
Last year was my first at NESCBWI, so I didn’t really know anyone and was afraid of not having anyone to talk to. This year, I felt like I kept seeing people I knew, both from real life and from social media. I wasn’t just someone at a conference; I was part of a community, a vibrant community that supports its members.
Of course, I got to experience lots of great panels and workshops and speeches from awesome writers and illustrators. A few conference highlights:
- Great keynotes by Sharon Creech and Grace Lin. I want to take a poetry class with Creech, who quotes Rilke and Robert Frost and Walter Dean Myers in her speech. Creech also mentioned the importance of taking naps for inspiration–duly noted! And Grace Lin was so dynamic and enthusiastic. Not being an illustrator or picture book author, I didn’t expect to connect with her speech as much as I did, but she was honest and thoughtful and energetic. Between her humor, her spirit, and her talent, Lin’s one of the coolest people ever. (And she dresses snazzy, too!)
- My critique group got matching t-shirts to celebrate member Tara Sullivan’s upcoming publication of Golden Boy. We rocked the guerrilla marketing.
- Very cool panel about the review process. Leila Roy of bookshelves of doom represented, which made me go all fangirl. Her blog has been a favorite since back before I knew I wanted to focus solely on writing YA. Also, very glad to hear that professional reviews really want to love every book they start, and that they want to find ways to connect books with potential readers.
- Workshopping first chapter/pages with Nova Ren Suma. She led a great session, and the other workshop attendees were all thoughtful critiquers. (Lots of us are trying to keep in touch online; can’t wait to see how all those first pages end up!)
- Great session on writing characters outside of your culture. It’s something several future novel ideas of mine involve, but I want to make sure I represent these characters and their backgrounds accurately and thoughtfully. One suggestion I liked was not to be afraid to go beyond the “romantic” parts of a culture, like holidays and folk traditions–get into the messiness of real life.
- On the social media side, one session about connecting with book bloggers (something I need to prepare for in the debut process) and making videos (something I should be doing now). My goal is to start a regular video feature here, so get ready for some visual aid.
- Getting to spend a weekend with my awesome critique group members, getting to see other friends and making new ones.
Thanks so much to this year’s organizers for putting on a great conference. I’m already thinking of next year when might book might be out, too. Eee!
May 6, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Updates from NESCBWI coming when my brain isn’t fried, but first, a lovely video about why we should all be bookish kids, no matter how old we are:
I love the idea of everyone processing their own story and realizing the expanse of possibilities through reading. Maybe you’re not going to tesser to other planets and save your dad from a giant brain, but you can still better process your own life and the lives of those around you having learned about Meg Murry’s expansive love and bravery. All kinds of art can show you the possibilities of other stories, but I think there’s something to be said for reading in particular–it’s intimate and personal while still being expansive.
May 3, 2013 § 3 Comments
It’s the first Friday in May and I couldn’t be happier about it. There are flowers blooming now, guys! There are buds on trees! And (in case you’ve missed the last couple of posts), I’m psyched about heading to the NESCBWI conference. Certainly, this calls for a New England kidlit author and illustrator-themed Friday Fifteen:
2. Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles
Sensitive look at what it means to be a “slut” in high school.
3. Hush, Little Dragon by Boni Ashburn
Can I use the phrase “darkly adorable?” Hilarious text, awesome illustrations by Kelly Murphy.
4. One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
About hope, family, and what it means to be in foster care. Love Carley.
5. The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
Only remember “The Sneetches,” but it’s way good. Seuss was from Springfield, MA, don’tcha know.
May 3, 2013 § Leave a Comment
NESCBWI has so much conference awesomeness, I needed two posts to get in all the gifs. (If you missed yesterday’s post, check out Part I here.) More gif-ery below!
Going to the bookstore:
Getting your books signed:
The line for the ladies room:
When someone (especially an agent/editor/famous writer) thinks your book sounds cool:
When someone says they think social media is a waste of time:
Hearing about how even really successful writers still deal with lots of rejection:
When you find someone who also likes historical YA/sci-fi MG/picture books about otters:
Trying to find a place for dinner on Saturday night:
Talking to the person who doesn’t know how to stop trying to network:
Getting to vent with people who understand:
What it feels like to be around so many awesome people for the weekend:
What you feel like doing once you go home:
What you feel like on Monday morning:
But then you remember the good conference vibes and:
So are you going to NESCBWI ’14?
See you in Springfield, fellow NESCBWI-ers!
May 1, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Even though I was a big reader as a teen, I also watched a lot of TV. This list of 9 Female Characters We Wish We’d Been More Like In High School is a pretty excellent reflection of my television heroes. (Veronica Mars, I still want to be you.) In YA, we have an abundance of female characters who are role models in dealing with everything from cliques to evil governments to man-eating wild horses. So, in no particular order:
Lyra Silvertongue from the His Dark Materials series
Why she’s cool: She’s one of the few people in the universe who can read an alethiometer. She hangs out with armored polar bears. She saved all the souls in the universe. She’s clever and rebellious. She has a daemon.
Why it would be good to be her in high school: She’d totally be the girl getting you to skip class so you could go have an awesome adventure and take down the establishment.
Frankie Landau-Banks from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Why she’s cool: She can outwit her private school’s oldest secret society, plan awesome pranks, and stand up to the patriarchy.
Why it would be good to be her in high school: A lot of teens might be insecure, but Frankie’s not afraid to let anything hold her back. I wish I had that kind of confidence and motivation in high school.
Alanna of Pirate’s Swoop and Olau from The Song of the Lioness series
Why she’s cool: Alanna is a redheaded, magic-doing lady knight, who snuck into knight school by pretending to be her twin brother. Girl has guts and then some.
Why it would be good to be her in high school: Alanna would totally be that girl who was captain of the soccer team, dated the hottest guys, and was awesome to hang out with.
Weetzie Bat from Dangerous Angels
Why she’s cool: Weetzie is a cross between a punk rocker and a fairy princess, living in a kind of magical version of LA with amazing, kind of magical friends and fighting against/learning to accept the darkness.
Why it would be good to be her in high school: Weetzie might not fit in, but she would be that girl who always wears something awesome and knows where the good bands are playing.
Puck Connolly from The Scorpio Races
Why she’s cool: In order to save her family home, Puck enters a man-eating horse race–with her regular horse.
Why it would be good to be her in high school: Puck is the ultimate underdog. But when she’s faced with some major challenges, she tackles them with a tenacity and a ferocity I wish I had when I was facing big math tests or family drama.
Veronica FitzOsborne from A Brief History of Montmaray
Why she’s cool: Veronica is poised, beautiful, the heir to the throne, and (above all) scholarly.
Why it would be good to be her in high school: Veronica would be that girl who makes everything look effortless (straight As! captain of the debate team!), and you wish you could hate her but you can’t because she’s so damn awesome. (I was way more like narrator Sophie in high school.)
Tris from Divergent
Why she’s cool: A lot of YA dystopian characters wish they didn’t have to run from zombies/take down an evil government/survive a creepy life-or-death game. But Tris gets an adrenaline rush from the action and wants to help people–a trait I really like.
Why it would be good to be her in high school: Tris doesn’t always look before she leaps. In high school, I always looked before I leapt. (Heck, I still do.) I could have used a little more of Tris’s daring.
Georgia Nicholson from Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging
Why she’s cool: She deals with normal life stuff (crushes, parents, cats) but also has a wicked sense of humor
Why it would be good to be her in high school: If you can’t change your normal life drama, you might as well be funny about it.
Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter series
Why she’s cool: I know, I know, everyone always talks about Hermione. But I really like Ginny. Sure, she had a rough first year, but after that she comes into her own–rocking the Quidditch team, doing well in school, and fighting in Dumbledore’s Army. Heck, she manages to get Slughorn’s attention, and usually that’s reserved for major wizard legacies.
Why it would be good to be her in high school: Ginny seems like she’d be the girl everyone admired–smart, talented, but low-key about it. She does what she wants and doesn’t take crap from people.
Which YA ladies would you want/have wanted to be in high school?