Sunday, February 28, 2010

Post-Breezy Bits

I had a lovely time at the Southern Breeze SCBWI conference this past weekend. For anyone who might be visiting this blog after being at the conference, here are a few more resources:

  • The Annotated Query Letter That Worked that I mentioned in the Q&A this morning (a companion to the Annotated Query Letter from Hell)
  • "The Art of Detection" goes into more depth on and provides concrete examples of some of the "Twenty-Two Revision Techniques" described in the talk of that name.
  • On the way to the airport today, I realized I should have mentioned "Make a dummy" or "Fit your manuscript into a 32-page framework" for the picture-book writers at the Revision Techniques talk; both of those techniques are discussed in this picture-book speech.
  • I sort of muddled through a paragraph from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in talking about establishing shots, topic sentences, and conclusions in paragraph structure; the paragraph I was trying to quote is used in full about halfway through this talk, "A Few Things Writers Can Learn from Harry Potter," if you'd like to see it for yourself.
  • I included on my handout at that talk, and will praise again for anyone who wasn't there, Anita Nolan's excellent article "'The End' Is Only the Beginning," which is full of useful revision tips.
I also said one thing that was, in retrospect, rather stupid, and though I worry I'm compounding the stupidity by commenting on it, it is important enough that I wanted to say something about it here. I gave my "Dimensions of Character" talk on Saturday, which includes this character-creation exercise, and after the character's ethnicity was decided as "Italian," I noted that not once when I've done that exercise has anyone suggested "White" for the ethnicity, which I thought was interesting because --

And here I said something like "We're mostly white here," which was to some extent true; the room was probably eighty percent white people, as the rooms are at most SCBWI conferences I attend. (And I often think that if we want to diversify the writers and illustrators publishing books for children, it would be a positive first step to get more people of color into SCBWI, since the organization is so immensely useful in teaching the basics of the business and connecting new writers with agents and editors.) But I absolutely did not mean to exclude or diminish the writers and illustrators of color who WERE in the room with that remark, and I very much apologize if it came off that way.

Finally, Francisco X. Stork's The Last Summer of the Death Warriors -- the next book by the author of Marcelo in the Real World, and the book I mentioned where I-the-generally-pacifist-reader learned on p. 5 that the main character wanted to kill someone, and by p. 10, in some feat of narrative and character alchemy, I was one hundred percent on board with that murder -- is out TOMORROW, March 1, so you can experience that same bloodthirsty transformation for yourself. (As well as all the wonderful transformations that happen after that.) Enjoy!

12 comments:

  1. Not that I've ever been to a SCBWI conference but based on this post and some other comments i've seen, I think more authors of color should definitely get involved in SCBWI because it seems like such a helpful organziation, it's fun, you learn and network! We need to get more author and illustrators of color on the web.

    Everyone should go read last Summer of the Death Warriors, so great! I will tweet this tomorrow to remind everyone :)

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  2. I was present for the recent SCBWI talks and found them, as always,to be professional and informative. Most attendees at these sessions are there, like myself, because we desire to learn about writing for children (our dream) and about this confusing world of publishing (our goal being to achieve publication). I appreciate your willingness to teach and to share. You are putting everything you can into our hands to help us be successful in this venture. This posting again illustrates a gracious gesture to share and I, for one, appreciate it immensely. Thanks, Cheryl.

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  3. I've been following your blog since I attended an SCBWI conference in Nashville this year. I've been going through old posts trying to glean some education and I have a question. Do you have an entry about writing a novel synopsis? I know there are dump truck loads of ideas out there about this subjective topic, but can you direct me to your particular brand of wisdom. Blessings.

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  4. Thanks for the kind words, Cheryl!

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  6. you have never muddled through something! it was brilliant advice as usual! Thanks :)

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  7. It was a great conference, and I learned a ton from your talks. Thanks!

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  8. As Pat said, the publishing world is confusing, and I think it's reached the point where it's confusing not only to outsiders but also to the people who are inside the loop! One enlightening essay I recently read is in the March 11 NY Review of books, "Publishing: The Revolutionary Future." It is by Jason Epstein, an old hand and a long-time booklover.

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  9. I wasn't there when you said it, but if I were, I wouldn't have been offended. I'm brown, but I'm pretty white-washed, so I probably would have instinctively thought I was one of the white people you mentioned hahaha

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  10. About the annotated query letter. You mention describing the ways in which your manuscript matches the particular interests of the editor. In your case, for readers of your blog, it is pretty easy to know what your interests are. But most of the time, writers know very little about editors--many of them have very little internet profile. And looking at other books they edited (even when you can determine which they are, which you can't always for people who don't have their own mprints) can lead you in the wrong direction. They have already edited books of a certain sort, but now they probably want something different. Do you have any ideas about ways writers can find out more about an editor's tastes and interests? We aren't part of circle of people in the publishing world in the way you insiders are! A subscription to Publisher's Marketplace does reveal a fair amount--but it is expensive as an ongoing proposition. (I subscribed for one month and learned a lot, but it gets quite pricy.) Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

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  11. I can't believe how much of this I just wasn't aware of. Thank you for bringing more information to this topic for me. I'm truly grateful and really impressed.

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