Archive for August, 2012

Tarot Zamm

Today my cousin, Zamm is celebrating her birthday.


Because I am financially challenged, and a writer besides, I have decided to dedicate this blog post to her, as a birthday present.

I am a big sister to my only sibling, and to many younger cousins and friends. A lot of them call me “Ate” (pronounced a-teh, it means big sister in Tagalog). This is why Ate Zamm is very special to me. She is the only “Ate” I really I have.

Ate Zamm with her arms around me, and younger cousins Ely & Eric

I’ve featured Zamm on my blog several times. She was my “Z” post for the A-Z challenge this year. I talked about how I named one of my characters after her, and also about how talented and well-rounded a person she is.

Zamm is a singer, artist, painter, photographer, businesswoman, and she also happens to be a really good (and pretty accurate) tarot card reader.

You might have read my post on the time she gave me a past life reading, and  told me what my soul’s purpose was. Her words resonated with me, and allowed me to reflect about what mattered to me. It also enlightened me as to what path I should take in order to keep my soul happy.

I think there are people in this world who have this rare gift of intuition that allows them to see beyond what normal people see. These people are very attuned to the earth and all that connects us to it, and they have the ability to sense things that average people don’t.

Zamm is one of these rare people, and though I’ve seen her gift in action many times, I’m still always amazed.

Of course, it’s hard to believe me since I’m singing praises of my own cousin. But maybe this little anecdote will illustrate my point.

I remember the exact night Zamm gave me the past life reading, not only because of what she’d said during the reading itself, but because of what she’d said AFTER, when we were casually chatting and catching up on each other’s lives.

 Zamm had told me that she’d been having these disturbing dreams of a catastrophic earthquake the past few nights. She said she had an uneasy feeling in her gut that this was meant to be a warning. She knew her dreams meant that a big earthquake was going to strike within the next few days. It would strike hard, and though it wouldn’t strike home (meaning the Philippines), it would strike close to it.

Like any kind of doomsday prediction, Zamm’s prophetic words were ignored by my skeptical mind and soon tucked away in the oblivion that is my memory.

Two days later, on March 11th, 2011, an earthquake struck the coast of Japan, creating a tsunami that wiped away an entire town.

I sat in stunned silence, watching the footage on television, and my mind began to cough out the memory of Zamm’s words. Gooseflesh rose on my arms and I became a believer.

Zamm is truly attuned to the earth and all its moods. So attuned, that she was able to hear its grumblings days before we heard it roar.

Zamm’s true gift is not that she is psychic and able to foresee the future. Her gift is that she knows how to really, really listen.

We’re all so tuned in to the noise of daily living that we have grown so afraid of silence. We’ve gotten attached to sounds outside of us, that we fail to listen to the voice within us.

Rare, gifted people like Zamm know how to truly listen, and so they are able to hear and interpret sounds that our desensitized ears and deafened hearts so often ignore.

One day, I hope to be a true listener like Zamm. For now, I will have to content myself with sporadic tarot reading sessions and chats.

Luckily, I’m not the only one who can benefit from Zamm’s wisdom and gift. You can, too, if you want. Since it’s her birthday today, I figured I’d advertise her talents in the hopes that I can convince one of you to try it out for yourselves.

If this post has gotten you even just a tiny bit curious, please drop by Zamm’s website.  Look around, ask for a reading, or even just wish her a happy birthday. I’m sure that’ll make her day.

Happy birthday, Ate Zamm!


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Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Sci-Fi/Fantasy author M. Pax.

You can also find M. sharing her writing wisdom and blogging at Wistful Nebula .

Welcome, M!


Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

Author M. Pax

I write mostly science fiction and fantasy. I have a healthy obsession with Jane Austen, and dream of joining the Browncoats and Stargate Command. When not writing, I’m often persuaded into pampering my two cats, Nini and Makayla.

Every summer I docent as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory and take a lot of moon pictures. My astronomy pals are convinced I have the most thorough collection of moon photos ever. So, yes, I enjoy photography. I take lots of photos of trees, rock, water, and flowers, too. I also like going out on adventures with the Husband Unit into the wilds of Oregon.

M’s summer weekend office

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

At my PC usually piled high with notes and journals and who knows what else. Only the desk knows.


2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

My desk came from IKEA. I have lots of pens … Did you notice?  and I have a pile of stuff … notes from old stories or stories not yet written and notes from writing workshops and the like, a pile in front of that with what I’m working on now, my calendar and journals [for current projects + idea journal].

M. Pax’s Workspace

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

Pens. Did you notice the pens? Journals. Paper. Post-its to stick on my monitor when I’m in a middle of a project. I just finished one, so most of the post-its are gone. Sometimes there’s a live cat on it.

4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

I love my flat monitor stuck to the wall, so I have all that space to set piles of crap on. I love my ergonomic keyboard. Although most of the letters have worn off of the keys now. Good thing I learned to touch type in high school.

5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

In the mornings, green tea with ginseng. In the afternoon, water. You’ll notice it’s purple in the photo. That’s because my water has EmergenC in it lately. My body is trying to catch a cold again … I’m trying not to let it.

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

 Thomas Hardy, Hermann Hesse, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke, and Jane Austen have influenced me most. That and poetry. I like the abstraction of poetry. I try to incorporate some of that into my style.

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

I write in the morning, then print out what I did. I read over what I wrote later in the evening and make edits by hand. In the morning, I start by inputting those edits. Helps me get into the mindset where I left off. I recently switched to green tea with ginseng. Gets my mind going nicely.

3.  Do you write everyday?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I write every day, including most weekends. Here and there, I’ll take some time off for frivolity – an outing with my writer friends, astronomy pals, or the Husband Unit. I include revising, tweaking, editing, and redirecting as writing. I do a lot of those. I write three or more hours a day, and spend another two reading over what I wrote on paper and marking it with a pen, getting ready to go the next day.

4. Why do you write?

Otherwise I’d be a miserable mess. Writing makes me happy.


5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

Write everyday. You need to write, write, write to discover your voice and style. No matter your talent level at stringing words together, writing fiction is a unique skill set. It takes time to learn how to layer everything in and do it well. My favorite quote: Never give up. Never surrender.



Thanks, M, for giving us a glimpse into your writing life.

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.




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Harbinger Giveaway Winner

This month’s Spotlight Week featured one of my favorite YA Authors Sara Wilson Etienne.

I had a blast reviewing HARBINGER, and featuring an interview with the gracious Sara Wilson Etienne.

To end that Spotlight Week with a bang, I announced a Giveaway.

Today, I get to reveal the winner of Sara Wilson Etienne’s HARBINGER.

I asked the participants of the giveaway to answer why they’d like to win a copy of the books in a creative way to increase their chances of winning.

Here are the most creative answers I’ve come across:

Katie says:

I am in need of this book for the enrichment of all those I rule over in my imaginary kingdom of Curiosity. We thrive on beautiful works of art whether it is created with the all powerful pen or brush. Harbinger is a work of art from the gorgeous cover to the beautifully flowing words that are no doubt filled with its creators heart and and spilled from their very soul. This is why I believe I would give Harbinger a wonderful home where it will be loved and cherished and certainly never lonely.

I need to win a copy of this because clearly it’s the secret biography of me and my superpowers…. :P


These ladies certainly got extra points for their creative answers. 

In the end, however, there can only be one.





I’ll be emailing you all shortly with more congratulations and some instructions for claiming your prizes.

Next month, I’ll be training the Spotlight on another favorite author and her wonderful book.

Tune in on the 2nd week of September to find out more about YA Author Marie Lu and get a chance to win a SIGNED copy of LEGEND!

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August 18, 2012, Saturday

Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, Redondo Beach, CA


Workshop Description:

Authors Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone) and Jennifer Bosworth (Struck) discussed common mistakes made by first-time authors and the things they wish they’d done differently on the road to publication.

The topics they touched on included: how to build a better first draft, balancing critique and community with the integrity of personal voice, researching and approaching agents, what writers need to expect when they”re on submission, and how to evaluate their publishing deals.

They also shed light on what happens after the sale and discussed what writers may want to know as theywork with editors and publicists to polish and promote their books.


Speakers Bio (from their websites):

YA Author Leigh Bardugo (Shadow & Bone)

Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she live sin Hollywood, where she indulges her fondness for glamour, ghouls, and costuming in her other life as make up artist L.B. Benson. Occasionally, she can be heard singing with her band, Captain Automatic.

Her debut novel, Shadow & Bone (Holt Children’s/Macmillan), is a New York Times Bestseller and the first book in the Grisha Trilogy. Book 2, Siege and Storm, will be published in 2013.  She is represented by Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of New Leaf.

YA Author Jennifer Bosworth  (STRUCK) 

Jennifer Bosworth was born in Price, Utah, a small, coal-mining town in the desert. As a kid, her favorite thing to do was roam alone through the barren hills and tell herself stories. As an adult, she continues to do the same thing, only now she’s roaming the streets of Los Angeles, her favorite city in the world.

Jennifer attended college at the University of Utah, where she later taught continuing education classes on writing horror, fantasy, and science fiction.

Struck (FSG/Macmillan) is Jennifer’s first published novel. She is represented by Jamie Weiss Chilton of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Jennifer is the writer half of the writer/director team with her husband, Ryan Bosworth.


Workshop Summary:

Last Saturday (August 18, 2012), CBW-LA had the wonderful pleasure of having YA Authors Jennifer Bosworth and Leigh Bardugo as speakers.

The Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore was packed with writers eager to learn more about writing and the publishing industry.

The speakers prepared a wonderful presentation, full of information that would help beginning writers get started on their writing careers.  They even prepared a handout so members could easily follow the workshop.

Speaker Jennifer Bosworth explaining the handouts

The authors were generous in the information they shared, and despite the presence of handouts, the workshop attendees found themselves furiously scribbling pages upon pages of notes.

Speaker Leigh Bardugo giving tips on how to create an exciting middle in one’s novel

Authors Jennifer and Leigh emphasized the importance of understanding your story idea, and considering the audience you wish to write for.

They also stated the importance of being able to sum up your story in one sentence. They discussed the value of loglines, and the difference between high concept loglines and and regular loglines.

Attendees volunteered their loglines. The speakers helped them figure out if their loglines contained high concept ideas, and even helped them improve and strengthen their one sentence summaries. 

 The speakers also explained the ingredients of a proper logline: character + conflict + hook.  Not all stories need to be high concept, but they should always have some kind of hook.

Leigh and Jennifer listening to an audience member’s question

Leigh and Jennifer gave the following questions writers need to ask, when Crafting their logline:

  1. Who is your main character?
  2. What does your MC want?
  3. Why does your MC want it?
  4. What’s the catch? What stands in the MC’s way?
  5. What sets the MC’s journey in motion?
  6. What makes this story unique? What’s the hook?


After helping the attendees with their loglines, the speakers discussed the two kinds of writing: Plotting and Pantsing, and the pros and cons between the two.

Jennifer and Leigh are polar opposites in their writing styles, and they were perfect examples of how different plotters are from pantsers.

Leigh is a plotter and admitted that she would not be able to sit down and write without some semblance of an outline. The wonderful benefit of being a plotter, is that the revisions are less painful because you already know the structure of your story.  One of the cons of plotting, however, is that there is no perfect plan, and sometimes too much research can bog a writer down.

Jennifer is a pantser and loves the process of discovery and of surprising herself. One of the downsides she mentioned was that without an outline, it was easy for her to get lost in the story.


On Getting Feedback

Jennifer and Leigh warned writers about submitting a manuscript without getting feedback for it first:

*An agent or editor should never be the first person to see your manuscript

They explained the different ways of getting feedback, such as attending a critique group or going to workshops and conferences that offer manuscript critique.

They gave the following tips for making the most of your feedback:

  1. Listen. Don’t argue. Give the critique a chance to settle in before revising
  2. Beware critique overload – there is such a thing as having too many betas
  3. Red flags: betas who don’t like your genre; nitpickers; the beta ego
  4. Stack the deck: Tell betas what you need, keep readers in reserve.



Audience members eagerly listened as the two speakers talked about the process of finding the right agent. 

The speakers had very different experiences in getting their agents.

Leigh got her agent through the usual process of querying, and she gave the attendees some great tips for writing their query letters:

• Keep it short: One page, roughly 3 short paragraphs

• Put the hook up front: What makes your story different?

• Do your research and personalize your queries (Why this agent?)

• Query in small batches so that you can adapt to feedback


Jennifer, on the other hand, got her agent by pitching in person. She and Leigh even did a demonstration on how a pitchfest usually works. Jennifer gave the following helpful tips for pitching in person:

•Be excited about your book!

•Speak for 1 minute and then let the agent/editor ask questions

•Use time wisely. If agent/editor is not interested, use remaining time to ask for his/her opinion or advice


The speakers also discussed what writers should do when they do get The Call. They cautioned writers against saying “yes” right away, likening the process of choosing an agent to marriage. 

They gave a list of some helpful questions to ask an agent before deciding on who to pick:

• How many authors do you represent?

• What kind of revisions do you have in mind for the book?

• How wide would you go with the book?

• How and how often do you like to correspond with your clients?

• How involved are you with social media and marketing of your clients?

• Do you have clients I could speak to?

• If the book doesn’t sell right away, what would be your approach?


In the final part of the workshop, the speakers discussed what happens once an author signs a contract with a publisher.

There are a lot of things to consider when signing a publishing contract: foreign rights, , royalties, bonuses, marketing plans. An agent can help an author handle all of these things.

Leigh also weighed in on the subject of writing a series.  If you’re planning to write a series, don’t write the second book until the first one sells.  If the publisher offers to buy your book as a series, be ready with a synopsis for the succeeding books.

The speakers also explained that the submissions process takes anywhere from 1-2 years. Agents have to find the right editor, and these editors also have to find a way to sell the author’s book to the whole publishing company.  It’s important that the author stay busy during this submissions phase. While they’re waiting for the editor’s notes,  they should be writing the next book, or working on a promotion strategy for their books.

Jennifer and Leigh ended their workshop by inviting audience members to take a piece of paper and write down their writing goals.  The attendees wrote down their goals and slipped the paper into the SASE’s they had brought.

The authors promised to mail these letters off in a few months, as a reminder to the attendees about the writing promises they had made to themselves.

Leigh and Jennifer were gracious, generous, knowledgeable (and funny!) speakers and we were very, very lucky to have them indeed!

CBW-LA Officers with Authors/Speakers Leigh Bardugo & Jennifer Bosworth, photo by Maiko

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Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Melissa Bradley, author of steamy novels, and that fun blog Melissa’s Imaginarium.

Welcome, Melissa!


Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

Author Melissa Bradley

I am from the South Side of Chicago, a little neighborhood right along Lake Michigan and the Indiana border. It’s a place once re-knowned for its steel mills and churches. The mills have long since disappeared, but we’ve still managed to maintain a vibrant area. My home is actually located near three lakes. Wolf Lake and Powderhorn Lake are mere blocks from me (I can see Wolf Lake at the end of my street) while Lake Michigan is just a few minutes north east. I love to go walking on the trails there.
I am huge into football (da Bears!), basketball and hockey. I am fiercely loyal to my home teams and have superstitous rituals that I have to keep. I also love to go to museums and am the one person you get behind who has to read every single placard.
I have a twisted sense of humor and a sarcastic mouth. I love to laugh and make fun of myself on a regular basis. I also have a billion dollar caffeine habit. LOL
My day job has been a variety of things. I’ve been a freelance editor, writer, tutor. I’ve done time in the trenches of law firms as well as retail. My favorite job was working in the box office of a theater. I got to see a variety of productions and met the likes of Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson and John Candy.
 I love to read a lot of genres, but I love to write erotica, sci fi, horror and history.
 One of my biggest passions/hobbies is movies, horror in particular. Halloween is my national holiday. I have a movie fright fest that I do every year and sometimes I go all out in costume. One year I dressed as an 80’s slasher vic complete with fake blood, big hair and shoulder pads.
My hidden talent, hmmm…I can do variety of accents and voices. I have faked people out with the way I can mimic an accent. I’ve been told I do a good Yosemite Sam. LOL

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I write at my desk, which is in my bedroom. I’ve just moved so I am still getting used to the space and as of this writing my favorite things are still packed away. Among the things I keep on my desk are a rainbow onyx sphere, a blue fluorite sphere and a hand blown tealight holder I received from a fellow Grateful Dead fan I encountered at a street fair.

Melissa’s Workspace

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

My current desk came from my new roommate. It’s more of a computer cabinet slash desk, really. It’s made of light wood and has cork on the inside of the doors so I can hang my calendar (Harley-Davidson motorcycles, my faves), my favorite quotes, my Blackhawks hockey emblem and a picture my nephew colored for me.

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

Reference books are probably the most important thing that I have on and around my desk. I use them for grammar questions, research consultation for stories, and of course, the Synonym Finder by J. I. Rodale. I also could not live without pens, notebooks and sticky notes. When I’m working, they multiply on my desk like pennies in a change purse.

4. What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

I love the shelving space on my desk. It does not make up for the built-in bookcases that I had at my old place, but it’s great being able to have my reference books right at my desk instead of across the room. Oh and I love the electrical outlets in here. Strange, I know, but my old place had one set of outlets in the room and I had to use power strips galore. Now, I can plug everything in without jerry-rigging cords.

5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

Diet Pepsi is my poison of choice when I work. I am addicted to the stuff and cannot function without gallons of it.

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

I have so many favorite authors  that it is very difficult for me to pick just one, but C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series played a big part in inspiring me down this path of writing. I also found inspiration in Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Mary Shelley, Harper Lee and of course, all those awesome bodice ripper books of the Eighties.

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

I am not able to write full time so the bulk of my day is taken up with day jobs. I write when I find the time, usually late at night or very early on Saturday mornings. I guess I really don’t have a typical writing day. I do meet once a week with my critique partners, though.

3.  Do you write everyday?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I don’t have a certain amount of time that I spend writing. I have to fit it in when I can. My main distraction is this Pac Man-like game called Crunchy Munch. I am addicted to it. But, since I write so little each day, I usually can concentrate on what I need to do without distraction.

4. Why do you write?

I write because I enjoy creating my own worlds and people. I enjoy being able to imagine something, then breathe life into it. I have been writing for as long as I can remember. When I was in fourth or fifth grade, I decided I wanted to write like C.S. Lewis and I created my own tale. I worked very hard on it. When I showed it to my teacher and told her what I wanted, she promptly replied with “That’s nice sweetie, but do you have any idea how hard it is to become published?” I was crushed. Another teacher, Mrs. Martello, saw me crying and asked me what was wrong. I told her. Next thing I know, she took my story, read it, then brought it back to me and told me that I could write like Lewis if I wanted, that I would make a great author. She wasn’t even my teacher and she inspired me.

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

I think the most important advice I received as a writer was write you want. Create your story the way you want. If you would read it, then so will others. Your story will find its audience, just be patient and remain true to the spirit of your vision.


Thanks, Melissa, for giving us a glimpse into your writing life.

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

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SCBWI Summer Conference Day 3 (August 5, 2012)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Despite the late night partying Saturday night, almost everyone turned up bright and early for Sunday’s first event: the agent’s panel.

Agents Panel

Moderator Lin Oliver, and agents Jill Corcoran, Deborah Warren, Linda Pratt and Josh Adams

Moderated by Lin Oliver, the  agents in the panel included Jill Corcoran of the Herman Agency, Deborah Warren of East West Agency, Linda Pratt of Wernick & Pratt Agency and Josh Adams, of Adams Literary Agency.

Each agent introduced himself/herself, mentioning not only what their agencies are about, but also what kind of manuscripts they’re interested in.

Jill Corcoran ran her own marketing company before becoming an agent for the Herman Agency. She represents everything from picture books to YA novels.

Deborah Warren started the East West Literary Agency ten years ago. She’s always on the lookout for debut talent and has a particular love for picture books.

Linda Pratt and her colleague Marcia Wernick, began the Wernick & Pratt Agency last year. Although she represents everything from picture books to YA, she has a sweet spot for middle grade.

Josh Adam and his wife Tracey Adams founded the Adams Literary Agency. Adams Literary is a boutique agency dedicated solely to children’s and YA books. They are looking to represent authors, not books, and so are always highly selective of who they represent. They love to find books they’re passionate about.


Memorable Quotes from the Agents Panel:

* Josh Adams: You can expect money, but don’t do it for the money. You can expect to earn anywhere from a year’s living expenses to seven figures.

* Linda Pratt: You can earn money, when you’re dead, too.

* Jill Corcoran: The advance is only the beginning. Some people self-publish and put their books out there for $2.99. That’s what people think books are worth. Think hard before you do that.

 Advice to writers:

* Jill Corcoran: Get a fantastic concept, write a great book. Find an agent who really believes in you. Be positive. Think positively,you will have a lot more success. Be professional, don’t make mistakes online. Don’t badmouth people, or be vicious. Whatever you put on your blogs will stay there forever. I would’ve signed three clients except for their online behavior.

* Deborah Warren: Cherish your gift. Respect the gift you give to children. When publication comes, that’s icing on the cake, but the cake is good nonetheless.

* Linda Pratt: Persevere, be flexible. Always remember the joy in your work. Don’t get stuck on your first book. Finish it, polish it, but move on to the next project.

* Josh Adams: Love what you do. Confidence. Discipline. Perseverance. Don’t give up. Go after your goals, and just keep working.


 Picture Book Panel

The picture book panel moderated by Dan Yaccarino included picture book authors Eugene Yelchin, Antoinette Portis, Lee Wardlow and Jon Klassen.

I missed this session in favor of some much needed sustenance. Luckily, the awesome SCBWI bloggers wrote great summaries from each of the panelists perspective:

Jon Klassen

Lee Wardlow

Eugene Yelchin

Antoinette Portis


Workshop 1: Deborah Halverson “How to Talk Like a Teen When You’re So Not One”

Deborah Halverson

Deborah Halverson’s workshop was one of my favorites this year. She packed her presentation with so much helpful information, that I ended up with five pages worth of notes.

Deborah Halverson was an editor at Harcourt before she crossed to the other side and became an author herself. She wrote Big Mouth and Honk if You Hate Me, and one of my favorite writing books: Writing YA Fiction for Dummies.


Deborah Halverson’s Memorable Quotes:

* Dialogue must entertain, intrigue and inform readers.

* Dialogue has three roles: Revealing things about characters and plot, Pushing the plot forward, and Convincing the readers that the lines sound like a real person talking.

* Strong dialogue is realistic, not real.

* There are techniques to making believable tween/teen dialogue: blurt things, choose simple words, lighten up, make the conversation about the speaker and exaggerate.

* Relax your grammar, embrace casual syntax, even throw in some bad grammar, as long as you keep your meaning clear.


Golden Kite Luncheon

After the morning workshop, we headed back to the main ballroom for the Golden Kite Luncheon.

The ballroom had been transformed from main conference hall to a dining hall within the hour. After we found some seats, we all settled in for a wonderful lunch and the SCBWI annual awards.

Mentorship Winners as well as the winners of the Portfolio contest were announced. The fabulous SCBWI blog has a breakdown of the winners below:

Suzanne Morgan Williams was awarded with the SCBWI Member of the Year for her generous donation of time and talent to the group.

Afterwards, the Golden Kite Awards were presented and each winner came up on stage to give a little speech.

Golden Kite for Nonfiction: Candace Fleming, for Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amerlia Earhart

Golden Kite for Picture Book Illustration: Melissa Sweet, for Balloons Over Broadway

Golden Kite for Picture Book Text: Kate Messner, for Over and Under the Snow

Golden Kite Award for Fiction: Ruta Sepetys for Between Shades of Gray

Sid Fleischman Award for Humor: Chris Rylander for The Fourth Stall


 Workshop 2: Tracy Barrett “The Ten Commandments of Writing Historical Fiction”

After the wonderful luncheon and awards ceremony, we all broke away from the main ballroom and headed to our respective workshop rooms.

I was interested in learning how to write historical fiction, so I attended Tracy Barrett’s session. Tracy Barrett wrote the Sherlock Files series and Dark of the Moon. She gave us a helpful handout, listing all the ten most important tips for writing historical fiction.

Tracy Barrett’s Most Memorable Quotes:

* When writing historical fiction, don’t provide uncommon knowledge.

* Verify the facts, especially when they’re fun.

* All the things you know about fiction are also true for historical fiction.

* When you’re doing research, you’ll always find more stuff than you can use. Keep them.


Keynote: Gary Schmidt “That Kid in the Back Row, the One with the Red Shirt”

Newbery award winner Gary Schmidt is the author of Lizzie Bright and Buckminster Boy. He was the last keynote speaker for the conference, and his talk was both funny and inspiring.

Gary Schmidt’s Memorable Quotes:

* Border collies can teach you a lot about herding–and life. They teach you to pay attention to everything.

* In middle school, all of the Jewish kids and the kids with religion were excused from this particular class, to attend their own religion based classes. I was the only one without religion, so I was left behind. My teacher didn’t know what to do with me so she made gave me the Complete Works of William Shakespeare and asked me to read it. We never discussed what I read, or talked about it, but I enjoyed reading Shakespeare.

* Write poems and stories that will give your readers more to be human with.


SCBWI Autograph Party

One of the highlights of the SCBWI Summer Conference was getting to  talk to some of my favorite authors during the Conference Autograph Session.

My new friend Monika and I agreed to help each other out during the autograph session. I took her pictures with her favorite authors, and she took mine. Thanks to her, I have some wonderful photos to remember the autograph party by.

Here are some of the authors I got to chat with:

With Sara Shepard, author of Pretty Little Liars


With Matthew Kirby, author of The Clockwork Three


With Linda Sue Park, author of A Single Shard


With Pamela Wells, author of The Heartbreakers

With Jay Asher, author of Thirteen Reasons Why

With Chris Rylander, author of The Fourth Stall


With Dan Santat, author and illustrator of Sidekicks


With Tracy Barrett, author of the Sherlock Files Series

 And last, but certainly not the least, the man with the longest autograph line ever:

With Tony DiTerlizzi, author of Wondla and Illustrator of the Spiderwick Chronicles

 After the awesome autograph party, I headed upstairs to the lobby for the Kidlit hangout session. Monika and I got there early so we started chatting about the conference and writing in general. Minutes later, our new friend Drue, whom we met while waiting at Tony DiTerlizzi’s autograph line, joined us for drinks.

With new conference friends Monika and Drue

 Talking about writing and life in general with new friends Monika and Drue was a wonderful way to end the conference.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s summer conference!


******Special Thanks to Monika Moreno for taking my autograph pictures!!!




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SCBWI Summer Conference Day 2 (August 4, 2012)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I got there a little bit earlier on Saturday, so I managed to purchase some books at the SCBWI Bookstore.

SCBWI Bookstore

My book budget was spent on three illustration laden, wonderful books:

Day 2 of the SCBWI Summer Conference began with the same enjoyable fanfare: Steve Mooser told us the second version of his story “How I injured my wrist”, Lin Oliver made some important announcements, drew the name of the lucky door prize winners and finally introduced our first keynote speaker for the day.


Keynote 1: Karen Cushman “Courting Surprise”

Newbery award winner Karen Cushman


Published at age 50, Karen Cushman is a great example of how success in writing can come at any age.  Her talk was chocful of hard earned wisdom and inspiring quotes.  She shared many contradictory writing rules and gave us two of her own rules:

Write with Passion

Tell the Truth.


Some of Karen’s most memorable quotes:

* Attain your heart’s desires so you can help someone else attain theirs.

* Ask questions about your story.

* Read a thousand books like the ones you want to write.

* Read what you love and ask yourself why you love it.

* Lighthouses don’t go running around for boats to save, they stand there and go on shining.

* Fairytales are true not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.


She ends with one important advise, and one command: Take yourself seriously as writers. We are worth it, and our stories are worth it. Go remake the world, God knows it needs it.


Editor’s Panel: Finding Your Voice in Publishing with Jordan Brown, Elise Howard, Neal Porter, Farrin Jacobs, Tamar Brazis and Laura Godwin

Editors Jordan Brown, Elise Howard, Neal Porter, Moderator Lin Oliver, Editors Farrin Jacobs, Tamar Brazis and Laura Godwin

 Moderated by Lin Oliver, the Editors Panel discussed Voice in publishing, the positive attributes of a successful author and the things authors should avoid doing.

Jordan Brown, senior editor at Harper Collins – Balzer & Bray imprints, looks for great characters and strong voices in his authors. He wants to find the next RL Stine in literature and craves old stories told in new ways.

Elise Howard, editor at Harper Collins looks for books with enduring quality and characters that she can spend hours with.  She loves MG & YA and books that bring her to new worlds.

Neal Porter wants to find books that seduces him.

Farrin Jacobs, also at Harper Collins, loves commercial teen fiction and dark literary stories–all with great characters.

Tamar Brazis is the Editorial Director at Abrams Books for Young Readers. She loves Picture books above all else, but she also works on MG, YA books and nonfiction books for kids. She loves novels with coming of age and friendship themes.

Laura Godwin is Publisher at Henry Holt Books, one of the oldest publishing houses started in 1866. She loves picture books and books with authentic voice.

Agents Panel Memorable Quotes:

* Laura Godwin –  Voice makes an author unique, and is often equated with style. Style is a reflection of who you are. You hone your voice as you get to know yourself better.

* An openness towards revision, ability to revise, and ability to write about universal themes are some positive attributes of authors.

* Neal Porter – Please yourself. Create something that genuinely pleases you. Don’t try and publish for the market. Do what you love.

* Tamar Brazis – Good readers become better writers.

 Workshop 1: Tony DiTerlizzi “Sketching a Story”


Tony DiTerlizzi Sketching a Story

Tony explains how art and writing go together when he works on his stories. He took us through his entire process of story-making, beginning with his concept, and ending with revision and publishing.

He showed us several illustrations he worked on for his book Wondla, and even passed around a copy of his manuscript draft, complete with revision notes.

Tony showing us a copy of his manuscript

Some of Tony’s memorable quotes include:

* It starts with a concept, go back to the books you like to read.

* Don’t forget who you’re writing your stories for.

* “Kids don’t know about bestsellers. They go for what they enjoy. They aren’t star chasers and they don’t suck up. It’s why I like them” – Maurice Sendak

* My philosophy: What am I proud of?

Keynote 2: Clare Vanderpool “Writing in the Crossroads: Where Craft & Creativity Meet”

Newbery Award winnder Clare Vanderpool

Clare started her writing journey in the midst of being a stay at home mom. Though she found herself often exhausted when she had her first baby,  she found time for writing. She would think up story ideas while waiting at stoplights or making dinner, or even while watching Sesame Street with her child.

Now, a little bit older and with four teens, she still finds herself constantly looking for writing time. She showed us a video of her daughter singing her head off, as an example of what she has to deal with as a mom.

Clare Vanderpool’s Memorable Quotes:

* Winning a Newbery is the same as having a baby–if you didn’t know you were pregnant.

*The universe is made up of story. Pay attention.

*Where craft and creativity meet is the sweet spot.

Keynote 3: Deborah Underwood “The Power of Quiet”

Picture Book Author Deborah Underwood

Picture book author Deborah Underwood admitted that the creative process is indeed a mystery, but authors need to understand where they get their ideas.

Deborah Underwood’s Memorable Quotes:

* If we don’t understand where we get our ideas, we won’t have control over the success of our everyday work.

* Imagine an accountant riding in an elevator thinking, “Man, I hope I remember how to domMath today.”

* Mind wandering is important for  a creative mind. Take a warm bath, and long walks.

* People who daydream more score higher on tests that measure creativity .

 * We don’t owe it to ourselves to make time for quiet, we owe it to the kids who will read our book.”

 Workshop 2: Lissa Price “Publishing Is Not Dead: The Roller Coaster Ride of the Really Big Sale”


YA Author Lissa Price showing us a foreign copy of her book 

 Lissa Price gave us some insider secrets in her talk. She told us of her long journey to publication and of how she got started writing.

She also gave some some really great tips for finding agents, and even tips we can use after we get published.

Lissa Price’s Memorable Quotes:

* Don’t write the next book in a series, until the first one gets picked up.

* Write the next manuscript as soon as you finish the first one.

* Be nice. Publishing is a small world and word gets around.

* Make your query letter short.

* What’s right for one writer may not be good for another writer.

* Write the best story you can.

Keynote 4: Ruta Sepetys “You Can’t Break the Broken: Writing Emotional Truth”

 Award winning author Ruta Sepetys

 Ruta was one of the most inspiring speakers I heard during the conference. She told us of the story behind her novel, Between Shades of Grey.

Her father, a military officer in Lithuania, knew that Stalin was coming for him. He and his wife escaped and made it to a refugee camp before the Soviets got to them. Then in 1949, they made it safely to the US.

That was all Ruta knew about her family’s history. On a quest to find out more, she flew to Lithuania to meet some of her father’s relatives. There, she discovered that when the Soviets came for her father and discovered he had escaped, they took 12 members of their family and deported them to Siberia as punishment. Only one of the 12 survived. Her family’s freedom in the US came at the expense of their relatives who were left behind.

Ruta also told us of her own experience with brutality. Because she wanted to write about the experience of the Lithuanian’s in the Soviet prison system, she needed to do some in depth research. In order to experience for herself what those prisoners had gone through, she went to a Latvian prison for a simulation–against everyone’s advice. There she was beaten and imprisoned for 24 hours.


Ruta Sepetys’s Memorable Quotes:

* I wish I could say I was beaten for weeks or days or hours. But it was only a few seconds of beating. I discovered I was a coward. It’s so hard to learn who you are.

* Ask yourself the hard questions. What are you longing for? What do you hide? What scares you, causes you pain? What do you wish would go away?

* In the dark, I heard a man say, “don’t cry American lady. I’ll help you.” That show of kindness amidst the cruelty taught me so much. I wanted to marry that man.

* Share the truths behind your fiction so you can make it better for another human being.


Keynote 5: Deborah Halverson “An Up to the Minute Survey of Market Needs & Trends”

Author Deborah Halverson

 Included in this year’s conference packet was a treasure trove of information: the 2012 SCBWI Market Survey, which Deborah Halverson wrote.

Deborah summarized the 16 page market survey and gave us some valuable information on what editors and publishers are looking for in each of the following children’s book categories: picture books, nonfiction, middle grade,  and young adult.

Deborah’s talk was full of helpful information and I found myself with 5 pages worth of notes once she was done.

Some Highlights of Deborah Halverson’s Talk:

* Concept books are selling well.

* For Picture Books, shorter character driven stories are on the rise.

* Paranormal, dystopian and zombie books will be around for a while, although there is a rising interest in Sci-Fi, Mystery, Ghost stories and Thrillers.

* Middle Grade has a stronger growth potential

*Young Adult is more successful than ever.

The Hippie Hop Poolside Party

After all the awesome keynote speeches and wonderful workshop sessions, it was time to let loose and party.

I had so much fun meeting new friends and catching up with old ones, that I didn’t even have time to take pictures this year!

I did manage to take a quick (and fuzzy) shot of the awesome Flash Mob SCBWI members planned in honor of Steve and Lin.

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Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Sharon Hamilton, author of the military romance SEAL Brotherhood series and other paranormal romance novels.

You can also find Sharon sharing her writing wisdom and blogging at

 Welcome, Sharon.!


Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

Author Sharon Hamilton

I had a very successful career in Real Estate for 25 years before becoming a writer. My manager was always accusing me of making the secretaries cry with my memos (not a good thing). Now I get to do it and be paid for it!

I always loved writing, and knew even as a young girl I would some day be a writer. But life intervened. Love writing paranormal, but also contemporary military heroes with my SEAL Brotherhood series.

I love organic vegetable and flower gardening, and have had a large garden for almost every year for the past 35 years. I also used to earn ribbons at the Sonoma County Fair for my Santa Rosa Plum jam and Plum-Apricot jam.

Sharon with other Navy Mom Jody working on Christmas pillow cases for Wounded Warriors.

I love to do anything that is crafty: collage, decorating blue and green eggs from my chickens, quilting, needlepoint, and knitting. If I owned a craft shop I would never write. Have to be careful not to get distracted there.

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I like to write on the leather chaise, overlooking my garden. Upstairs has a fireplace, and my favorite knitted afghan. Also away from distractions of downstairs.

Sharon’s leather chaise, her favorite place to write

A shot of Sharon’s lovely garden


2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

My desk area downstairs is for working on the business side of writing, paying bills, writing emails or sometimes blogs.

Sharon at her desk in the writing room

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

Love my Jimmy Thomas calendar from last year. Also have my book covers done on canvas. Yum!!  Costco does it very cheaply. Had posters made of them as well, and had JT sign them so I could give them away as swag.


4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

Upstairs is light and bright. Music resonates well in the tall 24’ ceilings. I listen to Sirius, usually to the Spa Channel, sometimes Watercolors or Coffee House. I also have about 30 days of music on my computer and I listen with headphones if I’m having trouble concentrating.

I always write to music. Music puts me in the mood. In the winter, I write late at night by candlelight.

5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

Decaf coffee in the AM. Ice water at night. I’m off caffeine, all sugar and flour, so have no sodas. Do miss my strawberry margaritas, though.


Sharon’s commercial looking house rebuilt after the fire

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

I don’t have any complete favorites. I graze. Kressley Cole, Darynda Jones, Diana Gabaldon, JR Ward, to name a few. I also love James Elroy and Anne Rice (the early books and her erotica).


2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

I like to write when the house is quiet. Usually morning or late at night. I write to music, and can write in a coffee house or restaurant very well. I like watching the people.

3.  Do you write everyday?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I must be ADD. I get distracted at Libraries because there’s too much going on there. That’s why instrumental music works to help me focus. Without it, I can’t get deep into the story, the emotions of the story.

My daily goal is 2000 words. I have done as many as 11,000 in one day – one time when I wrote for 24 hours straight.

4. Why do you write?

Absolutely my most favorite thing in the world to create a new story and see how the characters show up, play with each other. They become good friends I go back and visit day after day.


5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

Never give up. Never surrender! Keep writing. When you get rejected, keep writing. When you write something for a particular editor, and they reject it, keep writing. Write for contests. Write for critique partners. Don’t let any comment or review stop you.

Be patient with yourself. Practice self love/self care by encouraging yourself. Learn to discern what your voice is. Give the readers what they want. Listen to critiques but don’t take them to heart. Never believe the doubter in your head that says maybe you aren’t a good writer. Talent is overrated. It’s hard work, not talent that will make you a bestseller.


Sharon and husband Don,  at the “Afterlife” ball at the Julia Morgan Ballroom, San Francisco


Thanks, Sharon, for giving us a glimpse into your writing life.

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.




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SCBWI Summer Conference Day 1 (August 3, 2012)

Friday, August 3, 2012

This year’s SCBWI summer conference was held at its usual place – the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Century City. Having attended last year’s conference, I knew exactly where to park and where to go to get my registration packet.

Registration lines were arranged according to surnames and I got lucky again this year as there were no lines at the V-W section.

After grabbing a quick cup of some pre-conference tea, I made my way to the main ballroom and found a seat.

At 9 AM, the opening ceremony began. Stephen Mooser, founder and President of the SCBWI welcomed us all to the conference. He pointed to his bandaged wrist and proceeded to tell us the reason behind his injury—the classic slipping on a banana peel stunt.

SCBWI President Stephen Mooser

When he passed the mic on to Executive Director and co-founder, Lin Oliver, we learned that the SCBWI was starting its own version of the radio show  “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me”. So over the next three days, Steve would be telling us different versions of how his injury happened and we’d have to guess the real story.

According to Lin, this year’s conference was attended by 1234 members from 15 different countries.  Out of the 1200+ attendees, 948 were women, 171 were male, and 122 were apparently undecided.

As a testament to the diversity of SCBWI’s membership—Lin read some of the career titles the members had listed in their application. Aside from the usual teachers, clerks, and librarians, there were among us a lawyer, a bonsai artist, a literary Olympian and a Director of Fun.

Lin reiterated that being part of the SCBWI was like being part of a big family—a Tribe.

As a nod to the 2012 Olympics,  Lin lit her very own SCBWI Olympics “torch.”

SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver lighting the SCBWI Torch

After that, this year’s Faculty made their entrance into the hall.  Each of them gave us their one word for the conference.  While everyone gave out inspirational words like Determination, Passion and Creativity, some made use of fun words as well as naughty words—like Sonya Sones, who after shouting a 5 letter anatomy word into the mic, made a quick getaway.

SCBWI Conference Faculty 

Keynote 1: Arthur Levine “Timeless”


Arthur Levine, Publisher and Editor of the Harry Potter US Edition 

Arthur Levine, VP and Publisher of Arthur Levine Books Imprint, AND US editor of the Harry Potter series–was the first keynote speaker.  In his talk, appropriately entitled “Timeless”, Arthur listed down the various elements that gave books a timeless, enduring quality.

He used several titles that he’s published as an example for each of these timeless traits. Some of the books mentioned were:

When She Was Good by Norma Fox Mazer, a story of how hope outlives brutality;

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman , showing how great writers use anticipation more commonly than surprise;

and Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone – the ultimate narrative of the boy who lived, and how he survives the tragedies of his childhood.

My favorite line from his speech, was one his friend Nick had told him:

It’s when a story is able to capture a moment of intimacy between a reader and an author that the story is timeless.


Keynote 2: Tony DiTerlizzi “Never Abandon Imagination”

Author and Illustrator, Tony DiTerlizzi 

Tony DiTerlizzi, Caldecott winner for The Spider and the Fly, and illustrator of the famed Spiderwick Chronicles, was our second Keynote speaker, and absolutely rocked the stage.

He was one of my favorite speakers, throwing out lines that made us laugh, and also inspired us.

He began by showing us some covers of his “new” book ideas, as a testament to his wonderful imagination.

According to Tony, imagination has to be instilled at a very young age—as far as he’s concerned, as soon as they pop out.

As a child, Tony wasn’t interested in reading books. Instead, he was interested in comic books and movies. Oral reports were the worst possible torture for him—until one of his teachers told him to do an illustration for his book report instead. Tony set to work re-reading the same book he had found boring in the beginning, but this time he was reading it as if it were instructions for how to draw his illustration.

The world of books then opened up to him. His love for stories was indeed a product of boredom, and living in Florida gave his imagination a lot of opportunity to grow.

There are only two things in Florida: Old people and Giant Lizards. I’m convinced the old people moved to Florida and turned into giant lizards.

Tony shared with us a picture of his bookshelf at home, containing  a lot of his childhood toys.

Tony’s bookshelf

He says he keeps them around to remind him of what it feels like to be a kid, and to constantly remind him to answer the question:

What would 10 year old Tony want, that adult Tony can make?

Towards the end of his talk, Tony introduced us to his new book series Wondla. He showed us illustrations from the book, as well as the inspiration for the story itself.

Tony reminded us never to abandon imagination, and to always think about what our ten year old selves would enjoy reading, whenever we sat down to write our stories.


Workshop 1: Lissa Price “How to Apply Screenwriting Techniques to Make Any YA Book Better”

 YA Author Lissa Price

Bestselling YA Author Lissa Price explained that she made the switch from screenwriting to novel writing because with novels, you can write from anywhere in the world.

Lissa helped us define the meaning of high concept, and helped us identify whether our own stories were indeed high concept or not.

She asked audience members to share their loglines, as well as their first sentences, and helped them strengthen it.

Lissa also shared some tips on how to build our pitch, as well as some books she recommends we read such as:

SAVE THE CAT series by Blake Snyder, STORY by Robert McKee, THE SCREENWRITER’S PROBLEM SOLVER by Syd Field and THE WRITER’S JOURNEY by Christopher Vogler.

She also reminds us of these helpful screenwriting tips:

*Ask if your story has a ticking clock

*Remember that your first sentence is crucial

*End with a cliffhanger. Have a nice closer at the end of each chapter.

Keynote 3: Sara Shepard “Scandals, Lies, and Murders: How to Maintain Momentum in a Series”

Sara Shepard, Author of The Lying Game & Pretty Little Liars

I love watching Pretty Little Liars on TV so I was fairly stoked to hear Sara tell us the story of how she got started on her  writing journey, and how she developed the story for Pretty Little Liars.

She started out as a ghost writer, but eventually got her big break when her publisher told her to develop her own book series.

Pretty Little Liars has become such a popular series–both in books and on TV.  What started out as a four book series eventually became 8, and then 12.

She said she’s wrapping up the final books: “I’m sad it’s going to end, but I can’t torture these girls any more.”

She gives us some tips for keeping a mystery series going:

1. Know who your murderer is before you set out.

2. Always incorporate the red herring in your stories.

3. Leave a bit of the writing to chance.

Keynote 4: Patricia Maclachlan “Revising My Life”

Patricia Maclachlan, Author of the Newbery winner Sarah, Plain and Tall

Author Patricia Maclachlan tells us how she uses events from her life–both big and small–as inspirations for her own writing. She eavesdrops on her grandchildren and their conversations always give her something to think about, laugh about and write about.

I actually had fun listening to stories of her grandkids and of her life, and even laughed at some of her funny anecdotes.


Workshop 2: SCBWI Success Stories:How I Did It – Matthew Kirby, Eugene Yelchin, Pamela Wells and Jennifer Bosworth

Authors Eugene Yelchin, Pamela Wells, Jennifer Bosworth and Matthew Kirby

Eugene Yelchin received a Newbery honor for Breaking Stalin’s Nose.

He said that it isn’t enough to want to get published. Publication cannot be the end goal. He reminded us to write for ourselves, and not because we wanted to please people.

Pamela Wells began her writing journey with a bad break up. When she was in college, a boy she loved broke up with her and left her with a bleeding heart a desire to tell her heartbreak story. She met an editor at an SCBWI conference, then once she got an offer to get published, contacted an agent. Her book Heartbreakers is now being turned into a movie.

Pamela says, “write the book you would write for free, and you can’t lose.”

Jennifer Bosworth  wrote her first novel 9 years ago, and it was about 800 pages long. She learned a lot from writing screenplays and used all that knowledge she gained to write STRUCK, her debut novel.

 Jennifer says that one motto that has worked for her so far is, “Fake it Til you Make It.”

Author Matthew Kirby started out writing adult books, until it dawned on him that he actually enjoyed reading children’s books, and that his books always had kid protagonists in them. He was ready to quit after 7 years of rejection, when he got his big break at an SCBWI Conference, where he met his agent.

Matthew advised us to treat writing like a career, and not as just a hobby.


Keynote 5: Dan Gutman “How a Dumbass Like Me Got 100 Books Published”

Author Dan Gutman

 Final keynote speaker for the day, Dan Gutman, made us both laugh and think. He gave us 13 tips on how to become successful as a writer.

Some of his best tips include:

12. Join SCBWI.

11. Be a boxer. Take punch after punch, and then get up and start again.

10. Try everything. If one thing doesn’t work, try a new technique.

6. Never write on an empty stomach- always use paper. :)

5. Break the rules. Do something nobody’s done before.  Following rules perfectly is easier than breaking rules creatively, but being creative means doing things differently.


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Spotlight Week: Harbinger Giveaway

This week, the Spotlight was on Sara Wilson Etienne and her exciting YA novel HARBINGER.

If you haven’t heard of Harbinger, you can check out my Review.

Also check out my Interview with author Sara Wilson Etienne.

Better yet, check out the awesome, movie-like trailer author Sara Wilson Etienne created with the help of her friends:

Now that we’ve come to an end of another Spotlight Week, it’s time for another GIVEAWAY.

I’m giving away a SIGNED COPY of HARBINGER!

To win, just Leave a comment below and tell me why you’d like a copy of the book.

I’ll put all your names in my magical drawing box and pick the winner.

I love encouraging people to unleash their imaginative and creative sides, so the more creative your answers are, the more chances you have of winning. If your comment/answer tickles my fancy, I’ll add another slip of paper (or two) with your name on it to my drawing box.

Also, if you tweet about this giveaway, or share it on Facebook, I’ll add more slips of papers with your name on it.

The contest will end on August 24th, 2012, Friday. Good luck!

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