Category : SCBWI

SCBWI-L.A. Writers’ Day 2014

SCBWI-L.A. hosted the annual Writers’ Days last March 22-23, 2014.

It’s been a whole month since then, but I thought I’d share my wonderful experience nonetheless.

The Writers’ Days faculty was composed of some amazing folks:

An Editor: 

 Heidi Fiedler

Editor Heidi Fiedler


2 Literary Agents,


 Danielle Smith Bio Pic

Literary Agent Danielle Smith of Reed Literary



Literary Agent Jennifer Rofe of Andrea Brown Literary


4 Amazing Novelists:




 Novelist and Flintridge Bookstore Proprietor Catherine Linka,


 GregPincusPhoto 14fibsCover

Novelist and Social Media Guru Greg Pincus,

Katherine Applegateoneandonlyivan

Newbery Medal winner Katherine Applegate,

 m. alderson mug shot plotwhisperer

And Plot Whisperer Martha Alderson


Saturday was all about amazing keynotes and useful writing exercises.  Here are some of the gems I picked up from each speaker:


Katherine Applegate: Frog and Toad at the Hunger Games: 10 Rules for Genre-Jumping and Career-Building from a Seasoned Hack

katherine applegate


Ignore all the rules.

Fall seven times and stand up eight.

Writing is a job like any job.

Know why you’re a writer.

Learn by doing.

Take risks.


Catherine Linka: What Every Writer Needs to Know About Retail Book Buying Today

catherine linka


Be polite, professional and personable.


Some of the questions book buyers ask before buying a book:

Do I know the writer and like his/her book?

Am I intrigued by the book cover on Edelweiss?

Does the story seem fresh and new?

Is there industry buzz?

Is the author local and would he/she do events?


Some of the things that may make booksellers reject a book:

The book is not right for their customer base.

They can’t figure out who the customer/audience is.

The book’s cover is awful, or the book’s premise is too complicated to hand-sell.




Heidi Fiedler: Book Mapping Like an Editor

heidi fiedler



When mapping out a book, consider: the Main Character, Primary Storyline, Secondary Storyline and Theme.

Create a mind map when brainstorming your book.

**Note: I  missed a big chunk of Heidi’s lecture as I was busy volunteering, so these notes don’t really do her justice.**


Danielle Smith: Crisscross Applesauce and why Your Story is Worth Telling: Defining Success From an Agent’s Point of View

danielle smith


Make every word count.

Verbosity is not your friend.

Work well with others. It’s unprofessional to talk about things publicly, especially on social media.

Everybody in the chain (authors, agents, editors) gets rejection.

Be true to yourself.

Like what you do.



Martha Alderson: Plot Session

martha alderson


To find your book’s thematic statement, have your critique partners/other readers read your book, then ask them what they think it’s really about.

Make sure to establish the protagonist’s flaw on page 1. Show what he/she is unable to do.

The true story doesn’t start until the end of the story’s Beginning.

In the exotic world of the middle, the protagonist is not in control. The antagonist, instead, is in control, setting the rules and defining what’st right and wrong.

The antagonist has his own plotline. He is trying to accomplish something and this gets him in the way of the protagonist.


Aside from the conference keynotes,there was also a First Pages Panel.

agents panel


Faculty members were given random first pages from the manuscript submissions and were given a couple of minutes to share their insights about the pieces. They shared what worked in the first page they read, and what aspects of the story still needed work.

Throughout the day, Greg Pincus gave 15 minute Social media consultations to some members while Martha Alderson handled 15 minute plot consultations.

At the end of the day, I was on hand once again to give out certificates to the winners of the Writer’s Day Contest.

giving certificates

Photo by Rita Crayon-Huang

After the conference ended, some faculty members did a bit of book signing:

book signing


Writer’s Day was a blast as usual. And although I wasn’t able to attend the Sunday Intensives, I hear it was jam-packed with helpful and inspiring sessions as well.



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Last March 12, 2014, I was one of the lucky panelists included in SCBWI-L.A.’s Westside Schmooze on Blogging.

Westside Schmooze Coordinators Karol Silverstein and Charlie Cohen challenged us with the following questions:

Some of us blog, some of us don’t.  And some of us do it way too much!  Is blogging a good way for writers to practice meeting deadlines and build an audience?  Or just an excuse to avoid facing the emptiness in their lives? Are Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites great for getting your brand out there and keeping up on what your fellow writers are up to?  Or merely tools for self-flagellation and envy?  (I guess the answer depends on whether you’re Karol or Charlie.)


Westside Schmooze Coordinators Karol Silverstein and Charlie Cohen flanking Author Allen Zadoff

I joined  SCBWI members and bloggers Lee Wind of I’m Here, I’m Queer.  What the Hell Do I Read? , and Susan Berger, Kris Kahrs, and Lupe Fernandez (via phone) of the Pen and Ink Blog at the Santa Monica Library.


Lee Wind, I’m Here, I’m Queer.  What the Hell Do I Read?


Susan Berger,the Pen and Ink Blog


Kris Kahrs,the Pen and Ink Blog


Lupe Fernandez, the Pen and Ink Blog

Since Social Media gurus Greg Pincus and Laura Wallis couldn’t join us, they sent a rather fun puppet proxy, along with the answers to some of Karol and Charlie’s questions.

greg pincus laura wallis

Greg Pincus                                                                                                     Laura Wallis


Schmooze Coordinators Charlie and Karol facilitated the panel in which we  tackled three main points:

A)  What makes a good blog/what can blogging do for me?

B)  How do I make a blog and get people to go to it?

C)  What are the relative merits of Blogging, Twitter and all the other social media venues?


A)  What makes a good blog/what can blogging do for me?

Most of us agreed that good blogs are either entertaining or informative. And while blogging can be a good way to build our author platforms, it isn’t for everyone.

Lee warned that blogging takes up an enormous amount of time and that any writer who is thinking about blogging, must really consider how it can help his/her career.

Susan, Kris and Lupe share a blog with Hilde Garcia, which they call The Pen and Ink Blog. Having four of them on the blog team lessens the amount of time they each spend on the blog, which helps in terms of their writing.

I mentioned that part of blogging isn’t only writing the posts, but also visiting other blogs and making connections with other writers.

We all agreed that the benefits of blogging include making connections with other writers, building a possible following for your future books, and giving us time to hone and practice our writing skills. Lee also added that having a blog and following a stable schedule will help us appear more professional in terms of our writing careers.


B)  How do I make a blog and get people to go to it?

While the other panelists used blogspot or blogger for their blogs. I opted for WordPress since I love its flexibility. I can add widgets to the side bar ,  manipulate the design and post blogs easily enough.

I also mentioned that one way to meet bloggy buddies and get traffic to your blog is by joining blogging challenges such as the A-Z Blogging Challenge, which is currently ongoing.


C)  What are the relative merits of Blogging, Twitter and all the other social media venues?

Lee Wind said that having a blog actually opened doors for him. On his blog he reviews LGBT books and tackles LGBT issues. The blog has allowed him to be viewed as a professional in the area and has led him to be invited as a speaker for several schools.

Susan, Kris and Lupe mentioned that one of the perks of having a blog is that they are able to connect with and interview their favorite authors.

Greg, via his proxy puppet aka. Charlie, also mentioned that social media allows users to reach a wider audience for promoting their work. His blog actually helped his poetry collection get noticed by the New York Times.


We discussed all of these things and more in our hour and a half blogging panel. It was such a fun experience being among fellow SCBWI members and bloggers! I can’t wait to relive the experience and Schmooze Coordinators Charlie and Karol publish the blogging panel transcript on their Schmooze Blog!


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