Monthly Archives: May 2011

conference choices…

hmmm…time to pick what sessions I want to attend at the SCBWI LA conference this coming August so that the fabulous, amazingly organized and charming Patricia Wiles can schedule RAs/ARAs working assignments.

Sheeze, first I have to get my own manuscript consultation in the mail, finish the  planning for the SCBWI Carolinas conference, one wedding, critique submissions AND then, I go to the conference. Feels like that’s eons away.

What in god’s name will I want to hear in August. Do I want to hear Melissa Stewart talk about non-fiction, or Liesa Abrams talk about Middle Grade Commerical Fiction? Bonnie Bader’s on the program, I could always learn something from her, always. Then come Saturday, will I be ready for Emma Dryden talk about the new models for publishing or do I want to hear Alessandra Balzer talk about what editors want? By this time I’m expecting the information monitor I keep on the right side of my brain to start buzzing, telling me that I’m nearing the failsafe point, because, you see, I haven’t factored in all the keynote speakers; Bruce Coville, Jerry Pinkney, Libba Bray, Emma Dryden, David Small, John Green. Is your head beginning to hurt? My brain is threatening to shut down just thinking about this.

And, I’m not even up to Sunday yet! <she said with a slight shrill edge> And, more choices. The good news is that there are choices. The exceptional good news is that IF I pay attention AND stay engaged for the full three days, I will walk away with knowledge. Maybe not something I can use immediately. But something I can use. Yeah me!

critique etiquette…

because of a very generous Christmas gift from an amazing critique partner, I received a critique from Writer’s Ink’s Judy Enderle on my Middle Grade Adventure/SciFi STOLEN MIND.

It was an excellent reminder of what makes a good critique. Just the way I was taught, if that is the right word, by a fantastic children’s writer and former children’s lit professor at Framingham State.   The written critique began with what was good about the story so far. The opening hook was there. The main character was interesting and sympathetic. The fantasy elements were woven in. Most important to my story [because you know I like mysteries] there was an element of uncertainty as to who my main character could trust so it was Yipee! a page turner.

The other part I appreciated about Judy’s approach was that she questioned me as to what was going on in the story. She didn’t tell me what I needed to say but asked questions and made suggestions. Like: would Aaron be able to see the man at the front door? Or. Shorten the sentence structure for tense scenes.

She ended the critique noting that the pitch had a great hook. So. I’m pumped. In the actual manuscript, she marked where commas should be [a major failing on my part, I think, because I usually neglect breathing when talking in my head] and, gave suggestions for tightening up language.

Thank you, Debbie for your amazing gift. Thank you, Judy, for a sterling critique.

serendipity and fortunetelling

Serendipity.

Let that roll around your tongue for a while. It’s a great word. And it has a lot to do with writing.

Encarta defines it: a natural gift for making useful discoveries by accident. Synonyms would be destiny, karma, fate, which are all great words.

I like to think that it falls more towards Whimsy [the art of being quaint or playfully humorous in an endearing way], that’s why I have paired the word with Fortunetelling.

Fictional characters develop serendipitously.  Yes, they come from me, out of my experience or imagination or, sometimes, frustration.  But in many ways it’s very accidental the way they become three-dimensional. A program on the radio inspires an idea. The way my daughter categorizes friendship becomes a relationship. An observed scene in a hotel lobby illuminates the conflict of a story.

So. What about fortunetelling?

We storytellers, by whatever medium we chose to use, are seers. We sit pompously in Delphi and predict futures.

The only time we have to come down to earth is to make it all believable to our readers. LOL. Sounds so simple. Yeah, right!