Monday, May 19, 2008

A Good Day

So, I spent Saturday at the SCBWI spring workshop in Salt Lake City where I got the chance to meet Molly O'Neill, who is the assistant editor with The Bowen Press, a new imprint at HarperCollins Children's Books. And guess what? She loved the new middle grade novel I'm working on! Based on the premise and first ten pages, she wants to see it when it's done, which absolutely tickled my toes. I'm so thrilled. That's just the sort of revived up energy I need to carry me through the home stretch. Thank you, Molly!

Not only that, she gave a fantastic presentation titled "How to Catch (& Keep) an Editor's Attention," which focused on the beginnings of stories -- basically, what draws a reader (and editor) in. If you're wondering what sort of books Molly likes, I'd have to say, she likes a lot. (She talked about 21 different books, and that was her short list.) But here are a few she mentioned.

That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell & Neal Layton.
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D Schmidt
Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobbie
Dovey Coe by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Orville: A Dog Story by Haven Kimmel

Happy writing, everyone! Time to get busy........

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

SCBWI Conference in LA 2008 (and other things)

OKAY! I've done it!

The tickets are bought. The registration is completed. And wha-la . . . I'm in for the SCBWI conference in LA.

Can you tell I'm excited?

Good. Because I am!!!!!!!! (And no, I'm not one to shy away from using exclamation points. In fact, I love exclamation points, especially when they are needed.)

This year's conference is going to be great with FOUR full days of children's book stuff from children's book authors, like Margaret Peterson Haddix (my daughter loves her) and Lisa Yee (who has been on my must-read list with her book, Millicent Min, Girl Genius) and Bruce Coville, whose books are beginning to line my son's shelves. Plus, there'll be loads and loads of children's book editors--more than I dare count. (Well, I could count them, but why put a cap on the excitement level?)

Anyway, I can't wait to meet other writers, maybe talk with some editors, see what's up and coming in the children's book market for next decade, AND if I'm lucky, find a way to become a part of it.

As for my last post, I thought I'd try and find some great 14th lines from some favorite books that I know. Let me tell you, this was no easy feat, because from some truly wonderful books that we know kids are enjoying, we have fourteeners like this:

She got pretty good. (Olivia by Ian Falconer)

They wait. (A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban)

My name is Percy Jackson. (The Lightning Theif by Rick Riordan)

"I'm hungry," Seth said. (Fablehaven by Brandon Mull)

So, I could have just ended it there by saying that what I wrote before about 14th lines is all a bunch of Phooey. But I didn't, and I won't. Because I still believe that everything that comes after that awesome first line of a fantastic story is linked to what came before, as well as what is going to come next. (I got that bit of insight from Dean Koontz (Odd Thomas) when I was working on The Book Lover's Cookbook. And I also won't say it, because I did find fourteeners (zingers at the fourteenth line) like this:

I knew if something wasn't done quickly, the sanitation department would have to pick up a dead dog.
(Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls)

But things can come together in strange ways.
(Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt)

He skidded to a stop and smiled right at me.
(Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo)

Not the tiniest sound could be heard anywhere.
(The BFG by Roald Dahl)

They were selfish and lazy and cruel, and right from the beginning they started beating poor James for almost no reason at all.
(James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl)

Just don't ask me to be nice.
(The Book Thief by Markus Zusak)

Did they not want me after all?
(Jinx by Meg Cabot)

So, there you have it. Intrigue, suspense, interesting images . . . they all can be found at the 14th line, or anywhere in a good book--although they don't have to be derivitives of 14, of course. But I'd be willing to bet, that in our favorite stories, good sentences like these can be found in abundance, and perhaps when we least expect it...

Write on, everyone!