10 things from LA SCBWI: Part 2

August 13, 2009

I really had no concept the scope of the LA SCBWI conference before I attended. I knew it was in a hotel, but I didn’t know the hotel had huge rooms for meeting in. I don’t know what I pictured… classrooms? Slumber parties in the presidential suite? And this from a girl who grew up hanging out on the Strip during convention week so I could pick up… er… befriend tourists.
In any event, I really wasn’t prepared for the Blue Moon Ball on Saturday night. I was just proud that I found a dress in my size, and there were people busting out Lil’ Bo Peep, Rainbow Brite, Blue Man Group… wowza. The funny thing was although many people were there solely to party, there was still industry folk mingling.
I found these costumes comical, especially since I think they were talking to an agent/editor at the time. Business in front, party in back

(I can’t make it bigger. She’s wearing a blue butt)

7. FRAFT (um, rhymes with CRAFT. You think of an F synonym for that!)
Yes, there was mingling, plenty of business talk in the ProTrack, but there was also nitty gritty classes on writing. I’m not much of a note taker, so I’ll just do a plug for my favorite Brit Book Lady (no offense other BBL with whom I am affliated. You are also brilliant). Sarah Davies, my agent, did a great class on writing the breakout novel, listing the following things as the most important elements. I missed the first part, which was all just as well because when I walked in she was saying something about a certain pink princess book and I’m not sure how you’re supposed to act when someone is talking about you like that. Do you stare at your paper and pretend to take notes, or check that the hotel has proper emergency sprinklers installed?
Anyway, Elements of a break out novel are:
1. An inspired concept
2. Larger than life characters
3. A high-stake story (the stakes can be internal as well, as is often the case with literary fiction)
4. A deeply felt theme or feeling (she mentioned mine, and I wrote it down because I was so excited. I have a feeling!)
5. A vivid setting
And, because she’s a sneaky minx, a number 6. VOICE
I was so happy she compared writing to other crafts like cooking or playing the violin. She asked "Would you get up and play a huge venue when you’ve just learned A and C?" I believe this so strongly, yet there are so may people who lump writing into a different category for some reason. They think writing is nothing more than picking up a pen.

So I don’t know how you’re just supposed to sit down by author’s whose work you admire and not freak out. I know it’s what you’re supposed to do, I just haven’t figured it out yet (just ask Sharon Creech, the author I asked to rub my pregnant belly with child number 2. Yeah) I don’t do casual very well–like when I met Robin Benway, author of AUDREY WAIT!, I might have said something like I want to be her best friend and go to concerts with her. Or when I randomly got invited to drinks with the cool crowd on the outside patio, I just sat there trying to think of things to say that didn’t sound stalkerish (I love your blog! Your books amaze! I saw a picture of your wife once, she’s so pretty!). Suffice it to say, I mostly stayed mute.
But what would you do if right after one of the most brilliant keynote speeches evah, Richard Peck (author of everything) turns the corner? Why, you would just start crying, right? No? I’m alone in my CRAZY FAN GIRL CRAZINESS?

(Hi! You don’t know me, but I sure know you! I think I love you! You inspire me and I used to teach school and I had this kid in my class and random book plug and you’re so right that we need to lift them up and you’re… you’re…. crycrycrycry)

 Seriously, I went off on his books and my experiences teaching and I was one big blubbery mess (hormones, gotta love ’em) and then, THEN he gave me a hug and my messy tears got on his spiffy sports jacket. Then he fled, leaving me to try to explain to the other people I was talking to (publishing people who are also SANE) what I had just blabbered to ol’ Richie, and then. Of course. More tears.
I’m just so glad I never met Sherman Alexie. Security might have been called.

 This was honestly the reason I went to the conference, to meet friends I’ve known online for years, and to see friends I haven’t seen in person for months. My vanity made me pretty camera-shy (the camera obviously adds about thirty pound), so I have  zippo pics. If you have any, please email me!
Lisa Schroeder, my roomie. She brought ear plugs and wore an orange shirt to bed that said I AM SAFETY. She promised to protect me. I love her to death.

Utah superstars Emily Wing Smith and Bree Despain. 

LK Madigan (and Kimberly Derting in back) eating their healthy breakfasts while I attacked my daily carb creature.

With Blue Moon Hotties Lisa Schroeder, Jo Whittmore, Sonia Gensler, LK Madigan

With rising star Shelli Wells

And finally, me, wearing glasses inside so Magic Johnson doesn’t recognize me and ask for an autograph

It was also great hanging out with LJ buddies, tenners, Debs, Southern Pals like Katie Anderson and Sarah Frances Hardy. I re-nicknamed Varian Johnson MAGIC for obvious reasons and witnessed Matthew Kirby receive the most amazing compliment ever.
Really, every writer I met was great–whether in the buffet line or on the elevator. If I was cooler, I’d list everyone, but I wear sunglasses inside so we all know that’s not the case.

Traveling without kids meant books and sudoko and sleep. It meant I could stay up until midnight, and not worry about my two-year-old aka alarm clock hitting my head at seven in the morning. It meant I could have adult conversations, which it turns out aren’t usually that adult. (like the overuse of another F word I won’t repeat here, which started from Sherman Alexie’s keynote and everyone continued to gleefully quote)
And although I was really looking forward to some Lindsey time, I missed my family something fierce.
And they missed me! Well, my girls missed me. I think my husband missed my mothering skills more. He’s usually good at staying up on house stuff, but when I came home it looked like… oh, I don’t even want to relive what it looked like. Well, I will relive it, because the upstairs pretty much looks the same. And when I gave him the cocked eyebrow, he said, "I just cleaned! You don’t know what it’s like! They destroy it two seconds later. If you’d been here earlier, you would have seen–"
I just patted his cute lil head and went to bed. Talking about my career for a long weekend was fab, but we only had a few more days of summer left, and I needed my energy for swimming pool races in the morning.

10 things from LA SCBWI: Part 1

August 12, 2009

Rather than summarize the whole four days in LA, I thought I’d go with a highlight reel. See, I’m working on my book 3 summary this week, and all my summary genius could be used up on this entry if I’m not careful. Ah, such a delicate balancing act we writers play.
Also, I didn’t really take good notes, unless you count LL & SA with a heart around it enlightening. And I’m a photo failure, so any pictures I include are swiped from other folks or from my I-Phone.
So, without further tangent, save it be the tangents I include in the lists (and let’s be honest, this whole blog is a steady stream of non-connected tangents), I give you my list, which for some funky reason all starts with F.
Um, the F list?

My little bro lives in So Cal, so he picked me up from the airport and took me to Santa Monica, where we walked the pier, sniffed funnel cakes (but did not indulge), did the obligatory foot dip in the ocean, and ate at a wonderful Italian place along the boulevard that had never met two people so intent on inhaling carbs. MORE BREAD PLEASE! MORE.
I’m pretty good about not missing my family until I am with them, and then every goodbye is pretty tough because we are so spread out and on such different schedules, I never know when I’ll see them again. But! If you want to see them for me, go to Disneyland and watch my sis-in-law in like thirty different parades. She is a rock star. And my bro ain’t too bad himself.

On Friday, after a wonderful conference opening, I went to lunch with some tenners–Bree Despain, Matthew Kirby, Christy Raedeke, Suzanne Young, Jen Cervantes, Denise Jaden, Kimberly Derting–and book bloggers–Vania, Khy, Catt and Alicia. It was all arranged by the wonderful Kimberly Derting, she of BODY FINDER fame. Oh, and although I didn’t get a chance to talk to them, Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl and Holly Black joined us later. Big party.
My favorite moment was when we were all standing around outside, waiting for a table, and Jay Asher (author of 13 Reasons Why, like I need to tell you that) approached. The blogger girls were beyond excited. Not two minutes later, Magic Johnson, sorry MAGIC JOHNSON, walked right around the group and into the Pink Taco Restaurant. Agape and open-mouthed, I started poking everyone around me. Did you see him? Did you see him? MAGIC is in our midst!
No. Nor did they care. Because there was Jay Asher before them. What do they care about some NBA legend? It made me so happy to be with these people, because (no offense to Jay Asher), to them Jay Asher was a bigger deal. I so love fellow bookworms!
Also, at the lunch, I got one of the greatest gifts ever. Khy brought all the authors a bag filled with little things from our books/blogs. I got tons of princessy goodness, including a tiara I may now sleep with at night, but also some new lip gloss! I’d just had my other one confiscated in the airport security line, so it was a very special present.

I wish I had more pics from this, but here is one I yanked from Catt of The Dream Reader, who made a cute shirt with stuff about all our books on it.

Speaking of that picture, you can see some of the food I ate. Eating wasn’t cheap–I think I spent somewhere around 5.6 million total over the four days–but worth it. For some reason, I never take important pictures, like me with famous author, but I always remember to snap a pic of my meal. 

The greatest sweet potato fries ever

I love this picture because I look psycho. I’m eating my 15 dollar sticky bun french toast. I can feed my family for a month on that kind of moola, but they did add blueberries, so…. mmmmmmm

It’s bound to happen when you get 1,000 neurotic writers in a room together. There was this constant buzz at the conference, like you couldn’t sit down for a second because you might miss out. And I did miss out on a few things because I ditched a class here or there to take a nap or indulge in some alone time. I’m not exactly an introvert, but my days are usually spent with my computer and two toddlers. By the end of the day, my jaw ached from all the jabbing. That could also teach me I should listen more and talk less, but oh well.
It was also interesting to watch authors intent on talking to a particular editor/agent. I’d heard horror stories of authors who pushed manuscripts under bathroom stalls, but didn’t quite believe it. Most of the writers I know–from newbie to pro–are professional and gracious. They know what is appropriate behavior. But I did discover a group hanging out by the escalators because they heard an editor was getting out of their critique soon. They were plotting who would get to say what, in which order, and other routes the editor may take if they didn’t appear soon. Then, when the editor appeared… ambush. They all just started talking, abandoning their previous plans. And the editor… oh, poor thing. I wanted to give them some of my sweet potato fries, except that is pretty stalkerish too. Plus, I didn’t really want to share.

I consider myself somewhat of an accidental fantasy writer, being as I’m not an expert in the genre and had no clue PRINCESS FOR HIRE would take on such a magical turn. So it was really beneficial to hear Holly Black, a pro in the field, speak about the elements of fantasy. Specifically, how each story needs to have a human plot line that weaves in with the fantastical. She did this line thing that showed rising action and it was so CLEAR that they way I write/read will forever be changed.

OK, that’s all for today! Stay tuned tomorrow for the rest !


Splenda shock

June 17, 2009

 Uck, I’ve just been having one of those weeks where I haven’t even been super busy (even though I do have a million things to do in the next two days, all of which I am presently ignoring), but I’m just feeling ick and the 95 degrees with full-on humidity today reminded me why I do not plan on being a lifelong Alabamian, no matter how good the banana pudding may be.

And I’ve also been a little worried about my daughter’s current addiction. You know, you raise them to have certain beliefs and values, but really at the end of the day, you have to trust they will make the right choices on their own. Stay off the street. Lay off the drugs.
Well, the other day, I was in the next room when I heard a slurping sound. A constant slurping, like the kid was battling the world’s largest otter pop. Into the kitchen to find this scene.

Splenda packets. My kid is addicted to Splenda. When we go to a restaurant, she BEGS for just one hit. Her morning cereal must have a little something something. And when that’s not enough, she opens up ten of them straight on the floor and slurps a solid line.

This is not a posed picture, but I’m sure Getty Images will be contacting me shortly to see if they can use this as a stock photo under "sugar shock".
She could just trying to tell me mommy needs a little pick me up. Yes, that is it. It’s a child’s outreach, not a foreshadowing of substance abuse. OK then. Banana pudding it is…

My Hot ARC date

May 25, 2009

Friday morning a package arrived that I had no clue was coming. I even signed for it, set it on the counter for a bit, and chatted with my mom before realizing the HYPERION return address probably meant a good thing.
Oh yes, kids, a very good thing.

ARC’s/galleys!!!!!!  aka Advanced Reader Copies. These go out to reviewers and industry folks months–9 months in this case–before the book actually hits stores. They are also available at conferences like Book Expo or ALA. They’re cheaply-made paperbacks (the real one will be hardcover) and NOT THE FINAL COPY. There may be typos. Some don’t have a cover design. But it still has bound pages, and that is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a book, so Wwwwwweeeeeee!!!!!! 
Especially fun, my parents were coincidentally in town to witness the Great Box Opening, and yank their copies. (dear family–you wanna read? Refer to them. Or you could BUY one in 9 months. K THNX)

I’ve wondered forever how I would feel to have my own BOOK (sort of) in my hands, if it was like holding a little baby for the first time, minus the gross birth aftermath. And it was cool. Really. Neat. But it’s not like, you know, LOVE. It’s just a book, afterall. I mean, sure I worked on it for a super long time, and there’s so much of me in there, but it’s not like—

Why do birds suddenly appear? 

Everytime you are near

Just like me

They long to be

Close to you

–I’m in a relationship or something. It’s words and pages, you know? Not something flesh and blood you could… take on a date. Ha! A date. All documented and stuff. Now that would be… just…. silly.

Why do stars

Fall down from the sky? 

Everytime you walk by

Just like me

They long to be

Close to you

on the day that you were born

The angels got together and decided

To create a dream come true

So they sprinkled moondust in your hair

Of gold and starlight in your eyes of blue

that is why all the girls in town

Follow you all around

Just like me

They long to be

Close to you

Just like me

They long to be

Close to you

Ok! I admit it! I’m totally <3ing my own book. I can’t help myself. The way its pages blow in the breeze…. it’s spine…. it’s sweet pink pinkiness. There’s even different fonts for different character’s handwriting. I’m sure eventually I’ll start reading and find parts I wish I’d changed, or dumb typos but today, dear PRINCESS FOR HIRE, I’m so happy to have you. Now get over here and give me some sugar.

Woo…. close to you….

—Genius courtesy of The Carpenters

My Cover!

April 24, 2009

Finally have the go ahead to share. Presenting very first BOOK COVER!!!

OK, maybe not. But it’s so cute, right? My little sister came into town yesterday bearing gifts. A few weeks back, she sent me all these weird and cryptic emails and texts asking info about the book. Stuff like…
Hey! I need to know ASAP–what is your main character’s hair color?
If you had to summarize your book in like, a paragraph or two, what would you say?

I told her I especially love the "review" from School LIbrary Journal. "Oh? Have you heard of them? Are they popular?"

Yeah, love her.
But fo shizzle, cover is in the works! And *that* unveil will be grand. But until then, I have my beach read for the weekend! (Evermore, my real beach read ((Destin!!!)) underneath. Maybe a little bit of awesomeness will rub off)