3 S.R. Johannes: SCBWI Carolinas - A pictorial essay

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

SCBWI Carolinas - A pictorial essay

I'mmmmmmm back.

I know you all have been soooooo worried and lonely without me.

Sorry I was out of pocket.

I was on faculty at SCBWI Carolinas this past weekend. (BTW we are missing Laurent Linn and Elizabeth Dulemba in this pic :( Bummer) It was AWESOME! I had to drop off the blog b/c I had 2 presentations and I had to work on them last week. Hopefully they went well. (If it didn't, DON'T Tell me. If it did, toot my horn all you like!)

BTW - you should be following all of these people's blogs and twitters because they are great resources. I know because I heard them all talk.

I love going to conferences and finding those little nuggets that stick with you esp. when you don't realize it at the time. I love flipping back though notes until you find the ones that grab you - kinda like shopping on the racks at TJMAX for the perfect shirt. You go through a lot of basic everyday stuff, but when you find something - its totally fabulous.

Here are a few that touched me so maybe they will help you:

Alvina Ling (Sr. editor at Little Brown) talked about the difference between Literary vs Commercial. She said, "The difference between commercial and literary is language. We look for the sweet spot in the middle. If you get feedback you are 'too commercial' -it probably means you need work on your language and writing style. If you get feedback that you are 'too literary' - go back and focus on your pacing/plotting." She said you should assess - really scrutinize - every word and look for an even better alternative. Alvina also encouraged writers to query the more junior agents/editors b/c they are more willing to take you on and work with you on your book.

I must admit - I was a little scared (petrified) to meet Alvina. I know fro following her blog and twitter that she's brilliant and also has a list of amazing clients. I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep up with her. That she'd be so much smarter than me, it'd be like talking to a 6 year old for her. Ok - so how funny and cute is she? Not only does she love Karaoke (we even broke out into song a few times at the same time, singing the same song) but she also loves food - eating it AND taking pictures of it. You think I'm kidding? Here's a hot of her taking a picture of my delicious chocolate cake. And I had to wait until she was done to eat it!

She's also hilarious and so sweet and thoughtful. Oh yeah and she says "NEBULOUS" a lot. She even joked about it being a new drinking game.

Alan Gratz (author of new book Fantasy Baseball)
talked about Pacing and Plotting.
He suggested dividing your book into 3 acts with the middle act being the largest (like 50% of your book). He said "You should always have 2 overarching plots in the book - the external (conquering something outside the character) and internal (growth)."

Alan rocks and is hilarious. One of those naturally funny people. He's smart and everything he says is interesting (well almost :) I loved hanging out with him and learning from him. Sharing tidbits we've learned along the way. I'm bummed he's not still living in
Atlanta b/c I think we could be great friends.

OH yeah and he has a new book coming out that is brilliant. Knowing him, it's probably funny too. Liz is his editor on it and she's as excited about it as he is. Its called FANTASY BASEBALL where a boy plays baseball with characters from literature. It's an adorable book for MG that comes out in March 2011 - so look for it!

Liz Waniewski (editor at Dial) talked about some trends she's seeing in submissions that she thinks are a bit oversaturated. PB - bedtime, monsters, going green, grandparents, love you books, boredom, first day school, and baby bird books. For novels - new kid at new school, popular vs outcast, high fantasy, divorce, sulky teen, ordinary kid discovers powers, paranormal.

Liz is adorable and sassy. She loves sports (esp softball) and fantasy, and sci fi. She is the editor on Incarceron, Lady Bug Girl, as well as several of Alan's books. Its amazing how fun and real editors are b/c we (or is it just me?) tend to see them as old fogies sitting in their offices, slashing through books, laughing in an evil way, while reading War and Peace over and over. Liz is so sweet and a brilliant editor. Not only that but I think if I was in NYC - we'd be buddies (right Liz, tell me we would! If not - just pretend and nod.) b/c we laughed a lot and talked about books - debating and discussing - over an entire dinner. So fun. Alan is very lucky.

Chris Richman (Upstart agent) talked about agent relationships. "If you have an agent (or an editor) that takes on you and your work. Know they really have to love it b/c we have to read the book at least 10 times so we better love it." He gets about 500 queries a week. In almost 2 years - Chris only has 10 clients so he has to connect with each book in a special way.

Now, this is the second or third time I've been on faculty with Chris and he cracks me up. The guys is so down to earth and funny. You should definitely query him b/c he has a heart of gold and seems to know this biz very well. he could list off all 13 imprints at Penguin! That's impressive. Oh yeah and his name is RichMAN not Richmond. That seems to be very important to his family so be sure to get it right when you query him. :) He loves board games - scrabble, balderdash - as well as sports. His cuff links are even scrabble letters. Though I'm not sure if they are worth triple or not.

Elizabeth Dulemba on Picture Books - I don't have any nuggets from Elizabeth's talk because we spoke at the same time. But she's always full of them. Elizabeth Dulemba is one of my favorite people who I never get to see enough of even though she lives in Atlanta. We went to high school together. But even though she was a little older and much cooler - she never holds that against me :) The special thing about Elizabeth is she is always looking out for other people. I even heard her pitching someone else's book to an editor b/c she thought the editor would like it. Seriously! She is so sweet and I'm lucky to have her as a friend.

Laurent Linn Art Director at S&S spoke about art illustrations (bummer I did not get a picture of him :( He's funny and brilliant and also worked on the Muppets, which was fascinating to me.

I love finding the nuggets at conferences

I was lucky enough to get to hang out with all these cool people b/c I was on faculty talking about Author marketing and Branding. I was also pleasantly surprised to have a standing room session with about 50-60 people. So thanks to all the Carolina attendees that took time out to listen to me. It makes me happy knowing I might be helping authors get on their way to promoting themselves and their books.

Somewhere along the way, I met Megan Miranda (author of Fracture - 2012 and repped by the amazing and brilliant Sarah Davies at Greenhouse who also happens to be one of my top 10 recommended agents and people to know) Megan just sold a 2 book deal to Bloomsbury/Walker in June. YAY Megan! You know how you meet someone and you just click? Like you've known them forever. That was Megan. We hung out the rest of the conference and laughed a lot. She's adorable and her book sounds amazing. So look for it Winter 2010. (This is the only pic I had of the two of us us but she doesnt like this pic - I think its so cute of her.)

FRACTURE, in which a girl survives a fall through the ice into a Maine lake and subsequent brain injury, only to discover that she now has a strange and frightening affinity with the dying.

Beth Revis (author of Across The Universe, Jan 2011)
I must say I was a tad nervous/excited to meet Beth. I've known her online for a couple years and we have been routing each other on this journey from the sidelines. At that time, neither of us was even agented and we both only had a few followers. She is also a fellow Bookanista and an occasional email cheerleader to me when I need a pep talk. We met for drinks Sat evening. She had been out of town at a Book show and was sweet enough to come by the hotel to meet me before embarking on a 2 hour drive home. Megan joined (crashed!:) our party and the three of us giggled for about 2 1/2 hours. Beth is just like she is online. Sweet, funny and so deserving of everything she is getting. I truly adore her (now - even more) and am so glad we got a chance to hang out. Not to mention, she gave me an ARC (which is AMAZING BTW!!!!!) of her book, Across the Universe, Jan 2011. Not that I'm bragging or anything :)

And last not certainly not least - Carrie Ryan, author of Forest of Hand and teeth.
Yes you heard me right. The CARRIE RYAN! I had lunch with Megan and Carrie on Sunday at a delish Mexican place before I left. I met Carrie over breakfast a few weeks ago at the Decatur Book Festival. After chatting some, she gave me her card and phone number. Said she'd love to meet me when I come to Charlotte. She too just flew into town - having finished the SmartChicks tour - and got in late Sat night. Let me just say - I have a BIG author crush on Carrie. I love her books, but more importantly - I love her writing. So this last week - when we were texting about meeting up - I was all giddy and jumping around my house. Drove my hubby crazy! Needless to say I was so nervous - ME meeting Carrie Ryan for lunch - WHAT????!! This world is crazy. I dragged Megan (like it was sooooo hard to convince her :) along with me so I didn't look like a total dork. Carrie is so funny and sweet and down to earth. We laughed, shared stories and tips for over 3 hours! I finally had to go b/c I had a 4 hour drive back to Atlanta in the rain. But I'm convinced the 3 of us would have sat there all night if I lived close by - chatting and laughing. I am so glad I met Carrie and got to know her better - again the instant click. (I hope she felt it too :) (Watch, she probably thinks I am a dork and I just don't know it yet :)

What a weekend right?

So try to go to conference, you NEVER know who you will meet or what will happen that can make it all worth while.

For me - I've listed at least 9 reasons here alone.


Megan Miranda said...

LOVE! I'm already planning a roadtrip in Feb. :) But seriously, what could top that?

CL said...

Shelli, I'm sad that we didn't see each other at the conference! I don't know how that happened again...

I went to Elizabeth Dulemba's presentation... she is awesome, as you know. She gave great advice and provided a kind of map for making dummies. And she just shines with love for children's literature and illustration.
All the presenters truly were amazing--- I was totally charmed by Laurent Linn and got so much out of his workshops.
It was a wonderful conference!

Catherine Denton said...

Love this post! Thanks for introducing us to such amazing people. And I needed that tidbit about the middle so MUCH!

Yat-Yee said...

Thanks for you report! So helpful to hear about Alvina's distinction and advice to authors about what to do with finding the right mix of literary and commercial. And so happy to see a pic of Beth as well.

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Wow, what a weekend you had! Very cool!

Susan R. Mills said...

Sounds like a great weekend! Thanks for sharing what you learned from these individuals.

Tere Kirkland said...

Very cool! I want to go next year!

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Kimbra Kasch said...

I LOVE conferences - thanks for sharing all the fun - and at such a good price ;)

Hardygirl said...

WOW!! What a great lineup?

We missed you in Nashville!


Natalie Aguirre said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing. I'd love to meet Beth Revis and Carrie Ryan. And the agents and publishers you got to know. It sounds like it was awesome.

I'm going to the Fall SCBWI conference the weekend of Oct 8th. I'm going to meet Cinda Williams Chima and Darcy Pattison. I'm excited.

Gail said...

Another fabulous post! I so agree about going to conferences and the information nuggets gained and the incredible folks you meet.

It makes me smile to hear you say that meeting agents, editors, or published authors can make you nervous- not only do I relate to that, but I felt the same way when I met you and SpringMingle!
And just so you know....if you hadn't squealed about being nervous, we would have NEVER guessed it; your composure is perfect and your personality is warm and inviting.

Thanks for mentioning the trends Liz Waniewski discussed, my MG that I'm subbing fits the categories and may prove useful in my agent queries as well.

Riv Re said...

Glad you had fun :) You met such awesome people!!!

Kelly H-Y said...

WOW! What a weekend indeed ... sounds amazing! Glad you had a great time!

Robin Mellom said...

Wow, what an epic weekend! Glad you had a blast. That pic of Alvina taking a pic of your dessert is adorable. :-)

Sherrie Petersen said...

Dude, what an amazing weekend and what an incredible group of people to hang out with!

Niki Schoenfeldt said...

Great post Shelli, and don't worry, you had a great workshop too. I enjoyed it and learned from it. Don't be surprised if I contact you with questions.

Unknown said...

*grin* So much fun! WIsh I could have come by on Sunday, too, and meet Carrie!

Julie Hedlund said...

Thank you so much for giving such an intimate account of what it was like to be at the conference.

I especially love the personal tidbits about the faculty. We see lots of blog posts that cover the high points of their sessions, but few that give us a sense of the real people that they are.

So glad you had such a great experience!

Carolyn V. said...

Wow Shelli, it looks like you had such a great time at the conference! I will definitely have to check out their sites. =)

Jess of All Trades said...

Thanks for the round up! You're a fantastic speaker and I came away really fired up from your presentation. It IS motivating to get out there and do research on who will be interested in my book.

My favorite part was your answer to the question of, "What if I only have two sentences written? When should I start this market research?"

You answered, "Now! Today. Tomorrow..?"

Bonnie J. Doerr said...

Shelli, This was a wonderful post, but you know, you are getting as many rave reviews and comments as you're handing out. Your presentation for the PAL intensive was wonderful. And you are also generous with your wisdom and as much fun as everyone else you've mentioned. Thanks for making the drive!