Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thank You Conference Coordinators!

Many thanks to our conference coordinators: Susan Eaddy, Genetta Adair (SCBWI-Midsouth's RA) and Sharon Cameron. Thank you for giving us a fabulous conference ladies!

Book Donations

Conference Faculty & Conference Coordinators with Donated Books

Kristin Tubb & Patricia Wiles organized a book drive to help out two schools in the region. Thank you Midsouth for your generous book donations!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Contest Winners!

Amanda Driscoll, Cheryl Mendenhall, Kristi Valiant

Illustrator category:

Honorable Mention:

Kristi Valiant
Amanda Driscoll

Cheryl Mendenhall for The Traveler and the Dragon: A Voyage with Marco Polo

Amanda Driscoll, Jessica Young, Kristi Valiant

Picture book category:

Honorable Mention:
Jersey Girls by Suzanne Johnson
Hamster Hair by Kristi Valiant
Eleanor's Best by Amanda Driscoll

Darwin, the Modern Dinosaur by Jessica Young

Tiffany Russell, Gretchen Kelley

Middle Grade Category:

Ready...Or Not by Gretchen Kelley
The Spiritualists by Allison Foster

The Doors of Whim by Tiffany Russell

Courtney Stevens, Rae Ann Parker, David Jarvis, Teresa Lockhart

Young Adult Category:

Honorable Mention:

Rise of the Archeteens by David Jarvis
Some Secrets Bleed by Courtney Stevens
The Edge by Teresa Lockhart

Winner: Wish Granter by Rae Ann Parker

A HUGE congrats goes out to all of the winners!

Faculty Panel

Tracy Barrett, Diane Muldrow, Lionel Bender, Linda Pratt, Peter Clifton, Kelly Sonnack, Ellen Hopkins, Ruta Rimas, Patti Ann Harris

From Rae Ann: Memorable quotes

Some memorable quotes:

“Be true to your style” – Art Director Patti Ann Harris speaking to illustrators

“Plunge into the next project.” – author Ellen Hopkins

“Don’t become a professional student of the industry. Write.” – agent Linda Pratt

From Bethany: Answers

What are the common things that can speed up or slow down the publishing journey?
Patti Ann Harris - Be comfortable with who you are and your interests and style.
Ruta Rimas – Be creative professionals.
Ellen Hopkins- Jump into the next project.
Peter Clifton- have fun…
Kelly Sonnack- Find a way to hook publishers/readers. Follow your heart, but make it relevant.
Linda Pratt- be flexible. Find different formats, spend time writing rather than becoming a professional student of the industry
Lionel Bender- Understand how the industry works. Don’t underestimate the amount of time needed to write/research etc.
Diane Muldrow – Do your homework.
Tracy Barrett – decide what works for you and what doesn’t.

What if you disagree with your critique…Critiques are subjective, but the faculty know the industry and are well read. Don’t discount author critiques—some people are disappointed when they get an author rather than an agent or editor. Possibly have it critiqued by another professional and look for consistency in the comments. Consider the niche of the faculty member who gives your critique. Put the manuscript away for awhile and then reconsider it.

From Amanda:

What are some examples of ways you can market directly to teens?

Ellen Hopkins: More and more publishers are creating more of a YA/Teen outreach. It is a network, so I am tied into all the major publishers. Friends who are authors promote for me and vice versa. On twitter, you don’t have to be friends with everyone that follows you. Reach teens through twitter and they may blog about it, etc. As much as you can, answer the messages that come to you from kids. You have to care because they are your readers. I do school visits—to keep in contact with kids and how they’re talking, what they’re thinking about, and let them see you are a real person.

Ruta Rimas: Melissa Marr does a terrific job of networking with her audience. John Green has a massive following of teen readers he has tapped into. Harper has developed a website called It gets our authors interacting with our teen audience and writers.

When is present tense appropriate and is it being overdone these days?

Tracy Barrett: Sign up for the listserv for a longer answer to this question.

Ellen Hopkins: Present tense is when you need a sense of immediacy—it’s an unfolding experience.

Kelly Sonnack: It’s your decision. Commit to it and decide what works.

Would you ever ask for chapter two instead of chapter one since first chapters are often weak?

Ruta Rimas: No. If it’s not indicative of the quality of writing, then maybe you aren’t starting in the right place. If the first chapter isn’t strong, why would I want to continue reading?

Linda Pratt: If you’re not feeling that your first chapter is really strong, then you have a lot to do.

Diane Muldrow: Don’t be precious with your work. This is art, this is clay; work with it! This is about craft and really hard work. If your first chapter isn’t ready, we aren’t going to publish a book without a first chapter.
How can a writer maintain the dramatic tension through the middle of a book?

Linda Pratt: Keep asking those what if questions. As an author, you can never stop asking what if.

Kelly Sonnack: Sentence structure, sentence length, description, chapter endings—it’s also important to think about the plot points about the middle of the novel just as you are for the beginning or the end. By the middle your characters should have accomplished something but not everything.
Ellen Hopkins: Make sure that each scene builds on the last and moves the story forward. Look at why the scene is there, why the character is in that place, and what can motivate him to get beyond that place.

Ruta Rimas: Multi-dimensional characters can help a book get beyond that point…and asking those what if questions….

Peter Clifton: Surviving and Thriving in an Online World

A look at author marketing online

We are looking at an expanding digital reading market 500M+ mobile devices, reading and content consumption.  For example, we now have access to the Nook, iPhone, Kindle, iPad, cell phones, PDA’s, Android and more…

Marketing techniques have shifted from offline to online--think Twitter, Facebook, etc.

It is important to keep your information available and correct.

Platform building--link all of your online activities.

You will want to connect directly with readers and build community!

Some social reading Sites- Goodreads, Shelfari, Library Thing

Clifton's site, Filedby, is organized around authors

It is authorcentric and contains information on 10 million books.

It is a place where authors can control the information that’s out there, make it authoritative, and make it right.

Authors basically get a free webpage with different features—for a fee, you get further interesting features. Community helps build direct communication.  For $99 a year, you can post a link that will direct sales where you want.
Check it out for yourself at

Ruta Rimas on Developing Characters

Ruta Rimas, editor at HarperCollins Balzer + Bray imprint presented a hands-on workshop on developing a character from scratch.

Look at your characters & ask questions like:
Who is your character? How does your character react to certain situations?
Write a scene where they do the exact opposite.

Ruta’s examples of well-developed characters:

from TV:
Dexter (conflicted & complicated)

Literary Characters:
Max from Where the Wild Things Are
Frankie Landau-Banks from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Katniss from The Hunger Games

Ruta recommends Writing The Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

First Pages with Agents Kelly Sonnack & Linda Pratt

What makes the 1st page a No:

Too much exposition (telling instead of showing)
Labeled for the wrong age group
Picture Book is dialogue heavy
Picture Book is list-y (tackling a list instead of an overall conflict)
Too much description in action scene slows down the pacing

What makes the 1st page a Yes:

Interesting opening line
Picture Book showing good imagination
Lots of action in opening scene

A Note on Titles: Choose a Title that doesn’t explain everything about the book.