Saturday, August 12, 2006


The SCBWI Summer Conference was Golden this year. Here are some more nuggets from my LA visit.

Saturday 8/05
Hunkered down in my room to work on The Ancients (deadline for the revision draws near).

Attended Krista Marino's workshop "Publishing Etiquette: What Not to Do"Krista gathered gripes from her fellow editors. Here are a few things to avoid:
* Don’t send sloppy cover letters. They should be immaculate.
* Avoid adding the minutia of your novel to your synopsis. Instead clearly communicate the storyline, characters, genre and age range. Keep it short,clear and compelling.
* Don’t address editors by first name in your cover letter unless you know them.
* Don’t send to 5 editors at the same imprint. Editors know each other and "do lunch" together.
* Try not to be impatient while you wait for a response. Instead use your waiting time to wirte. Editors work long office hours and have to do ALL their manuscript reading at home. So learn the fine line between persistence and pestering.
Krista then listed all the jobs an editor does in a typical day. My hand cramped just writing them all down! Kudos to all our hardworking editors.

Sunday 8/06
Went to Lisa Yee’s witty “Why Bother to Blog” workshop. Great fun! Lisa shared lots of cool blogging info. (So much to learn!) And she gave us tons of helpful notes. Thanks Lisa! (See more SCBWI conference stuff on Lisa Yee’s blog.)

Monday 8/07

Went to “The Joys and Frustrations of Revision” workshop with Justina Chen Headley and her editor at Little Brown, Alvina Ling.
Took pages of notes on their revision process. Justina showed her cool pre-story collages. Alvina read sections of her early editorial letters for Nothing But the Truth and a Few White Lies. Justina shared tips on how to handle your editors queries and comments. Lots of good-humored jokes between the two, and more than one poignant moment as Tina read from her stunning novel. I give the workshop 5 stars. *****

Monday afternoon -- Jane Yolen's Keynote:
I'd been waiting all weekend for Jane Yolen's address. And my jaw dropped when she was wheeled on stage. We’d danced at the Jade Jubilee Saturday night. Did she sprain her ankle jiving into the wee hours after I left the shindig? Jane soon told her ghastly tale of horrors (full details can be read on her website Journal “Telling the True” see She'd suffered a bad case of food poisoning. After being sicker than a dog for hours, our fearless conference director, Lin Oliver, rushed her to the hospital where Jane spent the night hooked up to the IV. Still she managed to return to the hotel for her keynote address covering the 10 Rules of Writing gleaned from 40 years of experience and 287 (count um!) books. Here are but a few rules:
· Write the damn novel. Don't just want to write it. Sit down (BIC -- butt in chair) and write it.
· Learn to love revision.
· Listen to your readers.
· The last rule (true to Yolen humor) was -- Don't believe anyone's rules.
Jane ended with a poem. I took down a startling line . . .
"a prayer that sounds like a curse until it's said a second time"

Jane got a standing ovation.
She thinks it was wheelchair inspired "pity applause" but it had nothing to do with food poisoning. Note to Jane -- we would have stood after that keynote if you’d been well enough to do jumping jacks on stage. Bravo! It was a great way to end the conference.

Monday night party:
Last, I attended the party at Lin Oliver’s. Good talk and good eats – apologies to Jane Y.

Tuesday 8/08:
Got up at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday to fly home. Then it was time to dig in on my revision of Talon for my UK publisher at Faber & Faber.

Well, Talon beckons. Back to work.

Until the next blog . . .
Be well.


alvinaling said...

Thanks for the 5 was wonderful meeting you! I hope our paths cross again.

Anonymous said...

I have not checked your blog in a while but I was so pleased to read so much about what you are doing, where you are learning and who is with you. Thanks for all the details.

Teresa in Missouri