Tuesday Carolee Dean and I will be talking verse novels over at Alamosa Books in Albuquerque.* This is a part of SCBWI-NM's** monthly Schmooze*** but is open to any interested readers, writers, librarians, teachers, friends, Romans, or countrymen.
I'm filling in for our Schmoozinator,**** Brian Herrera.
If you've ever wondered what verse novels are all about, if you're curious about why anyone would choose to read or write this way, or if you're looking for some good verse novel recommendations, stop by! You can even join us for a pre-Schmooze meal.*****
*Alamosa is a lovely children's bookstore off of Paseo Del Norte and Ventura. Things start up at 7:00pm.
**The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, New Mexico branch
*** Meetings where we talk books and socialize
****Schmooze leader extraordinaire
*****5:30 at Dion's (Paseo and Wyoming)
Oh, what a wonderfully creative time we had!
For me, the Spring Schmooze is a way to connect with my writing friends . . . and it's a way to appease the writing side of my brain that's been pouting and moaning for attention since the campground opened.
I love hearing what everyone is working on - whether it's a polished piece . . . a first draft . . . or a brave dive into a new genre! We've all been working together for so long, that our ideas and suggestions flow in and out, and up and around our little writing circle.
In attendance were Jo Knowles with her son, Denise Ortakales, Laura Hamor, Anna Boll ajboll and her family, Mona Pease anom3 , Val Giogas, Cindy Lord, Nancy Cooper and Cindy Faughnan cfaughnan .
I shared a first chapter that I hoped was very close to being polished - and wasn't surprised to hear that it could use a tiny bit more tweaking. These girls are GOOD! I'm hoping to put those finishing touches to it tonight.
After our critique sessions, some of the girls went out to explore the lake. They saw the bald eagles and had kayak races - you can read all about it on anom3 and jbknowles blogs.
Everyone got me up to date from the NESCBWI conference that I sadly had to miss. I loved hearing about the people they ran into and the new friends they made, their impressions of the seminars and the new facility.
By: Shutta Crum
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Children’s authors hard at work!
I’ve enjoyed torturi . . . um, inspiring my writing and illustrating colleagues over the course of the last nine years with a short writing exercise at each schmooze. This year was no exception. It is during this time, since I get to inflict . . . um . . . lead the activities, that I have a few free moments to take snapshots of my friends giving in to the muse. (The writing prompt also gives me time to hit the dessert table once again while no one is looking.)
I was delighted by the laughter and advice freely shared, and all the good food y’all brought. (OMG: the Peruvian goat cheese! I was so glad Monica was gracious enough to leave me the leftovers. I was contemplating offering to arm wrestle her for it.) And I am so pleased at the boxes of books donated for the Martin County Library. Oh my! Five boxes full. (Diane-you are a doll!)
Finally, it was great to be able to put faces to the names that crop up on the Michigan SCBWI listserv and to welcome so many “old” hands and new faces to the playhouse. Keep on writing . . .
Many hugs from your devoted task master,
I was so excited to host my writing group this past weekend, that I started getting ready the Monday before! I did a fall cleaning on the meeting room, cleaned my own home, shopped/baked/made lasagna, ordered pizza, printed our schmooze schedule, beautified the front of the office and made sure the rental trailers could pass the white glove test.
Then of course, I had to tighten the piece I was going to read and print copies of it.
By the time Friday morning came, all that was left was the seemingly endless waiting . . .
Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Agency was our guest of honor. And she was the first to arrive! By 6pm, almost everyone had gathered in my kitchen to eat pizza and talk about all things writer-ly.
I was in heaven! So much so, that I forgot to take pizza party pictures. Sorry about that!
We gathered bright and early Saturday morning for coffee and breakfast goodies and after updating each other on what's been going on in our lives -
We had several celebrations! Cindy Faughn had signed with an agent, Laura Hamor was creating school visit class for illustrators, Joyce and Anna were now working full time, Mona and Jeanne were retiring full time, Joan had sold a book and Jeanne had gotten a "must read" from Library Journal on her book, Children With Cancer. (There's much, much more - and I apologize for not listing it all)
Then we began our 20 minute critiques. Every piece I heard, whether it was picture book, middle grade, non-fiction, fiction . . . whether it was a what-do-you-think-of-this-rough-first draft piece or a very-polished-ready-to-submit piece . . . they were all outstanding! I am always so proud to be part of this amazingly talented group.
Laura Hamor, Mona Pease and Cindy Faughn
And the feedback I personally received . . . . Wow! I cannot WAIT to dig into the revisions on my middle grade sci-fi. I'm so excited by the changes they've inspired. I've been hosting spring and fall schmoozes since 2002 and I never fail to learn something new!
Val Giogas, Denise Ortakeles, Laura
After our critique session, Joan gave a wonderful talk about her agency and her role within it. She also talked about the industry as a whole. You could hear a pin drop the entire time - she's a wonderful speaker - very giving and caring and smart! I can see why her clients rave about her!
From all the schmoozers ~ "Thank you, Joan!"
Then there was free time for walking the campground, writing, napping, brainstorming - or in Anna's case, swimming.
before we gathered for a lasagna supper.
Sadly, I'd forgotten to get our bi-annual group photo right after the critique session, before a few of our members headed home. But w
I'm late posting and just a little peeved with my Blogger. I've been trying on and off all day to post this--but I couldn't upload any photos, and I have lots of photos of this event to share. At last! I found the secret formula to this technological secret!
Last Friday evening the Mudskippers held a terrific Schmooze starring our own Tameka Fryer Brown. We were sixteen or so hungry writers
What is a Schmooze? You may ask.
It's an informal get together sponsored by my critique group and SCBWI Carolinas.
Our guest speaker is non other than award winning author Francis O'Roarke Dowell
Author of Dovey Coe, The Secret Language of Girls, Chicken Boy among others.
Date: April 13th
Place: Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh
We had quite a big turn out at our schmooze last year so you may want to come early to get a good seat.
Hope to see you there!
I signed up for JoNoWriMo 1.5!
Yah, yah. I know. I'm late. Again. But I have a really, really good excuse. Really!
I'm getting ready to hang with some fellow writers this weekend!
How cool is that?
Creative people often work in isolation so some of us will do anything to see other humans (adult humans). This weekend, I boarded a plane and flew to Manchester, NH where my good friend Joyce picked me up and drove me to the Poland Springs Campground. Here I get a chance to schmooze with all these amazing writers and friends. We work, we laugh, we talk, we eat, we drink, we eat, we drink, we laugh more... you get it. My hubby has been away quite a bit so I totally needed this break. On Monday, I'll be back to work and busy but for now, I'm so happy being surrounded by support and love.
It all started Friday Night with a couple of homemade pizzas . . .
And some really talented writers . . .
Starting with anom3 (in the light green shirt) and going left:
Jeanne Bracken, cfaughnan , jbknowles , artistq , ajboll , Me, giogas and our guest of honor Kara LaReau. Missing from this picture is Joyce Johnson, who'd left a little early.
I always look forward to gathering together and talking about our families, our writing and life in general!
Saturday morning, more authors joined us for coffee and yummy stick buns! carriejones , Mary Morton Cowan, Denise Ortakales, Nancy Cooper.
We gathered in a circle
and each read one piece for group discussion. We squeaked in 13 pieces!!!
I have to run and take A back to college now. 4 hours down . . . 4 hours back. But I'll post more again tomorrow . . . including a picture of Kara wearing two hats!
My beautiful, talented little girl is tucked back into her dorm room . . . four hours away . . . I miss her terribly. Next weekend is family weekend though, and I'll be going back down with B, so he can see her new room/ location on campus. A claims to have found an awesome ice cream place - the best she's ever had. B wants to take that bet.
It was a long car ride, but I never mind. All that quiet gives me uninterrupted time to reflect on things. After working 60 hour weeks with camping families filling every nook and cranny, I was way overdue for reflecting on my writing. A lot has happened in the last year and I'd been pushing it all to the back burner, which tends to make it simmer and scald a little. jbknowles
So, I sorted out a few things in my head and my schmoozers were instrumental in helping me. I don't know what I'd do without this group of ladies. They literally picked me up, hugged me, brushed me off and said, "Now get your work back out there! Or else!"
Front: Me, Kara, Denise Ortakales
, Nancy Cooper, Jeanne Bracken
Back: Joyce Johnson
Thanks ladies, I needed that!
Kara LaReau (Scholastic) was instrumental in that process too! I'm not sure she knows exactly how much . . . her talk on balancing own writing endeavors with her editor side was very eye opening. Here she is wearing both her editor and author hats:
She wears them well, and manages to look cute too!
The best piece of advice I received this weekend resulted from a question Nancy posed to the group about our personal writing processes: When trying something new, just let it fly. Put the fear (of writing something wrong/inappropriate for the age group/spelling/punctuation/format) out of the way. Flick that editor off your shoulder and see where things take you when his voice isn't whispering in your ear.
The weekend wasn't aaaaaallllllll work though . . . I managed to find time to jump off swings with Jo!
Such a girly-girl jump I have!! LOL
Others jumpers are Joyce
Who were much bigger risk takers than I!
It's all about risk isn't it? Each manuscript is a little piece of us . . . something we've created, nurtured and grown. And just like sending our kids out into the big bright world and letting them fend for themselves, it's a little scary sending our written words. We just have to hope we've written the best piece we can possibly write, and that it will take the world by storm, making us proud.
Now, I'm off to tie up a few loose campground ends before I settle in to read all my notes on the train set manuscript.
It's time to send it "out there".
Posted on 12/8/2008
The Kid Lit community in the Kansas City area is glowing (and growing!). SCBWI Kansas and JWKC Classic joined forces on Saturday for a Holiday Schmooze. We celebrated a prosperous year full of friends, contracts, agents, books and writing and looked ahead to the promise the new year holds. (Be sure to check out both groups' sites for information on coming events!)
, Maggie, lauramanivong
, Shanna, Johana
Diane, LD Harkrader, Suzanne, Johana
Maggie, crcook, Nancy
Tom and Jancy, LD Harkrader
Debra (left), Sue Tessa
in the background)
We had a great time, put some names with some online personas, made new friends, talked about writing and books and inspiration and the experiences that influence our work.
It was a fabulous time! I can't recommend getting together with other writers highly enough.
After a week of rain, the sunshine arrived with the first schmoozers. And I'm not sure which one had me feeling warmer.
Once again, illnesses had several schmoozers staying home at the last minute. As much as we missed them, the rest of us had a wonderful time catching up. Productivity was high too! Since we had last minute room, everyone graciously allowed Alex to sit in and read from her recently completed, first draft novel too!
I ended up reading a PB I've had sitting around for a bit. Right after doing a quick revision Thursday night, I had a one scene, illustration vision. With no more time to experiment, I decided to read the manuscript as it was, and share the alternate vision with the schmoozers. We all brainstormed a bit and VOILA! A whole new direction for my story! Yes!
I can't wait to get back to it!
After an amazing pot luck lunch, Cindy Lord shared her F & G of Hot Rod Hamster with us!
Derek Anderson's illustrations are full of energy and expression. Cindy's text is humorous, engaging and fun!. The combination is amazing!
All too soon is was time to say goodbye to our day trippers. But first, we had to take our traditional photo in front of the bookcase.
l to r: Denise Ortakeles, Jo Knowles, Me, Cindy Faughn, Alex, Mona Pease and Cindy Lord.
Jo, Cindy F and Mona stayed overnight in one of our rental trailers. They ate a spaghetti dinner, watched Alex and Bryant's Shakespeare Troupe perform previews of their summer plays Romeo and Juliet and MidSummer Night's Dream
and then enjoyed dessert at our ice cream social
Afterward, we talked into the weeeee hours.
I miss everyone already! I hope they went home as inspired from our union as I am . . .
And what a fabulous Fall Schmooze it was!
Sadly, we were without three of our group this time around jbknowles , Nancy and carriejones you were missed terribly and we talked about you often! Were your ears ringing???
On a positive note though, it was agreed that Alex should sit in one of their chairs as a big thank you for traveling all the way home from college to wear my campground hat and cover the front desk. Between her, Paula, Henry and my hubby, I was able to spend the entire day with my Schmoozers!!
This year, Andrea Tompa of Candlewick made a return visit. So really . . . how scary a group can we be if sweet, funny, energetic, intelligent Andrea agreed to come back a second time for more pizza making Friday night
and critiquing all day Saturday?
I'm always awed by the level of talent that fills this campground whenever my Schmoozers visit. I sometimes have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming . . . that I'm really, truly hanging with all these amazing writers and (in the fall) one knowledgable editor.
And you know what? I think every single one of us brought a new work. And many, many of those were in a new-to-us-genre. It was the year of taking chances . . . challenging ourselves to new heights . . . jumping off cliffs . . . and finding there are nets below.
After the critiquing, Andrea brought us up to date on Candlewick and herself. She patiently and graciously answered questions from all over the business/book seller/ marketing/ agenting/editing spectrum.
And she brought books. Lots of shiny, new, smell-those-hot-off-the-press Candlewick books!
drooled all over wrestled for admired them in a very lady-like way, Andrea had a little raffle. Alex and I were two of the lucky ducks with these winners
I feel a little guilty that my daughter and I were the first two names drawn . . . .
I'll try not too dwell on it too much as I devour Rule of Three, and then hunt Alex down for The Magician's Elephant.
Here we are in our yearly pose . . .
back (l to r)
cynthialord , ajboll , Joyce Johnson, giogas , anom3 , Denise Ortakales, Alex, Me, artistq
front (l to r)
Mary Morton Cowan, Jeanne Bracken, Andrea Tompa, cfaughnan
You ladies Rock!
By: Mark Peter Hughes,
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So far we’ve gone 10,956 miles in 49 days, with only 6 days to go. As I type we’re whooshing down Route I-94 heading toward Michigan. Not too long ago we went into Indiana, a state we’re passing through for only a few minutes—but it still counts! :-) The grass and shrubs have definitely looked more shaggy since Illinois, but that’s new. For the past few days we’ve been in clean, manicured farm country.
Let’s catch up:
Wall Drug, SD and the Badlands
Wednesday, the day after we saw Mount Rushmore, was a long driving day (about 700 miles!), but Karen is never one to let a cool-sounding place pass by without calling out “Stop!” So that’s what we did in Wall Drug, South Dakota, where the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was in full swing. The entire town, which was originally built around a drug store, was filled with bikers, bikers, and more bikers. How could we pass up a chance to buy a Harley Davidson t-shirt in the biker heartland of America?
BIG, BAD BADLANDS
The badlands: Truly bad, or just misunderstood? Here’s Evan:
EVAN: The Badlands were covered with white rock and it seemed sort of like the moon. It was very hot and I liked it because in some places the rock was burned so badly that it made colors (Mark’s note: actually, this was different levels of sediment—and way cool) and suddenly when you leave the Badlands it looks like you’re in the regular world again. There were a lot of motorcycle guys everywhere too.
So then we reached Minnesota. The photo above was the most difficult "entering a new state" photo we've taken. The sign was on the highway, and we had to climb up a hill, through some brambles, and then squeeze into a tiny area of dirt in the middle of some bushes. Note that Evan is parting a shrub with his arm so the state name can be seen.
In Minnesota we stayed Chaska, just outside of Minneapolis, with our friends Patricia Danielson, Vicki Boeddeker, and Mike Weinkauf. Patricia took a couple of days off work to show us around the Twin Cities. We saw first-hand the damaged remains of the collapsed bridge on I-35W—just awful. Five weeks and two days after crossing the Mississippi in the south (into Louisiana), we crossed it in the north. It’s a lot calmer in the north! We also saw the beautiful state capital building. Thanks Patricia, Vicki, and Mike!
A note from KAREN: Mark asked why I’ve only been writing about bad experiences. I don’t see it that way, I see them as different experiences than life in Wayland, MA. For example, my 2nd night in Vicki’s house. Here we are, comfy cozy, away from bears and rattlesnakes, what else could happen at night? My first big lightening storm on the prairies of Minnesota, that’s what!! Holy cow ! I got out of bed and was blinded by the flashing lightning, and then jumped out of my PJ’s when I heard the loud crack and kaboom of the lightning right outside the window! Did a tree fall down? Did we get hit by lightning? Another night of no sleeping because of fear!! The next morning, as usual, everyone including Mark said it was a normal storm, no big deal . WELL, we got an email from a friend in the area who said the storm blew out windows like a tornado and power was out for a few days. She asked if we were in the eye of the storm! See, I’m not crazy!!
Wild Rupus was wild indeed. An amazing independent bookstore in Minneapolis, the whole store was designed to look like it was transforming from an inside space to the outdoors. Helping to create the effect were a whole menagerie of animals, including chickens, ferrets, Australian flying squirrels, fish, tarantulas, rats and many more. The kids were in heaven. Here we are with Manager Kristin Bergsagel bookseller Josh Harrod, Poopsie the ferret, and a Japanese chicken named Elvis. Thanks, Wild Rumpus—you are terrific!
THE RED BALLOON
Like a matching bookend to Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, St. Paul is home to another amazing bookstore called The Red Balloon. Susan Hepburn was a terrific host, serving up lemon drops and lemonade. The Red Balloon is another must-visit bookstore for anyone the St. Paul area!
As a nice surprise, we were lucky enough to meet Shelley Swanson Sateren, fellow SCBWI member and author of the middle-grade novel Cat on a Hottie’s Tin Roof. Here’s Evan’s review:
EVAN’S REVIEW: Cat on a Hottie’s Tin Roof is a fun book about a girl who is geeky who when her friend moves away from Paris she finds a new friend who is stylish and cool. It was an interesting story because it’s interesting to see how a girl with so much smarts can try and be cool and fit in with everyone else. You should read it.
It was great to meet you, Shelley!
BACK TO THE HONDA DEALER ONE MORE TIME
Penelope’s rattling got kind of dubious so we stopped at the Honda dealer in Hopkins, MN. $560 later, (replaced ‘severely cracked’ exhaust manifold and gaskets, oil change, new battery) the minivan sounded a bit better—at least for the first twenty miles or so. After that, we’re pretty much back to the rattling we started out with. Oh well, it’s only money. :-)
Here’s Shane Beals, the Honda guy who washed Penelope—she badly needed it. Thanks, Shane!
Next we drove through Wisconsin, a land of beautiful manicured farms and more red barns than you can shake a cheddar wheel at. So lovely!
In Green Bay we stopped to see a surprisingly large athletic facility where a local team plays a sport that apparently involves feet and leather hats. I hear that the locals are rather enthusiastic about it.
Just south of Green Bay, in DePere, is Butterfly Books, a roomy and cheerful independent bookstore run by Barbara Wilson. Barbara and her friendly team of booksellers were very kind, staying open later than usual on a Saturday afternoon just so that we could visit. Here I am with Barbara and Samantha Parker, bookseller and saxophone player. Great to meet you!
ROLLING AROUND IN PAIN IN MILWAUKEE
In Milwaukee we stayed with our friends Posh (really Josh, but he’s yet another friend with a mysterious nickname given by Karen) and Boris. They showed us around Milwaukee, and took us for custard at Kopps, a Milwaukee thing-to-do. The custard was a lot like ice cream except a lot denser—it’s made with eggs and who-knows-what-else and it sneaks up on you. Thank god I only had a small cone—by bedtime I felt so full that I rolled around in pain clutching at my stomach. But honestly, it was so tasty it was worth it! :-)
As any fan of Laverne and Shirley can tell you, Milwaukee is home to many breweries, so how could we pass up the opportunity to tour the Miller factory?
In beautiful Cedarburg, WI, about twenty minutes north of Milwaukee, is the terrific Creekside Books. Owner Glen Switalski is a man with an amazing story: After his doctor told him he needed to lose weight, he lost well over 100 lbs by exercise, diet and sheer force of will. Today he can be seen riding his exercise bike in and around his store every day. The guy is an aerobic, bookselling powerhouse! Creekside Books is a great independent bookstore, and Gary is a truly an inspirational guy.
Here I am with Lindsay McLaughlin, a reader and artist who came to see me. She was fun to talk with, and very helpful in suggesting places we could go in the area. Great to meet you, Lindsay! :-)
Illinois: An All-Too-Short Trip Through the Land of Lincoln
Southward from Milwaukee...! Unfortunately, we had only a few hours in Illinois. Still, it counts as state number 31 on our trip! :-)
UNDER THE SYCAMORE TREE
In Grayslake, Illinois, about forty minutes north of Chicago, is a magical bookstore called Under the Sycamore Tree. A new independent store, owner Jackie Harris opened up shop this past November. It’s a roomy, bright place with a big “sycamore tree” inside. The store has taken inspiration from Wild Rumpus (see Minnesota) and filled its space with wild animals. My kids were in their element. Zoe ran at me with a giant grin and a very big python named ‘Snakey’. Under the Sycamore Tree is yet another example of how independent bookstores tend to be run by smart, thoughtful, nice people. Jackie, it was a pleasure to meet you!
Here I am with Jackie and her daughter, Haley:
Because we’re meeting a friend in Michigan later today, we had only about an hour or so to see Chicago. I know, I know—not even close to scratching the surface. So on top of just driving around a little, we decided that with our limited time we’d stop by Lake Michigan. As far as my eyes could tell, the lake might as well have been an ocean. Way cool. Next time, we’ll plan to spend more time here!
Our Trip Through Indiana: Don’t Blink Or You’ll Miss It
If you thought our stop in Chicago was too short, Indiana is only about a half hour of highway to us. Still, it counts as state #32. :-)
Next stop, Michigan!
LEMONADE MOUTH (Delacorte Press, 2007)
I AM THE WALLPAPER (Delacorte Press, 2005)