Monday, April 23, 2012

Sightseeing Is Like Writing

I went to Washington DC this past weekend. The occasion was my daughter's Swearing in Ceremony with the Department of State. Needless to say, we were proud and excited. But there was something else we did there. A lot of walking! And everything I do I relate to writing in some way.

I was wearing semi-dressy shoes for the ceremony. And we did a bit of walking while I had them on. Pretty shoes are great until you wake up with blisters on your feet. Yeah, like the high you get when writing that first draft. Then you go back and read it. Ugh.

That evening we went to the Lincoln Memorial. I was in comfy shoes, but the blisters were still forming. You know the first thing you see there? Steps. Lots of them. Huff your way up and you're wishing Abe would offer you his seat.

The next day we visited the Capitol. A lot of important gridlock takes place there. Writer’s block, anyone?

The Library of Congress is cool. What writer doesn’t want to be surrounded by books? (Am I the only one who thinks the reading room looks like Hogwarts?) But I absolutely loved the Bob Hope exhibit. It focuses more on politics than Bob, but I found it inspirational and nostalgic. And, oh yeah, I got to it by walking up stairs.

One thing that really stood out in DC was all the scaffolding. Repairs from last year’s earthquake. Repair, rewrite, repair, rewrite…same thing.

The last place we visited was the National Cathedral. I can’t help but compare it to writing. It took forever to build. There's a lot of intricacy. And it towers before you, swallowing you up. There’s a lot of praying involved too. I thought I was escaping those ever present evil stairs, but no, you have to go up and down them to get to the restrooms.

So the central theme here? Stairs. Lots of them. Heck, I even had to climb stairs to get to the Chili’s where I ate dinner last night. I did a lot of walking and a lot of stair climbing. The results? Sore calves! It’s an ouchy every time I take a step.

But walking and stair climbing is so much like writing. It’s painful. But in the end, it’s worth the effort.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book Shout-Out - I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga

I’m sort of stingy when it comes to book shout-outs. A book really has to grab me…keep me turning the pages. But I Hunt Killers totally blew me away.

What's it about?

Jasper (Jazz) Dent had a unique upbringing. Unique in that his father was a famous serial killer. Yeah, that would make you stand out. And worse, Dad wanted Jazz to go into the family business. Like father like son? What Jazz really learned over the years was how to recognize the patterns of a serial killer. And he uses that expertise to help out the local police. But while he wants to do the right then, he still titters on the brink. Will he one day cross over to the dark side? Follow in Dad’s footsteps?

I know it’s only April, but I Hunt Killers is hands down my favorite book so far this year. I can always count on Barry Lyga to produce edgy books with superb writing, but he’s outdone himself with this one. I hope this thriller will bring about a new trend in YA fiction.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Few Things about the SCBWI Houston Conference

This past Saturday I attended the Houston SCBWI Conference. I always go. And it’s always great.

The first thing I noted when I name was spelled correctly on my name tag! That’s a good sign. It rarely happens.

Logo by Diandra Mae
Then the speakers spoke.  I won’t run down the highlights of their speeches. Just know that we basked in their brilliant awesomeness.

One thing I’ve noticed about agents and editors…they keep getting younger and younger. Nope, I’m not getting old, they’re definitely getting younger. But along with youth comes energy. Who doesn’t want that in an agent and editor?

I did something super smart when I registered. I paid for two professional critiques. One from an agent, one from an editor. Both gave amazing feedback. And the agent praised what she’d read and asked for the full manuscript. Yes! I need an agent, and she’s the agent I’d love to represent me.

What I like best about these conferences, is spending the day with good friends and likeminded people. It’s therapy. But you already know that.

When the day wound down, I was in for another surprise. My work was nominated for the Joan Lowery Nixon Award. The winner is mentored by the lovely Kathi Appelt, who graciously took over when Joan passed away in 2003. To say I was honored, major understatement. But today, I made the decision to withdraw my nomination. This is an award that should go to a less published author.

So we topped off the day with a Mexican buffet, after which I came home and crashed.

By the way, if you’re one of the coordinators who slaved so I could have a great day…thanks for everything! Including spelling my name right. 

I'd love to know your thoughts on conferences. The comment section is waiting.