Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Song Warp

I flew around time yesterday. The wild journey began with a radio station playing all the hits of my life - those key songs that spark a memory. Songs which are inextricably intertwined with a memory cause instant transportation to that moment any time the rhythm starts.

Many of my Song Warps are clearly YA memories, and I don't kiss and tell. But there are a few more appropriate ones:

Copacabana, by Barry Manilow. Year: 1978. Setting: My Grandpa's living room: imagine dark paneling, those little vintage glass bottles in assorted colors, large floral print couches, and a wooden parrot. My grandpa had hands the size of basketballs from years of working on the railroad, fighting in Normandy, and a long career in construction. But he always held my tiny hands gently when we danced to the Copacabana. *sidenote* It's funny to think we were actually listening to a Top 40 hit and not an oldie as I always thought of it- like me dancing with my girls to Roar

The Warrior, by Scandal. Year: 1984. Setting: Barbie doll house in the basement. For this particular song, Barbie always dressed in her jean jacket, because it made her look tough. I don't recall exactly what Ken had done, but he had messed up real bad and Barbie needed to show him how she felt by belting out the Warrior and stomping around in ridiculously high heels.
(via wikipedia)

All I Need, by Jack Wagner. Year: 1984. Setting: Sitting cross-legged by the record player in my living room.  This was my very first 45 record that was all mine and not shared with my stinky big sister. (if you are "age challenged," here's a helpful link to define record.) It was of critical importance, because when I found out we were moving to a new town, I put this on repeat for HOURS. I probably was leaving behind some sort of third grade boyfriend, but mainly it was a good sorrowful song for crying to.

Grease Mega Mix. Year: 1997. Setting: College formal dance. My date (though we went as 'friends') and I did an electrifying dance. I guess he was the one that I wanted, because I went ahead and married him.  And we are still friendsJ

These songs strike such a specific emotional chord, I can harness the power in my writing by just plugging in a relevant song when I'm writing.

I know you each have awesome song warp songs, so hit me with a good song and memory in the comments. Consider it your writing inspiration for a day. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

NJSCBWI Conference - My Experience

After I posted the conference recommended books, Romelle commented she couldn't wait to hear about the rest of my experience. *winces* You see, my plan was to put the book list out there and then not have to actually share anything else about the conference. Without any big news (y'know, like an agent or a contract) I wasn't sure my conference experience was anything other than pretty standard:

- I learned a ton from excellent presentations,
- I met agents and editors which is a million times better than their online bios,
- I saw old writing friends and made new friends,
- I ate a lot of cheesecake.

Yep, pretty standard really.  But I guess I can be brave and share my other experiences.

I had a manuscript critique with an editor. She gave me an excellent critique which was well worth the money.  Then she asked about me (isn't that so nice when people do that?) which of course I wasn't prepared for. (Funny, I'm pretty close with myself, but it's always so hard to talk about me.)  She also asked if I had an agent. Perhaps she was making polite conversation, but I heard "You should get an agent!" So that was nice. But the best part: an actual quote in her critique: "I think poop is funnier than poo." She gets me. She really gets me!

(by Billy Frank Alexander
I pitched to an agent for the first time, which was not nearly as scary as I expected. (It was Jill Corcoran, who is really kind of awesome. She should just put that in her bio.). After the pitch, she asked if I had the manuscript with me (I did!) She read the whole thing right there (it's a pb, so it only took 1 minute of the 4 allotted minutes.) And she offered a helpful suggestion to amp it up. So that was a pretty solid way to spend a few minutes.

Unfortunately, I spent the next minute picking up all the papers I dumped out of a folder while attempting to smoothly extract my manuscript. She didn't seem to mind. Oh and when I got home that night I realized I had worn edgy gold earrings and a dainty silver necklace all day. (NEVER dress before drinking coffee.) And no one told me. (For future reference, if you see something, say something!) I like to think my hair was in front of my ears, or perhaps I just looked like one of those artsy creative types.

Anyhow, those foibles don't really matter - it's the writing first, right?

Hey how about you tell me embarrassing things which have happened to you at conferences to make me feel better? You're such a palJ

Thursday, July 3, 2014

NJ SCBWI Conference Recommended Books, YA & MG (Part 2)

I have finally returned to my normal self after having my brain imploded with amazing information at the NJSCBWI Conference last weekend. I shared Picture Books on Monday. Here were the YA and MG recommendations I noted from agents and editors at the conference.  (Fewer because I mostly hit PB-focused sessions)


The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri

I already ordered this one. I have to admit
I hadn't heard of it before. It is an art-focused
book, but was recommended for
for picture book writers, too!
When Mr. Dog Bites, by Brian Conaghan

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

If We Kiss, by Rachel Vail

Secrets of the Book, by Erin Fry

Okay for Now, by Gary Schmidt

The Water Castle, by Megan Blakemore

Zora and Me, by Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon

Three Times Lucky, by Sheila Turnage


Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom, by Ursula Nordstrom, Leonard Marcus (editor), and Maurice Sendak (illustrator) 

Comedy Writing Secrets, by Mel Heltizer

How to Write Funny, by John Kachuba

Please let me know if you wrote down any other recommendations at the conference which I should add!  Enjoy your summer reading.

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