Friday, May 22, 2009

Have a Great Memorial Day Weekend (and wish me luck)!

Anyone have any awesome plans for Memorial Day weekend?

For my "holiday" weekend, I'll be working about 12 hours a day. Of course, it's really cool work because I am going to be a referee for the Men's Junior National water polo tournament. This will be by far the biggest event I have ever reffed, and if I do well this weekend, I could potentially get on the fast track to start reffing internationally! Am I justified in being just a little bit nervous?

Anywho, I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My First Blog Award(s)!

Yesterday, Casey McCormick announced a couple of awards over on her blog Literary Rambles.  The first was the Lemonade Stand Award ("for great gratitude and/or attitude"), and the second the One Lovely Blog Award ("For loveliness, I'm assuming").  Turns out I was one of the lucky recipients of this double award! So thanks a bunch Casey! These will forever be the first blog accolades I ever received.

So it's time for me to share the love! In the spirit of how I received them, I'm also going to combine the awards.

The Lemonade Stand Rules:

Lemonadeaward1) Post the award on your blog with the name of the person who gave it to you and link them.

2) Nominate ten other blogs and link to them .

3) Let your nominees know that they've received the award.

 The Lovely RulesOne_Lovely_Blog_Award:

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.

2) Pass the award to 5 or more other bloggers that you've newly discovered.

3) Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Your award winners, without further ado (and in no particular order):

1. Paul Aertker

2. Nidal Bukhari, Tyler Kelly, and Jeremy Olson - Twigdiculous

3. Corey Schwartz - Thing 1 and Thing 2

4. Heather Hansen

5. Purple Clover (She won't reveal her true identity. ;) So I can't put her real name here)

I limited it to five, just because I don't have an extensive blog roll, and I want the award to mean something.  All these people are either newish to the blogosphere or newish to me! So check 'em out! (And sorry for the weird spacing, it got all messed up when I added the pictures)

Friday, May 15, 2009

SCBWI L.A. '09: The Conference Breakdown

Last night I had the strangest dream. It was the beginning of this year's SCBWI Writer's Conference. Instead of being in the usual beautiful hotel, however, it was in some cheap Super 8-type Motel, in their run down continental breakfast room.  We were all there, everyone who was part of our awesome group last year. Lin Oliver introduced me as SCBWI's Sanjaya to the small room. Then, instead of opening with a glorious keynote, we chowed down on some dry breakfast.

And guess who showed up? My family. My sister snuck into the table and informed me of her recent aspirations to write a picture book (she has none of the sort), and my Dad--and this is the part that made me laugh hardest when I woke up--ran to the head of the table and led us all in a Scottish jig.  How I knew the jig was Scottish, I couldn't tell ya. Do Scots even do jigs?

We all marched out in orderly fashion, jigging along the way. Paul was dressed in this overly long green and white sweater, and was skipping--yes, literally skipping--in and around our orderly ranks and chanting in fluent Gaelic, making sure we got really into the jig. Paul, I knew you spoke lots of languages, but Gaelic, wow!

That's all I remember, but it provided some great inward entertainment this morning, and is a great segue into the blog post I was planning (at Paul's request, oddly enough).

As I think is pretty obvious, I've been started to look forward to this year's conference (understatement, maybe?). On top of seeing everyone again, there seem to be some absolutely wonderful keynotes and breakout sessions this year.  On the website they're touting it as the largest faculty ever; bigger doesn't always mean better, but it seems so in this case. I'm just glad we have such a big group, so that in some cases we can split up and share notes.

Everyone comes to the conference with different goals and aspirations, and we all base our decisions for our breakout sessions on those goals. Because of where I'm at in my writing process, my main focus this year is agents. It's my first conference with a completed manuscript--a manuscript that is yet to have representation--and I'm really hoping to hit it off with one of the agents that are attending this year.

Of course, I still want to learn about craft, social networking, and the editorial process. In order to achieve a balance, I decided to break down the keynotes by type, so that I could achieve a balance that favored agents but let me experience everything.

Here's what I came up with:

Novelists (and the like): 7 speakers, 3 of which are Fantasy, 1 Historical Fiction, 1 Contemporary, 1 chapter book-age, and 1 is Ellen Hopkins (poetry, but fiction too; not exactly sure how to classify her. The Awesome category might cover it).

Picture Book-ers: 2 speakers, 1 panel.

Editors: 3 speakers, 1 panel.

Agents: 1 panel.

The editors attending, with either keynotes or breakout sessions, are: Dinah Stevenson (Clarion), Jordan Brown (Walden Pond Press, a new HarperCollins imprint), Allyn Johnston (Beach Lane Books), Wendy Loggia (Delacorte), Krista Marino (Delacorte), Anica Rissi (Simon Pulse), Arianne Lewin (Disney-Hyperion), Andrea Welch (Beach Lane Books), Courtney Bongiolatti (Simon and Schuster), Elizabeth Law (Egmont), Bonnie Bader (Grosset & Dunlap, Price Stern Sloan, both imprints of Penguin), 

The agents attending, who have breakout sessions, are: Daniel Lazar (writer's house), Steven Malk (writer's house), Jen Rofe (Andrea Brown), Marietta Zacker (Nancy Gallt Lit), Sarah Davies (greenhouse lit), Jamie Weiss (Andrea Brown), Kelly Sonnack (Andrea Brown), and Stephen Fraser (Jennifer De Chiara Lit). 

I'm surprised (but personally, pleased) at the plethora of fantasy author keynotes.

Sherman Alexie is the opener; he spoke at my school and was HILARIOUS, so look for another incredible opening keynote this year (the two I've seen, Bruce Coville and Walter Dean Myers, were both phenominal).  The closer is Kathleen Duey, who is a pretty big name too.

Whew! I think that's it.  Who's all going to the conference this year? And what are you going to focus on when there (other than Beer:30 and fun, of course)? Any personal highlights for you? I'll leave a comment later about my personal highlights, as I think this post has gone on long enough.  See you on the Avenue of the Stars!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Your Blog on Kindle?

I opened up Publisher's Lunch this morning and found something very interesting.  Apparently, you can publish your blog posts to Kindle and make them available for purchase for a couple of bucks.  Amazon keeps most of the profit, but I don't really think it's about the profit.

To me, this opens of worlds of opportunity for the power of the web presence.  Maybe not as a pre-published author with a few followers, but as a published author with fans who want to get the latest scoop on their favorite writer, a quick download from Kindle is all they need.  It's just another step in this new development of ebook technology.

What does everyone else think of this? Do you think it has the potential to significantly impact an author's publicity? Or is it an experiment that won't achieve success, and be out of mind in a few short months?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

You Tell Me: First Draft or Polishing?

I've been diving back into my manuscript in the last couple days as I start a massive rewrite that I want to complete by SCBWI L.A. in August.

The last couple months have mostly been dedicated to querying and all that, so I haven't even looked at my manuscript since probably February.  While I have definitely made some pretty significant changes already, it has been such a joy to reread my manuscript and remember what I wrote.  And thank goodness, I still really really like my story.

As I've said before, I love the spontaneity and excitement that comes with writing a first draft.  There's nothing like spinning a new story and falling in love with new characters.

Another thing that has no parallel is the revision/rewrite process.  Both are really hard work, but also awesomely rewarding.  I love taking that hefty draft I just wrote and getting down all nitty-gritty-like on a sentence level and turning all those cliches and boring sentences into words that have pizazz and jump off the page.

Of course, whether I do this successfully has yet to be determined.  But it's still fun to try.

So which do YOU like better, the blitz of a first draft, or the fine-tuning of the rewrite?  Discuss!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

To all you mothers out there, I hope your day is filled with awesomeness!

And now, since I just got a new camera (yay!), the best mom in the world! (no offense to everyone else):

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Reject via Tweet

A month or so ago I received my first rejection via twitter.  Anyone else received one of these yet?

I suppose this may require a bit of explanation.  This wasn't a cold query that I sent to an agent, who proceeded to seek me out on twitter just to get my hopes up and then blast me down with an @tmcbroom reject.

I had met this agent at SCBWI LA last summer, and through a series of exchanges I won't go into detail about here, he ended up passing on my partial by sending me a direct message on twitter.  Obviously I was disappointed, but at the same time I felt like I was pioneering a new form of rejection.  So that was cool.

What also came in the direct tweet was the promise of a detailed response (yes!).  That response came in yesterday, and oh man was it enlightening.  He told me I was being overly respectful of both my character and the world I created.  I was describing the world as I had created it rather than how my character saw it, and this was creating distance between my voice as the narrator and the voice of my MC.  Another brilliant little tidbit he bestowed on me was the idea that too many descriptors of a scene don't help connect the reader to the story, but actually do the opposite.  It only takes one quick detail to ground a reader in the scene, and anything beyond that just jumbles the reader's mind and confuses him or her.

I had been debating a rewrite lately, and I'm so grateful to have finally been pointed in a proper direction.  Now it's time to take the guidance to heart, and churn out a drastically improved manuscript!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Final Percy Jackson Book

Just came out today!

And I had no idea that it was actually the last book in the series.  When I read the inside flap on my way to the register and learned that I held in my hands the conclusion to my favorite book series out right now, a swirl of responses mixed inside of me--excited to read the end, but sad that these were the final pages.  I don't know how this piece of information escaped me, but I usually like to anticipate and mentally prepare for a final installment in an epic series.  Like Harry Potter.  I knew it was going to be the end, and I was ready for it.

But now I really can't wait to read it.  I thought I'd have to wait at least another two or three years to learn how the series would end, but now it's sitting in the back seat of my car.  I actually (no joke, this is how big of a dork I am) jumped in the air and pumped my fist as I walked out of Target, book in hand.

Does anyone else read these books?  They're really fun; kind of a similar plot line to Harry Potter, but one of the best examples of a unique, kid-friendly voice out there.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Update: Disregard Anything You Read

Turns out I had no idea what I was talking about when I reflected upon being an agent for a day:  I didn't get any of the three.  Not a one!  I really thought I had some good ones, but ohh well.

To me, this means one of two things: 

Either, 1. I am really terrible at being agent, and can effectively eliminate that as a career choice, OR
2. This completely reinforces the idea that you need to query widely.  Based on the widespread number of queries that had quite a few requests, it seems that it really all does depend on the taste agent, and even more so on your actual manuscript.

How did everyone else who participated fare?