Monday, August 27, 2012

A Random Poll

Not Kris Kahrs
by Kris Kahrs

While The Pen and Ink Blog crew (otherwise known as the Inkies) were screwing around attending the SCBWI summer conference, we managed to take an informal poll of conference impressions sorted by kidlit genre.  Here are the results we came up with and by 'we' I mean Pickles the 20 lb. desk cat who performed all of the necessary collating of results here.

Question posed:  How did you enjoy the SCBWI Summer Conference?

Young Adult Writers said:  "Not enough vampires."

Tween Writers said:   "Ith wath sthupendous."

Middle Grade Writers said:  "I won't eat chicken and you can't make me."

The Picture Book Writers said: "One book, two book, red book, blue book.  This one has a little star, this one has a little car.  Hey!  What a lot of books there are!"

Chapter Book Writers said:  "Oh, yes, and at the party on Saturday night, I ran into Andrea Welch of Beachlane and she said, 'Sure, I'll read your..."

Urban Writers said: "Yo, Dawg, I was feelin' it.  Just like back in the day."

Contemporary Writers said: "Dude, we freaked."

Dystopian Writers said: "The Conference was like another world."

Romance Writers said: *sigh* "We could not have asked for more moving speakers who spoke with such palpable feeling that we were left utterly devoid of any energy to protect ourselves from the ravishment of our emotions *gasp*."

Fantasy Writers said: "The whole conference had an ethereal feel as if the spirit of all the writing fairies were there, sprinkling all of us with publishing dust."

The Quiet book Writers said: "wow".

There you have it folks.  A fair and balanced perspective of the SCBWI conference.  Now, don't you wish you had gone?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dispatch #2 - Reading on a River

Yuba River
by Lupe Fernandez

Yuba River - This is your foreign correspondent bringing you latest news from the wild north, where mountain lions roam and rushing rivers foam. Contrary to certain rumors begun by certain members of a certain blog that shall remain nameless, I was conducting a behavior study titled The Effects of Hydrodynamic Stimuli on Literary Comprehension, known in the civilian circles as reading on a river. But not just any river. Last August, right after the 2012 SCBWI Conference, I accompanied the Aguilera Family on their annual Yuba River camping trip. I proposed to test the effectiveness of reading a YA novel while surrounding by mountains, forests, river, and people having fun.

For my test material, after careful and assiduous consideration, I choose Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Hey, Mr. Former Mexican-In-Residence and Part-Time Macho Man. Why are you reading about four rich teenage girls haunted by their secrets?"

Author Sara Shepard delivered a keynote address at the Summer Conference. She was humorous and insightful. So I bought the book and got her autograph. I asked her so many questions that her "minder" politely asked me to come back another time, as I was hogging her time. What important topic was I discussing with Ms. Shepard? Sex, of course.

Experimental Flotation Devices
Once at the Yuba River, I put the book into a water-proof Ziplock bag and paddled across the river, Ziplock baggie clamped between my teeth. A land ashore on a gravel bar, laid down a towel and commenced my behavior study.

Despite the splash and dash of the cold, roaring water, I accomplished my task of reading about Aria, Spencer, Emily and Hanna tormented by texts by the mysterious "-A." The author's voice had an eerie, but playful quality. According to Ms. Shepard, the TV series follows a different story line from the book, though the TV series works on the same premise.

Conducting Fluid Dynamic Test
While the test results of The Effects of Hydrodynamic Stimuli on Literary Comprehension were positive, I must conduct further studies to quantify my findings. I used to read in my apartment, but since my new posting at the Foreign Service Bureau, I have had to find other locations to read.

How about you, dear reader? Where do you crack open a book and turn the pages? Some dark, dank dreary local? Some bright, cheerful enclave? Where do you read? Maybe someone is watching.

As the mysterious "-A" texts the four Pretty Little Liars, "I'm still here, bitches. And I know everything."

This is your Foreign Correspondent signing off from the Northern Hinderlands.

Monday, August 13, 2012

13 Reasons Why you get a rejection


The SCBWI 2012 Summer Conference was wonderful and also bewildering, in the amount of information they gave us to process.  We will probably have more than one blog post on this. I am delighted to go first.

I attended a breakout session at SCBWI with Ruben Pfeffer, an agent at EastWest Literary.
 Rubin has had a storied career in publishing. He started as a designer with MacMillan Publishing, and then spent twenty seven years at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich where he eventually became President of the Trade Division. He served as SVP and Publisher for Simon and Schuster Books. Divisions reporting to him included S&S Books for Young Readers, Atheneum, McElderry Books, and Aladdin Paperbacks. In 2008 he launched Allyn Johnston’s imprint at Simon and Schuster, Beach Lane Books.

 In 2009 Ruben became a partner at East West Literary Agency. Rubin’s breakout session was entitled The Symbiotic Relationship Between Agent And Client: Straight Talk About Mutual Success.

I am not going to give you his whole talk, but I will list the Thirteen Reasons Why Your Manuscript Is Rejected.
 (Sorry folks. Could not resist the Jay Asher tribute. )  
Since Ruben has worked both ends of the business, I am sure this is a good list.

1.     The Editor didn’t connect on an emotional level with the book. (If you have to sell it to the publisher, the marketing team and your fellow editors and then spend two years with the manuscript nursing it through the process, you have to love it.)

2.     The Editor doesn’t feel it will sell in today’s market.

3.     Voice: The voice either didn’t feel right, or, it felt too familiar.

4.     Lack of Platform (I wish I had taken better notes on this one. I think it means the author doesn’t have a social presence in the media. )

5.     The Editor doesn’t like the subject matter.

6.     The Editor tried that kind of book before and didn’t feel it worked.

7.     The Editor already has a similar book on his list.

8.     The Editor didn’t like the format. Be sure you have formatted correctly. No typos or grammatical errors.

9.     You are writing in a crowded space. (i.e., right now, there are a LOT of paranormal stories. The Editor may not feel there is room for another.)

10.  The Editor doesn’t feel your story is for children.

11.  Library Funding is down. (I love this one.)

12.  Barnes and Noble is not carrying this kind of book

13.  The Editor doesn’t feel your book is special enough.

The next slide Ruben showed was a rejection letter from an unnamed house listing the reasons they didn’t want a book he was offering them. (The rejection listed a few of the reasons above including not special enough)

The following slide was a letter from another unnamed publisher who raved over that same book. That editor felt it was perfect.

The moral:

Keep submitting. Everyone will not love your work. You need to find the right home. Dr. Seuss had 32 rejections before he found a home for his first book. Jack London had 608 rejections, all of which he kept.

 In the end it is all so worth it. I just received my first editorial letter from Beach Lane Books and I'm over the moon.

If you get specific notes from more than one person and the notes are similar, rejoice and look seriously at them. I have another letter from an editor on my adult book listing the changes she feels should be made. She's the second person who mentioned that one of my story arcs should include more barriers. I know both of these people are right on the money. I'm busy making the changes. They will go to my critique group before they go back to her.

Happy rewriting!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dispatch Number 1

Foreign Bureau Headquarters
San Ramon - This is your foreign correspondent reporting from the hinterlands of Northern California. I am communicating to you from the foothills of the Devil's Mountain, known to the locals as Mount Diablo. I will be reporting on the the Wild, Wild World of Northern California SCBWI action.

Mt. Diablo Transmitter
Item: The SF North & East Bay Region is holding the SCBWI Fall Conference called Autumn Leaves: Color Your Passion, October 20, 2012 at Preservation Park in beautiful Oakland, CA.* 

This reporter will be in attendance to cover the action, and bring the light and the life that is The Pen And Ink Blogspot to the uninitiated.

*Birthplace of this foreign correspondent