Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fun Stuff

I'd like to thank the people who followed agent Mark McVeigh's blog so I could win a Skype chat with him. Virtual hugs to all of you--that was really kind. I spoke with Mr. McVeigh last week and asked him my list of questions. He was super knowledgeable and helpful. I'd heard him speak in Seattle in 2006 and NYC in 2007--back in his editor days--and he'd impressed me; it was really cool to actually have a conversation and be allowed to pick his brain. So again, thank you. And a bonus for all of us who are following? His blog is informative and very much worth reading. Just today, he posted good news about Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Now on to some fun awards from bloggy friends!


Niki at Wool'n'Nuts gifted me with the Kreativ Blogger Award.










Thank you, Niki! Niki is a sweetheart, and her blog is a fun and cozy place. Go and follow her! :)


The rules say I'm supposed to tell you seven things about myself. However, since she technically awarded it to
Chester (the squirrel I've been feeding all winter), too, I feel I should start out telling you about him.

1. One of Chester's favorite foods is birdseed.

2. Chester's activity of choice is tormenting my dogs.


The rest will be about me:


3. I ran before I walked.

4. I saw myself as a writer by the time I was nine.

5. I think high school geometry is a frightening class, and I'm thankful I survived it.

6. My dad interviewed the first boy who asked me out (and I'm thankful I survived that, too).

7. My son says I should mention that I get sympathy pains when he or his sister gets hurt. However, I will neither confirm nor deny these allegations.


I'll pass this award to:


*
Jemi Fraser at Just Jemi
*
Robin Gaphni at thebooknosher
*
Stephanie Haefner at The Writer's Cocoon


Deb at Ranch Girl Ramblings gave me an award that allows me to lie! How fun is that?! I'm not lying about the award, though. Here it is:













Thank you, Deb! Deb, by the way, is a crack up and an all around nice person, so definitely go to her blog if you haven't yet discovered her!


The award rules say I'm supposed to tell up to six outrageous lies about myself and at least one outrageous truth. I have to say I had a fun time coming up with lies, but I'm hoping you all still trust me after I tell a few stretchers. I'll give a hint by telling you five things on my list are lies and two are truths. Ready?


1. Just after making the cut for the 1984 U.S. Olympic team (equestrian), I fell off my horse and dislocated my shoulder. I was dropped from the team. Since the Olympics took place in L.A. that year and I lived in L.A. County, I was able to go and cheer on my friends.

2. My mom and a few friends met JFK. Even though he only talked to them for a few minutes, a photo of them together came out in a magazine about twenty years later.

3. When I was four, I modeled shoes for the Sears catalog. I did this for two months, but I got fired when I started throwing tantrums.

4. I performed in three parades at Disneyland.

5. My cousin Paul played a corpse on NCIS in 2008.

6. I have a bobblehead collection. Some of my favorites: Rodney Dangerfield (CADDYSHACK edition), the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese dinosaur, and thin Elvis.

7. They had to stop the escalator at Mall of America because my shoelace got caught.


I'll let you guess, and I'll reveal my truths in my next post. I'm just mysterious that way.


The people I'm passing this to:

*
Susan R. Mills at A Walk in My Shoes
*
Julie Dao at Silver Lining
*
Tara Watson at Feel of Something New

It will be fun to see what they write!



The final blog award is the Over the Top Award.
Niki at Wool'n'Nuts gave it to me. Thank you, Niki!










I told you she was a sweetheart. She really is--check out her blog if you haven't done it yet. I'll wait here.


*whistling*


Thanks for coming back! I think that's the award with the one word answers, but:

a. I'm not sure.

b. I've talked so much about myself in this post, I'm going to give you all a break and skip that part.


Now I get to share it with others! The envelopes, please...


*
Marsha Sigman at Marsha's Musings
*
Molly Hall at Writer Mama Dreamer
*
Jon Paul at Where Sky Meets Ground

Congratulations, everyone! Have a great writing week! :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Inspiration

Yesterday I finished reading a friend's full. It's a gorgeous novel, beautiful and poignant.

You know those moments when you stop to look at what you're doing, and you like what you see?


It's huge, really, to be a critique partner or a beta. And those moments, like the one I had yesterday when I finished reading a manuscript that feels like a book and deserves to be a book...they're so special. Reading an excellent pre-book is like getting to know the star of a big movie before it's released, before the trailer is even in theaters. But you're in on it, and you know what's going on.


It inspires me to know my friend, someone like me, created that manuscript. I'm touched she trusted me with it and asked for my thoughts. I'm excited to be a writer. I'm happy this is what I do.

Friday, February 19, 2010

This Just In!

(Sorry about the title of the post, but I've always wanted to write that.)

The McVeigh Agency has a new blog, and guess what?! If you round up ten people to follow the blog, agent Mark McVeigh will give you a free 15-minute Skype or phone chat! WOW! Imagine all your questions about publishing being answered by an expert. Go! And tell him I sent you! Well, you don't have to, but I'd appreciate it. :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

SCBWI Winter Conference 2010, Part 2

You guys didn't wonder if I'd forgotten about my second Winter Conference post, did you? I didn't--no way.

I should start out telling you about the book I read when I was flying to NY because it was a prize I'd won at
Solvang Sherrie's awesome blog!


DRUMS, GIRLS & DANGEROUS PIE by Jordan Sonnenblick

Here's what it says on the back:

Steven has a totally normal life (well, almost): He plays drums in the All-City Jazz Band (whose members call him the Peasant), has a crush on the hottest girl in school (who doesn't even know he's alive), and is constantly annoyed by his younger brother Jeffrey (who is cuter than cute--which is also pretty annoying). But when Jeffrey gets sick, Steven's world is turned upside down, and he is forced to deal with his brother's illness, his parents' attempts to keep the family in one piece, his homework, the ba
nd, girls, and Dangerous Pie (yes, you'll have to read the book to find out what that is!).

The book was excellent. It made me cry about four different times, so I may have looked pathetic on the airplane. Luckily, books and movies that make me cry only cause tears--I don't start sobbing or honking my nose. Good thing, huh? Anyway, it was a great read. Thank you, Sherrie! I loved it, tears and all!



Let's see, back to the Winter Conference...


Something a few speakers emphasized was that we should not write for the market. We need to know what's out there without chasing trends; it's a balance. One agent reminded everyone that the books you see now sold at least a year ago.


I went to a session on series fiction led by
Francesco Sedita, Vice President and Publisher at Grosset & Dunlap. He was incredible. He's also an author (Miss Popularity series) so he can speak from both sides of the table. And what a great guy. His session flew by, it was so interesting and fun.

Jim Benton made some excellent points during his oh-so-entertaining talk.
1. Rewrite it--there are no first drafts in the library or bookstore.

2. You are not your work.

3. Editors will make you better writers, if you let them.

4. Editors are rooting for you.


#'s 3 and 4 echo
my thoughts on the writing community: we're all on the same team.

I managed to get a hot dog from a street vendor, something many of you know I've been craving for months.
It was so good.

Here's where I bought it:



This is the view from the hot dog stand:


My one regret is that I bought only one hot dog the whole trip. *sigh* I guess I'll just have to go back.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

And the Winner Is...

Just so you know, my friend Debra and I had way too much fun with this. By the time I have my second blog contest, I may be less geeky and may not feel compelled to share every little thing with you. But don't count on it. My geekiness runs deep.

Debra acted as quality control for the "My-Followers-Rock-so-Someone's-Winning-an-Autographed-Copy-of-a-Book-that-Won-the-Printz" Contest. Here's a picture of her making sure all entries had the exact same surface area and, therefore, odds.




(She actually only measured one piece. She was just getting into her part.)


Debra mixed the names like an expert.





I asked her to lift the bowl above her son's head so he could draw one name.

The winner is...




MOLLY H
!


Congratulations, Molly! And look how excited Debra is for you!




Please email me with your mailing address ASAP so I can get your autographed copy of GOING BOVINE in the mail for you!

Everyone else, I'm sorry I don't have a copy of the book for each of you. I'm also sorry I don't have an agent--and a book deal--but that's beside the point.
What I'm really saying is, while there's only one winner in this contest, I appreciate each of you. Thanks for following! :)


Sunday, February 7, 2010

The "My-Followers-Rock-so-Someone's-Winning-an-Autographed-Copy-of-a-Book-that-Won-the-Printz" Contest

Even though I still haven't done the second post about the SCBWI Winter Conference, it's time for my first ever blog contest! Squee! I'm really excited about this! To celebrate having 100 followers, I am giving away an autographed copy of Libba Bray's GOING BOVINE! Isn't that cool?! Here's a picture of me with Libba Bray last weekend, seconds after getting the book signed.



Libba and Dawn, BFFs

Okay, she doesn't actually know me at all, but I bet she'd like me--at least a little--if she did. Don't ya think?

Anyway
, here are my contest rules:
1. Followers who comment on
this post before the close of the contest are automatically entered.
2. You must be a follower to enter, and each follower can enter only once.

3. If you're not already a follower, you can start following now! (my shameless attempt at follower gathering)

4. The contest closes on Wednesday, February 10th, at 6:00 pm PST. I'll jump into the comments at approximately that time to officially shut things down.

5. I retain the right to change the rules if I realize I screwed up and didn't think of everything I should have. ;)


What's the book about, you ask? Here's the flap copy:


All sixteen-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school--and life in general--with a minimum of effort. It's not a lot to ask. But that's before he's given some bad news: he's sick and he's going to die. Which totally sucks.


Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure--if h
e's willing to go in search of it. With the help of Gonzo, a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf, and a yard gnome who just might be the Viking god Balder, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America of smoothie-drinking happiness cults, parallel-universe-hopping physicists, mythic New Orleans jazz musicians, whacked-out television game shows, snow-globe vigilantes, and disenfranchised, fame-hungry teens into the heart of what matters most.

From
New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray comes a dark comedic journey that poses the questions: Why are we here? What is real? What makes microwave popcorn so good? Why must we die? And how do we really learn to live?


Wow! I really doubt anyone would dare say, "That's been done." I've been working on my synopsis (again) this weekend, and the GOING BOVINE flap copy just gave me some serious synopsis envy.


My friend Debra got all excited about my contest and wanted to help.
She volunteered to step in as quality control. This cracked us up, of course, because I am rather law-abiding, but nothing is too good for you people. I wonder if I should get Debra a whistle so she can officially officiate the My-Followers-Rock-so-Someone's-Winning-an-Autographed-Copy-of-a-Book-that-Won-the-Printz Contest. Whistles equal power, after all. But will all that power go to Debra's head? Hmm...so much to think about.



Tuesday, February 2, 2010

SCBWI Winter Conference 2010, Part 1

Have I mentioned how much I love New York? Only like a bajillion times, right? Yet it's totally worth repeating. Every cell in my body gets extra bouncy and cheery when I'm there. I also love SCBWI conferences. Put them together, New York and the SCBWI Winter Conference...weeee!

Friday's Writers' Intensive was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. An editor led my first group and an agent led my second. Both were very helpful. Each writer had an allotted amount of time, and all the table members gave feedback on each person's pages. It was fun and extremely educational.


Moving on to Friday night...I've been to Kidlit Drink Nights, but I went to my first
NYC Kidlit Drink Night on Friday! It was a blast! I met lots of new people, and I also ran into some SCBWI-WWA friends there. Here's a pic of Joni Sensel and Laurie Thompson, our Co-Regional Advisors. They're awesome!


The rest of the conference was great, too. Conference stats:
*There were approximately 1,047 people in attendance
*Attendees came from 45 states
*Attendees came from 14 countries

Libba Bray, our first keynote speaker, was hilarious. The title of her talk was
Writing as an Extreme Sport, and it was about risk taking in our writing. Those of you who are up on your awards know that Libba Bray recently won the Printz Award for her book GOING BOVINE.


Jacqueline Woodson's talk made me cry about three times. I'm a sap, but it wasn't just me--she seemed to touch everyone. Her writing: beautiful, powerful, moving, concise...wow. She writes in verse, and listening to her speak made words bubble up in my brain, begging to be put onto paper. I felt peaceful, clear, and inspired. I plan to pick up one of her books for the times when I need an extra boost.

Here are some pics.


Grand Central Station



I roomed with
Jennifer Mann. The above picture shows us looking like tourists in Grand Central Station. Maybe because we were tourists in Grand Central Station? We were going to breakfast and I already had my conference name tag on. Poor Jennifer...she can't take me anywhere. Jennifer is a very talented artist and writer. If you want to see some of her lovely art, go to her blog. It's fun there!



This is a picture of Stasia Kehoe
, Jennifer, and I at the conference. Stasia and I have agreed to be beta readers for each other in the future. I met Stasia at my very first SCBWI conference in Seattle! I got to peek at her manuscript's opening while we were in New York and it's great!

Some exciting news: I'm going to have my first ever blog contest after I get 100 followers! Hooray! I really do appreciate my followers--you guys are wonderful and you make the blogging adventure a fun one! Thank you!

I'm breaking the conference into two parts. I'd post all my tidbits now, but I need to work on the final pre-query revision of PERFECT VISION. Clearly that whole writing thing is getting in the way of my blogging. Tee-hee! ;)