Playing with Words

a journey into the world of writing for young readers

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Giving yourself time to synthesize
michele on trike
I just got back from a very long trip attending the SCBWI conference in New York and speaking at the AWP Conference in Washington, DC. After being gone for ten days, hitting two major cities, and listening to many, many speakers it's taken me a few days to really let everything sink in.

I heard Lois Lowry speak about where she gets her ideas -- she gets them from the life she's lived and likes to think about "giving sorrow words."

I heard Jane Yolen talk about the picture book, "Let the rumpus begin" she quoted from Where the Wild Things Are. And how to remain in the "small," keeping the emotional focus in the child's world.

Mark Teague advised us, "to meet the story on its own terms."

And Patricia Gauch urged everyone to feel the rise of the wave of your story. "Feel the swell of it, the peak of it, the sweep of it."

Penguin editor Jennifer Besser assured us that publishers are looking to take risks and Lisa Sandell from Scholastic told us that "our finest moment is just ahead," in regards to e-publishing. And she added, "We'll always need storytellers."

And somewhere in my notebook I wrote down, "The most important thing a writer can do is write."

I also heard several editors and agents say NO MORE VAMPIRES! They want literary work with commercial appeal. But are not done with paranormal, just no more vampires (or angels).

Editor Jeanette Larson from Harcourt said publishers can't afford to print "okay" books anymore -- the mid-list books -- she has to sharpen her game and the internet has given authors and publishers a lively audience, people who LOVE books. She's looking for good stories told well.

Of course there was a lot more and there are blogs you can read to get more quotes and notes. My point is it's a lot of stuff to process.

The panel I was on in DC was about pushing your boundaries and honestly, I was very happy to get home because I felt that my own boundaries were being pushed. It was an amazing experience. Our room was packed to the hilt with about two dozen people listening in the hallway and people sitting on the floor in the front!

Now I need a little time to think about what I heard, to appreciate the people I met, the new friends I made, and decide what lessons I'm taking to heart.

Which doesn't mean I'm not working. I have two deadlines this week and I decided to start all over on my WIP. But I'll also take a little time in between to let everything sink in.


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