Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fighting the Universe

There are days when it feels like the universe is conspiring to beat you to the ground. On those days, it’s hard to write. Hard to move forward. Sometimes even hard to get out of bed in the morning.

The thing is…you’ve got to. No one is going to move you forward, except you. Not your crit group, not your agent, not your spouse. You’ve got to get out of bed and put your butt in the chair.

If you let the universe win, you’re accepting defeat. And at the very least, you’ve got to go down fighting.

All those little setbacks? In the end, you’re going to realize they were only bumps in the road and it will all be worth it.

Give the universe Hell!

Friday, February 8, 2013

SCBWI Winter Conference 2013--New York City

I spent last weekend in New York City. It's only a few hundred miles from home, but it might as well be a different world. Thank goodness I had my travel companion Joyce Audy Zarins with me!

We drove to the train station in Westport, CT, navigated the ticket machine to buy our tickets, braved the wind standing on the platform. Sinking into our seats, we sighed with relief until the end of the line. Grand Central Station.

I'd never been to Grand Central before...but Friday happened to be the 100th anniversary of the magnificent station. Of course, I think that made it more crowded than usual.

As the co-director of the SCBWI-New England conference, I had the opportunity to attend a special event on Friday night. Rubbing elbows with some of the big names in the kid lit world. I met Lee Wind, Brooks Sherman (agent from Fine Print Literary), Melissa Miller (editor from HarperCollins), and ran into an old friend of mine, Alexandra Cooper (senior editor at Simon and Schuster).

I came *this close* to introducing myself to Joanna Volpe (agent with New Leaf Literary) and Stacy Abrams (editor at Entangled Press), but chickened out of interrupting conversations they were having with others.

The keynotes were wonderful. Meg Rosoff (funniest keynote ever), Shaun Tan, Mo Willems, Margaret Peterson Haddix, and the crowning jewels: Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton. Mary Poppins was as wonderful as you can imagine she would be.

Here's a picture of Tomie DePaolo announcing the winner of his annual SCBWI award.

The speakers were inspiring, but we had a chance to play a little, too. I hung around with friends Joyce Zarins, Joyce Johnson, Jenny Bagdigian, Stacy Mozer, and Lynda Mullaly-Hunt. I met Elissa Cruz in person for the first time. This is me, Stacy, and Elissa.
Finally, Joyce and I had to make our way back to Westport and the car. This is us in front of a beautiful statue in the hotel lobby. Aside from almost getting caught in the train door as I hopped onto the platform, it was smooth sailing. Joyce has some great insights on her post about the conference, and the names of the artwork. She has a wonderful sense of detail about art!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Golf Tip Tuesday: Subtlety

When the ball is about a foot from the cup...you're close. So close. You line up the club, you pull the putter back. Your heart beats a little. The wind rustles the trees. Someone takes a breath behind you. And you...hit the ball way too hard and it rolls down the hill on the other side.


Now you've got a harder shot coming back.

We often have the instinct to hit the ball harder than we should. Sometimes, as writers, it's tempting to over describe something. Take too many words to tell the reader something she already knows. Spend too many pages with backstory.

Don't hit the ball too hard. Slow down. Focus. And tap it lightly into the hole. I just love the satisfying sound it makes as it rattles into the bottom of the cup.