Recently I became a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, which turns out was a really good idea for me. I just got back from their annual conference in New York City, and let me just say: Boy howdy! There was a lot of good stuff there. At this point I must note that part of my little welcome packet at the conference was a piece of paper all about what was and wasn’t okay to share on blogs. Basically they said that sharing any pictures or videos would be a violation of copyright laws, and also that I shouldn’t write out any of the speaker’s speeches word for word. They did say that some direct quotes with citations would be fine, and that’s great because I took down a lot of those! And I’m going to share them here for you today.
First up is Jack Gantos, who was one of the funniest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear speak. Therefore there are a lot of quotes from him. He is an author. I bought two of his books after hearing him speak. They are Dead End in Norvelt and Hole in my Life.
“I don’t know about you, but the way I think is very, very random.”
“Harriet the Spy is a handbook for writing. Spying on people. Who doesn’t love getting in other people’s business?”
“The reason you read books is to change.”
“The book is like an infection. It’s a virus. It gets in ya. It’s good for ya.”
“My dad gave me a shovel for my birthday…and a handbook.” The handbook in question was the Fallout Shelter Handbook.
Next was a panel of speakers. They included Paul Aiken, the executive director of The Author’s Guild; Jean Feiwel, SVP Publishing Director of Macmillan Children’s Books; Jane Friedman, Web Editor, Virginia Quarterly Review; Abbi Glines, Author; and Timothy Travaglini, Director of Children’s Acquisitions at Open Road Media. If they weren’t all quoted, it’s because I couldn’t write fast enough, not because they didn’t say anything of interest.
“We’ve lost sixty to seventy percent of our retail shelf space for books in the last ten years…fortunately there are other physical places for books. Public libraries…and classrooms.” – Paul Aiken
“I catch my kids watching John Green videos on the computer.” – Paul Aiken
“When I released it, I got really bad reviews because it was bad.” – Abbi Glines, on self publishing her first book, Breathe.
“Writing a book is like a muscle: It gets better with use.” – Abbi Glines
“I don’t think you’re going to be as successful if you are reclusive…I think in this day and age that’s going to be a problem.” – Jean Feiwel, on promoting yourself.
“What’s unfortunate about the self publishing model is it doesn’t represent all genres equally.” – Paul Aiken
“I think publishers have to acknowledge that they don’t know everything.” – Jean Feiwel
Finally I have a couple from author Kate Messner, who gave a lovely speech. She has written picture books as well as YA. I purchased one of her books titled Wake Up Missing.
“I say ‘yes’ to most things before I’ve really had a chance to think about whether or not it’s a good idea.” – KM, on agreeing to do a TED Talk.
“My husband was so disgusted with the Super Bowl he voluntarily switched over to Downtown Abbey at nine.” – This is not related to writing in any way, but I thought it was funny.
So there are those. I hope you find them as amusing and/or informative as I did.
Something else important happened while I was at that conference. I was listening to the engaging and talented Nikki Grimes – author of such books as Words with Wings and Planet Middle School – when inspiration struck me. And it struck me quite hard. I now have 4,745 words written for my second rewrite of The Dreamcatchers. I guess I have Nikki Grimes to thank. Her work sounded wonderful, so I’d recommend checking it out. I do want to talk about the strategy I’ve chosen for getting this book written, but we’ll save that for another post.