Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 4 Sunday August 9th

SCBWI 2009 Conference day 3Day 3 started off with Dan Yaccarino:

Say Yes!

Always say yes
Create as many opportunities as you can
Don’t take rejection personally

And after a very short break was followed by:

Holly Black
Examining the Strange: The Basics of Fantasy Writing

Her life is very much like Spiderwick
Read both adult and kids fantasy
Children’s books are very genre less
“Fiction lets you try on the life of someone else.”
“Fantasy is the language of metaphor.”
Changelings = alienation
Werewolf = fear of hurting others
Be careful with your metaphors when writing fantasy.
Fantasy must contain magic and wonder; the fantastical.
“All stories are fantasies; some are just more honest about it than others.”
“You have to believe in the fantastical in which you are reading.”
“Fantasy is very close to Historical Fiction because like Historical Fiction you have to take the reader to a place they can never go.”
Closed fantasy = magic is hidden, like in harry potter.
Open fantasy = magic is common place and normal, like in The Lord of the Rings.
Day logic = magic works the same every time like science
Night logic = more intuitive but not the same every time
Holly Black’s Crazy Fantasy Plotting Theory: Fantasy must have a human story and a fantastical story.The resonance in a story is between those two points.

After the morning key notes I went to Dan Lazar’s session:

How to craft a Winning Query Letter: Secrets to Keep You Out of the Rejection Pile

He is an sgent at writers house
“One voice of decent is louder than eight voices of approval.”
He takes a lot of people on from the slush pile
Great query letters trump referrals everyday
In a Query Letter start by saying hello. Then tell the agent of editor you would like to send your manuscript. Then tell them a little about the book then tell a little about yourself.
A query Letter should never be more than a page.
Never apologize for being new or unpublished.
You don’t need colored paper or fancy graphics, or packaging for your query letter.
Always send the first 5-15 pages
Always know who you are sending your query too. Never say “dear agent” or “to whom it may concern”
Always use specific compliments to the agent or editor never insincere or generalized compliments.
Never say “…I would like to send you my fictional novel…”
Never use “what if” questions in query when describing your book.
Don’t say what genre it is just say it’s a novel the agent or editor will know what genre it belongs in.
Don’t make your synopsis vague. Make it unique, original and specific.
Don’t toot your own horn just let the work speak for itself
Never say your manuscript is sure to be a best seller, blockbuster, or award winner.
Don’t tell them that readers like your work or what they think people think of your work.
Include SASE with your query letter
Always put your whole name so the agent/editor knows who to address
Put contact info at the bottom of the email but the top of a letter
Don’t use the word quirky it’s basically like saying your character is “interesting.”
Always show who your character loves and who loves them.
Offering an agent or publisher a 6 week exclusive on your work before submitting to others is perfectly acceptable.
Always follow up via email, don’t call!
Put the first 5 pages under the query is sending it by snail –mail. When sending via email paste into email after your query.
Always say which works the agent represented that you liked in the beginning of your letter.
In the query if it is not a standalone book mention in one line that you are working on the next book or that it is a series.
Mention in your letter if your manuscript is either an exclusive or multi submission because agents and editors like to know upfront.
Log line = this meets that
Mentioning the age of the character in your query letter is important.
40,000-70,00 words for YA

After the morning session we got to here a wonderful key note by Richard Peck at the Golden Kite Luncheon.

“A story moves forward because it cannot go back.”
“You can teach children or fear their parents you cannot do both.”
“We [writers] cannot be fired because we are unemployed.”
Fiction is dramatized truth that no one dares to write.
“An Epiphany is the part where everything changes and you can’t go back.”

After the luncheon I went to David Wiesner & Dinah Stevenson’s session:

Creating and Editing a Wordless Picture Book

He makes mini book dummies at the sketch stage, the drawing stage and the final art stage.
At the moment things change it can’t be ambiguous it has to be stated.
In a Wordless Picture Book dialogue should only be used to move the story forwards.
He uses model magic for making character models.

After the afternoon session we had a key note by Elizabeth Law.

From Jonny Tremain to Edward Cullen: How Children’s Publishing is Changing, and How to Meet the Challenges head-on

Egmont Books is run as a children’s charity. They have only 8 people in their whole company.
She is accepting anything sent to her in the next 3 months via email attachment with SCBWI LA in the sub line.
She is looking for stories with strong concepts.
YA hard cover is on the rise and growing.
Books must have Good pitch-able hooks; this meets that. Know what your story is.
She relies on agents to screen for her to weed out stuff
Know who you’re writing for but only write what fits for you not what’s hot! Never be afraid to ask questions.

In the evening I hung out with some super nice people in the Hotel lobby Lounge including Marietta Zacker. I never did run into Marietta again on Monday and would like to thank her again for chatting with us. If anyone has her email please let me know.

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