Tuesday, February 24, 2009

2009 Oregon Spring Conference

Recently, I checked Oregon's SCBWI Web page for this year’s conference information at this site: http://www.scbwior.com/events/index.html

The conference is scheduled for Friday & Saturday, May 15 & 16, 2009 at the Shilo Inn Airport, Portland, Oregon. There is no requirement for two-day registration, but you may attend both if you’re able.

The coordinators will send registrations to Oregon and S. Washington SCBWI members and Oregon subscribers in mid-March. The focus this year is on craft. The purpose for this is to help writers and illustrators during a time of publishing woes. Otherwise known as, harder to get a foot in the door.

The editors will present attendees with craft-oriented not market-oriented information. The workshops are planned around two hour long master-craft sessions on picture books, early readers, middle grade, young adult, and nonfiction with time for important faculty critiques. Attendees, be prepared to work.

Coordinators expanded the Friday first-page sessions, and either an editor and an agent or two editors will lead them.

Also, it’s good to note, many opportunities for individual critiques with agents/editors will be open to all attendees. However, Saturday attendance is required in order to receive your individual paid-in-advance critique.

Coordinators are allowing one-day attendance, but preference for the Friday sessions given only to the two-day attendees. Friday’s sessions are a-la-carte at $35.00 each (including snacks) and Saturday’s cost includes continental breakfast and lunch at $135.00.

Coming soon! Check on the SCBWI Oregon Web site for agenda and faculty bios.

Listed below is the 2009 faculty:

Cheryl Coupe, Author
Heather Frederick, Author
Lori Ries, Author
Susan Blackaby, Author
Robin Koontz, Illustrator/Author
Marianne Monson, Author/Editor
Elana Roth, Agent: Caren Johnson Literary Agency
Miriam Hees, Editor: Blooming Tree
Abigail Samoun, Editor: Tricycle Books
Noa Wheeler, Editor: Henry Holt

I’ll keep track and post notes here for some final information of the Oregon Spring Conference. Maybe it will garner interest and folks will check out the site.

As an inspiring writer, I’m looking forward to this conference. I plan to research the faculty members to get a feel of their likes and dislikes. The research also allows me to choose an editor for the one on one critique, and for the many opportunities to visit with each faculty member. Best of all, knowing a little about each member allows me to feel comfortable with them and yet be professional.

More to come . . .

Saturday, February 14, 2009

An Important Person From My Teen Years

I recently visited my friend at her mother's home in our hometown. It was a great get away of two days and nights. We reminisced of our past and shed a few tears over our families losses, and played a dice game that I won on the first round.

It was late afternoon on the day before we would part ways. My friend took me to the spot where their old home used to be. It had burned five years ago, and my friend's mother barely got out in time. I stood on that cleaned site, not a charcoal lump anywhere.

My childhood tumbled over me in a rush of emotion. Happy times on that property whirled like a dusty wind. Their home was at one time a safe haven for me as a teen. So the loss of its structure overwhelmed. My friend became sad to see me cry, so I wiped off the tears and turned my attention to the old scraggly apple trees.

My friend reminded me of all the apples we picked and pies we helped her mom make. I had forgotten, and stood there not remembering. What I remembered was the love her mom showed to me. The way she reigned me in as one of her children with hugs, scoldings, and chores. I shared in their laughter, a family of six children, with me number seven on the weekends.

This is also true of characters in novels. The plot is not what we recall best, but the people that we've spent time with during the world the author places us into the middle of. My friend's mom made the biggest impression on me during a tumultuous time in my life. I shall never forget.

After we left the old home site, we continued on our walk and came across an Alpaca farm. I had brought my camera and got a few shots of the animals. My favorite one is of a nursing mama I call Dolly. She captivated me with her genteel look and her curiosity of us humans at her fence.

I wanted to honor her with the above photo from a lighthearted moment I experienced at the end of the day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Book Review of "Write Away"

Elizabeth George, author of books of psychological suspense, does a wonderful job on the craft and art of writing in her how to book "Write Away."

I've read dozens of writing books. Few hit home for me like George's. Her conversational style, and the book's depth of the subject, and the many paragraphs of examples of what she is teaching helps me grasp her points. Her honesty about her own fears as a writer hit home for me.

The book is of medium thickness, and is packed with easy logical chapters of what and how she teaches writing in her classroom settings.

Some of her chapters titles are:Story Is Character; Setting Is Story; Plotting:"It Is the Cause, My Soul"; Voice: You Gotta Have 'Tude; The Value of Bum Glue; Turning Places into Settings, just to name a few.

I highly recommend this book and want to thank Elizabeth for taking the time from her busy life to write this helpful book. To learn more about Elizabeth go to her site: http://www.elizabethgeorgeonline.com/

Thursday, February 5, 2009

At Times, Writing Time Is More Than Writing

Learning the craft of writing has covered over fourteen years for this student.

Before that, seeds of the desire to write began when I was a teenager. I wrote horrible poetry and immersed myself in exciting Nancy Drew stories. Then I raised my family and had a small home business. At night, though, I read to my children the now classics about a poky little puppy, a little engine that could, a tawny, scrawny lion, and the Egermeyers Bible Story Book.

When my youngest child was fifteen, I had a car accident that left me flat on my back. I couldn't’t move without help. I remember the happy day when I walked from the living room to the front door without any help.

About three weeks into the recovery, I began to feel sad. I had garden vegetables that needed picking, a house going to dust, and I was bored, bored, bored. I called my daughter, who was pregnant with our first grandchild. I told her I didn’t want to become depressed but what did God have for me now? It was obvious my energetic body would never work the same.

What she suggested changed my life. She didn’t miss a beat. “Write a book, Mom, you always wanted to be a writer.”

But for whom I asked her? She responded that I could write for adults, but I wrinkled my nose at that idea. “I know,” I said, “I’d love to write for children.”

Was this God’s way to allow me to realize my dream? I was never one to sit very long, except to nurse my babies. Now, I would sit long (in this case, at first, lay still) and read books on how to write, and then one day I’d write a story.

The next week, I had my husband drive me to the library. I was in tremendous pain, so I pointed at the books I wanted. He picked them off the shelf and carried them for me. He was intrigued, saying things like, “This is a lot of books isn’t it? Do you really need that one?” I told him I was grabbing anything that looked like it covered the craft of writing. When I got home, my husband stacked the books on the coffee table. The books stacked three feet high; I couldn’t see the TV from where I lay. Fine with me.

I’ve told that story to say that over the years, I’ve had feast time to write, with jobs coming that gave me longs hours to work and decent pay. And then there’s been famine, with no jobs, but I still wrote and stayed busy with the community of children's writers. I’ve read hundred’s of children’s books and been in several critique groups. I've sat in writer's workshops, taking notes, then, I coordinated writer’s workshops for SCBWI. Later, I took editing courses online. I’ve bought books for my own library on the craft of writing. When my son died, I wrote in journal form to sort out my thoughts. My audience for journaling is my current online critique group of six years. They have become my friends. I love you ladies!

Within three years after my husband carried that huge pile of books from the library, I published an article. It was about my husband’s job as a school campus cop. After that, over an eight-year period, I acquired three-dozen magazine clips, including a healthy eating column for teens. I’ve written many works-in-progress of various stages, including the two book-length drafts for middle-graders. One draft I’ve worked on for twelve years. This novel-in-progress has taught me how to write a longer piece. It even won a letter-of-merit from a SCBWI contest.

I never stopped being a writer, even though presently I’m not earning money from my work. As a matter of fact, I’m choosing not to publish articles and short stories. I’m giving my whole heart and attention to writing novels for children. Besides, on the occasions that I’ve worked on shorter pieces, my working novels grow jealous. “Where are you?” they cry out. “Write our story.”

So, I write morning and evening to satisfy my characters need to tell their story, the stories that won’t go away inside my head.