Inspiration, Travel, Writing

Six Bits of Wisdom on Writing Conferences

double rainbow, New Mexico, Ghost Ranch
Double Rainbow over Ghost Ranch, Abiquiú, New Mexico http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

Hello, everyone.

I’m back from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s (SCWBI) Conference in L.A and A Room of Her Own (AROHO) writing retreat at Ghost Ranch, Abiquiú, New Mexico.

Both conferences were packed with information. I loved my time in Abiqui, New Mexico, it’s a gorgeous place for writer workshops. SCBWI had approximately 1,100 people in attendance and AROHO had 130.

The best thing about attending these conferences is the people: writers, poets, illustrator’s and those who live and breathe their art.

It felt good to be in community with fellow writers, both pre-published and published. I believe we need each other and have the opportunity for personal engagement with some of our favorite writers.

The Write Life has a list of annual conferences, but this list isn’t complete. Do a search for your state to come up for more localized conferences.

There is an expense to conferences, and if the budget can’t afford the cost, most have fellowships or scholarships. If you remotely qualify, submit your work. It’s worth a try.

After the conference, I waved goodbye to new friends and three days later I feel a little lonely without them around for “writerly” support.

After digesting my notes, I thought I’d share a post about conference attendance and implore you to seek out conferences, seminars, and workshops during this or next year. (The conference folks have strict rules about blogging/recording seminars so I can’t give you specific info on classes-so sorry).

Some bits of wisdom for you:

Wisdom Bit #1: If you can’t attend a conference, find out what their Twitter handle will be and follow the hashtag for some interesting information. If you wait until after the conference the info is usually removed.

Wisdom Bit #2: Usually writers work in isolation, so a conference is your opportunity to attend at least one social function. While at the function, meet at least two people, ask questions about their writing, what’s their story? Your writing community just expanded.

At the SCWBI conference, there was a big party where most people dressed up to the theme of Glitter. The chapter I belong to, Central Coast-Calif. were dressed as the “Bling, Bling Book Queens.” I like music and I like to dance, so I was there. (We found our gowns at thrift shops).

Bling, Bling The Book Queens-SCWBI15 Conference
Bling, Bling The Book Queens-SCWBI15 Conference alvaradofrazier.com

Wisdom Bit #3: Take notes in one journal or pad. When you get home you can easily refer to your notes and type them up. I’m having a hard time finding my notes since I took three journals.

Wisdom Bit #4: Use your business cards. If your pre-published (like me) make some cards up listing your name, website, and social media. Here’s mine. On the back is my name, Twitter name, and website. I only give out a card if a person asks for one or mentions they’d like to keep in touch. I now have 25 more Twitter followers, several more FB requests, and following back those same interesting writers and agents. Your writing community is expanded and so are your potential resources.

business cards
Writer’s Card-Moo Eco Cards

Wisdom Bit#5: If you were invited to send in a manuscript (and this often happens in conference seminars) jot down the agents name and pay attention when she/he tells you what to put in the email subject line. If she tells you to send a month after the conference, follow up on the request in a month. Draw a large block around your agent notes and star it so you can find it when you get home.

Wisdom Bit #6: Organize your notes and make a “Must Do Now,” “To Do,” and a “Nice to Do,” list.

  1. Must Do: Send out my manuscript on xx date to Agent xx; Revise first five pages with the info learned in First Five Pages workshop.
  2. To Do: Set up one social media avenue if you don’t already have one; Read a recommended book on revising or editing; Set up a calendar reflecting your new goals and timelines.
  3. Nice to Do: Follow the new person you just met on Twitter or other social media. Stay in contact.

Bonus Wisdom Bit: Please don’t be that guy or gal who overtakes a conference session. They usually sit in the first row, speak without raising their hand, and try to monopolize the speaker. You will be remembered, by fellow writers and the speaker.

Thanks for reading and have a great week.

 

 

Authors, Creative Writing, Creativity, poetry, Writing, Writing classes

Four Secrets to Poetic Prose-Part 1

 

Poetic License-alvaradofrazier.com
Poetic License-alvaradofrazier.com

Part of my life between the sheets, of paper, is writing novels.

Since I don’t have a MFA in Creative Writing, I often seek out free or low cost classes for improving my writing skill.

Some of the best and inexpensive classes can be found through writers associations like Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), your city or county writer’s association, or local colleges.

This past weekend I spent a Saturday afternoon in a class, offered by SCBWI,  titled

Poetic LicensePoetry secrets that will make your prose prance, taught by Sonya Sones.

Author of several award winning Children’s and Young Adult books, Ms. Sones, shared her knowledge and secrets to make ‘prose prance.’

This is just a small taste of what Ms. Sones taught. I encourage you to go to her website and take a look around. She has some interesting information for her readers.

For this post, I’ll share some of the information and discuss two of her four secrets to poetic prose. On Friday, I’ll write about the others.

First, Ms. Sones asked us:

What tools would be in a poets tool kit?

We came up with 16 tools but I’ll list 10 for the sake of space:

  1. Rhyming dictionary
  2. Thesaurus
  3. Metaphors
  4. Verbs 
  5. Rhyme: internal and internal
  6. Rhythm (meter)
  7. Alliteration 
  8. Similes
  9. Personification
  10. Repetition

After talking about each one of these tools, Ms. Sones began with her ‘secrets’.

Secret One:

  • All of the tools for poets are also valuable for a writer. This helps the author to show not tell.

Think about it. Who wants to read the same word repeatedly or see a word but not feel the word?

Grab a thesaurus, use interesting words. Use a metaphor, or a simile (comparing two things, using ‘like’ or ‘as’). Paint a picture of the feeling with images.

An example: happy

Not: “I feel happy”-

Yes: “ I feel all lit up like a jar filled with fireflies.” 

Just typing that last sentence made me smile and think of a large mason jar glowing in the night under a backyard tent.

Next, Ms. Sones gave us a prompt. She set an Oreo cookie on our table and gave us three minutes to write a description using simile.

oreo 1

I have to tell you that Oreo’s are my least favorite cookie and the one I had was not perfect, like the one above. My Oreo had white spillage over its bottom cookie. Very sloppy.

When our time was up, Ms. Sones asked us to read our example of use of simile-then we could eat our cookie.  I wrote honestly about the Oreo, not knowing that we’d have to read our sentence aloud,

“My Oreo, chocolatey goodness, ruined by an icky, sticky glob of glue like seagull poop ruining a sculpture.”

That ruined the enjoyment of those who were now biting into their cookie.

Secret Two:

Personification in a narrative can give the reader an image and feeling. For example,  “the wind whistled through its teeth.”

TC Boyle: “…the tie threatened to throttle him.”

Can you picture these two examples? So much better than saying, “It was windy,” or “He wore a tight tie.”

For this section we had to find something in the room and write about it for three minutes using personification.

Used teabag-gettyimages
Used teabag-gettyimages

I found my item at my own table:

The teabag, drained of its energy, slouched in a dark pool of tears. It knew its destiny, and the trashcan, was near.  

People felt sorry for my teabag. I hesitated tossing it into the trashcan after class.

 

On Friday, I’ll return with more from Sonya Sones and her other secrets to make your prose prance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books, fiction, Writing, writing conferences

Writing Tips and Diversity Points at the SCBWI Winter Conference

There’s not enough time or money to go to all the writing conferences one wishes to attend, however getting a participant’s viewpoint is often valuable.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has been a worthwhile organization for me to belong to because of their newsletters, booklets, and free market guide to publishing for children.

Here are several tips for writing contemporary and middle grade fiction from the SCBWI Conference.

Latinxs in Kid Lit

By Cindy L. Rodriguez

This year's SCBWI conference folder. Artwork by David Diaz, design by Sarah Baker This year’s SCBWI conference folder. Artwork by David Diaz, design by Sarah Baker

The Winter Conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in New York is kind of like a massive family reunion, with all 1,000+ people having a love of children’s literature in their  blood. It’s very cool for me to break away from my full-time day job as a middle school teacher and attend this annual gathering of creative people who all want to be published or work in some capacity with kid lit. While this love of children’s literature is the common denominator at the conference, the attendants are diverse people with myriad interests. Because of this, my ears naturally perk up when speakers address diversity in publishing.

The SCBWI did not have a specific panel or break-out session dedicated to diversity in children’s publishing, but speakers included Raul Colón, Shadra…

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