Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A FRESH, NEW LOOK....

Hi, All!

Hope everyone is enjoying all the summer fun! I haven't had time to breathe with all the excitement of traveling to LA for the SCBWI conference...

So much to learn and to absorb for sure! Which brings me to todays IWSG post.

So many of us would be OVERWHELMED by a conference of this magnitude... 1200 attendees plus additional for the staff.  SO many professional authors, illustrators, agents, and publishers crammed into one hotel...




Imagine if  LA had an earthquake...more than half the community would've have gone in one shake. Something WE ALL had mentioned. But thankfully we survived, but only just.

This INSANITY got me to think about the poor "NEW" writer/illustrator. Can you even imagine how insecure and TERRIFIED this poor individual would be? I can.

I sat next to one woman who was so completely overwhelmed she had nearly fainted. But she was not the first. I talked with her and reassured her that we are THE FRIENDLIEST and MOST HELPFUL Community and by the end of our conversation the color reentered her cheeks and she was breathing normally. The excitement in her face about starting her new journey left me feeling so happy for her.

We must all remember, that no matter where we are in our journey, there is much to learn. I took away so much after this conference and I had been to at least three other major conferences within this year.

You just never know who'll you meet. The SCBWI organization is a very worthwhile one to join if you are a children's book writer/illustrator. That includes YA everyone... They have so much going on at their website. Grants, conferences (local and national), and lots of information about the children's publishing world.

The industry professionals talked of how Picture books are making a HUGE comeback and the publishing world is now clambering for the next Middle Grade blockbuster! Don't worry YA writers, YA is still a very HOT commodity...

It was fascinating to hear so many crucial points in the industry. But one thing was stressed over and over and over. DON'T write to trends! Write what you are passionate about and write it WELL. It takes TWO years for a manuscript to get published, so writing to trends isn't the way to go. IF you are  writing in a genre that isn't hot right now, it may be next year....the tables turn constantly!

So take your time and polish your story until it's blinding!!!!!

I had my own stress/insecurities at the conference. I focused on my first novel and its FRESH, NEW look. I've had interest in the past, but the opening never seemed to work correctly. As I sent out my first chapter for review, I felt confident that I had nailed it. Finally.

I entered the workshop positive. After three hours of exercises, the editor handed us our critiques and sent us on our way. As I glanced at her comments, all she pointed out was the ONE, or two spots I had TOLD instead of SHOWED... She totally missed the eight pages of SHOWING and only picked at that. Imagine what I thought...

I was less than happy. First of all, WHAT IS WRONG WITH A BIT OF TELLING? Look at blockbuster hits that tell so much more than show.... AH, HARRY POTTER, for one... Rowling has pages of telling, adverbs, and passive voice. Would they not publish her story today because of her "telling."

This narrow minded thinking in the publishing world concerns me. Yes, I agree, there should be lots of action to entertain and DRAW the reader into the scene, but what about setting the stage, the atmosphere, and a time to BREATHE between the action?  I feel this is very necessary, too.

During our lunch break, I reread her comments and thought. Hmmm. NO.. I don't agree. The few word corrections I did agree to, but not the telling part.

I then went to my second incentive with another editor. After a few work challenges we got to read our first pages. She told us yes or no whether she would read on. THIS was helpful.

I read my page. She laughed at the appropriate time and I held my breath when I finished. She smiled. She really liked it. But had just one suggestion. NO, she never mentioned TELLING. She mentioned she wished for more tension. If that was there, but it was to subtle. She would have liked more. I nodded and agreed.

This experience truly SHOWED ME how SUBJECTIVE the publishing industry is, and that we need to BELIEVE in our work. Always go with your gut feeling. THAT was stressed at the conference, too!

Now for the really EXCITING NEWS....

I had won a manuscript consultation with Steven Mooser... one of the HEADS of the SCBWI....YAY! I nearly fell out of my chair... And it was my best bud, Morgan Shamy, who said he would draw my name and did! Talk about being positive... She believed and IT HAPPENED.

But the first thing I thought about was WHAT TO SEND HIM? I have two manuscripts... For three days I had flipped back and forth. Talk about anxiety. WHAT TO SEND. ON the one note my second novel was REALLY ready. But my first is such a charming, magical story, something a kid could really enjoy. My second is edgy, raw, and INTENSE. Opposite extremes.

Well as fate would have it (sometimes it is in our favor), I ran into Mr. Mooser in the elevator. With a huge smile he greeted me and I reminded him that I was the winner of his wonderful consultation. He smiled again and asked what I would be sending. I told him the truth. I mentioned both properties, hoping he would prefer one over the other.  WELL... He said he would probably have time for BOTH!!!! Talk about turning my anxiety into MAJOR EXCITEMENT....

So now I need to have one last go around before I send the second and finish the rewrite of my first novel in RECORD TIME...

So you see, one never knows what will happen at these conferences. I heard MANY inspiring stories of very famous authors and illustrators who had amazing luck .... maybe now it's my turn?

TIME WILL TELL... As I say in my blog title... In time...

On that note everyone, I hope you will visit the other Insecure Writer Support Group posts. Drop by Alex Cavanaugh's EXTENSIVE list ....

Have a WONDERFUL WEEK everyone and I will be dropping by your blogs the moment I come up for air...

52 comments:

  1. He'll look at both? That is awesome! Big score, Michael.
    Writing is so subjective. What one person likes, another doesn't. It's all about finding the one who really digs it.
    Glad you got so much out of the conference.

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    1. Thanks, Alex... me, too. Not to mention meeting some wonderful blogger friends like Morgan and a long lost blogger Patty Timmes...

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  2. Michael, that's wonderful! I agree it can be subjective, and so glad you went with your gut. Love, love your writing, and keeping my fingers crossed this will be it! So glad you had a good time. Have been wondering about you and meaning to send an email. My bad.
    Happy IWSG day! And don't forget to sign up for the WEP. It won't be the same if you're not there!

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    1. Thanks for the reminder, Renee... I don't want to miss it. I need to start writing something new and FRESH....

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  3. I'm so glad you had such a GREAT time at SCBWI. Can't wait to hear more about your conference with Morse! It sounds like a wonderful opportunity. Milk it for all it's worth, my friend. :-)

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    1. Thanks, Cherdo... I am really excited about it. I hope he can connect with my writing and steer me in the right direction toward the perfect agent or publisher.

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  4. How awesome, Michael! Hope your manuscript critiques are helpful! And yes, publishing is very subjective. Sigh.

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    1. Thanks, Natalie... I am HOPING something good comes of all of this... like a contract.

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  5. Conferences are great. i used to go to the RWA national conference each year. Talk about overwhelming. Then there's the fangirl (or boy) aspect when you meet an author you really admire. Congrats for just nodding when the editor asked for more tension. Some writers try to justify their work. Agreeing (whether you do or not) is always the best choice.

    Diane IWSG #95

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    1. I agree, Diane. Advice should be digested and then one can agree or disagree when in edits.

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  6. This is really exciting, Michael. I enjoyed hearing your recap and especially your elevator meeting. They don't call it an elevator pitch for nothing, and your worked in your favor! So true about the subjectivity of the publishing business. It sounds like overall you got some really great advice.

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    1. I did! And it was FUN.... Met some wonderful people and LA is so beautiful....

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  7. How exciting for you! I absolutely would not have wanted to think about the earthquake wiping out all those writers ...

    I am glad you got some great feedback. And the feedback you don't agree with -- disregard. As you saw, a lot of it is very subjective.

    In my experience, when a reader doesn't like something in your story, but doesn't know why, the two default comments are: 1) I didn't connect with your voice or 2) Show, don't tell. They often don't even mean it.

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    1. I can certainly believe that. Dianne...

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  8. I'm glad you talked about your different critiquing experiences. It gives me confidence for the future.

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  9. I bet that lady went from fainting to swooning for a whole 'nother reason. You are such a gentleman. :)

    I'm glad you had a (mostly) positive experience. I hope you take this momentum and make it work for you.

    IWSG #119 until Alex culls the list again

    P.S. If you haven't visited Chemist Ken's blog yet, you need to. ;)

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  10. Michael, that is wonderful! You'll get input on both of your manuscripts.

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  11. I'm so excited for you. The first writing conference I went to was so stressful and so wonderful. Thanks for sharing your insights.

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  12. Congratulations on all your great experiences!

    It's so true how many people give really conflicting advice. One editor, contest judge, agent, or critiquer may love the pages or query they've read, while others criticize or express confusion over things no one else had a problem with and even praised. I also agree about how too many people these days are averse to directly telling the reader anything. Sometimes you need to directly state establishing information instead of delicately hinting at it or revealing it slowly over 400 pages. If we don't know an important piece of information, many things in the rest of the story won't make much sense. Just so long as it doesn't slow the story down to give a 10-page description of the neighborhood or house, or to deliver information about a holiday or cultural/religious custom through awkward "As you know, Bob" dialogue.

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  13. Sounds like the conference was great experience, Michael.

    I agree with you 100%. If we showed everything, not only would our books be 2000 pages long, but the pacing would be so desperately slow, nobody would read them. The key is knowing when to show and when to tell, that’s what pacing is all about.

    I feel sorry for writing newbies. They would likely take that editor’s comments to heart rather than trust their own instincts. Every editor has biases and a few even have control issues—they’ll find something they can label as wrong because it gives them a little high.

    Congratulations on the manuscripts (two!) consultation. So, so cool!

    VR Barkowski

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  14. You literally had one of those mythical "elevator meetings!" And he will see both! How great is that? It is all subjective, isn't it? I wish you the best of luck with those two manuscripts!

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  15. He'll take them both?! How exciting for you. You are so blessed, beyond lucky. I am sure he will take you on Michael. Just like Morgan said. Would she make a prediction for me too, lol.

    Sometimes I think telling is needed also. It depends on the context, and yes, the reader if they like it. Tension can be harder to write in sometimes, but I know what a talented writer you are and you can do it. I hope you are able to include some of your illustrations in the MG story.

    So glad you had fun, learned new things, and won such a fabulous prize. And what a sweetheart you were to help that young lady through her anxiety. I remember when I was new to all this too, and was very much overwhelmed. I still am about some things.

    Welcome home, and don't work too hard on those changes. I'll bet they are well honed already, and you need to JUST GET IT TO HIM, lol.

    Later Dude.

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  16. I'm so happy for you with all the good stuff, and your positive outlook beaming from my computer screen, Michael. I saw you at someone's blog and I realized I haven't visited you in a long time. Glad to know you're doing well, and you knew enough to know that one know-it-all editor is pea-brained. But you get to submit two manuscripts for review. Woohoo. Glad to see you and to see you've turned a corner. Keep a smile.

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  17. Hi Michael. If anyone deserves a break, you do. Congratulations on your consultation with Steven Morse. How great did that turn out! You must be so thrilled as you attack your stories with renewed gusto. It may well be your 'time'. You've held onto that positive attitude for so long. Here's to your tenacity and self belief, although I know at times you must have been low.

    Interesting the different attitude of editors. We all know that reading is subjective. How opposite! That's why there's so much luck involved at times. Just getting the right editor to look at it!

    And thanks for signing up for WEP. Lovely to see so many newbies and so many originals sign up.

    Denise :-)

    All the best!

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  18. And of course telling is important. Many of my favourite best-selling authors tell all the time. There is a place for it. -

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  19. Hi Michael - that's amazing that he'll look at both and the elevator query worked - which to send ... why both of course. Good luck with them.

    It is totally subjective .. we like what we like, we don't what we don't ... and sometimes we can't be bothered to look and re-evaluate ..

    Just so glad it was successful and you met up with Morgan - that must have been so much fun ... and re-finding Patty ...

    Great to see you around - I'm still not back - so (for now!) you can give me a miss - take care and all the best for the rest of the summer - cheers Hilary

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  20. I've heard this a number of times. What one agent dislikes another agent will like. It's mind boggling. I feel, as this is your baby, your story, you should go with your gut. Change it if you think that's a good idea, or don't change it because you like how it reads.
    What a wonderful coincidence that you met Mr. Mooser in the elevator, and you were totally honest with him! Which I believe honesty is the best policy.
    I wish you Luck!!

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  21. Michael I'm so excited that 2 of your manuscripts will be submitted. Wonderful news!
    Meeting Mr. Mooser in the elevator... serendipity!
    Yes, maybe it IS your time... and you deserve a break... you've worked long and hard.

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    1. Michael, I'm soooooo glad to hear that you're okay!
      I was WORRIED when I got that e-mail... imagining you beat up and hurt... far away from home...
      Take care!

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  22. Michael, you are so right about the subjectivity of the publishing industry. I think all we can do is give it our best shot and hope it finds a publisher. Good luck with Mr. Mooser

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  23. I would've been nervous at a conference like that.

    I see nothing wrong with a bit of telling. Stories need telling every now and then to get important things across. Not everything can be shown.

    The feedback you got was interesting. It truly does show that everyone is different. One agent could reject a story for one reason and another could rejection it for an entirely different reason.

    Congratulations on your win! And I'm so glad you can send him both of your manuscripts. I have my fingers crossed for you. :D

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  24. Yup. You never know. Good for you!

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  25. I agree there's nothing inherently wrong with some telling. Most of Rowling's humor wouldn't have worked if she hadn't revealed it in a telling fashion. Glad things worked out for you at the conference.

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  26. Michael, I'm so excited for you! Fantastic news :D You are so right about the subjectivity of the publishing industry, and all you can do is try, try, try again. And tell from time to time because yes. lol. Best of luck!

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  27. WOW! What a nice guy!!! That's completely awesome that he was willing to do both - and it wouldn't have happened if you hadn't been brave enough to chat. Good for you - and for helping that lady out as well. Karma! :)

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  28. I'm thrilled that the conference went well for you and now both of your manuscripts are going to be reviewed! *High-five* Things are definitely going to turn out well. I can feel it.

    Good stuff, Michael. Good stuff. Have a great day. Eva

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    1. Thanks, Eva... I really appreciate your comment!

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  29. Sounds like an amazing experience. I'm so glad it went so well for you!

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  30. Woot! It sounds like things really worked out in your favor. Sorry the first person wasn't helpful, but at least you got something constructive out of the second. Good job!

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  31. Wowza, 1200 attendees. That's a lot of creative talent all in one place! CONGRATS (again) on the critique opportunity, and you are very sweet for putting that frightened writer at ease. :o)

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  32. Oh wow, Michael, that's so exciting!! A HUGE congrats to you and best wishes.

    Also, just shows that not all editors are equal. Go with your gut...and an open mind.

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  33. I am super happy for you Michael, that you won a manuscript consultation with Steven Mooser. Looks like you had a great time at the SCBWI. 1200 attendees makes me feel giddy!!
    Like you I too am okay with a bit of telling.

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  34. Oh my gosh that's so exciting!! Yay!
    Just reading about the 1200 attendees made me feel a little overwhelmed. Wow!

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  35. It sounds like the conference was a great experience for you. I agree about how writing is so subjective. You do have to keep believing in yourself in spite of those who are negative. That is fantastic that he agreed to look at both of them for you. How exciting!

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  36. Thanks for the rundown. I'm glad you found the conference worthwhile & you got to meet Morgan!! Glad she was your good luck charm for the critique. That is SO exciting!

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  37. Sounds like you had fun and learned a few things too, Michael. Good luck with the manuscript evaluations!

    BTW didn't know how to tell you, but someone using your name sent me a weird email. Has someone hacked your email list? Kind of creeped me out.

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    1. Correction: it was a comment (I have to approve them) not an email, but with your name on it.

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  38. Trapping Mooser in an elevator is the perfect way to do this, Michael! You are brilliant. So glad you had such a wonderful experience. Let us know how that evaluation goes.

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  39. Michael, that is so amazing and wonderful! Two manuscripts! Wow!

    It's okay to tell as well as show. Write with your heart, and you will win!!!

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