It was a small but mighty group that gathered on December 8 for a bit of holiday fun, food, and of course, a writing exercise. Author Axie Oh led us in a small workshop, and then we had a book exchange.
The Las Vegas Book Festival seemed to be a bit smaller this year, but it was still good. I zipped down there to catch a few speakers...Jarrett Krosoczka and my friend Daria Peoples-Riley. They had many authors there for signings, plus panels and even free books.
This month, Nevada SCBWI hosted a webinar with Adria Goetz of Martin Literary. I was fortunate enough to attend in my own backyard, while hummingbirds buzzed around me. The weather has been in the 60's in Las Vegas! Crazy!
Adria's topic was query letters, a topic of which I am revisiting now that I am almost ready to begin submitting my middle grade novel instead of picture books. There was a long Q&A at the end, which was nice. Webinars are an awesome way to get your questions answered!
Thanks to Adria and NV SCBWI!
The first weekend in May, Nevada SCBWI hosted its Pitch Perfect Conference in Las Vegas. In the photo above, attendees practice pitching to agents and editors. If you are currently submitting your manuscripts, or if you are almost ready to do so, I highly recommend this conference!
Spring seems to be a super busy time in the writers' community. Here's what I've been up to...
On the left: The Southern Nevada Chapter of SCBWI got together to mingle and catch up on each others' writing. There was a ton of talent at that table!
Center: I happened upon a virtual conference offered by School Library Journal. Called "Middle Grade Magic," it was a free full-day of keynotes, panels, and author/publisher chats. I sat my laptop on my desk at work so I could listen and work at the same time. And did I mention it was free? :-)
Right: Nevada SCBWI and Henderson Libraries offered a free writers' retreat. Another freebie! We mingled, we ate, and we wrote. A perfect morning.
Within the next month, I'm looking forward to more SCBWI webinars, critique group meetings (I'm now the leader of mine), and the SCBWI Annual Pitch Perfect Conference, here in Las Vegas in the beginning of May.
And I have to find time to write, too!
Literacy Week is a great opportunity for a writer to learn. I took advantage of the week by reading to a class at my son's school, and by volunteering during the school's assembly, when local author and Channel 3 Weatherman Kevin Janison visited the school.
I am doing all I can do to help myself as a writer. I get up early to write, go to critique groups and conferences, judge local writers contests, make notes constantly, and try to stay motivated. Literacy Week allows me to get some experience with a class of kids (even though the book I read wasn't mine!) and to watch another author's presentation so I can do them myself someday.
And the book sale at the school is always welcome. They're for the parents, right? :-)
I should have posted a beach photo after writing that title, but I had to show that instead of luxuriating on the beach all weekend, we did actually work! Last weekend I attended the MG/YA Writers Retreat in Fort Lauderdale organized by the fabulous Allyson Levitt of editandgetit.com. I highly recommend any event she plans...she works hard and does whatever possible to provide the info and opportunities that writers need. She even added skypes with more editors at the last minute, just because she wanted to...how many people would do that, and not charge any more money?
Above is a photo from the Agents and Editors panel, including Jess Regel, Heather Flaherty, Krista Vitola, and Julia Maguire. Also pictured is me with Allyson's dog Lucy, who was the unofficial conference mascot, and me with Gary D. Schmidt, award-winning author and keynote speaker for the weekend.
The best part of the retreat, besides meeting so many great people, was my critique with Gary D. Schmidt. If you ever get the chance to have him critique your work, DO IT! I left his critique more motivated than ever. In fact, I'm going to quit writing this post and go work on the book I discussed with him...
Last weekend I attended the Las Vegas Writers Conference for the first time. Yes, I live in Las Vegas, so it is strange that I never attended before. I guess I hadn't because it wasn't specifically for Children's Book writers. But oh my, I should have gone long ago! I left completely saturated with information and motivation to take the next step in my writing career.
In the photo above, I pose with the last straggler-attendees, after the special session on Sunday with Jane Friedman, in the blue/pink dress. All writers should follow her...she gives tons of invaluable advice!
This weekend was the reception for the contributors to the Henderson Libraries' anthology, Impressions: Freedom. My son and I drove all the way across town so that he could see his mom called up in front of everyone, honored to have been chosen as an author and artist in the collaboration.
But we got there late! When we arrived, all the names had been called and people had moved on to mingling. I picked up my copy of the book...it was so fun to see my work in there!
And my son did get two free cookies out of it. So he was happy, too.
I am excited to report that a short story and drawing of mine were accepted into Henderson Libraries' upcoming print anthology, Impressions. The theme was "Freedom," and my story is about the solo road trip my mom took when she drove to Vegas from Indiana to visit me years ago.
Getting something in print sure gives me motivation to keep writing!