Category: SCBWI

Revisions? Yay!

Yeah, I know. Seems too chipper, right? But hear me out.Feeling too good this week?

I’ve been chomping at the bit to query for THIRTY DECIBELS. The letter’s been through the wringer (courtesy of YAlitchat and the practice boards at WriteOnCon) and I’m raring and scraping my feet to pound the path ahead. The manuscript itself has seen about four complete drafts, of 5-7 revisions each. (Sounds weird, right? Post to come.)

But I must take deep breaths.

I know these pages need more eyes on them – starting with my SCBWI colleague/friend Trina Sotira. She co-founded Musewrite and gave me amazing feedback through a three-chapter critique I won at the Armchair Auction for Evanston libraries. She even helped shape my synopsis. Simply put, Trina rocks.

So of course I had to send her the full MS for a big-picture critique. Only one other pro has seen it so far – author Kevin MColley, the instructor for my class through the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Today, Trina told me I’ll get the critique on Friday – that she’s got some good ideas on “restructuring.”

If you’d asked me a year ago how I’d react to a word like that, I might have squinted and tried to save face with a pat answer like, “Heh. Could be… interesting…?”

But I seriously cannot wait to see what she says. She explained she’d like to take the story to “epic proportions of awesomeness.” How cool is that? She’ll help me see my path forward, so I can send the best possible pages to my epically awesome beta readers.

Let’s go. My feet are scraping the dirt again.

Speaking of epically awesome beta readers: would you like to be one?

Please leave a comment below or click my pic at the top right.
(And thanks in advance!)

Libraries’ Armchair Auction: AMAZING

I want to extend the warmest of thanks to everyone involved with the Evanston, IL Public Library FriendsArmchair Auction.

All I had to do was ask – and my heroes, Adam Selzer, James Kennedy, Claire Zulkey, Jodi MacArthur, Trina Sotira, Cynthea Liu, and Beverly Patt contributed fabulous auction prizes. (Jodi asked Ms. Karen Schindler to donate – pyramid scheming at its finest.) Their items raised $500. And, they just rock.

But even they would agree: the best heroes of the day were the ones clicking, bidding and winning from those armchairs, snatching up 300+ items among 30 categories, from Memorabilia to Health & Fitness… to Author Outings of “hilarity and literarity.

The success astounds.

Organizers have informed me the auction raised over $34,000 for Evanston Libraries.

Taken with their fundraising efforts thus far, the EPLF has raised well over half of their $200,000 goal to keep Evanston’s North and South branches open. (Click here and here for the big-pic sitch.)
Your support is greatly appreciated.

Lori Keenan, VP of Evanston Public Library Friends (and another of my heroes), shared her thoughts with me this morning:

Overall, it was an amazing effort by an incredibly talented and creative team. From development of the auction name and logo, right down to the final bid, they were a model of organization and enthusiasm. We are extremely grateful, and the money raised by the auction will go a long way in supporting our efforts to keep the libraries open. Everyone involved can feel great in knowing they helped to make a real difference.

If you haven’t yet, please consider supporting the EPLF.
Libraries mean so much more than books. And books mean the world!

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Eight FUN ways to help save libraries

The Evanston Public Library Friends have outdone themselves.

They’ve put a killer collection of goodies up for grabs in an “Armchair Auction,” up until next Wednesday, June 2. It marks their biggest fundraising effort yet to keep Evanston’s two branch libraries open. (For background info, see “Dystopia Hitting Libraries Too Soon” and “Libraries Holding.”)

Here are eight of my favorites on the Armchair Auction site!:

  • From Adam Selzer: One in-person, 60- to 90-minute group walking tour of the ghostlier parts of Chicago (for up to eight)
  • James Kennedy: Two spots in his version of a buzzworthy (but pricey) auction item: Dinner with Audrey Niffenegger. In his unique take, James pledges to out-Niffenegger Niffenegger. More hilarity and literarity for your buck. (Yeah, I just made up that word.)
  • Claire Zulkey: A signed copy of her book, AN OFF YEAR
  • Jodi MacArthur: Become a character in Jodi’s next creepy short story. Sweet.
  • Beverly Patt: A signed copy of BEST FRIENDS FOREVER: A WWII SCRAPBOOK, plus an author visit to your school, scout trip, or book club!

And, especially for writers:

  • From Cynthea Liu: A 60-minute phone discussion with the children’s author, covering up to 2500 words of your work and your questions on the field
  • Trina Sotira: One MuseWrite “Writer’s Repair Kit” gift certificate, good for either a 30-page critique or toward a MuseWrite seminar
  • Karen Schindler: One two-hour editing package for a story of up to 3,000 words

To view an item, just search the author’s name (“MuseWrite” in Trina’s case) on the Armchair Auction site. Of course, the auction includes much more, in 30 categories – from Memorabilia to Health & Fitness to Event Tickets. Find something you like, bid now, and bid often!

The libraries need YOU.
Would you like to donate an item to the auction?

Just buzz me back or leave a comment and I’ll hook you up. Bidding goes for another whole week, so please please don’t be shy!

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Authors: It’s not branding, it’s fun

This morning, I attended an author talk at Story Studio on “Shameless Promotion: How to Market Your Writing.” Representing the shameless were Claire Zulkey (author of An Off Year, writer for The Onion A.V. Club and L.A. Times); Johanna Stein (TV writer, essayist of the daringly hilarious and hilariously daring); and James Kennedy (author of The Order of Odd-Fish, friend, and blog usurper). I treated the talk as a kick-off for my day of manuscript-revising. (Operative word: “kick”; as in, “in the ass”; as in, “You’re so close. Get in there, girl!”) But, I also felt it was worth a quick blog.

As a digital marketing biz person (I’m a Copywriter for Critical Mass), I’m always curious to spy the natural intersections of art and communication, affinity and promotion. I’m a nerd; I like this branding stuff. It’s the side of the pool from which I push off regularly, into my personal fiction work.

As they answered questions, the authors’ drastically different backgrounds informed, you guessed it, drastically different answers. They seemed to strive for bite-sized distillations of career advice for their hungry-writer audience – and a theme emerged: I recognized an opportunity, took it, and had fun with it, fueling others’ excitement about my work. With this attitude, the worst-case scenario is you having fun. Not too shabby.

If something fascinates you, pursue it. Claire Zulkey interviewed James Frey pre-memoir scandal, which led to a little call from Anderson Cooper. James Kennedy made an indelible mark with the ALA in a way both silly and relevant, and connected with Odd-Fish fans to curate and cultivate an equally enduring fan-art event. Johanna Stein shied not from human nature, sharing her cringe-worthiest experiences to create some of the most memorable humor available in print.

I like to think of Anne Lamott’s one-inch picture frame from Bird by Bird, which breaks a goal down into more manageable parts. In fact, “branding” is an intimidating, heart-palpitating word. So, forget it. Instead, keep an eye out for fun as you go, in the name of connecting with someone who gets you and your work. Look for relevant opportunities of any size that trigger your fun-meter. If something speaks to you, your genuine excitement will speak to potential friends and fans.

Sassy magazine was right – just be yourself.

So, did my theory work? If you enjoyed this post, leave a comment below. Sharing is caring.

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