Sunday, November 24, 2013
Business aside, I haven't given up my writing appetite. I had the opportunity to attend the Rutgers One on One Conference on October 19th and what an experience! For every conference attendee, there was one author, editor, or agent. Can you say SCORE? At the beginning of the conference, they separated the attendees and the professionals with an air wall. Then the conference organizer, Marietta Zacker, told us that the air wall would open momentarily. And when it did, the scene turned into a real live "Hunger Games!" Every writer for himself! Find your agent! Find your editor! Impress them with your writing savvy! It was great and I loved every second of it! It was definitely worth every penny and I hope to be selected to attend next year's conference.
On to November....I've pushed my Picture Book writing aside (for a moment). My focus this month is Nanowrimo. 50,000 words written in 30 days. I know, I must be friggin' nuts! I'm holding strong at 41,827 words and hope to finish before Thanksgiving. December will be spent editing and revising. But let's be honest, I'll probably edit and revise for the next year...or three! I'm hoping to fix it up enough to submit it for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest in January and then really get it ready in time to pitch it at my FAVORITE writing event...the NJSCBWI June Conference!
I hope everyone will take a moment to smell the pumpkins and enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones!
Til next time....
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
That was okay because as the saying goes, "If at first you don't succeed, try again." And that's exactly what I did! As writers, time is precious. Therefore we cannot waste it on losing our confidence. I did, however, take the time to self-reflect ad work on my craft. At the time that I originally applied, I was writing a Middle Grade novel. Over the course of two years, I started experimenting with Picture Books and quickly discovered the task of writing one to be equally challenging. But lo and behold, my picture book is what earned me a slot in the Rutgers conference! Yay for picture books!
My journey with middle grade, however, is not complete. I've challenged myself to start something new and look forward to entering Nanowrimo, better know as National Novel Writing Month. In this online challenge, authors are encouraged to write 50,000 words towards a novel they are working on. I've already given myself a head start and am currently at 6,000. It's not 50k, but hey it's a start!
I will post back in October with a summary of how the conference went. I'm really looking forward to it. For more information on the Rutger's One-on-One Plus Conference, click here.
Til next time.....
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Up until recently, however, I'd never entertained the thought of paying an editorial consultant to read and critique my work. Mostly because a) I didn't even know that there was such a service and b) my humble teacher's salary has turned me into a penny pinching, clearance rack sifting, couponing FOOL! So paying hundreds of dollars on a hobby (when I had big girl bills) didn't seem realistic at the time.
But, alas, I have seen the light! Sure, writing is my hobby, but in truth this is something that I hope to one day turn into my business. Investing in myself, I've learned, is necessary if I am to take my writing to the next level. With that said, over a year ago, I had the opportunity to have a critique session with Simone Kaplan from Picture Book People. Signing up for her email list was simple. I did it right through her website and whadd'ya know she sent me a COUPON to receive $50 off a critique! Oh, I couldn't pass that up!
This is now my third time working with Simone and I'm VERY pleased with her work. She has given me some sound advice and great ideas on how I can market two of my manuscripts to make it more appealing to editors and agents. I'm confident that her feedback will propel me in the right direction...onward!
My selfish inner six year old doesn't want to give out her info (I want her all to myself!!!!), but I'd be wrong for not sharing. Check out Simone at http://www.picturebookpeople.com/
And tell her Tami sent you!
Til next time....
Thursday, August 1, 2013
2. My critique partner, Christine Duval, is now SIGNED with Bloomsbury!!! Wooooo hooooo! There is hope for us all! I've known Christine for two years now and have had the pleasure of not only reading her New Adult Fiction book, Freshman Forty, but I've seen it evolve over time. The story hooks you in right away as 19 year old college freshman, Laurel, discovers that she is pregnant at the beginning of the semester. Whereas most college freshman gain weight from the God-awful campus food, Laurel's problems are so much bigger than that. I wish Christine the BEST of luck and I'm oh so proud to have followed her on this journey!
3. Super good news! My virtual friend, Tara Lazar's picture book, The Monstore, will now be sold in brick and mortar Barnes & Nobles. I can't WAIT to get my copies! Congrats Tara!
But if you can't wait, you could always order your copy here.
4. Women Who Write, Inc. will hold their annual conference on Saturday, September 28, 2013! It's not too late to join, but hurry! Manuscripts are due by August 20, 2013! Click here for more info! Hope to see you there.
5. Last but not least....I'm EXCITED that the Westfield Children's Critique group starts up again in September. Here's what's new. My writing partner/leader of our group, Katie Bartlett, has embarked on a new journey by entering the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. When I first heard the news, my immediate reaction was WHAT??? You can't let the group fall apart!!! (selfish I know!) But, truly I am happy for her and know that she will eventually return to us with a wealth of knowledge to share. Katie nominated me, more like forced me haha, to be the new leader of the group in her absence. Oh joy! With that said, our group is down to three members and we are seeking new members. So to my writer friends in cyber space, please spread the word! Interested members can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
'Tis all for now! Enjoy what's left of summer folks!
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Day 2 continued with workshops: "Nonfiction for Beginners" with Carolyn Yoder, "Writing for Magazines" with Connie Colon, "Growing an Evergreen" with Ame Dyckman, and finally "Channel Your Inner Nonfiction Nerd" with....wait for it....ME! All of the workshops went extremely well and I learned a TON. I have to say for my first time presenting to adults, I didn't do so bad! Yay me!
Later on that night, I was invited to the Faculty Dinner. I have to admit that being invited to this event really made lil ole' me feel super special. Kind of like the nerdy girl in the lunch room who finally gets invited to sit at the "cool" table. I had a great time getting to know YA/MG agent Erin Harris of Folio Literary Management. She is super sweet, super funny, and super pretty. I couldn't help but whip out the pageant girl in me and try to convince her to do a pageant. Lo and behold, she's a teeny hair older than the age cut off for my pageant, Miss New Jersey American Coed. Darn!
Day 3 rounded out the end of the conference weekend. The morning speech given by Tara Lazar was UH-MAZING!!! The title of her speech was "The Myth of the Great Divide: Overcoming Obstacles in the Path to Publication." I laughed! I cried! But most of all I was INSPIRED! Thank you Tara for letting us "pre-published" authors know that the great divide doesn't really exist. If you haven't picked up her picture book, THE MONSTORE, be sure to order it now! Let's support out fellow writer friends! Sidebar: "pre-published" has a nice ring to it, right? I'll take it...for now!
After the speech, I attended "Writing Across Cultures" with Suzy Ismail, "Amazing First Lines" with John Cusick, and "Picture Book Revision" with Simone Kaplan. In between workshops, I had a pitch session with Stephen Barbara of Foundry. On a side note, I should mention the anxiety-inducing, speed-pitching fest that is the infamous "Pitch Session" at the SCBWI Conference. Seriously, it's like the reaping of the Hunger Games meets the "on-stage question" at the Miss Universe pageant! You walk in a room and have four minutes to explain your book. (and hopefully pique the agent's interest) My piece of advice is to know your work before pitching it and most of all, drink water before going in the room. Dry mouth attacks like a thief in the night ten seconds before it's time to walk into the room. And there is nothing worse than talking to an agent when your lips aren't visible because they're glued to the top layer of your gums! Anyone remember "Fire Marshall Bill" from In Living Color? Ok, maybe I'm dating myself.
The day ended with a closing keynote from Lauren Oliver, author of "Requiem", "Pandemonium", and "Delerium." Again, another superbly delivered speech. The best part was she read an excerpt from her next book. (Insert the recognizable childhood tease...nah nah boo boo!)
This year's conference was the best one I've ever attended. I can't wait to attend again next year!
Saturday, June 8, 2013
Conferences like these are an open door to make connections with all levels of folks in the industry; unpublished writers, published writers, agents, editors, illustrators, librarians and the list goes on and on.
Day one of the conference has come and gone. I had a one-on-one with Janine Hauber of the Sheldon Fogelman Agency. She gave me a full TYPED page of notes on my picture book, THAT'S IT, I QUIT! Any writer knows that a full page from an agent is like a goldmine! So I was very thankful for that and all of her constructive feedback.
Later on in the evening was the Mix & Mingle--also known as an excuse for the writing community to get together share an appetizer, a drink and a laugh! And boy did I have a great time at that event! I sat with a group of wonderful ladies from a critique group from Connecticut. We were then joined by Tricia Lawrence from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. I have to admit that when she first showed up to our chat circle, I thought she was another writer. By this point, I had already let my guard down. When she said she was an agent, the (shy) writer in me tensed up. But that only lasted for a second. Tricia turned out to be the most welcoming, down to earth agents I've ever come across. By the end of the night, I almost didn't want to leave.
So here it is. Year four of my attendance at this conference and I think I'm finally finding my mojo...finally. I'm learning that this writing thing is so much more than what you put on the paper. It's about the connections that you establish while in the process.
So hats off to day one and onward to day two! More to come!
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Saturday, May 25, 2013
After attending the June Conference for the past 4 years, I've picked up a few tips on combating this problem. Here is a simple list to help you keep your cool at the NJSCBWI's June Conference.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
But every story needs characters. I could have traveled to every country in the world that year back in 2008, but none of those countries had the depth and heart of the types of characters that I truly sought. Those characters could only be found in one place...my classroom!
I've been teaching 5th grade since 2003 and boy has it been a journey! There have been times when I've laughed, cried, and just plain wanted to quit! I figured, "Hey I wrote a book! I'm going to get a book deal! I can quit my job now and become the next NY Times Bestseller!"
Five years have passed since then. And like many aspiring writers, I've shelved my first novel and have moved on to new projects. And I'm STILL a teacher. Why? Because my "aha" moment helped me realize that as much as my students need me, I need them as well. I need to hear their stories of the kid who farted in the back of the room and blamed it on the class guinea pig. I have to witness them awkwardly dancing to the Cupid Shuffle next to their "crush" at the Valentine's Day Dance. These are the stories that guide me through my writing journey. And while I will continue to travel around the world (on a teacher's budget, of course), the classroom is the heart of where my writing journey will always begin.
And on that note, I wish a Happy Teacher's Appreciation Week to all my teacher friends!
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
I will also offer critiques of Common Core-themed picture books during the Conference. For more info on the common core, visit: http://www.corestandards.org/
To register for the NJ SCBWI Conference, visit:
Monday, March 18, 2013
I was first introduced to Freedom Soup by my grandmother-in-law, affectionately known as Tí Gran. As she taught me the recipe, she passed down the oral history of this soup, which I now carry on in my own kitchen every New Year’s Day.
Below I've provided a very basic recipe:
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Here are the deets:
Friday, June 07, 2013 - Sunday, June 09, 2013
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Thanks for sharing your picture book. You are right that there aren't
any French-Creole picture books.
I do like the color (and the flavor) of your story. But I feel as though
this is more of a short story than a picture book. There isn't enough
action to make this a picture book, which needs illustrations to really
work. And an illustrator needs simple action to portray in pictures.
Too much dialogue can be problematic.
That said, I do think you have a nice tone and some interesting use
Hope this helps. And thanks again for contacting our agency.
Honestly, I can live with that. Just when I was ready to exhaust this story and move on to the next, I followed one of this agent's key pieces of advice: slash the multitude of dialogue to provide more action. So off I went, trimming and cutting and styling until I can up with a sort of "dialogue-less" (is that a word?) story. So, I thank agents and editors (like this unnamed one above) who take the time to give valuable feedback to improve our craft.
Back to work I go!
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Onto other news, I submitted "Freedom Soup" today to Scott Triemel NY. Last year, I had won an auction through SCBWI and had the opportunity of having a phone conference with agent John Cusick. That was exciting and deathly frightening all at the same time. At the time, I had submitted a middle grade book. This time around, I submitted my newest picture book.
I've also submitted for the writing position at Everything Girls Love Magazine. There are thousands of writers applying for that. But hey, a girl can dream, right? Dr. King had a dream and look what happened!
Fingers crossed for all of these opportunities that lie ahead!
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Money aside, I think this is just what I needed--a swift kick in the hoo hah! At the Gold level, I am open to many benefits. Every month, an agent or editor allows submissions, which is great because this moves the participants from the bottom of the slush pile straight to the top. SWEET! That's only half the battle. What's submitted must tickle their fancy. And therein lies the challenge. Womp...womp...womp!
Luckily, I entered Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month). This was a challenge where you had to create one picture book idea a day to equal 30. Ummm....yeah that was tough. But I did come up with about 20 or so ideas, which is more than enough for me to plug away for the 12 by 12 challenge.
And so here my journey begins. My goal this month is to tighten up my newest PB, "Freedom Soup" before I continue submitting it to the world. And then on to the next! I can't wait to see what the year brings!
For more info on 12 by 12, visit: http://www.juliehedlund.com
For more info on PiBoIdMo, visit: www.taralazar.com
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Here's my latest venture in writing. I'm applying for a position as a Lifestyle writer for Everything Girls Love Magazine. The application process is pretty lengthy with lots of interesting questions. Plus, I had to write a sample article. I chose to do a literature review of this book I just read entitled "The Farming of Bones ." Last but not least, they want a resume. I wonder if professional bookworm counts as a job I can put on my resume...oh joy!
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Saturday, January 19, 2013
There were some days where I had nada! And then came the days where I'd come up with 5 ideas! Oh joy!
I want to thank Tara Lazar for creating this challenge for writers. It was scary yet beautiful at the same time. Now that it's over, it's only natural to make the transition to the next writing challenge: 12 by 12! This is being run by Julie Hedlund and for more information, you can go to www.juliehedlund.com/12-x-12 The idea is to create one picture book a month. Sounds easy, right? (as I slowly eat away at what nails I have left)
Onward and upward in 2013! I'm not giving up on this writing thing yet. The writing community has to be the most supportive, close-knit group of cheerleaders I've ever encountered. Keep writing people!