Teen Writers Bloc

A Blog by the New School Writing for Children MFA Class of 2012

Archive for the ‘Events And Readings’ Category

 Teen Author Festival: The Only Way Out is Through Panel at WORD in Brooklyn“So, serious question,” David Levithan asked the five authors who were on his panel on realistic YA fiction at WORD in Brooklyn last night. “How many of you have had sex for clothing?”

That question was inspired by our own Jessica Verdi who had just read from her debut novel, My Life After Now, about a girl who has HIV. (And, no, Jess’s character and Jess herself have not had sex for clothing either.) Jess’s book does not technically hit shelves until April 2nd, but patrons who were present last night got to buy the earliest signed copies.

Other highlights of the panel included Ellen Hopkins (Crank, Tricks, and so many more) giving us all a sneak peek (sneak listen?) of a project she’s working on for Spring 2014; Tim Decker (The Punk Ethic) discussing how his project went from graphic novel to standard form; Crissa-Jean Chappell (Narc) talking about writing across gender lines; and Amy McNamaras (Lovely, Dark and Deep) story about standing up to genre-snobbery among her poetry friends.

 Teen Author Festival: The Only Way Out is Through Panel at WORD in BrooklynIn addition to a few pages of each of these saucy, clever and intriguing books (which included our own Jessica saying “sex” about 37 times—go Jess!) listeners like me were treated to a discussion on proces. And there’s nothing I love more than hearing how other writers manage to make the magic happen!

I especially liked David’s question about how a project starts. In response, it felt like each panel member had a recipe for what makes a story.

In fact, Tim said he pictures his work-in-progress like a petri dish: he puts a few things in there together and sees how they will react. Crissa-Jean defined author as “being evil all the time” because she takes a character she likes, then tries to make him uncomfortable for hundreds of pages. That’s, of course, the only way he’ll change. Amy said that, for her, a story becomes a story when she has a character and a place she can put together. And Jess said she started with the issue before she even knew the gender or race of her character.

I’m always amazed by how many different answers a question like that can produce!

Other pearls of wisdom I’m going to take away include Crissa-Jean addressing her self-censor. She said that sometimes when she’s drafting she hears an “inner voice” telling her she’s gone “too far”—but she calls that voice a “green light.” I love that idea. Push through that inner voice and go further than even you as the writer are comfortable with to get to the truth.

Jessica said focusing on her character and her character’s own individual experience helped her to avoid sounding preachy.

Ellen Hopkins told us not to read reviews of your own writing. (But it’s so hard, Ellen!) Apparently there are some silly people out there who think all of her characters are the same, which is just, you know, ridiculous.

And David Levithan, our moderator and the mastermind behind the Teen Author Festival (and one of our valued professors from The New School) said that when you find your comfort zone as a writer, you have to run in the other direction!

There are so many more awesome book events this week as part of the Teen Author Festival! Check out the full schedule here!

Also, you can see our own Mary G. Thompson on Friday at 4:40 where she’ll be part of a panel on Alternate World vs. Imaginary world.

And, you can see me, Caela Carter, on Friday at 3:00 on a panel discussing teens and bad choices.

Jess, Mary and Caela will all be signing books at Books of Wonder on Sunday along with about 90 other authors!


Come to the Teen Author Festival!

Posted by Mary G. Thompson On March - 18 - 2013

Screen Shot 2013 02 25 at 11.45.23 AM 99x150 Come to the Teen Author Festival!Hello Teen Writers Bloc readers! This week is the annual Teen Author Festival, hosted by none other than our former professor/bestselling author/Scholastic super-editor David Levithan. There will be more than ninety fantastic authors participating this year, and for the first time, the festival will include three of our own: Caela Carter, Jessica Verdi, and me (Mary G. Thompson)! You can find the entire schedule of events (starting today!) at the Teen Author Festival Facebook page. You’ll want go to as many of the events as you can, because there’s going to be a whole lot of awesome!

You can find us at the following times and places:

 Come to the Teen Author Festival!Jessica Verdi (My Life After Now):

Tuesday, March 19, 7:00-8:30, Word Bookstore, 126 Franklin St., Greenpoint.

The only way out is through: Engaging truth through YA.

—also featuring Crissa Chappell, Tim Decker, Ellen Hopkins, Amy McNamara, and moderator David Levithan

Caela Carter (Me, Him, Them, and It):

Friday, March 22, 3:00-4:00, 42nd St. New York Public Library, Berger Forum, 2nd Floor

Taking a Turn: YA Characters Dealing with Bad and Unexpected Choices

—also featuring Eireann Corrigan, Alissa Grosso, Terra Elan McVoy, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Elizabeth Scott, K. M. Walton, and moderator Aaron Hartzler

 Come to the Teen Author Festival!Mary G. Thompson (Wuftoom):

Friday, March 22, 4:40-5:30, 42nd St. New York Public Library, Berger Forum, 2nd Floor

Alternate World vs. Imaginary World

—also featuring Sarah Beth Durst, Jeff Hirsch, Emmy Laybourne, Lauren Miller, E. C. Myers, Diana Peterfreund, and moderator Chris Shoemaker

All three of us will be signing at Books of Wonder, 18 W 18th St., on Sunday, March 24th! Caela will be there from 1:00-1:45, and Jess and I will be there from 3:15-4:00 (yes, Jess and I have been separated from Caela by the dreaded alphabetical order bias. Curses!).

Please check out the list of the events and support your favorite NYC authors! There are so many awesome people involved, you can’t help but find something you’ll love!

It’s Launch Day for Caela Carter’s ME, HIM, THEM AND IT!

Posted by Jessica Verdi On February - 26 - 2013

Screen Shot 2013 02 25 at 11.45.23 AM 199x300 Its Launch Day for Caela Carters ME, HIM, THEM AND IT!Today is a big day at Teen Writers Bloc — it’s the release of our very own Caela Carter‘s debut novel, Me, Him, Them and It!

When Evelyn decided to piss off her parents with a bad reputation, she wasn’t planning to ruin her valedictorian status. She also wasn’t planning to fall for Todd—the guy she was just using for sex. And she definitely wasn’t planning on getting pregnant. When Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn’s not sure where to go. Can a distant mother, a cheating father, an angry best friend, and a (thankfully) loving aunt with adopted daughters of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow?

Caela began writing this incredible story during our first semester at The New School, so several of us at TWB were lucky enough to get to read early drafts of the book before anyone else. And now that it’s out there for all to read, we know it’s going to make quite the splash in the YA lit world.

I’ve held a finished copy of Me, Him, Them and It in my hands, and let me tell you — it’s beautiful. Definitely something I’d pick up off the shelf and Barnes and Noble. And we hope you will too!

If you’re in the New York area you can come celebrate the release of this book with us and with the author herself at the launch event on Thursday, February 28th at 6:30 PM at the Corner Bookstore on Madison Avenue at 93rd Street.

Mary’s ConFusion Roundup

Posted by Mary G. Thompson On January - 22 - 2013

Sci fi 216x300 Mary’s ConFusion RoundupI just got back from my second sci-fi/fantasy convention ever, and it was a total blast! For those of you who don’t know, there’s this whole circuit of conventions for science fiction and fantasy writers and fans. Some are mainly for writers and other industry people to network and some have a huge fan component with costumes and games and general geekdom. ConFusion, held in Detroit, MI, was a great mix of writing talk and fun. There were panels on all sorts of topics related to sci-fi and fantasy writing, a costume contest, and even some science lectures.

Friday night I mainly spent at the dessert reception because, hey, if there’s a free dessert reception, why would I do anything else? I also caught the end of a strangely hostile panel in which some lady was basically arguing that fans who aren’t “authentic” (read “old and bitter”) should go home, and then award winning fantasy author Mary Robinette Kowal satisfied the audience by handing the woman’s ass to her on a stick. Fortunately I never saw the crazy woman again and that panel wasn’t representative!

Saturday I got up at the insanely early hour of 8:15 a.m. so I could make my 10:00 a.m. panel. This was my first time sitting on panels, and I’m happy to report that I made it through four of them without falling all over myself or saying anything stupid. At least, if I said something stupid, no one felt compelled to call me on it. I even got to moderate a panel, which was a lot of fun. The con organizers called it “The Curse of the YA Heroine,” and the premise was supposed to be that female protagonists are too often defined by their relationships to men. Whoever wrote the program made the mistake of suggesting that not only was this true, but it was the result of “lazy storytelling.” Well, all the other panel members (Aimee Carter, Sarah Zettel, Susan Dennard, and Courtney Moulton) had written strong female protagonists, and we had a great discussion about how strong YA women really are, among other interesting topics. During the day I also had time to hang out in the game room, where some cool people taught Wesley Chu and me how to play Munchkin. I was a little worried that I’d get thrown out for not being geeky enough (let’s face it, I’m just a nerd), but instead of throwing me out, they gave me twizzlers, so yay!

Add in a couple interesting science lectures on Sunday plus the bar-con aspect, where I met lots of great people, and the weekend was a success! Huge thanks to Wesley Chu for convincing me to go and Patrick Tomlinson for putting up with me as a roommate. Check out Wes’s forthcoming sci-fi novel The Lives of Tao (see, I plugged it, are you happy?) and Patrick’s forthcoming A Wererat’s Tale: The Collar of Perdition (pay no attention to the cover, ladies).

Photo Credit: Victor Habbick

YA for NJ: Bid on YA Swag for a Great Cause!

Posted by Mary G. Thompson On November - 29 - 2012

YA for NJ 300x300 YA for NJ: Bid on YA Swag for a Great Cause!Hello Teen Writers Bloc readers! Why are you reading this blog? Is it because you love YA books as much as we do? Well, if that’s the case, then you’re in luck, because you can buy books and swag from some of your favorite authors and support a great cause at the same time. The seven-day auction will begin this Friday, November 30, at 8:00 p.m., and here are just a few of the 170 fantastic authors who are participating:

Holly Black
Coe Booth
Libba Bray
Gitty Daneshvari
Matt De La Pena
Lisa Greenwald
Jenny Han
Ellen Hopkins
David Levithan
E. Lockhart
Megan McCafferty
Kate Milford
Kate Messner
Michael Northrop
Lauren Oliver
Kenneth Oppel
Rebecca Serle
Kieran Scott
Natalie Standiford
Cecily Von Ziegesar
John Corey Whaley
Jerry Spinelli

And this list is just the beginning! The 170 authors (including me!) will be offering a ton of great stuff. You can bid on signed copies of the authors’ books and collections of books. Some authors are offering Hollywood swag from their filmed projects. Some authors are even offering dedications or character names in future books. If you are a teacher, a parent, or just a friend of a school, you can bid on individual author visits, author panel visits, and Skype visits for your favorite school. One hundred percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey to aid in their efforts to feed the people most affected by hurricane Sandy. Yes, that’s one hundred percent of the proceeds, not profits. Every single item has been donated by the authors, so the entire amount raised will go to those who need it.

We know you love all things YA! Wouldn’t now be a great time to get something you always wanted and also support a great cause?

Follow this link to check out the YA for NJ auction now!

The Broken Lands Launch Party, and a Discussion of Kate Milford’s Villans

Posted by Dhonielle Clayton On September - 18 - 2012

 The Broken Lands Launch Party, and a Discussion of Kate Milfords VillansOn Thursday night I attended the wonderful launch party of a dear friend of mine, Kate Milford, at McNally Jackson bookstore in Soho. The basement area was full of Kate’s family, friends, and admirers, drinking wine, salivating over her cool card set, and art from kid artists she hired to illustrate for her companion novel. With the release of The Broken Lands, she also released her novella The Kairos Mechanism.

Here’s the skinny on these two novels (thanks to Barnes and Noble and McNally Jackson):

The Broken Lands: A crossroads can be a place of great power. So begins this deliciously spine-tingling prequel to Kate Milford’s The Boneshaker, set in the colorful world of nineteenth-century Coney Island and New York City. Few crossroads compare to the one being formed by the Brooklyn Bridge and the East River, and as the bridge’s construction progresses, forces of unimaginable evil seek to bend that power to their advantage. Only two orphans with unusual skills stand in their way. Can the teenagers Sam, a card sharp, and Jin, a fireworks expert, stop them before it’s too late? Here is a richly textured, slow-burning thriller about friendship, courage, and the age-old fight between good and evil.

The Kairos Mechanism: When two boys walk into town bearing the corpse of a man who disappeared half a century ago, it doesn’t take Natalie Minks long to find herself entangled in the mission that has brought them to Arcane with their grisly burden–a task which somehow involves the mysterious Simon Coffrett. Meanwhile, a vicious peddler named Trigemine waits with terrible and deadly penalties at the ready, should Natalie and her new friends fail.

I caught up with her in a previous post to discuss how these books fit together. Here’s a refresher on what she said and the question I asked her:

DC: Without spoiling the wonderful plot of The Kairos Mechanism, can tell us how this book is a bridge between The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands? Or how do you intend it to function?

KM: The Boneshaker takes place in Arcane, Missouri, in 1913, and it’s about a girl named Natalie Minks. The Broken Lands takes place in New York City in 1877, and although two characters from The Boneshaker turn up, the cast is otherwise entirely different. It’s a bit of a prequel, in that the events that take place in The Broken Landsrelate to The Boneshaker, but it’s basically a stand-alone story. SoThe Kairos Mechanism is meant to do two things. Firstly, it’s a Natalie story, to tide me (and any Natalie-fans who are out there) over until I get to come back to her and to Arcane. Secondly, it provides some extra clues as to how the two books are related, some clues to what’s coming for Natalie, and some history for readers who, like me, want to know more about the world and the characters. And it’s a self-contained story in its own right.

Like I mentioned, I really love when, as a reader, I get to explore a world in more depth and really get to know it. But I want to be able to explore it while I’m reading the story it relates to, and I particularly love when I find extra content that isn’t just extra content, but something that actually changes the way I read the story. Obviously this is a fine line—if it’s not in the book, it almost can’t be critical to the story (unless that’s the point, I guess). And the extra content can’t be spoilery—for instance, I don’t know in what order people are going to read The Kairos Mechanism and The Broken Lands, and there are probably going to be people who read one of those two before they even read The Boneshaker. So I’m having to be very careful about what’s fair game to include, or refer to, or reveal. It’s very tricky.

If you’re a consistent reader at Teen Writers Bloc, then you know I’ve written about her book The Boneshaker before, and these two novels exist in the same world of mythos. If you know me, then you know Kate Milford and I are thick as thieves. I’ve know her for awhile now and she is part of my critique group. Though I won’t admit that my reviews of her books are biased, I am a true fan of her work. Historical fantasy is my favorite genre, blending my love of old worlds and other times with magic and the uncanny.

During the launch, she read a passage from an early section of The Broken Lands, where she introduced my favorite character of hers — Walker. And she dedicated that reading to me! Yay! While being a beta-reader for The Boneshaker, I thought I’d never love another villan with the same intensity that I love Dr. Jake Limberleg, who is the antagonist to Natalie Minks in The Boneshaker. Jake Limberleg is the head hauncho of Jake Limberleg’s Nostrum Fair and Technological Show, who has a tragic past.

But in comes a man name Walker  wearing a white suit with nails filed to points and two sets of bottom teeth in The Broken Lands. He’s a gambler and a gentleman, and has an interesting past.

Sigh! Swoon!

I am a sucker for a good bad guy. Oftentimes, I love the bad guy more than I love the good guy. Kate Milford’s bad guys do not disappoint. Whereas many villans in children’s and young adult fiction are purely evil, her villans have shades of grey (not 50!). You always want the children and the good guys to win, but sometimes in Kate’s books, there’s a little part of me that wants the bad guys to win, just for a second. The bad guys are just that good!

Go check them out!

Mary Survives BEA

Posted by Mary G. Thompson On June - 11 - 2012

Mary and Lish 300x224 Mary Survives BEAI don’t mean to imply by the headline that BEA is a horrible experience to be survived rather than enjoyed. I had a great time! Buuut … I didn’t get a lot of sleep last week! Wednesday morning, I was lucky enough to have been invited to present Wuftoom at the Harlem Village Academies: Leadership middle school. I was an afterschool tutor this past year, and I really fell in love with the kids and the school, so I was really excited to be back. However, I don’t normally get up in time to give presentations at 7:30 in the morning! So when I left the school at about 8:00 a.m., I was happy but also a little loopy from lack of sleep. I thought about trying to go home and take a nap, but I was afraid I’d never make it down to BEA if I did that, so I pushed on!

Once I got to BEA, I was immediately flummoxed by a change in set-up from last year, whereby the press booth had moved from right out front to under a large sign that read “Press Area.” At my level of sleep, this was confusing, but ten minutes later, I had made it there and picked up my press pass, which identified me as “Blogger, Teen Writers Bloc” (a cheaper designation than “Author,” unfortunately. By cheaper, read “free.”). Then I was ready to hit the booths. I didn’t have a particular plan when I began sifting through my conference schedule. I came with a single, seemingly realistic goal: I was not going to pick up too many books. I came up with this goal after last year’s experience. Last year I spent one day at BEA and picked up what felt like a lot of ARCs. That seemed wonderful until I got home and tried to read them. Of all the ARCs I picked up, I liked exactly one of them! (That was Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby, which I reviewed here. It was good enough to make the whole day worth it!) I will not take everything I see, I thought. Even if they are books that some sales person has designated as a “big” or “buzz” book, because I have a pile of “buzz” books at home that weren’t for me. I was going to be strong and not buy into the hype. I mentally reminded myself that just because something is free does not mean I want to read it. Well, you can probably guess how that turned out! By the end of the day I was carrying so many books—which I was sure were going to be worth it—that I felt like my arms, shoulders, and feet were all going to fall off. But I digress.

After I took a look at the conference schedule and realized I had no idea what I wanted to do, I met up with The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands author Kate Milford, who, it turned out, actually had a decent plan. Piggy-backing on her fortuitous (for me) preparation, I began the day’s sweep for ARCs that promised to be stuff I really wanted! I picked up middle grade, YA, and picture books, books from big names like Scholastic (The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater) and independent gems like Peachtree (The Universe of Fair by Leslie Bulion). I even made a stop at the Downtown Stage to listen to a presentation for an adult nonfiction book, Jon Meacham’s Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. I walked away with the heavy ARC somewhat guiltily. After all, I’m supposed to be a YA person, which is kind of cool, right? What if someone found out that secretly, I’m a huge nerd who loves nonfiction sometimes even more than YA? Oops, I think I just let that proverbial cat out. Oh well. After a break for a quick sushi-roll lunch downstairs, where a nice lady told me I look like “that girl from Twilight” (totally true, by the way), I went on to pick up more books and listen to more genre-appropriate panels, including a fantastic panel on chapter books that included R.L. Stine (Goosebumps) and Nancy Krulik (Katy Kazoo).

Whew. By about 3:30, Kate and I were carrying so many books that we were about ready to drop, so we hoisted our bags on our shoulders and got ready to head over to a bar whose name I can’t remember for an early dinner. That was when my swag bag burst at the seams and almost dropped my huge haul of books all over the bathroom floor! After the nice folks at McGraw Hill rescued me with a giant red bag big enough to fit, me, my twin Kristen Stewart, and all seven dwarves inside it, we were finally out! We had our books, our memories, and lots of pictures of Kate’s home-made sock monster “Lish McGlovin” with everyone she could convince to pose. See the photo of us, above, reading our menus. In my fatigued state, I found Lish infinitely entertaining. But maybe that’s just the kidlit author in me and I am that immature all the time. Let’s just say, I can’t be blamed for any pictures that may one day show up on the interwebs. The day ended with a nice fish-and-chips dinner, a kidlit drink night, and a critique group with some of my Teen Writers Bloc crew. I probably wasn’t at my best during the critique, because I was so tired that at least once I commented on the wrong project. But it was nice to see everyone!

My BEA experience finished up Thursday at 6:00, when I got the chance to sit on Books of Wonder’s “Meet the Class of 2K12” panel and read a little bit of Wuftoom. By that time I was at least enough recovered from Wednesday to sit up in my chair and not drop the microphone, so I’m calling it a success!

Well, that was my recap of my BEA12 experience. How did everyone else do?

Photo credit: Kate Milford

Wuftoom: Book Release Events and Giveaway

Posted by Mary G. Thompson On May - 4 - 2012

9780547637242 hres 400x600 Wuftoom: Book Release Events and GiveawayHello Teen Writers Bloc readers! I’ve plugged it at every opportunity, to the point where you are probably thinking, yes, Mary, we know about the stupid book. But for realz, y’all, it’s almost here!

To celebrate the release of Wuftoom on May 8, I’m having a public book release party at the fantastic McNally Jackson Books, here in Manhattan. Please come and bring your friends, family, children, and any random people you meet. Subterranean monsters are also welcome, though if they stink up the place, we’ll charge a special cleaning fee.

  • What: Wuftoom Book Release Party
  • Where: McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince St. New York, NY
  • When: Sunday, May 13, 2012, 4:00 p.m.
  • Details: I will be reading from the book and having a conversation with The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands author (and friend of Teen Writers Bloc!) Kate Milford. Then we will be eating fun and gross worm-themed desserts, drinking wine/soda, and generally having a good time.

If that’s not enough for you, I’m also reading THIS SUNDAY, MAY 6 at Books of Wonder along with several fantastic teen sci-fi/fantasy authors.

  • What: Teen Sci Fi/Fantasy/Dystopian/Supernatural Event with me, Paolo Bacigalupi, David MacInnis Gill, Alethea Kontis, Galaxy Craze, Kate Klimo, and Elizabeth Norris
  • Where: Books of Wonder, 18 W 18th St., New York, NY
  • When: Sunday, May 6, 2012, 1:00 p.m.
  • Details: Come meet some fabulous teen sci-fi and fantasy authors, including Hugo and Nebula award winner and National Book Award finalist Paolo Bacigalupi.

Finally, I’m running a giveaway on Goodreads from now until May 15th. Enter to win a signed copy of Wuftoom!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

12351901 Wuftoom: Book Release Events and Giveaway


by Mary G. Thompson

Giveaway ends May 15, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Cover Image courtesy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Writers Conferences 2012: Where Will You Spend Your 2012 Marketing Dollars?

Posted by Sona Charaipotra On January - 6 - 2012

nycview Writers Conferences 2012: Where Will You Spend Your 2012 Marketing Dollars?

Writer’s conferences are like a quick fix of creative adrenaline. A concentrated take on the craft and business of writing, they can really get the creative juices flowing, and get you right into the thick of things, whether or not you’re a natural-born networker, like our own Dhonielle.

But there is a right time to go — and not every conference is a great fit for everyone. That’s why, when you’re budgeting your networking dollars, it’s a smart idea to take a really close look at what your options are. Especially given that, these days, you could probably find a writers’ conference in your area any given weekend. But which are worth the investment? And when should you go?

It all depends on you and where you are with your writing. A few of us here at Teen Writers Bloc, for example, are gearing up for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators conference in New York City this month. But others among us know that, as much as we’d like to go, we’re nowhere near ready. Perhaps a summer conference would be a better bet for those folks.

What writers conference will give you the most bang for your buck? Only you can decide. But since it’s a new year (and hopefully, new budget!), we’ve rounded up a few of the best bets for your perusal — and we’ve tried to stick to conferences that would be fruitful for teen and middle grade writers. Maybe we’ll see you there!

Writers Digest Conference
New York, New York; January 20 – 22
Cost: $525 for the full conference, $375 for Saturday only — and there’s even a $275 student option
With lots of big picture overview, including keynotes on the where publishing is headed, e-publishing, author-entrepreneurship,  self-publishing and marketing yourself and your work online, this conference, sponsored by industry magazine Writer’s Digest, is taking writers’ straight into the future of the book business. There’s also an intensive three-hour pitch slam, a sort of speed dating with agents, including YA and kid lit champions Brandi Bowles (Foundry), Susan Hawk (The Bent Agency), Molly Jaffa (Folio Literary Management), Mary Kole (Andrea Brown Lit), Sarah LaPolla (Curtis Brown) and Holly McGhee (Pippin Properties), amongst many others.

Society of Children’s Book Writers And Illustrators
New York, New York; January 27 – 29
Cost: $385 for members, $485 for non-members
Highlights: The SCBWI annual winter conference is the scene and be seen event for children’s book writers. This year, teen favorites like Cassandra Clare, National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine and Sophie Blackall are amongst the speakers, and there are plenty of big agent and editor names on the panels on craft and marketing, too. But conference vet Dhonielle says the best part of doing the SCBWI events is meeting like-minded writers. She’s found critique group members — and life-long friends — at these events. If you can’t make this one, SCBWI has mini-events across the country — and another biggie in L.A. this summer.

San Diego State University Writers’ Conference
San Diego, Ca.; January 27 – 29
Cost: $435; one-on-one consult appointments are $50 each
If you’re working it on the West coast (or trying to get out of the snow here on the East Coast), then you can’t beat the San Diego State University Writers’ Conference at the end of January. The event seems chock full of opportunities for teen fiction writers, including meet-n-greets with editors looking for YA at Harper, Tor Teen, and St. Martin’s, amongst others.

Algonkian NYC Pitch and Shop
New York, New York; March 22 – 25
Cost: $595 before March 1, $695 after
This quarterly, application-only conference, held in New York City every spring, summer, fall and winter, is focused on getting writers in strong shape to sell their novels, offering novel deconstruction and analysis from agents and editors from major houses (including ICM YA champion Tina Wexler). Writers refine their works via panels and intimate workshop groups, then have the opportunity to pitch up to four industry professionals, including editors from Grand Central, Random House, Broadway Books and others.

Backspace Writers Conference
New York, NY; May 24 – 26
Cost: Early Bird registration (pre-Feb 1) $595 for Conference and Agent-Author Day
The conference spin-off of the stellar online writers’ community BKSP.org, this three-day event is super-focused on making connections with agents, with panels on querying, crafting stellar opening pages, and what agents are looking for. So if that’s the stage you’re approaching, it might just be the perfect way to network yourself into a deal. YA and women’s fiction star Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the keynote this year, and given the NYC location, the publishing industry insiders will no doubt turn up in spades.

Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature One-On-One Plus Conference
Piscataway, New Jersey; October 2012
Cost: $195 for the one-day event, including breakfast and lunch
This application-only event pairs a small number of skilled writers one-on-one with a children’s writing professional — agent, editor, or writer. The plus? Each writer and mentor pair gets to network with several others at round-table discussions about writing, editing and publishing — a great, low-pressure way to network, and it’s very likely you’ll come out of the event with long-term relationships. As an attending at the 2011, I met editors and agents and authors — plus, many of my fellow aspiring writers, too.

What writer’s conferences will you be attending this year? What are your best tips for getting the most bang for your buck at these networking events?

It’s NaNoWriMo: Seize the Month!

Posted by Sona Charaipotra On November - 1 - 2011

nanowrimo Its NaNoWriMo: Seize the Month!

So yesterday, I was going to write this post about literary Halloween costumes and how once, when I was younger, I rocked the braids and freckles to dress up as Pippi Longstocking.

Then I was going to write about how these days, the literary Halloween costume I should be wearing is one that simply implies “writer,” since I haven’t been feeling much like one in actuality these days (yes, day job and all).

But then last night, something happened, something that reminded me that, for those of us that are thusly afflicted — and you know who you are — there’s a reason for it. The reason is: you have a story to tell — and only you can tell it.

Sometimes that doesn’t feel like it’s the case. Sometimes it can feel like writers — or the wannabe versions anyway, the ones that are always aspiring, always trying, always reaching — are a dime a dozen. There are so many of us out there, toiling away, working on craft, on story, on writing and rewriting and then taking the whole thing apart and putting it back together again. Spending months, years, even decades on that same sad manuscript. And some of us will never get there. And there’s that question buried deep somewhere inside each of  us, the fear that maybe we’re one of them. One of the ones who will never make it in the publishing game, whose work will never see the light of day.

And yet, we forge ahead. We have to. Because like I said — you have a story to tell. And only you can tell it. Even if that means you throw away those countless hours writing. Even if that tangible goal — the published book sitting in the palm of your hand — never comes to be.

But back to that thing. The one that happened last night. See, that thing made me realize, yes, I could toil away forever, painstakingly writing a line, then deleting it, then rewriting it. Then starting again. But there are people out there. People who are waiting to read what I write. People who are sharing in my dream. People who won’t be there forever. And honestly, so much of this has been all about me. But I can’t let them down. Because as much as I’d like to feel the dream come to life, to see my book in my hards — I really can’t wait to see it theirs.

So here’s my call to action. It’s November 1. It’s NaNoWriMo. You know you wanna. I’m going to. Won’t you join me?  

pixel Its NaNoWriMo: Seize the Month!

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