Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thank You

I love this lovely (but different) new song by Alex Boye. It demonstrates that even the best looking man looks like a nerd in the right glasses, bow-tie and suit.

No really...I wanted to use this cool new tune (called "Thank you" in English and "Oshe'" in ... another language) as a back drop for my thank you list.

I just attended my first SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrator) conference. It was the perfect conference for a newbie like me. Phyllis, our regional chair here in Arkansas organized this two-day event and kept things going so smoothly. I really enjoyed getting a glimpse into the real-life timeline of author, Katy Duffield on Friday afternoon. I enjoyed meeting so many others who are in the same boat. Other writers (and a few illustrators) who are working on their craft and putting forth dedication and hard work to make their dream a reality. Hello and thank you to all my new friends: Cynthia, Damon, Janet, Dan, Linda, Grace, Robin, Shannon, Cynthia and more that I can remember by face but at the moment can't recall the name tags underneath. Appreciate you all. You helped me feel so comfortable in this new environment.
And thanks to Dan who talked me out of my dark cloud right after my Critique. I needed that.

But most of all, I want to thank the two special guest at the conference, Ariel Richardson, Editorial Assistant from Chronicle Books and Krista Vitola, Assistant Editor from Delecorte Press (Random House Books).
One gave me what I hoped for and one gave me what I needed.

I was assigned to Ariel for my ten-minute pitch. This is when I shared my story outline(s) and a little about myself as a writer. Ariel helped me feels so at ease and I felt we really connected on several levels. (We are both very passionate about books and getting books into the hands of reluctant readers.) But most of all, as I shared my vision of the two novels that I have been writing, Ariel "got it". She asked if I was a fan of Megan Whalen Turner (author of The Thief and others) because of the political intrigue that was woven into my tales. 
"Yes, Yes I am!" I eagerly agreed. Then I mentioned other favorite authors. Top of the list, Shannon Hale.
"I love Shannon Hale!" She replied.
As Anne of Green Gables would say, "We are kindred spirits!"
I was so pleased to hear Ariel say that she could sense (probably was overwhelmed by) my passion for my stories and for books in general. She agreed that I was a natural story teller. 
"You had several great hooks in there. I want to see more." 
This was a gravity-defying, happy-making, absolutely lovely moment for me. I felt as though the entire universe showered affirmation upon me.
Thank you, Ariel. Thank you so very, very much.

It was so good to have that moment first, so the next day, when my actual writing was critiqued, I could withstand the bitter blow. (I wax dramatic.) 
Krista had read through the synopsis and thirteen pages of my first story in advance and had a typed page of suggestions. One of the main problems she could see was the truckload of plots and subplots that wove in and out of the synopsis of my story. 
Yep. She's right. I finally came to the conclusion only a few weeks ago that this is more than one story. It will have to be told as a three-part story. 
( I did NOT make this decision because Trilogies are very popular at the moment in Young Adult Fiction. If anything, this is why I resisted for months longer than necessary.) 
Krista advised going back to the overarching story line and slimming it down, pulling out a few plot threads and making what's left more powerful.
And yanno...
She's right. 
I do need to do that.
It took a few days of working everything through my brain and trying to find a road map to all the revisions that should be done. But since it is going to be a trilogy, I want to be careful that I use a scalpel and not a chainsaw. I want to be sure that I don't come back to my manuscript with jaded eyes and tear into it without mercy.
But also, Krista told me that I had a wonderful sense of setting and she was drawn into my European world. She said that it was something that she looked for and that I had done a good job in that area.
Thank you, Krista for your honesty. 
We cannot move forward if we don't have a true reflection of ourselves. Both in strengths and weaknesses.

I am going to work on revising/editing and send some good stuff Ariel's way in a few weeks. 
(Thank you, again!)

And one more thank you...to my wonderful friends in Little Rock who were willing to watch my boys Friday afternoon while I attended the conference. I am grateful for your help and friendship. 
Even though my husband was sick and was later able to take care of the homefront, I'm grateful to have lovely people who I trust who care for me and my family. 
You make life in Arkansas so much more wonderful than otherwise.

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