The Conference Countdown continues!

Can you believe our Lucky 13: Make 2013 Your Year Conference is only two weeks away, what??? How did that happen? Seems like we were just starting the first pre-conference challenge yesterday.

Still haven’t registered?

No? Well, don’t dally, my dear, because registration closes next Friday, September 13, yikes!

And while we’re on the topic of deadlines, for those illustrators who plan on submitting artwork for the First Look Slide Show panel, you have until Monday, September 9th to send up to 3 jpg images to Susan Detwiler! The ideal size for each image is no more than 10″ on a side @100 dpi. Send to susandetwiler@comcast.net.

Have you registered already and want to learn how to post on Twitter during the conference?

Fantastic, keep checking the blog for an upcoming post by our new regional tweet pro Tracy Gold who will teach you how by using #Lucky13!

Interesting in finding a critique group to join at the conference?

No problem, we will also soon be sharing a post by Shelley Koons, our new critique group coordinator for instructions.

Want to catch up with our Conference Challenges?

It’s not too late to start! Just follow the links:

Challenge #1: Two Friends and a Kitchen Table

Challenge #2: Victimize a Villain

Challenge #3: Conflict–Can’t live with it, can’t write without it

Challenge #4: Give yourself a job review

Challenge #5: Introducing Your Main Character

Challenge #6: Laughter Through Tears

Do you plan on participating in the First Pages session?

Wonderful, I love First Page workshops! You really get a feel for what works … and what doesn’t.  This year, we’ve knocked the word count from 250 to 200 in order to fit in more submissions. After all, a properly formatted first page should begin at around the middle of the page, not leaving much room. And besides. If you can’t impress an agent or editor in 200 words, then that extra 50 won’t do much good, right? Right.

If you need some help spit-polishing your first page, then this might help:

Conference Critique Workshop #2: Amazing First Pages

Here’s the instructions from the website:

For manuscripts, bring four copies of the first page of your manuscript, strictly limited to 200 words. We will stop reading if the word count goes over! Do not include your name, but do include the working title of the manuscript. Indicate the genre: picture book (PB), middle grade (MG), or young adult (YA). We will break into genre groups. Deposit your paper-clipped pages at the registration table on Sunday morning. One submission per attendee only!!

Illustrators: During our upcoming September conference, there will be a First Look slide show of illustrations which will be critiqued by a panel, along with First Pages for writers. Illustrators may send up to three images and they will be shown together anonymously in the Power Point slideshow. If you wish to participate, send up to 3 jpg images to Susan Detwiler by Monday, September 9. The ideal size for each image is no more than 10″ on a side @100 dpi. Send to susandetwiler@comcast.net.

Haven’t been keeping up with our pre-conference interviews?

Then here’s more lovely links for you:

Marie Lamba, Associate Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

Lesléa Newman, Author of many children and adult books

Dr. Mary Bowman-Kruhm, Author/Co-author of picture and nonfiction books

Jenne Abramowitz, Senior Editor at Scholastic

Jessica Garrison, Editor at Dial Books for Young Readers

Rebecca Evans, Illustrator

Susan Stockdale, Author and Illustrator

Have you checked out all the fantastic presenters we’re having?

If not, no worries, I got your back. 🙂 Here are bios on our awesome speakers plus their session descriptions!

Jenne AJenne Abramowitz is a Senior Editor at Scholastic, where she acquires chapter book and middle grade through YA fiction. Authors and illustrators she has worked with include Marion Dane Bauer, Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, Frank Remkiewicz, Beth Ain, Pam Muñoz  Ryan, Robert Neubecker, and Kevin Sherry. Jenne looks for commercial voices and high-concept plots. She loves mysteries, modern fantasy, adventure, humor, ghost stories, and anything with a really juicy secret.

Her Session:

The Next Chapter: Writing and Publishing Chapter Book Series

This workshop will focus on the often overlooked chapter book category, the hallmarks of successful series, and what it takes to publish one.

See her Coffee & Conversation Interview here!

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8505212Dr. Mary Bowman-Kruhm has authored or co-authored two picture books and more than thirty nonfiction books for children, young adults, and adults. She worked in special education with Montgomery County Public Schools and the School of Education, Johns Hopkins University. Her current passion is bringing fresh water wells to Oltorotua, a Maasai village in Kenya. To learn more, visit http://www.marybk.com and http://digthiswell.com

Her Sessions:

When Your Writing Life Overlaps with Your Personal Life 

A 2004 trip to Kenya changed Mary’s life. Since then, she has worked to support a young Maasai man studying to become a safari guide and to dig wells for his village. She will discuss current trends in NF writing for children and share how her personal life is now woven into her writing life through social media, blogs, writing articles for children’s magazines, a NF book proposal, and an online critique group.

From History to Story: How a Poet, an Illustrator, a Nonfiction Writer, and Two Novelists Interpret Real-life Events (Newman, Cooper, Crutcher, Bowman-Kruhm, Hemingway)

See her Coffee & Conversation Interview here!

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Grandpa'sWith more than 90 children’s books published and more than 2,000 book-cover illustrations, Floyd Cooper has established himself as a master craftsman of children’s literature and illustration. Born and raised in Tulsa, Floyd received a degree in fine arts from the University of Oklahoma. He started his career in illustration at Hallmark, and after success in the industrial side of art, he made the leap into picture books with Eloise Greenfield’s Grandpa’s Face. Since then Floyd has worked with bestselling authors including: Jane Yolen, Nikki Grimes, and Virginia Fleming. Floyd has illustrated and authored his own books Jump! about the life of Michael Jordan, and the ALA Notable Book, Coming Home, about the life of Langston Hughes. He received the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for The Blacker the Berry.

His Sessions:

Life Drawing: The Art of Floyd Cooper

A view through the eyes of this illustrator.

From History to Story: How a Poet, an Illustrator, a Nonfiction Writer, and Two Novelists Interpret Real-life Events (Newman, Cooper, Crutcher, Bowman-Kruhm, Hemingway)

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AudreyA survivor of childhood, high school, motherhood, and running a design business while raising children, Audrey Couloumbis doesn’t lack for material. Her first children’s novel won the Newbery Honor in 2000, and her YA books span the lower middle grade, upper middle grade and teen markets.  She’s currently living in three zip codes, accompanied by two standard poodles, a laptop, and a cell phone. You can email her at acouloumbis@hotmail.com.

Her Session:

Opening Remarks

YA writers are tackling a crucial, often exceptionally difficult, time in someone’s life. How can we approach the genre with love, respect, and know-how without sentimentalizing it?

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ChrisChris Crutcher, 66, is the author of fourteen books — eleven novels, including his latest PERIOD 8, two short story collections and an autobiography.  Prior to his work as an author, he taught school in Washington and California and acted as director of an Oakland alternative school for nearly a decade.  That academic history coupled with 25 years as a child and family therapist specializing in abuse and neglect and 30 years as a Spokane Child Protection Team leader has infused his literary work with realism and emotional heft.  His signature blend of tragedy and comedy have made him a favorite with teen and adult readers.

His Sessions:

Loudmouth and Proud of It: Words that Influence Real Life A Conversation with Chris Crutcher

Chris Crutcher shares his views about the kind of reading kids want or need today, writers and writing that influenced him, what he sees happening in the marketplace, and, yes, why he’s a loudmouth and proud of it. Then he turns it over to you for your questions and ideas.

Turning Real Life into Fiction

As a working family therapist and child protection advocate, novelist Chris Crutcher is witness to compelling real-life stories of pain, recovery, and survival. Turning those gritty tales into works of fiction has helped make the Spokane-based author one of the most popular and critically acclaimed young adult writers of our time—and one of the most frequently banned. How does he do it? Why does he do it?  He’ll explain in this powerful presentation.

From History to Story: How a Poet, an Illustrator, a Nonfiction Writer, and Two Novelists Interpret Real-life Events (Newman, Cooper, Crutcher, Bowman-Kruhm, Hemingway)

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARebecca Evans has a BA Visual Art with a concentration in Drawing and Illustration. She worked for nine years as an artist and designer before returning to her first love: children’s book illustration. Her experience includes teaching at the Chesapeake Art Center, and publishing artwork with magazines and publishing houses. By 2014 she will have illustrated 5 picture books and 6 middle grade readers. www.rebeccaevans.net

Her Sessions:

The Secret Life of Illustrators

Rebecca will use her newest book to demonstrate the creation and evolution of a picture book from the illustrator’s perspective. Rebecca’s session reveals all the illustrators’ secrets of what we do, how we do it, and how we work with publishers and authors.

The Changing Role of the Author-Illustrator (Rago, Young, Evans)

See her Coffee & Conversation Interview here!

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7044535Voted “Most likely to eat the frosting off one too many cupcakes and regret it for the rest of the morning,” Jessica Garrison is an editor at Dial Books for Young Readers. Whether acquiring picture books, chapter books, middle grade or YA novels, she looks for a strong voice, fresh and exciting plots, a transporting experience, and a dose of humor. For novels, she’s drawn to contemporary romance with heft as well as survival stories featuring moral ambiguity, mental illness, oddly askew realities, and/or a ribbon of magic. For picture books, fresh concepts that address kid-level concerns with humor are always welcome.

Her Session:

Think Like an Editor: How to Market Your Picture Book Manuscript

Stretch your marketing brain—think about your story the way an editor would at acquisition. In this breakout you’ll create a marketing “tip sheet,” thinking up a sales handle, brainstorming comparative titles to determine where your story fits in the marketplace, generating compelling reasons why your manuscript should be published, and more. This is exactly what we editors do when bringing a project to our publishers—so think of this session as the less frightful, more insightful way to get inside the brain of an editor.

See her Coffee & Conversation Interview here!

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EdieEdie Hemingway earned an MFA from Spalding University, Louisville, KY and is co-author of two Civil War novels, licensed by Scholastic Book Fairs and optioned for films.  Her most recent MG novel, ROAD TO TATER HILL won a 2009 Parents’ Choice Gold Award and was named to the 2011/12 NC Battle of the Books list. Edie currently teaches in both Spalding University’s MFA program and McDaniel College’s Graduate Certificate Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

Her Session:

The DOs, DON’Ts, and MAYBEs of School Visits 

Whether it’s due to the economy or the ever-growing pool of children’s authors and illustrators, school visits are getting harder and harder to book. This session will focus on ideas for connecting with teachers, librarians, and PTAs and for making your school visits unique and memorable.

From History to Story: How a Poet, an Illustrator, a Nonfiction Writer, and Two Novelists Interpret Real-life Events (Newman, Cooper, Crutcher, Bowman-Kruhm, Hemingway)

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What I MeanMarie Lamba is Associate Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency (jdlit.com), where she represents middle grade and YA novels, adult fiction and memoir. She seeks works that are fresh, moving and/or hilarious. Marie’s also author of the YA novels What I Meant… (Random House), Over My Head, and Drawn, her work appears in anthologies, and her articles are in national magazines such as Writer’s Digest and Garden Design.

Her Session:

Making It Real

Agent and author Marie Lamba shares her favorite tips and techniques for transforming fiction from flat words on the page into a truly engrossing and realistic read. The real trick is to make the reader the co-creator of the fictional dream. With plenty of examples and revision tips, Marie will offer insight on how you can best shape a believable world.

See her Coffee & Conversation Interview here!

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1000937Lesléa Newman is the author of 65 books for readers of all ages including the novel-in-verse, OCTOBER MOURNING: A SONG FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD which was just named a 2013 ALA Stonewall Honor Book; the middle grade novel, HACHIKO WAITS; the YA novel, JAILBAIT, and the picture books A SWEET PASSOVER, JUST LIKE MAMA, DONOVAN’S BIG DAY, and HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES. She teaches at Spalding University’s brief-residency MFA in Writing program. www.lesleakids.com

Her Sessions:

He Continues to Make a Difference: The Story of Matthew Shepard

Lesléa Newman uses poetry from October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard as well as photographs and guided imagery to show how we, as children’s book writers, can and must make a difference to make the world a safer place for our youth.

The Verse Novel: Q&A with Lesléa Newman

Lesléa will start off by talking about her verse novels October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard and Still Life with Buddy, a novel told in fifty poems exploring the passionate friendship between a woman and a gay man who dies of AIDS. In 2011 Thanhha Lai’s verse novel Inside Out and Back Again won a Newbery Honor Award and the National Book Award. Sit in and share your thoughts on why one of literature’s oldest forms is hot today.

From History to Story: How a Poet, an Illustrator, a Nonfiction Writer, and Two Novelists Interpret Real-life Events (Newman, Cooper, Crutcher, Bowman-Kruhm, Hemingway)

See her Coffee & Conversation Interview here!

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CherlyCheryl Pientka spent her 20s working at trade magazines and for The Associated Press in Washington, D.C. and New York. After pursuing an MS in Journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, she became a part-time assistant in a literary agency and has been happily involved in book publishing ever since. She is currently the subsidiary and foreign rights director and an agent with Jill Grinberg Literary Management.

Her Session:

Q&A with YA Agent Cheryl Pientka:  Working with an Agent From Signing Through Publication and After 

Agent Cheryl Pientka welcomes your questions on all phases of working with an agent. Cheryl manages the sale of foreign, audio, eBook and first serial rights and is happy to share her expertise in this session.

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HarpercollinsThroughout her career as a designer and art director, Martha Rago has been fortunate to work with many established and award-winning illustrators including David Small, Ed Young, Tomie DePaola, Kadir Nelson, Rosemary Wells, Susan Jeffers and Mo Willems. She has also helped develop work from picture book talents early in their careers like Demise Fleming, Peter McCarty, Julie Paschkis and Antoinette Portis and had the pleasure of seeing them grow and receive acclaim over the years.

Martha is currently the Associate Creative Director for HarperCollins Children’s Books, where she has been for over 10 years. She oversees the development and design of HarperCollins picture books under the boutique imprints of Katherine Tegen Books and Balzer and Bray, and oversees picture book titles in the general Harper imprint, which includes Rayo and Collins. She also manages the design for the estate programs of C.S. Lewis and Shel Silverstein.

Her Sessions:

What I Look for in an Illustrator’s Work Associate creative director for HarperCollins Children’s Books, Martha Rago, discusses what kind of work gets her attention and what she sees as the essentials for successful picture books in today’s marketplace.

The Changing Role of the Author-Illustrator (Rago, Young, Evans)

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SusanSusan Stockdale is the author and illustrator of picture books including Stripes of All Types, Bring On the Birds, and Fabulous Fishes. Her books celebrate nature with whimsical charm and have received awards from the American Library Association, Parents’ Choice, the National Science Teachers Association and Bank Street College of Education. Susan’s distinctive animal imagery is now featured on puzzles, notecards and other products sold worldwide. Visit her website at www.susanstockdale.com.

Her Session:

Beyond Books: What I Have Learned About Licensing Artwork

Children’s book author/illustrator Susan Stockdale has successfully licensed her book illustrations for use in 10 commercial products, such as puzzles and wall calendars. In this “nuts and bolts” session, she will provide an overview of product categories for licensing (from greeting cards to bedding), resources for identifying prospective licensing companies, and tips on how to pitch your work to them. Attendees will receive a handout on how to create an effective promotional piece for potential licensees.

See her Coffee & Conversation Interview here!

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ConjuredLaura Whitaker, Associate Editor, Bloomsbury Children’s Books. Laura worked on upcoming literary thrillers Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst and Vengeance by Megan Miranda and picture books Penguin and Pinecone and Found, both written and illustrated by Salina Yoon. She is particularly interested in innovative, soul-searing literary fiction; edgy, wrenching and unforgettable coming-of-age novels handling sensitive topics and issues; and quirky, funny and honest picture books that present first experiences in an unexpected light. laura.Whitaker@bloomsbury.com @laura_gemma

Her Session:

Dating 101: What Makes YOU Desirable to an Editor

Forget Match.com and eHarmony! This in-depth discussion of key things editors look for in a submission is intended to help authors utilize tactics to make their manuscripts—and themselves—stand out in a sea of submissions.

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Timothy YoungTimothy Young has been working creatively for over 25 years. He is the  author/illustrator of four picture books, I’m Looking for a Monster!, Shadows on My Wall, They’re Coming!, and his latest, I Hate Picture Books! He has art directed magazines, created toy and product  designs, been a sculptor and has worked in animation. He’s designed for Pee Wee’s Playhouse, The Muppets, Universal Studios, Disney, Popular Science, Golf Digest, National Lampoon and many others.

His Session:

How to Do Pretty Much Everything Wrong, Get Really Lucky, and Get Published

The story of what worked for me, why some of it shouldn’t have, and the many possible ways to get your books published. As an author/illustrator, animator, toy designer, sculptor, and art director I have lots to say about how to remain optimistic in the face of setbacks in an industry that is constantly changing.

The Changing Role of the Author-Illustrator (Rago, Young, Evans)

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If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below and I’m looking forward to seeing you at the conference!

Happy writing and drawing, everyone! 🙂

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About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, and blogger at As The Eraser Burns, Joyful Miles, and Write, Run, Rejoice. In the past, she's been a waitress, telemarketer, cook, real estate agent, and during her college days, a costumed character at holiday parades. (Memories of being terrorized as a candy cane still haunt her at night.) At the age of thirty, she pursued her dream of being a writer. Her first novel, Beauty Shop for Rent, a “Steel Magnolias for teens,” was inspired by a rusted sign by a charming old house, and now, she can honestly say that writing is a thousand times more rewarding than being a candy cane!
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