Being an angel - although probably more of a Dark Fallen Angel in my Angelees eyes - was a fantastic experience. My Angelee was Martha Mihalick (Associate Editor Greenwillow Books) and was extremely gracious and fun - so fun that in another place and time - she probably could be my friend. Now whether she thinks so or not - is another story.
I admit as I was walking her around - I kinda had flashbacks of my horrid UGA sorority week when I had to show "pledges" around the house, be on my best behavior, be sure my "wicked" humor did not offend too many people. I pray I said all the right things. The only difference with Martha was I did not break out into a song or routine. Which actually may have been much more exciting for her :)
In being an Angel- I learned a few key things about myself. Some of which I knew, some of which I usually try to hide, and some of which reminded me how awkward I was in high school when I spent hours wishing I could be the naturally cool kid that everyone wanted to hang out with.
Top things I learned
1) I am not cool - no matter how hard I try.
2) I can be pretty organized until someone is counting on me. Then I fall apart.
3) Drama always finds me no matter where I hide
3) When in an awkward situation - i resort to dumb jokes to fill awkward silence.
4) I hate small talk and actually suck at it
5) Editors are people too
6) I am an introvert at heart
7) I am not cool
8) A good martini always breaks the ice
9) I will hike 7 flights of stairs against my better judgment
10) I love my critique group
11) My computer is my security blanket
12) I am getting old - most of the agents/editors were much younger than me :(
13) I wish I took a different path earlier in life - that I would have chosen publishing/editing children's books instead of marketing communications. (oh well - Water under the bridge)
14) Oh yeah - did I mention - I am not cool?
We all here horrific stories of editors and agents - the Simon Cowell's of the publishing. However, Martha was the "Paula Abdul" with a dash of wit and a pinch of cute. It was fun to learn about the people behind the curtain - The Oz's of Writing. And boy do they know their stuff. There is a reason why these people do what they do.
The conference - once again - was great. I love talking about writing and these are the rare times you can talk about writing for 24/7 and people don't think you are crazy or weird. So once again, I am back, energized and ready to send out my manuscript.
Key notes/points from Conference:
Paul Fleishman -
"creating art is solving a problem"
"serendipity is 1 of 4 food groups for writers."
Building a Story
1) Collecting - gather anything you may need for the future (articles, clippings, vacation stuff)
2) Personalizing - Add a bit of you - traits, obsessions, beliefs, your personal stamp
3) Forming- shape the idea for your book, create space
an intellectual is a person that can sit happily by themselves without reading a book"
4) Connecting - most important word is at the end of a sentence, the most important sentence is at the end of the paragraph, the most important paragraph is at the end of a chapter. Write a book where a person can't skip any pieces - make every word count.
5) Altering - what can be changed to make it better. Don't be afraid to cut. Pull out the leftovers
6) Judging always criticise what you wrote, is it doing what you want it to? don't be seduced by your book to the point of delusion
Lindsay Davis- Writers House
- be sure the voice of the book is represented in your letter.
- take comments or edits and make them your own
- always address to specific person
- its ok to have some humor in your letter
- keep it short
- For characters - do a character web - know all the back story and characters ins and outs.
Molli Nickell - Successful Queries
query workbook online and free at http://www.getpublishednow.biz/
Query letter do and don'ts
- put most important stuff in the first paragraph - whatever you want them to read in 20 seconds
- most will not scroll in an email query
- sell not tell
- be sure your voice comes through
- be sure to focus on the benefits to the other person - avoid I, me, myself - focus on "you".
- 1st paragraph - plot hook - 3 sentences
- 2nd paragraph - 1st one expanded - lot summary - more about story. can be a little longer - 4-6 sentences
- 3rd paragraph - your experience/mention SCBWI
- never put web site on the letter - save for the 2nd one
- always use Times New Roman 13 pt with 16pt spacing (exactly)
- synopsis is expanded version of 2nd paragraph in query letter, the story about the protagonist
if you follow up after submission - use a postcard - do not call or email.
- always check web sites for changes in the house submissions
- beach lane is a closed house
- the shorter the query letter, the better. If it is too long - I will feel like I have to put "time" aside for it instead of just reading it right there.
- spell name and company correctly
- do not harass
- never be mean to an editorial asst or secretary - they have the power, will one day be an editor, they will remember your name, are starting to build their own list
- submit 1 story at a time
- SASE with enough postage
- Include a Postcard to confirm receipt - we will mail back so you know we got it.
- looking for classic picture books - have 5 in 2009. will do about 12-15 books - mostly PBs but maybe 5 MG/YA