Tuesday, September 27, 2011

8 Takeaways and 1 Giveaway

I thought I'd share some of what I learned this past weekend at the SCBWI-Carolinas conference. 

1. I'm not as close to having a finished manuscript as I'd thought (more on this in a future blog).

Mary Cate Castelanni
2. From Mary Cate Castellani, editor at Walker Books: A book's definition of either Middle Grade vs. Young Adult is determined by where it will be shelved in Barnes & Noble and the age of the protagonist (13 and up is YA). 

3. Also form Mary Cate: An editor may like your work, but if she can't sell it to her acquisitions committee, she'll pass on it. 

4. From several editors and agents: "Write fresh" is a nice way of saying "Get rid of cliches." 

5. From Lucy Cummins, art director at Simon and Schuster: "If you're going to write from two points of view, there has to be a reason for it." (more on this in the upcoming blog.) 

6. From Marietta Zacker, agent with Nancy Galtt Literary Agency: Writing and revising take time. It is like stirring a cup of hot milk until it reaches the right temperature. Be patient. 

Marietta Zacker

7. From John Bemis: Consider what will transform your character. Use this. 
John Bemis
8. From Kathleen Volcjak, the conference book seller: I have lots more to learn about the tapestry of North Carolina history.


Last but not least, I had my copy of Windblowne signed by Stephen Messer and the winner of my giveaway contest is....

Emily, please contact me at cbaldwin6@carolina.rr.com with your mailing address--and this book will be on the way to you!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Windblowne Giveaway!

Kites with personalities? Evil kites that hunt and maim and a beloved kite that guides, protects, and leads a boy to discover his talents and destiny?

wbcoversmallOnly a man who grew up flying kites in Maine and Arizona would conceive of a book in which kites fly between worlds and are harbingers of good and evil.

Windblowne incorporates the innocence and fantasies of every kite-flying child who stands on the crest of a hill and wonders where his kite might take him--but packs in worlds of meaning and nuance.

Upper elementary and middle school boys and girls will enjoy this fantasy about Oliver who lives in the world of Windblowne. In a community in which building and flying kites is prized, Oliver is a misfit.

Despite desperate attempts, his kites fail and his peers ridicule him. But Oliver has an uncanny ability to listen to the winds' moans, cries, and whispers that blow through the massive oaks populating his world. In addition, he possesses a keen sense of observation by which he creates internal navigational maps. These abilities remain unappreciated until the end of the book when he realizes the truth of his Great-uncle Gilbert's words, "Your talents lay elsewhere." Embracing his gifts enables him to accomplish far more than any of his peers.

Messer clearly layers the perennial struggle of good vs. evil into this story. When Oliver is unwittingly taken to another Windblowne world, he meets two characters which are counterparts to people he knows -himself and his great-uncle. If I were using this novel in a classroom, I would probe students to consider the nature of these anti-heroes/alter egos. Resultant discussions could focus on how good and evil are present in all characters--both fictional and real.

This summer, our Talking Story issue was on Multiple Intelligences/Different Learning Styles. As I worked on it I thought about the many different ways in which students learn and use their abilities. I recommend Windblowne as a book that will help students who grapple with embracing their own unique learning style and gifts.

Kites with personalities? You bet. It will be a long time before I forget a crimson kite which nods, trembles, and fights for truth and justice.

I guarantee. You'll never see a kite in the same way again.


I am giving away an autographed copy of Windblowne! Here's the deal:

1. You have to be between 10-16 years of age to win this. (Parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles-- pass this along!)

2. You have to become a new follower of my blog or share this on Facebook or Twitter. (Do more than one, and I'll enter your name twice!)

3. Leave me a comment and I'll enter your name. Drawing is on 9/27/11. Hope you win!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Author Illustrators

At our recent SCBWI critique meeting, aspiring picture book author, Dorothy Price mentioned she had read on Rebecca Sherman's Writer House profile and on Teresa Kietlinski's profile for Prospect Agency that each were looking for individuals who could both write and draw. 
I wondered if this was a new trend,  so I asked Harold Underdown and Tracey Adams, of Adams Literary to weigh in on the subject. Although they responded separately, their answers were in agreement.

Harold responded first. "I don't think this is new, though this isn't the first time I've heard this recently. Agents like to work with illustrators who can write--that way they don't have to split the royalties with an author. To say this is a new trend is like saying it's a new trend that agents are looking for potential bestsellers."

Tracey explained further. "It's not a new trend. One large factor is that an author/artist brings the same commission as a novel writer who earns a 10% royalty, whereas a picture book author and the artist share that 10%, so the commission is based on 5% instead of 10% - a huge difference. Another author/artist bonus is that we often wait YEARS for the publisher to find the perfect artist for our author's text. But at Adams Literary we know that it is a VERY rare gift indeed to be able to write AND illustrate! Most of our clients are one or the other. If someone we love can do both, it's like getting the cherry on top!"
When I commented that it's hard to stay on top of all the industry trends, Harold responded, "Then don't keep up with them! Writing your best work is what you ALWAYS have to do."

With that advice ringing in my ears, I turn back to my manuscript. 

How about you? Are you writing your best work?

Friday, September 9, 2011

BLUE's News

Several writers I know are reposting previous book reviews as a part of Random Acts of Publicity Week.  Since Joyce Hostetter's book trailer came out today celebrating the new cover of her book, I figure this was an opportune time to republish my review of BLUE and share Joyce's book trailer. 

This review is from July, 2007. In the four years since I met Joyce, we have co-taught at NCCAT, NWRESA, NCAIS, and NCRA; are co-publishing Talking Story, but best of all, have become good friends. The Lord blessed me tremendously when He brought her into my life!

My review is followed by the trailer, made by Joyce's talented daughter, Wendy Hostetter Davis. To top it all off, Joyce has a giveaway  on her blog that you don't want to miss!

In addition to meeting educators at the Mid-South conference, I also met Joyce Hostetter, the author of Blue (Calkins Creek Books, 2006). This award-winning novel is set in Hickory, NC in 1944 and the story is well-shown through the eyes and heart of 13-year-old Ann Fay Honeycutt. Whether she likes it or not, the end of World War II and the polio epidemic impact Ann's life and leaves her a young woman who has faced heartache and pain—in her family and in her own body. These changes, along with how she overcomes entrenched family prejudices against African Americans, make this novel an excellent read for students in grades 5-8. I also recommend this book to my fellow writers. I am writing historical fiction that takes place in Charlotte during the 50's and it is inspiring (and educational!) to read other books in the same genre. (Boyds Mill Press, 2006)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Or, if You Prefer Food & Travel Writing....

Yesterday I posted information about my writing classes. Here are other writing classes in the Charlotte, NC area focusing on book publishing, food writing and travel writing. Classes start Sept. 13 and 20, Oct. 11 and are led by author/teacher Jodi Helmer. 

Pre-registration is required for all classes; email jodi@jodihelmer.com to register.

Travel Writing: Write Your Way Around the World (four sessions)
When: 7 to 9 p.m. September 13, 20, 27 and October 4
Where: The Last Word, 230 East W.T. Harris Blvd., Suite B11 (Behind Walgreens on the corner of WT Harris and Hwy 29), Charlotte, NC Cost: $125
Travel writing is a job most people dream about – learn how to make that dream come true. This class will help new writers learn how to develop ideas, approach editors, write articles and (of course) travel the world for free. In-class exercises, homework and thoughtful critiques will help you hone your writing skills and get one step closer to getting published.
Coffee & Critiques/Questions (four sessions)
When: 10 a.m. to noon September 15, October 13, November 17 and December 15
Where: Charlotte area, exact location TBA
Cost: $150 for all four sessions; $50 for a single session (pre-registration required)
Spend the morning building the confidence, skills and information you need to achieve publishing success. In monthly sessions, I’ll critique queries, help brainstorm the best markets for your ideas, answer questions about the publishing process or provide an old fashioned kick in the pants to help you reach your goals. These sessions are designed for those with some publishing experience/knowledge.
Book Publishing: Go from Idea to Author (four sessions)
When: 10 a.m. to noon September 20, 27, October 4, 11
Where: The Warehouse Performing Arts Center, 9216-A Westmoreland Rd., Cornelius, NC
Cost: $125
You’ve dreamed of writing a book but have no idea how turn your idea into a published book available on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. During this four-week class, you’ll learn how to tailor a book idea so it’s irresistible to agents and publishers, craft a successful book proposal and determine whether to work with an agent (and how to find one). The class will also cover the basics of self-publishing and book marketing.
Food Writing: Eat Your Words (three sessions)
When: 7 to 9 p.m. October 11, 18 and 25
Where: The Last Word, 230 East W.T. Harris Blvd., Suite B11 (Behind Walgreens on the corner of WT Harris and Hwy 29), Charlotte, NC
Cost: $95
Food nurtures and sustains us; it also serves as the backdrop for some of our favorite memories. Learn how to turn your love of food into published articles and essays. Whether you want to write a memoir based on family recipes, cover trends in urban agriculture or become a successful restaurant reviewer and recipe developer, this class will provide the ingredients you need to succeed.

About the instructor:

Professional writer Jodi Helmer is the author of three books, including Moon Handbooks' guide to Charlotte, as well as hundreds of magazine articles for publications includingWomen's HealthShapeFamily Circle, and Backpacker
When she's not writing, Jodi loves to share her knowledge of the writing business with others, through classes and one-on-one coaching. Students who have taken Jodi's classes have been published in regional and national magazines and books, including Natural HealthEatingWell,  and Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Learn more at www.jodihelmer.com.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Teaching from North to South

....Carolina that is. 

Here is full disclosure. This blog is about the classes I'm teaching this fall. My feelings won't be hurt if this doesn't interest you and you stop reading. But, if you know anyone who is interested in developing his or her writing skills, please share this blog with them. Friends, family (particularly teens-- see the third event) I'd love to see any of them there!

First, I'm leading a pre-conference workshop on marketing your book to teachers at the SCBWI-Carolinas meeting. My workshop is on Friday afternoon but the main events will continue the rest of the weekend. Take a look at the brochure and you'll be hooked. If you live in Charlotte you won't have to pay for a hotel!

Second, I'm teaching "Writing for Children" at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. Beginning on September 15, we'll be meeting for eight consecutive weeks. See the course description for more details, or email me. 

And last (but certainly not least!) I'm teaching the teen track at the AnAuthor World conference in Greenville, S.C. While I'm enjoying leading teens into creating an imaginative short story, adult writers will be learning more about characterization, writing nonfiction and mysteries, as well as how to use social media to market yourself.

I hope one of these will interest you or someone you know. Thanks for passing this post along.

Now, if you'll excuse me...I have some prep work to do!

THE NIGHT WAR: A MG Historical Novel Review

  By now you should have received an email from my new website about my review of THE NIGHT WAR by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. (It'll com...