Monday, December 20, 2010

Weekly Scratch

Hi folks,

The Brazos Valley SCBWI gathered for lunch on Monday,  Dec. 13, 2010 at the Village Cafe in Bryan, TX for a year-end time to connect. We enjoyed great food, great company, and supported a great cause -- Brazos Valley Reach Out and Read, our local chapter of the nationwide literacy organization dedicated to preparing America's youngest children to succeed in school. We were able to bring together more than 60 books to support our community. Thanks to ARA Jacqueline Gramann for delivering the books! Thanks to RA Liz Mertz for a year of great programming. 

The event was a great time to connect with local writers and illustrators.  Our business can be lonely; take  time to get out and connect.  Consider joining us for monthly events. 

Publisher's Weekly is buzzing about the upcoming 2011 spring book season. Check it out here.

Interested in eBooks?  Check out Interact Books, a Texas company. They are looking for submissions. Read more about it here.

Harold Underdown has put up some newsy publishing bits for November at his site The Purple Crayon.

Sales up 250%!  Happy news from Random House.  Read about it in PW here. 

Check out the calendar for upcoming Texas events. I will be back in January with more Weekly Scratch. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Weekly Scratch

Hi folks, I've gathered together a few tidbits that you may wish to check out.

Here is a great way to fritter time.  Check out your recent books sales. Here's an article in the LA Times about the new Nielsen BookScan info available to authors on Amazon. Head over to Amazon's Author Central to find out about your sales. :) 

You want to read a good book? The best book lists keep rolling in...

Here's the Best Illustrated Books of the New York Times:

From the New York Times Library blog: Children's Books 2010: 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing.

Just keeping an eye on the emerging markets.  Another article from PW about "Children's Books in an iPad Age".  Want to check out a digital publisher? Here's one: Callaway Digital Arts.

Have you dreamed of going to Chautauqua and the Highlights Foundation Writer's Workshop?  That dream can come true.  Check out Chautauqua alum Vijaya Bodach's blog for an insider's story. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Hi folks,  remember, Please join members and friends of SCBWI Brazos Valley Holiday Gathering--
11:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 13
The Village Cafe
210 W. 26th Street, Bryan, TX*

RSVP to Liz Mertz, Regional Advisor,

Donations of new and gently used books appropriate for children ages 6 months to 5 years will be accepted for the Brazos Valley Reach Out and Read** program. A donation letter can be received for tax purposes. Middle Grade books also will be accepted. Older siblings of children in the program may receive books as well as read them in the waiting room.

Cafe’s phone: 979-703-8514, 
*View Map  Order at the counter and join us in the back corner of the restaurant.

Reach Out and Read Mission Statement: Reach Out and Read prepares America's youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.
Doctors, nurse practitioners, and other medical professionals incorporate Reach Out and Read's evidence-based model into regular pediatric checkups, by advising parents about the importance of reading aloud and giving developmentally-appropriate books to children. The program begins at the 6-month checkup and continues through age 5, with a special emphasis on children growing up in low-income communities. Families served by Reach Out and Read read together more often, and their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills, better prepared to achieve their potential.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday Round-up -- Contests, App Publishers, Good Books

I've been collecting tidbits for you. 

Are you working on something wonderful?

SCBWI Barbara Karlin and W-I-P Grants open up for entries in mid-February. Now is a good time to think about getting together your entries.  Read the rules, folks!  No Fee for Members. Due: Feb. 15 to Mar. 15.  

Are you a winner? Most contests open up in the new year, but it is time to think about submitting now.

The Writer's League of Texas has a contest for a YA and Middle Grade writing.  $50.00 fee. Due: Feb. 15, 2011.

Miss Snark's First Victim has regular contests to get your work in front of agents. I've know more than one person to connect with an agent on her blog.  

Perhaps you should polish up a story for Highlights for Children Fiction Contest. No Fee. Due: Jan. 1 - Jan. 31.

Please note:  this list is for informational purposes and not to be construed as endorsement.

Want to read a book?  Here are some best of lists to help you on your journey. 
Publisher's Weekly Best  Children's Books of 2010
Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Books of 2010

Are you interested in emerging children's content markets? Check out this article in PW  if you are interested to see how traditional publishers are moving into APP territory. I also noticed that Harold Underdown at The Purple Crayon reports on a couple of APP publishers: Callaway Digital Arts and Ruckus Media.  

FYI. Yes, The President of the United States is a children's book author. Read about it here. :)

Hope you find something useful here.   

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mark Your Calendars!

A great year of programs is ahead. Mark your calendars or check back here for updates. Also refer to the local SCBWI BV website. For your convenience, there's a nifty calendar in the sidebar; it lists upcoming local, regional, and international SCBWI events and other local events that may be of some interest to  members and subscribers.

For complete schedule and changes:

January 26, 2011 Who Am I Writing For?                                             
Jacqueline Gramann
Who are the people and ages of children that have a stake in children's publishing?

February 23, 2011        Dream On                                                                    
Andy Sherrod
We will look at five examples of clumsy writing which disrupt the fictive dream, and how to avoid them.

March 30, 2011   Creative Approaches to Finding Your Story’s Heart     
Molly Blaisdell
Some lessons from artists, musicians, philosophers, mathematicians, dancers, and thespians to create stories that breathe with life.

April 27, 2011              Do I Have A Plot?                                                        
Debra Booth
Is your manuscript a story? Do you have an act 1, 2, and 3? We will discuss how to create a story arc in a manuscript.

May 25, 2011                Opportunities to Advance Craft                                  
Q&A about MFA programs, SCBWI conferences, Highlights Foundation workshops, and others.

June 29, 2011               Writing Fiction from Life                                            
Kathy Whitehead
Writing Fiction from Life will take a look at how to use real life experiences in creating story.

July 27, 2011               Query and Cover Letters                                             
Sherry Garland
We will learn about the tricky tasks of writing winning query and cover letters.

August 31, 2011            How to Format a Manuscript                                      
Liz Mertz
What is standard formatting for manuscripts and why is it important?

September 28, 2011     Sending and Keeping Track of Manuscripts                  Roundtable
Everyone needs to come with ideas about how to keep track of manuscript submissions.

October 26, 2011         Critique Group Advantages                                          
How are our critique groups going? We will share ideas and handouts.

Schmoozes 2011

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Headlines, Kudos, and Such

National Book Award for Young People's Literature goes to Kathryn Erskine for her book MOCKINGBIRD (Philomel, 2010). Read an interview here.  

Kudos: Local author Kathi Appelt's book KEEPER (Atheneum, 2010) appears on 2010 School Library Journal's Best Fiction Books list and Kirkus Review's  2010 Best Children's Books: Fantasy & Science Fiction list.  I'm sure more is to come. :)

Kudos: Local author Sherry Garland's book VOICES OF GETTYSBURG (Pelican, 2010) received a nice review in  SLJ's August issue.

Here’s a cautionary YA publishing tale that you might want to check out.
James Frey’s Fiction Factory: The controversial author is hiring young writers to join him in a new publishing company. The goal is to produce the next Twilight. The contracts are brutal.

Goodbye, Tricycle Press.  Publishers Marketplace reports that Random House is closing the doors of the recently acquired small press. Here's a blog entry from Tacoma author Tom Llewellyn that expresses one author's opinion of the closure: "Aaaargghh! My publisher is closing its doors!

Welcome and the Novel Revision Retreat Report

Welcome to the launch of the SCBWI Brazos Valley Scratchpad.  Our blog will be a place to keep up with local news, and it will also offer tidbits to help you on your personal creative journey.  Please subscribe to our blog for automatic email updates.
Our first post is a taste of our SCBWI region’s wonderful Novel Revision Retreat. It was led by Darcy Pattison, and held this past weekend at the La Salle Hotel in historic downtown Bryan. We experienced a happy time with lots of good food, better company, and an incredible creative journey. It’s behind us now, but it’s sure to keep the attendees’ creative fires burning for a long time to come. 

Regional Advisor Liz Mertz and assistant RA Jacqueline Gramann  (l to r on bench) planned the event and kudos to them. And yay for delicious eats like the paninis at the hotel and the wonder of The Lemon Wedge.  And most all, yay for Darcy Pattison’s intense  journey through a workable plan to take a novel from a diamond- in-the-rough to a multi-faceted diamond, cut and polished in every way. 

Darcy opened the retreat with the prophetic refrain: There is never enough time.  So true. This was a working retreat and we launched into the action with little ceremony.  After a short workshop session, Darcy put us to work on a thorough analysis of the plot plan for our novels, first separately and then as a group. After, we moved on to various analyses of our stories, including plot, narrative arc, dialogue, pacing, etc. Did I mention this was the first day?

The next day, we brought the energy level up even higher with more group discussions and exercises with a focus on characterization. My favorite of these sessions was “novel gossip’ where members of each group dished about each others work in a positive and encouraging manner.  This was a fun way to really delve into the psyche of our characters and open up in terms of conversation  on our quest to make our books the best possible.

After numerous exercises and a good dose of working time, we moved on to movie night. I’m sure none of us will ever look at Pirates of the Caribbean the same way again after Darcy’s insightful commentary.  I know I left that movie session and went home and wrote a revision plan on the basis of her scene by scene breakdown. Usually things wind down on the third day of a weekend event , but the energy and pace continued at this workshop and never let up until the very end. The weekend was chock full of revision advice; I’m sure there were many ah-ha moments for all.

In closing, if you were able to attend, good luck with your revision! If not, please do not despair -- Darcy has a great website and blog with lots of encouragement and advice for your writing journey. Take time to check it out.