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My writing journey has begun. The road will have some bumps and detours. I only hope that the first hill is not too high, and the journey is long.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Quotations, Happy Halloween and Encore 2011

Happy Halloween Everyone!

     Today, I have some quotations that were posted at Encore 2011 (SCBWI Writer's Workshop) and some helpful tips given at the conference.  Here are the quotations:

1)  "Take chances.  You will succeed if you are fearless of failure." - Natalie Goldberg

2)  "A blank piece of paper is God's way of letting us know how hard it is to be God." - Sidney Sheldon.

3)  Writing is so difficult that I feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment hereafter." - Jessamyn West

4)  I'm a rewriter that's the part I like best... once I have a pile of paper to work with, it's like having the pieces of a puzzle.  I just have to put the pieces together to make a picture." - Judy Blume

Now, for some helpful tips shared at the conference and their presenters:

1st Presenter:
J. L. Bell is a writer and reader of fantasy literature for children. He is an Assistant Regional Advisor in the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, and was the editor of Oziana, creative magazine of the International Wizard of Oz Club, from 2004 to 2010.

Words from J.L. Bell:

     Milestones in an Exciting Plot

     Every story is different, fueld by characters' individual desires, but every story needs to keep readers eager to find out what's coming next.  Between a compelling opening and a satisfying resolution, an exciting plot needs twists and complications that keep raising the protagonist's physical and emotional stakes.

     We tend to value the serious over the silly.  Books that are selling - do have depressing situations.  Even though the setting is depressing, the story doesn't have to be, there can be triump for the protagonist.

     If you have a character that is constantly successful, they can be very boring.

     Readers expect more from a book:
     - Fascinate them.
     - Draw them in.
     - Put them in a mild trance.
     - Surrender them in to it.
     - They'll thank you for it.

     You can read more about J.L. Bell at either of his websites, please take time to stop by:

2nd Presenter:
Erin Dionne is a writer and a teacher. 

Words from Erin Dionne:

Frankenstein's Dog:  Bringing Minor Characters to Life

     Have you heard about Frankenstein's dog?  Sadly, no, because main characters get all of their author's attention.  Well, no more"

     Minor Characters need love, too!
     - What role do you give your minor character?
     - How much attention?
     - When do you address their needs?

     Avoid stock characters.
     - evil henchman
     - long suffering best friend
     - one function characters:
        - advice
        - cheerleader
        - complainer

     The goal is to create a minor character that has his/her own life.  When they are not with your main character, they are off doing their own thing.  Acknowledge the fact that everyone is the star of their own story.

     Use the slow reveal:
     - space events related to minor characters throughout the story arc.
     - balance in plot; intense scene followed by a comedic one with lesser character.
     - think of other ways you can position your minor character.

     Everyone loves sprinkles:
     - Sprinkle information throughout your story to keep your readers engaged.
     - Reveal and reinforce, and sprinkle throughout.

You can read more about Erin Dionne at her website:

3rd Presenter:
Mary Lee Donovan, Executive Editor at Candlewick Press

     The Dissection of Small Things:  A Microscopic Examination of the Picture Book Form.

     Using book maps and published models, you will learn how to plot, pace, and polish a picture book text.

     1)  Plot:
          - Cause & effect (if you give a mouse a cookie)
          - Status Quo (ex: Once Upon a time - something happens)
          - Give enough hints for the illustrator

     2)  Any underlying themes or messages:
          - Pacing is so important
          - Pattern and predictability
          - Action and movement
          - Emotion and tension
          - Dialogue

     3)  Polishing:
          - genteel manipulation of your reader
          - think about audible and inaudible
          - symbolisim and metaphor
          - selection and disposal
          - enhancing and pruning

     Take your inventory.  Go back, rewrite and rewrite again. 

     We were then given the opportunity to submit one manuscript that will actually have the opportunity to be viewed.

     You can visit Candlewick Press' website at:

4th Presenter:
Karen Day, Author of fiction for middle grade and young adult readers.

     So, You've Written A Novel!  Now What?

     Developing a dependable revision process is one of the most important things a writer should do.  Use strategies to discover new ways of looking at your manuscript.

     When once asked how she got published, Karen said.  "I figured out how to revise!  That's how I got publshed."

     Revising - The ability to fall madly in love with your character or plot, killing them off if it doesn't work.  You as a writer must do what feels like it works.  The more you write - the more your writing will change and grow.

     -  Should be and need to be in a critique group.  It will help you to discover your internal editor.
     - You've submitted  your novel.  Now, stop working on it.  Work on something else.  That way you will be fresh for revisions when needed.
     - Don't ever dismiss an editor's comments.  Read them carefully.  Look at them as a gift.
     - Practice writing a synopsis.  Pretend you're writing a Jacket Cover.
     - Real writing comes in the revision.

     List Threads in your story:
     - Make a list of all the major threads in the story.
     - Keep a journal beside you - list pages as reference.
     - Read from beginning to end for each thread

     List Major themes:
     - Resisting change
     - What are memories/history
     - Fear of water/intrigue of water
     - How things are there even if you can't see them.

     Beefing up characters:
     - Middle grade kids feel everthing
     - What's conscious/What's unconscious

     Focus on Setting:
     - Thematic Penetration
     - Creating a visual furthering the theme
     - Several scens imbedded in a theme

     You can read more about Karen at her Blog/Website at:

5th Presenter:
Mark Peter Hughes - Author and Faculty member of Rhode Island College ASTAL Writing Institute.

 Words from Mark Peter Huges:

     "Help! Help" I'm Stuck!" A Workshop About Sparking the Imagination and Solving Story Problems

     Do you have an idea but no idea how to make it work?  Have you come to a fork in the road but feel like you need a spoon?  As writers, we've all been there!

     Finding motivation:
     - Ask yourself:  Why do I write?  What do I hope to get out of reating?  If writing is truly important to me, what do I need to do to make it more a part of my life.
     Understanding your characters:
     - Write a diary from your character's point of view.

     Finding your story's focus:
     - Who are your characters and what do they want?  What is getting in the way of them getting it?   What is the central conflict of your story?  How will it be resolved in the end? 

     To add tension to your story, remember that every chapter, every scene, every moment of your story should hold a central question that will get your readers wondering and therefore make them want to keep turning pages.

     You can read more about Mark Peter Huges at his website at:

     Here, I have just touched on the topics heard that day.  The Workshop was a wonderful experience to learn more about writing and meet other writers, both published and unpublished.  Please find out more about these workshops at:

     While at the workshop, I met and sat with some wonderful writers, Karen Day, Evelyn Wolfson, Nancy Poydar and many more.  I also had the opportunity to meet Charlotte DeVoe who is an illustrator.  It was a wonderful day all around.


Jennifer Lee Young said...

Wow Maeve, that was a lot of really helpful information. Thanks for sharing, especially from Mary Lee Donovan's "The Dissection of Small Things." I'm always grateful to read any pb writing reminds.

Abby Fowers said...

WOW! Fabulous stuff in this post! My cup runneth over! I love it all. I think I need to bookmark this post. Thanks for sharing all the goodness.

Joanna said...

Lots and lots of information here, Maeve. Thanks for taking the time to write it all out for us. I just loved 'genteel manipulation of your reader'!

Lynda R Young said...

I need to stick that first quote on the wall where I can read it every day.
And WOW! You picked up a lot of fantastic tips at that conference.

Patricia T. said...

Wow,thanks so much for taking the time to compile and present this information for us. Great read, Maeve.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Great quotes and helpful conference information. Thank you so much for sharing what you learned. It sounds like you had a great time.

Patricia T. said...

Maeve -- Did an author interview with Tom Lichtenhld yesterday about his collaboration on a book with a very talented teen with autism. Thought your family might like to see a success story.- Pat

Maeve Frazier said...

Jennifer - so am I!

Abby - You are welcome. :)

Joanna - I learned so much at the workshop.

Lynda - I stick the quotes up on my board at my desk. Love quotes!

Patriica - thank you and I'll be by to check out the interview.

Cynthia - The workshops seem to get better every year.

Anonymous said...

I loved the quotes and I always enjoy reading information gleaned at conferences.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Rebecca Bradley said...

Do you know, I absolutely have to agree with number one. The fear I feel at being rejected on submission is immobilising some days. But if I don't send my work out, I can't possibly succeed. It has to be done and that fear conquered!