Category Archives: Events

Graph Your Novel (Seriously!) – Guest Post by Me @wilwrite

I’m excited to be on the faculty at the Willamette Writers Conference  in early August.  I’ll be talking about using critique to enhance your writing life, and I’m bringing my Angel Punk manpack to talk about transmedia.

If you want to join me (which would be amazing and cooler than cupcakes), click here to register.

And you can follow the conference blog to get more from all the faculty in advance.  My guest blog — Graph Your Novel (Seriously!) — appears on here and a teaser below…

If writing a first draft is like trying to out-run an avalanche, revision resembles digging out with a shovel.  Any tool that can cut through the details and provide a panoramic view of the shape of our story is useful.  Try a graph—seriously!

Pick 1-3 things that you want to focus on and that you can rate on a 1-10 scale.  Some examples include voice, pace, likeability of a character, emotional intensity, conflict, fluidity of language, narrative coherency, moving plot forward, or a character’s transition from one state to another.  If a critique partner is doing this for you, asking if s/he’s “lost” will help analyze backstory components.  One of my critique group members analyzed the “turn the page factor” on a scale from 1, completely uninterested, to 10, can’t stop to pee.  Read more…

In S. Oregon or N. Cal? Join me at the South Coast Writers Conference – February 17 & 18

I’m thrilled to be on the faculty for the South Coast Writers Conference in lovely Gold Beach, Oregon.  This event includes writing for all genres and age-ranges and includes nonfiction writers, a song writer, poets, journalists, and writers of literary fiction.

The workshop offerings are great, the setting inspiring, and there is time for making connections with faculty and other writers.  I’ll be teaching about graphic novels and how reading can make you a better writer.  YA author, Anne Osterlund, will be there too.

For the full brochure, click here.

Report from KidLitCon 2011 – CONNECTION and AUTHENTICITY

KidLitCon 2011 was all about CONNECTION and AUTHENTICITY.  It was invigorating like this killer mural I passed in Seattle.

(Forgive the cross-posting with, but I couldn’t decide which blog needed this post more!)

Unlike many writers’ conferences, which are tinged with an air of desperation, the path to publication was NOT the focus.  Instead KidLitCon attendees are primarily bloggers focused on connecting authors and their books to readers.  Not as marketers (though some authors assume that every blog is a lightly veiled form of advertisement) but as matchmakers devoted to getting the right book in the right hands.  Need proof?  Take the passionate conversation with Colleen Mondor about how her review of a book she loved could “best serve the book.”  Inspiring!

It was deeply satisfying for me to meet others (in person, since I had connected with many via Twitter) who are committed to the tripartite nature of story-telling.  There must be a story, a teller, and an audience.  CONNECTION—I love it!

Another key take home for me was that these connections had to be AUTHENTIC.  Truth starts with the story.  The panel on diversity (Lee WindSarah StevensonBrent Hartinger,Sara RyanJustina Chen) reminded us that the heart of the story is inhabited by authentic, non-stereotypical characters whatever their ethnicity and orientation.  Writers (no matter their ethnicity or orientation) must get it right for truth to infuse the story.

Much discussion on authenticity circled around how we review books.  Bloggers make many choices about their own process and the key is transparency.  If you only discuss books you like (book recommendations vs. critical book reviews) then say so on your blog.  If you’re taking on the crucial job of true book reviews, remember that critique is not a litany of failures.

Authenticity was also a theme of Holly and Shiraz Cupala’s presentation on DIY marketing.  They urged authors to focus on giving value to bloggers, potential readers, book store buyers, and librarians.  We shouldn’t be trying to trick people into switching tooth paste brands.  We should be trying to fill a need.  Shiraz shared a quote from Simon Sinek: “People don’t buy what you do.  They buy why you do it.”  Isn’t that another way of saying we all want the heart of the story?

Perhaps the best gift of KidLitCon 2011 was the synergy with Angel Punk.  Devon Lyon, Matthew Wilson, Jake Rossman, and I presented a panel entitled The Future of Transmedia Storytelling: Angel Punk, Pottermore, and Skeleton Creek.  (For those of you who weren’t there, transmedia tells interwoven but non-overlapping story lines through multiple forms of media.  In our case, film, comics, novel, and online.)  Transmedia is about CONNECTION because of fan participation in the story-telling process and because each form of media engages and unites a different set of fans.  It was exciting to see the enthusiasm of other KidLitCon attendees for both our approach to story-telling and the heart of our story itself.  (Thanks, you guys!)

I’m still flying high from KidLitCon 2011.  I left with real, true, new friends—CONNECTION and AUTHENTICITY.

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) by Barbara Kerley

This delightful, picture book biography is up for an Oregon Book Award tonight.  I’ll be in the audience clapping loudly for Barbara Kerley.

As a nonfiction writer myself, it has been gratifying to watch picture book biographies and history come into their own. Writers are pushing the form to greater excellence by using innovative formats and many of the techniques of fiction: scenes, voice, character, story arc, etc.

Interestingly, science books for kids have not innovated in the same way (with the exception of scientist profiles).  I think it’s the next frontier and I plan to be there!

Recently I gave my agent a manuscript about extinction biology that melds a graphic novel format with more traditional nonfiction.  I can’t wait to see what he says!

Beverly Cleary Walking Tour

Here I am with Ramona in Grant Park, the spot where Beverly Cleary played as a little girl.  We visited her childhood home and school, the library where she read and the apartment building her mother forbade her to enter.   Altogether and delightful (and sunny) day!  If you’re in Portland, you should go.  This weekend there are three tours scheduled with Portland writer Laura Foster.