Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Giving Thanks for the Internet (& Conference Blogs)

I can’t imagine my life without the internet. It’s hard to believe that I made it through college, and yes even graduate school, without the internet and a laptop computer. I’m not sure that I could write a book without these lifelines.

I was thinking about a lot of What If questions on writing yesterday. What If: I had to live in New York City to be a writer striving for the goal of publication? Could I still write? Thankfully, the internet makes that question obsolete. Through my laptop, I can connect to publishing houses, literary agents, writers, and conferences worldwide.

The 38th annual summer conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) was held earlier this month in Los Angeles. I wasn’t able to attend, but through the blogging efforts of a team led by Alice Pope, editor of Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, anyone can get that almost-there feeling of attending the conference.
Click here to read The Official SCBWI Conference Blog.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Killer Nashville 2009

I attended my first mystery writers’ conference this weekend. Killer Nashville is a great place to be for writers of any genre who want to study the craft of writing or for anyone who wants a beginner’s insight into the science of forensics.

In some ways, it was very different from a romance writers’ conference or a kid lit conference. I attended panels on surveillance, the legal system, and investigators’ interview techniques. There was a mock crime scene in the hotel boiler room. The conference opened with a presentation of a retelling of a real murder investigation by Lee Lofland, author of the Writer’s Digest book, Police Procedure & Investigation: A Guide For Writers (which I purchased).

Some things were familiar, pitch appointments (with the usual jitters) and workshops by agents, editors, and authors. Two of my favorite panel discussions were on using backstory and setting in your novel. Guest of Honor author, J.A. Jance’s speech was inspiring.

Killer Nashville is a great conference for writers starting their first novel who are primarily interested in learning the craft of writing and for writers with complete manuscripts looking for a home.

For more information on this conference, go to the website for testimonial videos and to sign up for conference news.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Favorite Summer Reads from the Family

Summer draws to a close this week with the Parker children returning to school. Since I started the summer with a blog on Summer Reading Lists, I thought it would be good to close with favorite summer reads.

I polled the family with 3 questions:
1. What was your favorite read of the summer?
2. Why did you choose to read it?
3. Why was it your favorite?

Here are my scientific results.

DH’s answers:
1. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
2. I was looking for an audiobook at the library and the title just caught my eye.
3. The book turned out to be completely different than I thought it would be. I thought it was a life story, but it was the story of a teenager who was in a shipwreck and lost at sea for 9 months. The end of the story gives you two interpretations of what happened when he was floating on the sea with animals. I liked the theme of looking for the better story of life. It was a captivating, entertaining survival story. That’s why I enjoyed it.

My answers:
1. Perfect Chemistry, a YA romance for older teens by Simone Elkeles.
2. I bought the book because of the fun book trailer you can see on the author’s website here.
3. This was my favorite read because I was completely drawn into the character’s story from the beginning. The alternating chapters told in first person from the point of view of the two main characters made this a fast paced read. The author didn’t gloss over the characters’ problems, so this felt like a realistic story. I love a book where I can root for characters who face adversity and triumph in the end.

Due to uncooperative interview subjects, I will summarize the rest. The teen & tween in my house both chose series books as their favorites. My teen daughter chose Extras, the fourth book in Scott Westerfeld’s YA series, Uglies because she liked the characters and the technology in the story. My tween son chose Eragon, the first book in Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance series (read for the 3rd time this summer) because “It’s actiony.”

Do you have any favorite summer reads? Feel free to post your answers to my 3 questions.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Reference Photos (A New Orleans Visit)

My current Work In Progress is set in my former home of New Orleans. I was recently writing a scene set in the French Quarter. My character walked through Dutch Alley on his way to the Canal Street Ferry. He passed the charming statues of people who lived and worked in the Quarter when the French Market was new. But I couldn’t remember if he would pass the woman seated on the bench or the butcher displaying a fine cut of meat first. Not to worry. I knew I would be in New Orleans in a few days for an end-of-summer visit. I would take some reference photos.

I’m not sure what the official term is, but I call these pictures reference photos. Reference photos are rarely displayed in frames or photo albums. These snapshots are usually of places, not people. They are a writer’s reference to make sure details are correct when a story is set in a real place.

I must have a thing for National Parks, because in the new version of my story, the guy character plays at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. He walks through Dutch Alley past Café du Monde towards the ferry.

Now I can rewrite my scene with a little help from my reference photos.