Sunday, September 13, 2009

First, apologies for downer post on Thursday, particularly to my mother, who apparently cried.

Now then. The Minnesota chapter of SCBWI had its annual conference all day Saturday. Here's how it went down:

I met several people, of whom I remember few names and I thought to give a business card to maybe two of them. Of course I also saw a few people I already knew, such as Tina Lee, local pre-published writer, the AE, and Kurtis Scaletta, fellow Otter.

According to Kurtis, I write "pornography for teens."

Jill Dembowski gave major love to Sara Zarr during her talk on the "Do's" and "Don't's" of publishing. (Kurtis: "I hear she'll blurb anything.")

Mark McVeigh's presentation was highly informative. He's an immensely bright man. Also dapper. Oh, and he said thanks to the AE, Carolrhoda is an imprint he wouldn't hesitate to work with. His words seemed to be intended, in fact, to encourage the conference goers to get excited about another awesome, cutting edge place publishing YA in our hometown (in addition to Flux, of course).

Julie Schumacher, author of Black Box, also presented, on a topic near and dear to my heart: "trauma" lit for teens. I personally think the alleged recent explosion in the subgenre is bunk. Frankly, if we're seeing an explosion in a subgenre of YA, it is in my mind simply because we're seeing such an explosion in YA in general. But who knows. The point is, I was a proofreader on Black Box and it's quite good. Julie Schumacher reminded me of Joey Ramone a little bit, too. You can take that as you will. Anyway, I like her.

Donna Jo Napoli is a delight. She is lively and hilarious and a brilliant writer and critic of prose. One of the highpoints of the conference came after First Pages. As soon-to-be honcho of MN-SCBWI Quinette Cook was wrapping up, Donna Jo called out, "May I say a few things?" Quinette of course called her up, and Donna Jo ran, quite literally, to the mic from the back row. She then offered, rapid fire and from notes, her take on the first pages, with serious and substantial suggestions and criticism. Seriously, I was hell of jealous of the members whose first pages were looked at, because I would love to some real notes from Ms. Napoli (no offense, Otters).

Speaking of Quinette Cook, I hadn't met her before, but I knew her name: it appeared on my missed call Caller ID last week, and is pretty unforgettable. Turns out she was calling me for some last-minute material she might use in one of her intro talks or something, since she'd heard (through the grapevine) that I'd had such a great year thanks in no small part to last year's conference. I was flattered and frankly stunned that someone had sort of heard about me. Hopefully we can work something out so next year I (and other pubbed locals) can be more hands-on in the conference.

Tomorrow morning, Sam begins ECFE. Did I mention the kid took five steps on Friday? Yup. And it's happened a few more times since. I wholly expect he will be up and walking like a pro by the end of this week.

Wednesday night, I begin my first class at the Loft. It's an advanced fiction workshop. Today, I spent a little time with the WIP I'll likely focus on in that class, better known on the Exile as YA MS the Second. I'll tell ya this: the old advice about putting your frustrating WIPs aside, to distance yourself from them, is not to be ignored. When I returned to it this morning, I found slicing whole chunks, scenes, even characters that were taking the story nowhere, to be much easier. I think, with no unforseen problems, I have a chance at finishing this WIP sooner than I thought. Ooh, plus, thanks to Donna Jo Napoli's keynote address, I won't worry as much as I usually do when I find a hole; I'll just keep going. Just finish it. I can fix it later.

Seriously I should have that painted on the wall of my office if I ever get one: Just Finish It. Fix It Later.

And finally, I've spent free minutes here and there over the last few days throwing together a trailer for The Absolute Value of -1. I think, if I can convince Beth to do some narration, that it will be ready to premiere fairly soon.


5 Responses to “MN-SCBWI”
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Alea said...

Jealous! Flux is literally in my town, I wish they would give me a tour :(

Can't wait to see a trailer for The Absolute Value of -1!

September 13, 2009 at 5:48 PM
Kangaroo B said...

"According to Kurtis, I write 'pornography for teens.'"

First thought: well, it's about time someone started writing pornography for teens. There was a real dearth of it when I was a young'n.

Second thought: Isn't the whole of the advertising industry pornography for teens?

September 14, 2009 at 10:15 AM
Carrie Harris said...

The other day, I had someone ask if I wrote pornography for teens. I wish I would have known that you did; I could have referred him your way. Instead, I laughed.

From the look on his face, I'm not sure he meant it to be funny.

September 15, 2009 at 11:42 AM
Anonymous said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the conference, Steve! It was nice to see you there, even if we didn't get to say "hey" in person!

September 15, 2009 at 2:24 PM
Tina Lee said...

I love how you summed up the conference. And I believe I was there for the pornography comment. Kurtis has excellent delivery, something to envy. I can't wait to see a trailer.

September 17, 2009 at 9:50 AM