Sunday, April 28, 2013

SCHMOOZE! A Great Opportunity to Network with Fellow Writers.

What is a SCHMOOZE? 
 And how can it help your writing career?

These are photos from the 1st Pages Critique Panel at the Annual Raleigh, NC. SCHMOOZE in 2012. 
Hosted by the Goalies Critique Group, the SCHMOOZE featured authors/illustrator John Bemis, Karen Lee, and Stephen Messer critiquing attendees' first pages and illustrations.

A SCHMOOZE is a FREE and FUN Networking Opportunity for Children's/MG/YA Writers.
Schmoozes are hosted by members of the SCBWI
and fall under a set of guidelines created by the SCBWI to help writers network with each other.

Your Critique Group can host one in your area!  SCHMOOZE hosting-tips are at the this website.

A SCHMOOZE generally consists of:

1.) A group of Childrens/YA/MG writers getting together and inviting other similar writers - both experienced authors/illustrators and also those who are new to or interested in learning more about the profession -- to meet to chat, share, and learn.

2.) There is time for chatting and networking, exchanging of ideas, tips, and contact information, even hearing about each other's manuscripts and/or illustrations.

3.) There are usually snacks and or beverages. : )

4.) There is often a speaker (an experienced author or illustrator, or an agent or editor,) or sometime a "first pages panel" where you can get your own work critiqued by experienced authors. You'll find more information on this kind of SCHMOOZE below.

5.) There is often the opportunity for experienced authors/illustrators leading or participating in the SCHMOOZE to sell and sign their books.

6.) SCHMOOZES ARE ALWAYS FREE TO ALL PARTICIPANTS!  They are a wonderful networking opportunity for authors and illustrators of all experience levels.  

In this business it's all about "how well you write or illustrate" but for many authors success is also somewhat related to "who you know." Other authors/illustrators can teach you, support you, guide you, laugh and cry with you, and a great place to meet those authors is at your local SCHMOOZE.  So, get a group of author/illustrator friends together and consider hosting a SCHMOOZE in your area today! Not sure if there's already a SCHMOOZE planned in your area?  Check the Calendar here.

The photos above are of past SCHMOOZES in the NC SCBWI Region -- to give you ideas!



for those who happen to be in the North Carolina Area now...
I'm delighted to post the following invitation:

hosted by the 
May 19, 2013

Any Aspiring Kid-Lit Writers in the Triangle?
Please join the SCBWI and the goalies critique group for our annual SCHMOOZE at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh from 2:00 to 5:00 on May 19. We'll being doing a first-pages panel again, and our panelists are fabulous!  
Cate Tiernan (Immortal Beloved, Balefire, and Sweep series)
Jackie Ogburn (The Bake Shop Ghost, a Dignity of Dragons, Little Treasures, and many more)
They will read and critique the first 250 words of your picture book, chapter book, middle grade book, young adult book, or illustration (no adult fiction please).
Entries over 250 words will be excluded, and you must include a word count and category at the top of your entry. Please do not include your name.

The goalies will provide snacks.

Everyone is welcome! Entries are anonymous -- so come and meet your fellow kidlit authors!
No registration is required. The event is free.  We hope to see you there!
in whatever region or country you live in!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Celebrating Teen Lit Week! Photos!

This week was Teen Lit Week - the annual celebration of teen literature that's filled with many activities and events bringing teens and great YA/MG books together!

We have a number of great interviews with well-known and well-loved YA, MG, and PB authors coming up over the next few months here on Writermorphois. They'll be here sharing specific tips on how we can make our own writing stronger!

But for today, in honor of Teen Lit Week, we're celebrating the Annual Teen Lit Book Drop, here on Writermorphosis.

The Teen Lit Book Drop is an annual event, started in 2009, in which people (adults or otherwise) leave a YA/MG book in a public place for teens to find and take home for free, to enjoy.  It's such a fun event - sneaking into a teen friendly place and leaving your books in secret.

In case you didn't get a chance to "drop off" your own well-loved YA or MG book somewhere for teens to find this week, it's not too early to start planning for next year!  Teen lit week is a great time for authors and illustrators to read and share their books with teens -- at local libraries, coffee shop events, morning radio and TV talk shows, at the park, etc.  If you have a book out, and did not promote it during Teen Lit Week this year, now is the time to start setting something up for next year.  (Libraries, schools, and other teen-friendly places are often planning way ahead to set up author presentations for Teen Lit Week!  Don't be left in the dust!)

And for those who missed the April 18th, 2013 book drop, but who want some inspiration on what kinds of places to "Drop" your donated teen lit books next year -- here are a few fun photos sent in by Writermorphosis readers and expert-author/illustrators, showing the great places where some of us "dropped" YA books this year:

Poet and Writer Linda Johnson left this beautiful copy of Wither by Lauren DeStefano, at her local Starbucks. :)

She left Uglies by Scott Westerfield, at the Orthodontist's office. (Brilliant!) 

...And Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen at the Eye Doctor's Office. :)  I love it!

MG writer Jenny Murray dropped The Book Thief by Markus Zusak at a local Video Rental "Redbox."  
(I can hear the conversation now:  "So I went to pick up a movie, Mom, but I actually came home with this great free book!")

Children's Book Illustrator/Author Karen Lee dropped of the fabulous fantasy Incarceron by Catherine Fisher off at the local Arts Center during a youth theater rehearsal. (So creative!)

And there were many more!

Did you drop a book in a fun place during this Teen Lit Week?
If not, there's still next year, and, frankly, there's no rule that says you have to wait until then!

Happy Teen Lit Week to all!

See you next Saturday on Writermorphosis, for more professional tips from children's/YA authors plus more opportunities to move your Children's/YA Writing Career forward!

Here was my own 2013 book drop -- at the local teen-friendly baseball park!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

This week -- Rock the Drop! Share your Book Drop Photos here!

It's Teen Lit Week!  

This means that Thurs April 18th is the day to 

(It's such an important event that it merits a mid-week post on Writermorphosis! :))

The Teen Lit Week Book Drop is a way for all of us authors (and anyone else too) to share fabulous teen literature with teens near us!

How does the Book Drop Work?

You simply (and sneakily) "drop off" one of your favorite YA or MG books (one written by your favorite author, or even one of your own published books,) in a teen-friendly public place.  Put a note inside it that says it's for whoever finds it in honor of teen lit week and that you hope 
they love it! 

Some teen will find that YA or MG story and hopefully turn off that television  for a bit to sit down and enjoy a great novel, with a bunch of characters in it just like them!

But wait! There's more!

In Celebration of Teen Lit Week (AKA Teen Reads Week), Writermorphosis is having show and tell!

I've shared the photo of my own book drop I did at a baseball field in the Dominican Republic, where local teens often play.

Now it's your turn!  Please share a teen book you enjoy by "dropping" it somewhere for teens to find.  Then (if you'd like) EMAIL A PHOTO of it, (to in the setting where you "dropped" it, and we'll post your photo on Writermorphosis!
Please include 1.) the location where you dropped it (town/state/city, and country) and your first name.  Thanks!

I'd love to see how many countries and how many states, cities, and counties Writermorphosis readers can drop off their books in!


Friday, April 12, 2013

SCBWI Conference Sign Ups & Children's Writer's Flashmob

Are you heading to a Children's Book Writers' Conference this year?

Conferences -- especially those that offer a lot of workshops on various aspects of the craft of writing for children and teens -- can drastically improve your writing, and your chances of getting published. Conferences are great places to meet agents, editors, and last but definitely not least, other writers who can help you further your career in one way or another.  You'll meet many new writer friends, many of whom who will stick with you through the thick and thin of the writing life for many years to come.

So, today here's a reminder that the SCBWI (National) Summer Conference (Aug 2-5, 2013) is just such a conference. It's a conference that offers many presentations and hands-on workshops on various aspects of writing for children/teens, and many aspects of the industry.  It's also the place where the childrens/YA authors the rest of us all want to grow up to be, come together to network and share their wisdom.

Here is NY Times Best-Selling Children's Author Nikki Grimes sharing her thoughts on last years 2012 SCBWI Summer Conference:

Here are writer Jenny Howard's thoughts on last year's Summer conference as well:

So here's a reminder that Registration for the SCBWI Summer Conference is Coming NEXT WEEK!
Check out the Info. on this summer's conference, including the 25 post-conference writers' and illustrators' intensives!  This is one of the two National SCBWI conferences that occur annually. The other one is in New York City during the winter.

Perhaps one of these conferences is right for you!
And for those of us who can't physically attend this summer's conference in LA, we can all still get in on the action!  SCBWI Says we can  Follow the action virtually during the conference!

"In the weeks leading up to the conference, we'll feature interviews with our prestigious faculty so that you can know what to expect and look forward to. Click on the link (below) to see pictures and video as well as recaps of every workshop, keynote address, panel and intensive at our semi-annual SCBWI International Conference." 

So, there's no reason for any of us to miss out on the Conference! 

Mark your Calendars and don't miss this great event!

Here are some highlights from Last Year's Summer Conference, 2012!

Also, since the SCBWI Conference is known for being very serious and business-like at ALL times...(if you think this is true you've never been to the party)...

Here is a video of last year's SCBWI Summer Conference "flash-mob" that surprised SCBWI Co-Presidents Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser with 400 children's writers dancing as one. Enjoy!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Talk to Type Programs: A Computerized Resource for Writers

This week, we're pausing the author-tips interviews for just a bit longer to talk about some helpful technology support for your career.

Do your fingers hurt when you type too much? 

Or, are you perhaps a really slow typer?

Do you think you might have to stop writing just because your hands hurt or because typing takes too long?

Think again! You have many options.

You can:

1.) Keep writing, despite the pain or slowness - after all "only the tough get published!" (It's sarcasm, ya'll, sarcasm! : )).

2.) Hire your teenaged grand-daughter to type your story verbatim while you talk. Tell her you'll pay her $10.00 an hour and assure her that if she says negative things about your plot or characters, and thus crushes your self-esteem, that you'll make sure that the cute boy down the street will never ever ask her to prom!

3.) See a doctor for that finger pain (always a plausible, and perhaps a very good option.)


4) Get technological help...

Any of these options might be the one you choose, but today let's talk about 

Have you tried the computer programs that can type for you, while you talk?
If you are looking for a computer program that will type what you say, there are a number of options. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and you can find more possibilities via an online search.  But I'm listing a few options here to show you the possibilities.

Group 1: Free Options

1.) Windows Speech Recognition is a new feature in Windows Vista built using the latest Microsoft speech technologies. Windows Vista Speech Recognition provides recognition accuracy that improves with each use as it adapts to your speaking style and vocabulary. Speech Recognition is available in English (U.S.), English (U.K.), German (Germany), French (France), Spanish (Spain), Japanese, Chinese (Traditional), and Chinese (Simplified). This program is only free if you already have Windows Vista on your computer.

2.) Windows 7, Windows XP, and other Windows editions also offer Speech Recognition as a program option. Here (click the link) is information on these Speech Recognition Programs and how to install them on your computer.

Group 2: Not Free, but Still Really Good

Dragon Naturally Speaking 12 (for PCs) is a dictation program that can help you write everything from novels to emails to your thesis in college.  It comes in English and Spanish. The same company also sells Dragon Dictate for Macs.  Click the link above for a sample video showing how the program works. For additional videos click here.  The program is often on sale for between $75-100 from the manufacturer - Nuance.  For the truly technologically savvy - there's even a related Iphone app.

How do I know which one is for me?

Here's a potentially helpful review of the Windows 7 Speech Recognition Software vs. the Dragon Naturally Speaking Software, for those of us who'd like to see some similarities and differences. One thing to note  is that all of these programs have some difficulty understanding what you are saying, initially. You have to train them to understand your particular speech patterns and accent/pronunciation. This is done by reading a lot of text out loud to the computer program and also by letting the program review your emails and text documents (including prior fiction/nonfiction writing) on your computer, so that it learns not only how you speak but also how you write.

Note: This blog post was written using Dragon Naturally Speaking in Microsoft Word, and then it was cut and pasted and posted on this blog. (That's simply because I don't usually use Dragon outside of Word -- not because these programs can't type directly into a blog or an email, they can.)  This post could probably just as easily have been written with one of the other talk-to-text programs as well.

So, if you're looking for a way to use your hands less when you're writing, but still keep doing what you love, you might want to consider a talk-to-type (aka talk-to-text) program as a resource.  They're not perfect -- and you do have to edit.  But perhaps a talk to text program is right for you., talking, writing, revising, and submitting.
See you again next week on Writermorphosis.