Need Some Inspiration?

16 04 2013

Is your life the fairy tale you always hoped it would be? This enchanting video from Duirwaigh Studios will put you in touch with those long-ago dreams:

 

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Leaps of Imagination: Fact, Fiction, & Fantasy!

4 06 2010

If you live near Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia, you might want to check out the cool conference that area has planned for children’s/YA writers sponsored by the regional SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) on July 17 & 18, 2010.

They have a fabulous lineup of speakers and breakout sessions for authors and illustrators at all stages of their craft–from beginners to the multi-published. Read on for a tentative schedule, then click here for more details, a brochure, and a downloadable registration form.

Saturday, July 17, 2010 

8:00 – 8:50 AM   Registration/Breakfast Snacks/Book Sales/Raffle Tickets/Making Friends
8:50 – 9:00 AM   Introductions & Welcome
9:00 – 9:50 AM   Stephen Fraser—“Leaping into Action: How an Agent Sells Your Book”
9:55–10:45 AM  Michelle Poploff and Edie Hemingway—“Partners In Imagination: The Author/Editor Revision Process”
10:45-11:00 AM  Break / Book Sales
11:00 – 11:50 AM  Morning Breakout Sessions
  • Marc Aronson—“Trends in Nonfiction”
  • Bonnie J. Doerr—“Writing the Eco-Mystery Novel / Balancing Entertainment with Education”
  • Carolyn Reeder—“Look Before You Leap”
  • Amie Rose Rotruck—“Building a Fantasy World”
  • 12:00 – 12:50 PM  Lunch / Networking / Book Sales and Signing
    1:00 – 1:50 PM Keynote Speaker, Margaret Peterson Haddix— “Along for the Ride: Taking Readers Where Your Imagination Takes You”
    2:00 – 2:50 PM   Afternoon Breakout Sessions
  • Editor/Agent Panel—Michelle Poploff, Louise May, Michelle Corpora, Stephen Fraser
  • Elana Roth (agent)—“The Great Query Caper”
  • Kelley Cunningham and Karen Nelson—“Illustrators’ First Look”—See registration page for details
  • 2:50 – 3:10 PM   Cookie Break/Book Sales and Signing/Networking
    3:10 – 4:00 PM   Marc Aronson—“The Truth Is… A Question”
    4:00 – 4:50 PM   “Steps in the Write Direction: A Panel Discussion on Writing Programs”
    4:50 – 5:00 PM   First Day Wrap-up and Raffle

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    7:45 – 8:15 AM   (Optional) Regional Chat Session in Dining Room
    7:45 – 8:20 AM  Registration/Breakfast Snacks/Book Sales
    8:20 – 8:30 AM   Welcome
    8:30 – 9:20 AM   Elana Roth—“The Scoop on High Concept”
    9:25 – 10:15 AM  Carolyn Crimi—“Baking Chocolate Cake: All the Ingredients You Need To Make Your Picture Book Delicious”
    10:15 – 10:30 AM  Break / Book Sales
    10:30 – 11:20 AM  Morning Breakout Sessions
    •  Teresa Crumpton—“Where Self-Editing and Revision Collide—For Stronger Prose”
    • Mary Bowman-Kruhm and Wendie Old—“Leap into Blogging and Social Media! (Will There Be Time to Write?)”
    • Donny Bailey Seagraves—“Finding Fiction In Our Own Backyards: Creating Home-grown Characters and Imaginary Setting Inspired by Real Life”
    • Karen Nelson—“Taking Your Imagination to the Marketplace” (for illustrators)
    11:30 – 12:30 PM  Lunch / Networking / Book Sales and Signing
    12:30 – 1:20 PM  Keynote Speaker, Joyce McDonald—“The Transformative Power of Fiction: How Real-life Stories Inform and Shape Our Own”
    1:20 – 2:10 PM   Louise May—“Creating Books Featuring Diversity: How Do I Leap In?”
    2:10 – 2:30 PM   Cookie Break / Last Book Sales
    2:30 – 3:20 PM   Debra Hess and Kelley Cunningham— “Imagination Is Just The Beginning”
    3:20 – 4:00 PM   “First Page” Panel
    4:00 – 4:15 PM   Raffles and Farewell

    General Session Blurbs (in order of presentation)

    “Leaping into Action: How an Agent Sells Your Book” –Stephen Fraser

    Discussing the simple principle, which an agent uses to sell your book, agent Stephen Fraser of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency talks about some recent sales, how and why they sold, how to succeed in today’seconomy, and how to be your best creative self.

    “Partners In Imagination: The Author/Editor Revision Process”—Michelle Poploff and Edith Hemingway

    You’ve revised and polished before submitting, but what happens after your manuscript is accepted? More revision! Michelle Poploff, V.P. and Executive Editor of Delacorte Press, and author Edith Hemingway will discuss working together to make a book the best it can be.

    “Along for the Ride: Taking Readers Where Your Imagination Takes You”—Margaret Peterson Haddix

    So you’ve dreamed up an incredible plot and/or extraordinary characters and/or a fascinating setting. How do you make your readers understand and fall in love with your story, too? And how do you fill in parts of the story that your imagination is still a little vague about?

    “The Truth Is…A Question”—Marc Aronson

    My books center on questions that I, or an expert with whom I collaborate, want to investigate. Formulating the right questions, figuring out how to answer them, and then bringing the results to young readers require many leaps of the imagination. My session will show the risks that writing non-fiction requires.

    “The Scoop on High-Concept”—Elana Roth

    We keep hearing agents say they’re on the look-out for this mysterious beast called the high-concept project. But what is it? Is it just the simple Hollywood pitch? Also, if there’s high-concept, does that mean there’s low-concept? And does high-concept have to mean low-quality? In this talk, Elana will demystify this term and give you the scoop on why these high-concept books are so appealing in the market.

    “Baking Chocolate Cake: All the ingredients You Need to Make Your Picture Book Delicious”—Carolyn Crimi

    Picture books should be as enjoyable and as memorable as that perfect slice of chocolate cake. So why does yours taste more like broccoli? Carolyn Crimi will help you learn to mix, sift, and blend your picture book batter until it’s the perfect consistency. No cooking experience necessary!

    “The Transformative Power of Fiction: How Real-life Stories Inform and Shape Our Own”—Joyce McDonald

    When our inspiration comes from the news media, the reason we are drawn to these real-life stories isn’t always evident at first.  Sometimes these stories haunt us until we finally confront them through narrative.  We write to understand, and in the act of writing, we often arrive at unexpected places and surprising truths.  In this session, I will talk about the tragic facts that informed my novels, Swallowing Stones and Shades of Simon Gray, and how I transformed them into fiction.

    “CREATING BOOKS FEATURING DIVERSITY: HOW DO I LEAP IN?”—Louise May 3, 2010

    Is it okay to write and/or illustrate across cultures? Do I need to be of the same background as the characters in my story? Do books featuring people of color have to be nonfiction or historical fiction? Is there a place for realistic fiction? What about fun and fantasy in books focusing on diversity? These questions and more pertaining to creating diverse stories for all of today’s young readers will be answered, from the point of view of Lee & Low Books, one of the country’s premier publishers of children’s books “about everyone~for everyone.”

    “Imagination Is Just The Beginning”—Debra Hess and Kelley Cunningham

    This joint presentation by Highlights Editor, Debra Hess, and Highlights High Five Art Director, Kelley Cunningham, will discuss the practical realities of putting together a magazine—what they actually do on a day-to-day basis and how it all works.

    Breakout Sessions (in order of presentation)

    “Current Trends in Nonfiction”—Marc Aronson

    Marc Aronson will talk about trends in writing nonfiction—what is currently selling and traditional NF voice vs. creative or narrative NF voice, leaving plenty of time for Q & A.

    ”Writing the Eco-Mystery Novel / Balancing Entertainment with Education”—Bonnie J. Doerr

    Follow the unique writing journey of combining environmental science with fiction.  Topics covered include choice of location, inspiration, plot development, research, observation of endangered species, interaction with natural environment, character development, and teaching without preaching.

    “Look Before You Leap”—Carolyn Reeder

    Historical fiction is much more than a story set in the past. Explore why it’s important to know the history before imagining the fiction, discover ways of bringing the past to life for your readers, and pick up some tips on making your characters authentic.

    “Building a Fantasy World”—Amie Rose Rotruck

    What color is the sky?  Who’s the king/president/dictator?  What’s the most common tree?  How does the food taste?  Good fantasy is not only about a good plot and interesting characters, but a fully-realized world.  Even if you’re writing urban fantasy set in your own neighborhood, you still have some work to do to make your fantasy world believable.  We’ll look at some examples of well-created worlds, discuss how to find inspiration for your world, and do some world-brainstorming.

    The Great Query Caper”—Elana Roth

    Querying an agent is often the first step to breaking into today’s market, but even if you’ve written a novel, these brief letters of introduction can be intimidating. Elana will lead participants in a real-time simulation of her slush pile experience, followed with a group critique of those very real query letters she has received and reveal why they worked—or didn’t work—for her.  Please note this is not a pitch session but a chance to learn how an agent thinks and how you can stand out in the crowd.

    “Leap into Blogging and Social Media! (Will There Be Time to Write?)”—Mary Bowman-Kruhm and Wendie Old

    Award-winning, multi-published authors Wendie Old and Mary Bowman-Kruhm discuss two free blogging platforms (WordPress and Blogger) and strike a glancing blow at other social media.  Bring a laptop or pen and paper and you’ll leave the session with a start on your own blog and basic information about social media.

    “Where Self-Editing and Revision Collide—For Stronger Prose”—Teresa Crumpton

     

    This fast-paced session is for all writers of fiction from beginner to multiply published professional. Together, we will work through a structured method, which blends general self-editing with deeper revision. Based on a series of strategic worksheets, in a half-session we’ll work through a Structure Analysis Worksheet and demonstrate its power. In the second half, we’ll use a basic Self-Edit Worksheet and note its benefits. Please bring a story or novel (yours or a published one) to work with. Handouts will be provided.

    Finding Fiction in Our Own Backyards: Creating Home-grown Characters and Imaginary Settings Inspired by Real Life”—Donny Bailey Seagraves

    How do you take a real-life event and turn it into a fictional story? A local family tragedy inspired me to write the middle-grade novel that became my first published book, Gone From These Woods. In this hands-on workshop, we will walk through the real place that became my book’s fictional world and we’ll meet some of the people who morphed into the characters there. Can you make the journey from your real-life event to fictional story? Bring pen and paper and I’ll show you how.

    “Taking Your Imagination to the Marketplace”—Karen Nelson

    This session for illustrators will focus on the inner workings of a publishing company, art department and the role of the art director.  Learn about marketing tools, approaches that work, and case histories, leaving time for Q & A.





    More About Jill…

    24 05 2010

    So yesterday I posted about Jill Williamson being up for the Christy Award.

    You can find out more about Jill at her website or her Amazon page, where I lifted the opening sentences of her bio to whet your appetite:

    “Jill was raised in rural Alaska. Alone with her thoughts and the moose, daydreaming was a favorite pastime. As was reading…”

    And now she’s turned her passion for reading into a passion for writing, and a fine job she’s done of it. Here’s her latest book cover from Marcher Lord Press:

    You can get a copy at Amazon or at the Marcher Lord site.

    And if you’re wondering just how good this book is, here’s a review about Book One:

    “This thoroughly entertaining and smart tale will appeal to fans of Donita K. Paul and J.R.R. Tolkien. Highly recommended for CF and fantasy collections.” —Library Journal

    And the praise continues for Book Two:

    The second installment of the Blood of Kings series will thrill, surprise, and delight readers just as much as the first. With stellar craftsmanship, the author continues to thrust her characters into a myriad of plot-driven obstacles that will have readers biting their nails late into the night.”

    Christian Miles (Amazon review)

    With her first book up for a Christy and her second garnering well-deserved praise, you’ll want to grab a copy quickly before they all sell out. And if you want to get an autographed copy, you can get one at Jill’s website.





    Big News…

    23 05 2010

    We interrupt this regularly scheduled broadcast of BEA happenenings to cover some fabulously exciting news. My friend Jill Williamson is up for a Christy!!

    Christy Award

    How cool is that? So I just have to do a happy dance, and then plug this terrific book that’s been garnering all kinds of praise and winning multiple honors and awards. But now she’s up for one of the biggest awards in the Christian book world.

    If you aren’t familiar with the Christy, it started in 1999, and from the website:

    “The Christy Award is designed to:

    • Nurture and encourage creativity and quality in the writing and publishing of fiction written from a Christian worldview.
    • Bring a new awareness of the breadth and depth of fiction choices available, helping to broaden the readership.
    • Provide opportunity to recognize novelists whose work may not have reached bestseller status.”

    And Jill’s book certainly qualifies for the “quality and creativity” part. So what’s the fab book that’s snagging so much attention? It’s By Darkness Hid, the first book in The Blood of Kings trilogy.

    Book Two, To Darkness Fled, is out now. And I’m eagerly awaiting Book Three.





    Whoot!! It’s here!!

    9 04 2010

    The second book in Jill Williamson‘s Blood of Kings trilogy, By Darkness Fled, is finally here!! Yay!! I’ve included the buy button in case you want to get an autographed copy.

    If you haven’t read the first book, By Darkness Hid, you should snag a copy of that too. It’s been winning lots of awards– its latest honor is being chosen for VOYA’s Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Novels of 2009. In March it won the Epicon Best Fantasy Novel of 2009 award. And the reviews have been fab!

    School Library Journal highly recommended it and said, “This thoroughly entertaining and smart tale will appeal to fans of Donita K. Paul and J.R.R. Tolkien.” Tolkien no less!! Talk about being in illustrious company.

    Even better Amazon’s running a special on the Kindle version of Book 1 during April 2010. You can get it for only 99 cents!! So you can catch up on the world of Er’Rets while you’re waiting for your copy of By Darkness Fled to arrive.

    And here’s an excerpt from a review of Book 2, By Darkness Fled, by Publisher’s Weekly:

    “Williamson pens an action-packed, imaginative second installment in the Blood of Kings trilogy….All the familiar epic elements and emotions are freshly rendered, with Vrell and Achan especially memorable as they grow during their journey….the pace gallops along, leaving readers hungry for the concluding book.”

    map of Er’Rets

    Couldn’t resist posting a map of Jill’s fantasy world. If you’ve read the first book, these places will be familiar to you. If you haven’t, you’ll soon be a fan of this wonderfully fleshed-out land. And of her fully developed characters–Achan Cham and Vrell Sparrow, who are guaranteed to capture your heart.





    Ready to Leap?

    1 10 2009
    Leap Books Badge 1

    Leap Books Badge 1

    Leap Books has some great tween and teen titles lined up for the January 2010 grand opening. In addition to the titles listed on the website, many more are waiting in the wings. Look for some exciting new chick lit, mystery, fantasy, and sci fi titles that will leap off library and bookstore shelves in 2010.

    To celebrate, Leap Books is giving away swag. If you snag and post any Leap badge on your social networking site, you get one contest entry. For additional entries, post each badge at multiple sites. You get one entry for every new post. Check out the contest rules for more information. But aren’t these badges cool?

    I love this latest one. leapbadge2
    Go ahead. Snag one (or two) today.

    AND GET READY TO LEAP!





    Choices Meant for Gods

    15 06 2009

    The Danger of Putting a Handsome Character to Work

    By Fantasy Author Sandy Lender

    http://www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com


    When I started marketing my first fantasy novel CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS, I put together a couple blogs where I could get conversations going about it and about me. One of the more dangerous things I did was giving one of my main characters, Nigel Taiman, a blog to moderate at http://sandylender.blogspot.com.

    Now don’t get me wrong; Nigel’s a really nice gentleman. Just ask my heroine, Chariss. But he has a naughty streak in him. He’s not really sarcastic, but he does have a biting sense of humor when you least expect it of him. He seems to enjoy mocking me, poking fun at the absent-minded things I do, and just all-around taunting me. He’s recently put up a picture on the blog of me with a cooking wound…

    The original purpose of the blog was merely to promote my novel(s). It’s sort of expanded into promoting the CHOICES trilogy, fantasy author Sandy Lender, my main blog, and whatever else is happening when I can rein him in. And then I have to watch what he’s saying because I can’t let him give away plot developments.

    The No. 1 problem with Nigel is his going on and on (and on) about Chariss. He’s madly in love with her so it’s very easy for him to go off on a tangent about her lavender eyes or her strength or her shapely form or her smile or the way she can tease him with just a wink. It’s enough sap to make a sane person sick to her stomach, let me tell you that. So I try to keep an eye on him that way.

    Overall, I’d have to say it’s pretty dangerous to put a handsome character to work for you. It’s difficult to know just what they’re going to do or say at any given time so you’ve got to keep track of them. Nigel’s an independent sort, so it’s tough to keep track of him all the time. But he’s also a fine gentleman, so I guess I shouldn’t complain. He’s done a pretty good job of helping me with marketing. I encourage you to check out his blog when you feel like reading about an author’s less-professional moments. He’s willing to share those in abundance.

    “Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

    BLURB:

    Not even the gods noticed when Chariss was born with the mark of The Protector. Now she and her wizard guardian seek shelter from a mad sorcerer in a household not just full of secrets and false hope, but watched by the god who will unwittingly reveal her role in an impending war.

    When an orphan sets aside a lifetime of running and fear to accept the responsibilities of guarding an arrogant deity, can she face the trials in the prophecies she uncovers? Will Nigel Taiman of her latest refuge dare to use his dragon heritage to bind her to his estate or to help her in her duty?

    EXCERPT:

    This is a romantic scene as Nigel Taiman and Amanda Chariss ride from the estate at Arcana to Arcana City. Her wizard guardian has already clued her in to the fact that Nigel wants to court her, and she’s upset over it. The scene mentions the bear-like ryfel creature that nearly killed Nigel in the training arena…

    Nigel frowned at her. Spurring his horse slightly, he reached out to take hold of Shadow’s bridle. Bringing them both to a stop, he turned in the saddle to face her.

    “Hey!” she objected.

    “Indeed. Have I done something to anger you?”

    Her cheeks reddened with embarrassment.

    “’Manda?”

    “You’re staring at me.”

    “By the gods, Woman. All right, I’ll look at your horse. ’Manda,” he said to Shadow, “what have I done that’s made you angry?”

    “I’m not angry.”

    “You’re not a liar,” he spoke to Chariss again.

    “All right, so I’m a little angry. It will pass.”

    “And you don’t want to tell me what it is?”

    She couldn’t blame her reticence today on worry over Drake. She also couldn’t blame her health because she’d completely recovered from her telabyrinth poisoning. With Hrazon and The Master attending the summer festival, she couldn’t blame some sort of timidity at being ‘alone’ in the city. No, she had to take a deep breath and be honest with him. Considering the number of suitors she’d sent packing in the past few years, this should have been an easy thing to do again. It wasn’t. She sighed, closing her eyes as if she could make the scene disappear.

    “Do you agree that you’re my friend?” she finally asked.

    He watched her open her eyes then, realizing where the conversation must be going.

    “Yes.” It was said with exasperation.

    “And that I’m your friend?”

    “Yes.”

    “And does that please you?”

    He sighed, but didn’t get a chance to answer.

    “You see, Nigel, it pleases me. I appreciate your kindness, and I would be disappointed if we hadn’t built such a…such a…”

    “Friendship?” he retorted.

    “Such a rapport.”

    He rolled his eyes. “A fancier word with even less affection.”

    “My stay at Arcana is much more pleasant because I have this relationship with you. But someone has tried to convince me that your…your…”

    “Feelings?”

    “Well…your…”

    “Intentions?”

    “Well…your opinion of our relationship might be somewhat different from mine.”

    “’Manda, just say what you’re thinking. You won’t hurt my feelings.”

    She looked miserable then. “I don’t want to say what I’m thinking.”

    “Good!”

    “No, that’s not good. Hrazon thinks you’re…Hrazon believes you spend time with me because…” She paused, searching for the words.

    “Because I’m in love with you?”

    She nearly fell backward. “Just blurt it out!”

    He chuckled slightly. “This is uncomfortable, isn’t it? I’m sorry to embarrass you. This conversation would be better in a darkened corner of Arcana’s parlor. ’Manda, I’m not going to lie to you. Hrazon has every reason to believe I’m after his ward because I am. It’s no secret to anyone I enjoy your company. What, where are you…You’re the only woman I know who can scoot that far away on a saddle without falling off.”

    “I don’t think you should say those things.”

    “Aye,” he sighed, watching her fidget with Shadow’s reins. But he made a decision to press the matter. “I’m going to say them and get them out in the open. Then we can decide if you’re to die of embarrassment, or slap me across the face.”

    She couldn’t help smiling, even though her heart beat as if it would burst through her bodice from the tension she felt.

    “I enjoy being with you because you’re my perfect match,” he said. “Have you noticed that we agree on almost everything? And the few things we don’t agree on are intriguing to argue because you make them intriguing. There’s no one at that entire estate, The Master and every intelligent student combined, who can hold my attention as you do. None of them compare.

    “I’m attracted to everything about you, including your compassion. Even now, when you’re on the verge of falling off a horse with embarrassment, your concern is for my feelings, not your own. Godric, who doesn’t deserve to wash your feet, who finds every excuse to correct you, gets your respect because you remind yourself that he’s your benefactor. Do you know what strength of character that shows? Do you know how it endears you to me to know you bite your tongue after his arrogant remarks to save my mother’s feelings?”

    She merely nodded, her eyes cast down.

    “And do you know how it endears you to me to know you would fight to the death for little Kaylin?”

    She nodded again.

    “And do you know how it endears you to me to know you instinctively threw yourself into healing spells to save my life?”

    “You shouldn’t assume that means—”

    “I remember sliding toward death that night, life spilling out of me, and poison seeping into me from that thing’s claws. But do you know what I remember most distinctly? I remember you commanding me not to bleed to death…and I remember your hands afterward. Once I was healed, once Master Rothahn became preoccupied with the dead ryfel, you crawled over to me and put your hands on me again, as if you had to be sure He’d done a good enough job of healing me. But you would’ve done it for any member of my family. I daresay you would’ve done it for any student in the school. And it’s because you care about others, and you want the best for everyone around you. And you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

    The last comment caught her off guard. It didn’t seem to fit with the logical argument he tried to make.

    “I fail to see how these things tell you you’re in love. Kaylin enjoys my company. Mia enjoys arguing with me. I saved Sorne’s life once. Does this mean they’re in love with me?”

    “If love could be explained that easily, it wouldn’t be real.”

    “But what makes you think it’s real now? If you can’t explain your feelings, how do you know you’re not misled?”

    “How does the rose know to bloom in spring?”

    “Oh, now that talk I’ve heard before. I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t think you should let yourself believe it now.”

    “’Manda, I’m telling you the truth and I’m telling you what I know. If I’ve made you angry by falling in love with you, you’re just going to have to deal with it. Because you’re not currently interested in me, you have to give me time to change your mind.”

    They were silent then; he waited for some sign that she wasn’t going to cast him aside, she waited for her heart to stop beating so loudly in her ears. As far as she was concerned, she was often a foolish girl, but her intentions at the beginning of this conversation were foolish beyond compare. She realized—with alarm—that the blood rushing through her veins, the lightheadedness, the excitement at getting to spend an afternoon with him, were all signs she had chosen to ignore.

    She swallowed hard against the fear in her throat, and, with as much calm as she could muster, said: “What gives you the idea that I’m not interested in you?”