Posted tagged ‘Conferences’

Zoomed Out!

May 13, 2021

I love Zoom as a way of connecting with people. Over the past year, Zoom has been a godsend to keep me in touch with family and friends.

As a writer, I’m constantly on Zoom. There are writing conferences, critique groups, writing classes, author webinars, etc. COVID-19 has made writing conferences much more affordable now that they are offered virtually. Because of this, I’m taking advantage of more and more of them.

There are bad things and good things about these opportunities. Different time zones present a problem with my schedule. Too early. Too late. Dinner time. Length of meetings. A perfect Zoom/webinar lasts no longer than one hour. After that, my mind, ears, and eyes begin to wander. The good thing is that most are recorded so I can catch up later at my own pace. The bad thing is I tend to jump into Zoom opportunities too often. I need to rectify that. Right now, I’m backlogged, trying to catch up on webinars and conferences I’ve missed. All this is eating into my writing time. That is not good.

I am zoomed out!!

Did I mention FaceTime? Don’t get me started!

Expert Tips on School Visits

May 21, 2010

When you do school visits, you’re an entertainer, a storyteller, and a magician! It’s a time to promote yourself and your books. From the moment you’re on, you want to capture the attention of your audience and keep them spellbound from beginning to end. This is easily said, but not always easily done.

Toni Buzzeo and Cynthia Lord are experts in school visits. Their workshop session at the New England SCBWI Conference was excellent. They covered everything from PowerPoint, to props, to audience management, to equipment, and delivery of presentations.

Here a few of the many tips they shared about school visits.

Younger children have a limited attention span. Make sure the length of your program is age-appropriate. Include audience interaction to keep them engaged. Props enhance your presentation – especially with younger children. If you choose to do a PowerPoint, keep it simple. Use text sparingly and put important information at the top of the screen. Children love to know about you. Pictures of you from your childhood and pictures of your pets are always a bit hit. Take time to set up before your presentation and make sure all of the equipment is working properly before you begin. If something goes wrong, have a back-up plan during the time the equipment is being fixed. When it’s time to start your presentation, make eye contact with your audience. Begin by stating your expectations of the audience. A well-paced presentation will help to keep everyone engaged.

A few more tips from Toni and Cindy. Have a contract for your school visit and put everything you want and need into your contract. Have the principal sign it. Make sure you have time between presentations — at least fifteen minutes. If all goes well, ask for a recommendation. No matter what happens, always keep a sense of humor.

Don’t Be Weird

April 27, 2010


Okay, a potbelly pig is a little weird, but authors and illustrators will do almost anything to get attention. You know I’m right!

I spent the weekend in Bettendorf, Iowa with a wonderful group of writers, illustrators, editors, and an agent. Secretly, I wanted to kidnap those editors and bring them home for one-on-one time with me and my manuscripts. That would be really weird, and I’d probably get arrested so I nixed that idea and took to heart some of the information I collected.

Lisa Graff made the comment:  “Don’t be weird!” When approaching editors of a publishing house, be professional. Don’t waste their time with silly stuff. They’re busy people. Lisa also said that if you’re writing a novel, begin with a good hook to grab the readers, and don’t forget to end each chapter with a hook that will keep readers turning the pages.

Ammi-Joan Paquette from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency shared eight ways to make your manuscript stand out ─ find your voice, be unique, start with a bang, get feedback, revise, make sure your manuscript flows well, raise the stakes for your main character, and set your manuscript aside before sending it out.

Allyn Johnston, VP and Publisher of Beach Lane Books and Marla Frazee, author-illustrator and recipient of a Caldecott Honor Award for All the World, talked about picture books. Pacing is extremely important in a picture book, and the ending of a picture book should surprise us and have a strong emotional impact upon us.

Along with Laura Arnold, editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, author Carol Gorman spoke about common mistakes writers make in their writing. So get out those grammar books and keep them close at hand.

Author/illustrator visits are an important part of spreading the word about your publications.

Mike Shoulders not only writes some great books, but he also gives dynamite school presentations! No time for in-school presentations? Dori Butler presented the ins and outs of visits via Skype. Now that’s a great way to put your best face forward.

The weekend was a time for meeting new people, learning new things, and sharing with one another. There was a feeling of camaraderie at this conference that made the weekend a top-notch experience. Well done Iowa SCBWI.

One last reminder:  When it comes time to send out your manuscript, make sure you’ve done everything to make it the best you possibly can, and DON’T BE WEIRD!

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