Sunday, June 27, 2010

Public Service Announcement

Hello bloggy friends! You'll never guess where I'm posting this from.

Go ahead-guess.

Here's a hint: I am still in my house.

NO! I'm not posting from the bathroom! Ew!

Give up?

I'm posting from my iPod touch.


Because my beloved laptop died yesterday. *moment of silence*

The motherboard is fried, which costs $400 to fix. Or $500 plus $100 to transfer my hard drive to a new laptop. Thankfully, I have a desktop computer. It is slightly overloaded, though, so I am spending my day trying to clean it out to make room for my writing folders from poor laptop.

Then I'll have to move the computer to the living room to hook it up to the interwebz, which will make concentrating difficult. *sigh*

My point, dear friends, is:

FOR THE LOVE OF BLOGS (and other social media) BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER!!!!!

That is all.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

Happy weekend, everyone! Can you believe it is mid-June already? Where is the time going?

I've won a blog award (yay!) from Jessie and Jessica! It's the Versatile Blogger award. Isn't it cute?

Here are the rules for this award:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (In no particular order…)
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

Without further ado, here are 7 things about me (which you may or may not already know).

  1. I lived in a hotel for four and a half months (including Christmas), and am still living in a rental house next door to my real house. We've been out of our house since October 1, 2008. With three small children. Oy.
  2. I have 11,000 pictures on my laptop and 15,000 pictures on my desktop computer. Very few are duplicates, and all are from 2003 and later. (Yikes!)
  3. Aside from YA and MG novels, I love to read paranormal romance.
  4. In college, I double-majored in elementary education and music. I studied vocal performance and viola, and ignored the one conducting class I took. I now direct two handbell choirs at my church.
  5. I am a night owl, and want to start a new town where nothing starts earlier than 10am. I named this (imaginary) place Strigifor.
  6. I took my avatar picture myself.
  7. I hate seafood.

Okay, 15 blogs I love (some you may have heard of, and some not, but they are all awesome)!

  1. Kiersten White
  2. Carrie Harris
  3. Lisa and Laura Roecker
  4. Elana Johnson
  5. Marcia Hoehne
  6. Stephanie Theban
  7. Jaclyn Dolamore
  8. Maggie Stiefvater
  9. Valerie Kemp
  10. Hilary Wagner
  11. Denise Jaden
  12. Myra McEntire
  13. Kasie West
  14. Shelli Johannes-Wells
  15. Heather Kelly

Before I go, here are two things I think you should check out.

  1. Maggie Stiefvater's awesome series on revising. I'm linking you to the third post, because it has links to the first two. Come back and tell me your favorite part!

  1. I've seen this too many places around the blogosphere not to share it. If you haven't seen it, you are in for a treat. If you have, watch it again!

Have an awesome weekend, everyone!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Mayhem (AND WINNERS)

Happy Monday, everyone!!!

First, I would like to point you to an interview of yours truly by the lovely Dorothy Dreyer. Please stop by and say hi!

Second, have you heard the amazing news? Some fantastic authors are throwing a FREE online kidlit conference. With TONS of agents and everything. I know! So you should go here or here or here or here or here or here to find out about it. I mention all of those places because most of the organizers are having giveaways on their blogs to celebrate the announcement! SQUEE!

Okay, here's the moment you've all been waiting for. THE WINNERS!

Winner of Cynthia Leitich Smith's ETERNAL is

Karen Strong!

Winner of Terri Farley's THE WILD ONE is

D.M. Cunningham!

Winner of Tammi Sauer
and Dan Santat's CHICKEN DANCE is

Aimee Bussard!

Congrats to the winners! Email me your physical address at lchardesty at yahoo dot com.

Thanks to everyone for all the entries, shoutouts, and blogs. I really appreciate it.

Talk to you soon!


Friday, June 11, 2010

SCBWI FL Mid-Year Workshop Part 3

Saturday was the last day for the conference. It started with a general assembly, which is where I got all the books signed for my GIVEAWAY! (Did you enter yet?)

Then I headed to the Picture Book Track. There was some great information in this session, some even applicable to novel writing!

First up was Alexandra Cooper from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. She talked about getting out of the slush, and her first point was to know who you're pitching to. Then she went through all the imprints at S&S, talking about what they focus on. She also said they recently had a visit from the head buyer for Borders. The buyer said that they are not looking for anymore bedtime books or "it's okay to be me" books. They are interested in good read alouds with big illustrations. (Alexandra emphasized that since Borders isn't interested in something, an editor is unlikely to acquire it). Alexandra said she loves funny books, and she's always looking for a book that has a new way of looking at things.

Important point – Picture books being acquired now are 500 words and under, even as low as 250-100 words. So cut, cut, cut!

Finally, Alexandra said that they sometimes will reject a perfectly good manuscript that just isn't a good fit (which goes back to the "know who you're pitching to" comment).

Tammi Sauer was up next, and she had some great lists of things she makes sure are in her manuscript before she sends it out. She had three lists, and here they are:

Does my manuscript:

  • offer a variety of scenes?
  • have a rhythmic feel?
  • have a read it again quality?
  • rely on pictures to tell the story?
  • cut to the chase (not bogged down by description.dialogue)?
  • have a universal theme?
  • warrant someone spending ~$20 per copy?
10 Must-Have Ingredients:

  • Emotion
  • Characters people can relate to
  • Plot
  • Words that sing
  • Good pacing
  • Page turn-ability
  • Humor
  • Low word count
  • Plenty of illustration possibilities
  • Originality
Tammi's Top Ten Secrets (I'm not going to give all of these, since they're SEKRIT, but I'll give my four favorites):

  • The right character is ARF: Active, Relatable, and Flawed
  • The problem or conflict has to be a BIG DEAL to the main character.
  • Up the tension: Follow the story arc: Problem, Obstacle 1, Obstacle 2, Obstacle 3, BLACK MOMENT, Climax, Resolution (with change/growth)
  • Amp up the humor – but realize that sometimes too funny is less funny.
Tammi also said, Ask yourself, "What could go wrong?" and then "How can I make it worse?"

  • Try to tell as much as possible in as little as possible.
  • (One of my favorites for the day) If you're thinking about writing a rhyming picture book: "Try it in prose to see where it goes." (Awesome)
Finally, Dan Santat gave us a mini book trailer training! Yay!

  • He started by saying that no book trailer will make someone buy a book, but it will make them AWARE of the book.
  • If you're confused or having trouble, look for tutorials on You Tube.
  • You can find some hints on his website:
  • Always end the trailer with the release date, cover of the book, and website (if applicable).
  • Step 1: Insert raw footage.
  • Step 2: Trim out useless bits. Also, if using stills, it's always better to have a still move (called the Ken Burns effect).
  • Step 3: Add text.
  • Step 4: Add sound (voice-overs add a nice touch).
After the group closing, it was time for the critiques. I had two.

My picture book was with Alex Flinn, who's book Beastly has been made into a movie coming soon! Woo! After the picture book day, I knew my PB wasn't ready, but Alex did like the premise and the main character. So, yay! Not a total throwaway. LOL.

Then came my critique with the amazing Cynthia Leitich Smith. I was sooooo nervous about this one. Happily, she LOVED the first 10 pages of LURE. YAY! She had a couple of minor suggestions, but mostly thought it was great. She even asked if I had an agent yet. I was so excited! She is so super nice. If you have a chance to attend a conference where she's speaking, you should GO!

So there are my notes from Saturday. I hope you find some of that helpful. Tell me in the comments what your favorite nugget is!

And don't forget to enter my GIVEAWAY! It ends at midnight TOMORROW!

Here are a couple of friends' blog posts from the conference. You should follow them! J

Karen Strong (her first page summary)


Cynthia Leitich Smith
Harley May

See you on Monday with GIVEAWAY WINNERS!!!


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

SCBWI FL Mid-Year Workshop Part 2

As promised, here are my notes from the Novel Intensive, featuring Kathleen Duey, Alvina Ling from Little, Brown, and Stephanie Owens Lurie from Disney/Hyperion.

It was amazing and inspiring. Hopefully, I can convey some of that to you, but I would like to encourage you to attend a writer's conference near you if you can at all afford to. Even just being around other writers is inspiring and freeing. No one at a writers conference will think you're weird when you talk about your characters like they're real people. ;)

The first topic the Thrilling Three covered was Character.

Alvina Ling – Character is Voice, Beliefs, and Experiences. You need to know these things about your character.

Kathleen Duey – To get a character to talk to you, try interviewing him/her. Not one of those questionnaires, but a conversation. Type a question and let the character answer you. She said it feels strange, but if it works for you, it will change your world. J

  • Try to get out of your character's way.
  • Get to your art and your craft will take you the rest of the way.
  • There are no rules except you want to write your book in such a way that people can't put it down.
  • Get out of your writing cave and observe children. She recommends mall food courts. You can hear kids talking when they don't think anyone is listening.
  • Character is the spine of everything.
  • (When talking about characters talking to the writer and doing unexpected things) All writing is paranormal. (I love this.)
  • Try writing from your secondary characters' POVs to get to know them and their motivation better.

Then we had a writing exercise to introduce a character in half a page or less. Both Alvina and Stephanie read examples of strong character introductions aloud. Then some volunteers read their introductions (written on the spot). What I got from this exercise is that a great character is distinct and interesting. The more the reader is pulled into the character's head, the better. Stephanie said she wants to either feel she IS the character or that she COULD BE the character.

*They liked my character introduction, which was a new story I've been thinking about. I guess I should start that one, huh?*

Next was Setting.

Kathleen Duey – Be careful to stay in viewpoint when describing setting (if you're in first person, the character isn't going to describe his room when he enters it. He already knows what his room looks like.)

  • Tiny details can be more interesting and telling.
  • Spend time on things the reader will not assume.
  • Magic has to be flawed in and of itself. There has to be a kryptonite (Superman wouldn't have been interesting if he could conquer everything).
Stephanie Lurie – Avoid vampires or werewolves.

  • Right now, apocalyptic/dystopian is hot.
  • Next is angels (mostly fallen).
  • She sees a lot of girls who died and are coming back.
  • She needs more MG (standalone or series). *yay*
Alvina Ling – Would love a sci fi (more space opera than dystopian).

Regarding Plot – Kathleen Duey – There is no magic formula (or if it exists, you don't want it).

The Thrilling Three also read first pages and queries.

Kathleen Duey – In queries and synopses, try not to name anyone but the MC because you'll be compelled to describe them. Do that with two or three side characters, and you've added an unnecessary paragraph. She recommended leaving other names off completely at first (use BFF or the like), and then add names if they are necessary. She also said in a synopsis, to tell both plot and emotional arcs.

Alvina Ling and Stephanie Lurie said that in a query, social networking is of interest (blog, twitter, etc), but conference attendance not necessary. They like "Readers of _____ will enjoy my book." But make sure the titles are current, in the same genre, and not blockbusters.

Alvina said she's looking for something familiar but fresh.

Stephanie said if you can give her the one-sentence pitch, the query summary (like jacket copy), and a great synopsis, she'll love it. She needs all three to acquire your book.

As a final note, Kathleen said that it's the subtle things that make a book believable or not.

So there are my notes from Friday. I hope you find some of that helpful. Tell me in the comments what your favorite nugget is!

And don't forget to enter my GIVEAWAY!

Here are a couple of friends' blog posts from the conference. You should follow them! J

Karen Strong


See you on Friday with my notes from the Picture Book Track and my critiques!


Monday, June 7, 2010

SCBWI FL Mid-Year Workshop Part 1 + GIVEAWAY!

This conference was AMAZING. Words cannot express how amazing, but I shall humbly try.

My conference experience started with picking up Kathleen Duey from the airport (I KNOW, right?). I have said before that she is the single most inspiring person I have ever met, and she is even more so now. She is so genuinely nice, helpful, and just fun to be around. You can tell she's really listening to you when you talk to her, and that she truly cares about everyone.

I brought the fabulous Jackie Dolamore with me to pick Kathleen up, since they had wanted to get together while she was in town. At the hotel, we joined the other speakers and volunteers for dinner, where I got to sit next to the lovely Terri Farley, whose book I am giving away shortly. She is really a wonderful person. Very sweet and fun to talk to.

The next day was the unbelievably awesome Novel Intensive.

But I'm going to make you wait to hear about it. I know, I'm mean. *evil grin*

Actually, I'm trying to be nice. I'm going to start the giveaway today (see rules below), and it will continue through Friday. On Wednesday, I will post about the Novel Intensive, and on Friday I will post about the Picture Book track and my critiques AND I WILL GIVE YOU EXTRA ENTRIES FOR COMMENTING ON THOSE POSTS. That's right. I'm giving you easy extra entries. *waits for applause and squeeing to die down*

Here are the awesome books you can win!

Eternal SIGNED by Cynthia Leitich Smith

The Wild One (Phantom Stallion #1) SIGNED by Terri Farley

(I am having trouble getting a picture of this book to work on here. Sorry!)

AND (I know, I said only two, but I'm too generous)

Chicken Dance SIGNED by Tammi Sauer AND Dan Santat

Here are the rulez:

1. You must comment here to be entered in the drawing (1 entry).

2. Old followers (following before June 6) get two additional entries.

3. New followers get one additional entry.

4. Tweeting/facebooking/blogging this giveaway earns you 2 additional entries for each instance (please include link in your comment, and if tweeting, use @lchardesty).

5. Follow me on twitter! One additional entry

6. You will get one additional entry each for commenting on Wednesday and Friday's posts.

6. Include your email in your comment.

7. Please add up your entries in your comment.

8. Giveaway ends at midnight EST on Saturday, June 12, and winners will be posted by Monday, June 14.


Ready, set, go! And thanks for reading. It really means a lot.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Getting Ready!

Hello my lovelies!

I am getting ready for the conference this weekend. Sooooo excited! I've polished my first pages until they shine. :) I've purchased my books for myself and for YOU! Yay!

And just so I stay grounded, some pipes at my house are clogged, so we have no toilets or other water (dishes and laundry - not that I do them like I should, but, uh, running out of clean clothes over here), and my youngest dd has bronchitis and won't take her meds. Woohoo!

I also would like to point you to the fun new badge I added at the top right. This is a new blog by some fabulous authors, and they are starting off with a GIVEAWAY! Check it out by clicking the badge.

So, while I get ready to have a fabulous time (and deal with awesome real life), I thought I'd leave you with this fantastic video by Jackson Pearce. Enjoy!

I'll be back with notes from the conference, and signed BOOKS FOR YOU! Stay tuned!