Monday, November 30, 2009

Is Membership in a Writing/Illustrating Organization Right For You?

About a year ago, when I finished the first draft of my YA novel and was enjoying some minor success with freelance non-fiction, a friend suggested I join a writer’s organization such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).  At the time I didn’t join because I thought:
  • It’s too early; my novel isn’t finished.
  • I’ll have to pay dues and won’t get anything out of it.
  • I will embarrass myself because I don’t know what I am doing.
Boy was I wrong.  In November, I attended the SCBWI Regional Conference in Palatine, IL.  For a couple hundred bucks, I received 10 hours of detailed information on writing and publishing for children and young adults.  This information came not from academic types but from actual published writers, agents and editors!  They talked about picture books, middle grade, young adult, and non-fiction markets, what sells and what doesn’t. 

I found myself wishing I had joined earlier.   Changes I had made to my writing based on hard knocks and sheer dumb luck, were laid out for the taking for the smart folks who had joined during revision one.   Fortunately for me, the lectures validated my story and helped to give me the confidence to take the next steps toward submission.

When I came back from the conference, I joined and am now a card-carrying member.  Guess what?   Included in my membership packet was a publication guide filled with targeted advice on writing query letters and formatting manuscripts, and a listing of editors and agents that are looking for YA --just what I needed.

Are you a newbie writer thinking about taking your passion to the next level?  If so, here are some links to organizations that can help you get there.  Don't be afraid!

  • http://www.scbwi.org - Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators
  • http://www.rwanational.org/ - Romance Writers of America
  • http://www.sfwa.org/ -Science Fiction Writers 
  • http://www.mysterywriters.org/ - Mystery Writers 
  • http://www.thrillerwriters.org/ - Thriller Writers 

Friday, November 27, 2009

Extreme Makeover - Blog Edition

Everything that grows, changes.  I'm still the same height (unfortunately), but adapting to a new perspective on what I want to do with this writing bug of mine.  Recently, I was ranting to a friend about how much I loved to write but didn't know where to focus my energy to get published (now).  She said, "You want to write.  So, write!  Stop worrying so much.  These things take time."  I agreed.

Halloween is over, and so is the Queen of Darkness motif.  This new schema will encompass a broader range of writing topics, one of which is the journey I am about to embark on to get "Dark Angels" published.

I hope you enjoy So, write.  Something new is coming soon!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Would you like some fries with your scythe?

“Welcome to Burger Palace.  Would you like to try our colossal meaty burger?”  I adjusted my glasses on my face and pushed a strand of brown hair out of my line of vision, tucking it under the orange hat that was part of my uniform.  My customer was one of “them”. See I work in the Las Vegas burger palace.   Entertainers are always coming in here after their shows.  So, when I see a seven-foot, black hooded figure with a scythe, I think the Cirque du Soleil just closed curtain at the Bellagio.
“I am the angel of death, “ the black hoodie boomed.
“Okay man, what can I get for ya?”  I hooked my fingers in my belt loops and heaved upward, straightening my shirt over the waistband. 
“Your soul.  I’m here for your soul.”
Maybe I was mistaken but he sounded terse.  I blinked at him several times and rubbed my nose with my knuckle.  “Seriously, dude.  There’s a line.”  I tossed a finger in the direction of the crowd of people behind the counter and only then realized they were catatonic.  They stood like statues, hands floating in odd and uncomfortable positions of mid-movement.  “Damn!”
“Are you prepared to relinquish your soul?” the hood bellowed.
“Seriously? What am I dying of?”
“Heart disease.”
I rubbed my chest.  It did feel a little tight and I wasn’t in the greatest of shape.  I had thought it was gas.  “Wait.   So, are you taking me to heaven or hell?”
“Heaven,” the dark figure said with a sigh.  His voice was quieter now, almost bored.
“WOOHOO!” I yelled.  I jumped up and down punching the air above my head.
“Are you so happy about dying?” the hood asked in that same uninterested tone.
“Look around you, Death.  May I call you Death?”
The hood nodded.
“My life sucks.  I work like a slave here and still can’t pay my bills.  This is awesome! “ A smile crept across my face as a thought blossomed in my mind. “My landlord is going to be so pissed when he finds out I’m dead.  I hope I can see his face when they tell him.” I rubbed my hands together.
The hood was silent.  I caught myself wondering what was back there, behind the great dark void nested in so much black cotton.
“So, what’s the process here?  When do we go?” I asked.
“Now is the usual way,” he said, but he just stood there, hood pointed at the menu.
I should know by now that being nice gets you nowhere.  But there I was, in the pit of that awful silence, with nothing in my head but the reflex to do what I was trained to do.
“Well, gosh, Death.  Is there anything I can get for you before we go?  Do you wanna try a colossal meaty burger?  I mean, I guess I can get it for you for free.  It’s really good.  A full pound of beef with bacon and cheese on top.”
“It has been a long time since I had a burger,” Death said.
“Well, have a seat.  I’ll getchya one, “ I said.  There was one in the warmer, so I grabbed it and exited the counter.  Death leaned his scythe against the garbage bin and slid into a booth by the door.  I tossed the yellow paper wrapped sandwich down on the table and sat down across from him. 
Boney hands emerged from the black robe and unwrapped the paper.  The sandwich disappeared within the hood.  Sloppy smacking and slurping came from the void.
“So, how do you get to be Death anyway?”  I asked.
Death did not answer.  Instead, the boney hands emerged from the hood, the burger gone.  They clawed at the chest of the black robe.  A gagging sound echoed around me.
The world shifted.  I felt myself pulled toward the black cotton robes. From within the void a boy emerged—skinny, with bad skin.  I was sucked into his place and watched helplessly as he filled mine.  The second before he died, he smiled.
“Awww, crap! “ I said.
*****
Turns out being Death is a lot like my last job.  I stand at a counter and wait for an assignment.  Some guy hands the order to me and I beam down to Earth to pick up the soul.  People never appreciate what I do.  Really, it’s not surprising the best Deaths come from Burger Palace employees.  The only thing missing is the burgers. 
Man would I love a good burger.