Thursday, February 23, 2012

Q&Q Writer Series featuring Linda Granfield

I first met Linda Granfield through email when we were discussing the "Mash-up" planned for the launch of the Anthology,  Piece by Piece: Stories About Fitting Into Canada edited by Teresa Toten and published by Penguin. Her wit and humour won me over as we wondered just how this mash-up was going to mesh out. She was even more wonderful in person!

Linda loves writing historical non-fiction and she has a really cool website. She lives by the motto:
"Every Day Is Remembrance Day/Veterans Day." Linda is best known for her book: In Flanders Fields: The Story of The Poem by John Mccrae. The entire list of books can be found here.

And here's a peek at make Linda who she is... 

1) In one word, how would you describe your personality?
2) What is your deepest desire?
I want to see my now-adult children (2) remain healthy and happy.

3) Your greatest fear?
Snakes, even pictures of the real things.

4) Your favourite colour?

5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
Any Beatles or Dusty Springfield song.

6) A movie that made you cry?
Field of Dreams (every time!)

7) A book you have read more than five times? Or a book that influenced you the most?
"Little Women" made me want to be a writer.

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
No favourite child--but "In Flanders Fields: the Story of the Poem by John McCrae" changed my writing-life.

9) One thing you hate about being a writer?
The paper "mess"--from research, drafts, letters, edits. After recycling, I'm still running out of places to put it! And I can't write and file at the same time, so the paper piles grow.....and grow....

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
I collect "perfume cards" from the fragrance counters in stores. Well-designed, free, mini-art made of paper, wood, ribbon, silk, etc. I have nearly 500 different perfumes represented, from stores in a few countries. (See what I mean about "paper"!)

Thanks, Linda!

Monday, February 6, 2012

And the Final Day at SCBWI: Sunday, Jan 29, 2012

Having stayed up way past my bedtime the night before, I looked like a sleepy raccoon on Sunday morning. Thank God for the coffee and cake in the morning. The sugar rush helped as we headed back into the huge ballroom for some final doses of advice, panel discussions and information.

It started out with the announcement of the Tomie dePaola Awards and Art Showcase winners. All the entried were shown and they were beautiful. The judges must have had a tough choice.

Lin Oliver kept us laughing (and awake!) with entries from the Joke Contest: Pick a character from a children's book and create a campaign slogan for him/her/it. Here's one I remember: Captain Underpants - You can't get more transparent than this :)

Jane Yolen came on stage with a lovely announcement: she had started a grant to help midlist authors and had nominated a couple of writers already. It was heartwarming to hear of such a lovely gesture!

The illustrators were not left out in the cold and we had a chance to see the Bookmakers Dozen Panel comprising artists and illustrators in the Brooklyn area. This was moderated by Laurent Linn of Simon and Schuster. Amazing and talented panel which included: Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, Peter Brown, Brian Floca, David Gordon, Brett Helquist, Aileen Leitjen, John Bemelmans Marciano, Sean Qualls, John Rocco, Sergio Ruzzier and Dan Yaccarino.

The last panel was about The Current Market for your Work: Four Agents' Views and comprised Ginger Knowlton (Curtis Brown), Regina Brooks (Serendipity Literary Agency), Chris Richman (Upstart Crow Literary) and Ken Wright (Writers House). A great discussion moderated by Lin Oliver.
The Good News: The market is still robust and there's always a place for a good story. But this is a "bestseller business" and the competition is fierce so your manuscript really has to stand out for it to get published.

What are they looking for?
  • A great hook
  • A classic story that is timeless rather than following a trend.
  • Do not follow trends (they were all unanimous about this)
  • Good, clean writing.
  • Universally identifiable theme with a global reach.
  • A twist on a known theme or an unusual POV. EG: A baseball story told from the POV of the Umpire.

And finally, a warm and inspiring talk from Katherine Erskine who told us to FOCUS on our work.

Finally it was time for the autograph party and goodbyes with promises to return. And I shall...soon.

Hope you enjoyed these posts. And hope to run into you someday, at a future conference. Ciao.