Friday, July 26, 2013

SCBWI LA13--Pre-conference interview with author Brodi Ashton

One week until the kickoff of the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA! I was so excited when I saw Brodi Ashton’s name on the schedule, I had to ask her for an interview. Brodi’s the author of the wildly popular EVERNEATH series, and she’s also hilarious (I love her).

I love YOU!

Hey, Brodi! Thanks for answering a few questions for our pre-conference interview! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your books?
I'm the author of the EVERNEATH series, which is about a girl who's spent a hundred years in the underworld getting the life sucked out of her by a hot immortal guy. At the end of the hundred years, she gets to go back to her high school for six months to say goodbye to her family and reconnect with the hot human boy she left behind, before she gets sucked back to the underworld again, this time forever. 

It's hilarious. Kidding. 

As for me, I'm a mom, and an ex-journalist, and a lover not a fighter, and a poker player, okay and sometimes I'm a fighter. 

I can’t wait to sit in on your workshop about world building. Any chance you can give us a sneak peek into your talk?
I'll tell you what it isn't! It isn't just a list of the practical questions to ask yourself about your new world. (Economics, landscape, politics, etc.) It goes beyond that. And it isn't just a showing of Battlestar Galactica. And it isn't a musical review. 

What do you think a new writer could gain from attending one of the SCBWI conferences? Is there anything in particular about writing conferences that you really enjoy?

With the SCBWI conferences, I LOVE being surrounded by like-minded people! A writer's life is so solitary most of the time, and SCBWI gives you a community!

As for what a new writer could gain... I remember my first SCBWI, where Sherman Alexie gave the opening keynote. I left that speech inspired and energized. In every conference since then, there's always that "ah-ha" moment, that speech that speaks directly to you and your work, that one interaction that makes you think, "This is what I came for. This changes everything."

And finally, the poolside gala is a Black and White ball. I was thinking of going as Batman. You?

That's so strange. I'm going as Robin. In some cultures, that means we're married. 


And thank you for the interview! 
Isn't Brodi awesome?? So if you'll be at the SCBWI Summer conference in LA next week, be sure to stop by her workshops. And if you can't make the conference, you can follow all the action on SCBWI official Team Blog site

Thursday, July 25, 2013

SCBWI LA 2013--Pre-conference interview with Donna Bray!

The SCBWI summer conference in LA kicks off in just a week! (!!!) Today I have an exclusive pre-conference interview with editor Donna Bray. Donna is co-publisher of Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins. B+B has published numerous award-winners and bestsellers in picture books, middle grade fiction, teen fiction, and nonfiction. Some of Donna's titles include the New York Times best-selling Wildwood series by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis; New York Times bestseller, Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen; the Coretta Scott King Award and Honor winner Heart and Soul by Kadir Nelson.
Donna took the time to give us some insight into this year's conference:

1.) What do you think authors can learn from editors when attending a SCBWI conference?
SCBWI conferences are invaluable in helping authors gain understanding of what is happening behind the scenes at publishing houses – how editors think about manuscripts, what appeals to them, how they work with authors and communicate with their colleagues, etc. It’s also great for authors to get a sense of the variety of personalities, literary tastes, and points of view in the editorial field. I believe it’s critical to be as informed as possible about the business you’re in (or hoping to enter).

2.) What will be the focus of your workshop, and do you think it’s best suited for published or aspiring authors?
I actually have two workshops, both of which I think would be useful for published or aspiring authors.
One is “Inside Balzer + Bray: 5th Anniversary Edition.” In this workshop I’ll be talking about how our imprint works, our mix of titles, and what kinds of books we’re looking for. This will be more than just a rundown of the books on our list (for that, folks can go to our Facebook page, where we have covers and reviews of all our titles by format and age group); I think authors can gain insight into the way a publisher shapes her list and how she thinks about books. And since the B+B list is both selective and diverse (we do everything from very young picture books through edgy teen fiction), it serves as a good introduction to a high-quality trade list.
The second workshop is “The Top Ten* Things Editors Are Looking for in Authors and their Work (*or More!).” I added the “or More” because I knew that once I got started, the list would get a lot longer! Everyone wants to be the author who is beloved by his editor and everyone in-house (right?) – I’m aiming to share the characteristics and best practices I’ve seen work so well for many of our authors, pre- and post-publication.

3.) Is there any advice you can give writers on how to reach out to editors or agents they’ve met through SCBWI?
Most editors and agents at the conference will let you know their individual policies for contacting them after the show – for instance, anyone who attends my workshops can send submissions for up to 6 months afterward (and I’ll give out my email address during the workshop). If they don’t, you can certainly ask. But in general, just be respectful and professional!

Thank you so much, Donna! I’m definitely looking forward to both of these workshops. Attendees can check their schedule for times. And as always, if you can’t make the conference, you can follow the official SCBWI Team Blog site for up to the minute updates.