Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Visits and Visitors

Photo by Raywal65 at 
Happy Wednesday! 

It is a very happy Wednesday for me. I am thrilled to be over at The Writing Nut for the Wednesday Writer’s Workspace. I’d love for you to come on over and check it out, if you have the time.

Also, I won’t be around next week (my mom is coming to visit). I’ll be back July 3rd. Just a little bloggy break.

Happy reading and writing, my friends!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Mania Anyone?

Last week I attended BEA (BookExpo America). I’d never been to this conference before. In summary: Wow.

First of all, this ginormous convention took place in the mega huge (think multiple airplane hangers) Jacob Javits Center in New York City. And every inch of this place was crammed with publishers, areas for workshops and seminars, signing booths where authors gave away copies of their newly released or soon to be released books (many signed at the publisher booths, as well), and vendors selling food and drink (with prices that required buyers to sell kidneys).

The day began early with the Children’s Book and Author Breakfast, a ticketed event that sold out months ago. Chris Colfer (who plays Kurt Hummel on Glee), the master of ceremonies for the breakfast, woke us up with his wit and sense of humor (while plugging his middle grade novel, The Land of Stories). John Green, Lowis Lowry, and Kadir Nelson also spoke, each amazing, as I’m sure you can imagine. As a bonus, everyone in the audience walked away with copies of the latest books from these authors. Sweet!

A glimpse of a few signing booths.
For the rest of the day, my writer pals and I cruised, perused, and attended workshops and interviews. Moving about was often challenging given the dense crowds and snaking lines of people waiting to have often free books signed. I practically tripped over Chris Colfer as he signed copies of his novel. I spotted Jane Seymour (actress) signing books, and I became lost in what might have been a flash mob around Rachel Ray (celebrity chef and daytime TV show hostess). I also heard R.L. Stein talk about his famous Goosebumps series and middle grade novels. To top all this off, I scored a better seat for the interview with Patti Smith and Neil Young than I’ve ever enjoyed at a concert (and believe me, this was a one interesting conversation).

All this and I walked away with enough books to dislocate at least one shoulder. I hadn’t planned on this, but every time I paused, someone handed me a book. I am not kidding when I tell you that I turned more away than I accepted. In the end, sacrificing a shoulder or two seemed like the right thing to do. 

For more info and a more professional take on the BEA scene as it pertains to the children’s book industry, check out this Publisher’s Weekly article:

Now tell me, have you ever attended BEA, or a mega book conference or event such as this? If not, would you want to check it out (keeping the crowds and chaos in mind)? If you have been to BEA or a like conference, what did you take away from the experience?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Traffic light photo by alvimann at    
Do you notice symbols when you are reading? Or, for that matter, in the world around you? They can sometimes be easy to overlook, I think. 

Do you incorporate them into your writing? Symbols can add meaning, highlight the underlying theme, or even nudge a reader to make certain connections. I like symbols best when they occur organically and throughout a story, as long as they are not stuffed into the text with a heavy, over-enthusiastic hand. Like mine. When I revise, I often have to delete a symbol or two (or three) that I like too much.

I love coming across symbols while I am reading. Maybe a character has a beloved bicycle that she rides in the beginning of a story. The bicycle ends up at the back of the garage as the story rolls along. This could be a subtle indicator of what is going on in the character’s life. Maybe the bike symbolizes the character being neglected or distracted from what she loves. Maybe the bicycle shows that she’s growing out of a bicycle-riding stage. The bicycle could be just a bike, or it could be a symbol or reflection of what is going on in the character’s life.

Ring photo by lisafanucchi at
Symbols don’t have to be objects, either. They can be phrases, gestures, or character traits. The trick, for writers, is to be sure that the symbols sprout in a natural way from the story. Whenever I force a symbol into a story, it’s obvious. As in there’s an orangutan sitting at the kitchen table obvious. It’s best to pull symbols from what the story offers.

What are some of your favorite symbols from your reading and writing? I still think about that famous pie from The Help. And, of course, who could forget Frodo’s quest for that symbol of all symbols—the ring?