Sunday, January 31, 2010

SCBWINY10 - Sunday!!!

Oh. My. Gosh.

Saturday was a blur of people and connections and insights and information and laughter...

And here we are, already at the Sunday of the Conference.

This morning starts with the awards ceremony and then marketing and children's book promotion expert Susan Raab telling us about What's Selling and What's Not.

Agent Sheldon Fogelman on Shaping A Career In Children's Books.

Author/Illustrator Jim Benton on "The Compulsive Creator."

An Agents panel with:

George Nicholson, Sterling and Lord Literistic
Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio
Tina Wexler, Director, ICM

The final Keynote by Jane Yolen...

And then the finale autograph party!

It's going to be another incredible day of learning and sharing and growing...

So don't forget to check in with the Official Conference blog for updates throughout the day - and of course, our twitter feed at #SCBWINY10

And now I've got to go!!!


Saturday, January 30, 2010

SCBWINY10 - Saturday!

Hi everyone - a special Saturday post to keep you all up-to-date on the amazing SCBWI New York Conference. (Be sure to check out the Official Conference Blog for all the breaking blog posts, and our twitter feed at #SCBWINY10)

Here's what I'm really excited about today:

Libba Bray's opening keynote: Writing as an Extreme Sport!

All the great "The Real Deal about..." Sessions, especially the two I'll be blogging,

Writing Fantasy with Arianne Lewin


Writing for Teens with Ben Schrank

The fantastic Jacqueline Woodson's lunchtime Keynote "Locking the Door Upon Ourselves: The Importance of Writing In Today's World" Jacqueline is amazing and articulate and her words are just... poetry, even when she's just speaking with you!

And Peter Sis' keynote: Making Sense of Life Through Books - because hey, that's so much of how I made sense of the world and my place in it as a kid and teen!

It's a day that's going to be packed-packed-packed with great info and moments and wonderful people. There are lots more "Real Deal" sessions with Jenn Bailey, Eddie Gamarra, Allyn Johnston, Alvina Ling, Laurent Linn, Brenda Murray, Edward Necarsulmer IV, and Francesco Sedita - and it's so great that there's a whole team of us SCBWI Team Bloggers who can give you a taste of all of it!

And remember - tonight's both the SCBWI GLBTQ Mixer (5:30pm after the day's scheduled events) and the Tweet-up (8pm-?)

Here's that scoop:

Find the LGBTQ in SCBWI
Saturday, Jan 31, 2009
Uncle Charlie's Bar
139 E. 45th Street

At SCBWI's 2008 Summer Conference in Los Angeles, a group of LGBT editors, agents and authors met informally to discuss LGBT publishing, specifically chatting about the submission process, who is interested and what types of stories they are interested in. We've continued this conversation at each conference since.

Please join us on Saturday, January 31, at Uncle Charlie's Bar, 139 E. 45th St, at 5:30 after the day's scheduled events.

Maybe you've written a book about or for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or questioning youth; maybe you're interested in doing so, and you're just not sure where to begin; maybe you are just curious to learn more about this vital corner of the market for young readers.

Whatever your interest in the subject matter, all are welcome. Bring a friend and any questions you may have.

Hosted by Aaron Hartzler, T.S. Ferguson, and myself.

And then, following that Mixer, we'll be heading over for the tweet-up, and here's the skinny on that:

SCBWINY10 Conference Tweet-Up
8pm - ?
The Campbell Apartment Bar
15 Vanderbilt Ave (Between 42nd Street and 43rd Street)
New York, NY 10017

This is IN the Grand Central Terminal, and you can get there from the hotel without going out into the cold! How cool is that? And they have live jazz. And martinis!

Hosted by the incredible Jenn Bailey!

WOW - that's a full day!

And to start it out, check out this hysterical "Try Not To Piss Off The Editors" video I made with Paula Yoo and Arthur A. Levine, posted here on the Official Conference blog!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

SCBWINY10 - Friday Pre-Show: Writer & Illustrator Intensives, And What You Need To Know!

Okay, New York City!

It's cooooold. 13 degrees farenheit, -10 celcius as I write this!

And it's dark out still.

But it's exciting, 'cause TODAY everything's ramping up!

Don't miss the play-by-play highlights at the Official SCBWI Conference Blog!

Make sure to follow #SCBWINY10 (and add that hashtag to your own tweets) to keep up with the buzz on Twitter!

And remember there will be two special events on Saturday night after conference hours:

The SCBWI Saturday Night GAY Mixer!

Do you have questions about gay (GLBTQ) content in your work?
About gay content in children's publishing in general?
Want to meet other children’s and teen book professionals who are GLBTQ or straight allies?

Come network and chat with GLBTQ-friendly editors, agents, art directors, illustrators, and writers!
Grab a drink (cash bar, but ask about the drink specials), hang out, and enjoy a great discussion.

Saturday, January 30
6:30pm - 8pm
at Uncle Charlie's
139 E. 45th Street, 2nd Floor

(From the Hyatt, walk east (right) on 42nd St to Lexington.
Turn left, go 3 blocks north on Lexington to 45th Street.
Turn right, go 1/2 block.)

Hosted by myself, SCBWI's Aaron Hartzler, and T.S. Ferguson

And just after that, on the same Saturday night of the conference, don't miss the

SCBWINY10 Conference Tweet-Up
8pm - ?
The Campbell Apartment Bar
15 Vanderbilt Ave (Between 42nd Street and 43rd Street)
New York, NY 10017

This is IN the Grand Central Terminal, and you can get there from the hotel without going out into the cold! How cool is that? And they have live jazz. And martinis!

Hosted by the incredible Jenn Bailey!

Okay, now that you know what you absolutely HAD to know, I'm off to my writers intensive...

Have a great day, everyone!


The 2010 Comment Challenge FINALE!

Congratulations, fellow blog commenters!

We did it!

We've arrived at day 21 of our 21 day challenge.

The goal was to get ourselves into a new, good habit of commenting more on the blogs in our world of Children's literature (The Kidlitosphere.)

We aimed for 5 comments a day for 21 days - could we reach 100 comments (with one day off) in that 3 week challenge period?

Did I?

YES! Just before writing this post I hit "publish" on my 100th comment!

And oooh, it feels good.

And YOU? Did you make it to the finish line?

If you did, leave a comment here so you'll be entered in the prize drawing and can bask in the glow of praise your community will heap upon you.

And even if you didn't quite reach the 5-a-day goal to reach 100 comments total, did you comment more? Did you discover some great new blogs? Did some new readers (and commenters) discover your blog? Leave a comment also, and let MotherReader and I and everyone else know how it went for you.

Here are some highlight quotes from this year's Comment Challenge participants:

I've gotten comments from new readers, whose blogs I had commented on, and vice versa.

I can't believe how connected I've become with writers on the other side of the country...

I'm greatly enjoying learning about & becoming more a part of the kidlit community.

It's been great to find interesting new blogs and to see new people visiting mine.

It's a great challenge and I've found lots of cool blogs and people. I've been getting more visitors to my blog too, which is nice.

It's fun to reconnect and it's fun to find new friends.

I've discovered some new-to-me blogs that I'm really enjoying and I really feel like I've gotten more involved in the community over the past couple of weeks.

I have received several comments! Not a deluge, but more in one week that I had in the past few months. That's very nice.

I visited new people, and had people visit my new blogs...

I've gotten more traffic on my blog, more comments, a few followers and maybe a couple of future friends.

This challenge is brilliant. :) I can tell I'm forming a commenting habit already.

See, just participating in The Comment Challenge is its own prize. And while we're determined to do this event annually, try to keep it up over the next 11 months... after all, a good habit is a terrible thing to break!

Keep Commenting, a big shout-out of THANKS to the unstoppable MotherReader for being my co-host and partner-in-commenting-crime, and congratulations to everyone who joined in!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Vast Fields Of Ordinary

By Nick Burd

It's the summer before his first year of college, and Dade is dealing with a lot. He has a crappy job at Food World, his parents are getting a divorce, and the guy he's been dating is a closet case. But then he meets the mysterious Alex, and Dade gets to come out - and fall in love - real love!

Oh, and there's drinking, smoking pot, sex, and a tragedy... all of which adds up to quite a summer.

"The Vast Fields Of Ordinary" won the first-ever Stonewall Book Awards Children's and Young Adult Literature Award for 2010, awarded by the GLBT Round Table of the American Library Association.

Add your review of "The Vast Fields Of Ordinary" in comments!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pitch It! The Agonies of telling your story in 30 seconds or less. Your (and My) SCBWI Conference Homework!

"So, what are you working on?"

You know someone's going to ask you this.

It may be the person in line behind you at the conference bookstore. The person on the plane sitting next to you. Or it could be an agent. Or an editor.

"Its... uh...."

Ugh. 30 seconds.

How can you possibly boil down all that work - all the complexity and wonder that is your Work-In-Progress, to a couple of sentences?

Here's a Tip: You don't have to freeze up, because the question will NOT be a surprise. You KNOW it's going to be asked. I just told you, someone's going to ask you.

And you have 3 days left before the conference starts, including today - it's time to prepare.

But how? How do you get your two page synopsis of your magnum opus distilled down?

Try this:

Imagine your book has been published. You're standing in the bookstore next to a PILE of your books on a table by the front, and you notice an ideal target reader has picked up your book. They're holding it in their hands. They look at you, then at the flap's author photo, and then back again.

"You're the author?" They ask, awe-struck.

You smile. Nod. You've been waiting for this day for so long...

"Wow," They say. "What's it about?"

Now go: Just talk about it.

What did you say? Write it down. Tweak it. Practice it. Learn it. (I didn't say memorize it - no one wants to listen to a rote speech.) But know your story. Be able to discuss what you're writing and convey why you are passionate about it. (For illustrators, same thing: what are you working on, and what fires you up about it?)

Because hey, someone's going to ask:

What are you working on?

And the conversation you have with them will be a lot more fun (and productive) if you're able to talk about it.

So what are you waiting for? Go do your homework!

And I'll see you Friday, at the 2010 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City. (You can still register for the conference!)


Oh, and remember that this Thursday, January 28, 2010 is the FINAL day of The 2010 Comment Challenge - 5 comments a day, 100 comments in 21 days, (with one day off for good behavior!) You can check out MotherReader's blog today for our prize package announcement!



Monday, January 25, 2010

Queer? Need Money for College? The Point Foundation Scholarships for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Straight Allies!

The Point Foundation is "The National LGBT Scholarship Fund."

Their mission:
Point Foundation provides financial support, mentoring, leadership training and hope to meritorious students who are marginalized due to sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Their goal for each of their Scholars: "to assist each scholar to the full extent possible so they may focus on their academic career rather than worry about funding."

And it's not just for US citizens (but it is only for study within the USA.)

And the Point scholarships are not just for students who identify as LGBT. They will accept an application from anyone who has
"a history of leadership in or alliance with issues that affect the LGBT/Queer community and you must plan to continue this leadership/alliance in the future."

There's no age limit, and they are open to giving scholarships for community college, undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate study!

So what are you waiting for? The deadline for the 2010 - 2011 Academic Year is February 12, 2010 at midnight PST.

Go check out The Point Foundation, and consider applying today!

Good luck, and Namaste,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Oops, Bloomsbury does it again! A Book With A Black Main Character Gets A White Person On The Cover! And It's Not "Liar" - It's "Magic Under Glass!"

So when Justine Larbalestier's "Liar" came out, this was the cover:

There was a BIG stink made, and rightly so, over the fact that, um... the main character WASN'T a white girl. She was black. Even the author voiced her respectful disappointment with the cover misrepresenting her book, and something amazing happened: The cover was changed. Here's the new cover.

So, moving on. You'd think the lesson would have been learned, wouldn't you?

You'd be wrong.

So the same publishers (Bloomsbury) come out with Jaclyn Dolamore's "Magic Under Glass."

Here's the cover:

So does that young woman match, as it says on page 96, a main character who would say "[The dress] dipped low in back and front...exposing what seemed like far too much of my brown skin."

Um, NO.

Once again, a YA book starring a person of color is being made to look - by the cover - as a YA book about a white person.

And that's really a disservice to the story, and to the readers.

As Ari from Reading In Color put it so heart-wrenchingly in her "Open Letter to Bloomsbury Kids USA,"

Do you know how sad I feel when my middle school age sister tells me she would rather read a book about a white teen than a person of color because "we aren't as pretty or interesting." She doesn't know the few books that do exist out there about people of color because publishing houses like yourself, don't put people of color on the covers.

The upside? This publisher responded to the public pressure and shame of what they did once, by changing the cover for "Liar." We should raise our voices along with Ari and many others, and express how important it is (to all publishers) to not white-wash the ethnicity of the characters when they design their covers.

Now here's the breaking news: Bloomsbury just announced "Bloomsbury is ceasing to supply copies of the US edition of Magic Under Glass. The jacket design has caused offense and we apologize for our mistake. Copies of the book with a new jacket design will be available shortly."

I'm glad they're gonna change this one, too, but shouldn't the lesson have been learned by now?

Wanna contact Bloomsbury and share your thoughts?

You can e-mail Bloomsbury editorial here:

And of course, you can share what you write them here in comments!

Interestingly, this is an issue that's popping up all over the place:

Bookshelves of doom has a great piece about "The Mysterious Benedict Society" books, where the character of Sticky is brown-skinned in the inside illustrations and um, white on the covers of book #2 and #3!

And there's a new fantasy anthology by Chinese writers where they've made the cover image of the dragon a Western (read: white) dragon rather than an Asian (read: ethnic) dragon. Seriously.

Here's one more thing you can do: The lovely Nathalie Mvondo has created a petition to All Publishing Houses, letting them know that as readers, we'll still buy the books if the covers accurately represent the characters within! It's elegant and very polite, and you can sign it here.


Thanks to Ari for getting the word out and being so amazing, and Charlotte, for pulling so many great quotes from "Magic Under Glass" where the character of Nimira refers to how she looks! My appreciation to EVERYONE who joined in the protest, and also thanks to Nathalie, for letting me know about Bloomsbury's change of heart on the cover for "Magic Under Glass!"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The 2010 Comment Challenge Week Two Check In: You're Doing GREAT!

We would have called the challenge "Constant Comment,"
but wouldn't you know it, the name was taken!

So sit back, sip your tea, and note that today marks the end of the second full week of our three week Comment Challenge.

And really, judging by the comments left both here and at the wonderful MotherReader's first week check-ins, you're doing great.

Remember, the goal is to get yourself into a better habit of commenting more often - so don't kick yourself if you only commented once on a particular day - if one comment is more commenting than you would usually do, that's a good day.

And yeah, I'm finding that, as many of you said, it's not a consistent flow of comments from day to day. Weekends are harder for me to find the time, so I get more commenting done during the work-week. But that's just me.

Here's my tally for the past week:

Friday Jan 15: 4
Saturday Jan 16: 1
Sunday Jan 17: 1
Monday Jan 18: 5
Tuesday Jan 19: 5
Wednesday Jan 20: 9
Thursday Jan 21: Um, none yet. But hey, it's still early in my time zone - but I'll carry over the 6 comments I did LAST Thursday and didn't get to count in last week's tally)

So that's a second week total of: 31. I'm 4 shy of my goal, but I know I can make that up in Week Three!

How did the second week of The 2010 Comment Challenge go for you? Let me (and everyone else) know... Where? You guessed it, in comments!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Of All The Stupid Things

By Alexandra Diaz

Tara, Whitney, and Pinkie have been friends forever. Then a rumor starts that Tara's boyfriend has been with one of the guy cheerleaders.

On top of that, there's a new girl at their school... and Tara starts to feel things she's never felt for another girl before.

As everything changes, can Tara's friendship with the other girls survive?

Add your review of "Of All The Stupid Things" in comments!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

PLAYING THE GAME OF LIFE FOR REAL: A Guest Blog Post By Author (and Jello Mold Maker) Claire LaZebnik

When Prop 8 was passed last November, my four kids (ranging in age from 8 to 17) were stunned. They knew about the proposition, but had assumed it would easily be voted down, since they didn't see how anyone could have a problem with two people in love wanting to get married. They just didn't get it.

Now that the Prop 8 battle is front page news again, I've been wishing I could make everyone see the issue the way my kids do. So I have an idea.

Let's all sit down and play a board game together.

See, years ago, my nephew Rudy did this really cool thing. He and my sister were playing the Game of Life together and when he landed on the "get married" square, he plucked out a blue peg instead of a pink one and put it next to the blue driver peg in his little plastic car. He was pretty young--maybe five or six--and just wanted to change things around a bit. And he didn't see any reason not to.

After my sister mentioned this, the next time I played the Game of Life with my kids, I casually said, "I'm going to marry a woman this time," and put a pink peg next to mine. The kids paused. "Really?" they said. Then they shrugged. And then one of them decided also to marry a "same sex" peg.

From then on, whenever we played the game, we'd mix it up. Most often it was still a blue and a pink peg in the front of the car, but sometimes two blues would marry and have a family, sometimes two pinks. It didn't change the way we played the game. It just changed the look of the little plastic cars. But in its own quiet, mellow way, it gently altered my kids' assumptions about how things are "supposed" to be.

Is this really so terrifying?

So, as the battle over Prop 8 continues to rage, I think we should invite everyone who's in favor of banning gay marriage to a big ole Game of Life tournament. The first time someone puts a blue peg next to a blue peg, they'll probably object, say that's not how the game is played, accuse us of breaking the rules, maybe even turn nasty. But if we just point out it doesn't change anything for them, that we're not forcing THEM to have two blue or pink pegs in their front seats, that their odds of spinning a 10 or hitting a Pay Day aren't altered by what color pegs someone else is using--maybe they'll calm down and keep playing.

And maybe after a while, they'll stop even noticing the colors of the pegs, and focus on playing the game. Maybe they'll just let us drive our little plastic cars through our career choices and baby births and lay-offs and tax return days and into our golden retirement years with our little peg families made out of any colors we want.

Maybe it will gradually sink in that, whatever the color of our peg companions, we're all dealing with the same stuff: taking care of our kids, dealing with aging and dying parents, trying to make ends meet while saving for the future, finding time to relax with friends, balancing professional ambition with family life, and so on.

You know, all that life stuff, with a lowercase "l."

I was enchanted by this essay when I read it on Claire's blog and asked her if she would update it and present it here as a guest post. I'm so glad she agreed! Remember that awesome rainbow jello mold? Claire made that. Oh, and she's also one of the two engines behind Bookstore People, a blogsite that's all about (and reviews) independent bookstores. How cool is that? How cool is she? Doesn't it make you want to run out and play that Game of Life?

Monday, January 18, 2010

GSA Monday Pop Quiz: What's missing in this "GAP" ad?

See if you can figure out what's missing:

It's sweet. It's cuddly. It's... missing something, isn't it? Figure it out yet?

Okay, scroll down and take a look at my "annotated" version.

Girl + Boy, check.

Girl + Girl, check.

Girl + Girl + Girl, check.


Girl + Girl + Girl + Girl, check.


Boy + Boy ?


Unless you wanna count the far right "starred" spot of one guy's boot hovering in the air over another guy's butt - though they're so consumed with their respective gals they're certainly not acknowledging their proximity, such as it is.

I mean, really - not even two guys touching?

How freaked out are we as a culture about gay guys, that in this "hip" message of peace and joy and buy-our-sweaters-and-jeans, we can't even get 2 guys hugging?

Pretty freaked out.

I understand that lesbians are kind of the loophole in our culture's homophobia, because straight guys think that's hot, but to have all these pairings (and trios, and quad-couplings) and not include two guys...

I mean, what's the problem? Is the Gap really where all those homophobes shop? I've kinda liked the whole Gap Holiday campaign, the catchy TV musical and gymnastic moments, and now, noticing this, I'm so disappointed.

Sigh. The Gap can do better.

We can all do better.

What do you think? Am I over-reacting, or am I right about this?

Thanks to my guy for handing me this ad and saying "look at this - really look at it!"

Friday, January 15, 2010

Eddie Gamarra: An Exclusive SCBWI Team Blog Pre-Conference Interview!

2 weeks until the 11th Annual Winter Conference in New York, January 29-31, 2010!!!

2 weeks until we get to learn, and laugh, network and be inspired!

2 weeks until we get to hear amazing speakers, like Eddie Gamarra!

Eddie Gamarra is a literary manager/producer at The Gotham Group, specializing in representing works for TV, Film and Dramatic rights. He's sold books to be made into movies like Michael Reisman's middle grade novel "Simon Bloom, the Gravity Keeper" and Nathan Hale's picture book, "The Devil You Know." He will be an executive producer of "Lunch Lady," a movie adaptation of Jarrett Krosoczka's graphic novel "Lady" series ("Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute," "Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians," etc...), which he sold to Universal. He will also executive produce "Spanking Shakespeare," the film version of Jake Wizner's Young Adult novel.

Eddie has seen the movie and adaptation possibilities of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels - and he's sold them. He will be at the SCBWI 2010 Winter Conference to give us "The Real Deal About Television and New Media," and it's an incredible opportunity.

Here's our interview:

Lee: Hi Eddie, Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview in the run-up to the SCBWI Winter Conference! Let's jump right in:

You work as a co-agent with literary agents like Barry Goldblatt and with publishers like Simon & Schuster to represent works for Film, TV and Dramatic Rights. How do you choose the books that might make the leap to another medium - do they send you what they think, do you go through it all, or is there more of a structured process?

Eddie: Good morning! We like to know about every project handled by the agents we work with and the publishers we rep. We have sold projects to studios and networks at various stages ranging from book proposals not yet submitted to publishers to back list titles, from copy edited manuscript to out of print titles. There really isn't a structured process other than that we ask our clients to send us whatever they have, when they feel comfortable enough to share it. Once we have the materials, we then read and discuss internally. We always look at material with the question of format in our mind. In other words, we ask ourselves some basic questions: "Is this a movie or a TV series? Could it be a TV movie or web series?" If the answer is yes, to any of these questions, we then strategize about how to best share the material with the film/TV community: does it need to be "packaged with an element" meaning "do we need to attach a big director or star?" Or, "Should we get a screenwriter on board who can come up with the pitch of what the movie-version of the book is?" Nowadays, having meaningful elements (big name actors, directors, screenwriters) is very important. We also want to know what the marketing plan is for an upcoming title - will it be a big splash when it comes out? If the book has already been published we always want to know how has it sold, has it sold into international territories, has it won any significant awards, and been well received by critics and reviewers.

Each book is unique and requires a custom made strategy.

Lee: That's really interesting, and it makes sense - every book is unique.

Sometimes, in the process of adapting a book into a movie, so much changes that it almost seems like it’s a completely new story, spun off with some of the same characters or situations. Should authors be concerned about their material being “changed?”

Eddie: Any author or publisher who is about to option his or her book to a third party, be it a film studio or a children's theater, needs to feel at ease in their gut that the book is going to transform. It very well may become something they love, but it may become something they despise. It may help promote the original title or it may be such a bastardization that it could harm a book or franchise's brand value. The rights holder may wish they could give back whatever money was paid to them. The opening credits and the end credits to a movie or TV show list up to hundreds of people, all of whom had some role in making the book come to life in a different way. That is a lot of hands on a project. Many authors are accustomed to working closely with an editor and agent. That's it! Maybe they work with a publicist. With film or TV, the author or publisher's involvement is typically very minimal unless otherwise negotiated. Very few rights holders get script approval. Anyone about to option a book needs to be ok with letting go and praying for the best.

Lee: Good advice. The title of your Real Deal breakout session is “The Real Deal About Television and New Media.” Is there any preparation you’d like people attending your workshop to do, so they can get the most out of it?

Eddie: There are a few things I'd love for people to research and/or think about before the breakout session:

Why are some books/book series, like Gossip Girl (or Dexter or Bones or True Blood), better suited for TV where as books like Shrek or Night at the Museum seem to work very well as features?

Of the top 100 films of all time (in terms of box office), how many are based on children's books?

When can we consider a book to be "a brand" or an author/illustrator to be "a brand"?

How does the concept of "the franchise" get used in publishing versus in film/TV?

How does one define "success" in children's publishing? And are those markers of success in that industry also meaningful in the film/TV industry?

What are the creative parameters of children's publishing vs. film/TV?

One simple example: is the lead of your story a child or an adult?

I think we will have very fruitful sessions as we talk through these kinds of questions.

Lee: Great things to think about! Can you share a piece of advice for authors who dream of having their works leap into other media?

Eddie: Watch movies, watch TV. See which projects earn the highest box office or TV ratings. Educate yourself about that industry. Learn who are the big names, top talent, who actually gets stuff made.

Lee: Is there an opportunity with youtube and blogs and all the new social media and technological advances for stories to bypass the traditional gatekeepers? And is that a good thing?

Eddie: It's important to bear in mind that publishing is undergoing a transition that media companies are long familiar with. Bear in mind that film studios used to make movies. TV networks made shows.

Over the course of the 20th century, the studios and networks became part of larger companies and so we now find ourselves in a state where studios make microwaves and TV networks make lightbulbs. Sony, for example, makes movies AND the DVD's AND the devices on which the DVD is played. Create the content and control how it is distributed. That is key!

For publishing, we now find a major online retailer making a device upon which e-books can be read AND then publishing original content. This is called vertical integration. Every time there are new outlets and technology, there will be new opportunities to explore and exploit. Media historians often refer to "the democratization of media" - by which they mean - every time a new outlet or technology is created, the masses won't have to rely on the big companies to create and distribute content. Of course, we all know that the big conglomerates buy out those outlets and technologies.

There are still many opportunities for creative people to utilize outlets and technologies to both tell traditional stories and have them distributed in new ways, or tell new types of stories altogether. Each technology brings with it both unique creative parameters and new ways to make money. Web series have to last only so long and cost so much to make and to buy, for example. Every day we find new examples of how people effectively use each media to tell new stories. Of course, each media will have its rules and rule breakers. There are lots of opportunities for experimentation.

That said, how exciting is it for a self-published author to get the call that a major publisher wants to publish their book. Conversely, how exciting is it for a successful author to make money off of new forms of distribution.

Sorry to be rambling and pedantic, but there is so much to discuss when it comes to new media.

Lee: No, it's great. So much to think about - it's nice to have the perspective that all the changes mean that there are opportunities on all sides of storytelling!

The Conference will be Boiling Over with ideas and inspiration, but outside in New York city it's going to be the middle of winter... so, final question: Eggnog or Hot Chocolate?

Eddie: Even though LA is a desert, I still drink hot chocolate fairly often, especially while wearing a sweater. I miss NY, what can I say. Eggnog has that special “it’s the holidays” feel, so I’ll go egg nog but only for those special east coast holiday winter nights.

Thanks. This has been a blast. I’m so excited to be working with SCBWI and I know the conference will be fantastic.

Lee: Thank you, Eddie. This was great. See you in New York!

Remember that it's not too late to register for the Winter Conference, where you can see Eddie Gamarra (and so many more great faculty) in person!

And don't forget to bookmark the official SCBWI Conference blog - so you can get a feel for what's coming up. And once the conference starts, it's a great place to enjoy the tapas-like tastes of all the amazing moments, speakers, workshops, learning, and fun!

Namaste, and hope to see you in two weeks in New York,

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The 2010 Comment Challenge Week One Check In: How Ya Doin'?

I know I used this image last time round, but it's so great, I had to bring it back! Think of each of our blogs as the drop of water in the air, and the comments we leave get our drop of water to hit the surface of the pond... enough comments get going and the ripples from all our blogs and comments spread across the water and touch each other, and suddenly we're all rippling along together...

and we're not a single drop of water anymore. We're a community!

205 of you signed up for this year's Comment Challenge both here and at MotherReader's amazing blog! And even if you're not officially signed up and you're just paying more attention and making more of an effort to comment, we want to know:

So how's it going?

Have you been commenting?

Is it going consistently, or is it more fits and starts?

Are you getting more comments on YOUR blog?

Here's how my week went as far as my leaving comments:

Friday, Jan 8 - 10 comments (I was really excited!)
Saturday, Jan 9 - 6 comments
Sunday, Jan 10 - no comments (I was crazy-busy setting up for Monday's e-book launch)
Monday, Jan 11 - 5 comments (Okay, I can do this...)
Tuesday, Jan 12 - 7 comments
Wednesday Jan 13 - 7 comments
Thursday, Jan 14 - zero comments so far, but hey, it's 3 AM here!

Total comments in Week One: 35

But I did it - I'm in the zone with 5 comments per day.

I discovered some great new blogs, and visited some old favorites.

How about you? How's it going?

let me know by... you guessed it! leaving a comment.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Uganda: Hate + Fear + Money + Power = Death Penalty For Being Queer = Disaster

I've been struggling with what to say about this whole Uganda debacle going on - where that country is debating making a new law that would not only outlaw homosexuality, but apply the death penalty for those found guilty of being queer. And not just for Ugandan citizens IN Uganda, they're talking about extraditing queer Ugandan Citizens from other countries so they can kill them at home. Oh, and if you're a Ugandan, and you KNOW that another Ugandan is gay, and you don't report them within 24 hours to the police so they can be arrested and then killed... then YOU can go to jail for up to 3 years!

It's so horrible, it almost seems like it can't be true.

And then, it turns out that these American consultants - these "Ex-Gay" charlatans visited Uganda and held a conference where they shared with the Ugandan lawmakers their own particular brand of hate - that all Queer people are evil, are choosing to be evil, and something must be done...

And from that, Uganda gets the idea to create their new death-penalty-for-gays law.

The shame of this is enormous, and there's more than enough to go around.

There was an editorial in the NY Times urging for Uganda's foreign aid to be cut off if the law goes into effect - which I thought was a good idea. And then I read this article, by Andrew Mwenda, a Ugandan journalist, which explained how foreign aid was actually holding Uganda back.

But I still think it's a good idea to threaten to take the money from them. It's a threat to the people in power, and those are the people that can stop this law from happening.

So yeah, block the money.

That's a good first step.

I wonder if there's some pressure that can be brought to bear on the Americans who went to Uganda to spread their message of intolerance and hate.

Rachel Maddow tried to get one guy, who in his book quoted a completely discredited scientist who made up numbers to "prove" how bad gay people are, and yet he couldn't admit his role in the nightmare that's unfolding in Uganda.

And none of the influential Americans who might have sway in Uganda are doing anything to stop this from becoming law there. Not even Pastor Rick Warren (remember him?) You can check it out here, where the awesome Rachel Maddow gets into it:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

It's a crazy phenomenon where people see that the way for them to hold onto power is to feed on other people's fear of the unknown - of people that seem "other."

Right Wing politicians do it in our country all the time, using people's fear of homosexuals trying to "recruit your children" to raise money for themselves.

The Nazis did it to solidify their power base - rally everyone around a common "enemy" - anyone that wasn't just like them. Remember the famous poem by Holocaust survivor Martin Niemöller?

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out.

Fear cultivated breeds hate.

People in power work that hate to grow their wealth.

And to keep that wealth and power, especially when they're not solving the real problems of poverty, hunger and power-less-ness in their countries (the U.S.A., Nazi Germany, Uganda) - they need a distraction for all that pent up frustration and anger of the masses.

So they preach hatred of others - of foreigners. Of Queers.

But that recipe, Hate plus Fear plus Money plus Power equals Disaster.

And in Uganda, that's what's happening now.

I hope the world has a huge outcry to stop this.

But even more, I hope Uganda stops it themselves.

It's like watching a re-run of Nazi Germany's Nurenberg Laws, that slowly stripped Jews of all their rights.

The world took too long to intervene then, and 6 million Jews and millions upon millions of others died in the Nazi's drive to "purify" their land.

How many Queer Men and Women are going to have to die in Uganda before this madness is stopped?

We must express our horror, and stand up to say


Never Again.


What can you do? There are three petitions you can sign:

1. To Uganda's United Nations Representative, Deputy Chief of Mission (U.S.), and U.S. Ambassador

2. To President Obama

3. The Human Rights Campaign's petition (you can get to it from here) that's specifically for your member of Congress - urging them to sign on to two Congressional letters that are being circulated by the LGBT Equality Caucus in the House of Representatives:

* A letter to President Obama expressing the gravity of the situation in Uganda and asking him to speak out publicly against this proposed legislation.

* A letter to President Museveni of Uganda urging him to use every means possible to convey to leaders in Parliament that this appalling bill is reckless in both intent and possible impact, and should be withdrawn immediately.

Sign all three petitions... Voice your outrage. Talk it up. Share the links with others. Get lots of people to sign!

Any more ideas of what we can do? Share them, and your thoughts, here in comments!

Thanks, and here's to making our world a better, safer place for all of us - including our Queer Brothers and Sisters, and the people who love them, in Uganda!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Almost Perfect

By Brian Katcher

Logan just broke up with his girlfriend of three years. She cheated on him. So when this new girl comes to his high school, Logan finds he's pretty interested in her.

Her name is Sage. She's mysterious. Attractive.

And when Logan kisses her, he discovers Sage is...

a boy!


and maybe even, a girl he still likes?

Thanks to blog readers Shirley and Misty for making sure I knew about this new Transgender Teen book! Add your review of "Almost Perfect" in comments!

Monday, January 11, 2010

e-book Launch Party! "The Zen Of Blogging: 7 Steps On The Virtual Path To Real Success" Is Available Starting TODAY!!!

Today is my birthday, and it's also the launch for my first e-book!

I've been blogging here at "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" for over two years.

In that time, over 140,000 unique visitors have come by (now more than 2,500 a week!)

I've won awards, and had some amazing opportunities that came directly from my blogging here (signed for professional blogging jobs, approached by magazine editors to write articles, hired to conduct interviews for publication in an industry-leading reference book...)

And by going on this journey I've learned a lot about what I call "The Zen Of Blogging."

A lot of people have asked me for advice about their blogs, both from inside the world of Children's Literature and from outside - from the worlds of fitness, fashion, corporate training, dating, and more... And figuring out the lessons I've learned that are applicable to ANYONE who wants to blog was the inspiration for writing this e-book.

So please, check out my e-book website. And if you are or want to be a blogger (or know someone who blogs, or wants to blog)...

consider buying a copy of "The Zen Of Blogging!"

As Social Media Guru Jenn Bailey put it:

“There’s plenty of information on the web about the technical aspects of blogging. What Lee Wind gives us with his fantabulous E-Book, The Zen of Blogging, is the inspirational aspects.

Beginners should read this if they want to know how to create and, more importantly, maintain a blog they’ll love. Old pros need to read this so they can remember the fun and recapture the joy of blogging.

Lee blends sound advice with real life success stories to make his blogging guide both constructive and uplifting, and his beautiful Kanji give it a delicious refinement.

Keep this E-book floating on your desktop and let it inspire you to change your world.”

Jenn Bailey
Professional Blogger, Writer and Editor
The Social Lites

Thanks, Jenn, for the early review. And thanks to all of YOU for being part of my Launch Party!

And to celebrate the launch, here's a $5.00 off coupon code for you to use!


"The Zen Of Blogging" e-book. Let it help you discover YOUR Path to The Zen Of Blogging!


Friday, January 8, 2010

The 2010 Comment Challenge Starts TODAY!

You can have the most beautiful blog (or flower),
but if it's all alone, and no one sees it,
it isn't living up to its potential.

But connect the flower to the jungle around it
- connect your blog to the kid lit community surrounding it -
and suddenly the beauty is seen, enjoyed, and expanded exponentially!

Here's the 4-1-1


You. And everyone else that reads and writes blogs about Children's and Young Adult literature.


Comment 5 times a day.


Starting today. For 21 days.


Blogs from Here to There. Click and comment, everywhere!


Build your community. Discover new great blogs. Have other people discover yours!


Click on "comments" and contribute to the conversation...

So join us. We'll check in at the 7 and 14 day points, and then we'll all share what we've accomplished by day 21!

MotherReader and I are both running the same Comment Challenge sign up list, so you can do it here or there!

And yes, if you add a comment here, it'll count as your first comment for today!

So now you've got the information.

You're ready.

Get set...


Thursday, January 7, 2010


By Dale Peck

Daniel "Sprout" Bradford is OUT in small-town Kansas.

He's gay. His father drinks. His mom is dead. Oh, and his hair is dyed green - hence his nickname "Sprout."

But the rest of it? The teacher, the essay contest, the secret... Sprout's pretty much got to figure it all out on his own...

Add your review of "Sprout" in comments!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Cybils 2009 YA Finalists - My Judges Reading List!

I'm very excited that I finally get to sit down and read the 7 finalists for the Cybils Award for Young Adult Fiction. And then do my judging thing with the other amazing second round YA judges.

And if you want to grab seven Young Adult novels that are sure to be amazing reads, here they are in alphabetical order:

Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney

Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford

Into The Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern

North Of Beautiful by Justina Chen (formerly Justina Chen Headley)

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Who'll be the winner? I don't know yet... but one thing I do know: There's happy reading ahead, for all of us!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The 2010 Comment Challenge Starts This Friday!!!

Okay, kid lit blog writers and blog readers, take note:

It takes 21 days to form a new habit.

So starting this Friday, January 8, 2010 - the amazing Mother Reader and I will launch our community-building annual event: getting YOU to join in for 21 days of habit-forming commenting on other people's blogs - with the goal of commenting on 5 different blogs a day.

That's it - 5 a day!

Why participate?

You'll be part of the conversation.

You'll expand your circle.

And you'll get more visitors to your blog, and more comments left on your own blog as well.

The last Comment Challenge was a big success, comments were up all over the kidlitosphere, and it really built a sense of community for everyone who participated - and we learned some great lessons, like this one:

Leave three comments on someone's blog that are contributions to their conversation and most likely they'll click back to your blog to see just who is that insightful commenter?

I'm excited to see what we learn this time round - and remember, in addition to link-lists on individual blogs (like the 18 blogs I try to check out all the time, listed in the right hand column here), you can blog-hop via google alerts (try setting keywords for your personal passion so you know who else is talking about what you care about. i.e., I have a google alert for "gay teen book" which helps me find blog posts I wouldn't know about otherwise.) You can also navigate to blogs that are new to you via the indispensable kid lit central blog page which lists (with links) nearly 300 "Bloggers in Children's and Young Adult Literature!"

So, crack those knuckles, fire up your computers and hand-helds, and get ready...

'Cause starting Friday there's going to be a whole WORLD of blog commenting going on!


Monday, January 4, 2010

Welcome 2010 - A different kind of New Year's Resolution: What's Your INTENT?

Hi all and welcome to the New Year, New Decade, New sense of energy and excitement for all the cool stuff coming our way...

I had a great break and am returning renewed, rejuvenated, and charged up!

One of the amazing adventures I had during my two weeks of going unplugged was hiking down and then swimming up to Pe’epe’e Falls on the Big Island of Hawaii. (That's it in the photo.)

I was scared - mostly because it was something I'd never done before - but I was there with others, and a local guide, and I trusted my own abilities and theirs.

We hiked in and then carefully clambered down the rocks until I was only a few feet above the waterline. Someone else splashed in and started swimming across the pool of water.

I jumped. The water was cold. Shouting-out-loud cold. I plunged down, but kicking my legs hard I broke back up through the surface. And I yelled. I hooted. I laughed.

And then I swam. All the way to the falls.

The adventure was a great reminder to me that new stuff can be scary, but also exhilarating.

So, instead of coming up with a list of resolutions that I may or may not fulfill, this year I'm trying something new:

I'm defining my intent for the year.

Sort of like a mantra, or a catch-phrase - this intent is something I can come back to for the next 361 days, and feel grounded in.

My intent for 2010 is:


Like sunrise, breaking through clouds and changing everything.

Like believing in my ability to break through my established patterns and do new things.

Like coming back up and breaking through the surface of the water and knowing that ANYTHING is possible.

2010 is my year to Break Through.

What's YOUR intent / catch phrase for the year? Share it with your GSA, or here in comments!