Monthly Archives: August 2014

2014 National Book Festival

For the first time (ever?) the National Book festival was held not-on-the-mall. So we traveled extra Metro stops up on the new Silver Line (this is probably only significant if you live in the DC area: we have been waiting FOREVER for the Silver Line to open!) to the Washington Convention Center.

Washington Convention Center

The new venue seems to work. Here’s a summary of what appealed to me.  Please bear in mind I am transcribing these ‘quotes’ from my scribbled notes in combination with juggling a camera. If I don’t have the wording exact, don’t hate me! It’s the good intention I’m aiming for.  If you’d like to see the recordings of the author video webcasts or audio podcasts, go to the Library of Congress website.

Kate Dicamilo, the Library of Congress’ 2014-2015 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, kicked off the Teen ‘pavilion’ (I could not get that word out of my vocabulary!) to a full house.

Kate Dicamilo

Her MG book Flora & Ulysses stars a squirrel! She’s writing squirrels, too, (see under my name in sidebar if that nut fell too far from the tree –>) and I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know it. *hangs head* But seriously, it’s because the bookstore closed in my town and I now have to travel to get to one. But back to the event. I was right on an aisle, and the dance in the kids’ line-up for questions is so fun, and funny, to watch.

line 1line 2line 3

They are all so nervous, and patient!


Because the teen and children and picture book ‘pavilions’ were located on one floor instead of across the mall from each other, I popped in and out of the three, easily seeing the authors on my list.

Peter Brown

Loved Author/Illustrator Peter Brown’s talk, especially his aside answer to a question about networking: He attends the KidLitGroupTherapy meetings in Brooklyn.

Brian Collier

Brian Collier was so strong and emotional in presenting his wealth of work. I’m paraphrasing, but this struck me: “The best of me still lives in you if you do your best.”

Susan Stockdale

Loved seeing the process on Susan Stockdale, nature picture books. Featured art included pages from Bring on the Birds:

Susan Stockdale 1Susan Stockdale 2

Susan Stockdale 3Susan Stockdale 4



Makes me want to paint!

  Meg Medina

Meg Medina – “We’re every age we were before.” And, how she writes: “Not with an outline. Ever.”  Here I’ll give a shout out to the ASL Interpreters. I’m not hearing impaired, but I have a guess they are pretty accurate.

Meg Medina and ASL interpreter

Also, Meg’s an advocate of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.

Anne Ursu

Anne Ursu was a new fantasy MG/YA author to me. “I feel like I was created by children’s books.” And “I don’t see the point of limiting what kind of stories you can tell.”

I now have Breadcrumbs on my TBR list.

Kendare Blake

Kendare Blake! I love Anna Dressed in Blood, perhaps one of the only horror stories I’ve read and I read it by mistake. I told her that afterwards and how much I enjoyed her horror books and she was good with my confession. Kendare knows her writing is going well when it scares her when she is safe in her chair. Her reaction to a teen asking her: “What is it like dating a horror writer?”

Kendare Blake 2

She’s married and doesn’t date much, but advised: “If your date isn’t troubled by your choice of discussion topics, then you should be troubled!”

And lastly, in a change of genre I popped in on the Culinary Arts ‘pavilion’ to see Carla hall. I love The Chew, and Carla was every bit as on and real in person as she is on the show.

Carla Hall 2

She was funny and wise: “People are afraid to fail. Unless you are willing to fail at something, you aren’t going to get good at it.”

Carla Hall

“Follow your heart. Sometimes that changes. The world will conspire against you. You make a way to do it. Don’t let anyone tell you no. There is power in the yes.”

NatBookFest poster

Great day. Great inspiration!

My RWA14 Conference Round-up


What’s it like to attend a conference with 2500 other writers? I can only speak from my experience with the Romance Writers of America National conferences:

Exhilarating, educational and exhausting.

San Antonio, TXThough a week has passed since the latest—the 34th—held in San Antonio, my head is still reeling with new ideas. Most writers leave very inspired to implement learned skills and techniques. Because I followed the conference with visiting relatives, I’ve experienced more of a reflective period. I’ve caught up on sleep and listened to additional recorded workshops—ones I couldn’t get to because so many are offered—and thought about what I heard, rather than diving into writing again.

When I first joined RWA, I attended craft workshops to improve my writing, and career Elevator wrapssessions to learn about the publishing business. Over the last three years, workshops targeted at self-publishing have increased. This summer, many well-known names in independent publishing presented, appeared on panels, or offered question and answer sessions: Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, Marie Force. Hugh Howey was in attendance. (I’m going to be very embarrassed if he presented and I missed it!) Three authors, Eliza Knight, Angie Fox and Deanna Chase, presented ‘How to Quietly Make Six Figures in Indie Publishing’ to a mid-sized room packed with women in business casual sitting in every seat and on the floor.

I wish I had taken photos of the audiences. Romance writers, including more men than in previous years, are re-thinking their roles in book publishing.

Industry-focused presentations included: ‘What Good is an Agent?’, ‘Is There a Case for Traditional Publishers and Agents?’, ‘Indie Success with No Publishing History’ and ‘The Hybrid Author.’ iBooks, Amazon, Kobo, CreateSpace, ACX and Audible held open houses.

Jennifer Jakes and Kimberly Killian of the Killian Group

Jennifer Jakes and Kimberly Killian of the Killian Group

I can’t even begin to list the workshops on social media and marketing. I took advantage of sessions such as how to vet an independent editor, formatting, developing your brand, and cover design.

Tiffany Yates Martin presenting 'Get It Edited'

Tiffany Yates Martin presenting ‘Get It Edited’

I talked and questioned and listened. In every venue—especially the bar—an excited buzz about publishing strategies lurked. Not just getting an agent, or submitting to an editor, hoping a story would be picked. But how to manage your work in the clouds of digital press.

It’s a growing publishing world out there, writers. And the instruction book is open!

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