Two weeks after…

Two weeks after my first published story, Jason and the Homeless Man, was published in the Jan-Feb issue of Skipping Stones magazine, my family had a celebratory dinner.  I asked my grandson, Brian,(9 years old) to pick the restaurant. He was the one who had a dream.  Several months before, he said to me, “Mama, I dreamed that I had missed your party for publishing your first book because I had fallen asleep.” I was so touched by his confidence in me, who had about 14 rejections at the time.  He picked his favorite Japanese buffet restaurant

His twin sister, Isabelle, is a good proof reader.  I always read to them my stories, either on the computer or in print.  She has caught several typo mistakes.  One time, she said, “You used the same words just before.” She was right. 


SCBWI conference

Surprise guest speaker: Henry Winkler who co-wrote 19 books with Lin Oliver.  He addressed in particular the ones new to writing.  I wonder if the younger attendees knew who he was.  He was funny and encouraging.  He did poorly in school and was nicknamed Dumb Dog in German by his parents.  His father fled Europe, bought a timber business here and wanted Winkler to take over the business.  Winkler had wanted to be an actor since he was seven.  “You want me to sell   WOOD?”

When he had  a low in his acting career,”Who knew there would be a low?” he asked, he was introduced to Lin Oliver . Now they work in her office. He talks, she types on the computer.She talks and types. Then they talk and finish with several pages of manuscripts. When he held his first book in his hand, he rubbed it on his hand and body..  Hmm.. I wonder if I’ll do that.

Discussion of diversity, multiculturalism;  Make sure you do the research if you’r not from that ethnic group.  Editors have been known to miss errors of the writers.  Publishers also have to be true to the story by putting people of color on the covers. They had put white characters on the covers when the protagonists were people of color.


Discussion on fiction: YA and MG stories are in demand.  Forget abut rules, write what works for you.(I guess not so when we’re writing for a course) . Write for your reader self, not your writer self. Write wht you hold to your heart. You must care for your character.


Non-fiction: Unlike magazine publishing, book publishers want more fiction than non-fiction. Before approaching an agent, you must have a sense of the market place, what do you have to bring to the table, who do you think would be interested in your book. Blog: Why non-fiction matters.

There’s a market for non-fiction picture books:less than 800 words.


Closing keynote speaker: Jane Yolen; wrote 350 books. Only after 250th book, did she become famous.  She spoke to midlist authors, authors who have not sold a book in years. She gave three grants to three such authors so that they can either buy a new computer, go on a vacation, rejuenate themselves. ) one $2000 grant, and two $500 grants.

She still gets rejection letters twice a month.

Consensus: publishing is robust. There’s a global reach, publishers try to sell world rights. Your book should be able to travel beyond U.S.

From the last panelists:Try to write stories with a classic feel, not trendy feel.

Write for 2nd and 3rd graders

Write what young people want to know.

Show your work to others, and enemies too.

There’s some publisher out there for you, besides the big six.

Read and revise


My impression: conference was very well organized.  It was only one and a half days.  If it were two whole days, I could have attended two more small discussion groups such as: revision and picture books. Since I spent only a senior half fare to get there, it was worth the fee. I didn’t do a lot of networking, probably my own fault.  I did get the cards of a few illustrators in case I need one for Skipping Stones!