Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kidlit Con 2010

I'm back from Kidlit Con, and though my bags are still unpacked (long story), I'm ready to share everything I learned there (an equally long story). This is important stuff, so pay attention here, people!

(Note: I didn't get any photos, so sorry about that. I doubt anyone took photos of me, either, but I'm still looking...)

1. When conference planners tell you the walk between the bus/train station and the hotel is "close," don't believe them.

On Friday, I flew into the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport and hopped the lightrail train into downtown Minneapolis. I enjoyed watching my surroundings as they flew by me. First I saw Fort Snelling, and was tempted for an instant to get off the train and take a tour (I love touring old buildings!) but thought that might not go over well with the people waiting for me to arrive at the hotel. Then I saw some place names that made me smile, like Minnehaha and Hiawatha. I saw a community garden whiz by, and plenty of non-descript buildings. People came and went off the lightrail, then the Minneapolis Metrodome came into view and it was my turn to step off the train.

Then came the hike to the hotel. Two blocks north and at least a million blocks east, I walked and walked and walked and walked, lugging my...er, well..luggage. To be fair, it really wasn't a long walk, but it would have been much much easier without the suitcase rolling behind me. But I made it to the hotel, checked in, and met Kurtis Scaletta and Steve Brezenoff in the lobby. They were my official Minneapolis Welcoming Committee. Together we wandered back the way I had come until we made it to Open Book, the scene of the conference.

2. You can learn a lot from celebrities, just not what they expect you to learn.

That night we had about an hour of schmooze time, followed by an appearance of the Merry Sisters of Fate, which consists of Tessa Gratton, Maggie Stiefvater, and Brenna Yovanoff. They discussed critique groups and their weekly short story projects. Though the information they shared wasn’t applicable to my current situation (because I have a great critique group and am not interested in writing short stories anytime soon), I did learn a lot about public speaking from watching them. I was hoping some of what I learned would rub off on me the next day.

3. There is such a thing as jetlag.

Let’s just say that getting up at 7am Minneapolis time was REALLY EARLY in Elissa time.

4. When things go well, it’s all a blur, but when things go bad...

Our presentation was the third session of the day, so I spent the morning patiently waiting until it was my turn. And by “patiently” I mean…well, patiently. I waited for my nerves to kick in, but they never did. And when it was time to get up in front of that group, it was all a blur. A good blur. I do remember a few stray thoughts like “I wonder if that camcorder is rolling,” and “I hope I’m not saying something incredibly stupid,” but for the most part it was a smooth presentation, and Kurtis (my co-presenter) and I were poised and well-prepared.

(And you thought things went horribly wrong. I can’t imagine where you got that idea. You really should pay better attention.)

5. People say the darndest things.

My favorites were along these lines:

“Great presentation! Really!”

“I learned SO much!”

“I want to be just like you when I grow up!”

“You’ve inspired me.”

“You nailed that one.”

I’m pleased to announce that not once did someone say “Please don’t come back.” They may have been thinking it, though. I’m not psychic, after all.

6. It's not what you know, it's who you know. Wait...I mean, it’s not who you know, it’s what you know. Okay, it's really who you know AND what you know. Though none of it matters, really. You know?

By far, my favorite thing about this conference was meeting some great kidlit people. It was great talking about writing and books with the people there. I met people I had always wanted to (hi, Alice Pope!), people I learned so much from because they let me listen in and participate in their conversations (hi, Dori Butler, Susan Taylor Brown, and Kellye Carter Crocker!) and online friends who are now friends IRL (hi, Blythe Woolston and Anne Marie!). And so so many others, who I wish I could name but then this post would be very very very long (hi, everyone else!).

7. Kidlit Con is worth every penny.

And then some.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nominate a library today!

I'm posting yet another Mixed-Up Files plug today, but I promise to have some real, live updates about my real, live writing life soon. Promise. No, really. I mean it this time.

But this plug is for a good cause, and one that applies to everyone out there, even those of you don't write children's literature. Heck, you don't even have to write for this to apply to you!

Today we launched The Great Library Giveaway on the From the Mixed-Up Files blog. We have complied a list of almost 50 middle-grade titles that we want to donate to a local or school library. We are asking readers to nominate their favorite library, and our random generator will choose a winning library on November 30th.


So check in and nominate your child's school library, or your favorite public library, or the underserved library across town that you heard needs donations. Just find a worth library and tell us!

(For those who need a little extra push, we are giving the person with the winning entry a $25 gift certificate to their local indie store as well.)

So go! Run! Nominate!

And when you're done, I might have some updates about my writing life posted here for you to read.

Hey, it could happen.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

For the Homeschooling Writers Out There

My friend [info]lillpluta has revamped her blog, and will now be focusing on blogging for those who homeschool by day and write by night. Since I am one of those people, I am certain I will be reading her blog faithfully.

Oh, and those who only homeschool but don't write, I'm sure you'll find some cool stuff there, too.

And those who only write but don't homeschool...what they hey, check it out, too. You might learn something you didn't know before.

Now...go! http://lillpluta.livejournal.com/

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's Nothing, Really.

It's been awhile since I've updated here (yeah, so much for keeping on top of things), so I thought today would be a good day to get everyone caught up on the life that is mine.


And there you have it. Exciting stuff, isn't it? "But there's nothing there," you say.



Truth be told, plenty is going on, just not in my writing life. And since this place is all about my writing life and not what I ate for dinner or how much time I spent driving kids to and from school this week, or stories about those two cute pairs of shoes I purchased not too long ago, I have nothing to report.

Noth. ing.

It kinda feels like I've landed in the Twilight Zone, where everything seems fine at first, but then bizarre things start to happen. Like that one where a boy had terrifying mental powers and could kill anyone just by looking at them, so all the adults in the world did everything they could to placate the boy in order to stay alive.

Or that other one where...and then, you know...

Okay, truth be told, that one with the boy is the only Twilight Zone I can remember right now. But the point is, just like that show, nothing in my writing life is "normal." It seems like I'm doing everything backwards. I am currently polishing a presentation I'll be giving at a writing conference, yet I still have no book under contract with any publisher. I am putting a whole lot of time and attention into a high-traffic blog about writing even though my own writing is being systematically ignored (no offence, editors who have it and are not reading it). I feel somewhat like a charlatan. All talk but no substance. You know?

But I suspect plenty of people out there feel that their road to publication isn't "normal" either. But no one talks about it, so we all feel like we're missing something.

Well, I decided it was time to welcome you all into my own little Twilight Zone, in the hopes that it will help all of us realize that normal is way over-rated. I might be doing things backwards, but at least I'm doing something. I've taken the proverbial bull by his proverbial horns, and I'm digging in for the long fight ahead.

I just pray the bull doesn't have any terrifying mental powers that I'm not aware of yet. I'm not sure if I could handle that twist after all I've been through. Or not been through, I suppose.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

And the winner is...


Thanks, Larissa, for all the linky love! Please send me an email and I'll send you the four signed books.

As for the rest of you, thanks for celebrating my blogiversary with me. Hope you'll stick around another year!