For the last two weeks, I’ve been enrolled in workshops through the Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) out of Montreal, Canada. Morning workshops run for the entire two weeks, while afternoon workshops run one week each.
The program is hosted by the Writer’s House of Georgia. Located in Tbilisi, the building was completed in 1905. The Art Nouveau architecture blends Georgian and European influences, and the building has witnessed many important historic events, particularly in the political realm.
Although the building is in the heart of the city, the Writer’s House is a quiet sanctuary in the city. The central courtyard hosts a lush garden that stays cool even on the hottest days.
Stop by when you are in Tbilisi, or consider writing and learning with the SLS programs.
Last November, I interviewed children’s author Wendy Gilhula about her work. Here’s a link to the interview to refresh your memory. At the time, she was celebrating the release of her first picture book, Pika Bunny and the Thunderstorm.
I blogged about that, too, here, calling it the Cutest Dual-language Picture Book! The work was published as separate editions in English and Spanish, with another edition in English and Spanish.
Now her second book is out. Pika Bunny Has a Big Question is available just in time for Wendy to be featured by her publisher at Book Expo of America (BEA). That’s big news for any author. It’s even better for Wendy’s fans, because she’ll be at her publisher’s booth signing copies.
The second book is already available in English. The dual-language edition is in the works and will be available soon. Meanwhile, worksheets based on Pika’s adventures are available for free at Wendy’s website. They are really, really cute! And they are also available in English and Spanish.
When I wished Wendy good luck, I told her I hoped she sold a ton of books at BEA. Then I asked, “How many Pika Bunnies are in a ton?”
Her answer: “There are about 5,333 Pika Bunnies in a ton.”
Let’s help her sell a ton of Pika Bunnies, and encourage literacy and multilingual abilities in kids!
The AWP held their annual conference earlier this month. Among their other great offerings was a panel focused on children’s publishing.
One author stated that characters are paramount in children’s and YA stories. The plot comes from the characters. Who each person is in the story creates the story. Each is presented with challenges or obstacles they must overcome. From that comes the different plot points and thus the entire story.
Another point was that there are no pointless characters. If one shows up but never plays an important role, that character should be struck.
A different author noted that “rumination” is part of the story. That is, the characters have to have backstories, histories that detail where they come from and why they’re motivated to act certain ways.
Finally, in response to a question about how to write for the market, one author said to write what inspires you. From there, you can determine how best to pitch and place the work in the existing market.
All of these points apply equally to adult fiction. Characters do create the plot and impact the story. They should have backstories. No character should ever be pointless, and the author should always write what interests them rather than what they think will sell.
The only difference is that in children’s and YA publishing, the author utilizes different language, changes sentence layouts, uses less complex storytelling structures, and of course mostly will write shorter manuscripts.
Everything else is just quality fiction.
In case you were thinking that publishing is gasping its last breaths, the 2014 BEA completed last week saw nearly as many attendees from the industry as in 2013. The day dedicated to readers expected nearly 10,000 additional people flock in.
Next year, the BEA will expand from the current three-day format to four. With the inclusion of self-published authors and new technologies as well as the invitation to readers to attend, it’s a phenomenal event that reflects the current strength returning to what has been an anemic industry. Good health!
The Wyoming Writers Conference takes place June 6-8 in Sheridan, WY. Agents who will attend include April Eberhardt of April Eberhardt Literary and Jessica Sinsheimer of Sarah Jane Freymann Literary.
Writer’s Digest Conference happens in New York City Aug 1-3. Four separate writing tracks to personalize your experience, agent-led boot camps, their usual pitch slam, and a mini bonus conference on Friday evening.
OHIOANA Book Festival takes place in Columbus, OH May 10. Includes children’s activities and food trucks outside the Fort Hayes Metro Education Center.