Yes, this pb author stepped out of the box! I'm currently working on a 4th grade boy series (thinking positively here) inspired by my librarian pals at school visits to Rocklin Unified School District last year. Also in the works, a middle grades novel and a YA, both of which have taken what seems like centuries! Definitely a different learning curve from picture books. : )
Mountains of thanks go to Co-RA's Suzanne Morgan Williams (Look for Suzy's novel Bull Rider –Margaret K. Mc Elderry/Simon & Schuster) and Ellen Hopkins (think NEW YORK Times Bestseller CRANK) and their committee, who put this wonderful event together–in the middle of their OWN busy writing lives!
Highlights included two very knowledgeable editors, Nancy Conescu from Little, Brown (above right), and Jill Santopolo ( above left) from the relatively new Harper Collins imprint, Balzer and Bray. Speaking of busy, Jill "moonlights" as a middle grades author, herself, now that her first Alec Flint Super Sleuth mg novel, THE NINA,THE PINTA, AND THE VANISHING TREASURE was released with Orchard Books/Scholastic last July. Jill asked participants, "How well do you understand your character? Can you predict how she/he would act in situations NOT in your novel?" Other tips: Does the Antagonist have something good about them? Are your minor characters stereotypes? And my favorite: CONFLICT IS NOT OPTIONAL. Author Heidi Ayarbe, who read a riveting excerpt from her upcoming YA novel FREEZE FRAME, edited by Santopolo, called herself "Arc-impaired" and credits Jill as her "Raider of the Lost Plot." : )
And seriously folks, if Little, Brown editor Nancy Conescu doesn't write a book soon on her hillarious household tips, I will be truly disappointed. She had us laughing so hard at breakfast, my abs hurt for days. And yet, make no mistake, this editor really knows her stuff. Recent tiles include the Prophecy of the Sisters series by Michelle Zink (Spring 2009) and the Vampirates series by Justin Somper. Conescu agrees character voice is key. In a hardcover series, book one is treated as a stand-alone, book two–the sequel, and book three launches the series. Conescu is looking for distinctive, break-out voices and authors who will keep growing in the future. In addition, may I add that she is now quite well-educated in the various techniques of scaring away those not-so-LITTLE, BROWN bears…. (So THAT's what pots and pans are for!)
More wonderful authors included (L to R next to Ellen Hopkins: Terri Farley, Lynda Sandoval, Susan Hart Lindquist, and (in photo at right with my writing pal Linda Joy Singleton (check out Linda's Dead Girl Walking. A perfect Halloween read!), Terry Trueman (Stuck in Neutral ). But hey, if I'm gonna keep up will all of these talented authors, I'd better get back to my manuscripts! Happy writing!