Monday, February 25, 2008


When SCBWI Houston asked me to speak at their conference, I didn't know that my daughter would get a part in a play that same weekend. But the lovely coincidence is that her college is also in the Houston area. So Jerry and I had the good fortune of seeing The Skin of Our Teeth two times. Everyone in the cast at Sam Houston University did a fabulous job with Thornton Wilder's play, but we were especially impressed with the fortune teller gypsy who shared our last name. Bravo, Shannon Holt!

Thank you, SCBWI Houston, for inviting me to be a part of your well-organized and inspiring conference. I speak at a lot of events, but I seldom get to hear other presenters. That's one reason why Saturday was so special. I learned a lot. Illustrator Don Tate reminded me of the importance of being professional. His work ethic is admirable. Agent Jennifer Jaeger shared her knowledge about the industry and how she works with clients to help them have the best manuscript before submitting to an editor. That's dedication!

Editor Molly O'Neill compared a writer's approach to craft to that of a tourist or a traveller. Another editor Abigail Samoun took us on a journey of a book to publication.

Sarah Cloots closed out the day by giving insights to her job as an editor and reminding us of the importance of writing for young people. She quoted the legendary editor Ursula Nordstrom. When offered the opportunity to "step up" to editing adult books, Nordstrom said, "I couldn't possibly be interested in books for dead dull finished adults. And thank you very much, but I have to get back to my desk to publish some more good books for bad children."

Whenever I speak I give insights into my writing process, but my main goal is to inspire others to reach for their dreams. So I was delighted when Aileen Kirkham shared the following jingle that she'd based on my presentation:

Writing(sing to the tune of Rawhide)

Writing, writing, writing words that are inviting
For readers who will see or hear
Your characters and setting
A plot NOT worth forgetting
Writers make the readers want to care
Writing, writing, writing. Wriiiiite ON!

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