Tuesday, August 28, 2007

One Writer’s Advice: Save Those Good Photos

I love so many things about being an author, but one thing that I loathe is the photo thing. A simple reality that you cannot escape is that once you have a book out, someone (most likely your publisher) is going to want a photo of you for publicity purposes.

I hate this.

You might say, “Why Terry, you’re always such an upbeat person, why the sudden negativity?” Or as my husband would say, “Honey, would you like a little cheese to go with that whine?”

Well, I’m in the process of organizing a PowerPoint presentation for the annual SCBWI Ventura/Santa Barbara Writer’s Day (click here for details), and I have to include two photos of myself. Ugh...two??? Whose big idea was this anyway? Oh, right...that would be Alexis, my regional advisor (thanks, Alexis!). But I really only have myself to blame, as I’m the coordinator so I should have come up with some clever excuse to exclude myself.

I’ve been sorting through pictures and it’s no easy task—hmm...do I want something that shows what I do in my spare time (maybe catch the attention of that editor who has been looking for someone who knows a lot about backpacking or trimming cats’ claws), or do I choose one of me doing a school visit (to appeal to that person in the audience who is in charge of booking authors at his/her school), or do I pick one that shows me surrounded by my cats as I’m scribbling away on a notepad (to connect with the other writers in the audience). Now before you say, “Holy cow, Batman, that’s the longest run-on sentence I’ve ever seen!” or “You husband is right—you DO need a little cheese to go with that whine!” you must understand my frustration.

I collect photos from many other authors and illustrators for this project, and some (ahem, Mary Hershey, Val Hobbs, Lee Wardlaw, to name a few) take awesome photos! (Wait—it just occurred to me that they all live in Santa Barbara. Maybe they all use the same photographer--yes, surely that's it.). Compared to some of these other writers, I feel like I should put a bag over my head with a couple of holes for eyes. Hmm...I do have some artistic friends who could come up with a really pretty bag...

I used to think it was because I didn’t have enough selection (I was always the person shooting the pictures), but I’m finally remembering during the course of the year to take pictures of me at interesting moments. Uh...that didn’t seem to help either. Let’s face it, but there’s nothing like a picture taken by a professional photographer. And I didn’t see any this summer on Mt. St. Helen’s or on that cool whale watch I did off of Cape Cod.

So once again, I’ll harangue my poor husband into taking about 30 pictures of me so that I can find one that doesn’t make me totally cringe (until I can find a reasonable photographer that I like where I live). It’s like the old I Love Lucy episode where she and Ethel have to get pictures for their passports for Europe. They have to settle on the best one out of 100, and even at that, poor Lucy’s face is as twisted as a pretzel.

What’s my point? Save those good photos (unlike the one above)—save the posed shots, action shots, professional ones and fun snapshots. You never know when you’ll need a huge selection to find “the magic one” for the right publicity opportunity. That is, unless your Mary, Val or Lee!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Healthy Writer: It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, No—it’s a TheraCane!

I hate knots. Not as in a figure-eight loop, a fisherman’s or a square knot. I’m talking about the ones that get in my upper back and shoulders after hours of writing at the computer. But thanks to a helpful little tool I’ve discovered, I can combat those “naughty” little knots.

Meet the “TheraCane.” It looks kind of like a torture device used by Santa Claus, but it’s anything but that. You position the TheraCane to massage out knots, or “trigger points” that accumulate in your muscles from extended use (basically caused from an accumulation of lactic acid—at least that’s what my doctor tells me).

There are many ways to hold the cane to allow you to get to various parts of your back and neck, but the one shown here is the one I use the most. Another favorite way I use it is to hold the small nubby part against the notch at the base of my skull and gently massage. This helps with headache pain caused from neck strain.

To learn more about the TheraCane, click here, or Google it to find a selection of prices.

Note: This is a sharing of information from one writer to another (well, maybe quite a few others) about something that I’ve found to help me. I’m not a medical professional. Consult with your own doctor first.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

SCBWI Conference: A Night with the Queen

Pictured (left to right): Terry Pierce, Cecilia Noyes, Greg Trine, Tina Nichols Coury, Rebecca Langston-George, Yuki Yoshino, Alexis O'Neill
I had to post this picture, just for the fun of it. Every year, at the SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles, on Saturday night there is an poolside gala. Part of the festivities includes a costume contest. This year's theme was, "By the light of the silvery moon."

I was so happy when my writer friend, Tina Nichols Coury, won this year, dressed as the Silvery Moon Queen, along with her royal court, Greg Trine and Yuki Yoshino (also terrific writers and friends). If you go to Tina's blog, Tales from the Rushmore Kid, you can scroll down to see some of the details on how she created her amazing costume. Way to go, Tina!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dessert Challenge @ GottaBook

My blog friend, Greg Pincus, has taken my comment that if he doesn’t have a favorite dessert it’s because he hasn’t tasted them all, to a challenge. He's going to make it his life's mission to find the perfect dessert and is welcoming others to joing him (a noble quest, don't you think?)I told Greg that of course, I'm willing, even though I already have a couple of favorites (yes, I’m just that good of a friend).

The best dessert I ever had was at the 1999 SCBWI Golden Kite Awards luncheon at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. It was a work of art—a paper-thin crispy waffle-style cup, lined with dark OMG chocolate (that’s the good kind—the stuff that makes you say, “Oh My Gosh!”). Inside was thick French vanilla bean custard, drizzled with more dark chocolate. Over that, was a scattering of raspberries and blueberries, drizzled with more chocolate, and topped with whipped cream and more berries. Even the plates were artfully decorated with raspberry sauce drizzled into beautiful patterns. I think the hotel pastry chefs deserved a Golden Kite Award for their artistic achievement!

I long for that dessert...but alas, I fear I shall never have it again (my thighs are thanking me).

So here’s a challenge—how would you describe your favorite dessert? We’re all wordsmiths here—give it your best shot. Make my mouth water with your scrumptious word choices. I dare you!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

SCBWI Conference Quotes and Bits of Wisdom

Here are a few quotes and summations I gleaned from the 2007 SCBWI Summer Conference.

Arthur Levine—When talking about receiving professional criticism, he reminded us that editors understand what authors feel when waiting for a reply because they go through a kind of “response anxiety” (my term, not his) when they send out revision letters. He's always a bit eager to hear what an author thinks of his suggestions and how he/she will feel about them.

Walter Dean Meyers—“I give details on the internal landscape of a character.”

Lisa Wheeler—“Rhyme is the vehicle for telling a story... It shouldn’t become a bump in the road.”

Rubin Pfeffer—“A great book is one that sets a child off to read another book.”

John Green—“Great books do not happen by accident.”

Linda Sue Park—Revision is re-seeing the manuscript (macrochanges). Rewriting is re-writing (microchanges) by word choice, details, sentences, etc.
Roxyanne Young--The first step in revving up your PR machine is to define your audience. Who is your audience?

I also made more notes to add to my "conference tips" for next year, but that will come later--much later.
That's it for now, folks.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Oh, What a Conference It Was!

I'm pooped. Yup, that's about all this little "wordsmith" can come up with to describe how I'm feeling right now. The conference was a blast, as usual, filled with sharing of great information, meetings of like-minded folks, and general merriment. Which is why my mind is pure mush right now. Yes, my mind is like that which filled that very famous bowl in Goodnight, Moon.

I'll post a bit more on the conference later, but for now I wanted to post some other info. As the Kern County assistant coordinator on the Ventura/Santa Barbara SCBWI regional board (man, that's a mouthful), I wanted to share some upcoming SCBWI events in Kern County, CA.

Sept. 8, 2007: 10:00 AM. Critiquenic in Bakersfield, CA. Russo's Books at The Marketplace (9000 Ming Ave.). Free to members, $5 to non-members.

Jan. 12, 2008: 10:00 AM. Critiquenic in Bakersfield, CA. Russo's Books at The Marketplace (9000 Ming Ave.). Free to members, $5 to non-members.

March 29, 2008: What Mother Goose Can Teach Us About Poetry. Workshop in Bakersfield, CA, featuring children's author Ann Whitford Paul. 9:30 AM-4:30 PM. $50 members, $60 non-members.

For details on the events above, or additional info regarding other writing/illustrating events in the V/SB region, click here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It's Off to the Conference I Go!

Friday morning, I'll head down to the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles. I can't wait! It's such a blast to hang out with other folks who speak the same language as I do and really "get" what children's writing is all about (not to mention, all the super-fabulous cool things I learn).

I've got my conference flier all marked up with my faves, my new jammies packed, and have tried to pet the fur off my kitties so they won't hold my absence against me.

Hope to see you there!