Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hooray for Nonfiction!

      Several weeks ago I took part in a terrific day-long conference, SCBWI CA North/Central’s first ever Non-Fiction Intensive.   I was the keynote speaker and talked  to a sold-out crowd of 52 participants, all eager to learn about writing nonfiction for children.
      My talk, Nonfiction is NOT Dead! focused on crafting the non-fiction book to fit today's market, combining text, visuals, and extra material to make a complete package. Using my own books and other recently pubished nonfiction, I talked about taking an idea from a jumble of facts to a compelling book that kids will want to read.
      Other faculty featured Agent/Principal Abigail Samoun of Red Fox Literary Agency; and Carolyn Yoder, Senior Editor, Calkins Creek Books/Senior Editor, Highlights.
      Carolyn Yoder addressed the Fun of Researching, Writing, and Rewriting Nonfiction, including what she looks for when she meets a manuscript for the first time, the editor/author relationship, and the importance of original research, original writing, and most of all passion!
      Former editor, now Agent/Principal Abigail Samoun spoke about the New Picture Book Biography: What makes today's picture book biographies different from those published a decade or two ago? What will make your own biographical manuscript stand-out from the slush pile? She shared numerous contemporary picture book biographies, including For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart, which she edited at Tricycle and which has received starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.
      The day also included a panel of three distinguished CA North/Central PAL nonfiction authors Jeri Chase Ferris, Connie Goldsmith and Lori Mortenson covering Where Do Ideas Come From?; Queries; Proposals; 5 Common Mistakes in Writing Nonfiction; Research and Images; and Biographies. They also created table displays of sample proposals, books, examples of original research, and artifacts.
      Jeri, Connie and Lori were key organizers of the event as well as C0-RA’s Patricia Newman, Erin Dealey, and Catherine Meyer ARA.  They all did a terrific job!  Everyone went home inspired and ready to get to work.

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