Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cats taking over the world ...

If you ever needed more evidence that cats are taking over the world, look no further. 

These three videos explain it all. And as my teenaged marketing manager said: "Aunt Janet, people love cat videos!" Turns out she was right! 

An advertising company that produces cat videos!

Cats take over an IKEA, then the world!

A gang of cats after your breakfast milk!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

SCBWIers Worldwide!

I talk a lot on this blog about the writing organizations I belong to, specifically the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). It's an international organization that has created a community of writers and illustrators committed to creating works for children.

They have conferences all over the world and I've blogged about the ones I've been to in New York and Bologna, Italy. And SCBWI has regional chapters like the Canada West Region that puts on local conferences, professional development, and networking. Check out the link for upcoming local events. 

I meet some members of the The British Isles SCBWI when I was in London and Bologna in 2010. I loved their energy and commitment, and heard the story of how they built the region up to deliver the professional development opportunities they have, and how many went from being aspiring to published writers.

SCBWI BI just had their annual conference and by all accounts it was a huge success.

Check out the blog Notes from the Slush Pile for a round up of the events at the conference. This blog post also links to many other member blogs who write about their experience at the conference.

Candy Gourlay, who recently did a guest blog post for me, won the coveted Crystal Kite Prize for Europe for her young adult novel Tall Story. The Crystal Kite Prize is voted on by peers. Candy also won the Outstanding Contribution Prize for all her efforts in growing SCBWI and nurturing the members (also, she scores high on the awesome scale!).

Here's her acceptance speech for the Crystal Kite Prize where she talks about the long road to publication, the year since publication and the challenges of living a creative life while living a creative life (if you know what I mean - you will after reading her speech). Plus she confirmed that writers can write in their sweat pants and not bother washing their hair which is great comfort to most of us writers.    

Oh, yeah, they have a cake each year that represents some of the member's books that have been published that year.

Now that's literary nourishment!

Monday, November 7, 2011

You know you're a children's writer when ...

I had a dream that I was at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) LA conference and Josh Groban was singing O Canada. Did I mention that the conference was in a giant hockey arena!? Then I dreamt that a fly bit me on the forehead and I woke up. 

While I was musing about how, next time, I won't eat sushi before napping, I started thinking about this community of writers who writes for babies, toddlers, first readers, tweens and young adults. Collectively know as children's writers.  

You know you're a children's writer if:

You've read a picture book to a child and thought 'I can do that' (then spent the next twenty years learning how!); 

Like Stephen King you have: "the heart of a small boy... and I keep it in a jar on my desk." 

You can recite the books you read as a child and how they shaped your life and world view (for me it's The Little Engine that Could, Curious George, Madeline, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and who can forget how Nancy Drew has influenced the twin detective characters in my Megabyte Mystery series);

You want to tell a really good story with characters that ring true without being didactic;

When you get an idea about scientists creating giant frogs, you don't think you're hallucinating; 

You read voraciously in the genre that you are writing and the age group you are writing for (that's a good thing for all writers); 

You keep up with current trends and become part of a local and world-wide community of writers who love to write for young people; and,

You really like to think you've touched the reader, and love to get emails telling you that your book rocked and you are their new favourite writer. 
Students doing a writing exercise at one of my school visits. 
What were the signs that you noticed on your way to becoming a children's writer?