Sunday, November 24, 2013

What Would Jane Do?

By Leigh Stevenson

I had a huge realization. My return to the stage and the press surrounding it taught me something. Never has so much been written about so little. Really. The one-act play I did was funny, true. But articles in every publication in town, Facebook advertising, Twitter and then FRONT PAGE of the newspaper? Are you kidding me? Suddenly we were sold-out. The playwright, Robbie Robertson also our publicist/media guru, master of networking and blitzkrieg, was responsible.

I had heard for a while from professionals that getting your work out into the media, using all formats, is important. You create your own stir. I resisted this and basically ignored it. I thought, “Who would really read all the hype?” I guess I’m a throwback to Jane Austen. I just wanted to write. Not self-promote. Finally, a full year after a good friend said it was imperative, I created a blog. Slow study doesn’t quite cover it.

What Robbie taught me is, IT WORKS. However painful and makes me want-to-hide-under-the-bed-embarrassing, IT WORKS. If you create enough stir people will notice. I wish it was a different world. But it’s not.

Also, I wonder if the new technology intimidates anyone else. Is it just me? First, computers. That was a challenge, but I mastered the basics. Every time I talk with someone who knows more than I do (which isn’t hard), I pick their brain and take notes. In pencil. Remember pencil? By the way, do you notice that young people, I mean the ones that grew up with computers, are annoyed to show you how to do things on the computer? As if your ignorance wasn’t enough of a handicap, you feel dumb about being ignorant. I want to remind them; even they had to learn to read. We don’t spring from our mother’s loins with technology implanted. Or reading skills.

Next was email. I stuck a tentative toe in the water and then dove. I loved it. A fast, efficient way to correspond. Apparently it wasn’t fast or efficient enough. Then came (I’m not sure in what order, so don’t sue me) Websites for Everything and Everyone! Texting, Twitter, Blogging, Skype, Smartphones (what does that even mean?), Cloud technology, Nooks, Kindles, iPads, and on and on. I’m sure I’m behind on even naming them.

The point is, I feel I have to be a magician to keep up. I’m trying, heaven knows. I’m not sure, however, with all of this corresponding and sharing of information… if people are still talking. How’s the art of conversation faring with the How r u’s and LOL’s? How about handwritten letters? I used to love letters. Even a greeting card makes me happy. Oh sure, I love to get them via email, but there is something about holding them in your hand. Books, too. I don’t want to be a dinosaur about it but it’s true, there are things to miss. Some traditions worth hanging on to. I still love Jane Austen. What on earth would she have done?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I Can’t Find My Louboutins: Looking for a Fashion Writer Who Knows Where They Are

By Kimberly Johnson

I think I lost my shoes during NYC Fashion Week. Maybe if I put an all-points bulletin to the famous fashion bloggers and columnists I just might get them back in time for Christmas. For two days, I played Columbo and stumbled around the Internet. 

I Googled fashion writers. I learned that most editors want a niche writer with a proven track record. Start a blog to generate an audience is what the editors suggest. has over 937 K Twitter followers and 155K Facebook fans. Columnist Rachel Strugatz is legendary for her work for at Women’s Wear Daily and the Huffington Post. Here’s a sample highlighting jewelry worn by First Lady Michelle Obama.

“The one-of-a-kind Naeem Khan gown Michelle Obama donned for the state dinner stole the spotlight initially, but it was her show-stopping earrings that stole our hearts. The first lady borrowed the rose cut, amber, and tourmaline pear shaped earrings from Bochic, brainchild of New York-based David Aaron Joseph and Miriam Salat.”

John Jannuzzi, Jessica Quillin and Shala Monroque are prominent fashion writers-turned-editors that use Twitter and Facebook to maintain a strong social media presence. I located Olivia Fleming of London’s Daily Mail.  Maybe she can tell me where my shoes are. Fleming highlighted Louboutin in a November 11 article:

“Christian Louboutin is introducing a capsule collection of heels that promises to elongate your legs by matching the color of your skin. Five classic Louboutin styles have been re-imagined in five shades ranging from a fair blush to rich chestnut, which aim to 'closely match the color of a customer's skin tone'.”

 I Googled fashion writing. The result was a hodge podge of advice ranging from invest in a good dictionary to develop a tough hide to the quote “Writers are not born, they are created through hard work.”  Interestingly enough, a fashion writer internship popped up. 

“Want my job? Write a headline and 250 words on the person you would most like to interview in the fashion industry – it could be a designer, a show producer, a make-up artist, a hair stylist or a model. I want to know who inspires you and why.”  (from Rebecca Lowthrope, the fashion features director for Elle UK)

I think my shoes are truly lost. But I did find out that the fashion industry has creative writers in various genres. Fashion writers adhere to the same principles as a non-fiction writer, a memoirist, even a cookbook writer. The only thing different is the red carpet, the fabulous clothes, and the celebrities. Ok. I don’t really own a pair of Louboutins, but I do have a pair of Calvin Kleins.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

SCBWI Conference

By Sarah Herlong

Recently I went to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference.
Fortunately room service was great! The hotel was very nice too. I found their preparations beforehand very organized and helpful. Online they had 3 publications. One was a Conference Brochure. It contained a conference overview, hotel information, conference schedule, workshop descriptions and faculty bios. All handy anytime I needed to access it.

Then there was the downloadable Conference Information brochure. This contained all the guidelines and deadlines for manuscript critiques, portfolio reviews, first pages/ first impressions, red eye critiques and portfolio displays. This was very helpful to have all in one place. There was also a copy of the critique form used by the entire faculty. This form for manuscript critiques was very thorough. It was covered front and back with boxes for the editor/agent to fill. They had to list the positive aspects of the work and elements that needed improvements. They had to provide notes on character development, plot and structure, language diction, voice, and marketability. There was even a section for next steps and extra comments. I found this produced the best critiques I’ve ever gotten for my work, especially the editor’s comments. Their perspective is so different than an agent’s. Having this form in advance also helped me tailor my questions around what they would have already covered in their critique. It made me more professional as well as their critique more informative.

Then most interestingly was the Newcomer’s Guide. It contained helpful tips for those attending their first conference as well as anyone who wanted to make the most of their conference experience. It included all sorts of tips to make the most of my 15 minute critique and even icebreaker questions to help you make connections with other conference goers. Frankly I got more questions about my work from the room service personnel than from the conference goers, but I’m antisocial.

 One of the things that were very helpful was a little map of the lobby with the conference rooms all labeled. This meant there was no confusion as to where my critiques and workshops were being held. I was never late for anything.

Being neurotic I came up with three questions for the conference coordinator, and she responded within a few hours with answers to all my questions. This I found impressive.

Another great thing was that afterwards there was a computerized critique of the conference itself that included boxes to expand on answers for each question. They asked specifically about each workshop, if it was as good as expected. I took that opportunity to squeal on the agent who talked about music instead of middle grade fiction. Yes, that really happened.

All in all it was a great conference that expanded not only my knowledge of the children’s market, but music as well, unfortunately.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

23rd Annual SCWW Conference

 By Ginny Padgett

“Writing for Publication” was the theme of the one-day symposium hosted by SCWW on Saturday, October 26 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. There were about 65 attendees who enjoyed presentations from seven industry experts: Holly McClure, agent-author and owner of Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency LLC; Betsy Teter, founder of Hub City Writers Project; Cindi Boiter, author and Editor-Publisher of Jasper Magazine; Shari Stauch, marketing specialist and creator of Where Writers Win; Aurelia Sands of Deer Hawk Publications; along with our own McKendree Long and Fred Fields. Professional critiques were offered for purchase at the website. A dozen or so attendees and spouses gathered afterward at the Flying Saucer for author readings, door prizes, conversation and conviviality.

By all accounts it was a successful day even though it was a pared-down event. I heard words like “focused,” “informative,” enjoyable” and “professional.” We owe a round of applause to Kia Goins, 2013 SCWW Conference Chair, for organizing a day of sharing and expanding.

SCWW Columbia II won the Chapter Submission Challenge; Laura P Valtorta took Second Place in the Individual Category. The 2013 Petigru Review made its debut. The anthology is available at the website and soon to come to Kindle.

Save the date for next year’s conference: October 24-26, 2014, Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort. Beginning in January, keep an eye on the website for details: