Apply butt to chair and read

One of the great things about going to a conference is coming home with a big fat list of books to read.  If they could help me find more time to read that would be just downright magical.

open books

From the four keynote addresses, the eight break out sessions, and the one intensive, I give you books to first enjoy and then study.  You are probably well read and already familiar with many of these, but I encourage you to take another look to grow your craft.

From the intensive on voice with Heather Alexander, literary agent from Pippin Properties comes most of the books.  Though we discussed what each did well in voice, they all are great studies in the craft of writing:

  • Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt (in my Goodreads review I said Gary Schmidt wrote Wednesday Wars just so he could meet the MC for Okay for Now.  This book also made my list of top 25 books I’m glad were written. Don’t miss this one!)
  • Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
  • A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (Heather called this one of the most vulnerable YA characters we’ve had in a long time.)
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson(Language is important! Imagine what a different story this would be if the homonym was used instead, I’ll Give You the Son!)
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  • Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
  • The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater

Character-driven novels:

  • Roller Girl – Victoria Jamieson
  • Pax – Sara Pennypacker

A book that has changed the world:

Picture Books that demonstrate tight lean writing

  • All Alone by Kevin Henkes
  • The New Girl by Jacqui Robbins
  • Star Bright by Allison McGhee
  • Zombie in Love by Kelly DiPucchio

The author has a clear sense of the backstory

  • Wonder by RJ Palacio
  • Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

Best first sentence, according to Sarah Aronson:

  • What Jamie Saw by Carolyn Coman

Great Ending:

  • The Rag Bone Shop by Robert Cormier

Books on the Craft of Writing

  • Wired for Story by Lisa Cron
  • Free Play by Stephen Nachmanovitch
  • Writing Stories by Carolyn Coman

Happy reading and creating!

Go ahead update your to-read list on Goodreads.

Reflections from the Wild

The SCBWI Wild Wild Midwest Conference occurred last weekend.


First – a big plug for SCBWI: If you are a children’s writer, meaning you have a story you are playing with, even if it’s only in your mind or a scrappy notepad next to your bed stand, do yourself a favor and discover SCBWI.  You will find a tribe of people who, though they are competing for a slot in someone’s inbox and dream of their cover facing out at the local bookstore, are incredibly supportive, warm,  and know how to laugh at themselves. No hierarchy.  Our name tags did not denote the number of publications, awards won, or the pre-published. So do yourself a favor and reach out to your local SCWBI group in your area.

To the point of the matter: As I marinate on my 30+ pages of notes I realize I need to process this soon before it just becomes a great memory.

Of course I cannot go into details about the massive variety of breakouts and four keynote addresses, but I certainly can share how what I learned influences my writing now.

As I think about the big picture of what I brought home the following topics comes to mind.

A great reading list and why I want to read them.

Knowing my character and her voice.

Writing matters, correction – story matters.

Loving an ugly baby.

So these are upcoming topics I want to think more about, hence they are upcoming posts.  And I list them here to hold myself accountable to my craft and my blog.

If you have recently attended this conference or another one, please share a nugget you brought home with you.

Happy writing 🙂