Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gearing up for the SCBWI LA Conference 2014

 Hello fellow writers! I am getting ready and getting excited for the SCBWI LA Conference. 

Will you be there?

There are 15 of us coming from Oregon this year. I am so happy to have some other Oregoneons around. But I am also looking forward to meeting up with San Francisco, Pittsburgh and LA friends!

If this is your first big conference, relax. It's fun and you will make it through with tons of new, helpful information. This is my first LA conference. But I went to the NY SCBWI Conference two years ago and so I have some suggestions for you for this conference in LA.

  • Wear comfortable/stylish shoes - you will be walking and in some cases jogging to your next destination. Wear shoes you can move in without twisting an ankle, yet still look business casual.

  • Please NO workout clothes! Yes, yoga pants are cute and comfortable…but not appropriate for meeting an agent, editor or publisher.

  • Be RESPECTFUL not only to the agents, publishers and editors, but to your fellow writers. Do not interrupt another writer because you really, really want to meet the  agent they are speaking with. You will look rude to both. You want to show that you are professional, not pushy.

  • Remember this is ONE conference. You will get a chance in your writing career to meet professionals in your industry many times. This is a huge conference and so many of you might not get to personally speak with the one agent or publisher or editor of your choice. That's okay. All is not lost. 

  • This is a LONG HAUL. Writing is a career and this is one of several meetings you will attend. Show your best self, but if you make a mistake, don't beat yourself up. You will have other opportunities to prove you are professional and courteous. 

  • DO NOT shove your manuscript into the face or hands or purse or jacket of any of the professionals at the conference. 
Just don't!

  • DO take notes. Keep a small notepad in your pocket or use NOTES on your iPhone. You might be standing in a small group with a professional giving great tips. Don't walk away without making some notes. You will forget by the end of the long day.

  • If you are going to ASK A QUESTION, make it a question for all, not just about your book in particular. Everyone there wants a private consult on their book, but that's not what this conference is for…unless you purchased the private consult. Be respectful of your fellow writers and do not put a professional on the spot about your project. It will not help your cause.

  • FLOSS after lunch. At one of the conferences I attended I did not check my teeth after eating spinach. I was chatting with a director at Penguin for a while, the whole time with a huge piece of spinach in my two front teeth. How embarrassing! FLOSS! FLOSS! FLOSS!

  • And while we are on this subject, Breath, Breath, Breath! You will be drinking tons of coffee, so brings tons of gum or mints. I once was having a conversation with another writer and her breath was so coffee heavy I had to back up. You don't want your first impression to be bad breath! 

  • If you are going to give your BUSINESS CARDS out, be sure to include everyone you are in a group or having lunch with. There will be newbie writers at this conference and it's scary for them. If they are sitting next to you and you hand your card to 4 writers and not the newbie, it hurts. I know from experience. If you don't want to give your card to everyone, then wait and privately give it to that one special person. But try to be inclusive at all times if possible. 

  • If you are seated near a NEWBIE WRITER, or pass by one, say hi. Ask them how their conference is going and what they write. We are supposed to support one another. And you never know, that newbie writer could be the next NY times best seller tomorrow! Or an agent in the future. Be kind…always.

  • Know that even though these agents, editors and publishers will be open to your submissions after the conference, they are looking for the best of the best. Do not query too early in your writing process. Take your time. They want your best, most revised work. Do not waste this opportunity. 

  • I have noticed that some newer writers think the only people they should try to get to know at conferences are the speakers. This is so false. GET TO KNOW THE WRITERS. The writers at this conference are serious about their craft. They will most likely be published next. Make new friends there and they may last a lifetime with invaluable insight. 

  • Bring a WATER BOTTLE. Keep it full. You will be thirsty from all of the talking and all of the walking. 

  • LAYERS - dress in layers. Going outside in LA will be warm, hot even. You want to be able to remove a sweater and have a tank underneath. Inside will be cool, cold even. Tie a scarf on your purse incase you need it.

  • Be ON TIME! 

  • NO Jealousy toward other writers! If you are envious of something a writer is doing or has done or knows….ask questions. No jealousy at all about anything is helpful to you and the whole conference. Support each other - no excluding anyone for any reason. Be open to someone new no matter how different they are from you and your world will grow. 

  • Manners. Manners. Manners. Say excuse me when you are trying to pass by someone. Say please. Say thank you. Manners go a long way for everyone. Hold the doors open. Scoot over. Offer a seat. Be helpful. Smile. 

  • SUPPORT other writers. Buy their books. Read their blogs. Talk to them about how they got their agents. Go see the illustrations. 

  • Have FUN! Join in. Dance. Cheer. Laugh. The energy of this conference is up to you, to all of us. Let's make it awesome!

See you there!

Friday, July 18, 2014

APOLOGIES: Vacation Writing RULES

I must apologize to my avid readers. I have been neglecting my blog due to finishing my novel and traveling over the summer. But I do promise some new and exciting things this fall ----

But until then the summer months tend to keep me away from my computer. That's a good thing and a bad thing for the writer side of me. I need to keep writing to stay sharp, but I also need down time to allow creativity to happen so I can write about it. If I do nothing but sit, my writing becomes boring. I need to experience things, places, people, situations so my writing is new and exciting.

In the mean time I am in Newport, Vermont for 2 weeks and have the writer bug. But I'm supposed to be on vacation. I posted this dilemma to my Facebook account and some of my favorite writer and creative friends wrote back. 

What I posted: I know I'm on vacation --- but I need to write!!! UGH --- What should I do?

What they said:

  • I know what you should do. You should write! ~ Max Timm

  • Short stories. Write stuff that you never thought you'd try to write. See if any of the pieces sprout into something more. ~ Rick Rowe

  • Write me a letter about your vacation. ~ Ginger Teapole

  • I'm having the same problem. I've been off for over a week and I've written nothing! It's making me antsy, but I figure sometimes you need to take a break from everything. Good luck! ~ Lisa Lamm Alkins

  • Whenever I visit a new place on vacation, I think of how to turn this new place into an article topic that is refreshing and different. And since I'm new, it's easier to get perspective. I've had much success with this - it can be done! ~ Dorit Sasson

  • Postcards? ~ Jennifer Bach Larson

  • Journal your day…~ Betsy Pritts Ickes

Thank you my creative friends. I did write --- in fact, I wrote this blog using your fabulous ideas. You helped me more than you know. And I hope these ideas help you, my rock'in writer readers. 

Writing sparks strike at odd times. If you write, you know this. A writer must write when the light turns green. So go!!! Do not stop! WRITE.

Vacation Writing Rules:
  • Find a quiet place away from the family - sneak away --- do not announce that you are going to go write!!!

  • Bring your laptop -- and the cord

  • And a glass of wine - you're on vacation so this sipping of the wine could be at 9:00 AM or 9:00 PM --- this is vacation writing!

  • Food if needed -- so you don't have to get up and then get seen by your kids and then asked to do 1001 things before you go back to your writing

  • Water -- hydrate so your brain can work through the wine haze

Vacation writing can be fun if you relax and know that it's not the same writing you do at home, in your office, your writing spot, surrounded by your writer things. This is VACATION! Write freely and with much fun. Write through your inner child's eyes….and you never know, you just might hit upon an idea or a line that will unfold into a beautiful novel.

Good luck to you and keep me posted on the vacation writing you do!