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Back from SCBWI Conference April 6, 2009

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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I spoke at the SCBWI-Nebraska conference last weekend about “Divine Words: Writing for the Inspirational Market.” One thing about teaching: you learn your subject so much better yourself. I had ordered most of the children’s magazines in the inspirational market to share with the writers and illustrators attending the conference. A few of those magazines I had never seen myself. I became interested enough in one of them that I submitted a story immediately after the conference–and sold it within two days!

Andrew Karre, editor at Carolrhoda, also spoke at the conference. Talking with him, I learned that he expects most of his YA submissions to be in first person. He said he almost questions it if a YA manuscript isn’t written in first person.

I’ve written most of my books in third person even though first person would have probably been more natural to me. I kept diaries from eighth grade on into my thirties, and my first novel (which never saw print) was in first person. I had submitted that first novel to a couple of editors, and one of them, Wendy Lamb, responded with a full, one-page personal letter. I didn’t realize at the time how rare that is.

I guess I quit using first person shortly after college. I had read interviews of editors at literary journals, and they said they were tired of all the first-person stories they received. They described the writing as “navel-gazing.” Some also seemed to suggest that first-person writing had been overused as a shortcut to immediacy with the reader. I took up the challenge to try to evoke emotion through third person. But now I’m rethinking first person again . . .

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Comments»

1. Mary Connealy - April 6, 2009

Hi, Ronica. I got your email. Ummmmmmm I’m on blogger. Although my Petticoats & Pistols blog may be word press.
Okay, I just checked. It is. I might be able to give you some advice. You can email me at the mary at maryconnealy . com address with questions.

2. Takiela Bynum - April 7, 2009

Hi Ronica!
Congrats on the new blog! Thank you for linking with me.
I hope nothing but the best for you.
Be Blessed and Prosper,
Takiela Bynum

3. Beverly - April 7, 2009

Hi, Ronica,
I enjoyed reading your first blog, you blog baby you!

I thought it was particularly generous of you to share so much when you presented last month, with the periodicals and nitty gritty on just what is expected when you are publishing.

I’ve been told that first person can make the (adult) reader claustrophobic, since it’s so “up close and personal.” I guess this would make it a good medium with which to “hook” a younger audience, but don’t we want to treat them like adult readers. I will confess that it didn’t matter what form the writing was in when I was in intermediate elementary, middle school, or high school, I WAS the major nice-smart-bright-funny main character. (Up through mid-third grade I will confess that the requirements for a good book included a “good” picture on the cover and a picture of some kind on each page.) Okay, with that off my chest I feel much better.

I have a few more thoughts and ideas but will reserve them for later!
I like your blog and will bookmark it to read it again.
wtg (Way to go!)

Beverly

4. ronicastromberg - April 7, 2009

Bev,

Now that we’re doing confessions, I have to admit I still judge a book by its cover. If the cover doesn’t look professional, I’m unlikely to read the book. That’s why I think it’s so important to have good illustrations on children’s books. (And why I’m hoping and praying for something good on my teen novels!)

I’m hoping to post to this blog once every week or two, maybe less often but not more frequently. I still need to figure out how bloggers get that nice little section where followers’ pictures are posted. Of course, it would probably help to have a follower first. Details, details.

Thanks for all the kind words! It was good hearing from you.


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