The World's Latest LA 2012 SCBWI Summer Conference Post

Yeah. Just now getting around to it. There are no words for how busy life has been lately. And nothing dramatic. Just. Life. To top it all off, I just caught a cold from the Pea. Insert whiny sounds here.

But it really would be a crying shame to not share some of the smart juice that got squeezed out of the SCBWI speakers' mind-grapes. A cookie for any of my readers who can identify the origin of that reference. 

And so I give you Karen's Top 7 SCBWI Words of Wisdom (I honestly just put a ___ there and will go back and fill in the number later):

Only kill off characters that people care about. - Sara Shepard

Be curious. Be aware. Be open. - Karen Cushman

Don't ever give the reader a good stopping point. - Jay Asher

Having no book trailer is better than having a bad book trailer. - Sara Wilson Etienne

Tell the truth. - Karen Cushman

If you don't write to entertain yourself, you won't entertain anyone else. - Lee Wardlaw

**Everything that came out of her mouth** - Ruta Supetys (Seriously, every time the woman got up to speak, little truth nuggets flung out of her lips and rained down over the audience.)

For me, the biggest value of the conference was getting to spend time with writer friends, new and old. I love that feeling of meeting people face-to-face for the first time who I've only ever known online and not hesitating for one millisecond to throw my arms around them in a big hug. I'm looking at you, Morgan and Stacey!

It's an amazing feeling to be surrounded by over a thousand people who get you.

The Lucky 13s

I'm officially in The Lucky 13s! Know the super-secret handshake and everything. (That's not true at all. It's a super-secret High 5.) Already, I've been blown away by this wonderful pack of writers.

You can go follow us on Twitter here. I plan to highlight some of my fellow 13ers over the upcoming year. Any burning questions you want me to ask in interviews?

The Perils of Writing in the Future

The other day, I had an appointment to get my teeth cleaned. I love my hygienist, Barbara. She's rooted me on (ha! pun intended) since I first told her, in a sheepish (and probably garbled) voice, that I was a writer. The last time I saw her, I'd just signed with my agent, so it was beyond crazycakes to get to tell her that my book had sold.

Before I left, she made me promise one thing: Don't make the villain a dentist. They get a bad rap as it is in media. And she's right. One of my favorite songs from Little Shop of Horrors is You'll be a Dentist.

But I digress.

I assured her that no dentists were slandered in the writing of my book. But I do actually mention them. I needed to think of a profession that will still be around in 200 years (where most of the book is set), and, hey, people will still have teeth.

"But I don't know that they'll need dentists," she said.


It turns out that researchers are developing a cavity vaccine. AND they're working on GROWING NEW TEETH.

Whattity What?

Elizabeth Spann Craig has a great post about the perils of dating your book. But I've run into the opposite problem. How do you decide what will be around in 200 years if you aren't sure what will make the cut in 10 years? In 2? It's hard to imagine up some technical marvel that isn't probably brewing away in Apple Labs as we speak.

I had two rules of thumb:
1.) If it's been around for at least 200 years, it will probably be here in another 200 years. (With exceptions, of course, if technology already seems to be headed in a different direction.)
2.) Extrapolate, but consider where humanity might draw the line. (Especially where there are already rumblings.)

Okay, and a third rule:
3.) Have fun with it. I loved dreaming some crazy stuff up, but at the end of the day...or the millenium...people are people. It's the characters that drive the story, not the gadgets. (Although, there are a few gadgets I came up with that I want NOW.)

Oh, and go hug a dentist.

SCBWI LA Conference

A post is coming. I swear. The Top Ten best pieces of advice I received at the conference.

As soon as I can sort through the laundry and figure out which end is up.

Suffice it to say, an awesome time was had by all. Old friends were hugged. New friends were made.

I'm kind of counting down the seconds until next year.

Hey, I Think I Used To Know a Girl Named Karen Akins

It's been a crazy, crazy month. First, we went on a little road trip to Hotlanta. Very fun. Very hot. I think I may have already mentioned it, but I'm too lazy to go check. Next, the Pea had his adenoids out. As far as surgeries go, not too bad. Apparently, one of the side effects is bad dragon-flame-inducing breath. Cram three weeks of swim lessons into the nooks and crannies of said month, and that was pretty much my July.

Also. Got my author pics taken, and I can't wait to share them with you. Jonna Nixon of Red House Photography took them. She's a friend from high school, and our kiddos are right around the same age, and I just adore her. If you want a sneak preview, you can go check out her website here. I'm so indecisive, though. She's taken shots of the Pea before, and I literally beat my head against a wall trying to choose between the different shots. I think I'll put it up for a vote.

Oh, and I got a killer computer virus in there to boot. No, really. My computer was dead. But Collin Allen of UrbanLAN brought it back from the dead. (If you're from the NWA area, I can't recommend him enough. He was incredible in how quickly and completely he cured my sick little laptop.) Apparently, it was a root something virus that is really, really, really bad.

But now it's all better and I want to talk about happier things. Like LA SCBWI. I'll be there. I am ridiculously excited to see old friends and  meet new ones and learn and be inspired and, well, it's kind of like Writer Geek Camp.

Anybody else going?