Monday, March 26, 2012

May I Quote You?

Last year during a break at an Editor’s Day conference, a reporter for the Mid-south SCBWI newsletter Borderlines approached me for an interview.  We had five minutes before the session began again.  Attendees were returning to their seats and the speaker moved toward the podium.  Whoa---too much pressure.  Brain freeze set in.  I felt rushed in this setting.  I should have arranged for another time to meet with her.  Nonetheless, given the circumstances, I gave it my best.  

Afterward, I realized that I’m more comfortable with questionnaires sent in advance.  That way, I can ponder the questions more thoroughly and give thoughtful answers.  And, I can edit my responses.  But sometimes that’s not an option.  Deadlines may be a factor.  Therefore, phone interviews and in-person interviews may be necessary. 

So what can you do when you have the distinct pleasure of being interviewed? How can you give a good interview?  Here are some tips:

For interviews in person or over the phone:

*Give yourself ample time to do the interview. 
*Ask the reporter to repeat or reword the question if it’s vague or unclear.
*Speak slowly.
*Pause within sentences for emphasis.
*Be enthusiastic and let it show through your voice inflections. 

For interviews by email:
*Read the questions several times. Be sure that you understand what is being asked.
*Take time to write thoughtful answers.  
*Allow someone you trust to review your answers.
*Hold your answers for at least a day.  Read them again before sending them back.
*Write your answers in a different color font so that they can be more easily read.   

One last thought:  It’s flattering to be asked for an impromptu interview, but make sure you feel comfortable given the time allotted and the setting.  Both can influence your responses. You’re going to be quoted.  Other people are going to read your responses and may even judge you by your words. 

You can quote me on that.

Monday, March 19, 2012

No Doesn’t Always Mean No

What do you do when you receive a rejection?  Do you believe your work is not good enough to be published?  Do you feel like giving up?  Reconsider.  One editor has said no.  Others may like it.   

Over the years, I’ve received my share of rejections.  But, that doesn’t mean that I give up on them.  I love my articles too much to shelf them.  I’ve put a lot of time into my work.  Why would I give up?  Getting a “no” only encourages me.  My attitude is:  my piece will be published.

Years ago I wrote an article about Basenjis, a barkless breed of dogs.  But after I submitted it to an editor of a prestigious children’s magazine, it was rejected.  Several years later, that same editor placed an advertisement in a writers’ newsletter calling for submissions.  At first, I decided not to bother, since he had previously rejected my work.  But, he was clearly reaching out for writers.  This was my chance. 

I studied the writers' guidelines and read a few published pieces.  Feeling like I could crack this market, I explored an unusual topic—the world’s largest (and smelliest) flower.  I researched and then wrote about this amazing plant.  After the piece was edited I submitted it, not knowing if the editor would reject my work again.  And as time  passed, rejection seemed likely.  Yet several months later, I received word that my story would not only be published, it would be the cover story for the magazine!

It goes to show:  Never give up.  If you’ve done excellent research, writing, and editing, followed the submission guidelines, and addressed the needs of an editor chances are your work will be published.  But if you receive a rejection, don’t give up.  Search for different publication.  Remember to review back issues to make sure that your work will be a good fit.  Then submit again.  Believe that you will be published.  Believe that you will find a good home for your work.  

Oh, and the Basenji story?  Another editor liked the article and it because my first published piece.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Book Trailer, Part II

Last week, I blogged about making a pre-book trailer for my picture book story When Sheep Won’t Leap.

As followers found out, it was more involved than I had realized.  Lots of decisions had to be made concerning photos and cost.  After much research, I chose the photography site because their prices were reasonable, they offered a wide selection of photos, and they promptly answered my questions.  The package for my trailer would cost a little under $50, which allowed me to download 16 medium-sized photos. 

The search for images was a lengthy process because I had a specific image in mind for each Power Point slide.  And, some of the photos that I liked had special licenses, so I had to re-think some of my selections.  However in time, I found a group of photos that suited my needs.     

After inserting the photos onto the slides, I toyed around with animation and design.  This was the fun part.  Colorful pink and green borders were created and clip art was added.  Dramatic transitions from slide to slide livened up the show.  Lastly, three different tunes—a soft lullaby for the beginning, a spicy salsa for the middle, and a jubilant closing piece—set the mood.  This part was the trickiest because the timing of slides had to be in sync with the music. 

I made several run-throughs to adjust the position and size of the photos and to observe the visual impact of each slide.  Once all was in place, the presentation was  uploaded to YouTube.

Throughout the entire process, my family made helpful suggestions and offered technical and creative advice.  And in the end, I can say that we are all proud of the result.  You can view the book trailer to When Sheep Won’t Leap at: 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Trailer

I thought it would be fun to make a book trailer about my story When Sheep Won’t Leap, which was recently awarded first place in the Institute of Children’s Literature poetry contest.  Technically, it would be a pre-book trailer—I'm still looking for a publisher.  

The goal was to learn how to make a trailer and in turn, introduce my story to others.  After reading several articles about making a book trailer and watching a few online, I felt ready to begin.  The first decision:  how to present the trailer?  Would it be illustrations, a short movie, or a slide show of photographs?   For my purpose, photos would work best.  

To begin, I made notes about the kinds of photos that would best represent the main character, the minor characters, the action, and the conflict.  In all, 15 -20 medium-sized images would be required.  Easier said than done.  There are many websites from which to choose images. Many offer free photos, but the selection is  limited.  That was a problem, because I had a specific vision for the story.  Some of the photos that I needed for my trailer could not be found on these sites. 

Then there are copyright issues.  I wanted to be sure that I any photo I'd download would be legal to use.  Yet copyright issues are confusing.  For instance I know of an editor who was contacted by an attorney demanding compensation for the time he used a copyrighted image.  The editor thought the photo was legal to use. 

Lastly, cost is a factor.  I had read in a respectable writers’ magazine that some photography websites offer packages of photos for as little as $15.  I’m thinking, sign me up.  But for that price, the package limits you to a set number of small, medium, and large photos.  And, that did not suit my needs.  So I felt discouraged and confused.  What to do, what to do?  

To be continued….