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I don’t know if many of you noticed, but the blog was down all of Friday. I could’ve easily lost everything (or at least had to redo everything by hand from cached versions of the site online) because…I don’t back up my website. This blog is over three years of hard work and, without a doubt, the cornerstone of my career. So why don’t I back it up? Human nature, I’m guessing.

NOW I KNOW BETTER. And all of you should, too. Because once you lose that WIP of yours, it’s gone. So do me a favor and back up your work right now. Don’t just think about doing it. Actually do it. I now have my blog set to automatically back up once a month to a separate location online. That way, if I lose anything, it won’t be as catastrophic as wiping out every post and comment from the last three years.

The actual problem in this case was a corrupted database file, or so I hear. Even though I have a website and used to work in the Silicon Valley, when you say “database,” I say “durrrr?” Without further ado, I owe my undying gratitude to Eric and Angela Fox, who answered my desperate SOS on Facebook. Angela was kind enough to notice my cry for help and Eric was amazing enough to root through my database and fix the problem. Several others also responded to my distress signal, and I want to thank them here: Kristen, Tyler, Heather, Irene, and Brendan. On a stressful and disheartening day, this outpouring of nerd support (I say this in the most positive way imaginable) really helped me feel humbled and grateful for the community of children’s book enthusiasts that I call home.

What are you doing still reading this post? GO BACK UP YOUR WORK!

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I hope everyone had a restful, creative, and productive summer. I can’t wait for what this fall will bring.

If you are hoping to jump start some picture book writing in the second half of 2012, register for my Writer’s Digest Picture Book Craft Intensive webinar this Thursday, September 6th, at 1 p.m. Eastern. As usual, you don’t need to be available that specific date and time, but you do need to register for the live webinar if you want the benefits of being a student–all your questions answered, the content of the lecture, and a critique of your PB manuscript (up to 1,000 words)  from me. A recording of the webinar will be emailed to you the week after, and critiques will be returned within 90 days. Only live webinar students get these perks, so register here.

I also have a MG and YA Craft Intensive webinar coming up Thursday, October 25th, at 1 p.m. Eastern. That’s for all of your teen novelists out there, and it comes with the benefits of the lecture, the Q&A, and a writing sample critique as well. This should dovetail nicely with the publication of my book, WRITING IRRESISTIBLE KIDLIT, which puts this November. Woohoo! Register for that webinar here. Those are my last webinars for 2012, and I look forward to teaching them. If you haven’t taken one yet, this is a great opportunity. Since I’m doing both a PB one and a MG/YA, you can learn the ropes no matter what kidlit audience you’re targeting.

What else, what else, what else? Do you have any questions burning a hole in your minds? Ask away in the comments and I’ll use them to inspire posts in the next few months. Thank you so much, as always, for reading the blog!

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I’m taking the week off from blogging so that I can dive into BEA–and then blog about it next week.

To entertain yourselves in the meantime, check out Neil Gaiman’s wonderful commencement address at the University of the Arts that’s been making the rounds on the Internet.

Also, the amazing Cynthia Leitich Smith posted this follow-up interview with me. Check it and see you next Monday!

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I’m taking the day off from the blog today. But I do have some good news to ring in the holiday… Kidlit.com has been picked as one of the 101 Best Writing Websites by Writer’s Digest Magazine for the third year in a row. If you want to see the issue and my 100 fellow best websites, you can buy it and read the electronic version immediately here.

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This week, I am in Italy for the Bologna children’s book rights fair. Tough life. Someone’s gotta do it. Etc. Last week I was in France. Again, boo hoo. However, middle-of-the-week trade shows like Bologna and BEA and Digital Book World always throw me off my blogging game, so you’ll have to indulge a blog vacation this week. I’m skipping today and Wednesday on Kidlit, and tomorrow on KidlitApps (my one reader over there will be devastated, I’m sure…hehe).

The good news, though, is that next week I’ll talk a little bit about the international rights market. It’s a topic that might make your head spin, but it’s quite interesting and something I’m obviously getting more into by being here at the Bologna fair. It’s fascinating to remember that our part in the US kidlit landscape is just one piece of a larger puzzle.

In the meantime, I’m always eager for your questions. I’ve had some good ones in recent months, so let’s keep it going. What are you dying to know about writing, publishing, agents, picture books, middle grade, young adult, or anything else? Ask in the comments, and I’ll have answers for you once I emerge from Trade Show Coma. (The cure for that, in Italy, by the way, is più espresso!)

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Every once in a while, I open up the blog comments to a Critique Connection, a post where you can hopefully meet some new critique partners. To participate, leave a comment on this entry with the following information:

  1. Your genre (ie: fantasy, paranormal, realistic, historical, etc.)
  2. Your audience (ie: picture book, MG, YA, etc.)
  3. A little about your manuscript (practice your one-line “elevator pitch”)
  4. What you want out of the experience (a critique of your XX,000-word mss., someone to read your first 3 chapters, help with your query letter, etc.)
  5. Your email address for potential partners to contact you (I’d type it in the following format: mary at kidlit dot com, so that you avoid spam bots.)

Only post a comment for this entry if you are looking for a critique partner.

In other news, I am going to take a Blogcation the last two weeks of December and the first week of January, (Dec 19 to Jan 6) so there will be no new stuff on here during those three weeks on any of my blahblahblogs. However, I’ll ramp up my “From the archives” Tweets, so if you’re not following me on Twitter and Facebook, click those links and do so. I often pull out old articles that are still just as pertinent to writing and publishing as they were when I wrote them and broadcast the links to those who may not have been readers yet. I’ve got a blog full of material from early 2009 on, so there are a lot of posts to peruse!

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Every once in a while, I cast around for writing questions that my readers have so I can know what’s on your minds. With my trip to Japan and Hong Kong coming up, I want to pre-load the blog with some Q&A. So what’s going on? What are you dying to know?

Do we want to talk queries? Craft? Publishing? Getting an agent? Anything. Just ask away in the comments.

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Hey readers! Sorry to skimp on the craft or industry post today, but I wanted to reach out and do some housekeeping. Thanks so much for all your comments and reads and questions and giveaway entries, as usual. I am so proud and happy to have such a loyal readership!

This fall, I’m embarking upon a bit of an adventure: in two weeks, I will be in Japan, and a little more than a week after that, Hong Kong. This trip is made possible by the amazing SCBWI organization and their international chapters, which are bringing me overseas to talk to their members. Holly, Mio, and the rest of the SCBWI: thank you so much for the opportunity of a lifetime!

Since it’s not every day that you’re invited to speak in such amazing places, I am making the most of my trip and taking about sixteen days to travel and explore. I’ll schedule blog posts for the entire trip — no worries there, it’s like I never left my apartment — but I won’t be able to moderate comments with any regularity.

You’ll still get Twitter and Facebook updates about new posts and featured content from the archives, but I won’t be able to check in via social networking much because I’ll be making the most of my travels and spending as little time online as possible. Email questions will also, as you can guess, go on the back burner.

That said, I should have some great articles for you in the pipeline, including an interview with a rogue author/innovative book marketer/dear friend. Stay tuned for that and more! And be nice…it’ll take me a few days to get back into the swing of things when I return in the first half of November.

Some of my more astute readers have probably also noticed that I’ve let my other two blogs, Chowlit and Kidlit Apps, grow weeds and gather dust. NO MORE! It turns out that juggling three blogs and blogging every day across all of them is something I’m terrible at. The more I try to shove myself into a hectic schedule like that, the more I start to resent blogging, and I never want that to happen.

So instead, I’m implementing the following (much more merciful) schedule:

Monday: Kidlit
Every even Tuesday: Kidlit Apps
Every odd
Tuesday: Chowlit
Wednesday: Kidlit

Now that’s something I can stick to! And let this be a lesson to all you blogging writers…consistency is better, even if your posts are spaced further apart, than flipping out and ditching your blogs altogether and leaving people to wonder if you’ve dropped off the face of the planet. The former looks classy — like you’re taking your time to come up with really good stuff — and the latter looks spazzy. See? Not even I’m immune to blogging blunders.

Finally, there’s a super secret, super awesome development afoot for most of the winter and into the spring. Cue the mysterious music and dramatic lighting. All shall be revealed in time! Dun dun DUN

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I had so many responses on my post about giving away a copy of the 2012 CHILDREN’S WRITER’S AND ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET edited by Chuck Sambuchino (I know only one of you won it…the rest should go out and buy it immediately, read it, love it, then leave glowing Amazon and Goodreads reviews), that I wanted to give away another craft book on the blog that I’ve recently read and really enjoyed. Clearly, you guys are craving some craft books!

This one is WRITING AND SELLING THE YA NOVEL by novelist K.L. Going, out from Writer’s Digest Books, but it’s also great for writers of middle grade. One of my favorite small things in this book is a list of fantastic considerations when writing historical — it’s a checklist of all those small things you don’t necessarily think about immediately when world-building. She also does a great job of putting you in the head of teen readers and including feedback from real teens on the books they like, the characters they bond with, etc. It’s a great resource by a very talented fiction writer.

It’s the usual drill for book giveaways. Leave a comment on this entry to win. No international shipping, so if you live outside the US, enlist a buddy who can receive the book on your behalf. Don’t worry about an email address, just enter it in the comment field that asks for it and know that it will be for my eyes only…it won’t be published on the site. Deadline for entries is October 5th at midnight, Eastern time. I’ll announce a winner on October 6th!

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Howdy, readers! Summer has been a bit slow on the blog. Do not fear. After Labor Day, starting next Wednesday, September 7th, the posts will once again be full steam ahead. In the meantime, I’ve been meaning to open the blog up to another critique connection post since early summer, and here it is.

Before I do, let me tell you about the latest Writer’s Digest webinar I’m doing. In July, I offered a picture book craft intensive, focusing very specifically on writing for the youngest readers. It was my first “specialized” webinar and it was an overwhelming success. (Thank you so much to everyone who listened to that one! I’m digging into critiques for it right now!) On September 15th at 1 p.m. Eastern, I am offering a Middle Grade and Young Adult Craft Intensive webinar.

This 90-minute webinar will focus exclusively into the craft of writing fiction for the middle grade and young adult audience. I’ll talk about the marketplace, strategies to really make your novel stand out in the slush, character, plotting, tension, description, setting, voice, submissions, queries, and much more. It’s the first time I’ll be focusing exclusively on MG and YA, so even if you’ve taken one of my webinars before, you will be getting brand new content. You can sign up by clicking here.

The bonus of my webinars, as many of you already know, is that they include a critique from me for every registered student. For this one, I will read and critique the first 500 words of your MG or YA novel (one project per student, please). Instructions for submitting will come when you register for the webinar.

If you’re having scheduling issues with the time or date, don’t worry. By signing up, you will receive a recording of the webinar (emailed about one week after the original webinar date), you will have the same chance to ask questions as the other students, and you will still get your critique. So sign up even if the time or date doesn’t work for you!

This brings us to Critique Connection. I’ve done these posts in the past and leave the comments open so that you can connect with potential critique partners. Here’s what you need to post:

  1. Your genre (ie: fantasy, paranormal, realistic, historical, etc.)
  2. Your audience (ie: picture book, MG, YA, etc.)
  3. A little about your manuscript (practice your one-line “elevator pitch”)
  4. What you want out of the experience (a critique of your XX,000-word mss., someone to read your first 3 chapters, help with your query letter, etc.)
  5. Your email address for potential partners to contact you (I’d type it in the following format: mary at kidlit dot com so that you avoid spam bots.)

Only post a comment for this entry if you are looking for a critique partner. I will leave it up until after Labor Day to get the most exposure for it. And while you’re thinking of getting critique, do sign up for my webinar!

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