Wednesday, April 25, 2012

COSCBWI Meeting April 2012: Panel Discussion

This month's COSCBWI meeting featured authors Linda Gerber and Nancy Roe Pimm and a panel discussion on book publishing.  Linda writes both middle grade and young adult novels and is the author of many books including Trance, the Death by Bikini mysteries, and her brand new Lights, Camera, Cassidy series.  Nancy writes non-fiction and is the author of The Indy 500: The Inside Track, Colo's Story, The Heart of the Beast: Eight Great Gorilla Stories, and The Daytona 500--The Thrill and Thunder of the Great American Race.  The authors shared their very different roads to publication and offered great advice to help aspiring authors find their own success.

Nancy first decided she wanted to be a writer when she was ten and wrote a book called, Horses, Horses, Horses.  (Sounds like my kind of book!)   She became a dental hygienist, but knew deep-down that she still wanted to write.  Her first big break was in magazine publishing, and then she turned her race-car knowledge into her first published book, The Indy 500: The Inside Track.  Her book contract wasn't the end of her path to publication, though, and she's triumphed over publishing houses closing, re-shopping (and re-writing) her books, and finding the strength to soldier on no matter what life throws her way.  Nancy told us that she loves doing research and that writing non-fiction is like a treasure hunt with all the information she finds.  She's met and interviewed many fascinating people and even had a disagreement with a gorilla over the title of her book!  Her #1 advice to aspiring writers?  Join SCBWI!

Linda's road to publication was a bit different.  She loved to write and joined a critique group that insisted all members had to actively submit their work to agents and editors.  The group made her take her writing seriously, and it was through this networking that she learned about the SASS book series.  Also known as "Students Across the Seven Seas," the books are part of a multi-author series about strong, dynamic teens around the world.  Since Linda lived in both Japan and Finland, it was a perfect series for her to jump into and allowed her to get her foot into the publishing door.  Her biggest advice to writers is to read ALL THE TIME and be connected with other writers.  You never know who will provide you with a contact or lead that will land you your first book deal!

After each author told their publication stories, they fielded questions from the COSCBWI members.  To brand-new aspiring authors, they advised that a writer needs to have a full manuscript complete before he or she queries agents and editors.  (A manuscript doesn't need to be complete for critiquing, though--and it's never too early to start!)  For those writers who are ready to submit, they recommended looking at books similar to what you write and researching who represents them.  And for any writer--newbie or seasoned--they recommended attending lots of workshops and conferences!

Linda and Nancy shared some of their favorite writing resources, too, like Query Shark, the Miss Snark archives, Verla Kay's Blueboards and Harold Underdown's Purple Crayon website.

Linda left us with one last piece of advice to remember: "You can't edit a blank page!"  Now go write!

For more information on the authors and their books, do check out their websites!
Linda: and

For more information about COSCBWI, please check out the website at:

Hope to see you at next month's meeting!

Note: The cover image for Colo's Story is from and the cover image for Lights, Camera, Cassidy is from

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