This is Rita, SCBWI-LA's new Schmooze Schmizard. On Wednesday, Oct. 12th, I had the pleasure of attending the Antelope Valley Writers Schmooze for the first time. This group has been meeting in a Barnes and Noble in Palmdale on the second Wednesday of every month (except December) for many years, led by the remarkable Marilyn Dalrymple.
What a wonderful group! Of the 13 of us in attendance that night, a couple were first-timers like myself. Others were regulars who not only knew each other's work and had attended each other's signings, but also attended other writing-related events together. The meeting took place around a table near the in-store cafe, so some people brought over their own beverages.
I had long been fascinated by the Antelope Valley Schmooze--ever since Lee Wind and I found out they had self-published an anthology of their own writings, It's Tough Growing Up: Children's Stories of Courage. Westside Schmooze regulars will remember that we invited Marilyn and the book's co-editor, Joan Foor, to come speak to our group in Santa Monica a year and a half ago, along with other experts in self-publishing, in a panel discussion "Westside Writers Schmooze Talks Self-Publishing: The Good, The Bad, and The Reality." That was just after the anthology had first come out, and it is now going into its 2nd Edition. In fact, during the Antelope Valley Schmooze that I attended, Marilyn passed around illustrations by John Macfarlane that will accompany the updated version. (I asked, and some of the anthology's story contributors were present this night.)
Cover of the 1st edition. Click to visit Web site.
What Schmooze could be so tight-knit and self-motivated, I had always wondered, that they could produce and self-publish their own anthology?
Well, not surprisingly, the Antelope Valley Schmooze is an extremely friendly and experienced group of writers, many of whom have published both traditionally and on their own. On this night, Marilyn kicked things off by sharing some factoids she found while preparing for a talk she'll be giving on self publishing soon. From there, we went around the table sharing about ourselves and our writing processes. Felix Mayerhofer passed around his novel, Diary of a Young Musician: Final Days of the Big Band Era, and the audio CD on which his many picture books have just been collected, while Ed Mooney shared insights into the progress of his book, The Pearls of the Stone Man, being made into a movie.
Novels by some of the Antelope Valley Schmooze's attendees. Click on the book covers to visit the authors' Web sites.
At one point, a question came up about How to Find an Agent, and I mentioned Literary Rambles, an online resource provided by Casey McCormick, as an invaluable place to start. There, she compiles all the online research you could possibly find yourself on children's book agents, organized by name, agency, and age range (Picture Book, Middle Grade, YA, etc.); spotlights authors; provides writing tips; conducts interviews; and more.
My visit to the Antelope Valley Schmooze actually had two purposes: One was to get to know the Schmooze I had been so curious about. The second was that Marilyn--after having led this group for the past 8 to 10 years--has recently decided to let someone else take the lead, and I wanted to come help make a passionate plea: don't let such a wonderful group cease to exist!
Coordinating the Antelope Valley Schmooze would mean continuing to reserve the table at Barnes and Noble and taking over Marilyn's email list, as well as choosing new discussion topics and/or making any other changes you feel inspired to (if any). If interested, please contact Marilyn <firstname.lastname@example.org> and me <email@example.com>.
Because this Schmooze does not meet in December (due to the bookstore's holiday schedule), November's meeting will officially be Marilyn's last. Don't miss this special night:
Wednesday, Nov. 9th, from 7 to 8 PM.
Barnes and Noble Booksellers
39228 10th Street West
Palmdale, CA 93551
Topic: How can SCBWI help you become a writer? A Very Special Round Table Discussion
Come show your appreciation for Marilyn's many years of generosity and leadership!
Rita Crayon Huang
SCBWI-LA Schmooze Schmizard
P.S. For more insight into this Schmooze's history, check out this great article. I met many of the people mentioned in the article when I attended.