Friday starts off with a Critique-athon and Portfolio Exchange (with peer groups). I’m green with envy because I’ve yet to make it to this event although everyone raves about it. My sitter isn’t available early enough for me to get there in time, but I’ve got it marked on my calendar for 2 years from now when all my boys are in school for a full day. A little birdie told me that Laurie Halse Anderson
will be there! I’m inspired just thinking about it.
After registering and hugging all my long lost writer buddies, its time for an intro from our beloved Conference Director MaryAnn Scott
Next we move to First Pages/Illustrator’s First Look. This is where our panel of esteemed editors and agents gets a crack at some unidentified first pages of manuscripts and illustrations.
Those lucky enough to have their pages and illustrations picked received feedback from Martha Rago (Associate Creative Director at Harper Collins), Eve Adler (Associate Editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers), Margaret Miller (Bloomsbury), Christy Webster (Assistant Editor at Random House Children’s Books) and Elana Roth
(Literary Agent at the Caren Johnson Literary Agency). They each gave lots of wonderful feedback to every piece, but here were some universal truths that jumped out at me…
*There are LOTS of PB’s about seasons out there-tough market unless you are creating something really unique.
*The more hooks a book has the better.
*When writing MG/YA your primary focus is the kid, not a parent or adult. KID-CENTRIC Writing.
*No one wants to see too much character info dumping on the first page.
*If you have too much imaginary stuff in your story and ANYTHING can happen…where is the tension?
*Different editors like different manuscripts. (This was even evident from the panel)
After every good panel its always fun to check out the Author/Illustrator Exhibit, have a little dinner and catch up with friends. Jodi, Katie and Karen discussing…EVERYTHING!
Marilou, Kim and Heather
The cool think about conferences is that you don’t just meet up with old friends, you make new ones too! Marilou (left) was one of the scholarship winners and I can see why after hearing her submission HYPNO-CHICKEN. I loved it! Marilou also managed to make my whole night when she sat down at the table and realized she recognized me from my blog. OMG!!!!! I have a real reader. How cool is that?
I know that fame and recognition sounds like a great place to end the evening, but seriously Friday’s keynote speaker was amazing. Sandy Asher
has written more than two dozen books for young readers, over three dozen plays for young and adult audiences and she has a wonderfully helpful book out called WRITING IT RIGHT: HOW CHILDREN’S AUTHORS PERFECT AND SELL THEIR STORIES.
Sandy’s speech was titled…BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: 40+ Years of Writing for Publication and How Not to Become Rich and Famous.
Sandy starts off by saying that a big part of success in the writing world comes from doing one thing, doing it well and doing it over and over.
*Readers can depend on that and it makes them happy.
*A nice time is guaranteed by all
Unfortunately…Sandy did the complete opposite LOL!
She talked about how doing the same thing over and over was the difference between riding a roller coaster and taking a journey.
A roller coaster might give you butterflies, but at the end you get off and end up right back where you started. A journey on the other hand, we can be planned but can not anticipated. There is an unknown factor and you never know where you are going to end.
So what has Sandy’s 40 year journey given her?
*For starters…she’s older. (She’s funny too)
*In the beginning she wanted to write PB’s and read them to her little nephew. Her first PB cam out when he was 34. Now he has two boys of his own.
*Patience and Persistence. (See above for example of persistence)
Along her journey someone once asked her why she didn’t get a job. Her response was…”I have a job, it just doesn’t pay anything.”
She’s learned some other great things along the way that she shared with us…
*When editors say what they want or don’t want, believe them.
*Computers do not speed up the process of developing into a writer.
*If a manuscript is not marketable, it is not marketable. Her brother was working in publishing and proved that point by being unable to get his own manuscript published. “He knew himself and he still couldn’t get it published!”
*Finding an agent doesn’t guarantee HAPPILY EVER AFTER, just like getting married doesn’t insure it either.
*If you write successfully, you will be asked to speak.
*Submit broadly…you don’t live long enough for editors to send things back one project at a time.
*”Revenge keeps me going” *giggle*
Friday night also kicks off the Silent Auction. This is how THE AUCTION LADY
raises scholarship money for next years conference. Its lots of fun and if everyone gives a little, the rewards are great. Someone went home with a very yummy basket of Alps Chocolate. It was really hard not to nibble on the car ride in.
Last but not least, everyone breaks up into Intensive Author/Illustrator forums at the very end of the evening. These are casual break-out sessions and although we had a great time…EVERYONE missed being in the “Butterfly Group” with Lara Zeises
Yawn….The beds were soooooo comfy, perfect for staying up till at least 1am talking to your roommie!
) Stay tuned, my next installment coming soon…can’t wait to show you what we did on Saturday.