Posts Tagged ‘writing conferences’

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Write On Con

August 10, 2010

If you’re not already devouring every bit of information on the first annual Write On Con online conference, head over there and start browsing (after you’ve finished reading this post, of course.)

Write On Con is a fabulous idea, and I was excited about it when they first announced the event. I love going to writer conferences. You can get so much inspiration out them. But they can be expensive and it can be very difficult to get away.

With Write On Con, you don’t have the benefit of networking face to face with other writers, agents and editors. But, the WOC organizers has done a great job of getting wonderful speakers to dish about interesting subjects. And the dishing is both through videos and text. Best of all it’s free.

And you can still network, through leaving comments on pages and through live chats with speakers.

Here are my favorite seminars so far:

Refining Your Craft With Each Book by author Janette Rallison

Bringing the Funny by author Rachel Hawkins

Give Yourself Permission by editor Molly O’Neill

and, of course, author Josh Berk’s awesome keynote.

It can be a bit difficult to find older items from the home page, so here’s a hint: Head straight to the Write On Con schedule then click on what looks good to you.

Write On … Write On Con!

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New agent and how to make the most of conferences

March 25, 2010

Revision update: Chapter 28 out of 30. The rework idea I had for that chapter I was working on worked. Phew! Got three chapters to go to finish.

First up today, news of a new agent. Former Delacorte Press/Random House Children Books editor Marissa Walsh has opened Shelf Life Literary, a boutique agency specializing in pop culture, humor, narrative non-fiction, memoir and children’s books. Marissa’s publishing career also includes working at Nan A. Talese/Doubleday and Ellen Levine Literary Agency. Marissa also wrote the comic memoir Girl With Glasses: My Optic History and the young adult novel A Field Guide to High School and teaches children’s writing at Gotham Writers Workshop. Good to check out.

Also, I’m guest posting today at writer Jordan McCollum‘s blog. The post is about writing conferences, how to choose the ones to attend, how to prepare and how to make the most of the conference once you’re there. The post will be put up this afternoon, so check it out.

Finally, come back here to DayByDayWriter tomorrow for an interview with new literary agent Mandy Hubbard.

Write On!

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Contests and conferences

October 21, 2009

Done today: More on chapter 4

Revision remaining: 149 pages

Daily pages needed to be finished by end of November: 3.5

So, today I started the revisions I had thought of a couple days ago, and then came up with an even better solution to the problem! That’ll be tomorrow morning’s revision exercise, but I think it’ll be a keeper. It will improve flow, pacing and shorten these early chapters so we can get to the bulk of the adventure quicker. I’m excited.

I’m going to the North Texas SCBWI conference this Saturday, and I’m also very excited about that. I’ll be getting a critique, which is exciting, as well as hearing from Dutton Children’s Books’ Lisa Yoskowitz and Foundry Literary & Media agent Lisa Grubka, as well as others.

Last week, I sent in my registrations for the Austin SCBWI conference in January and the Houston SCBWI conference in February. Unfortunately, I was too late to get a critique from one of the great agents or editors who will be in Austin (word to the wise, register early because spots will fill up fast), but I am in time for an author critique at the Austin event and an agent critique at the Houston event, so that’s also something great to look forward to.

These are all conferences around where I live, and I feel blessed to have so many good ones within a drive or cheap flight.

I don’t think conferences are necessary to success in publishing. I’m sure there are plenty of people who write a book, send out queries and get published without ever going to a conference.

But, whenever possible, I like going to conferences for a number of reasons:

  • Motivation – It’s always great to hear people talking about the work. Makes you want to run home and start writing immediately.
  • Inspiration – Every conference I’ve been to has had a healthy dose of encouragement. Book writers tend to be a helpful bunch.
  • Meeting new people – I reiterate: Book writers tend to be a helpful bunch, and it’s always nice to meet others who are going through the same things you are.

Even though I go to conferences as much as possible, I don’t do much in the way of contests, mainly because by the time I hear about them, the deadline has passed. I’m so on top of things!

But contests can be a great way to a) get a read on where you are as a writer, and b) get your name out there as a writer.

Even if you don’t win, your writing can be noticed. A query contest I entered earlier this year got an agent interested in my first book.

This is why I’m entering the KidLit.com query contest run by Andrea Brown Literary agent Mary Kole. Contests provide an opportunity, and opportunities should never be passed up. The deadline is Dec. 31. Wanna join me?

What are you looking forward to?

Write On!

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Quick check in

July 21, 2009

Work has been crazy, so I haven’t had time to write here, but I have been writing. I did 436 words yesterday and 648 today on my book, wrapping up another chapter. The story’s moving along well, and the characters’ personalities are coming out nicely. Here’s the rest of the details:

Current word count: 15,408

Words to goal: 24,592 / 346 words a day til end of September

I signed up for a conference at the end of October and submitted the first 1,200 words of this new book for a critique. By then I’ll have finished the book and that opening might change in the revisions, but we have to look ahead. I read through it a few times before I mailed it off, and I’m happy with it for now, so we’ll see how it goes.

You going to any conferences soon?

How’s your writing coming?

Write On!

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SCBWI Houston Editor’s Day

March 1, 2009

As I mentioned last week, I attended the SCBWI Houston Editor’s Day last Saturday, and it was fabulous. Five editors gave talks and then chatted with us over some Mexican food. As each talked about their books and what they look for in books, one theme kept cropping up: books that resonate, books that stay with the reader and make readers want to revisit them over and over again.

This comes down to story and character. A book could have 100,000 words strung together to make the most beautiful sentences, but if they don’t collectively tell a good story about people the reader can care about, the book won’t sell. Writing is more than just getting commas in the right place. Perhaps it would be better if our business cards said “storyteller” instead of “writer” — although I do like “author.”

Even the best journalists are telling stories. I have a degree in journalism, and we’re taught different ways of structuring a news story. Sure you’re working with facts, but you get the most important facts out at the beginning, then you fill in all the background stuff. Sometimes, a journalist writes more of a feature story, so you put the most interesting/exciting part of the story at the beginning, which is maybe the end (Jane Doe poured out the last bowl of cat food and placed it at the end of the row. Not being much of a pet person, she had never thought she’d own a cat, much less be responsible for 50, but that was before the hurricane…) then you tell the story from the beginning and meet the end again at the end. The purpose of these lessons was to teach us budding journalists how to write in such a way that would get the information across to a reader in the most interesting, entertaining way, so they’ll keep coming back for more.

And that’s what the editors are looking for: stories that make people come back for more. Is your story one that will keep readers coming back? Think of the books/movies/articles that you love, that you think about long after you’ve finished them. What makes them so special? Now apply that to your work.

The story and characters are the first step. Then comes the writing, choosing just the right word to describe the action and build the excitement. Then re-writing and polishing until every word contributes to the full effect of the story. That’s how to write a book that resonates, a book that will get the attention of editors. It’s not easy. It’s hard word. But it’s worth it.

Here are some other highlights from each of the editors:

Diane Muldrow, editorial director for Golden Books/Random House, treated us to a look back at Golden Books from the first to more recent issues. It was wonderful to see the old books, and interesting to learn that one of the first Golden Books, the 65-year-old The Poky Little Puppy, is the best-selling picture book ever.

Alexandra Penfold, associate editor at Simon & Schuster, speaking about writing, quoted an NYU professor and author (sorry, I didn’t catch the name), who said, “Good writing should evoke a sensation in the reader; not the writing of rain, but the feeling of being rained upon.” (Talk about resonating!)

Allyn Johnston (who I saw talk at the SCBWI Summer Conference in 2007 — lovely lady), vice-president and publisher for Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, said that when she’s considering a picture book, she imagines herself seeing the book for the first time. She added that to her, the last pages are the most important, because those are the ones that will stay with the reader.

Amy Lennex, editor at Sleeping Bear Press, said her company has found a lot of success in regional books, especially picture books that tell the tale of a local legend.

And Elizabeth Law, vice-president and publisher of Egmont USA, advised us not to worry about whether a publishing house has a closed submission policy ONLY if we do research, find the specific editor we think would love the book then submit directly to that person. She said it might take a while, but if the submission is personal, and the query letter explains why you’re submitting to that person (for example, I loved fill-in-the-blank-book-that-the-editor-edited, and I’m sending my book to you as it’s similar in theme…). I’d also like to give Egmont USA a round of applause (clap clap), because the publishing house is actually the new USA branch of a foundation that raises money for children — with children’s books. Something close to my heart, as 10% of the sale of every Sir Newton Color Me Book is given to local children’s charities. So, congratulations, Egmont USA, and thank you!

The time spent with these editors was inspirational and educational, well worth the $100 fee. Plus, we all got stickers to put on our submissions so they’ll get put at the top of the editors’ piles. All for closed houses, which is wondeful.

I can’t stress enough how great it is to go to good writing conferences. You learn a lot, you get opportunities and you can meet others in the industry. Alexandra Penfold told of an author whom she met at an SCBWI conference years ago and they hit it off. Although the work the author was doing wasn’t right for Penfold, for various reasons, they stayed in touch and finally, Penfold had an idea of a book she would like to handle. Guess who she called to ask to write it.

I had a great time at the SCBWI Houston Editor’s Day — thanks to all the organizers and editors — and I highly recommend it.

Have you been to any good conferences lately?

Write On!

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Day 12

November 15, 2008

Another late post. Busy day today. But it was a good writing morning for day 12 of my unofficial participation in National Novel Writing Month.

It didn’t start out so well. I got up, planted myself in front of the computer, wrote a sentence, and thought, “I have no idea where I’m going with this scene.” I’m still in that squishy middle that I’ve been trying to clean up and streamline, and I’m working on a new scene that will bring together the first half of the novel with the second half. (I messed up a bit in the first draft, so skipped ahead and wrote to the end figuring I’d fix it in the revision, i.e. now.)

What to do when you don’t know what to do? Well, after proscrastinating with the Internet for about 30 minutes (I know, I know), I started thinking about the problem and realized that, writing for an hour or two every morning — a very early, mind-numbing hour or two — I’m not able to clearly get the big picture of my whole story in my head. Without seeing the two parts that have to be joined clearly, it’s difficult to see how to weave scenes that will join them.

So, I thought of what The Unnameables author Ellen Booraem said in her comment on this blog the other day, and picked up a notebook and a pen. I wasn’t looking for stream-of-conscience kind of inspiration, but something more structured. So, I modified what Ellen had suggested and wrote out a kind of timeline between the last major plot point to the current scene.

Bingo! Even though six chapters had passed, I realized it was only a couple days in the time of the story, and not enough time for what needed to happen. Plus, I was better able to see location placement, which also helped with the flow of the story. The next scenes popped into my head clear as day, the end of the last one nicely blending with the second half of the story. That’s it! I’ve got it. I now know what to do. All I have to do now is write it… but that’ll have to wait for another day.

Sunday, to be exact. That’s right. No writing for me tomorrow, at least not this kind. But I have an excellent excuse: I’ll be attending the Brazos Valley SCBWI 2008 Conference: Connections & Craft, Writing for Children and Young Adults. Up around 5am to drive there for the day-long conference. I’ll also be getting my first critique at a conference, and I’m very excited.

I’ve written about conferences and other writing events before, but once again, I can’t stress enough how useful they are. Even if you hear advice you’ve heard before (and chances are you’ll gain at least one, but probably more nuggets you haven’t heard before), conferences a) reaffirm that advice and b) give you time with fellow writers, hearing their stories and getting plenty of opportunities to get fired up and inspired.

I won’t be blogging tomorrow, but Sunday, I’ll let you know how it went. And hopefully, I’ll also get that next scene done.

How’s your writing coming?

Write On!

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