Whew! I'm back from the cyclone of activity that was the Lansing Michigan spring conference. Unfortunately, I was so star-strucked by all the great speakers, I completely forgot to take pictures until the end of the day at question period. Here's the panel of presenters.
The day was efficiently broken into 50 minute workshops. It was hard to pick which ones to go to since they all looked so good. Here's a bit of what I learned:
Jay Asher - author of Thirteen Reasons Why
Jay is an amazing speaker! I hope you get a chance to listen to his talk on how he got published (all 12 years of trying) what an inspiration! And he's also hilarious.
- since everyone is different, it's hard to get relavant writing tips for everyone at a conference. The biggest thing to gain from a conference is inspiration
- Jay started off writing funny books. It's what he thought he wanted. It took him ten years to learn he can't. Let go of what you think you're best at. Be open minded to try new things.
Beth Fleisher - Literary agent with Barry Goldblatt Literary Agency
Ms. Fleisher fills up a room with her personality. And she has a "you be you, I'll be me" attitude that is fun and refreshing.
- setting is the soul of a book
- you must sweep the reader into that world. If you don't create it, it doesn't exist
- pay attention to details - kids are curious how others live, they love content
- setting points out the emotional state of the character
- Ground your book - you have to live in a house. Your book has to live in a house.
Ruta Rimas - assistant editor at Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins imprint)
I so enjoyed listening to Ruta! She's a delight.
- go through your wip word by word, then sentences, then paragraphs asking if everything works
- next she suggested working on voice - rewrite a scene in your wip with a new voice
Donna Gephart - author of How to Survive Middle School
Funny, funny lady! And great writing tips. And a Verla Kay blue boarder!
- 175,000 books are published per year
- your characters have to stand out, give them interesting quirks
- they also have to have a "like me" factor to be able to relate to
- you do this by including a universal emotion eg. desire to be included, need to be loved, etc.
- characters need to change in such a way, they can never go back to the way they were
- give information about your character through an eye dropper
- what secret is your character hiding in her closet?
Lisa Yoskowitz - assistant editor at Dutton Children's Books
It was interesting hearing the insider secrets of how an editor goes through the slush pile
- an editor evaluates:
- if voice is authentic
- if story has a universality
- originality and character development
- is there rising tension? good pacing?
- do I LOVE it?
- Lisa also suggests you need an agent!
I was able to purchase the top two books and get them signed by the authors. And I won a copy of Take Joy!
Now I'm full of inspiration, made new friends and contacts, and I'm eager to try out some of the tricks I learned. I'll be working on revisions for the next few weeks, so will be scarce here and on your blogs. But the best thing I heard at the conference - you have to WRITE! and I'm off to do that.