Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Quick Math on

Editors + authors + agents + other writers + vlogs + chats + door prizes
= A-mazing!

As an aspiring author, one of the most pro-active events I can involve myself with is a writers’ conference. Sadly, those buggers are annoyingly expensive, but soooo worth it. And this week, I have the super-duper pleasure of attending one for free.

Yep—you heard me.


For three fantabulous days I’m logging on to and learning SO MUCH! There are inspiring speeches, Q&A sessions, Mythbusters on the publishing process, and LIVE CHATS—with industry-related people! Can we say awesome?

And it’s free!

PS—if you’re a kidlit author, why are you still reading? Log on. Click here. NOW.

Anyway—I just thought I’d share a little of the fabulousness I garnered from yesterday…

JS Lewis, author of the Grey Griffin series, had a wealth of advice on writing middle grade. Here’s just a tidbit of his brilliance: “If you get lucky enough to have a kid pick up and open your book to the first page, you better start off with a bang! You have to grab them and never let go. If your story starts to lull, your reader is going to put it down and he or she won’t come back – not just to that book, but most likely any book you write in the future.”

He gives pointers for accomplishing the near-impossible: lose the adjectives and adverbs, “keep ‘em guessing”, and cliffhangers – give your reader a reason to keep reading and say “just one more chapter”.

Up-and-coming YA author (and fellow member of Shenandoah Writers Online!), Jodi Meadows offered some faboo advice on writing a query letter. Jodi’s read many a query, having read slush for a literary agency. She has a three-paragraph approach she starts with and broke down the paragraphs sentence-by-sentence as to what each paragraph should entail. Considering I’ll be writing a query letter in the next month or so, I benefited greatly from Jodi’s guru-ness. Click here to read more of her query wisdom.

Agent Holly Root and editors Molly O’Neill and Martha Mihalick performed a Mythbusters video to quash some of the misconstrued theories out there about the publishing industry. One thing that hit home for me: the fact that kids are the best lie detectors—one of the reasons I let some of high school students read my stuff. After all, they’re my audience AND they’ll be my harshest critics.

I have a new book read thanks to writeoncon! Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins. She discussed “Bringing the Funny” to your writing and included, like, not even two sentences from her book that had me rolling! Hilarious! Must. Buy. Book. TODAY!

There was mucho advice and opportunities to ask questions, but my fav post from the day: Give Yourself Permission by editor Molly O’Neill. She states that as writers, we are the “boss and worker and teacher and student and coach and cheerleader all rolled up in one writerly self” What kind of permission do we need to make ourselves better writers and to make our stories become all that they can be?

She included this light-bulb list, things we should give ourselves permission to do. I checked off, like, all of them and felt an immense alleviation for the guilt I feel as a writer ALL THE TIME. Here are just a, uh... few that pertain to moi:

• Permission to call yourself a writer. (YES!!!)

• Permission to start writing something new—totally, gloriously new—even if the thought terrifies you. Especially if the thought terrifies you.

• Permission to admit that a story you’ve been trying to write isn’t working, or isn’t actually something that you love writing anymore, and to liberate yourself from it. And then, to start something new. (See above!)

• Permission to stray from your outline. (DO IT ALL THE TIME!)

• Permission to keep writing, even if it feels like you may never “get there.”

• Permission to let a character become someone totally different than you originally expected him/her to be.

• Permission to kill a character. (And to cry a little when you do so.) (And I have)

• Permission to hire a babysitter, or to blow off some homework, or to order dinner in, or whatever it takes, to give yourself a little more space in your life for writing.

• Permission to write a scene or story that might make certain people who love you shocked and surprised. (um... yep - did it)

• Permission to submit something.

• Permission to fail, maybe more than once. (Because you can’t fail unless you’ve tried.)

• Permission to feel things deeply as a writer—disappointment, grief, doubt, jealousy. But then to balance those negative emotions with more positive ones: ambition, determination, persistence, hope. (hellooooo, rollercoaster)

• Permission to be where you are in your path as a writer. Right now. Even if you think you should be farther along.

• Permission to write in the oddest of places. (you know - soccer practice, the beach, a school workshop (SHHHHH))

• Permission to be inspired by EVERYTHING.

• Permission to be uninspired…but to try to write through it anyway.

• Permission to mess up. Possibly many times. Every day.

• Permission to do what you need to protect yourself as a writer—to turn off the internet, or to stop reading blogs for awhile, or to avoid Twitter—and enable yourself to do that thing which writers must do—TO WRITE.

• Permission to think of your characters as real people (and to perhaps actually like them better than some real-life people you know) (yep - there are some of those)

• Permission to delete.

• Permission to write things that perhaps no one but you will ever see.

• Permission to write things that perhaps many people will see.

Okay—it really was longer than this, but it was just all so important!
And if you’re not a writer, I bet you could delete that “writer” part and insert your passion. And I’m sure several will apply to you.

Def inspired! And now I’m off for another day of fabulousness!


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