Bruce Hale was a great speaker. I especially loved his enthusiasm and his encouragement. I also had a great personal conversation with him the night before the main conference. I commented to him that his bio made me feel better about having so many careers throughout my life. He said writers need it that way...we need to experience all of life, so that we can sit down and put it on paper. I'd never thought about it before, but I'll use it as my excuse for never deciding what I want to be when I grow up.
My critique was awesome. Dian Curtis Regan blessed me with a typed-out summary of her advice. I think she saw potential in what I had brought in with a few tweaks. Whew! At first, I was disappointed that I did not get an editor or agent, but the benefit of having a picture book author became apparent as soon as I sat down. You can't beat the experience of 50 plus picture books.
Here's a recap of information that was new to me:
- Editors are constantly comparing your work to what is out there, so it's good to know (and mention in your cover letter) what book your story is like but also what makes it unique (Andrew Harwell and Maria Gonzales mentioned this);
- Editors are at the mercy of big booksellers when designing covers (who knew Barnes &Noble held the pursestrings or the publishing world?);
- When sitting down to do a picture book, make a brainstorm list of everything that might possibly relate to the subject (Tammi Sauer's idea).
The first pages portion of the conference was helpful, too. I brought a story about a girl who has to move to the city because her father lost his job (for those of you who remember hearing it, please forgive me!). I brought it because it has never felt right to me. I loved the language and cadence of the story, but something was amiss, and I think the panel put the finger on it. It has an adult narrator. Ouch. I guess I had never thought about it before, but a third person narrator must also be child-like and not speak in adultese. (Now panicked me is looking at all my stuff with fresh eyes, thinking,,,omg, all these kids sound old! Hence why I come away from conference feeling depressed!)
Overall, the conference was a great experience, and one that I don't mind repeating. Here's a nod of good luck to all of us in the coming year! Remember the p's: passion, practice, persistence!