Our debut CWHV (Children’s Writers of the Hudson Valley) conference was held at the Hampton Inn & Suites on June 8, 2013. It was a huge sold-out success. Thank you to all our wonderful attendees and presenters.
Sarah LaPolla, agent for the Bradford Literary Agency, led the novel writing workshops. Volunteer attendees read their first 10 pages and then received feedback from their peers and from Sarah. (Can you say free critique?!) Sarah’s timed writing exercise focused on plot and character. One exercise was to put your main character in a different setting and different situation. How would your main character react?
During one of the mini-discussions, we talked about being verbose. Some of us love our words so much, we refuse to edit. The problem, as Sarah pointed out is “… can your prose and description hold the reader’s attention? Do they have the patience?”
The picture book workshops were led by Brett Duquette, Associate Editor at Sterling Children’s Books. Some of his writing exercises focused on thinking outside the box. With every word precious, the words can’t be ordinary. The word choice must be extraordinary. One writing exercise was to list the words that come to mind with the color red. For example, if you said fire truck, ball, apple and crayon then cross them out. The idea is to go for the uncommon word; the one that doesn’t immediately pop into your head.
In between the workshops, we had a Panera’s lunch, a Q&A with Brett and Sarah, networking and bookstore time, courtesy of Merritt Bookstore.
One of the books I purchased was CRACKED (the actual spelling of the book has the E backwards) by K. M. Walton and edited by Sarah LaPolla. A good way to know what agents are interested in is to read books they’ve edited.
Tracy Marchini, editorial consultant, led a query letter workshop that challenged the attendees, first, because query letter writing is hard and second, it was timed. Sometimes the benefit to a timed writing exercise is it shows the writer how much they know or don’t know about their story or characters. (Raises hand) This exercise also involved peer review.
Closing word: Networking. You never know at which conference or event you may be discovered. I’m thrilled to announce that a CWHV conference attendee was approached by one of our presenters, who requested her complete manuscript! (Jumping for joy for her!)