We were honored to have Alvina Ling, Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers as our opening keynote speaker. She spoke on her publishing journey and the importance of goal setting. Five steps for attaining your goals: do your research, outline a step by step plan, work hard and preserve, network like crazy and believe and hope in your goal and abilities. As Abe Lincoln said, “A goal properly set is hallway reached.” I love that!
Her workshop session reviewed the basics of novel structure: voice, character and plot. Voice: Who is the main character? Points of view: multiple or single. Tense, past or present. Prose or verse. Ways of making your character’s voice distinct was discussed. Character: learn about our character through physical descriptions,
action, self-discovery and dialogue. Plots: the seven basic plots and three simple plots were explored.
Eve Adler, Senior Editor at Sterling Children’s Books, picture book workshop talked about how to hook your readers with the right voice. Unfortunately, I was not in this workshop. If I find someone who can share their notes, I’ll add to this post.
Kate Brzozowski, Editor at Feiwel & Friends and Swoon Reads, discussed your writing voice in novels. Your writing voice is influenced by your tone, your diction, sentence length and access into the character’s head.
Emma Sector, Literary Agent at Prospect Agency, discussed the difference kinds of chapter books. Some are like graphic novels in the structure and art style, some are episodic with three or four different stories using the same main character and others are one storyline. Usual word count is 10,000 to 12,000 words with ten chapters. For a series potential, you need different secondary characters with a structure that can be repeated. Think Magic Tree House.
Our closing speaker was David Neilsen, storyteller and author of creepy, funny middle grades. He described ways to build the mood so the reader can be scared, why the reader has to identify with the character, and why children want to be scared. He discussed some dos and don’ts when writing to scare young readers. He closed his session by entertaining us with a reading.
We want to thank all of our attendees, without their support our conferences would not be a success! Thanks to our fabulous speakers: Alvina Ling (@planetalvina on twitter and @alvinaling on Instagram), Eve Adler, Kate Brzozowski, Emma Sector, and David Neilsen. A special thanks to Merritt Bookstore for all their heavy lifting to provide us with a bookstore, Panera for delivering our delicious lunches and finally, to our dedicated CWHV committee members.
For my live tweets during the conference, search #CWHV.
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"Thank you for another excellent writing conference in a welcome setting, with delicious food and lots of drinks.These conferences keep me focused on plugging along to my writing goals, and spur me on to work more diligently. And I always leave with new ideas to improve my writing." Catherine Cwiakala, 2019 attendee