On Sunday, we had a presentation by Amazon, which I will touch on in another post.
There was also a panel on the Agent/Author relationship, which I will also touch on in another post.
Andrea Hurst gave a two hour class (I'd attended her class before, but again was struck by how helpful it was to everyone) about the Perfect Pitch. At any conference you attend, if you are able to attend hers, or if local classes offer the topic (or webinars) make sure you take advantage of the opportunity. One of the things Andrea does is allow participants to pitch the entire room. Scary, yes, but you can gauge the audience's response. If they all sit up and go Ooooooo, then you know you've hooked them. If their eyes sort of glaze over, then you know you need to redo the pitch. An extra perk is that you are pitching Andrea at the same time, and she can give you feedback/request material for herself or her agents.
The "Chat Houses" were literally in people's homes, from in and around Coupeville. In our chat house, we were all cozy in the living room on couches and chairs and listened to authors Mandy Hubbard, Deb Lund, and Michele Torrey talk about writing and publishing for children's, middle grade, and YA.
- VOICE is the most important thing (like I don't preach that enough)
- CHARACTER is the next most important thing
- Have a HOOK and STORY QUESTIONS from the very first page
- For your comparables and to see how debut authors broke into the business, read debut novels
- TENSION can turn a slow paced story into something riveting (my wording, Mandy's wisdom)
- Don't be SLIGHT (Deb on Children's books)
- Don't be TRITE (Michele on MG)
The Tricks: Deb had two decks of cards. One of them were "Emotion Cards"--on each one was an emotion--scared, worry, devotion, unsure, etc. We played charades which meant no talking. We guessed what the emotion was (easier said than done) then discussed what it was about the person's BODY LANGUAGE that gave it away. This was a live demonstration of SHOW DON'T TELL, and I've never seen a better presentation. Everyone went away thinking, ooooooooh, I get it now. Describe how your character is acting to show how they are feeling.
Trick Two: The second card deck had actions on them. We were to think of a scene in our manuscripts before choosing a card, then think about how we could incorporate that into our scene to "spice it up." Cards included: lie, trust the wrong person, run away, and (my personal favorite) disguise the enemy. These are helpful to get you over writer's block or to make your scene more interesting.
Check out all authors, read their books, and, if you have the chance, make sure you hear them speak some time.