Tuesday, April 5, 2011

YA, Authors, and Amazon--Oh My!!

The Whidbey conference last weekend was amazing! If you're in the area and you didn't get a chance to attend this year (or you want to drive or fly in) definitely do so next year. Wonderful speakers and topics, and the format of the entire conference (laid back and friendly) really lent itself to helping people learn and connect with each other.

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)
Mandy shared her experiences from both an agent's perspective and a writer's. Michele read to us from several books of all ages to demonstrate the power of voice (by the way, she's an amazing reader). Deb revealed a few tricks and made us play charades.

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.

Happy writing!


Becky Wallace said...

Ooh! The deck of cards idea is cool. We should all make some of our own!

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I like charades. Any excuse to play really is my kind of conference.

Kristin Lynn Thetford said...

The conference sounds like it was amazing! I love your list of highlights. The card game with "emotion" cards and "action" cards is such an awesome idea. Thank you for taking the time to share. Really enjoyed the post!

Heather said...

This sounds like a conference that I have to go to! I've never heard of workshops done in that manner. I love it! Acting out emotions for an excercise in showing instead of telling is brilliant! Thank you for sharing this with us.

Brenda Drake said...

Thank you for sharing such wonderful information. The deck of cards is an excellent idea. I think I'm going to have to make one of my own and practice. This conference sounds so amazing and just my speed--laid back. Great post! :D

Taryn said...

My least favorite part of college: being in KY instead of home in Woodinville during this conference. Thanks for the interesting tips! I also have a question, if you wouldn't mind answering: I was wondering if Andrea Hurst takes interns, as I don't see any pertinent information on the website. Thanks.

Vickie Motter said...

@hopejunkie Yes she does take interns. Full up for summer already though. She's looking for fall, but I'm assuming that wouldn't work since you're in KY. Email her for info for following summers.

Anonymous said...

The emotion cards are an excellent idea! I am with Brenda on making my own

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Sophie Grace said...

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