Pink Think: “You may certainly not kiss the hand that wrote ‘Ulysses’. It’s done lots of other things as well.” – James Joyce
I had driven thirty minutes from home when I remembered that I did not have my copy of “The Goose Girl”.
Today, I was on my way to “Writing for Charity,” which was a writer’s conference organized by Newbery-Award winning author Shannon Hale of “The Goose Girl” fame. I had already gone back for my cell phone, and wasn’t about to risk being late to the conference at the Salt Lake City Public Library.
I only had four hours of sleep, I felt so nervous. I feel that way before every writer’s conference I have attended. I worry that when I get there, there will be no chair left for me (there was), or that I will not be able to meet my favorite authors (I did) and that the first page that I brought to be workshopped would not be liked (well…more on this later).
First off, seeing Shannon Hale in person was fun. Green really looks good on her; I’ve noticed she wears this a lot in promo photos. When I am a published author, I will probably make my trademark color…pink (shock!). (Okay, I will not think about this “being published” thing, I will not…) I was disappointed that Aprilynne Pike did not come (I came because of you Aprilynne; if you’re reading this, I hope you had a better reason than Jessica Day George’s which was, as told by Shannon, funny). [Update: Aprilynne had a death in the family.]
The authors: Anne Bowen, Kristyn Crow, Ann Edwards Cannon, Ann Dee Ellis, Shannon Hale, Mette Ivie Harrison, Kimberley Heuston, Laura Hickman, Tracy Hickman, Rebecca Hickox, Mike Knudson, Brandon Mull, Sydney Salter, Wendy Toliver. Amy Jameson (an agent) and Chris Schoebinger (editor) were there as well.
You can see the photos here.
1. I really, really like Ann Cannon. I loved her first book and everytime I see her at these conferences, she comes across as a very nice person, the kind of mentor I would love to have. Her tips on overcoming the messy middle: “Do the end (then you know the middle), look at the first part (and you might realize you started the book in the middle) and try outlining.”
2. Chris Schoebinger said, “Keep writing,” even though you have gotten so many rejections. “You’ll just keep getting better and get in your stride.”
3. Shannon Hale said, “Don’t quit your day job. You don’t make enough money.” And this from a Newberry Award winner. She did say Brandon Mull is the exception.
4. There are many ways to publication. But first, “Finish that book!” was a common advice.
5. Commit to write for 15 minutes every day, because more than likely, you will be writing much more.
6. Brandon Mull said, “Publishers are looking for something different, and yet familiar. They are looking for a marketable premise, with a different twist.”
7. Mettie Ivie Harrison said, “Write books you’d want to read.”
8. Read books that you want to model your prose after.
9 And finally, you’ll get lots of feedback, but be sure to believe in your manuscript. Pay attention to what you really like about it.
I had to really listen to this last advice, especially after the last part of the conference, which was a workshop among about twenty people. I had the fortune of being in Brandon Mull and Chris Schoebinger’s group, like poking distance! (I resisted poking them.) I was the second to read, and I chose to share the first page to my novel Ghost Moon Night. A girl to my left kept snickering (At my manuscript? At the other group in the auditorium? I couldn’t tell, but it was annoying).
When it was all said and done, there were some nice comments about mood and tone, and helpful comments on clarification. Brandon said it was nice to see a fantasy set in the Philippines; that was unique. Chris said he liked some “evocative” passages. A little bruised but encouraged; I will try to remember number 9 above…
Chris and Brandon helped me with a pitch, and they recommended: “A curse haunts a Philippine town on ghost moon night, and a 17 year old boy finds himself the unlikely hero to help his town lift it.” The lady next to me asked me if this is a real curse, and I said no, but it pleased me that she thought it might have been.
(I wondered, not for the first time, if I should have just brought the first page of my WIP which my daughter thought was exciting and more YA, but it was interesting to hear the feedback on Ghost Moon Night.)
A great four hours well spent! Incidentally, the conference raised money for a wheelchair project to the tune of more than $4k and would provide about 50 wheelchairs. So it was cool all around.
Oh, and I might not have had Shannon sign my “Goose Girl” copy, but I got my photo taken with her. 🙂