Sunday, June 24, 2012

Notes from a Conference (Part 2)

Happy Sunday! Read this quote today and wanted to share it:

"When you're feeling stressed out, don't allow yourself to explode in anger. Find a reason to laugh ... and watch the stress melt away."

It especially meant something when I read it since I've been mega stressed this weekend. Nothing crazy, just getting adjusted to entertaining kids while working from home and having a "guest" big dog that loves to scuffle with my own big dog. Not to mention it's been raining here for like five days. Oy

Anyway, more notes from the SCBWI regional conference I went to last weekend. But first, wanted to give a shout out to Deana Barnhart who just signed with lit agent Sarah LaPolla from Curtis Brown. Deana's been in this game for five years (like me) and I'm super excited she found the right business partner for her story. Yay, Deana!

At the conference, taught by NYC editor Noa Wheeler from Henry Holt and author Nancy Werlin, the topic of self-pubbing came up. Of course. I found it interesting that Ms. Wheeler did not feel it taints the author name in any way, and she even said she'd signed an author who had self-pubbed a story that he pitched her. She liked it, he took it down from Amazon and voila! It does happen.

She did have some suggestions though if self-pubbing is your route:

* Have a book cover design that will appeal to both teens and adults, more specifically using graphics instead of photos. (for YA)
* Book trailers should be 30 seconds and no longer.
* The book flap should draw reader in as a teaser and an overview (just like a query). It should reflect the tone and contain no specifics. You must have a lead in for the first sentence, and the last sentence must have a power effect. Don't muddle the middle with too much exposition or plot.
* Never use the phrase "everything changes" in a pitch or book flap. It's a given. Everything must change or you have no story.
* Make sure your book flap or pitch contains something about the MC that will hint why the reader will care about him or her. Very important! Also in your story's first page--which I'll go into in more detail in a later post.

Some brief notes on voice:

* Consistency brings it together.
* Must be confidence in the storyteller's (narrator's) voice
* Write the scene as though you're seeing and thinking everything from the MC's perspective
* Voice is the artful doling out of information unique to your narrator


The ending to your story should be like dropping a feather--let it drift and settle. It's not a bowling ball that falls with a thud.

And of course, the old "show don't tell" mantra all writers know:

Make your reader a peeping tom to the scene. They are reading, yes, but they are watching the scene unfold and need to see everything as if it were happening in real time.

That's it for today! Hope you found it helpful. Most of it's basic, yes, but it's always good to be reminded and especially important if you're a new writer. :)

Have anything to share? I love hearing your thoughts and reading your comments! 


welcome to my world of poetry said...

I have been stressed out of late but already knew about the laughing process, it really does work.

Happy Sunday.


Norma Beishir said...

PK--I once gave my first editor an "Editor's Survival Kit" which consisted of a SHOW DON'T TELL rubber stamp, a large bundle of pencils and a bottle of Screwitol.

Sounds like some things never change. You can still get lots of good info and make invaluable contacts at conferences.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Interesting on the 'everything changes.' But yes, it has to!

Jess said...

Wonderful tips~ thanks for sharing! And a HUGE congratulations to Deana :)

DL Hammons said...

I especially liked the tip about endings being like a dropping feather. Nice!

Thank you for passing these along!! :)

Old Kitty said...

Awww love the descriptions on how an ending should be! Awwww it's lovely!! Yay! Take care

Rachel said...

Thanks for sharing! I plan on attending my first conference in the fall, and I love gleaning information on how to be a better writer. Did you enjoy yourself? Did you pitch to anyone? Make friends?

KarenG said...

Great tips, thanks for sharing them! I like the "everything changes" quote LOL. Too funny!

Shell Flower said...

Great tips and notes. I absolutely love Conference Notes blog posts. It's like attending a conference in a few minutes. Like you say, these are basic, but sometimes the magic is in the repetition. I really needed to hear all this again right now. Thanks.

Roger Lawrence said...

Good tips as ever.I have a new ending coming up. I'll remember your words.

Lexa Cain said...

I love all the tips - thanks for sharing. And yay for Deana! How exciting to have an agent. :-)

T. Drecker said...

Nice to hear that someone doesn't find self-publishing detrimental. Enjoyed the tips - and especially the stress saying :)

fOIS In The City said...

Great post as always, PK ... sounds like the conference was a major hit. Thanks for sharingb:)

Annalisa Crawford said...

That's a great tip on 'everything changes'. There are a few cliches that always makes me put a book back down, and that would definitely be one of them!

Anonymous said...

I agree about not using "everything changes" in a pitch.

Thanks for the notes on voice.

Have a great week.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the notes! Didn't know to limit the book trailer to 30 seconds but makes sense . . . kids/teens, even most adults now, have no attention span. I should know since I teach for 7 hrs a day, lol:)

Daisy Carter said...

Oh, I love this:
The ending to your story should be like dropping a feather--let it drift and settle. It's not a bowling ball that falls with a thud.

So true!

Wanted to remind you that the pitch contest with Tricia Lawrence is this Friday, June 29th. Hope to see you there! And if you want a query critique before the contest, you can check out my "Critique My Query" post here!

Ciara said...

Interesting about never including "every thing changes" in your pitch/blurb, but now that I think about it, that is so true.

William Kendall said...

Great tips, PK. I like that about making the reader into a peeping tom watching everything unfold.

Jay Noel said...

Lots of great stuff here, PK. I especially agree with the book trailer being less than 30 seconds.

I've watched some that just kept going and going and going...

Cally Jackson said...

Some great advice here and in Part One. I'm definitely going to revisit the points above when I come to writing my blurb - which won't be too long now!

T C Mckee said...

Hiya! Awesome advice. Looks like you had a great time at the conference. I've been thinking about going to one this fall. I guess I should really consider it further. Thanks.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

That sounds like great advice. Good to know on the book trailer thing. I hate the ones that are a minute long.

Theresa Milstein said...

Noa Wheeler and Nancy Werlin helped run an intensive I took at NE-SCBWI this year.

I don't blame you for being stressed. Weather break yet?

Thanks for sharing all this wonderful information!

MTeacress said...

Yay you! How lucky that you got to go to SCBWI. It must have been an overwhelming, yet informative experience. Thanks for sharing. :)

Barbara Watson said...

Ohhhh! I love that image about endings. I will see that every time I write one or am working on one or read one.

Barbara Watson said...

Ohhhh! I love that image about endings. I will see that every time I write one or am working on one or read one.

Jennifer Ruth Jackson said...

You'll get settled in the summer routine and then have it all swiped away by the coming fall.

Good luck!

LTM said...

These are awesome tips--thanks for sharing! I especially like the feather v. bowling ball tip--LOL! It sounds like a super conference. SPs okay, never say everything changes... *making list* ;p <3

Tanya Reimer said...

Thanks. It's nice to hear that agents are open to self pub. And! your tips are wonderful.

Donna Yates said...

These make a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing them.

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