Day Two began with a line of literally 75 people-- all waiting for their morning coffee at the lobby Starbucks. Yikes. After a very long wait for my morning buzz-- I was ready for my first keynote of the day:
Writing for Kids: A Three-Quarter Life's Work by Gordon Korman. It was a fascinating talk about Gordon's very successful and highly unusual career. Gordon shared with us how at 12 he sent a story he wrote to the Scholastic Bookfair people (he got the address off the classroom order form). He received an offer four months later. Wow. Not how it usually works.
The second keynote address of the morning was Literary Agents View the Market Place. Josh Adams, Ginger Clark, Lisa Grubka and Ken Wright answered questions from a moderator. It was very informative. I think what was most valuable from this keynote was the incredible difference in Agents attitudes about their roles in their clients lives. Ginormously varying opinions. Very eye-opening.
My first workshop of Day Two started the day off with a bang! Lisa Grubka from Foundry Literary gave a very informative workshop on query letters entitled Query Letter Boot Camp: The Do's and Dont's You Need to Get Your Query in Shape. She shared a lot of valuable information about her preference on query letters. She seems like a super cool person and someone I would really like to represent me.
Instead of lunch I had my First 15 Pages Professional Critique by Courtney Bongiolatti from Simon and Schuster. It went very well. She loved my characters and their voices. She said that it was a very solid, classic middle-grade girl figuring out a place in her world story. She said my character Reese has an intelligent, thoughtful, sensitive voice that would appeal to MG readers. She loves my characters Kami and Joy-- she thought they were very unique and quirky. She suggested I change the age of my character from 13 to 12, which I totally agree with. She thinks it has great long term potential and a classic MG girl style that does well in schools and libraries. All that from just the first 15 pages.
Unfortunately I missed most of Marion Dane Bauer's keynote, but I understand it was very emotional.
The keynote Pursue your Passions by E.B. Lewis was awe inspiring. He is the very prolific illustrator/artist who has illustrated over 30 picture books and has won the Coretta Scott King Honor award three times as well as the Caldecott. He shared his illustration process with us as well as his amazing fine art Icon pieces that he is currently working on. They are beautiful tiny paintings on lottery tickets, the portraits of black children barely revealed through scratch marks. Beautiful and poingnant.
I attended the workshop What's Hot, What's Not by Jennifer Rees just because I think she is awesome. (I already know what's hot.) But Jennifer's message was that ultimately we shouldn't be chasing the market, we should be writing what we are passionate about. It was nice to learn a little more about what she is looking for because she is my ideal editor. She and Deborah Halverson, whose blog I follow, and who I hope to have the opportunity to "bump into" at this conference!
Gail Carson Levine's keynote Sweat and Magic was very interesting. She covered suspense builders and plot predictability and provided various helpful writing prompts in order to "get to know" your characters better. The quote "I am pretty new, you don't know me yet," will haunt me for a lifetime.
The Heart and Soul Celebration got started poolside around 7:30 tonight. Many people were in costume and really let loose. I remained demur but enjoyed rubbing elbows with the likes of EB Lewis and Ashley Bryan (illustrator winner of 6 Coretta Scott Awards!). I may have enjoyed a cosmo or two... All and all another very exhausting but rewarding day.