Monday, June 7, 2010

16 Conference Round-Up: The YA Voice/Spend an Afternoon with an Agent

The Montana chapter of SCBWI recently held The Young Adult Voice with Terry Trueman/Spend an Afternoon with an Agent workshop. In attendance were literary agent Mark McVeigh and Prinz Award winning author Terry Trueman. Fabulous author and regional advisor for the Montana chapter, Michele Corriel, kindly offered to share her take-aways from this special day.  

On May 22nd The Montana Region of SCBWI conducted a one-day workshop with YA Printz Honor Award winning author Terry Trueman and Literary Agent Mark McVeigh, of the McVeigh Literary Agency.

The workshop was held at the Bozeman Public Library, a new building -- very green, very gorgeous, full of art and natural lighting, a snowy spring day in Montana. (Yes, I said SNOW!)

Terry gave a hands-on writing workshop as well as an informal "pick my brain as long as you want" session that went on for over an hour. Terry is such an entertaining and insightful speaker -- everyone loved him! He was very generous with his time and hung out with everyone after the session. Here are some gems from his talk:
  • Sit down for at least an hour a day and write, that’s how you find your voice.
  • A plot is a mechanism to tell a story, find out why a story needs to be told and tell it.
  • The dreaded Middle of a story: think of the theme and go back to the character.
  • Don’t be afraid to step away from the manuscript for a week and then re-read it from the beginning. 
  • Any kind of writing that is good will have to be revised – a lot. 
  • There are three things important to being a successful writer: talent, persistence, and luck.
Then Terry had us all write five to eight lines of poetry after reading to us from Love That Dog and Charles Bukowski’s “Oh Yes.”

Mark did a panel with Terry (who is his client) on what it's like for an author to work with an agent and what an agent does for a client. Mark then did an hour talk on agenting and his long experience in publishing as an editor, how the market is changing and then took questions for another hour and probably would've went on longer if we’d had more time. Here are some of Mark’s gems:

  • Separate yourself from your work.
  • Become a professional – know the industry, make contacts with other writers, meet editors and agents by going to conferences.
  • If you submit a synopsis to an agent or editor, make it as tight as you can.
  • When writing a query to an agent be sure to follow the guidelines on the website.
  • If you’re writing a query to an editor, do your homework and mention a book the editor worked on. 
  • Send your best work.
  • Don’t let the market influence you, let it inform you.

Michele Coriel is an award-winning journalist, columnist and freelance writer. During her eleven years as a newspaper journalist, she garnered First Place awards from the Montana Newspaper Association and was recognized by the National Newspaper Association. During her years in New York City, Michele was executive editor and publisher of an arts monthly magazine covering performance art, music, film, books and visual artists. Michele's interview with William Burroughs was published in 2001 by The University of Mississippi Press in their series “Literary Conversations," and two articles appeared in Faces of Freedom (Pioneer Press, 2002). Her poetry has been published in The Lower East Side Anthology, The Grey Rock Review, Cover Arts New York, and in a work by the Fusion Arts Movement in the Whitney Museum and Museum of Modern Art's Permanent Book Collection. She is the creator of the Poetry Dispenser, a Montana arts project, which disperses community poetry in the form of a paper towel dispenser. As a freelance writer she has had articles published in Western Art and Architecture, Home, Jack and Jill Magazine, US Kids, Twist, Horizon Air Magazine, The Big Sky Journal, Montana Magazine, The High Country Independent Press, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Bicycle Magazine, At Home, Fencelines, Outside Bozeman, Distinctly Montana, Montana Parent and others. Michele was awarded the National Children’s Empowerment Award for a newspaper series she did on bullying in the schools. Michele is the Regional Advisor for the three-state area called the Big Sky Region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Michele's upcoming middle grade novel Fairview Felines: A Newspaper Mystery will be released in July.
-courtesy The Mark McVeigh Agency


  1. Thanks for the great info! A lot of useful advice, as always.

    Can't wait for your contest on Thursday. :)

  2. Really great insights from a pro! thanks so much!

  3. I just began researching SCBWI (I embarrassingly heard of them here, on your site - does that mean I'm not dedicated to my art, having not known of them before?). Your blog is of great encouragement to me, as I sit here this morning (absent of my coffee) yet dreaming of the future where I can not only enrich my passion for literature but actually contribute to it someday. (??) I wanted to stop by, and a new follower of your site, and thank you. I know I'll be unveiling more of the hidden wisdom within these pages.

  4. wow, another post packed with information! this is invaluable, ladies!

    thank you!!

  5. The workshop was a ton of fun and I'm glad I was allowed the opportunity to share it with everyone here!

  6. I LOVE this quote: Don’t let the market influence you, let it inform you.

  7. I love that, 'don't let the market influence you, let it inform you." Perfect.

  8. Betty VanderwielenJune 7, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    A couple of quotes from Terry that I particularly liked:
    "I don't write to be edgy; I write to reach your emotions."
    And a reality check when you get that rejection slip: "There is no truth; there is only opinion and honesty."

  9. Thanks, Betty! I know I was so enthralled I didn't take as many notes as I usually do. :)

  10. Great info! Don't you just love conferences? I always come away inspired.

  11. Thanks for this, great info. I'd love to go to a conference. One day...:)

  12. Wow - lots of great information - thanks so much for sharing! :)

  13. Michele, how lucky we were to have you write up this event and pass along fantastic advice. Thanks for all the wonderful comments everyone.

    Check back in a few weeks when we will have Michele featured in a WOW Wednesday guest post!She'll share inspiration on never giving up :)

    Thanks again Michele!
    Martina & Marissa

  14. You guys are most certainly welcome! Thanks for having me. :)

  15. Great job, Ladies! Isn't Mark a sweet guy! I met him via a tweet, followed by a blog introduction, followed by a skype chat, a webinar he invited me to and lots of emails. He truly believes in what he does and wants to help writers...Great guy!


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