Monday, August 16, 2010

10 Conference Round-Up: WriteOnCon Day 2

If you missed WriteOnCon, don't fret. We've got you covered. The free online conference was packed with terrific advice and knowledge for kid lit writers. But first, we want to extend a HUGE thank you to the founders: Jamie Harrington, Elana Johnson, Casey McCormick, Shannon Messenger, Lisa and Laura Roecker, and Jennifer Stayrook. And another BIG thank you to all the agents, editors, authors, and industry professionals who shared their expertise and knowledge. For FREE. This is truly an incredible community!

In keeping with the three-day event's schedule, we're sharing separate posts to cover the individual days. You can read about day one here. Each segment of day two is listed below with a link and a brief synopsis or snippets. Thanks to Shannon Messenger for providing links through her fabulous blog. Read on and write on!

Wednesday, August 11th

Romance in YA by author Lisa Schroeder [vlog] Lisa uses the acronym "cupcake" to teach how to craft a YA romance. Connection between your characters needs to happen in a way that goes beyond just a look. Unattractive is okay- characters should have flaws. Perfect is boring. Complimenting interests should exist between your characters, i.e. they can both like music but different types of music. Admiring one another's traits is something that characters should experience to emphasize that each character lacks what the other possesses. Keep it believable and real so that it makes sense to your reader. Encompass a wide range of emotions within each character.

Plot and Pacing by author/literary agent Weronika Janczuk: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. [posts] Weronika encourages writers to play with a plot template to lay out your story's path, or framework. This will also help with your story's frame, or roughly the first 50 pages. She provides in-depth discussion about the 8-point story arc. Finally, she lists questions to ask yourself about your novel, and tips for plotting and pacing.

Using an Independent Publicist by author Lauren Becker [via Shannon Whitney Messenger] Book bloggers can help you spread the word about your book online and are a platform to reach teens. Independent publicists can help you think outside the box on ways to promote your book. Particularly in a world where time is scarce, a publicist can handle promotion for you.

The Revision Process by author Cynthea Liu, part one, two, and three [posts] Cynthea says to evaluate the writing and sweat the small stuff so you don't end up with suboptimal writing. Evaluate the story, paying special attention to the existence of suspense, a clear theme (usually results in unrelated plots, unrelated subplotting, overplotting/underplotting, and flat/cliché characters. Only after you've evaluated the writing and story should you begin to revise using the tips Cynthea outlines.

Transition From Self-Published to Traditional Publishing by author Jennifer Fosberry [vlog] Jennifer shares her journey from being self-published to getting a book deal. Her original marketing plan propelled her from one to the other in a seemingly smooth transition. Still, she cautions that self-publishing is not for everyone.

Live blogging event: Queries with literary agent Natalie Fischer can be found here. We also posted a wrap-up about this segment here.

Creating Memorable Characters by literary agent/author Mandy Hubbard [post] Mandy says to develop your hook, and then consider what type of character would struggle the most in that situation. Reveal your character through their actions and dialogue. Then "blow it all to hell" and throw your character out of their comfort zone.

Reaching Out to Schools and Libraries Before You’re Published by author Stasia Ward Kehoe [vlog] Stasia says your audience is at school and your biggest fans will be at the library. You can volunteer, prepare teaching aids, and even create a recommended reading list. You've got a lot of competition as a writer, so build your relationships with people so they'll listen when it's time to support your work.

Sex in YA: The ABC’s of Hooking Up by author Suzanne Young [vlog] Suzanne avoids graphic sex scenes in her own writing. She says to avoid the "romance novel" approach, where hook-ups are detailed. Still, you may frustrate your readers by avoiding physical hook-ups in an unnatural way. Suzanne says you can mention protection if it's done tastefully. She says keep in mind other people will eventually read your book to make changes as necessary.

The chat with literary agent Natalie Fischer can be seen here.

Keynote Address by author Lindsay Eland [vlog] Lindsay tells writers of middle-grade to have respect for the feelings that kids of this age are genuinely experiencing. Remember your own journey through middle-grade years, ugly or not. Middle-grade readers need hope to make it through some of the difficulties they have.

Writing Genre Fiction by author Julia Karr [vlog] Julia says genre fiction is hot right now. It translates well into other mediums such as television. When writing genre fiction, Julia says to make sure you're not being generic so your story won't be dismissed as just another (insert similar book here).

Do’s and Don’t’s of Querying by literary agent Kate Testerman [vlog] Kate says to send your own query letter. It should be written in your point-of-view, not your character's. Don't compare your book to a huge blockbuster, or mention that those who have read it loved it. Don't point out the theme- just entice with the actual story. Don't suggest a cover design, illustration ideas, or inspirational images. Follow guidelines carefully for each agent you query. Personalize your query and know who you're writing to. Don't create your own category or call your book a "fiction novel." If you have relevant experience, say so. If not, don't mention anything. Reread your query before you send it. Have someone else read it, too.

Authentic/Edgy YA by author Kody Keplinger [post] From the voice to the dialogue to the setting - Kody reminds us that it all needs to ring true to teenage life to be considered authentic. Edgy is anything that pushes the boundaries. Keep asking yourself, "What would a teen do?" Be honest and tell the story while thinking like a teen.

How to Make a Character Collage by author Tera Lynn Childs [vlog] Tera Lynn uses character collages to get "unstuck" in her writing. She suggests using magazines, catalogs, and other materials to find images that represent your characters. These collages can help a writer stay true to their characters.

Live chat with literary agent Jennifer Laughran can be seen here.

Panel of Professionals chat LIVE (Anica Rissi, Joanna Volpe, Suzie Townsend, Mary Kole) can be seen here.

Building an Online Presence, a workshop with author Daisy Whitney, can be seen here.

Happy conferencing!


  1. Thanks so much for the wrap up! I was out of town for this day and I'm slowly catching up on everything. There are so many fabulous posts!!!

  2. you never fail to impress! thanks ladies!!

  3. Jemi, good luck getting caught up. It's amazing how much they fit into WriteOnCon over those three days!

    Thanks Lisa and Tahereh. We're lucky to have lovely friends like you two!

  4. Thanks so much for the roundup. I was here for it but I'm still trying to catch up so your blog is much appreciated. I'm in complete awe of what these ladies accomplished.

  5. Hi! Just found your blog and am so glad I did!
    Over here in Australia we don't have access to some of these awesome conferences, but it's lovely to read about. I'm writing my first YA novel- it's so much fun! (But of course lots of work)Will definitely be checking back, and making use of the support and info you guys provide. Have shared this.

  6. An awesome roundup! Thanks so much. I loved the cupcake approach (AND the looks of the yummy cupcake!)

  7. just found your blog and realized that i've made a few of your best articles for writers weeks! thanks so much. :) i'm a follower now so that i can benefit from all the other articles you link to. what an amazing resource!

    the character therapist

  8. I loved Weronika Janczuk's Plot and Pacing and Cynthea Liu's Revision sessions. They were super helpful.


Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)