Tuesday, August 17, 2010

5 Conference Round-Up: WriteOnCon Day 3

If you missed WriteOnCon, don't fret. We've got you covered. The free online conference was packed with terrific advice and knowledge for children's 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 and day two here. Each segment of day three is listed below with a link and a brief synopsis or snippets. Read on and write on!

Thursday, August 12th

Writing With a Real Life by author Lindsey Leavitt [vlog] Lindsey says we need to trim the fat- figure out where your time is going and capitalize on using it wisely. Find time to do double-duty- answer emails in line, write while the kids are napping. Be flexible- there's a time and a season for everything and sticking to a schedule doesn't always work perfectly. Get a life- go beyond the "electronic bubble" and gain life experience. Delegate- surround yourself with supportive people who can help you pursue your dream.

Writing Advice from ALA via P.J. Hoover and the Texas Sweethearts [vlog] Many published authors share their writing advice, from inspiration to craft. Authors such as Libba Bray, Holly Cupala, Jaclyn Dolamore, Linda Sue Park, and Cynthea Liu, give their tips. PJ recommends using your time wisely.

Theater Techniques to Sharpen Your Dialog by author Tom Leveen [post] Tom suggests four techniques to improve the dialogue in your fiction. First, ensure your character has a strong want and that it is actionable. Every line of dialogue should be marked as a "win" or a "loss." Without this, your dialogue will be weak. Use blocking, which is physical action, motivated by emotional responses. Be careful not to double-up blocking with dialogue. Finally, set the scene. Where your scene is taking place and what is actually happening has an impact on your dialogue.

Author Branding by author Shelli Johannes-Wells [2-part vlog] Shelli defines your inner brand, or how you see yourself. There's also your practical brand. For writers, this can be your writing brand based on your books, and your author brand, or how people see you as an author. Your hidden brand is the impression you give, but you don't know about. Your book brand is specific to your book's content, target audience, series, and cover. Shelli provides exercises to determine your brands, and ways to start creating your author brand online.
Calondra McArthur and Katie Dillon Weigh In On Being a Bookstore Success! [post] Calondra and Katie provide eye-opening perspective on a book's success from a bookseller's point-of-view. From deciding which books to stock to what makes an author likable, they share insights we don't often see.

Q&A by literary agent Steven Malk [post] Steven answers questions about picture books, negotiating, building an online presence, getting your query noticed, and SO much more. Highly recommended!

Writing a Complete Story as Part of a Trilogy by author Michelle Zink [post] Michelle says that when writing a series, it's difficult to balance an ending with closure, and one that leads into the next book. She encourages writers to write from their souls, as opposed to trying to please everyone else.

From Submission to Acquisition: An Editor’s Choose Your Own Adventure by editor Martha Mihalick [post] Martha's post of a day in the life of an editor will make your head spin!

Transitioning from Adult to YA by author Risa Green [vlog] Risa decided to write YA for several reasons, including her counseling experience with teens. She believes high school is a universal setting that everyone can relate to. Some of the challenges she has had include dealing with age-appropriate content and language. She advises YA writers to read as many current books as possible. Push your characters out of their boxes and remember that your characters are teens, not adults going to high school.

Rhyme in Picture Books by author Tiffany Strelitz [post] Tiffany encourages us to write in rhyme only if genuinely compelled to do so. Her tips include checking that your rhyming words aren't single syllables and that you use consistent meter. Try to select surprising words that rhyme to keep the reader guessing. Use internal rhyme within lines to really push yourself.

Meter, Meter, Sleep Depleter by author Tiffany Strelitz [post] Tiffany offers a link to help learn about meter. She provides tests you can apply to your manuscript to gauge the true strength of your meter. Tiffany recommends not only reading your manuscript aloud, but giving it to a friend to read aloud to you.

The First Five Pages by Kathleen Ortiz Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 [posts] This is a must-see learning opportunity. The first five pages of twelve writers were selected for "110%" honest critique.

Writing Thrillers for Young Adults by author Kimberly Derting [vlog] Kimberly says she tries to think of what scares her and translate it onto the page. She highlights the movie Jaws as an example to show that a sense of foreboding is created without actually seeing the shark. The audience hopes there's a chance for escape as the tension builds. Kimberly encourages writers to use the external and internal experience your character is having to build suspense. The same suspense can be built in a romantic relationship between characters.

Picture Books and Easy Readers by author Shelley Thomas [vlog] Shelley says the relationships between characters is key in easy readers. Popular series such as Henry and Mudge, Frog and Toad, or Mr. Putter and Tabby are examples of stories with these important relationships. She also recommends being concise, creative, and conscious of rhyme and rhythm.

Staying positive in the face of rejections by author Crystal Stranaghan [post] Crystal reminds us to keep moving forward on projects while submitting others. Allow yourself a 24-hour pity party, and then keep writing. Competition is fierce, and editors and agents have to say no to most projects. If you're lucky enough to get a personalized rejection or have another small victory, celebrate! Stay open to any opportunity that comes your way and don't give up.

Avoiding Character Stereotypes by literary agent Mary Kole [vlog] Mary says the worst thing that can happen in your writing is cliché. Characters should be multi-faceted with secrets, wants, needs, relationships, pasts, hopes for the future, things they do in private, and things they do in public. She says the best weapon in your arsenal is surprise. Seemingly good characters should be flawed, and readers should be able to empathize with seemingly bad characters. Characters can reveal a new "wrinkle," but it has to be believable.

Creating New Mythologies by author Aprilynne Pike [post] Aprilynne offers advice for creating an effective new mythos that's not over the top. Ground your new idea in tradition so your reader has something familiar to hold onto. Don't get hokey with your explanations and descriptions. Be bold- don't just incorporate small changes to the traditions. Stand out.

The Panel of Professionals chat LIVE (Michelle Andelman, Mary Kole, Molly O’Neill, Kate Testerman) can be seen here.

The Revision Process from Both Sides of the Desk, a live Workshop with literary agent/author Regina Brooks can be seen here.

Happy conferencing!


  1. Thanks for posting a summary of all three days. For those who didn't go, it'll help them see why they might want to register next year.

  2. Your round up has been beyond comprehensive. A million thanks to everyone.

  3. Thanks, ladies! It was so informative to read the posts and watch the vlogs. I was continually impressed with how much variety the conference offered and how much I learned!

    Marissa :)

  4. Superb work and fabulous organisation. Although I don't get online often in the summer - I followed this!


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