SCBWI Conference in Boise

Hello all! Sorry I haven't been around to blogs much this past week, but I'm hoping to have more time to check out your awesome posts! I went to the SCBWI Conference in Boise and it was excellent. They had some great speakers so I thought I would highlight a few key points.

Alane Ferguson has written tons of books, including a series called the Mysteries in Our National Parks and the Sleuth Forensics series, and she was such a riot. She talked about her life and what inspired her as a writer. My favorite thing was her two common problems to avoid for the opening of your book, which for me is the hardest part!

1. Too much back story. Alane said the hook time, especially for kids, is shorter and shorter, and we only get two paragraphs to snag their attention. TWO PARAGRAPHS? Yikes! But I've heard this from agents too, to wait and add back story in until after we make readers care about our characters first. TOUGH!

2. Make sure dialogue and setting are necessary. Is it something your character will notice? Or are you throwing that tree in there for your purposes? An interesting thought.

Sarah Tregay (author of Love and Leftovers--if you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. Such great writing and a cute love story) and Kate Kay Meyers (author of The Vanishing Game, haven't read it but want to) did a session on their path to publication. Good stuff.

My favorite was meeting Kate Testerman, literary agent with KT Literary. Kate was adorable. She was super nice and  very knowledgeable. She did a workshop on queries and said she has over 200 unread emails in her inbox over the past two weeks or something like that!!!! :O  I can't imagine getting that many emails--no wonder agents are so busy! Kate suggested we look up her 10 Steps Before You Query video from WriteOnCon last year and she also went into the hook for a query, which, for me, is super hard to come up with!  One big thing Kate said to NEVER do in a query is to start with a question like, "Did you ever wonder if..." Because it opens things up for the agent to say NO right off the bat--the last thing we want!

Overall, it was an excellent day. So fun to mingle with other writers. But I especially liked meeting Kate and getting her feedback on my first ten pages. She helped so much! In case you're interested, here's her video on querying. It's seven minutes long, but if you're (like me) getting ready to query soon, it's well worth your time:



Such good points!!! I especially like her suggestion about preparing a spreadsheet.

Anyway, hope you all have an awesome week!! :D

21 comments

Cynthia said...

Sounds like a good conference! I learned a lot from the last SCBWI conference I attended too. It's great to get feedback from an industry professional.

M.J. Fifield said...

I can't imagine having 200 unread emails in my inbox. I don't think I've received that many emails in my life.

What a great opportunity for you. Sounds like you learned a lot.

Joanna said...

Oh, what fun. Thanks for the tidbits of tips that you shared with us! Did you catch up with Amy?

Jack said...

Thanks for this Cortney. I appreciate it.

Cortney Pearson said...

Do you mean Amy Cook? Yes, I saw her there! :D

Cassie Mae said...

SWEET! I should've crashed the party. It sounds like it was way awesome!

Angela Cothran said...

Thanks for passing on the info! I love Kate's query info. She is my dream agent :)

Morgan said...

Great video, Cort. Thanks for sharing! :D

Gina Gao said...

Thanks for this post Cortney. You have a great blog.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Daisy Carter said...

Great post! I just LOVE conferences - I always come away so refreshed!

I've heard the advice of avoiding backstory in the beginning (Martha Alderson says there shouldn't be any for the first 30 pages at least!), and I think it's solid. I don't want to find out too much up front when I'm reading a book. I like the urgency of turning the pages to find out what's going on. It keeps the reader wanting more if there are big questions. Great advice!

Jenny S. Morris said...

I REALLY want to go to a conference but we have so many things going on this year. Glad you had a good time.

Pk Hrezo said...

Sounds like you had a great time! I have my regional in June. :)

Leigh Covington said...

Oh my word! This post is like a mountain of awesome-sauce! I can barely take it all in! The conference sounds awesome! Agh! I'm so jealous. Lucky girl. I can't wait to hit a SCBWI conference, but I'm excited for Storymakers next week! Whoot-whoot! Glad you shared Kate's video too! Sa-weet!

elizabeth seckman said...

Excellent post...thanks!

Haddock said...

I like those two points, especially to make sure that the dialogue and setting are necessary.
Something I would like in a book I read.

Nick Wilford said...

Sounds like you had fun. I've got no idea what conferences are near me. I'll need to find out!

The backstory thing is very tricky. Part of what makes us care for a character is knowing a bit of their history. I think you should hint at it and keep the reader guessing for the opening of the book.

Carol Kilgore said...

Glad you had a great time at the conference!

Andrea said...

a very helpful post! Thank you. I am going to have to check out Love & Leftovers as well.

Andrea

tfwalsh said...

Some great points from the conference... thanks for sharing.

Amy said...

I really want to read Love and Leftovers x

Ricardo Miñana said...

have an interesting space, a great pleasure to read you.
if you like the poetry I invite you to my space.
happy day.
a greeting.

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