Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Writing Conferences Redux

By Hazel Buys

Last time I wrote about my delight at attending two writing conferences in October: the James River Writers conference in Richmond, VA, and the MidAtlantic Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference, at the Dulles Holiday Inn, in northern VA.

Did I mention there was homework?

The antecedent to this idea was actually visited upon me at the MidAtlantic SCBWI novel revision retreat held in Richmond, VA, last June. One of the editors at the retreat invited us all to submit queries BUT we were instructed to wait a specified number of weeks after the retreat before submitting. Why? To make use of the information/advice we’d received over the three days in order to improve/revise/complete our novels before submitting.

In other words, make the three days count. It was a revision retreat, after all. And the teaching staff gave us extensive advice on how to do just that.

This rubric, I realized, applies to any conference I attend. There is bound to be lots of advice given out at any conference, no matter how many revisions you have already done on any given piece, on how to improve your writing. You can imagine the list of advice/improvements/ideas for rewriting I had coming off two conferences in one month!

But I did not shrink from the challenge. I have spent the last month rewriting/revising and otherwise improving, checking and polishing the submission I thought I was ready to send off promptly, when the conferences closed. Good thing, too.

My submission is so much better than I thought it could be!

So, how do you continue to profit from writing conferences you attend, long after they are over? Be sure to include new ideas for revision and polishing your work in what you take-away.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Conferences Galore!

by Hazel Buys
October was a whirlwind month! I gave my writing self a BIG gift this year: attendance at both the James River Writers and the SCBWI conferences. My money was well spent. Participation is key, of course. With that in mind, I signed up for pre-conference intensives at both gatherings, as well as a pitch session and a consultation.

The JRW conference offered a track strategy for choosing sessions, offering ‘Exploring Genre,’ ‘Improving Your Craft,’ ‘Getting Published,’ ‘The Life of a Story’ and ‘Promoting Your Book.’ I chose from several different tracks and found the categories useful for prioritizing my interests. At the Library of Virginia Literary luncheon, I was surprised and delighted to find myself sitting at the table with Kevin O’Malley. This funny and immensely talented man spent the time not eating, but drawing an illustration for each person at the table. I saw him bestow more in several sessions I attended. Unexpected blessings!

Cynthia Lord, keynote speaker (Rules) at the SCBWI conference (“The Plusses and Perils of Writing What You Know”), was impressive and inspirational. Her personal experiences on her way to publication of an award-winning debut novel resonated with everyone and gave us much to think about. It was my first experience at the conference’s new location at the Holiday Inn – Dulles. The meeting rooms were comfortable, spacious and all on one floor, with accommodations for those staying overnight just down the hall.

Did you attend either conference? Which one? Leave a comment with your thoughts and take-away moments to share. We’d love to hear from you.