Julie Gonzalez, a picture book writer from Stroudsburg, PA and I represented Pennsylvania at this inaugural conference.
Angie Calabrese, a writer of Middle Grade novels with a wonderful humorous boy's voice sat with us, as well as a writer friend from my past whom I meet a long time ago at the initial "Hero's Journey" workshop at The Highlights Foundation, Loretta Acosta Russell.
It was a small conference with one awesome agent, Sarah LaPolla from Laura Bradford Literary Agency. Sarah led a workshop for the novelists in the group. She started with an exercise that even surprised me. I always cut and revise and tighten my writing before I attend these conferences and she started us out with CUTTING ONE HUNDRED WORDS from out first 10 pages before we even started the class.
I didn't think I had any words to cut, but after Sarah's guidance I had cut 123 words, an unnecessary prologue and excessive action tags and double adjectives. Great advice.
And one fantastic editor, Brett Duquette, from Sterling Children's Books.
Brett lead the picture book writers in sprucing up their picture book manuscripts and polishing them for submission. His main advice: No picture book manuscripts over 600 words.
Both Sarah and Brett discussed how kid's reading habits are changing as our language changes. For instance, whether you tweet or use tumblr, Facebook or other social media, today's teens do. And they are so used to writing in 140 character bursts that long descriptions of setting and clothing bores them.... thus the new acceptable incomplete sentences in YA stories today, that we used to call conjunctional phrases or sentence fragments. Makes sense. WHo knows what stories will look like ten years from now?
So the advice was to keep your writing as concise as possible with strong adjectives and very few adverbs.
I'd like to thank Karen Orloff, Karen Shan, Cathy Ciocci, The Manchini team of mother and daughter Val and Tracy, and Della Ferrari for organizing such a successful event. For those of you who missed it, they will be doing it again next June. Stay tuned.