This year's conference had so many great keynotes and breakout sessions. It was hard to decide what to attend.
Bruce Coville shared his tips for writing during his keynote, Ripples in the Pond: Why What We Do Matters. He suggested that a writer take acting or story telling lessons as well as voice lessons. I found this very interesting and great advice. He also urged writers to take on assignments that frighten them and I can see how this would challenge a person to push their limits and keep growing as a writer. One last bit of advice I won't forget is to take your art seriously, but take yourself lightly.
In Liesa Abrams’ breakout session she discussed middle grade commercial fiction. Middle grade readers are 8-12, sometimes 13. A question I've often struggled with when writing for this age group is how old should my characters be. The answer to this question was no younger than 11 or older than 13. Children like to read up.
The editors panel included editors from five different houses who gave an industry-wide picture of the market. They felt that the kids market and young adult market are good (great news for us!) and noted that paranormal is hard because there are those leading the pack, but genre fiction will not die.
Libba Bray gave a witty and inspiring keynote. She advised writers not to tell themselves that no one will want this book or read negative articles or blogs. She also said not to say, “ I have to make this book perfect.” Instead say, “How can I make this book better?” I find this to be very true. It's not easy to pour your heart into your work if you are submersing yourself in negativity.