- Jennifer Maruno, author of Cherry Blossom Winter and many other historical fiction novels, reminded us that the big idea for a story comes from “what we carry in our hearts.”
- Author Barbara Greenwood discussed revising or “re-visioning” a novel and said, “Decide what you want the scene to do and leave in only what makes it stronger.”
- She also said it's important to listen to the sound of your story, by reading it aloud, preferably to a writing group
I also attended an industry panel moderated by Evan Munday, author of The Dead Kid Detective Agency, featuring executive editor Hadley Dyer from Harper Collins Canada, agent Monica Pacheco of Anne McDermid & Associates, Yvette Ghione, editorial director at Kids Can Press, and bookseller Heather Kuipers of Ella Minnow Books in Toronto (YoYoMama has a great review of Ella Minnow Books if you want to know more about it).
- They all emphasized how important it is to submit the best work you can to editors or agents. A big mistake people make is submitting too soon.
- Another tip they had was about social media. If you are engaging in social media, on Twitter, blogging or whatever, make sure you do it well by updating content frequently -- or don’t do it at all. For example, a bad book trailer can be worse than not having one.
- Heather Kuipers reminded us that the length of a read aloud for younger kids is about 8 - 12 minutes and some picture books are just too long
The keynote address by Linda Bailey, author of Stanley’s Party and the recent Toads on Toast as well as many other books, reminded me how important it is to take risks in writing and in the process of getting published. You need to be open to change (especially because of the way the industry is changing so quickly) and not be afraid to try something new.
I'd be leaving out something really important if I didn't mention how much I enjoyed the illustrators exhibit that was also part of this conference.
I loved the opportunity to see original artwork from picture books, including work by Barbara Reid, an original illustration from Phoebe Gilman's Something From Nothing, work by Bill Slavin, process illustrations from Debbie Ridpath Ohi's work on I'm Bored and many more. The exhibit is on display at the Humber College L-Space gallery until December 10th, so I'm going to try to take my daughter to see it before it closes. I really wish the gallery had some evening or weekend hours (M-F, 12-5)!The best part of going to a conference is how I always come home charged up and excited about writing, ready to get back to work. I really enjoyed meeting some new people and hearing about their writing or illustrating experiences. I’ll definitely be going back next year!