A few weeks back, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) held their Florida regional conference in Orlando. It was amazing. I love attending conferences because:
- You meet awesome people who are trying to break in to the business or have suceeded
- You learn from other writers specific to your genre or age group
- You have the opportunity to meet agents, editors and professional authors
I took the sci-fi and fantasy track where I met agent Joe Monti, who was hilarious and filled with anecdotes & stories. The one that stuck for me was about how Holes was rejected by the big six publishers long after Sachar had successfully published other books because of…coincidentally…too many holes in the plot. Someone saw the potential and took it on, worked with Louis and voila. Holes is an amazing story that brings tears to my eyes every time. How inspiring is that!?
In addition to Mr. Monti, I was thrilled to learn from my FAVORITE author, Matthew J. Kirby. If you don’t know who he is, he is an amazing author of fiction for young adults. His two novels The Clockwork Three and Icefall hooked me, and he is a critically acclaimed writer who has written 3 new books in the past 8 months. Pretty impressive!
I was in a group with over 20 and we submitted page one of our manuscripts for the author/agent to read cold and comment upon. They had much to say about where authors could fix their work. When they came to mine, they both stopped and said, “This works.”
Afterward, I approached Mr. Monti and told him which piece was mine. He said it was his favorite and requested a full read. This is why conferences are worth their weight in gold! Not only did I meet my FAVORITE AUTHOR, but I connected with an agent I may never have met otherwise.
In case you’re curious, here’s the pitch for the manuscript that Mr. Monti requested:
In the Outlands, a boy is hunted by a ferine that has already captured his sister. His heart has been stolen by a beautiful girl, even though he questions her motives. As a prophecy is revealed, the boy discovers that it is not only his sister’s blood coveted by these foul creatures; they also need his. Only with their blood can the ferine fulfill the ancient scrolls and gain control of the realm. Will the boy rescue his sister in time, or has she already been swayed to the darkness? Is the beautiful girl really on his side, or will the boy be forced to choose between the two girls he loves?
So, it gets better: I had sent in the first ten pages of that same manuscript, and the conference coordinator paired me up with Matthew. I spent fifteen minutes with my hero discussing MY story, what worked, what didn’t work, etc… and he said it was very well-written and didn’t have many things to change. I was floored. What an honor!!
Thanks to those involved in making my dreams come true. I hope if you haven’t been to a conference before, this post inspires you to find one. If you write for kids in Florida there’s a regional conference this winter in Miami. Hope to see you there!