For starters, it was way cool just to be in a room of writers. People who paid actual money and for some drove hours to be there. It was a combined workshop for writers who focus on writing for children and teens. The morning session featured Lindsay Barrett George, an incredible author of award winning children's books. Not only has she written over 16 books but she illustrated them as well. It was incredible to hear about her journey. I was a little uncertain about sitting there for 2 hours and listening to someone talk about picture books. I write gritty YA books so this was way out of my zone but Lindsay was a blast and held my attention every last second she spoke. She had us a do an exercise using only 5 words or so to write a book. Wow. I was blown away by the creativity of the other writers and realized how challenging it is to write a 30 page book. Yeah, I think I'll stick with my 300 pagers.
After a quick lunch they had a critique session for anyone who wanted to bring the first 2 opening pages of their WIP. I think it ended up being about 8 of us. So glad I did! The workshop organizer read the pages and the 2 presenting authors gave feedback. I was thrilled they liked my pages and felt the story started right into the action and made you want to read more. They only had 2 small suggestions---my drunk frat boy's dialogue was a little too wordy for, well, a drunk frat boy and I had a pair of floating eyes (one of Maria's Nitpicks I'll explain next!). And I was way impressed with the other pages that were read. Most of them had me wishing for more. I'm still thinking about one in particular. Now that's a book I want to read!
The afternoon session was all about Maria V. Snyder, author of the amazing Study series, Glass series and Inside Out and soon to be released, Outside In books. And the reason I discovered there was a killer writing workshop in my own backyard. Maria's first book, POISON STUDY, released in 2005 so I'm pretty late in the game reading it but once I read that first one I devoured the next 2 and the companion series in weeks. I'm a HUGE fan of her writing so to have the opportunity to sit and listen to her speak about how she does it was a dream come true. And I wasn't disappointed.
Maria provided us with a handout that listed the common nitpicks she sees even in published books. Awesome tips. Gah, and I was so guilty of many of them! One that stood out (and who hasn't seen this in nearly every book you pick up?) is the floating eyes. Here's something I found in my WIP.
My eyes shot up.
Whoa. Where did those eyeballs shoot up to? Yikes.
I had no idea what to expect and didn't to look all fangirly so I kept my stack of 6 of Maria's books hidden in the car. But when I saw that she brought books to sell/sign I was all over it and got all 6 of them signed. For any of you who have read Poison Study...I met the women who created Valek! haha And if you haven't read Poison Study, do it now. It's one of my favorite books and series.
A big thank you to Katie at Pennwriters for organzing such a great workshop and to both Linsday and Maria for taking the time to share their knowledge and passion.