Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 ANWA Writing Conference

Wow, what a weekend. The 2013 ANWA writing conference was educational and inspiring (and most of all, FUN)! It was great to see so many writing friends and meet new ones. Here are some highlights from the conference, as well as a few pictures.
I was so excited to hear that Rewind to You placed second in the Young Adult category of the ANWA Beginning of Book Contest! :D
Me with author Janette Rallison author of Just One Wish and other great YA's (I feel pretty cool here)
Janette gave a great presentation on Writing Romances Editors Want to Buy. She pointed out that 50% of all books sold are romance novels. Woohoo! Knowing the psychology behind romance is important in planning your romance plot. Romances are better than real life, Janette said. And, with a dose of good humor, Janette urged us to not live our romantic lives like the characters we craft would. Drama! Character and conflict are essential.

Dr. James Blasingame's class, Key Components of Young Adult Literature, was certainly a highlight. I love energetic presenters like him! He brought the presentation to life and made me more excited than ever to write YA. Among the many amazing tips he gave was the advice to grab teens by their short attention spans from paragraph one, using words that teens understand and relate to. Knowing the psychological and emotional development phases of young adults is key. Teens want a character to identify with to reassure themselves that they are normal. If you ever get a chance to watch Dr. B present, you are in for a treat!

Me with cousin Kylee Shields, writing pal Britney Gulbrandsen, and Britney's husband
Literary Agent Lara Perkins (love her to pieces) gave an amazing class on Crafting a Can't-Put-Me-Down First Chapter that I can't stop thinking about. A killer first chapter, she said, is the best way to catch an agent's attention. She highlighted The Hunger Games, The Scorpio Races and others as great examples of captivating first chapters. Infuse your first chapter, first paragraph--first sentence!--with mystery and you're on your way to hooking readers from the get go. This is only a taste of the many great tips she gave. Her advice was the best I've heard on great beginnings. Loved it!

Author and friend Donna Hatch. Her romances, including Queen in Exile, are some of my favs.
Chris Schoebinger of Shadow Mountain gave a class about The 5 Things You Should Know Before Submitting Your Manuscript to a Publisher that was very insightful. Although print sales fell 9% in 2012, the book business altogether is a money-making industry, and it's growing with the rise of ebooks. The 50 largest publishers alone brought in $64 billion in 2011. Publishers need you, the writer. Shadow Mountain books have beautiful covers and their authors are proactive in publicizing their books; it was fun to get a glimpse of the marketing side of the book business. Great presentation.

I was also lucky to attend several other awesome classes including Kathryn Jenkins Gordon's The 10 Biggest Mistakes Writers Make, Jennifer Griffith's Archetypes, not Stereotypes: Nailing Down Your Main Characters, Aprilynne Pike's Worldbuilding: The Invisible Foundation, Angela Morison's Free Verse Poetry: A Secret Weapon for Improving Your Prose (I strongly recommend poetry!), and Heather B. Moore's Historical Fiction: One Genre That Is Here to Stay.

Heather took the well-known advice to "write what you know" and instead urged us to "write what we love." Research the rest. Readers love to learn from the past and where they came from, making historical novels a genre that stands the test of time.
With my cousin, Kylee Shields, next to her display in the book store. Kylee is the author of Make It Happen.
I can't forget to mention literary agent Erzsi Deak's class dialogue. This was hilarious. She had us partner up and then gave each group three pictures: one with a picture of a person, another with a picture of a different person, and a third with a picture of a setting. She gave instructions to write a piece of dialogue between the two people in the given setting. Let's just say Rebecca Rodgers, the writer sitting next to me, and I will forever be pals after this writing exercise! Our dialogue between the bald cheerleader named Britney and the chef named Monique is legend. Perhaps we should do a joint blog post with our dialogue sometime, Rebecca? lol
Me with friends Rebecca Lamoreaux and Betsy Love (author  of Identity and Soulfire)
And last of all, the keynote speaker was amazing. AHHMAZING. James A. Owen's story and advice was phenomenal.

"Live deliberately," he told us. "Decide: Are you the kind of person things happen to, or the kind of person who makes things happen?"

After hearing of his life experiences, this type of positive outlook is admirable. If you ever get a chance to hear author and illustrator James A. Owen speak, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Here is a picture of James drawing a dragon in front of us:

I am looking forward to James' book, Drawing Out The Dragons, which comes out this March.What a wonderful ending to a great conference.

Thanks to the ANWA board of directors and the conference staff for making this an awesome conference: Melinda Carroll, Janette Rallison, Peggy Urry, Tina Scott, DeAnn Huff, Faith St. Clair, McKenna Gardner, Anika Arrington, Torsha Baker, Donna Hatch, Jill Burgoyne, Deb Eaton, Angela Morrison, Chanda Simper, Peggy Shumway, Nan Marie Swapp, Margaret Turley, Sandra Udall, Nikki Wilson and Marsh Ward.

AND THANKS TO MY HUSBAND for encouraging me to go to the conference and then being super dad over the weekend. He's the best! :)

Were you at the 2013 ANWA Conference? What were your highlights?


  1. Great highlights! I packed my camera and was so into the experience that I forgot to take a single picture! Oh, the angst of regret!! Thanks for sharing! Out of all the wonderful things I learned, I think I loved James's quote "Life Deliberately" the best. I love a purpose driven-life. It is so much more fulfilling. You are such a doll. I'm so glad we met!

    1. Ditto! It was so fun meeting you, Michelle! We'll have to stay in touch.

  2. What a great summary of the conference! It was so fun!

    1. I'm so glad you were there, Britney! It was fun to catch up :)

  3. Wow, Congratulations on your award Lo! That is super exciting. I'm so happy for you!!!

  4. Love it, Lo! Congratulations on the 2nd place award. It was much deserved since you have a great book!

    1. Thank YOU for reading and providing such valuable feedback, Kelly! ;)

  5. What a wonderful recap! Thanks so much for sharing.