Wednesday, April 20, 2011

First Annual Young Adult A to Z Conference


As Assistant Regional Advisor for the Austin SCBWI chapter, I'm fully aware of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of hosting and sponsoring a conference, and I'd like to raise my glass and toast the Writer's League of Texas (WLT) on the success of their first YA A to Z Conference held this past weekend in Austin at the Hyatt Regency.  I'd say it was a smashing success and Executive Director Cyndi Hughes (See a past interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith at Cynsations) and Office Manager Bethany Hegedus should step forward and take a bow along with their band of dedicated WLT staff and volunteers.  The conference followed on the coat tails of the Texas Library Association's Conference and created it's own literary buzz. 

Cyndi Hughes                        Bethany Hegedus  

   Tim Wynne-Jones

An all-star line-up was assembled of literary agents, editors and A-list authors and I caught several presentations including the keynote luncheon by author Tim Wynne-Jones. His talk on finding and releasing your inner genius was pure genius. I felt myself carried away listening to him talk about his experience of finding clues to solving his story problem within his first draft. It's a speech that left me speechless.

I was honored to moderate the panel Path to Publication: Options for Getting Your Book Out with authors PJ Hoover, Andrea White and Suzette Conway, Director of Education for Author Solutions Inc. Unfortunately due to severe storms in the mid-west the panel lost Suzette as her plane never left the ground from Indianapolis. But PJ and Andrea never missed a beat and delivered their wisdom and knowledge and answered attendees' questions.

Each person determines their own path to publication. There really is no map to follow. Some of the best advice is receive constructive feedback and then revise your work until it shines. Don't send out your work with only your kids or grand kids feedback. Seek out critique groups and workshops. Make sure your work is the best it can be!

I know you've heard that adage before but according to agents and editors, we need to hear it again. Many of their slush pile submissions have clearly never been vetted by anyone but the author.  So if you're one of those people who've never had your manuscript critiqued you might want to check out the Austin SCBWI Beyond the Basics: Applying and Analyzing Constructive Criticism Workshop with the Texas Sweethearts.


To wrap-up, the YA A to Z conference not only provided lots of information for attendees but pitch sessions with agents, manuscript critiques and plenty of networking opportunities. If you missed this conference, don't worry. The Writers' League of Texas hosts their annual Agents Conference on June 10 - 12, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency.

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