Mo Willems entertained us with stories of how he came to write the Pigeon stories. And Arthur Levine spoke about the elements of great books. The local success stories were so inspiring. The common thread among all of them was to keep at it, not giving up. My favorite sessions were craft-oriented and I attended as many as I could.
Two outstanding sessions were both given by a first-time novelist: Cynthia Lord. Yes, the author of Rules, which won a Newbery Honor. Someone in the audience asked whether she knew all this stuff when she was writing her first book. Laughter arose. "No," she said. It's the writing and revising that taught her all these things. For me, the highlight of the conference was listening to her speak.
Here is Cynthia with Peggy King Anderson, my first writing teacher.Here are some tidbits. I hope you will find them useful and inspiring.
Publication, acknowledgment, awards all make you feel good, give validation. But it's the time in between, when you're working hard, honing your craft, that is most important. -Margaret Chodos Irvine.
Never forget the reason to keep writing. -Royce Buckingham
Know your audience. -Cynthia Lord
Cynthia is a former school teacher and does numerous school visits. If she's presenting anywhere near you, GO! She's a pro. And very nice, too. Here's what some of her young audience had to say about books they like: funny and adventurous, things at school, just about kids.
A book makes a promise. Fulfill it. -Cynthia Lord
Don't be afraid to be the evil author and explore the shadow side. -Cynthia Lord
Agents, editors are superfluous. Write a superlative book. -Mo Willems
Literature is there to reflect reality. -Chris Crutcher
When you have an idea, write it down. -Arthur Levine