Monday, July 20, 2015

Reflections From WOW

WOW participants and faculty, at the end of a full week
There's nothing like a writer's conference to get those creative juices flowing. Nine of the GROGger gang were lucky enough to participate in the WOW [Week of Writing] conference for children's writers last week in the Georgia mountains. 

Wow! Sessions on the craft of writing, markets, and critiques, individual manuscript critiques, round tables, arts and crafts, games, costumes, and meeting other kid lit peeps. Here are some of the tidbits we picked up.

Kristen and The GROGgers 
WOW 2015
From the Desk of Suzy Leopold:
Are You a Good Critiquer
Presentation by 

Kendra Marcus & Minju Chang 
of BookStop Literary.

Think about the following points and thoughts about 
critique groups . . . 
Spectacular view of the
Southern Appalachian Mountains
  • Are you good at giving AND receiving critiques? 
  • As a writer you are the consumer. 
  • Is your critique group a good match for you and your genre of writing? 
  • Is your critique group digging out and helping you solve your writing challenges? 
  • How often do you meet? 
  • Do you want critiquers to support your writing with a *feel good feeling* or do you want honest, direct critiques with fresh eyes? 
  • Does everyone in attendance receive an equal amount of time and attention for their manuscripts? 
  • Ground rules must be established. 
  • An agenda must be followed.
Denise Fleming
Candace Fleming

Dianna Huttts Aston

Christy Mihaly's Post-Wow Resolutions:
  • Read more! Read everything!
  • Write more poetry. Poetry, and playing with language, help you practice using language creatively. Use picturesque language.
  • Revise, revise, revise my manuscripts, with a focus on three things: developing my voice, making my characters compelling, and cutting words where the pictures can carry the tale.

Kathy Halsey's Revelations of WOW's awesomeness:
  • From Kendra Marcus, a quote that left me gobsmacked. "Our job is to stretch the ears of the audience." Kendra said this while speaking about word choice, but stretching children's minds and hearts is why we write. Thank you, Kendra!
  • From one of my critique partners, Kathleen Birmingham, "Your strength is your voice." True d'at. We all need to find it and own it.
  • Candy Fleming had the best kickoff EVER. Your story is scenes and summaries. Find them, mark them up. And, if you have a chance to see Denise, do it.
  • Denise Fleming: 
  • You have an artist within you. Find it. Create a spread with section of your text. Dummy it; create it w/tissue paper and glue. It is a guide to your true story.
  • Come to WOW. Kristen Fulton has created an awesome cadre of talented writers/agents/editors who support each other.   
Editor/Agent table during Trivia Night

Leslie Colin Tribble WOW Words of Wisdom:
  • Candace Fleming did the Monday intensive, which alone was worth the price of the conference. She talked a lot about scenes to move the story forward and finding your "vital idea" or heart of the story. 
  • Laura Whitaker, editor, told us, "The most important thing is to stay true to your vision, so speak up."
  • Jill Corcoran, agent, "Passion is people who change the world."
  • Editor Emily Feinberg reminded us that we're storytellers first and foremost.

From the desk of: Sherri Jones Rivers
  • Candace Fleming: used a baking analogy. "With fiction, you can bake a cake that's yummy and use any ingredient you want. With nonfiction, you have to bake with ingredients that are already at hand; you have to use what's there."
  • "There are three voices--the author's, the manuscript's, and the character's."
  • "Scenes are made up of 1. Specific time, 2. Specific place, and 3. One change."
  • "In every single paragraph, put one of the five senses; and you can mix them--'the lion roared yellow.'"
  • Ariel Richardson on novelty books - "Study what's out there. Ask yourself if it's possible to do it. Does it stand out?"
  • Denise Fleming - "Any activity that enlarges a book helps sell it."
  • Laura Whitaker:  I learned the term "breaking the fourth wall." That's when narrator speaks to reader.
From the desk (really, it's just a laptop in a lap) of Patricia Toht
Nuggets from the Fleming non-sisters: 
  • "Every book is a learning curve, a discovery process." (Candace) 
  • "Sometimes the material will tell you how to write the story." (Candace) 
  • "Really great picture books have a heart to the story, a vital idea." (Candace) 
  • "Let the illustrator illustrate the adjectives. As a writer, you should focus on the verbs, the emotional feel." 
  • (Denise) "If your PB isn't hopping by page 10 (of your manuscript layout dummy), you're blabbing too much." (Candace) 
  • "Let go of your ego. Your illustrator can think of things you've never thought of." (Denise)
Evening campfire at beautiful Unicoi Lodge


  1. Hey GROGgers, great job in pulling this together in no time. I applaud us. *clapping loudly*

  2. Great recap! Nice to meet you all!

    1. Stacy, you rock it.And I love your mustache.

  3. Thanks for sharing for those of us who couldn't be there!

  4. What a great recap! Thanks for breaking it down for those of us that weren't there. Sure makes me want to be there next year!

    1. Verbenabeth, register now. It fills up fast.

  5. Great post and wonderful advice!

  6. great recap. like the Reader's Digest extremely condensed version of WOW... just enough to remind me to go back and read those notes. And enough to entice folks who didn't go this year to sign up for next year. A most "WOW" experience.

  7. Love this recap of the WOW experience! I could feel those vibrations of learning and testing the waters with our mss. You ladies rock!

    1. So do you, Charlotte. Keep finding those strong female characters.