This past Saturday, NJ-SCBWi hosted a “Free Craft Day” as part of their 2012 Fall Craft Weekend. The adage that you get what you pay for tends to hold true, but not this time! Saturday presented me with a full menu of networking opportunities and workshops as well as a chance to relax and enjoy catching up with writing friends.
The afternoon’s first event was an Industry Buzz panel, moderated by NJ-SCBWi’s new Regional Adviser, Leeza Hernandez. (Leeza and her compadres did a fantastic job putting the weekend together and following through, despite the havoc wreaked by Sandy. A big round of applause for a successful first event!) I chose to attend a workshop on creating tension within your work, presented by Sara Sargent of Balzer & Bray. I’ve heard Sara speak before, and this presentation was another helpful and enjoyable one. Got to love an editor who says it like it is! Not only did Sara delineate the types of tension and define how they affect your work, she gave exercises to help us build tension, answered many questions – both on and off-topic – and displayed a sharp wit.
My second workshop was a talk on marketing and social media presented by Kathy Temean. Kathy handed out “25 Ways to make Social media Work for You” and hosted a freewheeling discussion that ranged from beginning a blog to maximizing your Twitter audience, from help for newbies to advice for those who are well-grounded in their marketing plan. Her first and best pice of advice was decide why you are creating a social media presence and to develop a plan that follows that purpose. Based on her advice, you may see some changes coming soon to “Rear in Gear.”
The afternoon ended with an Agent Q&A graciously hosted by Ted Malawer of Upstart Crow Literary Agency and Rachel Orr of Prospect Agency. Both agents got right down to the nitty-gritty, answering questions and sharing their perspectives and advice. One question that came up concerned nonfiction and the Common Core Learning Standards. Rachel and Ted briefly gave the floor to an attending children’s librarian, and quite a discussion ensued on the place of educational standards and their effect on nonfiction and fiction. I’ll be posting more on that topic soon – from my multiple perspectives as a writer, librarian, and mom.
Some much-needed downtime followed, giving me a chance to chat with new friends and old, leading us into the networking dinner. Which wasn’t free – but given the afternoon’s excellent value, was well worth its fee. A chance to enjoy dinner with agents, editors, and fellow writers is always welcome. As I digest the day’s information, I’ll be posting more – and making use of the all the good advice and education I was given.
Given the time the day started, there was no actual lunch – but the snacks were yummy and the real meat of the day was, indeed, free. Kudos to Leeza, the wonderful presenters, and NJ-SCBWI!