Monday, April 11, 2011

What I Learned at the RT Booklovers Convention

Tera Lyn Childs, Demetra Brodsky, Sophie Jordan
At the RT Booklovers Convention on Friday, I had the opportunity to interact with some of the best young adult authors in the industry. Sitting in and participating with panel members that consisted of Authors, Literary Agents and Editors opened my eyes to the world of publishing. Below is the list of panels I attended and my major takeaway point from each. I hope you find some inspiration for yourself in what I learned.

Panelists: Sarah Rees Brennan, Kimberly Derting, Jackie Morse Kessler and Moderator: Young Adult Author, Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Major Takeaway: You can pretty much say and do anything in YA if you can take the heat. Many young adult authors are questioned for their choice of language (even though teens do, indeed, curse), and for the level of sexual content (even though teens do, indeed, you know...) Critics run the full range in YA, as does the audience. Almost all of the authors said their readership was 50% teens and 50% adult. It was a pretty even split when I posed the question "Do you think YA books should have the age appropriate level on the back? For example YA age 14+. Some authors, mostly those that had teens at home thought it was a good idea, while others thought it should be left to the parents. What do you think?

Panelists: Merrilee Heifetz (VP Writers House), Anne Hoppe (Harper Collins Executive Editor), Valerie Vaugh (Producer, Wild West Picture Show Productions), Sally Willcox (Film agent CAA), Moderator: Young Adult Author, Ally Carter

Major Takeaway: Many Young Adult novels are being "optioned for film" right now. However, the number of books optioned that make it all the way to the big screen is very slim. It is a lengthy process, not a get rich quick scenario. So focus on writing a great book and worry about films when you have time (ha!)

Panelists: Jan Burke, D.P. Lyle, Stephen Jay Schwartz, Alexandra Sokoloff, Moderator: Allison Brennan

Major Takeaway: I went to this panel on a whim, looking for something outside my genre. And boy did I get it. What a great group. My most memorable takeaway came from D.P. Lyle who said:
"On your way home today, go into three places you've never been, stay for 90 seconds and go back out to your car and write down the three things you remember!" WOW! You mean, you can't get it all from google.

Stephen Jay Schwartz backed up this information by confirming how often he's ridden along with police squads, visited mortuaries, and most importantly, went into The Cable Car Museum that he could have researched online. But that wouldn't have flooded his senses with repetitive (dugga dugga, dugga dugga, as he put it) sound of engines in the museum, which would be annoying while trying to investigate a crime scene! Great advice.

Oh Yeah, and...corpses don't bleed. That's a big one!

CRAFT: SURVIVING EDITS & REVISIONS (with only a few tears)
Panelists: Stacey Kade, Linnea Sinclair

Major Takeaway: 
First, let me say that Linnea Sinclair is one of the most forthcoming and honest writers in the business. She showed the group pages of manuscript edits from her own book that came via her editor. That big blue X through an entire happens. With tears, I'm sure. But, taking 24-hours to think and look at the edits constructively is a great place to start. We're all attached to our work, but the editors job is to take it from good to great. She also gave out a little secret weapon to each author in the group. But I can't tell you what it is. It wouldn't be a secret then, would it? Suffice it to say, it's liquid and relaxing. : )
Linnea also teaches month long writing workshops at Saavyauthors. com

And last, but not least, I had the opportunity to hang with my friend Lani Woodland, the hardworking young adult author of INTRINSICAL. Who says you can't make real friends online?


  1. Liquid, relaxing, AND formerly found in a vineyard... ;-) Thanks so much for mentioning the workshop, and I'm tickled you had fun. And learned something! Hope to see you at RT Chicago next year. ~Linnea

  2. I had such a fun time hanging out with you! I'm glad we got to meet in person. :) We need to get together soon.

  3. Me too, Lani! I'm up for hanging out anytime. We can have a brainstorming session! Dr. Pepper for you, big coffee for me! ; )