Tantalizing Tidbits from the Feast

Our Western Washington SCBWI conference is two weeks in the past now, and still some of the wonderful snippets of wisdom and tantalizing tips stick in my mind, and continue to to nourish me.

I’ll not forget Nina Laden (ROMEOW AND DROOLIET) reminding us, “If you don’t make mistakes, you may not make anything.”

And Deb Lund (MONSTERS ON MACHINES) reading her unforgettable poem about that inner voice that harasses us as we write, and summing it up by telling us, “Sometimes we have to revise our own story, that story we tell ourselves.”

Krista Marino, Senior Editor at Delacorte, reminded us to take cute out of our dictionary, when talking about children’s books.

Nathan Bransford (Agent, Curtis Brown Ltd.) gave us his pet peeves for story beginnings: Don’t start your book with

  • the weather
  • your character waking up
  • looking in the mirror
  • sarcastic characters (too flip and negative)

Steven Malk (Agent, Writer’s House) says it’s great to be aware of trends, but don’t write to them.
He also advised us to be nice to everyone, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because you never know when that editorial assistant may become the Senior Editor.

Kelly Sonnack (Agent, Andrea Brown Literary) told us to avoid

  • forced pace-building (suddenly, quickly, at that moment)
  • copious tears (only one tear per story)
  • faces draining white or blushing
  • exclamation points!

Justina Chen (NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL) encouraged us to “say yes to the emotional truths of your heart.”

And Sundee Frazier (BRENDAN BUCKLEY’S UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING IN IT) told us she has to write, that she cannot deny that creative part of her being. “I could not deny the One who created me.”

I’ve offered just a few nibbles of that wonderful feast that was spread before us at our unforgettable Feed Your Genius conference. Now fully fueled, it’s back to work. Happy writing, everyone!

Picture above: Some of my favorite people in the whole world–Molly Blaisdell, Janet Lee Carey, me, Katherine Grace Bond, Holly Cupala, all members of our Diviner Writing Group, all of us enjoying the Conference Feast


  • So delightful to see your shining face around the conference. What a gem you are for our little circle and for so many starting out on this path. Keep up the good work -- writing, teaching, sharing...
  • What wonderful sharing. You obviously touch so many lives in a positive way, and I'm your newest fan. :)

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