Friday, January 30, 2009

Writer's Intensive Groups at SCBWI Conference

Today was interesting. Very, very interesting. The Grand Hyatt is a gorgeous hotel - lobby fits the name...grand in every way. There's a flippin' waterfall - a gigantic waterfall in the lobby.

To stay in stride with the swank of the hotel I decided to start my day with room service. I paid $9.00 for a small pot of coffee and $15.00 for a yogurt parfait for one. But it was a delicious $15.00 yogurt parfait.

Filled with my $24.00 breakfast, I headed downstairs for my first Intensive Critique Group. My nerves kicked in on the elevator ride down and I almost lost my $24.00 breakfast.

My worry and doubt were for naught. Got REALLY POSITIVE feedback from my a.m. critique group and the lovely Harper Collins editor. Like super, really good feedback.
Here's some of what I heard:
- I'm already rooting for your main character. I love how you show her flaws right away.
- Very tight writing. I have no style issues at all.
- I really like your sensory details.
- This reads very well...you have a nice rhythm.

The woman next to me, who flew in from Switzerland, leaned in and whispered, "Kate, this is really good. Really good." I'm pretty sure I smiled like lunatic.

The woman on the other side of me flew in FROM HAWAII!!! And the girl across from me flew in from Atlanta and the guy across from me flew in from Canada. Unbelievable.

I was lucky enough to sit with a very thoughtful and intelligent group of writers. They thought so deeply about my first 500 words and seemed to genuinely connect with the writing as well as give me some things to think about. Great, great, great experience.

Ended up jumping in with a group of fellow writers for lunch. Far more reasonable prices at the restaurant. Great conversation about books we've read and agents and query letters and what we write.

My p.m. critique group - whole new set of writers and new editor as well. I had decided way back that I would bring a different set of 500 words, from much later in my book. I wish I hadn't done that. I wish I had let the second group of writers look at the same opening 500 words - just to compare the feedback and the thinking. Oh well. The problem I faced with the action scene I chose was, no one knew who the heck the characters were or anything about the plot. I sorta dumped them smack into an insane moment from the book. Live and learn.

The feedback I got from the p.m. group was really them asking for clarification of what the hell was going on. My dumb fault. They liked my style and my pacing though.

Looking forward to tomorrow. It is filled with breakout sessions and speakers. The experience has been really cool so far...

p.s. met Prince Balthazar in person. He is one cool guy.