Writing & Illustrating for Young Readers Conference

     For the past week I have been attending the Writing & Illustrating for Young Readers (WIFYR) Conference. It was held at The Waterford School campus in Sandy, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City. What a great experience this turned out to be...again.

      I found out about last year's conference when I went shopping for books at The King's English Bookshop. I thoroughly enjoyed the 2011 conference. The highlights for me were the presentations by authors Brandon Mull (Fablehaven series, The Candy Shop War, Pingo, and Beyonders series) and Ally Condie (Matched, Crossed, and soon to be released, Reached). I knew that the information that I gleaned would be very beneficial to me as a writer, and I found it extremely satisfying to be in the same location as so many successful authors, plus two editors and one agent ... from New York City!

     This year I was on their radar and received emails about the dates for the 2012 conference. Of course I signed up! I'm so glad that I participated this year. Guess what? The most important thing I learned was...I have to write my own synopsis of my book! For some unfathomable reason I was under the impression that the "professional people" would be writing that. Nope! It's all on my shoulders and there's no time to waste. So...feeling the pressure to write something productive this very morning, I sat down at the computer and...Wa La! I have a first draft of my synopsis. Yea me! Woo hoo! Patting myself on the back...because, man was that hard! Okay, writing two to three pages may not sound challenging, but when you are taking about 390 pages and summarizing it into said two to three pages, it becomes a monumental task! My synopsis first draft is three pages plus one paragraph. So...the next step is to revise and edit the synopsis. Wish me luck!

     Getting back to this year's awesome conference, I thought there were some great instructors/workshop presenters. I learned a lot from the following individuals: Carol Lynch Williams, Matt Kirby, Tim-Wynne-Jones, Trudy Harris, Elissa Cruz, Cynthia Leitich-Smith, Greg Leitich-Smith, Mette Ivie Harrison, and Ann Cannon. The presentations by editors Alexandra Penfold and Ruth Katcher, and agent John Cusick, were so insightful and interesting. My favorite sessions were the panels of 3-4 people for question/answer time. It was great to hear about their experiences working in the writing and publishing industry. I still have one question: What happened to no-show Brandon Mull? I was looking forward to his presentation, and we waited...and waited...and no Brandon! So the powers in charge (Carol Lynch Williams) found three authors plus the conference Keynote speaker and assembled an impromptu panel. Very cool and a great save! By the way, the Keynote speaker was Trent Reedy. Trent did a fantastic job and received a standing ovation at the end. I will definitely need to read one of his books! All in all it was a great conference. And another wonderful element of the writing conference...I will get USOE (Utah State Office of Education) continuing education credit for attending!

     So...will I be attending the conference in 2013? You bet! Do I recommend the conference to other aspiring writers/authors? You bet! Thanks go out to the organizers of the conference...you did a fantastic job! See you next year :)

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