Saturday started with what was, in my humble opinion, the best activity I've ever attended at a conference. It was called Buttonhole the Experts, which did lead to some snickering, but whatever.
There were eight-person tables filling the Assembly Hall, and each person had an expert with a topic to discuss: Social Media, Revisions, Comedy, Queries, Picture Books, and more. You sat at a table, spent twenty minutes having a small-group conversation, and then the bell rang and you moved to a different table.
I sat with Janet Reid for her table on queries (and also to introduce myself, since I've been a long-time blog reader, and to ask about Felix J. Buttonweezer); with Martha Brockenbrough for her table on comedy, where we took a deep dive into different issues each of us were having and Martha gave suggestions on how to tackle them; with Brooks Sherman, to discuss social media (and also pitching horror stories); and then with Nicole Sohl, to discuss the role of an editor and how subrights work.
Next was Christa Desir's workshop on Sex in YA literature. I think the biggest takeaway from that was that, even if your character is not having sex, they are developmentally at the stage where they are forming their opinions on the matter. It's something they're very aware of, even if they avoid it.
I checked out the Thai restaurant in town for lunch, got Spicy Thai Basil Fried Rice to go, and hung out with some friends I had made the first day of conference.
After lunch, I attended Christa's second workshop of the day, a look at the world of gay romance. Christa works as an editor at Samhain Publishing, and she mostly examined the adult side of gay romance, though she did mention YA a couple times, including a shout out to ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE, which is of course an excellent book.
I had no idea that straight women were the number one consumers of gay romance. Who knew?
Next was the Agent/Author Relationship workshop. Christa Heschke and Annie Sullivan were on hand, along with Brooks Sherman and his clients Heidi Schulz and Sarah Cannon. It was enlightening and extremely amusing as well.
I had a critique in the afternoon. It was excellent. More than excellent. I don't want to say too much, as I don't really like sharing specifics about my writing (especially work in progress) on the blog, but it was truly helpful. I got some great insights and help articulating things that I had been struggling with.
After that was the Writerly Resources Panel, with Janet Reid, Jane Friedman, and Dana Kaye. They answered questions about publicity, promotion, how to have a career as an author, and more.
And then, it was time for dinner and the closing keynote speech. I had the fortune and pleasure of sitting with some of the faculty at dinner (though I will refrain from naming names to protect their privacy), discussing life outside of writing and interacting as normal human beings.
Then it was time for Janet Reid's keynote address. I hope that some day a transcript will become available, because it was one of the best speeches I've ever heard: funny and heartfelt and truly inspiring. The main point of it was that if you take risks, believe in yourself, and be willing to try (even if you fail), you will grow and eventually you will succeed. And sometimes you will find yourself holding a boa constrictor and using your body heat to warm it up.
Then it was time to go and sleep. There was a Dairy Queen down the block from my hotel, and despite my attempts to resist, I ended up getting a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard and curling up with a book in my hotel room.
I drove home the next day, listening to the four short DIVERGENT stories about Four. Um, I hope that sentence made sense.
I was also very sad that I got a chip in my windshield on the drive.
As you will.
Still, Midwest Writers Workshop was amazing, and I hope I can go again next year. I learned so much and had a great time.