On July 16, I headed to my alma mater, Dominican University, for the SCBWI Summer Conference. Despite some new buildings and physical reorganization, much of the campus remained the same, and it was wonderful to take a walk through memory lane on Dominican's bucolic grounds. I could only attend one day of this three day conference and retreat, but it was great to re-c0nnect with writing friends, Eve Aldridge, Andrea McAfee, Pat Khan, Louise Hendrikson, and others.
The two speakers, agent Jill Corcoran from the Herman Agency and Martha Alderson, author of Blockbuster Plots, were informative and enlightening. Jill spoke on the do's and don'ts of queries and synopses and the power of Voice. Martha presented her famous breakdown of effective plotting.
Lunch in Calaruega Dining Hall also brought back memories of my college days. I wish I had both the time and the money to have stayed the whole weekend, but my girls had a horse show presentation on July 17 that I didn't want to miss.
At the end of the day, I received my manuscript critique from Jill Corcoran. On the whole, it was very positive and encouraging. She thought the manuscript sample I submitted was beautifully written, but slow from pages 3 - 10 and suggested I re-work the pacing. She was interested enough in the story that she asked to see the full manuscript when it was done, and gave me her business card. Being the slow writer that I am, I'm really going to have to work hard on establishing a routine of writing a certain amount of pages or words a day to complete the manuscript, even as I'm focusing on my biography of Cixi, the last Empress of China, for Goosebottom books. That manuscript is due on October 1!