I know, since I mostly went to YA workshops, my notes won't be 100% useful to everyone, but I think there's some good information that is also applicable to adult fiction/etc.
I will put them up in individual posts so no one is overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of my note-taking ways (7,629 words for 6 workshops...). I will try to get them all up tomorrow.
Please excuse any spelling/wording errors as I was typing pretty fast while trying to listen/absorb at the same time... you can give me points for enthusiasm, but probably not for 100% accuracy...
As for the conference? Well, yeah, it was awesome! A fabulous three days that was topped off on the final day by winning a pass to next year's conference... so, my plans for next year are already set :)
I had my agent pitch on Friday morning (no, not going to tell you her name/agency) where writers had 10 minutes to verbally pitch a *finished* project to either an editor or an agent. I was freaking nervous, but due to my... odd tendency to flip into power-extro-mode when I'm highly stressed, my pitch was over and done with in less than 3 minutes. Then we spent the rest of the time talking about sports, the west coast, and other things, including her completely kick-ass shade of neon-green nail polish (I WANT some for when I go down for the Seahawks game in a few weeks!!!)
If you're curious, this is the pitch I boiled down, and thankfully didn't stumble over (too much):
There are rules when you ride shotgun because the driver holds all power and responsibility, but after a bet goes wrong, a boy ends up dead, and the corpse is stashed in their trunk for disposal, two teens must reevaluate the rules of their relationship, and ultimately when to break them.
The twist is that the main character remains completely anonymous, as in, no name, and no defined gender.
To me, that kind of agent pitch was the perfect way to start off my first conference... It helped me relax and really hammered home that everyone there was passionate about writing. Probably, that is what spurred me on to talk to whoever I came across, sat with, or bumped into in the hallways. I haven't nerded-out about books like that since I was last in Victoria (almost a year ago!) with my writing group there... and it's something I am sorely missing.
I am very thankful to that agent :) I may not have had such a great conference experience if it hadn't started out in that way.
My Blue Pencil session was Saturday morning, and by sheer coincidence, the author who looked over the first 3 pages of 'The Rules of Riding Shotgun' knew the agent I pitched to... like, really well. I honestly had no idea... but that was kindof cool, and since I love the author's books, it was doubly cool how nice and friendly she was... and the fact that she laughed at the line on my first page about the shopping cart full of Depends ;) Yeah, that made me feel good ;)
Something I wasn't planning on doing, but ended up 'winging it', was pitching my 'pitch' in one of the workshops (after my agent pitch session) and getting feedback from the presenter and the other audience members, then I also did it with my query.
Both of those were more nerve-wracking then the agent pitch! ...probably because there were, like, 40-50 people in the room both times, but I'm glad I did them as I got some excellent feedback on my query (the IMPOSSIBLY annoying one that was insanely difficult to get into 3rd POV), which I'm going to update on my 'What I'm Writing' Page. It isn't too different, but there are a couple of significant changes that help make it a lot clearer, so that was awesome.
Someone even gave me the name of an author who has also written a gender-ambiguous character, so I'm going to have to check that out :) It's adult fiction though, not YA.
The only disappointment I had about the entire conference, is that I didn't know you could sign up for multiple pitch/Blue Pencil appointments if there were free slots... and only found out on the last day when it was too late. I have no idea how I missed that... but I totally would have taken advantage of as much feedback as possible.
Oddly enough, there was one off-handish comment in a workshop that made me completely re-evaluate a sequence of several scenes in 'The Rules of Riding Shotgun'. Guess you never know when something small you hear will make a big difference :)