I’ve attended five writers’ conferences in my relatively short writing career. My first, the 2010 Willamette Writers Conference, was a great learning experience. I attended three days of wall-to-wall workshops, and came home filled with ideas and inspiration. My second, the 2012 WWC, was all about pitching. I pitched four agents and two editors, and received four requests for book proposals. I also received four rejections.
My third and fourth conferences were the 2013 and 2014 Faith and Culture Writers Conferences. These were both great experiences as well. They were smaller and had a very different vibe due to a shared Christian faith. I pitched at both and got positive responses. More requests for proposals and more rejections.
My manuscript was too religious for the big houses and agencies represented at the Willamette Writers Conferences and too secular for the Christian market represented by the agents and editors at the Faith and Culture Conferences. I learned a lot from the experiences, but neither crowd was quite right for me.
It would take a new project and a new conference for me to find my tribe.
Last weekend, I attended the Oregon Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference in Wilsonville, Oregon (just outside Portland). I brought along the first ten pages of Adventure Anna Saves the Day, and my elevator pitch for the series as a whole. I received a very enthusiastic response and learned a lot about a new genre for me.
A genre that feels like home and writers that feel like my tribe.
So now it’s back to work. I’m revising my manuscripts and will be sending the first one (Saves the Day) out this summer. I’ll also be shifting the focus of this site to my chapter book series and other projects that are bouncing around in my head.
An idea for a realistic middle-grade novel.
Another idea for a historical urban fantasy that might work as a YA book.
And a work of literary fiction that could be my stab at (drum roll, please) “The Great American Novel.”
That last one is probably wishful thinking. But fiction definitely fits me better, and with Anna (and my own childhood) as a continuing inspiration, “kid lit” may just be my niche.
And my tribe.