Sunday, March 20, 2011

Big Sur Fiction Writing Workshop March 2011

I'm feeling energized and inspired after attending the Big Sur Fiction Writing Workshop in Seaside/Monterey, California on March 4 - 6. The workshop is offered twice a year by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency in conjunction with the Henry Miller Library.

My husband came along, too. Even though he's not a writer, he was able to join me for all the meals and cocktail parties. What a blast! He even fessed up to having fun himself and got in some much needed nap time. The lazy bum. I absolutely LOVE meeting and getting to know new people. These types of events nurture my social butterfly side. I'm still pumped!

This is one of the best investments I've made in my writing thus far and my twelfth conference. If you're looking for constructive and useful feedback on your manuscripts, a big helping of encouragement, and networking with new friends, this workshop is for you! Here's the scoop:

Panels. The weekend consisted of three agent, editor, and author panels. They shared the latest trends in publishing, their pet peeves, what types of manuscripts they are wanting, and the books they've published. One surprising tidbit Andrea Brown shared is that most of their sales from last year came from picture books even though the market has been soft for these books. She said that Good Night Moon would not sell in today's market as kids of the 21st century are more sophisticated and savvy readers.

Critique groups. Writers were split into two critique groups each depending on genre. The groups consisted of four to five peers and were facilitated by one of the faculty members. I loved both of my critique groups. Our leaders did a fantastic job! One group bonded so well we were sad when the workshop ended. I'm thankful for email and facebook. So happy to keep in touch with many new amazingly talented writing buddies!

Time to revise. After the first critique groups, we were given several hours to revise before we immersed ourselves in the second and final critiques. Because of the excellent feedback from my groups and the short stint of time (I'm a deadline oriented person) I was able to revise several manuscripts for the better. Now that I'm at home, I'll be revising and revising and REVISING some more. One published picture book author told us she revised a picture book manuscript 200 times before she finally got it right. FOR REAL.

Private query critique from a faculty member. Query writing is tough. My private meeting with a fabulous agent allowed me to get some valuable feedback on my query and manuscripts. It was an incredibly positive experience.

Meeting agents. Attending Big Sur gave me the opportunity to meet and hear several agents speak. It was great getting a sense of their personalities and what types of works they're looking for--so different than looking at their bios online. I now know of one agent I'll be sending my work to in the future. To me it's important meeting agents in person to see if there is a potential connection.

The deciding factor. If you're a writer with a few children's manuscripts and are on the fence about whether this genre is for you, the workshop could help you decide. Andrea Brown said that a previous participant told her that they will stick with adult writing after attending. Writing for children is difficult work and NOT for the faint of heart.

Intensity. The workshop was intense. It was basically a boot camp for children's writers from picture books to young adult. Only serious writers should apply. You will need lots of sleep when you get home and perhaps a massage.

Want to know more? You should consider attending. I plan to return someday soon. If you go, look for the bleary-eyed one. Hope to see you there!


  1. Sounds like a wonderful experience, Kim. Glad you got to go.

  2. Great post, Kim, and it was great meeting you there.

  3. Thanks, Cynthia. Fabulous meeting you! Hope you are getting lots of writing done.

  4. It sounds awesome. I'm glad you got to go--hope I can too, sometime!