Friday, May 4, 2012

Highlights Fantasy Reunion Day 6

Well, we had the storm of all storms last night and I was honestly surprised my cabin was still standing this morning.  Lightning knocked out our internet, too, but now it is finally up and running again!

Today we had a special guest for our workshop: agent Tina Wexler.  Tina is an agent with ICM and represents books for both children and adults.  (She also represents our awesome workshop mentor, Anne Ursu.)  Tina loves Middle Grade and Young Adult lit, and told us she has a particular fondness for magic realism and novels in verse.  (You can read more about her on Literary Rambles here.)  We were lucky enough to meet with her for one-on-one chats, as well as a group Q&A session.

Tina first spoke a little bit about the market and what publishing houses currently want to see.  She said good Middle Grade books are always in demand, and Sci-Fi is gaining steam.  (She reminded us it's important to avoid writing to trends, though, since it's easy to miss the boat.)  She also said High Fantasy is always in style, but it's helpful to have a contemporary voice that today's teens can relate to.

Tina offered us some advice, too, since many writers in our group are in that dreaded query stage.  She said to be sure to make queries clear and short, and to not give an agent any easy reason to say, "No!"  Politeness and good research are key as well since no one likes to receive a letter that is rude or irrelevant.  A new piece of advice she had to offer was to prepare multiple queries and pitches.  By doing this, you can tailor your story to appeal to a wider array of agents and preferences.  For instance, if you are writing an animal story about friendship, you can entice agents who love animals OR agents who like friendship stories depending on how you pitch your project.  And ultimately, this can gain you more requests for pages and full manuscripts!  Hooray!  (Tina said you should still be truthful, though, because an agent will figure out if you lied once they read your pages.  And nobody wants that...)

Even more fun than listening to Tina's words of wisdom was just getting to hang out with a real-life agent.  Agents are not one bit frightening once you see them up close and realize how friendly and funny they are.  We had a blast listening to her many stories and laughed like we were all old friends.  

Messy plate, yummy food!

It was so wonderful having Tina for our workshop, and we got to enjoy all our meals with her, too!  Today's breakfast was a spinach and egg bake, sausage, and rhubarb coffee cake.  Lunch was minestrone soup with citrus salad, bread, and homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Our evening appetizers included spanakopita and wonderful tortilla-bacon-layered thingies.  And dinner was savory beef stew with homemade bread, dill-cucumber salad, and caramel brownie parfaits for dessert.  YUM!

Let's hope we don't get hit by another torrential storm tonight...     

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