Penelope (the parrot) squawked, ‘I’ll do it because I want to but not because you tell me to!’ Mary was certainly surprised at that because she thought that she had made up that brilliant remark.
A couple weeks ago, I got to attend WriteOnCon, an online conference specifically for writers of children’s books, middle grade, and young adult. Was it Amazing? Yes. Why? I’m glad you asked. Here is a Top 5 Countdown of my favorite takeaways from the event. I hope you’ll learn from my experience, and maybe even mark your calendar to join me next year.
Events for writers are a lot of fun. I’ve been to a few conferences, participate in NaNoWriMo with regularity, go hang out with a small group of writing friends once a month, stalk writerly accounts on social media, and live with a writer/author who lets me steal books from her organized-by-rainbow-order bookshelf whenever I want (yes, I consider this an event). But I’m probably the most excited about a new conference I’ll be attending this year called WriteOnCon. Why?
- This event is actually for ME! All of the conferences I’ve ever attended have been for writers of “grown up books”, where if someone asks a question regarding YA or younger audiences, they get a glazed look and a wishy-washy non-answer. And while I strongly believe that good writing advice can be applied to any genre, I’m VERY excited that WriteOnCon is a conference for writers of children’s books, middle grade, and young adult. I’m guaranteed that the advice is coming from people who know what they’re talking about, and that it will directly apply to my own writing and future publishing goals.
- I get to stay home! Much as I love to pull out my minty combat boots and tuck a formal turban, it’ll be a relief for this introvert to stick to pajama pants while rubbing elbows with professionals and peers this time around. That’s right, it’s an online conference.
- I can afford to pay for my own ticket! I’ve had to be the tag-along, plus-one, and unofficial sherpa for most of my conference attendances, but because this is an online ordeal, the cost per head is a lot cheaper. A LOT cheaper. Like, I can afford to buy Starbucks with the change, a LOT cheaper.
- I’m a little starstruck! Don’t let the price tag fool you. There are some seriously quality speakers showing up at this thing. Just check out this lineup… Jess Keating, Margaret Dilloway, Melanie Conklin, Cindy Baldwin, and Gail Carson Levine? I’m in.
Have I convinced you? Well, you’re just in time! The conference runs from this Friday, February 9 through Sunday, February 11. There’s a fantastic article on the WriteOnCon website about how you can get the most out of this online conference (right here), and registration starts at just $5.
Busy that weekend? Extended admission is available if you need a little extra time to peruse, re-watch, read up, and soak in all that information.
Planning to go? Let me know! I’d love to meet fellow readers and writers of middle grade.
It’s not a good story until you’ve introduced the dragon. Or dragons. Here are a few recently devoured books that have a dragon on the cover. Recognize any of them?
Question of the Day: What dragon-centric stories would you recommend?
I may not have completed my Goodreads goal of 50 titles this year, but I did a decent job with just under 35 books, mostly from the Middle Grade shelf. I won’t bore you with copy/pasted summaries of every book I read (you can hit up my Reading Challenge page for that if you like, though) but I will share some of my highlights.
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
“For a Hero cannot triumph all the time. Sometimes he will be defeated, and how he faces that defeat is a test of his character.”
I finally completed the How to Train Your Dragon series this year. What starts out as a short and silly lower Middle Grade series quickly becomes a fast-paced adventure with a hero who can’t seem to do anything right, a naughty little dragon, and a tribe of Hooligans that will keep even the most reluctant reader turning pages eagerly. My favorite detail is the abundance of illustrations that decorate nearly every page. They’re informal, sketchy, and perfect for setting off a child’s imagination. Just be prepared for a little dragon dung humor in the first couple of books.
“They say that to live in the Wilds, you have to be half-wild yourself. Or at least very brave. And Zane is both.”
—Byways Book 6: Into the Hills by C. J. Milbrandt
I have a weakness for books with pretty covers. And books with pretty illustrations. The Byways Books have really cool illustrations of some of the details from the story scattered inside. My favorites are ones with magical creatures or cute animals inside. That’s probably why Book 6 is my favorite (so far)!
What book is currently your favorite for the illustrations alone?
Of course the reason that all the children in our town like Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is because Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle likes children, she enjoys talking to them and best of all they do not irritate her.
–Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald