I’m still pooped from this past weekend! It was long but oh-so-wonderful, between the Baltimore Book Festival and Just Write Conference at the Bel Air branch of the Harford County Library.
On Friday, the Baltimore Book Festival didn’t begin until 11:00, but I arrived at 9:00 to help Kathy MacMillan set up. (She wrote the upcoming Sword and Verse that’s already getting lots of great buzz!) This was the first time SCBWI MD/DE/WV had a table, so we were pretty excited. And major kudos to the organizers! They did an AMAZING job – there were workers with golf carts at the drop-off to help haul our stuff to the tables. Seriously easy.
We had a great location right across from the Enoch Pratt Library Children’s Stage … windy, but fantastic! Erin Hagar, author of Julia Child: An Extraordinary Life in Words and Pictures, was also there to lend a hand, as was nonfiction author, Karen Whiting.
The festival had started by the time we were done, but things were still a little slow and there weren’t any panels I had wanted to see yet. So I wandered around, checking out the many different booths and snooping at books for sale.
Since I still had mucho worko to do for my presentations on Sunday, I thought about heading out, but I really wanted to meet Ronald L. Smith. So instead, I treated myself to this seriously yummy Mediterranean chicken crepe and Peabody Heights Brewery beer. (It was sooooo good. Two big thumbs up!)
Oh, and that crab cake? Chef Zeus from the The Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore prepared fresh samples. Now, as a Maryland gal, I’m a bit of a crab cake snob … and it was truly one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Big chunks of crab without a lot of filling and crispy on the outside. #bestcrabcakeintown
I went to the Enoch Pratt Free Library Children’s Stage to hear Ronald discussing his debut novel, HOODOO, that I already gave a shout-out here! It was great to meet him and get a signed copy that’s now on my October to-read list.
After a quick goodbye to Amy Hansen, author of Bugs and Bugsicles, Kathy, and Laura Shovan, author of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, (not pictured) I headed back home to work on my presentations.
My signing time on Saturday was 3:00 to 7:00, so the plan was to finish work in the morning before back to the festival. Yeah. That didn’t exactly happen. Instead, I had a major migraine to deal with, so I didn’t go and missed my signing time. Bugger.
And then later on, that stupid headache had me tossing and turning all night long. So, I got zero sleep. Bigger bugger. My poor hubby woke at 5:00am to hear me whining, “I … sniff … didn’t sleep … choke, snort … at all … sniff … and I gotta give two presentations, TWO!?!”
But it’s cool, #suckitupbuttercup and all, so at 7:15, I made the 75 minute drive to Bel Air determined to be peppy and energetic, and coherent. (I pulled off peppy and energetic … but I’m not sure about coherent.)
Now, about the Just Write Conference. It was seriously fantastic and quite a local gem! The librarians did a great job keeping everything organized and they even wore these cute hats so attendees would know immediately who to go to for help. Very clever. They also had lots and lots of diverse presenters, ranging from kid lit authors, literary agents, memoir, mystery, and most-things-in-between writers.
My first presentation went pretty well. I spoke about the many past mistakes I’ve made throughout my writing career–I bared all, y’all–and ways to learn from them. It was nice how some attendees thanked me for my honesty later on and told me how they were inspired. Which, of course, totally made my day. Who needs sleep?
Afterwards, I went to Mary Amato’s excellent presentation about voice, which offered me great insight on how to improve a mid-grade story called HEROES, WISHES, AND TRAILER PARK HITCHES that I’ve been struggling with for some time. (Change the narrator, duh!) This is why I love conferences. I’ve been to a bazillion, but there’s always something to learn and you never know what can spark a solution.
I also bought a copy of GET HAPPY, that’s going on my October reading list as well!
I then did a panel along with Robert Bidinotto, Ramona DeFelice Long, and Jen Michalski. Have I ever mentioned how much I love doing panels? No preparation. No PowerPoint. No stress, just chatting and shooting from the hip. Love them, love them, love them.
Next up was lunch … oh my gosh, the chicken salad wrap was DIVINE … and some chatting with other authors. Even before meeting Marci Lynn Curtis, I know I’d like her from the awesome cover of THE ONE THING, her debut young adult novel. Pink and green, my two favorite colors? Yes, please!
I also got to meet Eric Smith, Associate Literary Agent at P.S. Literary and author of INKED. (Speaking of inked, the tattoos on his arms were cool. Staring at them would have been off-putting, however, so I got this selfie instead.)
Soon it was time for my second presentation: Plotting Your Novel – Where creativity merges with OCD. (And boy do I have a lot of OCD.)
I’ve presented on plot before, but after creating a killer novel template for Scrivener last spring, I decided to rework just about everything. There were times when I thought the material could have been shown in an easier, less complicated way, but I’m happy with how it turned out and I’d love to do it again with some tweaks.
My critique with a talented up-and-coming young adult author afterwards also went very well. Then after catching the tail end of Robert Bidinotto‘s marketing class, it was time to head home!
All in all, it was a truly excellent conference and quite a bargain considering the amount of great presenters they had. (Word is, they also had an agent listening to pitches on Saturday.) Fingers crossed they do another conference next year! I’ll be sure to give it a huge shout-out if they do.
Now. The drive home. That was NOT excellent.
My lack of sleep hit hard, so not even five minutes after arriving back home, I was in my pajamas and on the sofa for the rest of the night. On Monday, I was still zonked. By Tuesday, I was feeling somewhat back to normal but instead of working, I had a lovely day with Bob, putting back our basement that had flooded in July, now that the new carpet is finally installed. Oh my goodness, it looks so pretty! And today … I’ve been doing nothing but catching up, which includes writing this post!
Hope to see you at next year’s Baltimore Book Festival or Just Write Conference!