Spring Spirit 2017 Summaries

With an inspiring keynote by Grace Lin, professional head shots available for the first time, and a fantastic panel on diversity, 2017’s Spring Spirit was great. And that doesn’t even include all the other sessions, the networking, or the manuscript critiques that happened throughout the day. If you missed it, you missed a lot. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Below you can find summaries from volunteer members who attended each session and agreed to steward for the region. Thanks everyone!

And if you were at Spring Spirit, don’t forget to fill out the survey. USE THE LINK, not the email (or you’ll have to fill out the form twice—like me). The link will be live until April 17th.


Pitch Perfect: Finding Your Novel’s Voice with Peter Knapp by Martha Longshore

Peter Knapp acknowledged that voice is elusive if you come at it from every angle at once. He suggested that a character’s relationship to time is a useful angle for creating immediacy in your book and for developing voice. He also offered some questions to ask of your character, such as What future event is your character not prepared for? What does your character anticipate and what does he/she dread? What is your character proud of and what does he/she regret? What does your character think of as temporary and as permanent, and how is he/she right or wrong about those assumptions?


Exploring the Unexpected in Picture Books with Amy Fitzgerald by Shirley Espada-Richey

Amy encouraged us to avoid copying cool approaches you see others use. Instead, innovate with a purpose/goal, not just for the sake of being different. Think outside the box; there are stories, experiences and perspectives that are worth exploring, and be prepared to fail and try something else.


The Whole Submission Package: From Researching Agents to Signing With One with Beth Phelan by Sally Spratt

When submitting a query letter it’s important to establish your main character at the start.  State their goals, the escalating conflict, what’s pushing them.  Don’t give away the climax, you want to entice the agent or editor to read.


Public Speaking for the Introverted with Grace Lin by Joanna Rowland

She had us think about these questions:
What do you want to share about your work? and What does your audience want to hear? She told us to write like we’d talk for speeches: with short sentences, contractions, and small words. And, she told us to forget grammar. 😉
Also, she suggested using visuals like in a power point. She advised making sure our speech has a beginning hook, a middle and an end. And to make sure there’s an emotional arch and we tie it together at the end.
She suggested talking about your books in a way that no one else can.

Themes, Motifs, and Symbols: Enriching your Draft with Kate Sullivan by Suzi Guina
Kate gave writers tips on how to get to the emotional core of our stories using theme, symbolism, and motifs. One way to find the theme in our stories is to ask ourselves what our story is about, not plot-wise, but emotionally. And Kate reminded us that theme should be more than one word. Our theme wouldn’t be death, but it could be we can learn from death. Symbolism and motifs help distill our theme and enrich our stories.

An Editor and Art Director Panel with Amy Fitzgerald and Pamela Notarantonio by J.D. Silverwood

Amy Fitzgerald and Pamela Notarantonio shared the process from submission to publication, including: revisions, pagination, art direction, artist selection, revisions, final proofs, etc. The panel was open to audience participation in an open and honest discussion about what publishers are looking to buy.

An Agent Panel with Peter Knapp and Beth Phelan by Karen McCoy

The author/agent relationship can be built on many things, such as the way an author approaches craft, the agent’s strategy, and the way feedback is exchanged, but most importantly, it needs to rely on trust from both sides.

Finding the Heart in your Non-Fiction with Patricia Newman by Louis Arredondo

In the “Finding the Heart in your Non-Fiction” workshop, author Patricia Newman presented the awesome fact that nonfiction does not have to be dry and boring. Examples of her own exciting nonfiction writing include the now classic Plastic, Ahoy! and the recently published Sea Otter Heroes. Here are some of Patricia’s inspiring facts for nonfiction writers: We still try to put a lot of heart and feeling into nonfiction; stories that can still tug at the heart. Facts about things that matters; stories about people!



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