Monday, March 7, 2011

I Hath Survived

So, last weekend I went to the Andrea Brown Literary Agency's Big Sur Workshop. Here is my brain right now:

I don't even know where to begin. It was such an intense weekend that this morning I feel almost hung over. I need to detox all the caffeine and adrenaline out of my system. When we first gathered on Friday, Andrea told us that by Sunday we would be exhausted, and I scoffed. Then I got on the roller coaster. Doing four long critique sessions in 48 hours leaves you raw and bruised, but also a wiser and more self-aware writer.


  • Andrea Brown's comparison of a query to the perfect skirt: "Long enough to cover everything, but short enough to be exciting."
  • Getting critiques and feedback from two of the amazing agents of ABLA. 
  • Henry Miller Library Director Magnus Toren singing us the haunting "Ballad of the South Coast," which you can listen to here.
  • Hearing author Ellen Hopkins' firsthand account of censorship and how her being uninvited from a book festival last summer ended up causing the entire festival to be cancelled. 
  • Great Q&A panels with children's book editors and agents.
  • Meeting lots of inspiring writers and making some awesome new friends.

This really was a boot camp, and to get the most out of it, you need to have a thick enough skin to weather some strong feedback. This workshop is intended to encourage, not discourage its attendees from being writers, and the critiques are fantastic learning experiences. The next workshop is in December, and I highly recommend it. If you're interested in going but have questions, please feel free to contact me!


  1. AW, writerly boot camp. Can be so worth it! Wish I could go!

  2. Wow, that sounds like an amazing experience! And talk about the best people in the business to get advice from! I'd love to try one of these someday.

  3. Welcome back. Glad you took a lot away from it. :)

  4. Yay! I'm so glad you got a lot out of it!

  5. Sounds like it was wonderful. That's a great agency filled with quite a few skilled agents! I wish I could have gone. Waaah!

  6. Oh wow! I would have loved to hear Ellen Hopkins talk about all the SPEAK backlash. Conferences and workshops are just wonderful, aren't they?

  7. I love Andrea Brown's quote on the query letter! This sounds like such an awesome workshop.

  8. Yeah! What you said!

    Seriously, I can't even begin to sit down and write my Big Sur blog post yet. It was taking a fabulous sip from a fire hose. So glad I got to meet you (technically after the conference ended). :)

  9. That's an awesome expression, Karen--cracked me up! I'm glad I got to meet you too :)

    Thanks everyone for your comments! My head is still swirling...