First weekend in December, I headed to Big Sur, CA for a writing conference sponsored by Andrea Brown Literary Agency (agent Jen Rofe is an ABLA girl and by extension so am I) and the Henry Miller Library, which is right down the road from the Big Sur Lodge.
It was an amazing and productive weekend. If you have a chance, you must, must go. One person described it like writing camp and I think that's a good way of putting it. I had never been to Big Sur. Flew into San Jose and then drove the Hwy 1 down the coast through Monterey and Carmel and then on to Big Sur. The beauty of the drive and the Pacific is unsurpassed. The picture below is me at the famous Big Sur restaurant, Nepenthe, which has one of the best views in the US. I could have sat at their fire pit with some cocktails for hours. But I settled for lunch. And then a drive down to Paso Robles to visit family after the conference.
The conference itself includes the usual panels about editorial and agenty things. But the best part -- besides the camaraderie-- are the critique groups. You're placed in two critique groups. Each one has only four or five writers and one leader. Each group met twice for two -hour sessions. We had lots of work time on our own, as well. And because Big Sur is so isolated internet and phone are spotty. So you just dig in and write. Heaven! I was delighted to be in Chronicle editor Melissa Manlove's group and honored to get to work in my other group with the fabulous Ellen Hopkins. I left at the end of the weekend feeling confident that the book I was working on-- a project that I'm re-writing with a different POV-- is going in the right direction. Also had a terrific roommate, writer/blogger Emily Prusso, who blogs about writing stuff here: http://emilysyellowwallpaper.blogspot.com/ . Remember that name. You're going to see a book on a shelf by her sooner rather than later!
This past weekend took me back to Houston's Blue Willow Bookshop where I attended the launch party for fellow YAHouston writer Mary Lindsey, whose debut paranormal, Shattered Souls is out now. Lots of cheers and tears and smiles as Mary talked about her journey to publication, showed us the progression of cover art that ended up with the wonderful final cover, and took us through her revision process with her editor at Philomel, who definitely handed Mary a steep learning curve with an initial 14 page edit letter!
Lots more to come as the year turns to 2012. Cover art is brewing for Anastasia Forever. I'll be headed up to ALA Midwinter in Dallas with the folks at Soho as they begin promoting the new Soho Teen Imprint and the first five novels, including The Sweet Dead Life, by yours truly. If you haven't checked out the Soho Teen Sampler yet, to get a taste of what's to come, go on over to www.sohoteen.com and click on the Sampler. I think you'll like what you find. I'm totally in love with this project and this new line and I can hardly wait for everyone to get to read!
More soon! Check out yesterday's holiday movie post and win an autographed copy of HAUNTED.