I finally attended my first SCBWI.
I awoke at an hour I thought I'd escaped when my youngest started sleeping through the night .... and drove to Scottsdale.
It was everything I'd hoped for. Nice people, smart and funny faculty, and I learned things -- lots of great things.
For example, here's something interesting: when you're querying, even if you've never been published, you should be clear that you're querying your 2nd (or 3rd or 4th or whatever) novel. According to John Cusick of Greenhouse Literary, this way an agent can see that you're working on your craft -- especially if you're querying the same agents. And querying the same agents, he says -- even if they've declined your projects in the past -- is a good thing to do, because it shows you're actually interested in working with those agents.
Yay! Because I was under the impression that since I've never been published, I had to query each novel as my "first" -- even though I'm actually about to start querying my 3rd.
And I was delighted to hear that querying the same agents is ok too. I researched carefully but did not query my entire list with my first novel. I'm a fan of querying in small batches so I can see whether what I'm throwing against the wall will stick. Obviously my first novel needed work, which is why it garnered NO interest and why it is now in the TO BE REVISED pile.
I was sad when I thought I'd no longer be able to try again with the agents I'd already queried, even though I think my second novel is better, and am hoping my third will be even closer to good.
Another glad tiding: it's ok to get dark with #MG. I've torn apart my current ms because I was afraid I had written too scary. In spite of the likes of Garth Nix and Neil Gaiman, I wondered whether a new author could really get away with don't-turn-out-the-lights stuff.
According to both Jaida Temperly of New Leaf Literary and Alison Weiss of Egmont USA, it's ok. Those of us writing scary and dark -- for Upper MG at least -- are ok. As long as it's good writing, of course.
Anyone else out there writing scary right now?