If You Missed CYA 2017, This is for You!

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It’s been two weeks since the CYA conference, but I am still buzzing, and the inspiration and creativity it sparked in me has not died down at all.

If you missed CYA this year or attended different sessions, here are some of my conference gems and learnings. I hope they help in your writing journey and inspire you to check out CYA next year...

Education verses Trade? Which one should you aim for? - Pamela Rushby

Pamela Rushby gave us a fantastic overview of education publishing and some of the common misconceptions about the industry.

Pamela told us:

  • Educational publishing includes fiction and non-fiction for all age groups. It can include poetry, short stories and even plays.
  • Educational publishers are always looking for good educational writers.
  • Education writing is sometimes paid for through royalties and sometimes through one-off payments for an author's work.
  • Education books have legs – they can run for a long time.

Master Class: Junior and Middle Grade Fiction -  Jacqueline Harvey

I could have listened to Jacqueline Harvey talk all day. She is so inspiring and generous with her advice. 

Here are my favourite Jacqueline Harvey gems from the day:

Jaquline Harvey  at CYA 2017

Jaquline Harvey at CYA 2017

  • Childhood is a critical time for instilling a love of reading in kids.
  • When you write for kids, think about the books you loved as a child and what they provided for you.
  • Think about the obvious, the cliché, and then try and do the opposite.
  • Have a look at the books that have stood the test of time in the category you write in. Try to figure out why the characters work. Look at similarities but also look at what is different about them.
  • Kids want to see their lives reflected in stories, but they also want windows into other worlds.
  • Make sure each character adds something to the story. Too many characters can spoil the story.
  • Setting anchors the story. Know the setting intimately and use it to add atmosphere.
  • Endings must be satisfying and leave the reader yearning for more.
  • Listen to others read your work.
  • To stand out: have a good hook, have an interesting premise, be new, different or have a twist.

The Adolescent Brain - Natalie Hatch

Natalie Hatch provided fantastic insight into how our brains work when we are young and how this impacts on how we act and react (and how our characters act and react).

Natalie said:

Natalie Hatch speaking at CYA 2017

Natalie Hatch speaking at CYA 2017

  • Teenagers are more likely to take risks.
  • Visceral responses (knowing, gut instinct, non-voluntary and voluntary actions) change with age.
  • Because of this, the age of your protagonist will have a great influence on how they react in a story.
  • Dialogue, too, will be different depending on age (including depth of language, how speech is delivered and  body language).

CYA is a fantastic children's and YA writers conference, and I highly HIGHLY recommend it. My only regret was not being able to go to ALL the parallel sessions at the same time!

Hermione's Time-Turner sure would have come in handy!

P.S: If you are thinking of heading to CYA next year, or any conference for that matter, you might like to check out my posts on prepping for a writers conference: How to Prep for a Writing Conference (Part 1) and How to Prep for a Writing Conference (Part 2).