All posts by Elana Johnson

Welcome to Day 2!

Wasn’t yesterday awesome?! I hope you’ve been spending time in our forums. I can’t stress it enough — that’s where most of the WriteOnCon magic happens. Even if you don’t get your work commented on by an agent, you can learn a lot from the comments they leave for others.

We also hope you got a lot of information yesterday on what makes a good pitch. We have several more pitch events today, so we’re hoping to get through more of the HUNDREDS of pitches that have been submitted via our Google form.

You can still submit your pitch if you haven’t yet. (Please don’t submit a repeat! We only need you to put in your pitch once.) The form will remain open until 3 PM EST, at which time we will close it.

We have a couple of hours until our first event, so head over to the forums and get some critiquing done!


End of Day 1!

Whew! So we made it through day one! Even through the glitches and changes and everything. That’s the great part about technology — you never really know if you can count on it!

We’re thrilled with your patience, and your kindness, as we work behind-the-scenes to put on the best events we can. We realize that we cannot meet everyone’s needs, so every “thank you!” and “you’re doing great!” mean a lot to us.

In case you missed some of the awesome today, here’s where you can go to get caught up:

Keynote by Literary Agent Peter Knapp

Twitter Pitch Event with literary agent Katie Reed (see if yours was selected; go to #writeoncon to read the feedback)

Twitter Pitch Event with literary agent Amy Stern (see if yours was selected; go to #writeoncon to read the feedback)

Live Chat with literary agent Molly Ker Hawn

Live Google Hangout with the editors at Spencer Hill Press


And we have another day of awesomeness lined up for tomorrow! We hope you’ve been hanging out in the forums, getting and giving feedback, and maybe doing a little Ninja stalking…


And if you can, we’d love for you to donate to WriteOnCon. It takes thousands of dollars each year to update the forums, purchase the plans we need for chatting, and increase our server capacity. NONE of the organizers behind the scenes get a dime — it all goes to making sure we can keep bringing you these great events.



LIVE EVENT: Google Hangout with Danielle Ellison, Asja Parrish, and Patricia Riley of Spencer Hill Press

Danielle, Asja, and Patricia are looking for specific manuscripts. PLEASE DO NOT PITCH DURING THIS EVENT IF YOUR NOVEL DOES NOT MEET THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA:

  • -Only YA.
  • -Realistic (Contempoary) ONLY.
  • -Completed, revised MSs ONLY.

We will be TAKING YOUR PITCHES FROM TWITTER using the hashtag #wocshp. These are TWITTER PITCHES, meaning they must be 140 characters or less.

One of the cool things about the Google Hangout is that we can stream parameters into our feeds and thus, display them for our pros.  You’ll be ON TWITTER to pitch, once again using the hashtag #wocshp. We have it set so that all tweets with that hashtag come into our Hangout, where one of us will put the pitch on the screen for the pros to read.

You’ll then get to see their honest reactions. So be prepared! You’ll get to see their faces as they read, hear their voices as they react.

Watch on YouTube, or Google+.

Keynote from Literary Agent Peter Knapp

There is an anecdote about the late editor Ursula Nordstrom that her posthumously published collection of letters, Dear Genius, has made popular among children’s publishing professionals. Ms. Nordstrom was the editor-in-chief and publisher of Harper & Row’s Department of Books for Boys and Girls for over thirty years, from 1940 until 1973. She worked with such authors as Margaret Wise Brown, Charlotte Zolotow, Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein, Crockett Johnson, and E. B. White, among many others. She was a fierce advocate for authors, a devoted writer of letters, a defender of challenging subjects and important books, and a brilliant editor. She was, quite simply, a visionary.

The anecdote goes like this: Ms. Nordstrom was at an event when someone questioned her credentials, asking what qualified her—a “nonteacher, nonparent, and noncollege graduate”—to edit and publish books for kids. Ms. Nordstrom, quick on the draw, responded, “Well, I am a former child, and I haven’t forgotten a thing.”

Doubt can come from any direction, at any time. It was true for Ursula Nordstrom, and it’s true for the rest of us, too. In creative endeavors especially it can feel like building paper boats and setting them adrift in vast seas of uncertainty. Is the plotting good enough? Is the voice strong enough? Do I actually have something to say? When striving to make something that is both entirely new and inevitably personal, it’s easy to question the validity of your claims and the credentials that allow you to make them. It is easy to both hear and be the nagging voice asking: what are your qualifications, anyways?

Have faith. You have surely, at one point or another, hesitated to put a period on a sentence, to hit save on a new story idea, to email off a first draft or to tell someone that yes, you are a writer. Doubt is good: it is your ally and your instrument. Anne Lamott, whose collection on writing Bird By Bird is immensely popular, wrote about uncertainty when addressing faith in Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith: “I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me—that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.” It is not surprising, then, that Ms. Lamott has been so successful at writing about both faith and the creative process. In describing faith’s demand for uncertainty, she could just as easily have been describing the perquisites to write, for it too demands finding darkness and slowly shedding a light on it, sentence-by-sentence—word-by-word.

So what are the credentials that entitle you to attend a conference for writers? What qualifies you to be here is that you are here. Because you don’t just hear the nagging questions—you strive to answer them.

This is the spirit of WriteOnCon.

And when all else fails—when you find yourself facing down the darkest corner of the darkest room—just remember this: you are, in fact, a former child, too.