If you follow Ink & Angst, then you know that the notorious Tessa Elwood and I were accepted into this year’s Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program. Tessa is working on a WIP with Holly Black. And I’m working under the mentorship of Ellen Hopkins. No joke. This program is pretty amazing.
Back in May, we attended our first mentorship weekend, swapping pages and taking feedback on the chin by some of the industry’s heavyweights. Tessa and I have been beating our WIPs into shape, and we’re prepping to return to Nevada for our final mentorship weekend next month.
Meanwhile, as I was working through some revision notes, I stumbled upon a sloppy handwritten page in my notebook — notes I’d taken during a panel discussion at the conclusion of our last mentorship weekend. Esteemed members of the panel included Holly Black, Ellen Hopkins, Kathleen Duey, Terri Farley, Verla Kay, Susan Hart Lindquist, Suzanne Morgan Williams, Deborah Nourse Lattimore, as well as agents Jen Rofe and Abigail Samoun.
Here are my (occasionally paraphrased) notes. Just bullets of wisdom that struck me. Maybe they’ll hit a target with you too.
- Create a character with a lot of interior stuff to sort out.
- Think forward. Leave room for twists and turns.
- A second book that makes you rethink the first book is the holy grail of a series.
– Holly Black
- Pick characters with room to expand.
– Kathleen Duey
- There’s no safety on the edge of the frontier. Anything can happen on the edge of the frontier. Find a piece of ground that no one else is standing on.
– Terri Farley
- You don’t have a series until you have a sold first book.
– Jen Rofe
In October, Tessa and I will share a post detailing our weekend in Virginia City (haunted graveyard tours and all!) and our reflections on the program and what we’ve learned.