Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wonderful Writer's Workshop

With time and money in short supply it can be difficult to afford going to a writer's workshop so when I find one that is really worth it I love spotlighting it. Last week I attended the Oregon Coast Children's Book Writer Workshop and was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Of course, choosing a workshop all has to do with where you are at in your work and what you're looking to achieve. The OCCBWW was a hands on learning experience full of informative lectures and one-on-one consultations with instructors. It was not a place to pitch, find an agent, or an editor, though there definitely were some excellent ones in attendance.

Instead, OCCBWW was a relaxed atmosphere that invited writers to open up and share their work, get feedback, and learn from the lectures. Every day we had a personal consultation with one of the instructors. This could either be with an author, an editor, or an agent. Prior to the consultation the person we were meeting with read our first five pages, then during the consultation they gave us feedback on it. Each day presented a new opportunity with a new instructor. My consultations were with agent Michelle Andelman and author Pamela Smith Hill (Michelle twice during the week, and Pamela three times).

My work wasn't right for Michelle but regardless, she gave me amazing feedback that helped me better my writing and steered me in the right direction. The fact that she wasn't the agent for me wasn't a bad thing. This made our talks very relaxed and allowed us the chance to interact, maximizing the learning experience. She was encouraging about the agent whom I have a full of the manuscript out to (saying she'd be great for the work) and even steered me in the right direction toward an editor (who was in attendance at the workshop). I'm waiting on that though since I have a full out and want the chance to edit if that agent takes me on, before an editor sees it. The other three days I met with author Pamela Smith Hill and it was a match made in heaven. Her knowledge of YA historical transformed my outlook and my writing. 

If you're looking for a workshop that will give you maximum feedback on improving and polishing your work, then this is definitely the one for you. And who knows, you just might make that connection with an agent or editor in attendance. I'm curious, what are some of your favorite workshops or retreats, and why?


  1. Oh my gosh, that sounds excellent, Heather. If I wrote YA or MG I'd definitely be signing up for that. I loved the Hawaii Writers Conference, and especially the week-long workshop before it, for really working on the writing and making it marketable. So sad it is no more. I'm hoping the Surrey conference in Vancouver is like that. Have heard it's great workshopping there.

  2. That was an excellent retreat wasn't it Linda?! I wish they still did it! I've heard great things about Surrey. :)

  3. I'd love to go to a writer's retreat. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

  4. Heather, this sounds like a fantastic retreat. I'm thinking the personal attention with instructors made this very valuable. Everyone has something worthy to share. Next time I'll go with you!

  5. Hi, Heather,

    That workshop sounds great. I have never been to one. For some reason the ones I'm interested in are too far and expensive. So I hope to hit the SBCWI conference in New York one of these years.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it.