Hello, everyone! Right before school started, I took a last-minute trip to New York City for the Writer's Digest Conference 2018. The WDC is an annual conference that attracts legions of incredible writers, agents, and others in the literary field from all over, and once I heard about the classes and authors that would be there, I was thrilled at the opportunity to attend.
At the conference, I attended several classes, and learned more than I ever thought possible in a span of three days. I learned about everything from the technicalities of perfecting my pitch, to honing the first ten pages of a novel, to the things agents look for in manuscript requests, to theories about story structure and character development. By the end of the conference, my mind and notebook were both brimming with new ideas.
I feel, though, that I learned just as much at the WDC's Pitch Slam, during which authors try to sell their book to any of the agents--in under ninety seconds, no more! This was a challenge for me; I've been writing my story for so long that to condense so much content into less than two minutes seemed impossible, but I tried my best and had my pitch planned out well before we set off for NYC. However, after attending the Pitch Perfect class and hearing the expert advice of Jeanne Bowerman and Tiffany Jackson, I realized that I had several changes to make. I scrapped my first attempt, and rewrote the entire thing the night before.
When the time came, I felt ready to present to the agents, and I managed to pitch my story and receive feedback from six different agents. Six out of six requested more! I am furiously working to get the manuscript just right before I deliver the requests.
Best of all, I had the opportunity to meet and hear from so many other people, from other writers, to agents, to editors, to those running Writer's Digest magazine itself! (A big thanks to Tyler Moss, the Editor-in-Chief of WD, and the WD Content Director Jess Zafarris, for an amazing conference!) I got to meet authors Cassandra Clare and Jeff Vandermeer, both keynote speakers at the conference, who shared their own stories, advice, and encouragement. I had the pleasure of speaking to the editor Whitney Davis (Whitney Davis Literary); Jacqueline Bickley, an inspirational teacher from Connecticut; and Bob Eckstein, cartoonist extraordinaire for The New Yorker, who drew me, and will be featured in my next blog post! It was incredible to meet so many different creative people and hear their stories, support, and advice. I will never forget this life-changing experience!
Ren Koppel Torres has adored fantasy books since the dawn of time and started The Shadow in Her Pocket at nine years old. Ren was born in New York City in a Jewish-Mexican-American family and now lives in Austin, Texas. Ren is passionate about advocating for child literacy and is donating a portion of the proceeds from book sales to Bookspring, a nonprofit in Central Texas. Ren is also a freelance writer, a visual artist, a guitarist in a rock band, a succulent aficionado, and a high school student.