Monday, August 15, 2011

Why I Plan WriteOnCon

Once again I have no MMGM for you guys this week (sorry! I SUPER appreciate anyone who has one out there, floating around the blogosphere--and I promise things will get back to normal, starting next week.)

But this week is a very special week for me--a week I work ALL YEAR to get to--so naturally it's going to affect my blogging schedule a bit. It's WriteOnCon week.

For those who don't know (though I'm not sure that's possible, with how much I ramble about it on here), WriteOnCon is a free online writers conference I help organize with a few other blogger/writer friends. It's a MASSIVE undertaking, and since we make up most of it as we go along, it's always a bit of an adventure. And it starts tomorrow. TOMORROW.


So, as you can imagine, the last few weeks--and the last few days especially--have been a flurry of sending emails and assembling posts and scheduling tweets and editing vlogs and organizing the schedule and emailing faculty and answering questions and problem solving and trouble shooting and brainstorming and putting out fires and rearranging things because of last minute changes and replying to emails (did I mention emails--cause there have been A LOT of emails!) And we're not quite done yet. We're kind of down to the minute here in WriteOnCon-land.

And as I've survived the chaos, I've had more than a few people ask me the same question: Why do you do it?

I can't blame them for wondering. It is a LOT of work. And WriteOnCon is awesome for throwing us curveballs and making things kinda stressful as we push ourselves  to find creative solutions. Not to mention, by the end, I kind of want to throw my laptop out a window.

BUT I DO HAVE A REASON. And it's not money--we don't make a cent off WriteOnCon (the donations we receive cover the HUGE cost of our web hosting--that's it.) It's also not publicity because, well...WriteOnCon isn't about ME. Our awesome faculty are the stars. I'm just the grunt worker in the background, making sure they shine.

So what is it?

Well, it's threefold, really.

1) The ladies I plan WriteOnCon with are five of the most amazing people I've found in this crazy place we call the blogosphere. They're funny, smart, creative, hardworking, dedicated, and just generally awesome. Which is especially amazing when you consider how group dynamics can often be ... tricky. Especially with a project this EPIC and high stress. But with WriteOnCon it's almost effortless. No drama. No issues. Trust me, there's no way I could read and send as many group emails as I do if I weren't working with such an incredible team. And I didn't think it could get any better after last year, but this year we added some forum moderators and a couple of web/graphic people and they have added so much to the group with their talent, creative ideas, and occasional shenanigans. Not to mention hard work. It's an absolutely amazing, one-of-a kind experience to be a part of, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

2) WriteOnCon allows me to give something back to the writing/publishing community, from which I so often feel like I take more than I give. I don't blog hop as much as I want to. I can't follow everyone on Twitter, or read everyone's FB posts. I don't have time to read/critique people's manuscripts, and I can't bring everyone with me to the conferences/signings I attend. But I can do this. I can help organize this amazing, humongous event that has and will continue to help writers on their journey. And every time someone emails us to let us know they found a critique partner or signed with an agent or sold their book or learned something vital for their journey and that WriteOnCon played a small role in makes me kinda teary. It's such an unbelievable, rewarding thing, and I feel truly honored to be a part of it.

3) It reminds me that the children's publishing industry is one of the most incredible, supportive places I've ever found. I mean, my basic role is to send out emails that read somewhere along the lines of:

Dear Publishing Rock Star,  

I know you're super busy, and have no idea who I am. But I was wondering if you'd like to give a chunk of your already over-packed schedule to help us with WriteOnCon. Oh, and since we're a free conference, there's no honorarium.  What do you say? 

All Best,
Unknown Blogger/Writer*

*okay, the email I send them might be worded TAD more professionally. But that's the basic concept


Seriously, it's INSANE how few people tell us, "NO"--and when they do it's always because of a scheduling conflict. Which is just so incredibly amazing it makes me a little speechless, every time. And reminds me that I have truly found the most wonderful industry to work in.

So yeah, planning WriteOnCon is a bit of a beast, and by the end of this week I fully expect to be curled up in the fetal position whimpering because I've spent three days chained to my laptop with no food or sleep. But it will be SO WORTH IT!

And I wanted to take the chance now--since I may be too exhausted later--to say thank you. To any of you who stop by--even if it's only for a little while. And any of you who blog/tweet/FB/tumble/whatever about what we have going on and help us spread the word. THANK YOU! Above anything else, I plan WriteOnCon for you guys. So I really hope you enjoy what we've managed to put together for you this year.

So it's with great pride (and a huge dash of awe) that I now present the schedule for our 2011 conference, which kicks off officially tomorrow morning. I hope it meets your expectations:

 WriteOnCon Schedule of Events:
*all times EDT, LIVE events are noted in blue and will take place here. Red items signify when various threads open in the forums. All content will take place on the main WriteOnCon site.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Ninja Agent Program officially opens in forum. (start posting your work for them to spot!)
11:00 AM: Author Emma Walton Hamilton’s threads open in the forum. Participants can post their questions for Emma, as well as picture book queries for critique. Entries capped at 50.
8:00 PM: Literary agent Jessica Sinsheimer’s thread opens in the forum. Participants can leave questions for her to answer.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011:

6:00 AM: Welcome Keynote by author Josh Berk – in a BATHROBE!
7:00 AM: Pacing in Contemporary YA by author Sara Zarr
7:30 AM: Call for questions for literary agent Steven Malk
8:00 AM: How to Write A Killer First Sentence by author Jodi Meadows
8:30 AM: Picture Book Queries by author Emma Walton Hamilton
9:00 AM: Myths and Misconceptions by literary agent Holly Root, and editors Molly O’Neill and Martha Mihalick
10:00 AM: Drawing From Memory by author Alan Silberberg
10:30 AM: Writing For Multiple Ages by author Shelley Moore Thomas
11:00 AM: Literary Agents Carlie Webber and Christina Hogrebe’s thread opens in the forum. Participants can post their “Twitter pitch” (pitch in 140 characters or less) and first 100 words for critique/comment. Entries capped at 75.
11:00 AM: Live Forum Q&A and PB query critiques with author Emma Walton Hamilton
***This event takes places in our FORUM. Emma will be answering questions and offering advice on previously submitted PB queries HERE.
***Click here to learn how our live forum events will work.
12:00 PM: On Platform, a live chat with literary agent Sara Megibow
***This is a live event. Please click here to make sure you know how live events work.
1:00 PM: Creating Compelling Settings by author Jessi Kirby
1:30 PM: Puzzled By Picture Books by author/illustrator Sarah Frances Hardy
2:00 PM: Is your MS ready for submission? by author Tom Leveen
2:30 PM: LGBT Lit by author Scott Tracey
3:00 PM: Live Q&A chat with literary agent Suzie Townsend
***This is a live event. Please click here to make sure you know how live events work.
4:00 PM: Don’t Give Up! by author Beth Revis
4:30 PM: Writing Magical Realism by author Nova Ren Suma
5:00 PM: COLLECTIVE BLOGGING & BOOK PROMOTION -- Ten ways to collaborate with fellow bloggers and writers on-line and in-person (For published and not-yet-published writers!)—Stages on Pages
6:00 PM: Author Collaboration with author Jay Asher
8:00 PM: Live Q&A Forum Event with literary agent Jessica Sinsheimer
***This event takes places in our FORUM. Jessica will be answering questions HERE.
***Click here to learn how our live forum events will work.
9:00 PM: Panel of Professionals (Michelle Andelman, Emily Meehan, Annette Pollert, Jim McCarthy)
***This is a live event. Please click here to make sure you know how live events work.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

6:00 AM: The Debut Year by author Lindsey Leavitt
7:00 AM: Illustration 101 by JH Everett and the Studio 5 Illustrators
7:30 AM: Putting Yourself Out There by author Saundra Mitchell
8:00 AM: I DON'T CARE THAT HE'S HOT: Building Believable Romance by editor Martha Mihalick
8:30 AM: The Shakeover Makeover—Shake Your PB Till It Shines! by authors Tiffany Strelitz Haber & Corey Rosen Schwartz
9:00 AM: Novel Beginnings, How to Find the Best Place to Start by author Lisa Schroeder
9:30 AM: How to Write A Synopsis, by author Jodi Meadows
10:00 AM: Literary agent Alyssa Eisner Henkin’s thread opens in the forum. Participants can post their 250-word pitch for critique. Entries capped at 50.
10:00 AM: Creating Characters for Picture Books by author Tammi Sauer
10:30 AM: What Makes Middle Grade Sing? by literary agent Joanna Volpe
11:00 AM: Live Twitter Pitch Event with literary agents Carlie Webber and Christina Hogrebe
***This event takes places in our forum. Carlie and Christina will be commenting on the previously submitted pitches HERE.
***Click here to learn how our live forum events will work.
12:00 PM: Are You Ready to Query? by literary agent Kate Testerman
12:30 PM: On Compactness by literary agent Weronika Janczuk
1:00 PM: Live Q&A with author Sarah Rees Brennan
***This is a live event. Please click here to make sure you know how live events work.
2:00 PM: Character Growth by author Lauren Oliver
2:30 PM: Balancing Writing, Work, and Life by editor Kendra Levin
3:00 PM: Live Query Letter Q&A with literary agent Jenny Bent
***This is a live event. Please click here to make sure you know how live events work.
4:00 PM: Submission Basics by literary agent Ginger Clark
4:30 PM: How I Know If I Like It, by literary agent Sara Crowe
5:00 PM: Literary agent Roseanne Wells’s thread opens in the forum. Participants can post their YA query for critique. Entries capped at 50.
5:00 PM: Live YA Q&A chat with Holly Root and Barbara Poelle
***This is a live event. Please click here to make sure you know how live events work.
5:30 PM: YA Muses Vlog
6:00 PM: Marketing 101 for Children’s Book Authors by author Emma Walton Hamilton
9:00 PM: Panel of Professionals (Kate Testerman, Martha Mihalick, Joanna Volpe, Jen Rofe, Diana Fox)
***This is a live event. Please click here to make sure you know how live events work.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

6:00 AM: Ask A Bookbuyer by bookbuyers Faith Hochhalter and Brandi Stewart
7:00 AM: Chapter Books, Graphic Novels, & Hybrids: Exploring the Potential of the Young Reader Market by author Eric Wright
7:30 AM: How/When I Know A Manuscript Is Right For Me by editor Annette Pollert
8:00 AM: 10 Traits of an Author by author Amy Dominy
8:30 AM: Moments That Matter by author Matt Myklusch
9:00 AM: Writing A Great Query by literary agent Jim McCarthy
9:30 AM: Respect by author Kiersten White
10:00 AM: Live 250-word Pitch Event with literary agent Alyssa Eisner Henkin
***This event takes places in our forum. Alyssa will be critiquing the previously submitted pitches HERE.
***Click here to learn how our live forum events will work.
11:00 AM: Successful Marketing/Promo/School Visits by author Jon S. Lewis
11:30 AM: Pacing by author Tara Hudson
12:00 PM: Live chat with literary agents Marietta Zacker, Joan Paquette, and Michael Bourret
***This is a live event. Please click here to make sure you know how live events work.
1:00 PM: Revision by author Carrie Ryan
2:00 PM: An Editor’s Perspective on What Authors Should and Should Not Talk About Online by editor Liesa Abrams
3:00 PM: Traditional vs. Self-Publishing Live Chat with literary agent Sara Megibow
***This is a live event. Please click here to make sure you know how live events work.
4:00 PM: Dialogue by literary agent Tina Wexler (blog)
5:00 PM: Live YA Query Letter Event with literary agent Roseanne Wells
***This event takes places in our forum. Roseanne will be commenting on previously submitted query letters HERE.
***Click here to learn how our live forum events will work.
5:30 PM: Class of 2K12 Vlog
6:00 PM: Answers to Questions by literary agent Steven Malk
6:30 PM: The Reading Room  TOP 5
9:00 PM: Panel of Professionals (Natalie Fischer, Anica Rissi, Kathleen Ortiz)
***This is a live event. Please click here to make sure you know how live events work.
10:30 PM: AB Lit Chat (Jen Rofe, Kelly Sonnack, Jennifer Laughran, Caryn Wiseman)
***This is a live event. Please click here to make sure you know how live events work.

I don't know about you, but my eyes kind of bug out of my head when I see how many amazing people are on our faculty this year. For full bios/photos, please go HERE and HERE,

And...that's probably all from me for this week. At least over here. But PLEASE come check out the WriteOnCon website. Awesome things will be happening all day long. You don't want to miss out!


  1. This sounds so awesome. THANKS SO MUCH for your hard work on this. I am definitely going to attend or read the transcripts for all that I can.

    I blogged about the conference last week.

  2. Yay for WriteOnCon!! Can't wait!
    Thanks so much for all your efforts, Shannon!
    *does the WriteOnCon happy dance*

  3. I registered with WriteOnCon, but I noticed there's no forum for queries that are New Adult/Adult. Are they considered disqualified?

  4. The line-up this year is awesome. I spoke on a panel yesterday at a local writer's conference and plugged WriteOnCon. I had the perfect excuse because I was quoting from Kody's session on edgy YA. :D

  5. What an amazing lineup! Can't wait!!!

  6. You are forever an organized, type A (the really good kind), super cheerful, adorable, amazing writer/blogger! I know the work you put into this is tiring, but your end result is beyond phenomenal. You put so much of yourself into everything you do and as a friend, fellow blogger, writer I am honored to know you. This conference will be off the charts!

    Just remember to get yourself an extra Squinkie at the end of the deserve it. ;o)

    Visit My Kingdom Anytime

  7. Gina: We tried to keep the forums simple, and limit the main threads to only the MAJOR categories (PB, MG, YA) just so there weren't 50 threads for agents to have to sort through (chapter books, easy readers, upper MG, Lower YA, new adult, etc). So if your book is New Adult, it would most likely belong in the YA forum.

    That being said, we are a children's writers conference (because that what all of us who organize it write) so if your MS is truly adult, you might not find much value in posting it in our forums. You will, however, still gain a lot of info from the faculty posts/vlogs/chats, as their advice applies to all kinds of writing. :)

  8. Thank you Shannon for putting this together. I've learned so much from lurking throughout the year, and I'm excited to attend this year!

  9. You are freaking amazing, #1. And I am dead serious. You don't know how much your fellow bloggers/writers appreciate your efforts on our behalf. THANK YOU for all you do. The schedule looks incredible. :-)

  10. Wow. You are so incredible for working so hard on this.

    Thank you, thank you, and even more thank you. <3

  11. Thank you so much for planning this awesome event! It is amazing and I appreciate all of your hard work.

    Thanks again,
    Jenny Lee Sulpizio
    Author of "Mommy Whispers"

  12. Oh my stars! I've heard of this conference before, but I never have seen the agenda. I so wish I wasn't facing a deadline on my next book. I've love to attend. Maybe next year. Thanks for posting about this awesomeness.

  13. Seriously, thanks for your hard work and moderating and all of the above!

  14. I hate my job. I'm missing out on EVERYTHING!

  15. Shannon, I've said it over at the writeoncon site, but I want to say it to you, personally: Thanks for writeoncon! It's seriously changed my life this week. Besides the awesome advice, the great input on projects, and the new friendships, I was approached by five agents, two requesting full manuscripts. Also, the competition has given me an even wider exposure, and I've been receiving a lot of feedback on my entry there. I can't believe all this is happening to me, and all of it at no cost to me (outside of my donation). Thanks for your sacrifice. I hope I can contribute to the writing community at least half as much as you have already.

  16. Those are very good reasons, and the conference was beyond amazing! THANK YOU for all that you do to bring it to us.


Yay-I love comments! Thank you so much! (But please remember to keep your comments spoiler-free. Also, I try to keep this a happy, positive place. Any arguing or intense debate--on any subject will be removed. Let's keep this a safe, fun space.