I am happy to report that I survived the first two workshops and emerged neither bloody nor bruised.
Registration began this morning at eight, quite the challenge for a non-morning person like myself. We gathered for a general session of welcoming remarks and discussion on what agents really want. And then we dispersed to our various workshops, where we read aloud our query letters and/or opening pages to a room full of fellow writers and agents.
My group was lovely. I enjoyed the ideas and writing of the other group members, and I learned SO much from the agents. They were critical without being cruel, and their suggestions were definitely on target. My query letter was very well-received, with a few ideas to tweak it; as for my opening pages, it was a sort of good news/bad news scenario. Both the agents really liked the idea and my writing, but suggested that I jump into the action more immediately and try to weave the back story (that made up my first few pages) into that action. I was actually thrilled with the input and can't wait to put it into practice. I'm only disappointed that I won't be able to do a re-write and print out new pages for tomorrow, so that the agents who hear the queries and opening pages then can critique my new ones!
All of the agents have been extremely friendly and approachable. It's been a real boon to be able to put names and faces together. The only drawback to the entire day has been a confirmation of what I've been thinking all along: the rules were made to be broken. What one set of agents told us to do, the other set denied. Include your word count? Put the title of the book at the beginning of the query? Set ages for young adult and middle grade? It's all a matter of opinion and personal preference, just as I had suspected!
I'm ready for the last two sessions of the day and then the bonus evening session about social media, the web and marketing books. But already this conference has definitely been worth it.
More to come tomorrow!