Highlights from the NESCBWI Conference + PreOrders for TGWIG + T. B. Markinson’s Book Giveaways +


I tweeted and Facebooked my way through the NESCBWI conference, but I thought I’d share some of my favorite takeaways here too. This is one of the best conferences I’ve been to. On par with all the national ones and much most cost effective for me!  I’ll definitely be adding it to my must attend list!

Your antagonist should be your protagonist’s shadow self or at least embody the characteristics of the shadow self.–Tim Weed’s The Archetypal Shadows in YA Fiction


Tell us about the character–start with a close up.–Pitchapalooza with Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry

Find your voice. –Dan Santat, Keynote Speaker


Patterns are irresistible. Especially a pattern with variation.–Tim Weed, Image Systems and Subliminal Poetry of Storytelling

Effective marketing is about making a genuine connection.–Jen Malone, Marketing Outside the Box

Give specific details and use words to paint a picture.–Chris Eboch, Show Don’t Tell

Be true to your story, be true to yourself and be true to your readers.–Jo Knowles, “Be True” Keynote Speaker

If you’re having trouble accessing the emotions of a scene, try sketching it out by actually drawing a picture of what is happening. –Jennifer Jacobson, Seize the Reader, Write for Emotional Impact in Children’s and YA Novels


You have to see your story as a business with money set aside for it. You must understand timelines and audience. If you don’t know who you are writing for or who will read your book, stop marketing.–Kate Conway, Street Teams, FanFiction, and the Art of Selling Oneself


Don’t announce the character’s sexual orientation unless you need to because it’s relevant to the situation. –Ellen, Wittlinger, Writing LGBTQ Characters Even If You’re Not LGBT or Q



You can now preorder The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts on the Kindle!

Click here: Preorder TGWIG

and if that hyperlink doesn’t work, here’s the really long url:



My dear blog buddy, T. B. Markinson, is giving away 5 ebooks in May including The Six Train to Wisconsin by yours truly!


Here’s what she has to say about these awesome giveaways:

“Each month, I plan to giveaway awesome books by wonderful authors. It’s my way of saying thank you to all my followers and fans. Some may wonder why I’m giving books away that aren’t mine. The answer is simple: I love to read and I love to help fellow authors promote their books.”

You can read more about her giveaways here:


So swing by and check out T.B.’s blog and make sure you enter the Rafflecopter giveaway this month!


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36 Responses to Highlights from the NESCBWI Conference + PreOrders for TGWIG + T. B. Markinson’s Book Giveaways +

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Tim Weed’s words about our antagonist being our protagonist’s shadow self is really interesting and something I hadn’t considered before. Gives me something to think about as I start revisions on my WIP. Sounds like a great conference. Thanks for sharing the wisdom!

    • My favorite workshop at the conference was his. I felt like I learned so much as an author and a person. It’s funny to because I realized in Six Train Mickey is Kai’s shadow and Alex is Oliver’s shadow. I didn’t intentionally do it, but I did it. 😉 Amazing conference. Loved every workshop and panel.

      • Carrie Rubin says:

        It’s nice when things work out in our novels when we had no idea we were doing it. For example, I wrote my first book long before I read much on the craft of writing, and certainly before I read Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering, one of my favorites. But I was relieved to see I did have most of his recommended milestones in the novel (first plot point, pinch points, etc.), though they weren’t always at the recommended time. It was a phew moment, and it made me realize some of these story tips are actually intuitive.

        • It really is! Makes me feel like I’m more of a writer than I realize. I’m still making my way through Brooks’ book. But I noticed most of his milestones are in my books. But not quite when he wanted them. 😉 Definitely a phew moment.

  2. I like the wide array of topics this conference covered, Kourtney. Don’t you love how a good conference can really energize your writing? 🙂

    • I really do Jill! This one was amazing. I’m definitely going back next year. I also made sure to be strategic in my workshops so I got a good mix of promo, craft, and industry. info. I had so many ideas for Six Train’s sequel and my new YA trilogy that is backburnered right now. I texted them to myself for future reference.

  3. Aquileana says:

    Hi Kourtney!…. It’s been a whie and hope you are doing great!.
    A very intersting post…. I much enjoyed the highlights here and particularly the tips as regard to characters!… All my best wishes to you. Aquileana :star:

  4. Sheila says:

    Sounds like a great conference! I like the one about sketching out a scene. I’ve never heard that before. It would probably help to sketch each character too. Now I’m wondering what would happen if I attempted it – maybe a different way of describing that character would come through – especially because I can’t really draw. 🙂

    • It really is. It’s funny, I usually get into the emotional stuff more easily than the physical. Fight scenes are really tough for me. But a writing buddy has the reverse issue and is a great drawer. So I passed this tip on to her and she was like wow, that is really cool. I personally can’t draw at all, but I picture it in my head. 🙂

  5. EllaDee says:

    Excitement… I have pre-ordered TGWIG!
    What a great way to share take-outs of a conference, a fantastic use of resources & media 🙂

    • Aw thank you! It was jammed packed with so much great information. I just wanted to highlight a takeaway from each session. The actual sessions were so in depth and helpful. 🙂

  6. TBM says:

    So glad the conference was such a hit. And thanks for sharing the takeaways. I learned some things. Thanks so much for spreading the word about the giveaway!

  7. What a thought-provoking collection of quotes! The Tim Weed one really caught my attention, since it’s relevant to where I am in my writing process. Thanks for adding me to the group on FB. Nice to be included in such an exclusive circle! Looking forward to my ARC, whenever it arrives. Question for you regarding TGWIG – is it appropriate for ‘tweens? I still read aloud to my younger daughter most nights, it’s a ritual I’ve been reluctant to give up, and I wondered if your novel would work? She’ll be 12 next month.

    • They asked us not to blog too much about the workshops, but I thought one takeaway from each session would be a cool way to encapsulate the experience while still respecting the workshop teacher’s ownership of the information. 🙂 His workshop blew my mind. It was so thought provoking. Thanks for joining. 🙂 I got the idea for wristbands from this conference. So I rushed home and ordered them but I’m not sure when they are arriving. I think it’s 12+. But I would say read it first and make sure you are comfy with the content. I really defer to parents on this one. There is no swearing and no sex scenes, but there is a death scene. 🙂

      • Hey thanks for the info. Sad as it is to say, I think kids are pretty desensitized to death scenes, because they’re everywhere nowadays. My girls loved the Hunger Games, both the movies and the books, and death is a core theme in that series! It’s the other stuff I was more worried about, but I will give it a read through first, and then decide if Fiona would like it.

        • No problem. I took the same approach with schools. I think this is 12+, but my publisher categorized it as 13-18 because that is the age range for YA books. I figure I should mention if there is swearing, violence, or sex scenes since those tend to be the main concerns for parents. I definitely say read it first. Just to make sure you are cool with the content. 🙂

  8. jmmcdowell says:

    Any conference that energizes the writing is definitely a keeper and worth repeated visits! I’m at a low ebb currently, but hoping the next rising tide isn’t too far away. 🙂 Great tips all around from those panels!

    • I agree, especially if it’s an hour away and transportation is your own car! 🙂 Those happen. Honestly, I’m still not ready to try to put my trilogy out there. After everything I went through this fall, I’m just not there yet. So I totally understand an ebb. Flows come. And sometimes they come in other areas and everything rises slightly again. 🙂


  9. What neat stuff! “Your antagonist should be your protagonist’s shadow self or at least embody the characteristics of the shadow self.” I guess writers sort of sense this, but seeing/hearing it confirms what you suspected.
    Sounds like a great conference

    • It’s funny that I had this going on without ever realizing what it was called or why it worked. It just felt like good storytelling and ramping up the conflict. 🙂 One of the best I’ve been to. So glad I made it up there.

  10. My favorite is the sketching out a scene to draw out the emotions. I’m a visual person, and I always draw maps of my novels’ settings. This idea of sketching a scene to help you grasp the inner story is great.

  11. Ally Bean says:

    Thank you for sharing these insights. I have no intention of writing a novel, but I enjoy learning about what it takes to do so. [Does that make sense?] I especially like the idea of drawing what you want to write about. I do that for my interior design and gardening projects, but never thought of doing that when I write for my blog. Something new to try. *yeah*

    • I totally understand. Processes are cool. I’ll never make paper but I liked learning how it’s done. 😉 I usually sketch up locations and buildings and towns when I’m writing. I tried to draw a coat of arms once. It was hilarious. No one could figure out what anything was.

  12. Thanks for sharing those tips from the conference – I’ve pre-ordered my copy of the book. Yay!

  13. Chris Edgar says:

    I like these convention and tradeshow photos — it sounds like you are doing what you can to put yourself out there, and I admire that tenacity.

  14. Great range of topics… And you looked to be enjoying 🙂 xxx

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