Eastern PA SCBWI Pocono Mountain Retreat 2011 – Part 3

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We’ve established that I’m t-i-r-e-d…so I won’t belabor the point.  Instead I’ll focus on the omelette station.  Honestly I have to focus really hard because omelette is one of those words that never “looks” right when I start typing it.  But I’m blabbering.  I do that when I’m t-i-r-e-d.  Anyway, I love a good omelette station and Sunday morning I knew that there was one is in my near future-BRUNCH!  I also knew this because the staff of the SCBWI Eastern PA are like conference fairy godmothers.  But in the meantime, while I waited for my yummy omelette, I grabbed a coffee and a cinnamon muffin the size of my head and I was all set to listen to Lee Harper. 

The Sabatini house is full of Lee Harper Fans.  We fell in love with his illustrations for Leslie Helakoski’s WOOLBUR.  Lee’s forthcoming picture book, in which he is also the author, looks fantastic!  THE EMPEROR’S COOL CLOTHES.

Lee reminded us that writers and illustrators really aren’t that different, we both look to the world around us for inspiration and we both have to practice our craft in order to become good at it.  He also wisely noted that sometimes the work we do for children is just meant to make them laugh.

Time for a little Editor and Agent Q&A…

From left to right…
1.  Liesa Abrams-Executive Editor at Alladin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
2.  Ruta Rimas-Assistant Editor, Balzer +Bray, Harper Collins Children’s Books.
3.  Dianne Hess-Executive Editor of Scholastic Press.
4.  Joan Slattery-Literary Agent, Pippin Properites.
5.  Robert Agis-Associate Editor at Sterling Children’s Books.
6.  Jennifer Rofe-Literary Agent, Andrea Brown.
7.  John Rudolph-Literary Agent, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

In addition to answering questions posed by the audience, they were the panel judging First Pages, which is a look at the very first page of 3 picture books, middle grade and young adult manuscripts.  Hearing how everyone responded to an anonymous first page of material was a very helpful experience.  I was a reader for the three middle grade pieces, which explains why I wasn’t taking the best notes throughout the Editor/Agent session.  *grin*

In addition, there was also an illustrator’s First Look session.  Lee Harper judged it along with Alison Impey. Alison is an award winning designer, currently Senior Designer at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.  I had a chance to really hang out with Alison over the course of the conference and she’s wonderful. Curiosity got the best of me and I plied her with millions of questions about her job and I found it fascinating. If I was an illustrator, I would LOVE to work with her.  Alas…that will never happen, so we will just be conference buddies.

OMELETTE STATION!!!!!  Yes, I should have taken a picture, it last longer.  But since I didn’t I now need to interrupt the writing of this blog and go make my own breakfast.  But wait– before I go–it’s a quick trip back to the Golf Bag Holder…

Jodi Moore and I make a pilgrimage back to the Golf Bag Holder every year.  This is the official site of where we became friends and critique partners.  Perhaps it was our 1 yard line.  If you’re not familiar with the 1 yard line–Donna Gephart talked about it in her presentation.  She said that at those moments we’re tempted to give up, we just may be standing on the 1 yard line–so close to our goal.

Our first Poconos Conference was shortly after my father-in-law passed away.  I’d signed up for a critique session and never managed to get my pages out on time.  I was kicking myself.  I’d let myself miss an opportunity and all I could picture was my future editor or agent never meeting me because I’d missed my chance.  I tend to be a little bit hard on myself sometimes.  *grin*  Jodi also didn’t have a critique, so we decided to spend the down time working together and reading each other’s manuscripts.  We both wrote picture books and young adult and just happened to have our YA’s with us.  All the comfy couches were taken and the weather was cold and rainy so we decided that this really uncomfortable bench was going to be our little crit corner.

Jodi told me that I was the very first person to ever lay eyes on her novel.  I think that’s a very special thing. She also told me something else…she’d been writing picture books since her boys were little and she just wasn’t sure if this was ever going to work out for her.  I think she might have been on that 1 yard line.  As we later learned she was also in a Golf Bag Holder.  *grin*

I recommend that everyone spend some time in the Golf Bag Holder.  We really do go back and sit in it, but if you can’t make it to the Shawnee Inn in the Poconos, that’s okay.  I’m talking figuratively.  When you’re in a hard and uncomfortable place in your writing, don’t be afraid to share that with someone.  Sit there and tell the truth and speak your fears, because you will find that we all have them.  You’re not all alone–out on the 1 yard line.   And like me, you just might figure that out the most important thing of all…

If given a choice between having the book and having the friend–I’d pick the friend EVERY time.

And the cool thing is that I know that she would too.  *heart squish*

What’s the best thing that ever happened to you at a conference?

P.S. Because it took me so long to get my post completed today I can now jump up and down and say that Jodi and I are officially heading out to the LA SCBWI Conference in August…do you think they have a Golf Bag Holder?

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7 Responses | TrackBack URL | Comments Feed

  1. Now I want a cinnamon muffin the size of my head. See what you did?

    Let's see…I got meet and party with Diana Gabaldon at the Surrey Writers Conference (in B.C., Canada). That was all kinds of fun.

  2. *heart squish* You know there's no question that I would pick the friend. And how blessed am I that that friend, on that particular day, as I froze on that one-yard line…just happened to be you. Love you, Kim! (And yes, we WILL – we MUST – find a golf bag holder in LA!) Can't WAIT! *squeeeee* !!!

  3. Linda-I'm soooo jealous. Love Diana's books. Come on, I have a kid named Jamie LOL!

    Jodi…Love you girlfriend. ((((hugs)))

  4. […] Another successful SCBWI Eastern PA Pocono Mt. Retreat! Every time I attend this conference there is something special going on. This year I was thrilled to spend the weekend with Laurie Halse Anderson and to bring a friend to her first writing conference, but more about that later. First off, everyone celebrated the 20 year anniversary of the conference by exchanging memories. I was still in transit, but my buddy Jodi Moore (author of WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN) told the very special story of the Golf Bag Holder. If you haven’t heard this story you can read about it HERE. […]

  5. Well, I feel as if I’m sharing Kim Sabatini love all over Twitter this morning (not stalking, I swear! Ha), but truly, this post came at just the right time. I’m at a point where I feel as if I’ve come so close, with the third novel, and have had what I call a “crisis of confidence” lately–will it ever get a “Yes”? Am I capable of revising it one more time and taking it to that next level? And deep down, I know I am–but reminding myself of this on a day to day basis has become harder, when it should be easier, after all the work I’ve put into the journey.

    Have to get ready to teach two classes on newsletter editing, but just wanted to share. Have a wonderful day, and thank you, again, for sharing your journey.

    • Honey–Jodi and I are scooting over–there is plenty of room in the Golf Bag Holder and we believe in you. <3

  6. […] my book to the Golf Bag Holder (Eastern PA Poconos Mountain Retreat with Jodi […]

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