I’m back for Part 2 of my NY 2017 SCBWI Conference Recap!!!
And like these two guys, I’m a bit confused…
I can’t remember exactly when, during the conference a few of these pictures happened.
So–I’m gonna go with it and just kick off with them.
This is just a shot giving you an idea of how big the conference tribe is.
Some of our SCBWI Faculty getting ready to go on stage and take a bow!
And over in the corner was all our fabulous RA’s who volunteer their time and experience. <3
We love you RA’s!!! How did I not get my conference picture with my RA Nancy Castaldo?
And then it was officially the Sunday Morning Conference Kick-off…
I love the awards!!!
Art Portfolio Honors
Art Portfolio Winner
Then we had the Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grants for talented Mid-List authors who have stalled in their publishing career. This is to remind them of their talent and how much we all still believe in them.
Only one of our Mid-List Author Grant Winners was in attendance. I think the weather kept many people from making it. But you can see what this kind of recognition from your peers can mean. <3
We were all choked up.
Next up was the Tomie dePaola Award for Illustrators. I’ve been watching talented artists receive this award since I’ve been coming to the NY SCBWI Conference and I was shocked to learn this was going to be the last time it’s given.
Moving forward, it will now become the Narrative Arts Award and it will still have “Assignments” <3
So, for this year’s winners–it must be extra special.
And there was another big announcement. On the horizon, the SCBWI will be doing a new project called BOOKS FOR READERS.
Two times a year, the tribe will come together to bring books to readers in need. The room was energized at the idea and now we are all waiting to hear more about the new project.
And then it was time to get down to the business of the day–The Current Landscape of Children’s Books
KG–Ken Geist (VP, Publisher, Orchard Books, Scholastic Press Picture Books, Cartwheel Books, Readers, Branches and Little Shepherd)
AH–Andrew Harwell (Senior Editor, Harper Collins)
CH–Carrie Howland (Senior agent, Empire Literary)
EK–Eileen Kreit (Vice President and Publisher, Puffin/Penguin Young Readers Group)
Here’s the highlights…
AH–Yes, literally everything about children’s books is more important than ever.
EK–Pointed out the changes (cuts) occurring related to the NY Times Best Seller List are due to relocated resources needed to meet the current demand for political news. (I guess the politicians are getting us coming and going.)
KG–Authenticity matters. You can’t lift a flap on an ebook. Picture Books are here to stay.
AH–MG and YA readers are already discerning. Many of 2016’s award winners were already becoming best sellers before their win.
EN–Your brand is your name connected with excellence.
KG–Ha! We “actually” have a wrestling mat in Acquisitions. (On fighting for books you love)
EN–Mergers in publishing have happened for a reason–Penguin/Random–they were digging in. They were announcing to everyone–“we are here to stay.”
And, much to my delight, I found a friend of friend in the audience while waiting
for my next breakout session to start. His name is Hamlet <3
Next up was a Sunday Workshop–this was something we hadn’t done before and I really enjoyed having another fabulous break out session added to the conference.
This session was two pronged and packed in a HUGE amount of intense information.
Writing Within and Across Identity Elements with Cynthia Leitich Smith
How to Write About Difficult Subjects with Ellen Hopkins
Can brought her information at a fast and furious pace in order to give us as much knowledge as she could in a short time. Here are some of the things I was able to capture…
*51% of children today are people of color.
*We are all related.
*When writing, non-human characters are sometimes the ultimate diversity.
*Everything you write will be criticized. Be diligent–be brave.
*Books that feature diverse characters are not there just for a specific type of reader. And the diversity is not there just to teach you something.
Then Ellen mesmerized the audience with her personal stories, letters from readers and samples of her own writing…
*These are the kids we don’t wan to believe exist, but it’s true.
*Never self-censor–tell what needs to be told.
*Be TRUE TO CHARACTER!
Sara and I signed in at the front desk right after the UPS delivery LOL!
And for the last Keynote of the conference we were privileged to hear from Sara Pennypacker. And I was even luckier than most, because Sara made a stop at my boy’s school before the conference and I got to see her in action during a school visit and got some quality time to hang out with her and my friend and Pop-up Engineer Courtney McCarthy who was the book fairy for all the magic that happened for Book Fair an Drop Everything and Read Week.
I wrote like a fiend, trying to capture the best of Sara–here it is…
*We are all doing the same thing–in our own way we are trying to make order out of chaos.
*People who are passionate about what they do (in any area of life) never fail to inspire me. Surround yourself with people who walk with light instead of darkness.
*Write a HELL, YES manuscript–one that makes the agent, editor, publisher and reader say HELL, YES–I must have this!
*Creation is a river and rivers become stagnant if blocked. The best thing a river does is flow. We are all part of the river.
*Story illuminates in a way facts never can.
*Children are the best audience–children are free of adult boundary issues.
*Kids build bonds through characters they love. If an author loves a character. And a kid loves a character. Then ergo–the kid loves the author. This is why Ellen Hopkins stays in the parking lot for 2 hours after school visits because those teens know she doesn’t judge her characters–that she loves them–meaning they can trust her because they will be safe with her. They find her in the parking lot. <3
*Writing Tip–leave room for the reader. Don’t do it all yourself, it’s not a monologue.
*Writing Tip–The story is the boss.
*It’s not about me–story serves the reader.
-Say it with Sara…”If I were God’s own spiritual advisor–I would understand it’s not my job to preach.”
-Authors are not parents.
-Our job is to allow children to safely experience things we don’t actually want them to experience.
*Kids need to hear stories.
*Sometimes the problem exposes the wound that is REALLY the problem.
*Story is a template for kids.
*Children need to tell their stories.
-“There is an evil in the world because people aren’t allowed to tell their stories.” Carl Jung
-I write for children because they can’t write their own stories for themselves. Now I write to give the child a template to use to say…THIS is my story.
-All those people who allow children to to tell their stories may never know what a great and impactful thing they have done. (Thank you librarians and teachers and those who encourage voice)
*Join the SCBWI and then go out and persist!
*Go out and subtract a measurable amount of evil in the world. <3
And get your books signed by the authors and illustrators who have spent the conference teaching you and inspiring you…
Illustrator, Brian Floca and MOONSHOT
Love his art work in this book!
Totally, NOT BORED hanging out with my bud Debbie Ohi <3
Me and Sonya Sones
Signing for the readers at GUFS
The fierce and fabulous Ellen Hopkins!!!!
And Tomie DePaolo…an incredible picture book team
And as we were leaving the autograph room one of my friends pointed to the floor and said…
“this is where the magic happens.”
And my response was…
“then let’s be where the magic happens.” <3
Never be afraid to put yourself where the magic happens.
And that doesn’t change when the conference is over and you head back home…
Remember there will be snow on your windshield and a million other things that would like to keep you from your work.
But don’t let it stop you.
Every conference I attend, I realize that a word or a theme usually floats to the top of my conscious and reminds me what I need to know about myself, my writing and my process.
My take away from New York is PURPOSE AND PERSISTENCE!
I have a purpose in this writing world and I must work to fulfill that.
I believe that the myriad of obstacles that have been put in my path are not there to dissuade me from my work, but have rather been designed to ensure I do my BEST work.
I know I might never reach my own excellence if the world accepts my mediocrity.
This means my challenges are my gifts.
I believe I have a purpose and I will persist and my world will be a better place because of it.
In the comments, feel free to share your own writing manifesto.
Remember–your words have power and magic happened when you put them into the world.
And if you are able–come and join me in LA in July. There can never be too many Lobby Rats at a conference. <3