It’s time for the NY 2017 SCBWI Conference!!!!
I just got back and of course I wanted to share the awesomeness with you.
Just so you know, it wasn’t exactly easy to get there this year…
On Thursday we got hit with a winter storm. My house got just over 10 inches of snow–resulting in a very happy puppy.
With a day off of school, I was kind of lucky because I got some extra sleep and had plenty of time to pack for the next day.
But not everyone was so lucky. I know of several people who couldn’t get their flights sorted out and missed the conference all together. That was a huge disappointment.
I knew I was going to be running a little late for Friday’s Intensive, but my train schedule got pushed back even more due to the boys having 2hr delays. I decided not to stress and go with the flow.
Chilling out and day dreaming while looking out the train widow really paid off. I got to see 4 adult and 4 juvenile American Eagles! And I even captured one on my camera and that made me extra happy.
While I missed most of the morning portion of my Friday Intensive–WRITING THE VERSE NOVEL–but made it for the first half of the round table sessions. Despite being late, I still had an amazing experience and learned a ton. I’ve never attempted a novel in verse before, but I’m intrigued, I enjoy reading them and I always feel that learning new things brings depth and color to anything I’m working on. So it was a great opportunity. And the good news was that I was able to get the handouts and I have access to the notes.
The lovely Bonnie Bader facilitated the Intensive.
Listening to Sonya Sones—The Nuts and Bolts and Safety Pins of Writing the Novel in Verse
*Don’t write a poem that makes a teenager feel stupid. It must be accessible.
*Our goal is to move people with our words–create an emotional response.
*Teens are present tense human beings.
*Read your work out loud with ear plugs. It allows you to hear your own voice.
We also did some fun exercises with Ellen Hopkins‘ session Balancing Verse with Story
Do you want to get your creative descriptions flowing? Try asking yourself some interesting questions like…
What does anger smell like?
What does happiness taste like?
What does sorrow sound like?
What does boredom feel like?
What does love look like?
You should have heard all the interesting and varying responses in the room.
And after another session of round tables, there was even time for a Q & A session with the intensive faculty.
(Sonya Sones, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Ellen Hopkins and Emma Dryden)
Done for the day, it was time to meet up with my friends (old and new) and fellow Lobby Rats for a yummy Italian dinner and lots of catching up in the–you guessed it–lobby!
Then on Saturday morning–despite how comfortable my roomie and best bud, Jodi Moore and I were in our cozy beds at the Hyatt Grand–we rolled on downstairs for coffee, bagels and the kick-off of the conference.
Starting off the day was some birthday singing for the one and only Jane Yolen!
This was followed by Lin Oliver‘s famous SCBWI State of the Conference Address.
Here’s how it all went down…
*40% Published and 60% Pre-Published
*States not representing? North Dakota and Wyoming 🙁
*Attendees came from 61 different countries to include Hong Kong, Australia, Spain and Egypt.
*Some of this year’s interesting Professions/Day Jobs were…
-Costume Shop Supervisor
-Attorney/Voice Over Actor
-Chairman of the Book Selection Committee (everyone was looking for this person LOL!)
-Crime Scene Detective
The first Keynote of the day was the always moving and inspiring Bryan Collier
Here are some of the things you should know…
*When he was 4yo–he saw HIMSELF in the picture book Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. He became obsessed with art and headed to NY–there was no plan B
*Be careful who you share your dreams with, even the people who love you will tell you to get a job.
*Your dreams should be so outrageous they scare you.
*Everything your awkward about is the very thing that makes you special. <3
*Creativity is not just a pond–it’s a river. We are moving!
*The world is waiting for you to dream.
*Sometimes our readers aren’t standing in the doorway. They are in a ditch–behind bars. And they are waiting for you.
Want to check out some of Bryan’s amazing work? Look for his illustrations in KNOCK KNOCK.
Next up was a Panel Discussion–Four Types of Picture Books: A Closer Look
Moderator LL-Laurent Linn
DS–Daniel Salmieri (Illustrator)
GP–Greg Pizzoli (Author/ Illustrator)
ADP–Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author/Editor)
AB–Andrea Beaty (Author)
There was so much great information offered by this panel, so I’ve picked my favorite pieces of advice and inspiration to share with you…
ADP–Bringing non-fiction to readers is like spinach. You have to keep serving it up until they get a taste for it.
ADP–I’m under the belief that if something excites you–it can excite the child.
DS–Don’t be afraid to draw ANYTHING–you’re in a constant state of getting better.
GP–Picture book advice 1. a picture book can be anything 2. it should be direct 3. keep it short.
LL–Ballet look so easy. Effortless. But those ballerina’s have bloody stumps for feet. Rhyme has to look equally effortless.
Next up was my first Break Out Session–World Building with Arianne Lewin
This was a fabulous workshop and very relevant to what I’m working on in my WIP. Here’s what you need to know…
*Creating a world that’s immersive will keep the reader reading.
*The world should unfold organically.
*World building applies to ALL books–it’s the anchor for your story.
*The world has to be believable and manageable.
*1st build atmosphere–it make the reader feel comfortable slipping in.
*If the character believes it–the reader will believe it. It’s in the details.
*Great examples of world building–The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Golden Compass.
*The world is revealed by what your character does–show it!
The Lobby Rats taking a lunch break
One for me and one for my roomie <3
Then it’s back to work…
After lunch it was back to another breakout session.
This one was Writing Middle Grade Fiction with Andrew Harwell, Senior Editor at Harper Collins
*MG readers ages 8-12 (grades 2-6)
*This means that the middle grade section in bookstores houses a WIDE variety of books in one area–Captain Underpants to The Golden Compass.
*MG readers are extremely sophisticated–but keep your eye on the main character–that is the story anchor.
*Never talk down to your readers.
*There is no one, right gold standard voice or style in MG. Do what works for you and your character.
*Plant seeds –details in the earlier part of your book that you can catch again at the end.
*If you have the details clear in YOUR head, you don’t have to over explain anything to the reader. It will make sense. Make your plotting masterfully done.
*Make sure you give your characters a breathing moment–hit different emotional registers.
*The specific details are anchored in the universal themes.
*Be prepared to use sensitivity readers.
The afternoon keynote by Tahereh Mafi is STILL giving me goose bumps.
Everything about this keynote was incredible. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t capture it all. It was her words, which flowed non-stop. It was her elegant demeanor. It was her power and resilience. It was her history and her goals for the future. If you ever get a chance to hear her speak–know you are in for an altering experience.
This is what I was able to capture…
*A thick skin will only insulate you from pain, and act good is a writer who doesn’t feel anything?
*Speaking of her mom, who had her skull fractured on the streets of Iran: grief was a luxury she was never able to afford.
*My thin skin helps me to exhale emotions onto the page.
*Those rejections keep you hungry.
*Not everyone will know our stories and back stories–our inspirations and aspirations–but SOMEONE will find it.
*Lean into your pain and let it shape you.
*If you don’t give up, you can’t fail.
*She wrote and queried FIVE novels before the one that sold.
This year, the walls between the ballroom and the bookstore were opened. I loved it! This is everyone rushing to get Tahereh’s book after her moving keynote.
Next up was the afternoon panel–Children’s Books and the Social Media World: A Panel of Influencers
Moderator by Martha Brockenbrough MB
TJ–Travis Jonker (blogger) @100scopenotes and @TheYarnPodcast
CLS–Cynthia Leitich Smith (author/blogger) @CynLeitichSmith and www.cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com
MW–Mathew Winner (librarian/podcast host/blogger) @MatthewWinner and @AlltheWonders
Here’s a sample of what we got to hear…
TJ–I love when a voice we love in a book carries over into the authors social media.
CLS–Calls out Debbie Ohi as someone who is doing it RIGHT! She has take aways for her audience, snippets of her art, a positive and friendly attitude.
CLS–Write your mission statement as an author.
CLS–Know when to step away from social media and write your book.
CLS–Author profiles with animals–especially quirky animals get more love.
Worth a try, right?
MW–I never set out to have an audience. I set out to share what I love.
MW–Being nice makes you cool!
Usually book signings are on Sunday, but every once in awhile we have a couple people who need to sign on Saturday.
My roomie, Jodi Moore talking to Andrea Davis Pinkney!!!! She was the sweetest to cast with and I’m constantly blown away by what an intelligent woman Andrea is. You must read her work–it’s incredible. I fell in love with this picture book and got a signed copy for my school library…
And I also got to speak with Tahereh Mafi and tell her what an impact her keynote had on me. <3
And then it was time for the Gala with it’s the SCBWI MASHED POTATO BAR!!!
As if it was meant to be–I walked by and they opened this particular Mashed Potato Bar and I was the first one to use it ROTFL!
Hope you enjoyed my NY 2017 SCBWI Part 1 Recap. I’ll be sure to get you Part 2 as soon as I can.
Any questions about the conference? I’ll do what I can to answer them. Planning on going to the LA conference in July and want to be in the Lobby Rat know? Let me know and I’ll add you to the FB group. Or if you’re planning to attend a different SCBWI conference and would like to make sure the Lobby Rats are represented–let me know. We can arrange that <3
And if you want to play along in the comments and give Ellen Hopkins’ exercise a try, here’s your question…
What color was the NY conference and why?
You can answer this as an attendee or as an arm chair conference follower.
My conference was green like a leafy vine, because many of the ideas that were floating around in my head, were finally able to be connected because of what I learned and the people who were inspired me.