August, 2012

41st Annual SCBWI Summer Conference

From the moment SCBWI founder Lin Oliver lit the opening match to start the parade of faculty; to the last keynote given by author Gary Schmidt, the 2012 SCBWI Summer Conference was magic.

There was almost too much to see and do. Inspiring keynotes. Agent panels. Editor panels. Picture Book panels. Intensives. Critiques. Parties and socials. Workshops and signings and award banquets, oh my!

Here is a list of my top ten moments:

10. The presentation of quilts with squares done by SCBWI illustrators (Tomie de Paola, Paul Zelinsky, & E.B. Lewis to name just a few) to Chelsea and Sarah at their baby shower. The quilts are true works of art. Museum worthy. Really. Another exciting party moment: the flash mob dance to Age of Aquarius at the Hippie Hop. Enough said.

9. The daily Olympic/Literary jokes. A few of my favorites: Big Bad Wolf blows lead. Phelps diet plan revealed; One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Bittersweet ending for Willy Wonka.

8. The faculty introducing themselves with a single word. One of my favorites was Matthew Kirby. His word, commit. Fiction not crime. This made me giggle before I’d even had coffee.

7. Keynote speaker Tony Diterlizzi. Funny, funny, funny.

6. Editor Ari Lewin’s workshop on writing fantasy. Her advice: tease the reader, use character & world building, not explanations or magic, in the opening scenes.

5. Keynote speaker Patricia Maclachlan. She says, “Children learn how to speak so they can tell us the stories that are already in their heads.”

4. Editor Elise Howard’s workshop on the realistic fiction market. Her advice: it all starts with intriguing characters.

3. Keynote speaker Karen Cushman, who said the following, “Seek surprise. Write with passion, dream big, and trust yourself. And remember, sometimes it’s necessary to write and sometimes it’s necessary to pull weeds.” A woman after my own heart.

2. Keynote by Gary Schmidt. He made me laugh. He made me cry. Then he made me laugh again. What a spectacular story teller.

1. Deborah Halverson’s intensive class titled Writing for Teens? Then Think Like One. She said to sound authentic your teen
characters need to ditch self awareness and stop analyzing others. She advises authors to: embrace their inner drama queen. Think big and push hard. Show, don’t preach. And finally, become italics unfriendly.  What I wouldn’t give to have this woman edit
my manuscript!

Like most attendees, I’ve returned home from the 2012 SCBWI Summer Conference with my creative spirit renewed and new tools for my writer’s toolbox.



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