Friday, February 15, 2008

SCBWI Winter '08 - A Mouthfull

SCBWI or Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is more than just a comprehensive organization name, it's a great conference. Packed tightly into the New York Hilton, the intensive 1.5 day conference was loaded to the rafters with speakers, agents, publishers, and other writers.

My roommate Chris and I crashed a publisher's party and met Jacqui Robbins, Bob Cochran, and Ro (Roe) who wasn't even attending the conference, but was celebrating his recent sale of "Herbert's Wormhole," a project he'd been shopping around for ten years. If that's not inspiring, I don't know what is.

The keynote speaker at Saturday's lunch was Carolyn Mackler who's speech was "My Life as a Teen Novelist." It should have been called "Letters from the Front Lines." Having never read her material, I was so touched by the letters she read that it moved me to suggest an archive of kid's letters as evidence against censorship.

My break-out session with Molly O'Neill's presentation on the brand new imprint - Bowen - was also inspiring. Mark McVeigh's session from his perspective at Alladin was enlightening. Susan Patron's speech on her run as a Newbery award-winner was exhaustive, funny, and - did I use the word inspiring yet?

I met a couple of agents, pitched my idea through business cards I had made up. They were a hit, and I'm waiting to see how my website does. I decided to put up a tagline, a synopsis and the first 5 pages, which is basically what everyone wants to see. Rather than emailing, or snail-mailign, I hope to cut down the time and the amount of paper out there. Which I'll cover more in the next blog.

SCBWI's summer conference is in Los Angeles, and I can't wait to save on hotel and airfare by living in the right city at the right time.

Lastly, Lin Oliver's introductions and m.c. duties were charming and disarming. She took the early morning fire alarm and made it something to laugh about. I'll definitely go back. It was a well-organized, warm event. And that's got to be from the top down. Accessible authors, agents and publishers all make SCBWI a place to both listen and ask questions.

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