This past weekend I went to the Coronado Springs resort at Disney for my first regional SCBWI conference and workshop. That's Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators in case you don't know. It's a non profit organization made up of published and unpubbed peeps who have anything to do with children's books. I only recently became a member earlier this year and I'm so glad I did.
This organization is so friendly and genuinely helpful. The conferences run off the volunteer's help and I was impressed. I'll tell you a little about what it involved, then I'll go into actual writer details in later posts.
So they had a writer's intensive workshop on Friday, which I missed, but Saturday was the different tracks with the industry professionals. I did the mid grade track, and I have to say, the intimacy we had with our instructors was awesome. There was about twenty of us in a mid size room with easy access to ask questions or make comments. Our instructors were kid lit agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe from Nancy Coffey agency and lifetime kid lit author Gordon Korman. I knew who Joanna was but I've never submitted anything to her. But I'm embarrassed to say I wasn't familiar with Gordon. If you know anything about kid lit, The 39 Clues series is widely popular with kids right now, and Gordon is the author of two of those books, as well as collaborating author, along with Rick Riordon, among others. So I'd definitely heard about this series, and when I realized he was one of the authors, I was really excited. I even bought one of his books and had him sign it like a big ol groupie. lol! He was cool enough to sign it, "Nice working with you." :)
Anyway, we heard him speak a lot about his works and writing in general, his very witty life observations and how he applies them to his writing. I'll have more on that in later posts. In short, he's an all around great guy and been writing for kids since he was 12.
We spent the day in the classroom learning from Gordon and Joanna directly and having them answer questions. They also critiqued everyone's first pages (I forgot mine. dork) and it was great to hear their thoughts right after each first page was read--what needed work, what wasn't working, etc. Everyone was really friendly and excited to be there, so that was cool. I sat in the front row like a big geek and listened attentively. I also introduced myself to Joanna and told her I planned to query her, of which my dorkdom was probably ridiculously obvious, but you know what, I don't care! I was there for a reason and I wanted her to put a face with the name if by some miracle she even remembers me.
But the cool part is that I got a golden ticket to submit a partial, not only to Joanna, but another agent as well as a few editors directly. So that alone was worth showing up. I guess what I got most out of the conference was the opportunity to network and mingle with like minded peeps. It's really all about getting out there and making yourself known in person. It was a good feeling.
I also got some swag, and I have two Beastly lapel pins if anyone's interested, leave me a comment and I'll select two recipients.
I'll go into what Joanna and Gordon talked about more in later posts. Bottom line: I'd do it again for sure!
How about you? Have you been to any? What were your thoughts? Or are you a newbie like me? Please share!