Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Reflections on My 1st Writer's Conference

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!    

32 comments:

Lori M. Lee said...

Awesome! Sounds like a lot of fun. I totally want to attend a conference someday *crosses fingers* Also, Joanna is a rock star, so I'm sending you tons of good vibes :D

Carol Riggs said...

I'm so glad you went and enjoyed!! I've gone to SCBWI conferences for years; love 'em. You can really learn a lot, and network with other writers too. :)

Talli Roland said...

GORDON KORMAN! GORDON KORMAN!

OMG!!!!!

I grew up reading his books. He's iconic in Canadian children's literature and I absolutely LOVED his novels. I'm so jealous!

GigglesandGuns said...

Sounds like you were very busy and successful. Boucheron is in Cleveland next year and I'd LOVE to be there. It's only 60 miles, so....

Karen Walker said...

How cool, Pk. So glad you enjoyed it and got requests for partials. That's awesome.
Karen

Ashley Nixon said...

Congrats on your requests! That's amazing. :) I've never been to a conference, not yet anyway, but I'm hoping to go sometime.

I really enjoyed Beastly! It was a nice take on Beauty and the Beast!

Also, I gave you a blog award! Check out my blog to see it! :))

welcome to my world of poetry said...

So pleased you enjoyed yourself and had fun, I have never been to a conference.

Yvonne,

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Don't need the Beastly pin, but that's awesome you've got requests to submit your work!

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm usually way too shy for stuff like this, but it actually sounds like you had an amazing experience. Very cool.

erica and christy said...

Sounds like you had a great time! We went to a small, regional conference this past spring and would definitely do it again.
erica

Old Kitty said...

Yay for winning the golden ticket!! That's brilliant - well done you!! And yay for being the biggest geek there cos who cares - you get to sit at the front and take everything in and your writing can only benefit! Yay!! take care
x

fOIS In The City said...

I haven't participated in a conference yet, but I am getting so anxious to finally get to one.

That sounds like a great connection for you to query your work :) Hoot and happy dance !!

I look forward to the next posts when you talk more about this amazing experience. Good for you, PK.

Rachel Pudelek said...

I definitely want to hear more about your experience. I've never been to a conference, but would love to go. I just want to meet more writers. So, in your 'classes' were they about writing YA in particular?

Pk Hrezo said...

@ Rachel There were different tracks to attend: YA, MG, PB, digital media, illustrations, etc. I chose the MG track since I just finished a MG story, but I also write YA and next time would like to try that.

William Kendall said...

It's been ages since I read a Gordon Korman book, but like Talli says, he's an icon.

Sounds like it was fun!

Jeigh said...

That's so cool! I've been thinking about joining SCBWI but I don't know...I'm too far away to go to monthly meetings, and I doubt I'd be able to go to many conferences. Are there any other benefits? Although, just getting the chance to network is huge. Sounds like you had fun!

Jennifer Hillier said...

Gordon Korman! That guy's a legend... and he's pretty much my age! He's from where I'm from, and boy was he idolized.

Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Good luck with that partial!

Donna Hole said...

Good for you stepping right up to the agent. Can't make all your dreams come true without taking a risk.

.......dhole

Elle Strauss said...

It's sounds like you had an inspiring time. It's been so long since I've been to a conference...some day!

christicorbett said...

At my first conference I wore my hand out because I went up to anyone in my path, introduced myself, and then fell into lengthly conversations.

I figured that was why I was there, so why not?

I met so many great people, learned a lot, and still keep in touch with several to this day.


Christi Corbett

Tony Benson said...

I hate to admit I've never been to a writers' conference, and I know I'm missing out. I think I'd like to have my first full sellable manuscript with me, though, when I do.

Glad you had a good time. It was clearly a great event.

M Pax said...

Sounds like you had a great time. Yay. I know a couple people who got published through SCBWI.

Bryce Daniels said...

I WAS planning on attending Killer Nashville this August, a conference geared toward mystery, suspense, and thriller writers. A little disappointed because I think a transfer is in my future which will destroy these plans.

I'm glad you had a great time!! How some amazing things will come out of it for you.

BTW: You won a free appetizer on your next trip to the Society. No work involved, nothing to pass on. Just sit back and enjoy the quesadillas!

Nas Dean said...

Hi PK,

Sounds awesome, but I'm a complete newbie. I so want to attend one!

Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Good luck with that partial!

A.G. Wright said...

Hi PK -
I too went to my first SCBWI Conf. this past weekend, in Orlando. Only went to the track on Saturday as well. But heard the intensives on Friday were great.
Sat in the YA track with Author Kathleen Duey - what a wonderful, kind and patient person. There's so many rules to writing and she brought it back to the basics - finding "voice".
Met a lot a great people and I would definitely attend again too!

DM said...

Sounds inspiring and it sounds as though you had fun too.

Jacqueline Howett said...

I'll have to try that some time. Sounds rewarding.

Have a great 4th July weekend!

alexia said...

Exciting! Conferences rock!

That is so cool you got some requests for partials! Very exciting getting to send a query with "requested pages" in the subject line :)

Beth said...

Wow! Sounds like you had fun and got lucky w/ the requests too, even better.
bethfred.com

Cally Jackson said...

Okay, I'll admit it: I'm a writers' conference virgin --something I hope to remedy very soon. Glad your experience was worthwhile. :-)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Joanna is gold. She sent me the kindest, most encouraging rejection ever and contacted me to congratulate when my book sold. All the best with your future submission!

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