Tag Archives: SCBWI L.A. Conference

SCBWI L.A. Conference – Wow!

The Los Angeles SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators) Conference was packed with over 1200 people. SCBWI Los Angeles 13 Like a conference in any industry, you need to have a plan to tackle getting the information you need. I introduced Melissa Manlove, editor with Chronicle Books, as one of my regional advisor  (RA) duties. She was terrific. Check out Chronicle’s site for submission guidelines. They take un-agented work, although 80% of their publications are agented.

My other  RA duty was to be the official PAL (Published and Listed) reception schmooze. This was a great job. I visited all the authors and chatted with them when they didn’t have someone around them ready to buy their book. I definitely stopped in to chat with member Corina Vacco, as she sold out her debut book, My Chemical Mountain.photo

I also attended Steve Sheinkin‘s (wrote the The Bomb) workshop on Research Techniques for Writers. Outstanding. Then on to Peter Lerangis about writing a series. He had super tips on how to approach publishers and get your thinking straight!

Brodi Ashton, the delightful YA author of Everneath, held a workshop on World Building. Her 10 questions to ask yourself were great to help you build a world for a young reader or a teenage reader. The amazing woman, speaker, best-selling author and Scholastic editor, Andrea Pinkney, stole the show. She could laser in on how to improve your writing and find your “twinkle”.

Now to get writing!!!!

Doing Queries for Children’s Magazines

At the SCBWI national conference in Los Angeles 4 years ago, I attended a wonderful workshop by SCBWI regional advisor Sue Ford. (She writes under Sue Uhlig. She was RA in Kansas at the time and is now RA in Oregon!) While I’m published in other industries like health care, I did not have published work in children’s literature. (And it looked like it would be awhile with my chapter books.) Sue taught the basics and how to get started. (She has hundreds of articles published!)  Then when I attended a Writer’s Retreat three years ago, I roomed next to SCBWI member and author Natasha Carter Yim.  She was working on a magazine query and reminded me of the magazine websites and their submission guidelines.

That got me hooked. It was those connections that helped me get started. I’ve done many queries and have had 3 articles published to date. Magazine publishers receive hundreds of queries for a single issue. When it’s time to prepare the issue, they look at all the queries and create their focus to select the articles that fit with their direction.

My latest set of queries is for an issue on SNAKES. I was totally clueless on snakes. Like all my queries, I totally immerse in research, and am always amazed how totally ignorant I am on these topics. I love the immersion to come up with compelling topics for children. My latest was discovering Twinkie,

Twinkie, World's Largest Albino Python

Twinkie, World’s Largest Albino Python

the largest Albino python in the world! My next query drew me into the horrifying python slaughterhouses and the black market for snake skins supplying the billion dollar skin industry for European fashions.

Hope the queries are selected. But whether they are or not, it was an enjoyable writer’s journey!


SCBWI Los Angeles Conference Kicks Your Rear

The Conference held in Los Angeles is nearly  a week long series of meetings, speeches, networking, workshops, parties, eating and possibly chatting with 1,200 great people. You have to enter this conference with a plan, like I posted earlier. Otherwise you can get caught in conference nervosa: the various stages of exhilaration, depression, exhaustion, frustration and giddiness that can kidnap your conference productivity. Since this is the first time I took time away from my “day” job to attend the entire conference, I made sure I was well hydrated, and stayed focused. It was like preparing for a marathon. I needed to know my route, where my stops were to get nutrition and hydrate, and pace myself for the long haul. Its like any journey, or marathon. The best part is the people you meet along the way of the training. Of course, I would have liked getting the prize – a book contract or agent. But that was not my plan – this time!

Candace Fleming signing autographs at SCBWI L.A. Conference 8/5/12

When you’re an  SCBWI regional advisor, illustrator, or assistant, you volunteer your time at the conference. It’s a wonderful way to meet ever more people and get some upfront and personal time. I had the great experience of not only attending Candice Fleming’s (Golden Kite award winning author of Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart) excellent program on non-fiction writing, but also was her autograph assistant during the author signing event.

Matthew Kirby signing autographs at SCBWI Conference 8/5/12

She signed next to author Matthew Kirby, Icefall. Just couldn’t resist this wonderful photo of his adoring young fan.

The biggest takeaway from the conference, aside from 5 pounds of notes, a few more pounds of new books and a head full of new ideas, is prioritizing. That is, putting in order the top things you are going to follow up on after you have just made this investment in time and expense to improve your craft and step up your writing career. So that’s my challenge, getting the time to execute my top things. Where, oh where, is an intern when you need one?