Monday, October 1, 2007

SCBWI Carolinas Fall Writers' Conference 2007

So what happens when a couple of hundred Children's Writers get together for the weekend?


No, seriously, we had a blast at the 15th Annual SCBWI Carolina's Writer's Conference in Durham, NC. The Crystal Ball was a costume-filled success!

In the spirit of the event several members of my critique group dressed up like our own characters. I was thrilled wtih the opportunity to bring my secondary character "Jade" to life.

But there really was more than just revelry going on! There were 4 children/YA editors and quite a few well-credentialed authors on hand to do critiques, lead workshops, and hob-knob with the rest of us about the current trends in children's publishing.

Caldecott Winner, Carole Boston-Weatherford gave the keynote address

Editors from Atheneum, Dutton, Front Street and HarperCollins critiqued first pages aloud, and gave pointers. Big thanks to Caitlyn, Julie, Joy and Molly!

It was a mad dash for coffee in the morning, and then off to our first breakout session. "Illustration tips, writing dialogue, picture book concepts, and getting out of the slush pile," were some of the many topics on the menu throughout the day.

Editor Caitlyn Dlouhy and Author Francis O'Roarke Dowell (who wrote Dovey Coe) spoke about the author/editor relationship and the importance of working together.

There were red-eye critique sessions, a bookstore to peruse, and much discussion of writing techniques and the market, during breaks between sessions.
And once again, my active little critque group padded our free-time discussions with chick-fil-a chicken!

My favorite workshop involved Editor Julie Strauss-Gabel sharing characterization techniques through the eyes of a therapist.

"Figure out what's really going on for your character, and then help them get through it..."

SCBWI Co-Founder Lin Oliver was also an excellent guest at the event, sporting the red turban our chapter gave her (in honor of being the queen of SCBWI,) and giving out awards and sharing tips.

Her advice to "develop a personal cannon" of children's books that you know well, love, and can reference for plot, grammar, characterization and other writing kick-starts, was taken to heart by many. So, it was not unusual to pass small groups of writers sharing their lists of favorite books (their cannon), with each other in the halls.

For my cannon, I'll definitely start with...

1. The Black Stallion Returns

2. Crime and Punishment

3. The Twin Towers

4. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

5. Alex Rider: Stormbreaker

6. And, I admit it -- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire...)

Anyway, now that the conference is over, it's back to the books, people! Let's strengthen those characters, twist those plots, discuss it all in our local critique groups, and head those manuscripts toward the post office.

And as Lin Oliver suggested "Love your characters. Love your work. And love your vocation."


Ian Sands said...

Cool beans. and my cannon... Watership Down, the Hobbit, Click Clack Moo and the all those Narnia books.

jeff said...

Great pic's. Looks like you had a blast.

C.R. Evers said...

Great pics and a good lookin' crowd!

My personal cannon:
The Secret Garden
Crispin and the Crown of Lead - Avi
Gossamer = Lois Lowry
The Giver = Lois Lowry
Maata's Journal = Paul Sullivan
Kira Kira = Cynthia Kadahota
The Princess Bride = William Goldman
The Narnia Chronicles = C.S. Lewis
Captain Underpants = Dave Pilkey