Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Oklahoma SCBWI Spring Conference 2009

Oklahoma SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) members braved a snowstorm to come to the spring conference last Saturday. Here is the scene we saw every time we looked outside. (You can tell it’s spring. Just look at all the pretty flowers!)

I love the excitement created when writers and illustrators talk about their passion for children’s literature. I love the writers I’ve gotten to know through SCBWI. I love learning more about the craft of writing for children.

Our Oklahoma SCBWI conferences seem to get better each year, thanks to Anna Myers and her team of volunteers. Saturday’s conference was worth the inconvenience of fighting snow on the turnpike or going to Tulsa a day early.

We had some great speakers. Unfortunately, I only got photos of half of them. I didn’t try taking pictures during their speeches until our third speaker. Then I decided I’d wait until the panel discussion at the end to photograph some of them, but my camera ran out of juice before the end of the day. You’ll just have to trust me when I say they were all very good looking. (Aren’t all children’s editors good looking to a writer?)

Laurent Linn, art director at Simon and Schuster, spoke about the six different genres of picture books. These are holiday, folktales or fairy tales, a child’s discovery of the world, concept, nonfiction, and animals. He reminded us that all picture books are poetry.

Mary Kate Castellani, from Walker Books for Young Readers, talked about the five elements that make or break a manuscript: plot, voice (most important), characterization, setting, and details. She used current books to demonstrate each element.

Kristin Daly, from Harper Collins, spoke on Easy-to-Reads and chapter books. I especially enjoyed her talk, as she clearly showed us the difference between the two genres. I even got a photo of her, as shown below. The most important thing to remember about an Easy-to-Read book, she says, is that story always comes first.

Gail R. Gross, a royalty consultant, talked about book contracts, royalty statements, and author rights. Gail totally convinced me that if I ever sell one of my books, I will need an agent or an intellectual property attorney to represent me. Wow. This stuff is complicated.

Elana Roth, an agent with Carmen Johnson Literary Agency, gave a very helpful presentation on the role of an agent. She even told us how to break up with an agent if the partnership goes badly.

Finally, Abigail Samoun, from Tricycle Press, talked about the publication process. She showed us the editor’s role throughout each stage of development. (Whew! No wonder it takes editors so long to communicate with us. They do a lot more than just read our manuscripts.)

Lunch is a nice opportunity for talking with editors and agents. Here Susan and Glenda visit with Mary Kate Castellani.

This is the only photo I got of Abigail Samoun--dark hair and clothing with her back to us.

After the conference, many of us went out to eat with our speakers. It’s fun getting to know editors, agents, and other writers.

I always come away from a writing conference with renewed enthusiasm and focus. I’m ready to finish up a couple of writing projects and move on to others. I LOVE writing for kids!


Joy said...

I agree, we should be friends. I'd love for you to follow my blog. Right now my "following" thing is messed up and when I try to follow you, my hubby's name pops up. I'll get it corrected and add you soon.

Love the pix you took. It's ironic because the only pic I took was of the panel and I wish I had pix from the day of the individual speakers. Mind if I lift them from you blog to add to mine? Great summary of the conference! Mine tends to be a bit wordy, so I had to break it up.

Speaking of wordy. . .this comment is going on forever.

Oh, and you got a picture of me :) I'm on the fourth pix, far right, scarf around my neck, Starbucks cup in front of me. It was destiny that we meet :)

Stacy Nyikos said...

Thanks so much for discovering me on blogger! Love your blog about the conference and all the great pics!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous stuff! Can't wait to get back to Tulsa!