Saturday, September 28, 2013

SCBWI Carolinas - 2013

I am sitting in my hotel room on the Saturday night of the AWESOME SCBWI conference in the Carolinas. This was my 3rd year attending. Third year IN A ROW. After that first amazing year, I made it a goal to attend EVERY year thereafter. So far, so good. The people here are wonderful and open and giving. Everyone shares and laughs. It's electrifying to have so much passion around you.

SCBWI writing tips | simple advice for writers | powerful tips for children's book writers

This year, I heard Cynthea Liu, Alan Gratz, Dan Yaccarino, Emma Ledbetter, Patti Ann Harris, Joy Neaves, Emily Easton, and more speak to us. The agent panel was lively with Stephen Barr, Sarah Davies, and Danielle Smith.

A few things I learned:
  1. When submitting attachments (and only when requested, of course), make sure they are .doc and not .docx.
  2. Do what works for you.
  3. Stay true to your vision.
  4. Set clear goals and write them down, even the ones that seem unattainable.
  5. Celebrate every success, but especially the small ones like finishing a manuscript, getting your 10th rejection letter, writing for a solid hour this week.
  6. The main character can be the antagonist, while it's the protagonist who actually does the changing.
  7. To sell a lot of picture books, your book must do at least one of these three things really well (more is better):
    • deal with a subject that speaks to the child
    • use rich language to create special moments
    • create genuine characters
  8. Word count doesn't really matter.
  9. Idea notebooks are important.
  10. It's always about the craft, the actual writing. Keep practicing.
  11. Even in the first 200 words, be grounded in time and place, get to the conflict early on, hint at what's at stake for your character, save all the details for later, and use good language without being too descriptive.
Looking forward to the final workshop with Cynthea Liu and the Closing Keynote with Dan Yaccarino tomorrow morning. It feels good to be recharged.

Today's QUESTION: What do you do to get recharged? Yearly, monthly, weekly, even daily?

My annual SCBWI conference is a definite must! Not sure about the rest of the year, anybody have any great ideas?

Keep on keepin' on...


  1. Love that list of what your picture book must do well! I'm intrigued by what you said about the main character being the antagonist as long as the protagonist is the one that changes. Can you elaborate on that, or do you have any examples?
    So glad to hear that you had another great conference experience!

  2. All of these have an antagonist MC and do not change. They "make" the protagonist change. Curious George, The Cat in the Hat, Swimmy, Madeline, Harry the Dirty Dog, and Amelia Bedelia. Very interesting, indeed. The red-eye WAS a lot of fun. I think I'll continue to do it each year. One of these years, I'd like to do one of the intensives.

  3. I LOVE our local SCBWI conferences. I always learn so much. Yours sounds like a good one. Thanks for sharing so much. Enjoy the rest of your time there.

  4. Sounds like you are having a great time. And learning so much. Thanks for sharing a few of the things you've learned.

  5. Sounds like it was a great conference. Nothing like a conference or event to give you a push to organize, edit, create, and reread all those piles of stories.


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