Monday, May 3, 2010

SCBWI Michigan Conference

Whew! I'm back from the cyclone of activity that was the Lansing Michigan spring conference. Unfortunately, I was so star-strucked by all the great speakers, I completely forgot to take pictures until the end of the day at question period. Here's the panel of presenters.

The day was efficiently broken into 50 minute workshops. It was hard to pick which ones to go to since they all looked so good. Here's a bit of what I learned:

Jay Asher - author of Thirteen Reasons Why

Jay is an amazing speaker! I hope you get a chance to listen to his talk on how he got published (all 12 years of trying) what an inspiration! And he's also hilarious.
  • since everyone is different, it's hard to get relavant writing tips for everyone at a conference. The biggest thing to gain from a conference is inspiration
  • Jay started off writing funny books. It's what he thought he wanted. It took him ten years to learn he can't. Let go of what you think you're best at. Be open minded to try new things.

Beth Fleisher - Literary agent with Barry Goldblatt Literary Agency

Ms. Fleisher fills up a room with her personality. And she has a "you be you, I'll be me" attitude that is fun and refreshing.
  • setting is the soul of a book
  • you must sweep the reader into that world. If you don't create it, it doesn't exist
  • pay attention to details - kids are curious how others live, they love content
  • setting points out the emotional state of the character
  • Ground your book - you have to live in a house. Your book has to live in a house.

Ruta Rimas - assistant editor at Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins imprint)

I so enjoyed listening to Ruta! She's a delight.
  • go through your wip word by word, then sentences, then paragraphs asking if everything works
  • next she suggested working on voice - rewrite a scene in your wip with a new voice

Donna Gephart - author of How to Survive Middle School

Funny, funny lady! And great writing tips. And a Verla Kay blue boarder!
  • 175,000 books are published per year
  • your characters have to stand out, give them interesting quirks
  • they also have to have a "like me" factor to be able to relate to
  • you do this by including a universal emotion eg. desire to be included, need to be loved, etc.
  • characters need to change in such a way, they can never go back to the way they were
  • give information about your character through an eye dropper
  • what secret is your character hiding in her closet?
Lisa Yoskowitz - assistant editor at Dutton Children's Books

It was interesting hearing the insider secrets of how an editor goes through the slush pile
  • an editor evaluates:
  • if voice is authentic
  • if story has a universality
  • originality and character development
  • is there rising tension? good pacing?
  • do I LOVE it?
  • Lisa also suggests you need an agent!

I was able to purchase the top two books and get them signed by the authors. And I won a copy of Take Joy!
Now I'm full of inspiration, made new friends and contacts, and I'm eager to try out some of the tricks I learned. I'll be working on revisions for the next few weeks, so will be scarce here and on your blogs. But the best thing I heard at the conference - you have to WRITE! and I'm off to do that.


Unknown said...

Wow!!! Looks like you had one hell of a time!! I love the photo and I would love to have seen the author of Thirteen Reasons Why!!! 12 years of trying?! Holy Toledo Batman!

Sarah said...

Great stuff here! Thanks for sharing...

Ruth Donnelly said...

Sounds like a great conference! I love Beth Fleisher's statement that setting is the soul of a book.

Jonathon Arntson said...

:.......( Thats me crying for not being able to be there. I would've love to meet you and Jay.

I am trying to talk Heather, Tina, and the gang into a writer's weekend on Mackinac Island. You'd so be there for that, right?! We'll see if I can convince them.

Unknown said...

Terry--thanks so much, it's like we were there with you! I loved the "setting is the soul of a book" and "what secret is your character hiding in her closet?"! But everything sounds great. I'm glad you got filled up at the conference! I hope your revisions are going great!!

Ann Marie Wraight said...

GREAT WORK! Glad you had a fantastic time Terry.

Don't worry - we'll be here when you get back!!

THANKS for all the info!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Thanks for sharing all this. You're right, the inspiration is the number one thing you walk away with.

Jonathon Arntson said...

If Mackinac takes flight, I will for sure let you know. I know Chicago has been vetted too. Both are four hours from me. But so far for the others. It won't be for quite a while anyway.

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

Welcome home, Terry Lynn! That sounds like a fantastic conference!! Thanks for sharing your notes with us.

Larissa said...

Those are great notes, Terry Lynn! thanks for sharing them! :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

I was there too for most of the conference. I enjoyed it too. I'm so sorry I didn't find you to say hi. There wasn't much time to talk.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Terry--It sounds like you had a wonderful time. I so need to go to a conference or a retreat...

Janet said...

Thanks for the info on the conference. Sounds like it was a great one. I've got to get ready for ours. It's the second weekend in June. I have to figure out which one of my stories I'm going to pitch to Peter Lynch.

Unknown said...

Sounds like a great conference and you came away inspired. A success! Thank you for sharing your notes. Much appreciated.

Laura Pauling said...

Glad you had a great time! Conferences are always so inspiring!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

I love hearing about conferences that I didn't get to attend. Thanks for sharing!

Susan Fields said...

Sounds like a wonderful conference - thanks for sharing what you learned with us.

I'm so encouraged to hear that it took Jay Asher 12 years to get published - I'm getting dangerously close to that mark. :(

PJ Hoover said...

it looks like a great time. Thank you for posting about it!

Tara McClendon said...

What fun! I agree: WRITE.

Just Wendy said...

Wow! What a great experience. Thanks for sharing all your news with us.

Good stuff!

PS. I've left a little something for you on my blog :)

People Who Know Me Would Say: said...

What I enjoy about reading your blog is that you always do the most fun, adventurous, interesting things. Your world is dynamic, Terry!

lisa and laura said...

Wow, I'm so jealous! That sounds like an AMAZING conference! Maybe we'll drive up from Cleveland next year!

Buffy Andrews said...

Great recap Terry. Sounds like you definitely got your money's worth. Good luck with your work!

Alissa Grosso said...

OK, I am convinced. I must join SCBWI. Immediately. Wishing you much productivity in your writing and revising.

Marcia said...

This sounds wonderful. I'm going to come back later and look at some of these points more carefully. "Give information about your character through an eyedropper" really jumped out at me. What a great way to put it!