Monday, May 02, 2016

NESCBWI Conference '16

Doesn't this look like thousands of people?
I had a big day in Springfield Saturday at the New England Society of Children's Book Writers And Illustrators Conference. How big a day? Look at the crowd at lunch. Evidently there were only 600+ people there, not the couple of thousand I thought, which probably says something significant about my perception of crowds. Nonetheless, the New England Conference is one of the bigger, if not the biggest, of the SCBWI regional conferences. Not to be confused with the two national ones.

There are multiple workshop offerings each hour, so what I'm going to describe is just a small sample of what was going on Saturday.

First off, I'm not a fan of speeches or of getting on the road early, so I didn't try to arrive in time for the 8:45 AM keynote address. That meant I didn't have to leave my house until 8:15. Careful planning, people, is essential for conference goers.
Beautiful throwaway items?
The marketing material next to the registration table is worth a mention. Author marketing...stuff...has become remarkably and intimidatingly beautiful. I have accepted that the days of having cheap bookmarks made at Kinko's with just black ink on colored card stock, so I could give out 600 or so at a school, are behind me. The tiny environmentalist part of me could easily get its knickers in a twist because marketing materials have very little shelf life. You may just be creating items for transfer stations. But there's no denying that these things are great looking.
Yes, this picture is crooked. It's not you.

My first workshop at 9:45 was Reinventing your Query Letter with Kristine Carlson Asselin and agent Kathleen Rushall I noticed while I was writing this post that the workshop leaders worked the conference theme, The Power of (Re)Invention, into their title. Very clever. I took this workshop even though I've written hundreds of query letters over the years, a number of which got responses. But, remember, I've got that mind of the beginner thing going. I always assume there's more I can learn. I did come away with some information.   

Help! Help me! I have to write a synopsis!
My second workshop was Taming the Synopsis with agent Ammi-Joan Paquette. I took this one because the synopsis is the devil's document, and he holds writers in Hell with him while he makes them write them. 

I came away with an idea I'm going to try.

No, they are not four random women.
Lunch! I had lunch with some members of my writers' group. I'm posting a picture of them to prove that I have one. 
Don't know what was with the scary dog.

Patrick Carman, author of Skeleton Creek, among other best-sellers, was the lunch keynote speaker. Extremely entertaining, and did a well-done talk on what might be called the karmic pattern that led him to become a successful writer and to that ballroom on Saturday. Personally, I think the story about his father was highly significant.

She owns the mystery.
On to the next workshop. Blueprinting Your Novel or Short Story with keynote Wendy Mass.  This was intriguing on a couple of levels. First, the blueprint Wendy described sounds workable. I'm going to try it this month. Maybe even this week. Maybe today. Then there's the business of how Wendy came to learn of it. There's a mystery there, which I'm not going to tell you about because it's not my story to tell. But it's very cool.

"Characters should be people"... like Soylent Green?
And, finally, I finished the day with What A Character! The Art of Character (Re) Invention with Jo Knowles. Look! She worked the conference theme into her title, too. I learned the expression "tertiary character" here and did a little writing on an idea I got earlier in the day.

What Happened In The Parking Garage: I had some trouble getting out of the parking garage because of some kind of problem with the parking validation. The parking attendant asked me, "Are you with the book people?" Sunday I thought, She could tell. She could tell I was with the book people.

1 comment:

Eileen M. Washburn said...

The mirrors in that room can be very misleading! Glad you were inspired.