SCBWI Canada East Blog

October 20, 2014

6:02 PM 1

I had the honour and priviledge of spending this past weekend (October 17-19 2014)  at SCBWI Canada East Conference in Ottawa, Ontario.  And all I can say WOW!

I had the opportunity to meet with some of the movers and shakers of the Children's Literature World.  I wish I could have split myself in two so that I could be at all the presentations.

Caroline Pignat, a Governor General Award winning author, gave a stellar message of the creative process.  Although, I am sure as artists we all have our own way of writing, she seemed to know me better than I know myself.  It was comforting to see that a writer of her calibre shares the same challenges as I do, except that my procrastinating takes the form of procrastiknitting.  But I suspect we all have a procrasti-something.

Lin Oliver, a co-founder and present executive director of SCBWI, gave a quick synopsis of its birth. I have known that I am part of an exceptional organization, but now I know that I am also in the company of some of the trailblazers in this precarious business.

Lin shared her knowledge of screenwriting and adapted it so that it can be applied to writing a novel.  As all intelligent people do, she took a seemly complicated process and made it simple.  I learned that some of the strange things I do, such as eavesdropping on the conversations of my teens, is actually good and important for my novel.  And I thought I was just being an overprotective mother.

Kelsey Murphy, of Balzer + Bray of Harper Collins, shared her insight on developing a strong character, be it protagonist or villain. I learned how knowing and understanding my characters wants and emotions, allows me to create someone believable.  Also that including subtext and consistent reactions give a character complexity.  Such a character could gain a enthusiastic following from his or her readers.

Ruben Pfeffer, of Pfeffer Content, LLC, taught his audience the keys  to a successful submission.  Although we may all be in a rush to get our manuscript in the hands of an agent or publisher, it is important to make your work as good as it can get.  Show a commitment to your craft.  Also, as writers, we must know what we are writing.  Is it a picture book or a novel, or something in between?

Reuben also shared, from an agent point of view, that a manuscript may be rejected, not because it was bad and that the rejection should not be taken personally.  It may not be what the house wants at the time.  There can be logistical issues.  Do not be discouraged. 

I almost forgot Laura Whitaker from Boomsbury Children's Book. She presented a way to make an editor fall in love with you. She taught us the important parts of a query with her whimsical uniqueness. With a handout that mimicked an on line dating form, we learned how to concisely but effectively get ourselves and thus our manuscript noticed. Let's all avoid the dreaded slush pile. 

These were just the formal parts of the conference.  If you missed it, there was a pub crawl and a "Come as your Favourite Children's Literature Character" costume party.  Both were opportunities to meet all of these people not just professionally but to get to know them as people.

I cannot encourage any writer enough to join us at our next conference in Montreal in the Spring of 2015.  It is a chance to share your strengths and learn how to push through your challenges.  No matter if you are a published author, new to writing with the goal of publication, or like me, still looking for that first "YES" to your manuscript, there is something for you to learn and teach.

I look forward to meeting you in Montreal 2015.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I could have been there! Hopefully I can make it to the next one. :)