Posts Tagged ‘SCBWI’

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

This weekend I ventured to New Orleans for the first regional SCBWI conference (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) aptly named the JambaLAya KidLit Conference.

What an amazing conference complete with lots of books to buy (thanks to Octavia Books) and lots of food to eat (beignets, jambalaya, and king cake!) The conference took place in the classic Academy of the Sacred Heart School on St. Charles Ave. The halls smelled of fresh flowers. The wood floors sparkled. The air felt academic and deeply Catholic.

I met authors, illustrators, and editors, my rock stars. Cheryl Klein, editorial director at Lee & Low Books and author of The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults led two talks, one on “Purpose, Premise, and Promise” and one on revision techniques. During both of these talks, I had important realizations about my works in progress.

A highlight of the day was meeting Angie Thomas, the author of the new #1 best selling YA book The Hate U Give. Angie is from my home town, Jackson, MS, so I had to take a picture with her.  Angie was so humble. Her fame has been rather a whirlwind. She read to us a portion of her editorial letter. This helped me understand that even best selling authors have major issues in their novels that need to be worked out.


I wish I took better notes at conferences, but with some speakers, I just want to sit back and listen. That’s how it was with Whitney Stewart. Whitney has traveled the world and written nonfiction books about the Dalai Lama and Walt Disney. She has been lucky in her life to have nonfiction projects find her. Her stepfather handed her letters that led to the book Mr. Lincoln’s Gift, a tale of artist Francis Bicknell Carpenter’s life spent in the White House during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. More recently she found letters that her mother-in-law had in storage about her two brothers who were both German soldiers killed in WWII. More than luck is Whitney’s ability to turn these pieces of history into literature.

I was privileged to sit next to her at dinner Saturday night and share real experiences. Whitney has not yet been able to write about her survival of Hurricane Katrina.  She spent five days in the Tulane Medical School and was rescued by helicopter.  Some experiences take a long time before they become literature.

I could write so much more about this amazing day. At this point I’ll save more reflections for another day, another slice.

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

This weekend I attended my first ever SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) regional conference in Houston. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was nervous. I thought maybe I was jumping into a place I would not belong, a pond made only for big fish. My fears were relieved almost immediately when I met Caroline walking across the street to the Westin. She told me how scared she was the first time, so she decided she would always find a new person and be welcoming. How great for me. We found a place at a table together, and everyone started chatting and exchanging cards.

I was asked, “Are you an author or an illustrator?”
“Uh, well…”
I said with confidence, “I am an author.”
Then I giggled. “Yes, this is my first time.”

Our first presenter was the illustrator Kelly Light. I fell in love with her. She put us all at ease with her humor and her very real story about her struggle to find herself and live her dream. I was moved to tears by the end. Her first book is adorable, Louise Loves Art.


At her signing, she gave out stickers. I wore my favorite sticker on Sunday to have some courage to “Be Fierce…So Feline…So Fantastic!”

Fierce feline sticker on my journal with my fierce feline, Mimi.

Fierce feline sticker on my journal with my fierce feline, Mimi.

Amidst the inspiring speakers and the chatting with new friends, I had an editor’s critique of my middle grade work in progress. My palms were sweaty and my stomach was churning, but I walked in bravely. The editor was calm and respectful. She did not treat me as a total idiotic-what-do-you-think-you-are-doing writer. However, I have a lot of work to do. I have hard decisions to make. Revisions to write. But my work is viable. This work is doable. I will not be sending in a manuscript any time soon. I know I am not ready; however, I am a fish in the pond. I can swim freely alongside the other fish. I am one of them. I am an author.

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