This month I got to enjoy my first SCBWI Agent Day, in Chandler, Oklahoma.
I had such a great time, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since, wondering how I’d like best to recap it. In the meantime, two of my friends beat me to it, writing wonderful blog posts about the day. I read both of those and thought, these are good. Maybe I shouldn’t write one. I probably can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said.
But then I remembered that I spent a decade working for a weekly newspaper. Lots of times big news happened in our little town right after the paper came out. Little stories would be all mine, but the big stuff would be covered by the big daily papers. I’d still have to write about it, five or six days later. It would just be that local perspective.
So I can at least do that. Even if I can’t be first, and I probably can’t be best, it can still be my perspective. My newbie thoughts on Agent Day. That’s something, I think.
I’ve got my notes from the day, and my outline, so I think I’m going to go over it kind of lazy-style and just start at the beginning. If you wanted the inverted pyramid, I’m sure you’d pick up a newspaper anyway.
It was held in Chandler since that’s in between Tulsa and OKC and it’s where our Regional Advisor, Anna Myers, lives. Our Agent Day is held at the First Baptist Church there. The church doesn’t charge us anything, so it’s less expensive than the spring conference. That’s nice. I drove up with friends and got to use my new Pikepass for the first time, so that was fun and fancy.
The first speaker was Hannah Harrison, who is an incredible author/illustrator and has four books currently in various stages of publication. (She read Extraordinary Jane at the OKC Schmooze in September and it was fantastic and I love it.) She is also extremely super adorable – like almost overly so – but somehow it works for her and you don’t want to maim her or anything for it.
My notes are sketchy from Hannah’s talk, and it’s entirely all her fault because it was too entertaining and fun. The main point she wanted to pass on to all of us was to not waste your opportunities for advancement. Make the most of your chances to further your career, and don’t procrastinate if this is what you want to do. It’s good advice.
Other things I got from her speech (besides smiles) included:
* Interest in her childhood artwork. It caused me to look at my six-year-old’s work with new eyes. I have noticed that my littlest girl seems to have a different gift for art than the older children, but I haven’t done much about it. I’m now trying to focus on that more now, and encourage her, the way Hannah’s parents and educators did. Whether my daughter will continue with art or not, I need to be better aware of it.
* Don’t shut doors that are open for you, just because you think there is a “right” way to do something. Explore different options that lead to the result you want.
I sure am looking forward to getting my hands on Hannah’s books and maybe getting to review them right here on this blog. Why not, right?
The agents were next.
Anna got three super agents for us, and I was excited to hear from each of them. We had Natalie Fischer Lakosil, Bradford Literary Agency; Emily Mitchell, Wernick & Pratt Literary Agency; and Danielle Smith, Foreword Literary.
Ugh. How distressing. I wrote all of this in October. OCTOBER.
And then I didn’t get around to finishing. I saved the draft, and thought I’d get around to it later. Later didn’t come.
Instead, I got busy writing my new novel, which I’m pretty excited about. I’m 35,000 words into it. That’s awesome.
But this blog post is hanging over my head. I haven’t even posted anything else (except for the one NaNo post) because I knew I needed to finish this first.
Today I decided I was just going to delete it and go on from here. And then I actually got on here and read it, and saw that it wasn’t that terrible. Deleting it might not be the best idea after all.
I cannot write that much more about Agent Day, which stinks, because it was a great day. But it’s too far in the past now. I’m not going to wax on and on about the agents, even though they were seriously awesome. Anyone who gets the opportunity to visit with them or hear them speak should.
I do, however, have to mention the other Oklahoma speaker, local author Gwendolyn Hooks. I love Gwen. I am so lucky because she’s one of my critique partners.
Her first book, Can I Have a Pet?, just happens to be my six year old daughter’s favorite book. I did not coerce the child to love the book; it just happened that way. It’s also the first book that she read on her own. I think that it’s sort of wonderful that her first book was written by a friend.
So Gwendolyn told the story that led her to publication, and it was warm, and funny, and perfect, just like she is. She made each of us feel like she was sitting down and chatting with a friend.
Gwen’s upcoming book is Vivien Thomas – The Man Who Saved the Blue Babies. This picture book biography tells the story of a young African American man who, without a medical degree or a college education, designed the surgical technique that showed doctors how to operate on children born with Tetralogy of Fallot, or ‘Blue Babies.” It will be published by Lee and Low in spring 2015.
And…when I went looking for the links for this post, I noticed that she’s completely redone her website! Go see! Maybe that’s why I put off publishing this post for so long.
Even though it’s been weeks and weeks, one thing has stuck with me since listening to Gwen’s speech. She told us that if you love an idea, never give up on it. This resonated with me. One of my novels has aspects that sometimes seem so different that I wonder if I’ll ever be able to interest anyone in it. I love it. I think that it’s amazing. But I don’t know if I’ll ever find the person who’ll be willing to give it a chance. When Gwen said what she did, she reminded me to not give up on it. I can keep working on other, more marketable projects, but I can’t let go of that book that I love so much. I’ll keep trying to get it where it should be, and someday I’ll find the person who understands it as much as I do!