Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators to Host Spring Conference

Spring-Conference-11x17-flyerProfessionals from established publishing companies and literary agencies will share their insights about children’s literature at the upcoming Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference. The Oklahoma Chapter of SCBWI, a professional organization of writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers and others involved with literature for young people holds an annual conference to allow aspiring writers and illustrators to meet publishing professionals in person. This year’s conference will be held on Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7 at the Embassy Suites in Oklahoma City.

In addition to a full day of professional speakers on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., this year’s spring conference includes an Friday night program at no additional cost to registered attendees. Two breakout sessions will be available to choose from – “How an Oklahoman Made it in Children’s Publishing, and Lightning Tips” or “Finding Your Visual Voice.” Both will be led by publishing professionals and will be followed with a time for attendees to mingle with the speakers.

The SCBWI spring conference also offers a limited number of slots for paid written critiques from editors and agents. Top manuscripts, selected by the critiquers, will have a ten-minute meeting during the conference with the editor or agent who critiqued their manuscript. Manuscript deadline is Feb. 26. To hold a place, fees must be paid before the deadline. Off-site professional critiques are also available, with a deadline of March 16.

Chad W. Beckerman, Creative Director for Amulet Books, Abrams Books for Young Readers, and ComicArts, will conduct face-to-face paid art critiques during the conference.

All illustrators are encouraged to display their portfolio for conference viewing. Illustrators do not have to pay for a critique to display their portfolios.

Attendees also have the opportunity to purchase one-on-one paid face time with a professional. There will be a limited number of discussion times available. This can be used to ask for career advice, discuss your work, ask them to do a cold read of a first page and give comments, or any topic dealing with writing or illustrating.

This year, attendees will also have the option of participating in the crowd-favorite illustration postcard contest and the crowd-favorite 40-word pitch contest. Both are free to participate and include the prize of a free one-on-one face session with an art director, editor, or agent.

All conference registrations include the Friday night sessions, lunch on Saturday, and Saturday Social with Autograph Party at the end of the conference.

Registration is $150 for SCBWI members and $180 for non-members. SCBWI Student members will receive a ten percent discount upon registering, and non-member student registration is $155.

More information and registration forms can be found at www.oklahoma.scbwi.org.

This year’s publishing professionals include:

  • Chad W. Beckerman, Creative Director for Amulet Books, Abrams Books for Young Readers, and Comic Arts
  • Andrea Hall, Associate Editor with Albert Whitman & Company
  • Hannah Mann, Junior Agent with Writers House Literary Agency
  • Daniel Nayeri, Publisher at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
  • Allison Remcheck, Associate Agent with Stimola Literary Group
  • Emily Heddleson, Senior Manager, Library & Educational Marketing
  • Jerry Bennett, Oklahoma Illustrator Coordinator and Professional Artist

 

About SCBWI

Founded in 1971, by authors Stephen Mooser (President) and Lin Oliver (Executive Director), The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) is one of the largest existing writers’ and illustrators’ organizations, with over 20,000 members worldwide. It is the only professional organization for those specifically working in mediums of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia, and makes an annual presentation of the Golden Kite Awards, the only award presented to children’s book authors and artists by their peers.

Ice

Roads are iced over and it’s a good day to stay on the computer and write. I have to keep an eye on the smol people here and make sure they do their schoolwork and do chores, but other than that, I can try to focus. The husband is here because his work is shut down, so he’s watching TV in the room I’m trying to write in, but I have headphones and I can make it work.

I’m going to apply for a work in progress grant through SCBWI. They have to be turned in during March. I that will be a good thing to work for. I’m not sure which work to use (it’s supposed to be basically finished) but I’m sure one of them will work. I guess I’ll choose whichever 10 pages I feel is strongest. Maybe, Baby is a 10 page roller coaster ride, so maybe that. Applying will at least be something writersly besides continuing to write novels that are not being read by a much larger audience than myself, lol.

 

Life in the way

I think balance is a huge key to becoming a successful writer. I’m still working on it. Like on the retreat. I wrote like a madwoman and accomplished so much on the wip. But now, back in real life, I’ve yet to do anything. Oh, I’ve done things. I’ve done the things for my friend’s celebration of life. And I’ve cleaned the house and gone out for Valentine’s Day and talked to my therapist and taken care of sick kids and helped my niece with some things and did children’s church and helped my husband with his flat tire and bent wheel and did SCBWI Oklahoma publicity and met with my kids’ ACT test coach. (And, obviously, stuff I don’t even remember.) And now I need to contact my daughter’s college and make sure her application process is going all right. And I need to make sure she’s ready to graduate and that we’ve got everything ordered and ready to go. And I need to encourage my husband to schedule his guys’ day with his male family members. And I need to take care of Easter prep for church. Plus feed these people and keep the house going and homeschool and do the publicity stuff for the upcoming conference. Oh, and get my house actually clean, not just passable, before the beginning of March, when some SCBWI people are coming over. And don’t forget starting to get things ready for Lenora’s graduation and party. Oh, and I’m trying to read a book a week this year and I’m already behind, so catch up on that.

And finish two novels and work on revisions for my other one.

I almost feel like crying reading all of that.

I have the time. I know that. But it’s hard to compartmentalize. To say, “okay, I’m going to write for three hours and not think about the rest of this stuff.” But that’s what I need to do.

Le sigh.

Quixotic

I chose that title because I always liked it on livejournal. It means kind of undescribable, which I like. I suppose I could describe my current mood if I wanted to, but I’m not sure I have that kind of time.

I now have two works in progress and I have also officially begun revisions for my agent on The Rat Queen. I’m excited about them and scared (which is normal for me at this stage.) So far, I’m still in the thinking and reading and putting together the pieces in a new way stage. But I think I can get it done quick and keep working on the wips too, which is crazy.

I also want to get into the fanfic scene again. It’s been on my mind quite a bit. It’s hard, when I feel like I’m not doing enough on my real work, but it’s also deffo writing for pleasure and I think that’s good for me.

And I’m thinking about writing for contests or submitting to magazines or journals. It’s a totally new idea, but I’m ready to try something new – something to keep myself busy and keep writing.

I had the big goal for three years – to get an agent. And now that I have a fabulous one, my goals have been a little more muddled. I wanted to be published. But that’s kind of out of my hands. I have to write, and produce sellable work. But then it’s my agent’s job. But if I have other goals maybe that will help me keep the wind in my sails.

Possible ideas:

  • I’d like to be an SCBWI PAL member. Our local group invites me to PAL events because they say I’m so close, but I want to be legit. If I could get published in a children’s magazine, I’d have that status. That would be cool.
  • I’d like to have 100 fanfics. I was well on my way when I got sidetracked. I can still reach that goal. Who cares if the fandom has dwindled and people won’t read it? A few will. And I can enjoy the stories myself, too.
  • I’d like to be in some kind of literary journal or magazine. I can research those and see if I can work up something to submit. I know I can write short stories because of the fanfic. I just need to do it with original characters. I can do that.
  • I also want to finish my two works in progress and start on Hunting Down Dylan. I think that one’s going to be cool.
  • I’d like to look into other writing groups and see if it would help or hinder me to join others. I don’t want to be so into other groups that I lose my focus on writing or on SCBWI, but I think that it’s possible that being in more groups would encourage me. Plus I could have more stuff on my affiliates page, which I would like.
  • I also want a writing area. Having my office was fabulous and I will probably have it back at some point, but it’s hard being productive without me. Maybe I could move to the cellar. Okay, not really. There’s no electricity. And it’s damp. But there’s no distractions except for the occasional lizard…

 

Okay, so that’s what I got going on right now. I’m going to go take a walk with the fam and then I’m going to get back to working on The Rat Queen because I am a legit writer.

Writing retreat day 4

So it occurred to me on Tuesday that I never wrote the final day of the writing retreat. That’s okay, though, because instead I wrote some more on the wip and got it to 15,000 words!! That means I wrote more than 10,000 during the weekend, which is pretty bomb. I haven’t done anything with it since, but I’ve been busy working on the celebration of life stuff for my friend.

When I got back I learned about the sexual harassment stuff that’s going on with SCBWI. That was disconcerting. It hit close to home and reminded me how important the novel I’m working on really is, at least to me. If it can help someone in the future, that would be amazing. It’s helping me right now, and that’s amazing too.

Writing retreat day 3

Okay, so yesterday I wrote 4,100 words and got to a grand total of 10,000+, so yay!!! I still spend too much time procrastinating but at least stuff is getting done. I find myself still spending too much time looking at my phone and too much time thinking about other things. But at least something is happening. It would be nice if I could add 5,000 before we leave tomorrow. That’s kind of my loose goal but if it doesn’t happen I’ll be okay.

I did figure out the mean thing my character is going to do that she’s going to regret later, so that’s cool. I didn’t even know that was going to happen until this morning.

Yesterday we played scrabble and quiddler and banangrams. I won the first two and I won a couple of rounds in banangrams. I’m ver competitive, lolz. I try to act like I’m not, though. At least sometimes.

No hot tubbing yesterday. We were all too tired from a full day of writing. I wrote some outside but when it got cold I had to move back in. Today it’s still below freezing and there’s ice on the porch so I’m sitting up in bed and trying to write this way. I would lay down on my front but I did that yesterday for probably about five hours and my back was displeased by the end of it. So I’m trying something new.I also have the laptop resting on a pillow so I hope I don’t short it out with the heat or something. I’m going to have to remember to check on that occasionally.

I like my main character in this book and I like the other people too. I hope when I am done the story is all that I planned for it to be. There’s a few things already that I’m not sure about, but I can always go back and look those over when I am done. The important thing is writing through it, I think, and getting a complete first draft. Oh, how I would like to have a complete first draft again. It has been far too long since I have had a new one. It’s time. It really is.

I wonder how I can keep my momentum going when I return home tomorrow? Being alone, being by myself – it’s worked wonders for my productivity. It also helps a lot to have others here, to compare myself too. If they’re working, I need to be working. And although I haven’t done any actual writing yet this morning, I have done my walk-n-talk to work through some issues in the story and find out what I’m going to write next. And I’m doing this blog, which I assume is good for the writing muscle or whatever.

I still have the distraction in my mind but I’m able to push it away a little better here. That’s important if I want to reach the goal of a finished novel. And my critique partners think this is the one that’s going to sell quickly. I hope so. I hope it’s not ridiculous when it’s done.

Writing retreat day 2

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Maybe not the greatest photo, since I took it with the computer camera just now, but this is my view this morning as I’m getting ready to work on the novel. It’s misty and a little rainy and it’s nice. Currently about 50 degrees, and I’m under a covered porch in long sleeves and sweats.

I went for a walk this morning. It’s hilly for sure around here, and one hill was pretty fierce, but it was good to get moving.

Last night we got in the hot tub. None of us had swim suits, so we just wore spare clothes. I had a pair of capri pants and a t-shirt, but the shirt kept filling with air. I tied it down with the strings on the front of the pants. That’s creativity for you. Afterward, Kim taught us to play Texas hold ’em (I think). We played for words and I ended up winning the most. So I got to assign those words to everyone else to add to their total goals for today. Of course, I felt weird about that, so I figured we could all just add about 500 to our goals and that would be good enough. I need to do more too.

My goal for the novel today is 3,500, plus the new 500 is 4,000. Actually, I’m hoping to somehow magically get closer to 5K. I haven’t done that much in a day in a long time, but this is really the ideal situation to do so. This morning when I was lounging in bed before getting up, I thought about how amazing it would be if I could do five today and tomorrow, and maybe three on Monday. That would be 15,000 in one weekend. The book would be at 20. I can’t beat up on myself if I can’t accomplish that (because I’m really not sure that I can) but it sure would be fabulous.

Yes, if you love math as much as I do, you now know that I did about 2,000 yesterday. Good but not great. Today I want to do great.

Writing retreat

I’m on a writing retreat with three friends at a cabin in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. It’s beautiful here. We sat around a fire earlier in the burn pit (I made the fire and it actually happened, whoot!) and now we’ve retreated to our own spaces to write. I’m excited about getting more work done on my novel, and I think this might be just the way to get it really going.

I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be here, and for the opportunity it’s giving me. I just wanted to get on here and warm up a little before I dive in. I’m hoping I write a little on the blog each day. As usual, we’ll see.

Anyway, on to the novel.

All kinds of writing

The last two days I’ve been writing, but not fiction. My children’s dance teacher, who had been an important part of all our lives for more than a decade, died last week after a long battle with cancer. I have been writing the obituary. It’s the first one I’ve written in a while. I guess the last ones I wrote was when I was working for the newspaper in the early part of the 2010s. The last one I wrote that wasn’t work-related was my sister’s in 2009.

So I’ve been working on the full and brief versions of this obituary for two days, talking to the family and sending them drafts for revisions. I’ll be sending it to the local newspaper this evening, and then the others will be submitted in the coming days. In the meantime, I’ve been working on my new manuscript, reading and revising, and creating a few new words.. I went to my writing group on Saturday afternoon. Church was cancelled due to paint fumes on Sunday, thankfully, because it gave me more obituary writing time. Then we went to my husband’s family’s home for the Superbowl, and the ladies all went to the movies (The Greatest Showman, by the way, was AMAZING). Then more obituary writing.

Today’s co-op day, so I’m with the rest of the homeschool moms, manning the greeters table while revising the obit and talking to the family.

And blogging.

And working on SCBWI Oklahoma blog parade details and publicity for the upcoming conference. And helping to sell snacks as a fundraiser for the senior class, lol.

I’m thankful, though. I’m thankful this family trusts me enough to allow me to write the obituary for them. I’m introverted and awkward sometimes, so I don’t know if I’m the best person to lean on in a time of grief. I’m not good at knowing when to hug, or when to bring a meal, or when to say something. I am good at writing, and being able to use that gift to help the people I care about is something I’m very grateful about.

Whistlepig day

I’m sitting at a tea shop about thirty minutes from my house right now. It’s Feb. 2. Groundhog’s day. My cousin’s birthday. Yesterday was an important day for me too, for different reasons. It’s not something that I need to share, but I did want to commemorate it for myself, if nothing else. I can at least say that it’s the day that started me on the spiritual journey I find myself on every day now.

Turns out one negative of having a spiritual journey is sometimes you can’t write as diligently as you used to. I haven’t written in my old way for two years now. Before Feb. 1, 2016, I wrote a lot. I was writing every day, pretty much. Weekends I gave myself a break and only wrote fanfic, ha ha. But after that date, when things changed, it was harder. I wrote one chapter of a fanfic for Valentine’s Day that year and never took it any farther, even though it was an amazing, stellar idea. Since then I’ve written so much less. I worked on a novel but I really didn’t do anything like I wanted to. And I didn’t finish it. I still want to. I also wrote the first three chapters of a proposed write for hire project. And I did rewrites on my finished novels and wrote new scenes. I suppose I have blogged as well, but it’s sporadic. I’m even posting on social media less.

So here I am at the tea shop, hoping that a chance of pace will get me back at it. I started an amazing idea in January and got 5,000 words on it. Not enough, but a reasonable start. My friend Kim (who my oldest daughter referred to as her mom’s book friend) will be here in a bit. She’s very kind to try to help me get my groove back.

So that’s about it. Ready for this to be the year. The year of everything.

And now I need to work on the manuscript instead of procrastinating any more. At least I don’t know what the wifi password is here (and I’m too inverted to ask, lol).