SCBWI Summer Conference Recap, Part 1


I’m back from the SCBWI Summer Conference, and it literally took me a week to recover. What an amazing and intense weekend. The SCBWI pulled out all the stops for their 40th anniversary, inviting a legendary lineup of speakers. Bruce Coville, Norton Juster, Gary Paulsen, Laurie Halse Anderson, Richard Peck, and the biggest surprise of the weekend, Judy Blume. (!!!) Listening to these authors speak about writing was inspiring. Transforming.

I learned a TON at this conference. I have a notebook full of notes. Out of respect for SCBWI, though, I won’t be transcribing these notes here in my blog. I will, however, over the next week or so be sharing the highlights from the sessions I attended.

From Bruce Coville’s keynote, “Ripples in the Pond: Why What We Do Matters…and Matters…and Continues to Matter”:

  • How well we craft our work determines how well we impact the world; improve your craft, make it better
  • Start ripples throughout the world
  • You can rise above your best work, but you must be there do to the work
  • Don’t be afraid to put your heart on the page
  • You cannot know how you’ve affected the world; make ripples anyway

Mr. Coville’s speech was the perfect start to the conference. He is inspiring, gracious and personable. I think it’s safe to say everyone who heard his keynote left ready to throw our pebbles into the water and send ripples out into the world.

From Children’s Publishing: 5 Publishers Give an Industry-Wide Picture:

  • Changes in industry are providing opportunity; publishers are more nimble than ever
  • Everyone is rethinking the big picture
  • Outlook is optimistic but realistic
  • No need to fear digital; it has major potential to bring in more readers
  • There is always room for new voices
  • Social media only works when you’re doing something genuine
  • If there’s a reason traditional publishing doesn’t work, self publishing is a good choice; but don’t self-publish jsut because no one’s said yes, examine your work and ask if it’s really ready

This was an interesting insight into the publishing world, given the recent and dramatic changes affecting everyone. I was grateful the moderator didn’t shy away from the topic of digital and self publishing, as well as for Beverly Horowitz’s thoughtful answers.

(Panelists: Debra Dorfman, Beverly Horowitz, Jennifer Hunt, Allyn Johnston, Julie Strauss-Gabel)

From Libba Bray’s keynote, “Writing It All Wrong: A Survival Manual”:

  • Getting it wrong is a necessary part of getting it right
  • Irrational fears have no place in your writing process
  • Set manageable goals
  • Give your story room to grow

If you’ve ever heard Libba speak, then you know the impact she has on an audience. She is honest as much as she is hilarious. She doesn’t mince words and delivers what she knows authors need to hear. She’s been in the trenches and she’s willing to share her survival tips. In short, she’s awesome. What I’ve highlighted here is just the tip of the iceberg of what she shared. Sorry, but if I add any more, I’ll have to write it all.

More highlights coming to you on Wednesday!