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Focus on the Novel--Indiana SCBWI Conference

Focus on the Novel, the Indiana SCBWI Spring Conference for children's writers, took place at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond this past Friday evening and Saturday. An inspiring week-end was spent with speakers Stephen Roxburg, founder and publisher of namelos, and Lisa Graff, middle grade author and former editor at FSG.

Stephen shared his insight into writing the Young Adult novel, and gave us lots to think about as he talked about the state of children's publishing and his new e-publishing company, namelos.

Lisa talked about writing the middle grade novel, giving us both sides of the picture as an author and a former editor of books for young readers. Later she talked about the slush pile, and what you can do to get your manuscript out of the slush pile.

In the afternoon Helen Frost, YA author and poet, joined Stephen and Lisa for a question and answer panel where she added her insight into writing and publishing for the YA audience.

On Saturday morning we started off the day with stretching exercizes, led by RA, Trish Batey, who besides being an author is a dance instructor. For those who wanted them, manuscript critiques by Lisa Graff and Helen Frost were available, with ten minute one-on-one meetings tucked into the day's events. The weather was beautiful, and warm enough for those who wanted to eat lunch outside. Later, door prizes were given to the lucky winners.

The day ended with an open mic, where attendees could read from their manuscripts and receive written comments from the rest of the group, including valuable input from our speakers.

I was very impressed with how accessible all of the speakers were to everyone who came, and with their friendliness and desire to help move us all in the right direction. I don't write children's novels, but I came away with much that could be applied to writing the picture book as well, and insight into where children's publishing may be headed in the near future.

I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did. I always enjoy meeting new writers and seeing old friends. Thank you all for being there, and those who volunteered to help wherever you were needed. A special thanks to Liz Kubacki from PUC who helped coordinate it all. And once again, thanks to Stephen and Lisa and Helen for sharing what they've learned over the years. I hope we all cross paths again!

(scroll down on the left of the blog post to see photos from the conference)
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