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The Extra Perks of Attending a Writers conference

Attending a conference for children’s writers and illustrators has more perks than you might imagine. It’s about talking to people who you know and also to those you don’t know. Here are some of the extra perks that I got when I attended the SCBWI conference in LA that didn’t come from the conference itself.

--was able to put faces to names from the listservs I belong to for children's writers
--re-connected with old friends
--met new friends
--met new and re-connected with other SCBWI members from Indiana
--met the manager of the children’s department of the largest independent bookstore who knew my books without my showing them to her
--met some great people from Japan and Australia and other countries
--shared the flight out to LA with another author/conference attendee who I’d just met, and shared websites to look at and books to read, and made a new friend
--shared a room with two of the best roommates at the conference
--met lots of dog-loving, book-loving people
--met a librarian who also does reviews for SLJ
--met Verla Kay of the Verla Kay message board for children’s writers, and got an informal personal guide to working my way around the message board from her
--met Alice Pope of the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market book, and now the head of the SCBWI Team Blog
--sat next to an editor who gave me his card after looking at my picture book
--talked with Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser, founders of SCBWI
--got to tour the SCBWI offices
--shared some birthday cake for another author
--got tips on networking and school visits from other authors
--got to see the ocean, the beach, the big city buildings, and the mountains all in one view
--got a head shot, video shoot, and a website consultation
--got more websites to look at
--got tips on holding conferences and events
--got tips on promoting my book from other authors
--was able to purchase books personally autographed by the author or illustrator
--was able to sell and autograph my books along with other PAL published authors on Friday evening
--got a special gift for someone special
--sat in a whirlpool tub and talked about writing
--attended the Heart and Soul celebration with the best costumes ever
--shared illustrations for our books with another author at the airport
--had some great meals that I didn’t have to cook
--met a man from Hawaii at the airport whose wife is a teacher
--enjoyed meeting a woman from Texas and her granddaughter at the hotel when my flight was delayed another day, and shared e-mail information
--met a young lady who was traveling to Ireland on her birthday
--laughed a lot and had fun
--was totally inspired by everyone that I met and saw there

The next time you are trying to decide whether to attend a conference for children's authors and illustrators, keep in mind the perks that are waiting for you along with the information that you'll get from the conference itself.  Read More 
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Golden Kite Winners and Conference Links

I returned from the SCBWI National conference in LA last week and am beginning to get my mind back. What a conference! With over 1,100 attendees, it was a wonderful meeting of other children's writers, editors, booksellers, librarians and others in children's publishing. It was also an update on the business of children's books, inspirational, and as always, a place to learn and improve your craft. I especially enjoyed meeting new people, seeing old friends, and sharing ideas and friendship with other Regional Advisors and Assistant Regional Advisors.

Read on-going highlights posted during the conference on the SCBWI Team Blog, led by Alice Pope at: http://scbwiconference.blogspot.com/

One of the highlights of the week was attending the Golden Kite Awards Luncheon on Sunday. The acceptance speeches were humbling and inspiring.

It began with Paul Fleishman presenting the award for humor, named for his father, children's author Sid Fleishman, who passed away early this year. The recipient was Alan Zadoff for his book, "Food, Girls and Other Things I Can't Have." Qualities that merit the award besides humor are depth, substance, and heart.

If you ever have the opportunity to hear Ashley Bryan speak, you will never again read poetry the same way. He ended his acceptance of the award for non-fiction by reciting a poem by Eloise Greenfield.

Accepting the award for picture book text, Marion Dane Bauer talked about the poetic language of a picture book. After which John Parra spoke about the illustration half of the book when he received the award for picture book illustration.

Julia Durango, our neighbor from the wonderful SCBWI group in Illinois, received the award for fiction and gave a heart-warming speech during which she said that she puts secret messages to her sons into her books.

Although honor recipients were not presented at the conference, it's worth noting here that our own Indiana SCBWI author, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, received the Golden Kite Honor award for fiction for her wonderful picture book, Bella and Bean.

Christopher Cheng, from the Australia chapter of SCBWI, was named SCBWI Member of the Year, and it couldn't have gone to a more deserving person.

Golden Kite Recipients:
Fiction: Julia Durango for "Sea of the Dead," S&S
Non-Fiction: Ashley Bryan for "Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song," Atheneum
Picture Book Text: Marion Dane Bauer for "The Longest Night," Holiday House
Picture Book Illustration: John Parra for "Gracias Thanks," Lee & Low Books
Link to award recipients: http://www.scbwi.org/Pages.aspx/Golden-Kite-Award-Recipients

Congratulations to all!

More conference notes to come!  Read More 
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Picnics and Writers' Gatherings

It's been a hot summer here in northwest Indiana, but the weather was perfect for sitting outside under the shelter at the Indiana Writers' Consortium picnic two Saturdays ago.

There was a Children's Corner for the kids, with activities planned by Janine Harrison, Karen Kulinski, and myself, ending with a game of Find That Dog!

For the adults there were games of Literary Bingo, a scavenger hunt, and a white elephant auction. I was intrigued by the package with the clue "Poetry in Motion," and was the highest bidder, netting me a pedometer! Other packages revealed an autographed picture book, markers, pens, notepads, a jar of inspiration, more books, and other things writers appreciate.

It's always a great time when writers get together.

I'll be on my way to LA tomorrow morning to attend the national SCBWI conference for children's writers and illustrators. I can't wait! It will be my first time to LA as well as my first SCBWI conference in LA. I will report about it here next week!

My 'boot' is off and I'm walking with two feet again! I've been trying to balance getting things squared away here at home before I leave, and keeping up with blogs and writing. Hence the combined blog posts for this week and last. Next week's blog post will likely be at the end of the week.

Have a wonderful end of July, and I'll see you here in August!  Read More 
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Children's Writers & Illustrators United

It's hot. Everywhere! Is anyone getting anything done?!

The Fourth of July holiday made me think about the word 'United' as in 'United States' or 'United under God.' And as my mind trailed off, I thought of how children's writers and illustrators unite and connect with each other. What we have in common brings us together. Our love of good books. Our connectivity with children. One of the best places for children's writers or illustrators to be united is through SCBWI,the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. It's a place to find each other. That perfect critique group, the author who says just the right thing to motivate or send us in the right direction, or that editor who is looking for just the story we've written.

Children's writers are very generous people. They share information, marketing tips and updates, opportunities for children's writers. They want the rest of us to succeed, too!

Maybe on this holiday we might stop and think about what our own part is here. So in honor of Independence Day, let's each share one bit of helpful information with another children's writer or illustrator this week. It's sure to come back to us many times over.  Read More 
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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.  Read More 
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Grants and Contests

On my list of things to do is 'apply for the SCBWI Work-in-Progress grant.' Heaven knows that I have enough works-in-progress in my file cabinet! The manuscript that I've chosen to submit is something that I was working on before my life went crazy around the holidays. Now that I've pulled it out again, I'm pretty excited about it and about getting it finished.

That's one of the perks of entering contests and applying for grants. It gets you excited about  Read More 
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Writing--A Lonely Job?: Part II

Instead of the word 'lonely,' let's substitute 'solitary.'
You certainly can say that 'writing' is a solitary job. The story is yours alone. The characters, the setting, the voice. No one can write it just the way that you can. So you sit with your pen and paper, or at your computer, alone. And you write the story that's in you head, and in your heart.

Once your story is down on paper, however, there are many ways that you as a writer can connect with others to help you along  Read More 
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Ghostwriting and Revision

This past Saturday Indiana SCBWI hosted an event for children's writers on Ghostwriting with Sara Grant, Editor at Working Partners in London. Sara talked about their projects and gave tips on sending an application, but she also offered a wealth of knowledge on writing the novel and Read More 
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Writing a Picture Book--not as easy as it looks!

Last week I had the opportunity to meet April Pulley Sayre when she gave a talk about writing and her picture books in South Bend. I love the simplicity of her picture books, and the way that she presents facts in such an interesting & fun way. She makes it seem so easy, but  Read More 
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Oh the Possibilities!

For the past 17 years we been blessed with Esther Hershenhorn, Illinois SCBWI RA, whose catchy enthusiasm, positive thinking, and insight into the world of children's books has helped many children's writers and illustrators move forward. She encouraged us to tell our stories, pointed us in the right direction, and helped us to connect. Lucky me, that her generosity spilled over into Indiana.  Read More 
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