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Monday, April 28, 2008

SCBWI WWA Conference in Seattle!

SCBWI WWA's 2008 Conference was, in a word, unstoppable. From start to finish, Sara Easterly and Jolie Stekly, our fearless co-regional advisors, put together a smashing, inspiring, (and truthfully, a tiny bit exhausting) weekend, our first two-day local conference ever.

Keynoters included Mo Willems, Arthur Levine, and the Newbery Dream Team: Susan Patron, Kirby Larson, Cynthia Lord, and a call-in from Jennifer Holm. Other notables included Laini Taylor and Jim Di Bartolo, Chris Crutcher, Elizabeth Bird, Class of 2k7 girl Joni Sensel, local stars Laura McGee Kvasnosky, Bonny Becker, Margaret Chodos-Irvine, and a whole slew of editors and agents (eight, to be precise). Whew.

I have to be quick since writing time is scarce around here, but here are some of my biggest takeaways:

Laini Taylor (who ran the most fabulous fantasy workshop, but really her ideas could be applied to any genre): "There is never a moment when you have to be afraid. No one will ever see your rehearsals." And I got a cool Not for Robots button!

Susan Patron: "Abandonment is the great fear of childhood." and "I know more than I know I know."

Arthur Levine (1st pages session): Don't use gimmicks. Details show your character. Don't want to be disoriented on the first page.

Joni Sensel on endings: "After a book is sold, the ending is arguably the most important part."

Elizabeth Bird, on blogging: "Blog readers are fascinated by process."

Arthur Levine quoting Christopher Isherwood: "When the actors onstage all inhabit the same dramatic plane, creating a seamless world, a play can become something more than a performance. Your sense of time drops away, you cease to see actors and see only people, you enter a fully imagined realm in which every detail of emotion, action and language is perfectly aligned. A playwright’s words become entrancing music that can linger in your head for days — be it exalting, despairing or merely diverting."

And I even won a signed copy of Rules for my funny bad query letter entry! Woohoo! I confess, it was inspired by my super-cool ALA "I read banned books" bracelet and our illustrious (and oft-banned) speakers:

Dear forward-thinking editor:

Enclosed please find my 12,000 word picture book, entitled Don't Let the Scrotum Drive the Athletic Shorts.

It is destined to be a classic because it will no doubt be banned, burned, and otherwise rocketed to censorship stardom.

I have personal knowledge of scrotums and athletic shorts (though not busses).

In your hands,
Capt. Blubber Underpants

Now that I have a fresh dose of writing excitement, it's off to work on the revision - I left all my self-doubt at the Meydenbauer Center - maybe it could get a date with one of those kids in tuxedoes (yup, it was prom weekend, too). Or maybe it'll go stag - I know I'm better off without it!


  1. Yay, Holly! I'm so glad you came to the conference - it was great to see you there and catch up... even if only briefly! I loved reading all of your inspirations gleaned from the speakers' talks. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you for sharing these bits, Holly! Love the quotes.