Friday, April 30, 2010

"I've had the time of my life"*

A few weeks ago I attended the SCBWI Eastern PA conference at the Shawnee Inn, which is this great golf resort in the Poconos that reminds me of the resort in Dirty Dancing (and little bit of the one in The Shining, but that movie freaked me out so much, I like to pretend it doesn't exist).

I first attended this conference in 2009. I had been looking for a small and close-to-home SCBWI conference and came across the Poconos one. I live in CT, so a Pennsylvania conference wasn't necessarily the obvious choice, but a little research on google maps showed me that this conference was actually closer to my house than the SCBWI New England one. Who knew?

My awesome roommate, Kimberly Sabatini, introduced me to the the Eastern PA chapter and I felt like I had truly found kindred spirits in this group. My second year at the conference turned out to be just as awesome. I reconnected with all my old buddies from last year and got to know some new ones.

(Here's Kim, Jodi, Jeff, and Shiloh hanging out on Saturday evening)

Some of my favorite moments from this year include talking soccer with Jeff (including hearing about his daughter's team and attempting to explain the elusive offsides rule), discussing our Voices homework (which we all interpreted differently) with Jodi and Roxanne, hearing Kim's stories about her boys, staying up late on Saturday night eating cookies and talking books in the lobby, checking out Elana's iPad, discussing starting our own publishing company with Gayle, and winning a gift card to the spa.

Usually when I post about conferences, I share the speakers' words of wisdom...and today's post will be no different! So here they are (all those not in quotation marks paraphrased, of course, because my short hand sucks):

  • The formula to become rich and famous: Do one thing, do it well, and do it over and over. (Sandy Asher, who admits she does not follow this formula!)
  • The "feeding and caring of the furry muse" is very important. (Judy Schachner)
  • In a roller-coaster ride you know exactly where you're going, end up where you began, and you can a buy a ticket to go on again and have almost the same exact experience; it's thrilling, but it's not a journey. A journey takes you where you've never been before; it's pretty scary and the dangers are real. (Sandy Asher...guess which one we, as writers, should strive to take take readers on?)
  • All stories are based in truth somewhere. Pay attention to those stories and write them down. (Judy Schachner)
  • Voice is the most important part of a manuscript because editors cannot fix it. Voice is undeniable and is the emotional pull of the story. (Eve Adler, Associate Editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers)
  • "My search (for an agent) was quite fruitful, but not all the fruit was edible." (Sandy Asher)
  • "One man's junk is another woman's book." (Judy Schachner)
  • By the time I got old enough to ask the right questions, there was no one there to answer them. (Sandy Asher)

For more about the conference, check out Kim's blog posts and the First Novels Club live blogging of the conference.

*Franke Previte, John DeNicola, & Donald Markowitz