Saturday 28 November 2009

SCBWI Conference 2009: How We Live Now Part One

When I first started trying to get published, a friend gave me the worst advice in the world:
"Whatever you do, don't show your work to anyone!"
The novel was buried under an avalanche of rejections of course. Two years of not showing my work to anyone! What a big waste of time! Realizing that  I had much to learn, I joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and attended my first conference.

That was 2003. Six years later, here I am at the conference but there's a difference. It's not just that I've finally, extraordinarily got a book deal ... but this has been a bumper year for SCBWI with so many of its loyal members finally scoring publication deals. There is joy and a whole lotta hope as you can see from these highlights:

I have to start with a video, just because author Sue Eves' (The Quiety Woman and the Noisy Dog) school visit demonstration was such a delight (and oh, god, what a hard act to follow!). Note to self: enrol in clown school to prepare for new world of School Visits ...

If you can't see the video go straight to YouTube to view it.

This was part of a lively talk about Getting Your Work Out There  - with Fiona Dunbar (who also gave a talk about writing trilogies) and Cliff McNish (who gave a talk on how there were only five plots in the world of story). Here are all three looking very demure just after their talk:

Of course we didn't see much of Winchester because we spent all our time indoors ... but SCBWI's Mister Intrepid, Paolo Romeo, got this shot the night before we retired to our classrooms:

Aww. Now we know what we were missing while we were indoors.

Nevertheless, it was all go at the conference - here are Ben and Addy selling SCBWI badges that made declarations like "Make Every Word Count" and "I heart Kids Books".

The badge extravaganza inspired me to create my own (well, it was something Ben said, actually):

I have censored it out of fear of what my Mum would say if she saw it ... but it's a fitting message to all the procrastinators (me included) out there.

This year we had a lot of mini events - artfully crafted to coincide with coffee breaks to reduce traffic! Here's author Lee Weatherly (who just sold a YA fantasy trilogy to Usborne - a first!) delivering a synopsis workshop - in 15 MINUTES!

Faster, Lee! Faaaster!

Part of the nefarious traffic control scheme (concocted by organizer Margaret Carey), included a Lucky Dip, in which our Lucky Dip was Oxford University Press commissioning editor Jasmine Richards (I am pictured schmoozing Jasmine below). Dippers got a chance to pitch to Jasmine who said yes, send it, or no thank you. I hear that some people got very Lucky indeed.

I attended Steve Hartley's talk about designing characters following a Jungian model. Apparently, you can divide personalities into four - Analyticals, Drivers, Expressives, and Amiables. It's the kind of talk improved by doing impressions - and yes, Steve, despite denying it, I think you can do a Billy Connolly impression. Here's Steve demonstrating what an Expressive looks like:

It was a fab conference and there's so much to write but I'll leave it there for now - haven't even mentioned Meg Rosoff's hilarious speech and Gillian McClure's wonderful pictures!

If you want a more sensible report of the conference, do visit Sue Hyam's blog.

But I promise I shall be back with more!


  1. Wow, I am so impressed - breakouts during the coffee break?!

    sounds like a WONDERFUL time!

    PS LOVED ur button!

  2. Brilliant, Candy! Hugely entertaining post on all the bits I missed. Thank you!

  3. Thanks! I did have a lot more to say and more funny pictures but then I had to go collect children from various places!

  4. Oh wow, that's great watching Sue at work! :D

  5. A great post, Candy (as usual)
    One of these days I want to try writing for children again - especially when you get noisy audiences like that


  6. Good lord. I'm in love.

  7. Comments from Facebook:

    Gillian Ha ha! I still look at my work and think, 'You know, I really don't think I'd better show this to anyone...'

    Gillian Crikey, Winchester looks great...

    Paula This made me smile! This autumn I reached 2 and a half years of not sending my work to anyone. Now I've stopped being such a scaredy egg as my daughter calls it, mainly due to other's prodding me (thx Teri!)·

    Joanna LOVE the video, watched it all the way through! And we must have rubbed shoulders at the 2003 conference because that was my second year there! And the first year I was there, I attended a picture book seminar with Angela McAllister that was directly responsible for my writing MOONDANCE which was my first ever book deal with Andersen Press! So I feel very warmly towards the Winchester Conference, even though I never joined SCBWI.

    Candy you never joined SCBWI? there's still time ... i think big things are going to happen soon for published people... and the conference has really developed since those days.

    Nicky Right, Gillian - next year... We'll howl together!

    Joanna Candy, ... sounds fab, and yes as though it has really developed over the years. I felt after my second visit that there wasn't that much new happening, but it sounds as though that's all changed for the better...

    Jackie Brilliant video! That was one of the conference highlights.


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