SCBWI L.A. Writers’ Days 2013

This year’s SCBWI L.A. Writers’ Days was held last March 9-10, and focused on Diversity in Picture Book, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Nonfiction and Poetry.

I volunteered to help out with the Food Committee once more, so I missed out on a few segments throughout the day, but that didn’t stop me from learning tons from the awesome speakers they had lined up that day.

SCBWI L.A. Regional Co-Adviser Lee Wind opened the day with a heartwarming keynote on “Our World of Diversity and What It Means for the Characters You Create.”


SCBWI L.A. Regional Advisers Sarah Laurenson and Lee Wind

He was followed by Literary Agent Adrianna Dominguez, who talked about “The Market for Diverse Literature: Challenges and Opportunities.”  She said that needs of minority children are not being met since most commercial publishers opt for more commercially viable works. She reminded us that if children don’t see themselves in books, they are not motivated to read.



Literary Agent Adrian Dominguez

After a short break, Lee Wind returned to moderate the Diversity Panel. Panelists included Literary Agent Adrianna Dominguez and Authors Malinda Lo, Eugene Yelchin, and Nikki Grimes. The panel discussed the issue of diversity in today’s literary scene, and gave several examples by which writers can reach more readers through their diverse characters.

SCBWI L.A. is big about thanking their volunteers. After the panel, Regional Advisers Lee Wind and Sarah Laurenson presented the Sue Alexander Encouragement Award to longtime volunteer Sue Welfringer.


SCBWI L.A. Volunteer Sue Welfringer accepting her SASE

Lunch was a delicious treat catered by the Corner Bakery, and we returned to the conference hall refreshed and ready for the next round of keynotes.

Author and Illustrator Eugene Yelchin spoke about Emotional Writing in his keynote. He reminded us that we should all know ourselves before we write for others, and that we must have compassion for our own selves in order to write emotionally authentic pieces.



Author Illustrator Eugene Yelchin

Malinda Lo, Award Winning Author of “Ash”, shared her journey to publication with us in her talk entitled “Cultural Intersections: How I Came to Write What I Write.” She said  that diversity was a place to start, and shared with us the funny story of how she had earned $10 for a poem she had submitted to Cat’s magazine, entitled “Cat.”


YA Author Malinda Lo


Digital Editorial Director of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group, Daniel Nayeri explained that Diversity isn’t. He lists scarcity, conspiracy and uniformity as concepts we should avoid relating to diversity.



Editor Daniel Nayeri

Finally, Author Nikki Grimes spoke of the Poetry of Patience: How to Create a Classic. She said she approaches her writing like a jigsaw puzzle/quilt , concentrating on developing the small pieces of the story then once she has enough pieces for a beginning, middle and end, she puts them all together.



Author Nikki Grimes

SCBWI L.A. showed their support for their published members by hosting the PAL Volunteer Authors Parade after the keynotes. SCBWI Author members showcased copies of their books and spoke a little about their works.



Author Jesse Klausmeier explains her book

Attendees also received writing exercises from each of the speakers in their packets, and were encouraged to work on these exercises during the short breaks throughout the conference.

And last but not the least, I performed my Contest Coordinator duties by announcing the winners of this year’s Contest, and handing out their certificates.

Writer’s Day Saturday was another success, and I hear that the Sunday Intensives were truly valuable as well, thanks to the amazing speakers and organizers.


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16 Responses to “SCBWI L.A. Writers’ Days 2013”

  1. Thanks for sharing so much about the conference. I really like the two speakers who spoke about diversity. Don’t stereotype and if readers don’t see themselves represented, they’re less likely to read.

  2. Shelly says:

    I like the bit about children being able to see themselves in stories. Very true.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  3. Know ourselves before writing for others – that is really profound.

  4. Some interesting people presenting! Thanks for the pictures. I love Malinda (we were debs together and she’s a great person) Also Lee is super. We’ve shared manuscripts and he’s helped me with one of my gay characters. Very generous guy.

  5. tcavey says:

    Thanks for sharing! It sounds like a great conference.

  6. Karol Silverstein says:

    Lovely “taste” on the day, Nutschell! Thanks for recapping and reminding me of the key points the speakers made. Lovely to get to see you two weekends in a row, too.

  7. Nas says:

    Thanks for sharing about the conference, sounds great and looks like you had a lovely time too!

  8. VR Barkowski says:

    Interesting post. Thanks for giving us a glimpse inside the conference. I agree with the Theresa. The idea that kids won’t be motivated to read if they don’t see themselves in the book is so, so important. In fact, I think it’s pretty much true for adults as well.

  9. Rita says:

    Lovely recap! And great photos, too! I hope to have my own photos and recap up . . . oh, in another week or two . . . 😛 That was an amazing weekend.

    Great volunteering with you, Nutschell!

  10. Misha says:

    Sounds like an amazing writer’s day. Lots to learn and take home. :-)

  11. Bish Denham says:

    I’m so envious (in a good way!) that you get to go to these conferences. And, I’m very glad when you share your experiences. Thanks Nutschell.

  12. Julie Luek says:

    Sounds like it was a great experience– hope it left you refreshed and renewed. Someday I will get to a writer’s conference.

  13. Gina says:

    This sounds like a really amazing experience!

  14. Wow! Sounds like a wonderful experience. I haven’t been able to attend our local SCBWI conference yet, but it is on my list of to-dos for next year.

  15. Akoss says:

    I’ve seen some tweets about this but I’m glad you blogged about it here, giving more details. Thank you for sharing with us. One day for sure I will attend a writing conference.

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