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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