Today was supposed to be an archetype post, but I’ve decided to set that aside so I can tell you all about the wonderful writing event I attended last Saturday—SCBWI-L.A.’s Writer’s Day.
Last year, I attended Writer’s Day for the first time. (You can read all about my last experience here).
This year, I got to attend and experience Writers Days not just as a participant—but as a volunteer, and as the Contest Coordinator.
I arrived at exactly 8am at the Clairbourne School in San Gabriel. While I was early for the actual event, I was 15 minutes late for my registration duties thanks to a GPS system that probably needs to be replaced. As soon as I got into the parking lot, I ran to the main building and found the ever reliable Kite Tales Editor Rilla Jaggia holding my post until I got there. (Thank goodness I was assigned to the walk in registrations—it wasn’t as busy as the regular registration table, and I actually made it in time to help our first walk-in participant).
After helping out at the registration table, I immediately switched gears and donned another hat as a food volunteer. I helped Food Captain Sue Welfringer with various food arrangements. We made sure the snack/ coffee bar was well-stocked and that lunch was ready by the time the last morning session ended. It was hard work, and I had to miss parts of some speakers’ talks, but I wouldn’t have traded my job for the world. I had such fun helping out and I loved being a busy bee!
Author Lee Wardlaw was the first speaker for the morning. Her session, entitled The Things I’ve Learned from My Cats about Being a Children’s Book Author was a gem. Though I only caught the last few minutes, I found her talk memorable—especially her story about how a pet detective, hired to help her find her missing cat, also helped her get closure.
Runaway Storm Author Dawn Knobbe followed Lee’s talk with her session on Busting Out of the Box—Creative Marketing for Published/ Unpublished Writers. She gave such awesome tips on how writers can market their works—and themselves—even before they get published. She gave examples from her own career, both as a traditionally published author, and as a partner of Toe The Line, a small press publisher.
Although their session was right before lunch, author Sara Wilson Etienne, her agent Michael Bourret and her editor Stacey Barney held the audience’ attention as they did their Traditional Publishing Case Study: Harbinger-editor/agent/author panel.
Regional Co-advisor Lee Wind did a great job of moderating the panel, and the panel did a wonderful job of helping the audience understand the complex relationships between author and agent, author and editor, and agent and editor. It was also great to get the inside scoop on the publishing process from 3 different perspectives.
After the panel, participants lined up for the wonderful lunch served by The Corner Bakery Cafe. I was busy helping out so I didn’t get to take pictures of the food, but trust me it was amazing–there was a variety of sandwiches, salads, and pastas–and tons of leftover, which was later on donated to a local soup kitchen.
Well-fed, and having met new friends, participants trooped back inside the Main Auditorium for the next half of the conference.
Agent Michael Bourret gave us ideas on How to Get an Agent to Fall In Love With Your Manuscript. He told us what kind of projects he chose, and why, and the different ways by which a writer can get an agent. He says that he met 99% of his clients through queries, but he also met some through conferences and through client referrals.
Editor Stacey Barnes followed Michael’s talk with her own session on How to Get an Editor to Fall In Love With Your Manuscript. She read passages from her various projects, citing these as examples of the many elements that make her fall in love with a manuscript–Memorable scenes, and characters and voice are just some of the elements she mentioned. She also made everyone break into groups and ask them to come up with a pitch for a book, based on the elements she listed down.
A 10 minute break following Stacey’s session allowed participants to stretch, snack and mull over the many things they’ve learned from the speakers.
After the break, I exchanged my Food Volunteer Hat for my Contest Coordinator hat, as I stepped up to the podium to announce the winner of the Annual Scholarship Contest. I read the piece, and what the judges had to say about whey they’d picked that entry, and announced the winner of the contest–who unfortunately wasn’t present.
Regional Adviser Emeritus’s Edie and Claudia then introduced the winner of this year’s SASE (Sue Alexander Service & Encouragement) Award–the ever patient Rilla Jaggia.
After Rilla gave her heartwarming speech, we proceeded with the last two sessions of the day.
YA Author Sara Wilson Etienne talked about the different ways an author can promote his/ her work in her session entitled Book Trailers, Blog Tours and Swag. She showed us her amazing Book trailer and explained how she made use of the resources available to her (including friends and a husband who does graphic design) to help promote her book to a wide range of readers.
Our last speaker for the day was author Terri Farley, who wrote 37 books in 9 years. Her talk, entitled Fetch Me a Dream, answered the question: Where can writers get story ideas? She shared the memorable life experiences that shaped her writing career and gave her inspiration for her own novels.
Author Terri Farley
Her life stories were indeed memorable, but the one I liked the most was the story of how she and her husband had come across a dead sealion while walking along the beach one day. A group of boys were poking the dead animal, and her husband, a former green beret, walked up to them, picked up the sea lion in his arms and returned him to the ocean.
With the final session over, my last and most important job as Contest Coordinator arrived. I went up front to announce the winners of the Writer’s Day Contest. I stumbled over a bit, messing up the announcement of the first and second place winners in the Picture Book Category. But the audience was forgiving and understanding, and I managed to stabilize myself and announce all the other categories’ winners smoothly afterward.
I felt like I had come full circle that day. Last year, as a first time attendee, I had also joined my first Writer’s Day Contest and won 2nd Place in the Middle Grade Category. This year, I was the one giving out certificates!
This was truly a memorable event, and another well-organized, and wonderful SCBWI conference–thanks to R.A.’s Sarah Laurenson and Lee Wind.
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