Last weekend I attended the 40th anniversary of the Rocky Mountain SCBWI Conference. What a fantastic time! Great speakers, food, and conversation. Nearly 300 people attended the two day chapter event. It struck me how little diversity there was in this group and the lack of male participants. I counted 15 including myself. Yes, we need more diverse voices in MG and all books.
The special guests were the original founders of the national SCBWI organization, Stephen Mooser and Lyn Oliver.
Lyn is a film and television producer who also co-authors with Henry Winkler the Hank Zipzer book series. Stephen is a widely published children’s author. Together they took the audience through the history of SCBWI from 1971 when they were the only two members, to now with over 22,000 members world wide.
There were many published authors present. I went to a session with Tara Dairman (ALL FOUR STARS; THE STARS OF SUMMER; & STARS SO SWEET). Her topic, First Drafting: Now 96% Faster. Tara had me from the start when she revealed it took her 9 years to write and revise her first book. Here’s her blog post on the topic of first drafts. Very useful information with links to another author, Robin LaFevers, who also has many posts on prewriting, growing the plot, and structure.
A very special guest was the prolific author, Richard Peck (A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO; A YEAR DOWN YONDER; & THE RIVER BETWEEN US to name a few). Writing is something you can do your entire life and Mr. Peck is living up to that ideal. He’s 82 and just released his newest, THE BEST MAN.
I had the chance to read an advance copy last month. The story telling is unique as it follows Archer Magill from his first wedding as a ring bearer at age six all the way to his next one at age 12. The focus is on Archer the entire way as he learns from his role models. What he is really doing is making the mold for the man he will become. I’ll post my full review soon.
Another session I went to seems to be a standard at most conferences. You submit a first page and if chosen it gets read and critiqued. The two people critiquing were Kat Brzozowski (Editor) and Sandra Bond (agent). We were in the 72nd minute of 75 minute session and I figured my one page was lost in the slush pile. But then I heard the title and my posture straightened. There was my first page being read. Next came two minutes of scrutiny. I survived. In fact I’m still grinning from the words I jotted down. “Humor without telling and great writing.” Now I just need to make the other 140 pages the same way.
SCBWI is a great organization with many benefits. Consider joining if you aren’t already a member.
Have a wonderful weekend!