Writing is solitary. Just us with a computer and a head of ideas. But we’re not really alone. And going to a writing conference is a wonderful way to celebrate that.
Of course, seminars at writing conferences are great learning opportunities. Query letters, characters, plot, dialog — I’ve learned about all these at conferences. But as I’ve become more experienced, I still come away from conferences filled with inspiration.
And then there are the friends you make. Priceless.
As a children’s book writer, I feel very lucky to be a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I’ve attended both national and regional conferences held by this organization, and I’m never disappointed.
If you’re a member of the SCBWI, take advantage of the conferences. The national ones are huge, overwhelming, intense, exhausting and fabulous.
The regional ones are just as fabulous, but, because they’re smaller, they also have more intimacy and give more opportunity for networking with agents and editors. For example, I’m lucky to live in an area that has four regionals conferences yearly that are within a five-hour drive (thank you, Austin) and check out the people I’ll have the opportunity to meet next year at just the Austin and Houston conferences:
At Austin (Feb. 8-10, 2013):
- Crystal Kite Award-winning illustrator Patrice Barton
- Author Shutta Crum
- Author and Agent John M. Cusick of Scott Treimel NY
- Agent Erzsi Deak of Hen & Ink Literary Studio
- Peachtree Publishers Associate Publisher Kathy Landwehr
- New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith
- Award-winning author Cynthia Levinson
- Award-winning author-illustrator E.B. Lewis
- Agent Rubin Pfeffer of East West Literary Agency
- Roaring Brook Press, Neal Porter Books Editorial Director Neal Porter
- Caldecott-winning Author Liz Garton Scanlon
- Chronicle Books Editor Tamra Tuller
At Houston (April 13, 2013):
- Agent Josh Adams of Adams Literary
- Author-Illustrator Peter Brown
- Simon & Schuster and Paula Wiseman Books Art Director Lucy Ruth Cummins
- ABDO Publishing Editorial Director Stephanie Hedlund
- Agent Paul Rodeen of Rodeen Literary Management
- Balzer+Bray Assistant Editor Sara Sargent
- Simon & Schuster Assistant Editor Danielle Young
But that’s not all. Conferences often also have contests, which are excellent opportunities. At the 2012 Houston SCBWI conference, I won the Joan Lowery Nixon Award and have been working with Newbury Honor author Kathi Appelt for the past year.
As I said, priceless.
What’s your favorite conference story?