SCBWI conference

I attended this years conference for writers and illustrators of children’s books. Of course, it never matched the experience of my  first one in 2012. By this time, there isn’t much I hadn’t heard before from agents and publishers. But there’s always a gem that stays with me from every conference. This year, it was the talk by Gary Schmidt.

He teaches a  creative writing course at a maximum security prison once a week. One prisoner in his late twenties, who was incarcerated for life, wrote a devastating piece. He was a youngster  on 9-11. When he learned that the two towers collapsed , he  wished that the plane would hit his building. His life was so terrible at that age! Gary’s point was that if there was someone for this child at that time, someone who looked over his shoulder, he would be where he was now.

On the publishing front, the panel of publishers said that ebook sales have peaked in adult books and it never took off in children’s books. Th good news is that independent bookstores are doing well. Unfortunately, I don’t have an independent bookstore in my neighborhood or eve a little farther  away.

Writing Conference

I was at the annual winter conference of the Society of Children’s book writers and illustrators  in Manhattan.There were 1132 attendees from 47 states and 16 countries. 68 % of us were republished (sounds better than unpublished). I count myself as one of those since I have unpaid magazine credits only. So, there are so many aspiring writers and fewer interested agents and publishers.  Since this was my fourth conference in a row, I find that the breakout sessions with an expert(agent, publisher) repeat writing tips that I have heard before. They would accept queries from attendees, but this time, both experts I listened to were not interested in the genres I’m interested in at this moment, historical fiction and picture storybooks. What I get the most out of the conference is the inspiration from keynote speakers who had struggled and considered us “our people.”

Kwame Alexander was booked to be the last speaker in September 2014. What a joy it was to hear him as a Newberry Award winner, announced only 7 days before.

Persistance, persistence. That’s the mantra to us from these successful authors.