Carol Tanzman here! A few weeks ago, I attended the SCBWI National Conference as a faculty member. That means that I presented a break-out session AND I got to attend all the other sessions—the best part. So many inspiring authors, wonderful editors, agents, published and pre-published writers (and illustrators) of picture books, middle grade and YA. And yes, some great parties but, ahem, we are here to talk about the conference!
First, if you don’t know about SCBWI, I am here to tell you: it is a most awesome group. It is the only professional, as well as aspiring, writers and illustrators dedicated solely to the kidlitosphere. After you join the national organization, you are also automatically a member of your local region. There are one-day writer’s days at the local level, weekend retreats, various workshops set up for a Saturday or week-day evening, schmoozes (gabfests for a couple of hours with local writers), critiquenics (where you can get a couple of pages critiqued by published authors for free!), and two national conferences: summer in L.A. in August, winter in NYC in February. There are also grants you can apply for, ten page contests to win—and access, access, access to professionals in the publishing.
At the conference, some of the things I did were: attend a wonderful writing workshop led by YA author Gary Schmidt, participate in an intimate, round robin evening discussion on LGBTQ issues in YA facilitated by one of the regional advisors of the LA SCBWI region (Lee Wind) along with panelist Arthur Levine of Scholastic, an incredibly moving keynote by Golden Kite winner Ruta Sepetys (her amazing novel is Between Shades of Gray), an overview of Amazon’s new publishing arm for children’s and YA books, the illustrators portfolio display… and… well… I could go on and on. The truth is that the nicest, and most helpful, people in publishing belong to SCBWI.
Of course, I would be remiss in not sharing a fun highlight. At the faculty signing, I was paired with Sara Shepard—she of Pretty Little Liars fame. Here we are at our table, Sara (on the left) with her new book, The Lying Game, and me (on the right) with mine, Circle of Silence.
I bet you can tell from the picture what a truly sweet person she is! (where do those devilish plots come from, Sara?)
So yes, it was a fun, fun, time! Thanks to SCBWI for having me. And I urge anyone who writes for children up to YA to join the organization!