Monday, February 2, 2009

Crazy lady in NY, part II: Attack of the Numb Butt

So a full day at the SCBWI NY conference left me revved up. After writing my first post, I started adding to the latest chapter in my current project. I got caught up and kept writing past 10 pm, finishing around a page and half of new material. Since that's a good output for a regular day, I was quite pleased. Then it was up by 7:30, check out of the hotel early, check the bags and coats, and back up for more programs at 8:30.

We saw some great illustrations as they announced the winners of their portfolio showcase. Then we had a very amusing talk from Bruce Hale, author of the "Chet Gecko Mysteries," who started out by regaling us with a song! His speech was very specific on how to appeal to middle graders, and since that's an age group I'm starting to experiment with, I found it very helpful.

Next there was a panel of agents discussing the state of the industry. With the economy tanking, there have been layoffs and cutbacks in the publishing industry, but all four agents were hopeful that the children's market will stay strong. (After all, people may cut back on their lattes and dinners out, but who can deny a child a book?) They revealed some interesting insights into how agencies work with editors, and I remain convinced it would be a nice thing to have an agent to advocate for my work. (Now I just have to find an agent who loves my writing.)

Next, the SCBWI introduced their new DVD master classes, one on the picture book with Tomie DePaola, one on the novel with Richard Peck. Tomie (as everyone calls him) couldn't be there in person, but did call in via speaker phone so we could hear his joyful voice. Richard Peck did appear, and although his talk was brief, it was super inspiring. If you're my age, you may remember Peck for suspense novels like Are You in the House Alone?, but nowadays he mainly writes wonderful historical novels, like the Newbery Award-winning A Year Down Yonder. While I was at the conference, I picked up two of his books, and read the Civil War story The River Between Us on the plane ride home. It was a wonderful story, beautifully written, and I highly recommend it to readers of all ages.

It was almost lunchtime, I was getting peckish, and my butt was totally numb, but we had one last speaker: writer Jack Gantos, who's known for the "Rotten Ralph" and "Joey Pigza" series, among others. He was a last-minute substitute, but his speech was very funny and reminded us all about why we become writers: because we love to read.

I made it back without any travel interruptions, feeling tired and inspired. Now I have to get back to work and turn that inspiration into something great.

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