Gems from Oktoberfest


CC Image by Torbakhopper

CC Image by Torbakhopper

As a children’s book writer, I’m lucky to be in the SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) North & East Bay Region. Every October, our chapter hosts a conference featuring inspiring craft advice and a chance to meet established authors, agents and editors in the field.

In her closing comments to the conference, our indomitable Co-Regional Adviser Colette Parrinello advised us to avoid letting conference notes decay for months. Instead, she suggested going back over our materials immediately to select just three action items, and plan to accomplish them this week. Here’s my list:

  1. Write a blog post giving a taste of the riches of craft and industry knowledge offered at this conference every year.
  2. Schedule and post my writing time from now until the end of the year (see Gennifer Choldenko’s advice below).
  3. Make a plan to follow through on the submission opportunities this afforded by the SCBWI North & East Bay Oktoberfest conference.

 And here are a few gems from the seven (out of a selection of twenty) sessions I attended this weekend:

Gennifer Choldenko – Award winning author of Al Capone Does My Shirts and Chasing Secrets – Find the Beating Heart in Your Work

“Every day I get a little gift of creative energy, but it doesn’t accrue. 

If I don’t use it, it’s gone.”

Grace Kendall – Editor, Farrar, Straus & Giroux for Young Readers – Cultivating Common Ground: How to Develop Diverse Characters and Enrich Your World-Building Through Community

“Questions about immigration – the right to belong –

 make a great platform for narrative.”

Brett Wright – Associate Editor, Bloomsbury Publishing and YA Author of Yolo Juliet– So Your Character Walks Into a Plot Hole…And Other Common Traps to Avoid in your YA and MG Manuscripts

 “When revising, RE-imagine. Don’t just answer questions. Satisfy them. Think harder.”

Minju Chang – Agent at Book Stop Literary – Simply Irresitable: How to Explode Out of the Slush Pile with your First Page

“There’s an optimal time when an agent can enter the picture

and be useful to an author’s career.”

Kelly Sonnack – Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency – The Picture Book Litmus Test

“You are a writer. I expect more from you.”

Agent/Editor Panel – How Your Query Can Catch Our Attention

“Be able to answer the questions: What brought you to this project? Why is this story important to you? What entitles you to write this story?” —Grace Kendall

Jennifer Fosberry – Award-winning author of My Name is Not Isabella – The Writing Life

“You’re never going to feel settled and comfortable in this business.”

Does this conference sound amazing to you? Here’s an action item for you: put a reminder on your calendar to start checking for registration in the early fall of 2016–this conference ALWAYS sells out before the Early Bird Registration closes. A stellar faculty, flawless organization, a thriving community of children’s book writers and the unparalleled beauty of the SF Bay Area make this conference a must-do every year.

One thought on “Gems from Oktoberfest

  1. Raelene Van Horn

    What great reflections! You have written a beautiful piece to inform others of the benefits in attending the Oakland Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Conference!


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