The Copy Cat

Coming March 2020

What I learned at #NY16SCWBI

You Gotta Find  Your Tribe

In my experience, conferences are all about networking and being inspired to return home with a new perspective about your work.

What I didn’t expect to find during my first SCWBI Conference was what Rita Williams-Garcia told us during her Sunday morning talk: “Look around – this is your tribe”.

scwbi group

Some Canadian and Australian Tribe Members!

When I walked into the first session on Saturday morning, all I experienced was a sea of faces.

Nearly 1200 faces.

But you chat with someone, which leads to chatting with someone else, and so on. And then SCWBI invites you to a lovely gala that night where you meet more people.

But the best thing is this: they are all passionate about children’s books. Just like I am.

It was like coming home, finding people who share a common theme: writing and illustrating the best books they can.

And throughout the conference I experienced more than my fair share of a-ha! moments:

  • William Joyce’s (!) infectious wild genius mind that refuses to be bound by anybody’s expectations except his own vision of excellence;
  • The Big 5 Publishing Houses telling us we are in the right business at the right time so long as what we produce is excellent;
  • Rainbow Rowell (!) encouraging us to come at our work using other creative mediums – hers is music – and not be afraid to play with tropes;
  • Agent Sarah Davies asking us to fill our readers with “wonder”;
  • Kate Messner and Linda Urban encouraging us to step away from the work now and then, whether to walk or engage in another creative pursuit, and get a writer pal;
  • Rita Williams-Garcia’s list of don’ts, which were seriously hysterical;
  • Jacquelyn Mitchard’s reminding us that our ending is “a beginning that ushers the reader back into the real world.”; and
  • Gary Schmidt’s poignant reminder of  how much Children’s Books matter.
  • The AMAZING quality of the illustrators!
  • Getting to see all of the award winners!
  • Getting to put faces to SCWBI staff and leaders!  Lin Oliver is my new crush!

And now I am back  at my desk, processing what  I have learned, glad to be able to incorporate those learnings into my WIP.

Lucky  me.

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Author of Children's Literature