News from the Trenches- SCBWI LA

A four day conference surrounded by writers, friends, editors, agents and illustrators is exhilarating, inspiring and downright exhausting.  It's all of that and more.  There's something both terrifying and reassuring listening to Libba Bray discuss her torturous revision process for the third Gemma Doyle book.  You mean that it doesn't get easier?  At least we're not alone.

Here are some of my conference highlights:

From Bruce Colville:  Leave your heart on the page. My interpretation: Cut yourself open and bleed.  There is no substitute for real emotions, real pain, real embarrassment.  Let it all out there.  And then cut deeper. Your work will impact your readers.  Make it count.

From publisher Beverly Horowitz:  We are all gamblers.  Publishers gamble on the books they acquire and put into the marketplace.  Writers gamble on the books that they write.  Once the book is out there, there's no way of predicting which books will succeed or have staying power.  You can improve the odds by writing a great book, but accept that some things are out of your control.

From editor Krista Marino:  Interior monologue can transform your book.  Take a bare plot and bring it to life with interior commentary that shows your character's reactions and unique point of view.  Read a page from one of your favorite books.  Now read it with just the dialogue and physical stage directions, omitting the character's thoughts and feelings.  See the difference? Now do it with your own book.

From editor Arthur Levine:  First chapters are like first dates. Don't give in to the temptation to tell your entire life story.  Do put your best foot forward, whether it's character, voice, situation or concept.  Build the foundation for a long term relationship with your reader.

From Gary Paulsen: keep writing for children.  Adults are bulls***.

From a fellow attendee during the PJ Party:  It's cool to be a "friend of Bret."

Some other highlights:

Spending time with the incomparable Sarah Davies and meeting fellow Greenhouse authors. I even got a signed copy of SEAN GRISWALD'S HEAD from Lindsey Leavitt!  I'll be blogging about this book soon.

Meeting independent editor Lorin Obelweger.  She is amazingly talented.  And sweet.   

Seeing a  real live copy of the UNDER THE NEVER SKY ARC.  It's a book y'all.  An honest to God book.

Josh Adams' plaid pants.  They were seriously awesome.

Brazlian dancers.  Hot Brazlian dancers.  Every food court should have them.

Reconnecting with friends, and making new ones.  This is what the writing community is all about.

There was plenty of inspiration to be had at SCBWI LA, but the best part was being surrounded by friends, colleagues and people who all share a love of books and writing! See you there next year!


Definitely see you there next year when y'all are on panels and pestered for signatures from enthusiastic types like me who show up with your books. Great, inspiring and funny quotes. Thanks for them!

Sounds like it was such a great conference. I followed the Official SCBWI Blog, since I couldn't be there, and really got a lot out of it even second hand.

I think you meant to say "scarily badass" in place of "sweet" there, Talia! ;-)

Really enjoyed meeting you too and loved seeing all of you muses together!

-- Lorin

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