New England SCBWI Conference Recap

Last weekend, I went to the New England SCBWI conference in Springfield, MA, with my writer-buddy Ghenet Myrthil, and on Monday I promised you a quick recap…so here it is! I had a blast.

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…okay, I'll tell you a little more than that. The weekend was a great mix of networking, listening to industry experts share their wisdom, and honing my craft. On the networking side, I made a bunch of new writer friends. They crossed the spectrum from aspiring authors to those with relatively new book deals to veterans with one or more books on shelves already. We talked about our processes, our current projects, and our paths to publication. We compared notes from the different sessions we attended and talked about our lives outside of writing. And of course, I added quite a few books to my TBR (to be read) pile. The best part? Since we pretty much all followed each other on Twitter right away, I can easily keep in touch with all of them going forward.

As far as the sessions themselves, I truly lucked out in my choices. I attended some great workshops. I learned how to craft my brand as an author—without putting myself in a box. I got tips on refining my characters and on adding suspense to my narratives. I took a close look at the first page of my new work in progress, to make it the best it can be. I learned ways to draw on my personal history in my fiction without getting bogged down in "what really happened." Nova Ren Suma gave a fabulous talk on crafting a memorable first-person voice—and then signed my copy of her novel 17 & GONE. Julie Berry (who blurbed my book, something I still can't stop smiling about) and her editor Kendra Levin gave advice—and a ton of writing exercises—for getting outside of the writing comfort zone. All of that…on top of the various publishing panels that everyone attended! Is it any wonder I came home with my head spinning?

NESCBWI publishing panel—Alexandra is second from left

I also got the chance to spend a little time with my editor, Alexandra Cooper, who was on faculty at the conference. She was part of a general publishing panel, as well as doing critiques for conference participants. For me, it was great to catch up with her in kind of an informal setting, since for the time being, all of my work on THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND is done. (Though of course, I begged her for details about what's next in the process for my book…which you'll have to wait just a little longer for me to be able to share online!)

So would I go to this conference again? Definitely! It's smaller-scale and more intimate than the Los Angeles one I attended last August, while still having an array of amazing resources and workshops available for attendees. I met some awesome people and learned a lot. And it was only a short trip away from NYC!

Writers, writers everywhere...

Now… I have to start packing to go out of town again tomorrow. I'm headed home to see my family, including my brand-new nephew who was born yesterday. And I promise I'll try to get some writing done while there!