Last weekend I went to SCBWI Canada East’s conference here in Ottawa, and I had a blast! (As is usual with my recaps, I won’t be going into great detail, because it wouldn’t be fair to either those paid to present the material, or those paying to attend.)
It all started with a Steampunk-themed party Friday night. Since the main character in my YA work-in-progress does some steampunk cosplaying, I went all out with my costume to help get into her shoes. I think my design is a little more Wild West than Victorian, so there may be more revisions in my future – for my costume and my novel.
Saturday morning the fabulous Helaine Becker spoke on the business of writing – with a lot of stress on the importance of following up (if you’ve read my agent story, you know how following up helped me).
I elected to take the novel track of the conference – although, as with every year, I wish I could have cloned myself and also attended the Picture Book workshop.
Alex Arnold of Katherine Tegan Books filled us in on the importance of establishing stakes in a novel, while Grace Kendall of Farrar, Straus, Giroux gave a great talk on building and displaying character through other people’s actions/dialogue.
After lunch, Jennie Dunham of Dunham Literary Inc helped us decode the language of rejection letters, and Tim Wynne-Jones showed us his ten questions to ask of a novel revision – perfect timing for me, since that’s what I’m working on these days.
Sunday began with the Crystal Kite presentation to Karen Krossing for her novel Bog – the chapter she read was so good, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. Afterward the agents and editors gave us their first impressions on first pages and pitches submitted anonymously, and then answered a whole bunch of our questions.
My personal highlights were witnessing a young boy (not with the conference, but a random guest at the hotel) convince his mother to buy a copy of Fun with Frosting, and then signing it for them (when I left he was begging her to let him take it to school!) And seeing the 6 cupcakes I donated to the auction (to raise money for a bursary for next year’s conference) go for a whopping $25 (!). Maybe I should be opening a bakery, instead of writing books.
All in all, I had an amazing time, learned a lot, met some fabulous, talented people (and re-connected with lots more). If you’ve never been to a conference, I really can’t recommend them enough. I’m already looking forward to next year’s. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Tune in next week when I’ll talk all about my first-ever book signing (see Events) and/or my book launch party! (Eeeeee! So much excitement going on, how do I choose?)