All right, after taking two weeks to wrap my head around the excellence of the 2018 SCBWI Canada East Conference, I’m ready to talk about it. As always, I’m not going to go into too much detail of the conference’s contents, because I feel that’s unfair to the speakers who earn money for delivering it, and the other attendees who paid money to receive it. Mostly I’ll just hit my highlights.
After dealing with sick kids all week leading up to the event, I’d been worried I wouldn’t be able to attend, but I made it (even if my stomach was rocky enough I only managed a dinner of miso soup before the first evening.)
The conference started with an evening get-together on the Friday night, which had a Glitter and Gold theme. I like the more subdued theme, because lots of people dressed up this year (unlike the Steampunk-theme year when I went full cosplay, and was the only one remotely Steampunky for the first 45 minutes of the event – not that I’m still bitter, or anything.)
I got to wear a glittery blue knit dress I’d scored for $6 (Canadian, even), and had a great time catching up with a critique partner and other writer-friends I mainly interact with online.
Saturday morning I had a session hosted by writer Catherine Austen on Revision, which focussed as much on techniques for revising as it did on finding the motivation/confidence to actually do the revisions. It served as both a lesson and a pep talk – both of which I really needed.
I also really enjoyed the session on Literary Branding by agent Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary (a Canadian-based agency that deals mostly with the U.S. Market). She told us to find a common theme in our works and to emphasize it as our literary brand.
When I mentioned to friends later that I was having trouble finding a theme in a how-to book on cake decorating, a YA about a cosplayer, and my forest-based MG Fantasy, they didn’t even hesitate before answering, “Geek. Your brand is geek.”
Can’t really argue with that one.
But I think the highlight of my conference was my one-on-one critique with editor Aubrey Poole. I have to admit, I’ve had mixed results from conference critiques, sometimes it feels like the critiquer barely skimmed the pages (I’ve had suggestions that had absolutely nothing to do with the story, and a critique on a fantasy that basically said “I don’t like fantasy books, so I can’t offer anything.”)
But Aubrey’s critique was spot-on. Her criticisms mostly pointed out things that had been bothering me about the story (but which I really didn’t want to deal with and kind of hoped nobody would notice), and made me finally buckle down and deal with plot holes with an answer other than ***it’s MAGIC *** (insert *jazz hands* here).
Anyway, after two weeks of pondering solutions, I’m finally about ready to jump in on what’s going to be a major revision – but one that will improve the story 100%. I can’t wait to get started.
All-in-all I came out of the conference motivated, inspired, and with a bunch of new writer-relationships. Yay!