Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Arrhhh! Fabulous weekend at the SCBWI Conference 2015

British Isles
Where to start???

This being my fourth (or is it fifth?) conference, I decided I would be part of the volunteer team and give something back to the amazing organisers who regularly make the conference such a spectacular event. They do it for free too. All that work on our behalf, for free.

Volunteering is great and you get a badge!!!! After checking in with the unflappable Suzie, I found myself on registration duties; ticking attendees off the list, giving out name tags and conference booklets.

Then it was down to business and the conference began in earnest. After the opening remarks by Regional Advisor, Natascha Biebow, the conference was kicked off big time by author/illustrator team extraordinaire, Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve. It was so good to get an insight into how these two talented people work together.

A quick coffee break then we were into the industry panel session. I had opted for one entitled: Hooking in New Readers. Some great tips and I was pleased to see so much emphasis placed on author talks in schools seeing as I spend so much time trying to get that right.

I had to dash off at 11:30 for a quick 1-2-1 (The Iron City) with an editor. The feedback from her was not too bad although the synopsis I provided was a complete disaster, (darling). Still, I got lots of great pointers on improving it and that's what it's all about.

Lovely lunch at 12:00 with time to visit the onsite bookshop to buy some books.

Another of Jonny's titles
Then it was on to the next session with illustrator keynote, Jonny Duddle who took us through how he came to be an author/illustrator. He had some great tales of how he actually worked on a pirate ship and was a children's entertainer. He read The Pirate Cruncher which was so good I had to buy a copy. (And I admit to hounding Jonny at the evening party until my book was signed.)

After a quick break, we all piled into the auditorium for the announcement of the Crystal Kite Award
which was followed by The Hook where five delegates pitched to a panel of agents. Scary!
Congratulations to both winners.

Time for a rest then as we all had to get ready for the pirate themed evening paaaarrrrty. This was a time to mingle and meet new/old friends plus a chance to sidle up to an agent and pitch a book or two. Incorporated into this was a mass book launch for all scoobies who had a book published this year. A great opportunity for everyone to share in their success and offer our congratulations.

And that was just Saturday...

First thing Sunday we all had a quick network meeting giving us all the opportunity to catch up with our regional scoobie friends. This was followed by the Outstanding Contribution Awards for all the wonderful volunteers who make SCBWI British Isles run so brilliantly.

We then had a great treat as David Fickling took to the stage...and started dancing. Encouraged, the whole auditorium was up and boogied to a Pulp Fiction dance excerpt. It certainly woke everyone up. He gave a great talk about being an independent publisher, what it entails and more importantly, how it compares to the much larger publishing houses.

After that, we were straight into our break-out sessions. Mine was Publishing 101 with agents Penny Holroyde and Julia Churchill. This was incredibly useful as it covered what agents do, what authors should do, submission guidelines, the importance of pitching, what publishers do, what agents look for. A huge amount of information was given out and gratefully received.

The final session came after lunch and this was with Candy Gourlay looking at story structure, This was another hands-on session and we all came away with a really useful way of focussing on how stories should be structured. I realised then that mine needed a complete restructure - argh! (or should that be 'aaarrrhhh!')

Coffee and cake followed as I said goodbye to friends, old and new. I left excited, inspired and eager to work on my manuscript, hoping to bring my writing to the best I possibly can.

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