Conferences are great. The Southern Breeze regional arm (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi) of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators held their annual fall conference in Birmingham, AL, on October 15 . . . and I was there. The theme was "WIK '11" -- the WIK stands for Writing and Illustrating for Kids.
Breakout workshops were led by some highly credentialed facilitators. Subjects included Creating Dialogue that Lives, How to Write Narrative Nonfiction that Pops, Achieving Tension Without Stressing Out, and, one that was a special interest to most everyone, How to Get Yourself Out of the Slush Pile, led by Alexandra Cooper, a senior editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
There were contests to enter, prizes to win, and networking opportunities galore.
In my mind, however, one of the greatest things that comes out of a conference is getting invited to send in your work to an agent or publisher. The ticket in the door, past the gatekeeper and out of the slush pile is your attendance at the conference. Definitely worth the price of admission.
I, of course, am not ready yet to do that. (Sigh) I have the nugget of an idea for a young adult novel, and the conference was to be my introduction to the complexities of the genre. Maybe next time.
After the two-day event, I spent the next week driving . . . met my sisters in Louisville, Kentucky, for lunch (they had travelled down from Michigan for other reasons), spent a few days at two of the incredible Metroparks in Cleveland, Ohio, photographing wood ducks, sped past the exotic animals on the loose in Zanesville, Ohio, drove through a near-blinding rainstorm coming out of Cincinnati, and crawled back into my comfortable bed six days after I left home and more than 2,000 miles later. My body is still humming.
Okay, that's all for now. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I'll try to do the same.
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