What I Saw and How I Learned (At Springmingle!)

So, remember a post or two back when I asked about SCBWI?

Several people commented about the SCBWI conferences and the value thereof. And this is the post in which I’ll share my very own personal observations and such about the conference I just attended. To wit, Springmingle ’10, sponsored by Southern Breeze.  (You know, that sounds awfully impressive. And I’m not gonna lie. Springmingle ’10 kinda was.)

From keynote speaker and prolific author, Jane Yolen, I learned that the truth about children’s publishing may not always be rainbows and puppy dogs, but it’s worth enduring. I found that she (thankfully) has a great sense of humor (see Cathy-on-a-Stick’s latest adventure). And I’ll keep her wonderful comment from my First Page critique for a rainy, rejection day. (Okay, you might as well know that I’ve written her comment down and it’s posted over my computer. Because c’mon,  it’s Jane Yolen.) I put one of Jane’s recently released books on my “To Buy List”: My Father Knows the Names of Things because when Jane read it, I got a little flekempt.

From Cheryl Klein, Senior Editor at Arthur A. Levine Books, I learned alot about revising and character development.  And I also learned that when speakers give handouts,  I remember more. Here’s a revision technique straight from the handout that’s helpful for any writer: Cut as many adverbs, telling uses of the word “feel” or “felt,” and non-“said” dialogue tags as you possibly can. “I felt like I learned something there,” I whined pitifully.

Josh Adams, agent, from Adams Literary Agency, filled us in on the agent side of children’s publishing, sharing lots of agent secrets. I learned that yeah, you need an agent. And that yeah, it’s not easy.  I could share those tips ’cause they’re not so secret.

From my manuscript critique, I learned that Jessica Alexander (from Peachtree Publishers) made a most excellent point about my main character.  I also learned that  a major rewrite is now in my immediate future.

From Meredith Mundy, senior editor at Sterling Publishers, I learned that when you (and by you, I really mean me) win the opportunity to sit next to someone (and by someone, I mean Meredith)  in the children’s writing business, you can’t get any luckier (and by luckier, I mean Meredith was gracious and generous and put up with a lot from, um, me) than Meredith Mundy. Oh, and I also learned from Meredith that Sterling is always looking for humor. (Wheee!)

And finally, I learned that you really can’t beat  SCBWI for writer value. Not to mention that whole “making new friends” value.