I recently mixed-it-up, rubbed elbows, shot the bull–whichever cliche’ you prefer–with fellow Arkansas SCBWI’ers at Little Rock, where we gathered together for three fantastic presenters last weekend.
Darcy Pattison began our conference Friday afternoon with a workshop intensive on novel revision. She shared some proven methods for determining if you story is dead or alive, whether you have scenes that mean something, and plot identity.
THEN she taught a method that blew me away–the “shrunken manuscript” method. We gathered native herbs and various small reptiles, threw them into a big black cauldron under which we built a roaring fire. We beat the drums, and brandished our spears as we danced around in circles, and threw our manuscripts into the pot…
NAHHH! Nothing that dramatic. We had previously printed our manuscripts in the tiniest print legible, spread the pages out on the floor, and marked them up based on narrative arc, or plot strength, or character emotion. This was the most revealing and useful tool I’ve ever learned–it even works for picture books!
Friday night we enjoyed a meet and greet (and eat!) as various members made pitches to the guest editor and agent at the conference. We shared ideas, business cards, dreams, successes, and anxieties about our writing craft.
On Saturday Dawn Frederick of the Red Sofa Literary Agency shared priceless tips and do’s and don’ts about querying agents and publishers. Later she talked about Red Sofa, and later shared all about building our social media presence. The possibilities are endless! I am going to gradually expand my presence to other venues, and then try to focus on just those that I can manage at this time in my writing life.
Also on Saturday morning Karl Jones from Grosset & Dunlap/ Price Stern Sloan, an editor with Penguin Book Division, carried us through character development. That fun exercise resulted in considering an additional character who could add a cluck or two to my picture book “Cock-a-Doodle-Too!” He kept us engaged in an afternoon session on pitching and communicating with acquisition editors, where we worked as groups to have a team member provide a live, on-stage book idea to the crowd. Karl also shared about Grosset & Dunlap’s acquisitions and recent developments in published works, giving us an idea of the latest market focus and directions.
Many thanks to our regional SCBWI conference coordinator Phyllis Hemann, Melanie Siegel, and others that helped and volunteered. we learned a lot, laughed a lot, and confirmed our fellow love for writing and illustrating kid-lit.
And icing on the cake? I won a door-prize! Gift certificate to Barnes & Noble!