Monday, March 11, 2019

7 Inspirations from Writers Day SCBWI Los Angeles - From My Panel, and The Other Conference Faculty

It was a wonderful day, and absolutely the highlight was getting to be the author on the plenary panel, speaking in front of an audience of 230 about "TMI: How Much Is Too Much" with Frances Gilbert (Editor-in-Chief, Doubleday Books for Young Readers), Cathie Chenoweth (School Liaison for the Los Angeles Public Library) and Mona White (Marriage and Family Therapist), moderated by Los Angeles' Assistant Regional Advisor, Kim Wildman.

It felt great to have, quite literally, a place at the table, and I spoke from my heart about gender, intersectionality, how kids are looking for truth (ignorance doesn't protect them) and safe space (and how books can be a safe space to explore), of lines in both publishing and for yourself as a children's book creator, and of how we should write from love (the power of hopeful endings and our thematic messages of agency and empowerment.) I even got to share a brief version of the story behind the story for Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill!

The day also included a last-minute keynote by Steve Mooser (jumping in for an ill Tamora Pierce) , an amazing conversation between Regional Advisor Sally Jones Rogan and Cornelia Funke, and so much more.

Here are seven moments that are still resonating for me:

Steve Mooser quoting Bruce Coville's advice, "Follow your weirdness."

Steve sharing Abigail Simone's reminder that "your main character is there for trouble."

Frances Gilbert's advice that, for picture books, there has to be a "reason for rhyme" and that "every word needs to count."

Alexis O'Neill's suggestion that, to help get school visits, you should "let your local indie bookstore know you do presentations."

Cornelia Funke admitting that, "sometimes a character fools you for pages and pages... and then you see behind the mask."

Frances explaining what the "List Launch" meeting is, what an editor does in it, and how books are prioritized according to feedback in that meeting. "That's how publicity and marketing budgets get made."

And the one I'm still humming...

Cornelia saying, "A storyteller used to be a sacred job, and it still is."

Oh, did I mention that the conference bookstore (Once Upon a Time Bookstore) carried Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill, and that they sold a bunch of copies, and that I got to sign my books during the autograph part of the day?


Some photos from the day,

Cornelia Funke speaking with Sally Jones Rogan

Frances Gilbert

My late friend, Claudia Harrington, remembered with a Scholarship.

What an amazing experience! Thanks to the whole SCBWI Los Angeles team for including me in the conference faculty. I'm very grateful.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

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