Friday, April 27, 2012

Conference #2: A Success Story, Post Confrence Mojo Post

Howdy strangers. It has nearly been one week since my SCBWI region's Spring Spirit extravaganza. I still cannot manage to put all I learned into cohesive thoughts. When I attempt to explain all I absorbed, it comes out all jumbled and sounds something like this:

uggabooksforchildrenackvoicearghahtoomuchcaffieneheeheeshowdon'ttellbyebye.

And looks something like this:


 I'm scatterbrained as you can plainly see, a tad bit overwhelmed and giddy and definitely not in the right place to blog about all the juicy details. Instead, what I have decided to do is to write about what I did RIGHT this time around, at my second writer's conference, as opposed to how I was as a first time conference goer. (Please see Lessons for Next Time post, aka Conference #1: A Disaster Story) Of course this does not mean I did not have a few banana peel slips throughout the day, I mean, I just wouldn't be me without a few of those, but let us focus on the non-humiliating aspects of the experience.

The bestest thing I did was read Meredith Barnes's article, Conference 101: Know Before You Go, just before embarking on my conference journey. Did I wince a few times while experiencing some horrific flashbacks from my first conference? Sure! But it changed my perspective completely on conference-going.

The days leading up to the conference, I began chanting to myself and my husband what I hoped to get from this conference...

"I'm really going to go in and learn all I can from these workshops."
"I am really excited to meet other writers."
"I wonder what kinds of yummy pastries they'll have this time."

Just imagine me repeating these thoughts over and over again aloud about fifty times and you get the gist of the main topic of  conversation in the days prior to me leaving for what here-on-out will be referred to Conference #2: A Success Story.

With the sun shining,  green pastures both to my right and left, some giant big rigs spewing pebbles at my windshield, and The Boss blasting from my speakers (love you Bruce!), I was off at 6:00 in the morning, repeating the my mantra as I drove.

 Learn, meet, pastries. Learn, meet, pastries.

After getting lost while translating my map and ignoring my best judgment, I finally arrived,  ready to learn, meet, and pastry. (Please note that I have created a new verb, pastry (v): to consume large amounts of delicious, doughy pastries by loitering awkwardly around the pastry table for way too long.)

Rather than boring you with a play-by-play here is a list of what I did RIGHT at Conference #2: A Success Story (I owe it all to you Meredith Barnes!):

  • I introduced myself to other writers I had seen online and met new unsuspecting writers on the seats next to me.
  • Made jokes about how much coffee I had already had.
  • Chatted while waiting in line for the restroom.
  •  Touched Bitsy Kemper's pink, spunky hair like I had known her for a lifetime.
  •  I approached editors and agents about what impressed me about THEIR work, because wowza, were they impressive. Please note: This was truly authentic...It wasn't coming from my own ambitions or hopes to promote my own work, just from an enthusiasm for all things children's literature. Highly recommend it! (Side note: This was NOT how I approached Conference #1: A Disaster Story)=)
EXAMPLE: I listened to an amazing talk on voice, where Sterling editor Brett Duquette, defined voice to be "writing that is smooth and honest." I had NEVER heard it described as this before! It was always more like, "Voice is so abstract, and hard to understand." With excellent and hilarious examples and exercises, I had to tell him how unique, clear, and helpful his presentation was. Did I mention my own work and how I would love to work with him? Nope! Was I thinking it? NOPE! My mantra was ingrained in my mind....Learn, meet, pastry.
  • I don't think I mentioned my blog one time in attempts to recruit readers or contributors 
  • Nor did I whip out my business cards (which I am thinking of using to kindle summer campfires) 
  • I only really discussed my WIP in depth once, at a first pages critique session, where looking at writers' work was the goal.

I just enjoyed myself and the amazingly supportive community of children's authors and illustrators.

Although I am new at all of this, I know that this is the best piece of advice I can offer anyone who is going to their first conference. Enjoy yourself...learn, meet, pastry.

(P.S. Now that the conference is over, please note that I have added some pretty social media buttons, with the help of the amazing Sylvia Liu.  Come slip with me! )

34 comments:

  1. Your media buttons are gorgeous! I have button envy :) And really, pastry should have been a verb a long time ago - you have done the world a tremendous service!

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    1. Why thank you Susanna! It makes you feel any better, I have website envy. That Donna Ferrell knows what she's doing! I'm glad I have your support on the pastry campaign. :)

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    2. agree about those sweet media buttons!

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  2. One of these days, Miss Elizabeth, I want to be your conference buddy. I will bet you anything that I can pastry you under the table with my mouth closed.

    Excellent post, groovy buttons.

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    1. One of these days Renne, we shall be conference buddies. I am crossing my fingers it will be in your neck of the woods. We shall have a pastry duel.:)

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    2. Dang. Spelled your name wrong. Sorry Renee!

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  3. I love your posts, Elizabeth. You are completely entertaining while being informative. Thanks for sharing your experience and some great advice.

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    1. Penny Klostermann! Thank you so much for your kind words! You are so sweet. Thanks so much for dropping by. :)

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  4. Wonderful advice! Glad your second wasn't a disaster :) Love your buttons!!

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    1. Thanks so much Jennifer! I like my buttons too. They are very round. :)

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  5. It was so fun to meet you at the conference, Elizabeth! I thought you were utterly charming, and I am sure that Bitsy Kemper didn't find your hair-touching the least bit awkward :-)

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    1. I loved meeting you Amy! You all were so genuinely nice. Such a treat! Luckily Bitsy seems like a pretty outgoing person. Some hair -touching might not phase her. :)

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  6. Success! I'm glad thinks went well for you. I attended my first conference last weekend, but made sure to brush up on everyone's disaster stories first, so I could (hopefully) not duplicate them.

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    1. Great Kirsten! It sounds like your experience was successful too. :) Hooray for conferences! Thanks so dropping by!

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  7. It was great meeting you, Elizabeth! And it was a fantastic conference. I was also really impressed with Brett Duquette's session (I had to scroll back to your post to make sure I spelled his name right!). Can't overemphasize the importance of networking with other writers as well as faculty. I cashed in on all the networking I'd done at previous conferences last weekend: I wanted to go to Brett's Voice session which conflicted with the First Pages YA/middle grade segment to which I had submitted a page, so I found a conference friend who took notes on Lin Oliver's and Andrea Thompson's comments for me.

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    1. I am so glad I was able to finally meet you Natasha! It is slightly nerve wracking going to these conferences because they offer so many great break-out session options, you don't want to miss ANY of them! That was smart to have a friend take notes for you. :) So glad to have met you!

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  8. Thanks for writing this postElizabeth. I have my first conference coming up in July and appreciate all the links you have shared, including your own slip ups! I am excited and nervous at the same time about attending a writers conference, ut I know it is a great thing to do!

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    1. Thanks Ramona! Great to see you here! Good luck on your summer conference. They are GREAT! Mary Cole just posted recently on conference-going as well, which I forgot to mention above, if you are interested. :)

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  9. I'll remember your mantra: learn, meet, pastry! Great post! I, too, like your buttons. I need to find the pinterest button for my blog.

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    1. Thanks Tina! The Pinterest button's hard to find! Great to hear from you!

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  11. You are so funny! Learn, meet, pastries ... I have definitely learned something important here!

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    1. Re Voice

      But what does the 'smooth' part mean?

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    2. Thanks Candy! So great to see you here! I He described smooth to be writing that doesn't make you stop reading and think about the writer or the word choice, etc. I really liked his explanation. He was an excellent presenter.

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  12. Great post! I had such an amazing time at the conference. I posted some notes on my blog at http://lindajsingleton.com LiveJournal

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    1. Thanks so much! I really enjoyed your session on synopses. Such helpful templates! Great notes at your site too!

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  13. I love to pastry! I always show up early to get the best pickins!

    I am so glad you had a great time at the conference. I know you didn't write this post as an advice column, but I think you emphasized the importance of being authentic and yourself at these type of events! Thank you!

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    1. You seem to be an expert pastries. Showing up early?! Now that is smart! :)

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  14. Somehow I am JUST seeing this! Bethany=LAME!

    You made the conference so splendid for me. I absolutely loved sitting by (grasping on?) you in each session!!

    And, between you touching her hair, and my completely-awkward-far-too-low hug, I think Bitsy maaaaaay have had her fill of newbie writer love! ;)

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    1. Bethany! It was SO great to finally meet you. I feel really lucky to be in the same region.:) Here is to a long career of SCBWI conferencing and writer love! :) Thanks so much for your support Bethany. You are wonderful!

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  15. Love that voice was defined as smooth and honest. So many times I think people equate voice with a perky, quirky tone only.

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