Pam likes to joke that I left my "tennis shoes" back in Ohio and slipped into Eastern "sneakers" to reinvent myself. Writers, challenge yourself to go outside your usual circle, your own SCBWI group, and grow. I learned so much, met so many new writers, talked w/industry experts, received a hug from Jane Yolen, and snapped a pic of nonfiction writer extraordinaire, Melissa Stewart, 2015 Crystal Kite winner.
It will take me several months to unpack my new knowledge and several more blog posts, too. Don't worry, I will be sharing the expertise and juicy tidbits. GROGger Christy Mihaly will tag team with me, too. We met up several times and shared stories with 12x12 folks for pizza and camaraderie.
Short, Sweet Takeaways for Today
1. Have a goal in mind when choosing conferences. My goals included extending my network, meeting some author luminaries. getting a critique from editor Julie Bliven; following a nonfiction track throughout the conference.
2. Meet on social media before you go to a new conference. Many of us newbies connected via the #NESCBWI16 hashtag first and planned to meet at specific sessions/events.
3. Try something new. (Well, the theme WAS reinvent.) I challenged myself. I struck out and did not cling to my roommate the entire conference. I entered the Pitchapalooza contest and ate alone at the MVP lounge one night. Results...stronger pitch and new friends.
4. Be brave, confident, and know you have something to share. Approach editors, agents, published writers and really talk. I now have a new vision and way to tackle a WIP for educators because I sat w/ Megan Dowd Lambert at the #AskAMentor session. With no one at her MFA table, we instead discussed her amazing professional book, READING PICTURE BOOKS WITH CHILDREN. Lucky me, I had 30 minutes uninterupted with her.
5. Attend every event you can, even if it goes into the wee hours. The keynotes were amazing and the sessions were vetted beforehand, so this really was the best of the best.
Yes, I am still drinking the NESCBWI conference Kool-Aid and will share more with you later! I still have to tell you about The Writer's Loft, and The Unlikely StoryBookstore & Cafe owned by Jeff Kinney, and...stay tuned.