I wasn't able to attend the recent Springmingle Writers' Conference in Decatur, Georgia, but my dear writing friend,
Cathy C. Hall was able to, and she has graciously committed to giving the GROG a recap of this wonderful conference. Southern Breeze's regions includes Alabama, Georgia, and the Florida panhandle.
Here's Cathy's report:
We just wrapped up Springmingle, my Southern Breeze's SCBWI Conference, and I'm still soaring from the wonders of that experience! The camaraderie of all those kidlit writers and illustrators, the warm and witty speakers, the reams of writing information...honestly, my brain is buzzing still. The same way it buzzed back in 2009 after my first Springmingle.
I had joined SCBWI in January and noticed that the spring conference in my region was right around the corner. Gee, I thought, it's just around the corner from me; It'd be a shame not to go. On the other hand, I had all of one children's manuscript under my belt, and a very short (and messy one) at that. Was I even a kidlit writer? And would I know any of the writers in my region.
I went anyway. And I was hooked on what they were selling at the very first conference. Not that SCBWI is selling anything. They're giving away support--in the people you meet, the speakers that inspire you, the knowledge you gain...and I needed that.
Heck, I still need it. So, I've been going to conferences ever since. And I always come home exhausted but rejuvenated, with tons of new friends, including editors and agents in the children's publishing industry.
Take Patricia MacLachlan. We were fortunate enough to have this Newbery Award winning author of Sarah Plain and Tall. And she is wise and funny, down-to-earth and full of stories--exactly what you'd expect from a prolific and well respected author. But, mostly, she is inspiring, though I suspect she'd pooh-pooh that. She started her presentation by telling us that she is blind (she is not completely blind, but her eye-sight is sorely compromised) and that she'd written a picture book just that morning while in the bathtub. See what I mean? If Patricia MacLachlan is still hard at work like that, I better get going!
Jacquelyn Mitchard and Patricia MacLachlan
And Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of the New York Times best-seller, Deep End of the Ocean. She's the editor of Merit Press, a YA imprint with Simon and Schuster and she desperately wants to see terrific literary YA. She, too, is funny and smart and generous and inspiring. She gave the writer's intensive the day before the conference and if you have the chance to attend one of her classes, come prepared to write--and learn from your writing.
Friday Intensive Workshop
Mostly, though, I was interested in her keynote, Writing Through Hard Times, because, Lord knows, like Mitchard, I've had my share of hard times lately. You want to know what she advised?
"Just write," she said. "Write every day. It doesn't have to be great, or even good, but get ten pages. Just keep going."
Now, I'm not sure I pushed out ten pages every day during happy times, but I got her point. If you're going through tough times, writing can sustain you. And before long, the writing will get better. Just write.
Inspiration, the support of your tribe--that's what makes SCBWI conferences worth the price of admission. That and the opportunity to submit to the speakers who attend the conference. Which brings me to my last tip: follow through on the connections you make!
I'm not gonna lie: I was the worst offender when it came to following through after the conference. I had the best of intentions but I never...quite...got around to sending that query or submitting that manuscript in a timely manner. But you really must! Agents and editors go to a lot of conferences. If one has expressed interest in your story, your artwork, or representing you, make your investment pay off and contact that agent or editor within a couple of weeks while he or she still remembers you. When I finally followed through with the lovely Karen Grencik after Springmingle '15, I signed with Red Fox Literary within a month of the conference. It can happen for you, too, but first, you have to go to the conference.
So, come on y;all! Grab your manuscript and fly with me at Southern Breeze! (Or any SCBWI conference.)SCBWI
Cathy C. Hall gets around in both kidlit and adult markets. You'll find her byline in the Uncle John's Bathroom Reader series, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, and plenty of Chicken Soup for the Soul books. And if you happen to be in Korea, look for her children's titles from Darakwon Publishing. She's like the Where's Waldo of the writing world, only way better dressed.
And a big shout-out to A.H. Taylor, Southern Breeze photographer, who supplied the photos.A.H. Taylor