Thursday, March 23, 2017

FLYING HIGH WITH SCBWI SOUTHERN BREEZE: Guest Post for Sherri Jones Rivers by Cathy C. Hall

     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

17 comments:

  1. Wonderful review of the conference and I enjoyed your comments, Cathy. Springmingle is always a special opportunity to let those creative sparks fly and your writing juices to work overtime. Thanks Sherri and Cathy!

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    1. Thanks, Anne, for stopping by. Yep, Springmingle is bursting with success stories.

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  2. Springmingle - what a great name for a writer's gathering! Thanks for sharing these insights from Cathy.

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    1. Sue, Super Supporter. Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Such fun to hear from Cathy and hear her recap! I first me there at the first WOW Retreat. Hppy of ruer success. Ty, Sherri.

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    1. Kathy, we did have a great time at that first retreat. Such precious memories. Thanks for your comments.

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  4. Thank you Sherri for handing off the space today. Cathy, Such fun to peer over your shoulder at the recent fabulous Atlanta SCBWI events & hear these Truths. Great Quotes. Love the photos, too. On a personal note, I have enjoyed meeting your bubbly self, Cathy, at Southern Breeze via former RA and Always WonderWoman Joan Broerman. This is the first blog article I'm reading about the recent Spring Mingle fun, but I'm scouting online in days ahead for one from Haiku Queen Robyn Hood Black. (I'm wearing one of her Artsy Letters typewriter key rings, right now.) I think I'm going to go back up to the top & reread this visit. It lifts me up.

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  5. Oh, thank you, Jan. Cathy is a special soul, isn't she? Love that kid. Glad the post spoke to you.

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  6. "Just write. Write every day. It doesn't have to be good." I think I'll take that to heart. Thank you!

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    1. Yes, you can't go wrong by writing every day. It's easier if you don't let too many days go by. It's like going to the Y.....if you let too many days go by, you won't want to get back in the swing. (I'm talking to myself here)

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  7. Thanks Sherri for sharing. I think writing through the hard times is a good tip. I've not been able to attend a conference as I'm usually out of country, or I've been so busy packing and planning for the return trip that I forget to check the writing conference schedules. Need to make that a priority.

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    1. Yes, do try to schedule one. You will be blessed! Appreciate your comments.

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  8. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, Cathy! I like reading your posts.

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    1. She has a great voice, doesn't she, Tina? Thanks for stopping by.

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  9. Aw, y'all say the nicest things over here! :-) And thank you to Sherri for letting me go on and on about Southern Breeze. So glad y'all found something helpful in my ramblings, and would love to see you somewhere--anywhere--in the writing world! (A special hi to my WOW! Retreat friends! Didn't we have a grand time?!)

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  10. Yes, Cathy, we had a grand and glorious time. Rustic setting, but oh, so much fun!

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  11. You make me wish I was still writing kid lit. :) Everything you say about conference is true. The support is terrific and you never know who you'll meet. When I attended WIK a number of years ago I met the lady who would become both my critique partner and my friend. Something good always comes from conference.

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