Friday, May 15, 2009

SCBWI L.A. '09: The Conference Breakdown

Last night I had the strangest dream. It was the beginning of this year's SCBWI Writer's Conference. Instead of being in the usual beautiful hotel, however, it was in some cheap Super 8-type Motel, in their run down continental breakfast room.  We were all there, everyone who was part of our awesome group last year. Lin Oliver introduced me as SCBWI's Sanjaya to the small room. Then, instead of opening with a glorious keynote, we chowed down on some dry breakfast.

And guess who showed up? My family. My sister snuck into the table and informed me of her recent aspirations to write a picture book (she has none of the sort), and my Dad--and this is the part that made me laugh hardest when I woke up--ran to the head of the table and led us all in a Scottish jig.  How I knew the jig was Scottish, I couldn't tell ya. Do Scots even do jigs?

We all marched out in orderly fashion, jigging along the way. Paul was dressed in this overly long green and white sweater, and was skipping--yes, literally skipping--in and around our orderly ranks and chanting in fluent Gaelic, making sure we got really into the jig. Paul, I knew you spoke lots of languages, but Gaelic, wow!

That's all I remember, but it provided some great inward entertainment this morning, and is a great segue into the blog post I was planning (at Paul's request, oddly enough).

As I think is pretty obvious, I've been started to look forward to this year's conference (understatement, maybe?). On top of seeing everyone again, there seem to be some absolutely wonderful keynotes and breakout sessions this year.  On the website they're touting it as the largest faculty ever; bigger doesn't always mean better, but it seems so in this case. I'm just glad we have such a big group, so that in some cases we can split up and share notes.

Everyone comes to the conference with different goals and aspirations, and we all base our decisions for our breakout sessions on those goals. Because of where I'm at in my writing process, my main focus this year is agents. It's my first conference with a completed manuscript--a manuscript that is yet to have representation--and I'm really hoping to hit it off with one of the agents that are attending this year.

Of course, I still want to learn about craft, social networking, and the editorial process. In order to achieve a balance, I decided to break down the keynotes by type, so that I could achieve a balance that favored agents but let me experience everything.

Here's what I came up with:

Novelists (and the like): 7 speakers, 3 of which are Fantasy, 1 Historical Fiction, 1 Contemporary, 1 chapter book-age, and 1 is Ellen Hopkins (poetry, but fiction too; not exactly sure how to classify her. The Awesome category might cover it).

Picture Book-ers: 2 speakers, 1 panel.

Editors: 3 speakers, 1 panel.

Agents: 1 panel.

The editors attending, with either keynotes or breakout sessions, are: Dinah Stevenson (Clarion), Jordan Brown (Walden Pond Press, a new HarperCollins imprint), Allyn Johnston (Beach Lane Books), Wendy Loggia (Delacorte), Krista Marino (Delacorte), Anica Rissi (Simon Pulse), Arianne Lewin (Disney-Hyperion), Andrea Welch (Beach Lane Books), Courtney Bongiolatti (Simon and Schuster), Elizabeth Law (Egmont), Bonnie Bader (Grosset & Dunlap, Price Stern Sloan, both imprints of Penguin), 

The agents attending, who have breakout sessions, are: Daniel Lazar (writer's house), Steven Malk (writer's house), Jen Rofe (Andrea Brown), Marietta Zacker (Nancy Gallt Lit), Sarah Davies (greenhouse lit), Jamie Weiss (Andrea Brown), Kelly Sonnack (Andrea Brown), and Stephen Fraser (Jennifer De Chiara Lit). 

I'm surprised (but personally, pleased) at the plethora of fantasy author keynotes.

Sherman Alexie is the opener; he spoke at my school and was HILARIOUS, so look for another incredible opening keynote this year (the two I've seen, Bruce Coville and Walter Dean Myers, were both phenominal).  The closer is Kathleen Duey, who is a pretty big name too.

Whew! I think that's it.  Who's all going to the conference this year? And what are you going to focus on when there (other than Beer:30 and fun, of course)? Any personal highlights for you? I'll leave a comment later about my personal highlights, as I think this post has gone on long enough.  See you on the Avenue of the Stars!


Casey said...

Pretty weird dream, you jigger, you.

: )

Also, I awarded you an award (or two) on my blog. Fun stuff.

Hardygirl said...

I am laughing so hard!! I actually had a dream about Paul wearing a green (yes green) velvet puffed-sleeve blazer and running and dancing around downtown Oxford while crazily singing. I was in a conundrum--do I admit to being his friend or turn the other way? I woke up before figuring out my dilemma. Sorry, Paul--I'm sure if I could have finished my dream, I know I would have brought you a beer and introduced you to my town.

Anyway--I'm in!! Plane ticket and hotel room are booked. June 1st, I'll register (can't buy plane ticket and register in the same month $$). Can't wait to hang with you and the rest of the group! Beer:30!!


Tyler said...

Wow, Casey, thanks! I'll have a post about that shortly...:)

SF, that is HILARIOUS! Glad to hear you're coming, too!

Paul, you better get yourself a sweet-looking green sweater for this year's conference, apparently.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

love your dream! lol. Maybe you should discuss implementing a jig into the entertainment schedule. I attended the Pikes Peak Writers Conf last month and it was great. Hope you have a wonderful experience!

Tyler said...

Hi Karen! I think a jig as part of the entertainment is a GREAT idea; little bit of exercise, and it'd loosen everybody up socially as well!

Hmm, we better bring this up to Lin Oliver...