Recapping NJSCBWI17

I love this conference. It’s so friendly and informative. I see friends, I walk away with story and revision ideas, I get to admire amazing artwork and I get to buy people’s books. Entirely a win-win.

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What I bought at the conference. Missing: Robin Newman’s “The Case of the Poached Egg.” My son poached it.

OK, also I love that there are so many great kidlit resources in my own state. That is highly convenient and proof that New Jersey is a superior place to live. Don’t believe the jokes.

Conference workshops included in-depth discussions on creating characters of a different race or ethnicity (short answer: you absolutely can, just do the research and avoid tropes); on using white space and text placement to pace the emotion in a picture book; on solving problems in a story by looking elsewhere in the text for the answer; on being your true (and gracious!) self on social media; on how to build your story’s world without info-dumping; and on why you shouldn’t be afraid to talk to your agent.

I enjoyed Gabriela Pereira’s workshop on middle grade and YA novels so much, I went and bought her “DIY MFA” book conveniently just as she was walking into the book fair area. It’s nice to be able to tell someone, “Hey, I’m buying your book, thanks for your help!”

Really the best part of the conference is being around other creative people, all of whom are trying to accomplish the same thing you’re trying to accomplish, all of whom care deeply about quality children’s literature. People have a way of cheering each other on that I think might not be typical of other corners of the publishing world.

It was also entertaining to share a hotel with — I think — two weddings and two proms in one weekend. (Side note: Prom dresses are so much more sophisticated than when I was in high school. Slightly jealous.) A bridesmaid was overheard asking if she was allowed to have some of our coffee. I hope she went for it — we had plenty!

And now on to rereading my notes and revising manuscripts.