Mid-Atlantic SCBWI Meeting

© Sylvia Liu
Just got back from a great weekend in northern Virginia for the annual Mid-Atlantic SCBWI conference. A quick recap:

Friday Illustrator Intensives

1. Workshop with Viking Children's Books Art Director Nancy Brennan 

Before we arrived, Nancy Brennan gave us an assignment to illustrate the opening spread of SURPRISE SOUP, by Mary Ann Rodman, illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Viking Children's Books 2009). She gave us a working manuscript so the text is not the same as the published text. I came up with this piece:

© Sylvia Liu

We got a lot of useful feedback on our pieces and heard about the business in general.

2. Workshop with illustrator Lisa Falkenstern

The incredibly talented Lisa Falkenstern taught a group of us how to make Sculpey sculptures of our characters for modeling purposes. I had fun making my pirate parrot:

Saturday Conference Highlights

Lin Oliver shared her Ten Point Guide to Launching and Sustaining a Children's Book Career. A few highlights: "Define yourself as a professional." "Fail quickly and fail often." "As you succeed, send the elevator back down." "Write like a wolf eats."

Agent Panel. Emily Keyes (Fuse Literary), Carrie Hannifin (HSG Agency) , and Linda Epstein (Emerald City Literary) shared their expertise about queries, what they're looking for, and the agent-client relationship.

Wendy Lamb, Vice President and Publishing Director, Wendy Lamb Books, Penguin-Random House, gave an overview of the industry (children's books are still a bright spot), talked about voice and finding the unexpected. About her job: "A lot of what I do is inspire people to do way more work than they expected." 

Editor Panel. Adrienne Sszpyrka (Running Press Kids), Christina Pulles (Sterling Children's Books), and Wendy Lamb (Wendy Lamb Books/Penguin-Random Books) shared craft tips on character development, voice, and storytelling in historical fiction. Wendy, on critics:

Judith Viorst & Kwame Alexander, both legends in their own rights, talked about their writing habits, inspirations, careers, and more. It was funny, moving, and inspiring to listen to them read their poems, share laughs, and have a great time.

Banner Contest: Honorable Mention

Exciting news: I won an Honorable Mention for the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI's website banner contest. My entry is the one at the top of this post. 

New and Old Friends

Having organized several local SCBWI events, I knew a lot more of the people from my area who were there. I also caught up with friends I met in past conferences, and it was fun to meet many new friends as well. 

PB writers Debra Shumaker & Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Illustrator Mishka Jaeger and YA/MG writer Poppy Parfomak