Saturday, November 5, 2011 a friend and I left early, early in the morning to drive to St. Charles Community College for the Missouri Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Missouri Confluence Conference 2011 in Cottlesville, MO (near St. Charles).
Now that mouthful is out of the way, I have to say that the SCBWI conference was well worth attending. I definitely enjoyed hearing writer Suzanne Morgan Williams (author of Bull Rider)! She had lots of good stuff to give; I took lots of notes. One thing that resonated with me was when she was given the advice to just do research on the internet instead of traveling to where her subject lived and worked, she didn’t agree and went anyway. That’s me right now––trying to raise funds to travel to Surinam to do research for my book about Maria Sybilla Merian, a VIP when it comes to early science. And while we, as writers, always hear “Write what you know,” Suzanne says, “Write what you want to know.”
Suzanne believes that stories and books choose YOU to write about them. Her questions to the conference attendees are:
- What story, what book, what technique is trying to get your attention?
- What story speaks to you?
- What creative places do you need to explore? (Ah, Surinam continues to beckon….)
A useful tip for finding an agent or editor came from Quinlan Lee, an editor with Adams Literary:
- Look at the acknowledgement page of a book on your subject to find who was the editor/agent.
- Write the editor or agent mentioned there, saying “I know you edited/agented this book; I think you might be interested in mine.” Then give your pitch.
Don’t think I’ve ever thought of actually mentioning that. Hmmm….
There was so much more; it’s all still whirling around in my brain. Thank goodness I took notes!