I had the most awesome weekend ever and am now feeling so totally in love with books and writing. This is seriously my calling.
First bit of awesomeness: Meeting Maggie Stiefvater
blog religiously (she has a fantastic sense of humor on her blog and gives great writing tips).
I'd always seemed to miss her book signings because they were in the summer while I was away at graduate school. But her new book, The Scorpio Races, just came out this week, and she was having a launch event in DC at Politics and Prose. This time I could go! And I had no school the next day!
The afternoon started out with me wanting to cry because it took me over 2 hours to get down to DC for the event and I ended up being 30 minutes late. I quietly walked in, found a seat near the front, and basked in Maggie's awesomeness.
I actually ended up missing any speaking that was done by her and arrived just as she was handing out prizes. The girls next to me gave me one of the raffle postcards that were sitting on the chairs while Maggie began calling out numbers.
And guess what??? I won the big prize!!! I won a copy of Scorpio Races with beautiful horses drawn on the cover by Maggie herself! This is not only the first thing I've ever won, but by far the coolest thing I could ever possibly win. I've admired Maggie's artwork whenever she posts pictures on her blog. Especially her Sharpie guitars, but as I have no use for a guitar, the book with her art was perfect!
I got the book signed by Maggie, told her I'd read all her books, told her I loved her blog, told her I appreciated the writing advice she posted because I was in an MFA program. She was so personable and cheerful. Book signings can be awkward sometimes, but there was none of that. I give her top marks!
I can't wait to read Scorpio Races, and will definitely post about it when I do!
Second bit of awesomeness: SCBWI Conference
I attended the SCBWI Fall Conference on Saturday. For those of you who don't know, it's a writer's conference sponsored by the Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators.
There were 280 people in attendance! We were packed into a ballroom in the Holiday Inn in Dulles for a day of speeches and advice regarding writing for children.
I'm not providing specific play by plays of the presentations because the material is copyrighted, but here is a brief rundown of the awesome day.
Author/Illustrator Brian Lies (Bats on the Beach, Bats in the Library, Bats at the Ballgame) spoke about marketing your book. His presentation was magnificent and offered great ideas creating hype about your book and making a book signing more exciting.
There was an Agents Panel with Jennifer Rofe of Andrea Brown Literary Agency and Quinlan Lee of Adams Literary. They gave lots of informative answers to questions about the writer/agent relationship.
Chelsea Eberly of Random House gave a talk about how to create the perfect "Hook for your Book" and how having a hook will both catch editors' attention and help them sell your book.
The keynote speaker was author Han Nolan. She was so sincere and inspiring. What really resonated with me about her speech is striving for excellence when we're writing, and reading the best books out there (award winners) so you know where the bar is set and to inspire you to reach for it. Which is exactly what I'm doing by taking this course on Newbery books! :)
There was an author panel (Meg Medina, Anne Marie Pace, Wendy Shang, Amy Brecount White) about the highs and lows post-publication which offered a very realistic look at what it's like to be a published author.
And finally, there was an Editor's Panel on creating credible characters. Chelsea Eberly (Random House), Caroline Abbey (Bloomsbury), and Abby Ranger (Disney-Hyperion) offered some constructive advice on common character flaws they see in writing and questions to ask yourself to create stronger characters.
This was a regional conference, meaning I didn't have to travel far and it was relatively cheap (around $100). The quality of information was excellent, and I came away feeling motivated and excited about writing and literature. If you are a writer for children, I highly recommend you look into attending an SCBWI regional conference!