Lin Oliver shared that 1047 writers and illustrators were in attendance this year...SCBWI's largest to date. 14 Countries were represented and 45 states. She only mentioned three of the missing states: Wyoming, North Dakota and Hawaii.
Libba Bray opened up the day with a hilarious and heartfelt presentation. She gave some stellar advice in her remarks:
- Make your characters do the unexpected
- Find the cracks that let the light in (flaws, faults, mistakes)
- Just say no to the hot pterodactyl boyfriend. HUH? She means, if hot pterodactyl boyfriends are the latest and greatest trend, do your best to NOT write a book with a hot pterodactyl boyfriend.
- She quoted Ray Bradbury, "First you jump off the cliff and then you build the wings." Which translates into, take chances, write dangerously, take the fear in and welcome it. If there are no stakes then it's not worth writing.
- Sit at the kitchen table with your characters. What would they say...do...be like?
- Keep asking yourself, is it true yet?
My three breakout sessions were informative and interesting. Here's a synopsis...
1. Television and New Media with Eddie Gamarra from The Gotham Group
In a nutshell he said Hollywood needs the soundbite, the one sentence hook. Basically, he said it's all about the almighty dollar in Hollywood. Writers make their money from the "merch" like keychains and sheets and toys. If your book has that potential, then Hollywood may notice. If your book hasn't sold in the millions, it is very difficult to get Hollywood to take notice. He said Hollywood would think 500,000 in books sold wasn't that great or impressive...in Hollywood money.
2. The Truth About Contracts with Edward Necarsulmer from McIntosh and Otis
In a nutshell he carefully took the audience through the process of contracts and negotiations. His presentation gave me a great amount of respect for what agents do and made me realize I really, really want one as good as him on my team.
3. Writing for Teens with Ben Schrank from Razorbill Publishers
He broke down what he feels are common mistakes when writing for teens.
- DON'T write for the market or what you think the market wants
- DON'T try and sound like a teenager. Just create a beautiful voice.
- DON'T query an unfinished book. Ever.
- DO pinpoint what's really important in your book immediately
- DO have a hook in your opening page
- TRY to tell a story that's been told before but tell it in a different way
The night filled up with a "husband dinner" and seeing live music in Soho. We asked the concierge where good live music would be and he immediately directed us to two local jazz clubs.
I asked him, "Do we look like we like jazz?"
He said, "Well, no, but what kind of music do you like?"
I said, "Radiohead, Coldplay..."
He said, "Oh, then you want Crash Mansion in Soho." So we took a cab to Crash Mansion and saw a really good band called Lord Classic. They were the perfect mix of Radiohead and Coldplay. Ha - go figure!