CELEBRATE: New England SCBWI Conference

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At “The Power of (Re)Invention” in Springfield, MA

In February, I became a member of the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Every year, the society holds a regional conference for those interested in expanding their network and learning tricks of the trade. Being a self-proclaimed amateur illustrator, I was interested in both.

The conference was fantastic. It began with a keynote address by author Wendy Mass, who spoke of her career through hilarious anecdotes and personal interests. Each attendee was able to choose hour-long seminars all with unique topics. Because I identify more as a picture book illustrator, I chose to attend “A Crash Course in Hands” first. It was helpful to learn that drawing realistic hands starts with understanding the anatomy of the hand (though I will probably continue to draw them as mittens…). The second seminar, “Picture Book: Concept to Print,” was excellent. A presentation by Kendra Levin and Jim Hoover, editor and art director at Viking Press respectively, AND writer/illustrator Deborah Freedman, that chronicled the process tackled to take Deborah’s book concept from sketch to consumable product.

Lunch followed the morning seminars, and a second keynote address was presented by author Patrick Carman. Like earlier, Patrick recalled his efforts to self-publish and publicize his work. The third seminar I attended was “Marketing Using the Free Short Story” by middle-grade author Natasha Sass. The seminar provided a lesson in how to better sell your work on Amazon by selling a supplemental work for free. My last scheduled event for the day was a manuscript critique with Zaneta Jung of Sterling Publishing. Zaneta was great with her feedback for my first work, One Banana. She expressed how the current story is a bit disjointed because it contains what appears to be three stories in one, but that the main character and illustrations are overall a lot of fun. So my next steps? Zero-in on one of those stories for a more complete work, and build an illustration portfolio.