Tag Archives: conferences

Why Go To A Writer’s Conference?


Why spend the time, the money, and the energy to go to a writer’s conference? Is it really worth it? I believe the answer is yes. Here’s why.

Writers Conference

Improve your writing

Writers at any level can improve their skills. While some conferences offer hands on classes, others talk about technique. But, simply listening to how different writers approach the writing process from brainstorming to outlining to revision can jar you loose from bad practices or just set you on a better course. Methods of building memorable characters or clarifying plot lines can move your manuscript from good to great. While there may be diminishing returns if you have been successfully published, the path to continue to get published is to keep growing in your craft.

Learn the business

Although writing is a craft, publishing is a business.  If you don’t know the game you are playing, you probably won’t win. At the recent SCBWI Conference, we were told that it is best sellers market. Over and over, the message was to put out the best possible work you can produce.  (See reason #1) But, the question is what is that exactly? The publishing industry is facing a time of immense change.  Find out the current trends, the open avenues, how to submit, what to submit, and how not to piss off an editor. Once you are published, even before you are published you need to learn how to market your work so that your book will do well. Fail at that and your next book might not get sold at all.

Network with others

It’s been said that you are 6 people away from the person you need to know in the publishing industry. It’s a little like the Kevin Bacon connection, but a lot more important. Your job at a conference is to meet people, talk with people, and suck up as much knowledge as you can. You will meet others in your genre or local area and have lunch. You’ll talk about writers you know, classes you know and they will tell you in return. Every contact at a conference is incredibly important to you as an author. You can’t afford to wait until you are published before you start making connections.

Energize yourself

The one things all conferences have in common is the energy you bring home.  You’ll have new tricks and technical knowledge that you’ll want to try on your own writing. You’ll have made connections you would like to foster.  But, maybe most importantly, you’ll have seen writers who have “made it.”  The ones that were once writers just like you. Now they are published authors, held on high with awards and accolades. You have dreams that it could be you someday. You are home and truly inspired.

Are you ready to go? Here are 2 writers conferences for children’s writers:

MD/WV/DE SCBWI Spring Conference March 31, 2012
Conference Website

NJ SCBWI Annual Conference – June 3, 4, 5, 2012
Conference Website

What do you think? Have been to one or more? Is it worth it?


SCBWI Writers’ Conference Wisdom


I recently attended the SCBWI regional writers’ conference near Fredricksburg, Maryland.  There was a packed house of eager writers scribbling notes, hoping to absorb great wisdom from a few goddesses of the publishing world.  In case you didn’t make it, I scribbled a few notes myself.


Marilyn Brigham, editor from Marshall Cavendish, started the event.  Hardly a warm up act, her talk kept my pencil moving from the first utterance. I’ll highlight her tips, at least the ones I can read.

  • Use powerful words and sentence structure.
  • Repetition is bad. (You could feel the picture book authors gasping.  She later explained that she wasn’t talking about purposeful repetition.) Watch for words that keep creeping up in your language. (ie, though, just, so, really, etc.)
  • Along the same lines, watch for echoes like unfair and unfairness or phrases like “of course”, “I was like,” and “I couldn’t help but wonder.”
  • When fleshing out ideas for ideas for a story, mix it up and keep it fresh. Lots of stories or themes have been told over and over, but in a unique way.
  • Don’t overstate the message in the story.
  • Don’t use adult language in a children’s story.  Seems obvious, but she’s seen everything.
  • Don’t use out of date language.
  • Cliches – editors hate them – repeat – editors hate them.
  • Cut out the clutter – adverbs are mostly unnecessary.  Watch for too many adjectives, too.
  • Cut out unnecessary prepositions. “face up to the problem.”
  • Cut out words that are implied. “tall skyscraper.”
  • Use parallel sentence structure. “I came. I saw. I conquered.”
  • Use active voice. “The letter was mailed by Dad.” vs. “Dad mailed the letter.”
  • Look to the writers you admire.  Read. Read. Read.
  • Writing is HARD WORK!

Thanks, Marilyn, for all of those great tips.

As tough as it is to give up the money and the time to go to a conference, it is part of how you become a writer – a better writer, that is.  One who can write a book, package it, sell it, and get it into the hands of readers, many of whom are writers. Thanks to Edie Hemingway and the rest of the SCBWI MD/DE/WV organizing team for putting on a such great conference.

SCBWI Writers Conference


There’s lots of action at the SCBWI Writers Conference going on now in New York City.  If you didn’t get there this year, you can still glean all of the great information from the speakers with up to the minute blogs and tweets.

The SCBWI Conference Blog – There are a team of bloggers to report on the workshops and speakers throughout the conference.

To follow the conference on Twitter, use #ny11scbwi.

Look Who’s Tweeting at the Writer’s Digest Conference


Sadly, I couldn’t make it to the Writer’s Digest Conference this weekend.  Here are some folks that did and are tweeting about it.







If you want to join the conversation, hook into #wdc11.

There is also great live blog from the conference. There are notes on several of the sessions and great insight from the speakers.  It is definitely worth the time to read.