Day Three and The Final Reckoning: SCBWI’s Western Washington Wonderfulness
As I said, Saturday was my easy day. Sunday was the day to watch out for. I’d already done my favorite Breakout Session. Now I had two others to give, and I was worried about how they might sound.
But before any of this was my 2007 Newbery Dream Team (Susan Patron, Cynthia Lord, Kirby Larson, and Jennifer L. Holm). Now the fact that the winners of my particular Newbery year just happened to be the smartest, nicest, cutest foursome of all time… well that’s just a happy coincidence. I admit that it’s odd. Two nice people win a Newbery? Understandable. Three? Believeable. But all four? Four women who band together and support one another when the call of crises (slash scrotums) insists that they do so? Four women who are brilliant speakers as well as writers? Let us just say that I lucked out considerably and that the SCBWI organizers were mighty bright when they realized that all four women would make some kind of a brilliant crew if seen all together.
The panel would only be an hour long. I had prepared a variety of interesting questions, but since I’m the kind of kid who eats her chocolate cake before her coq au vin, I wanted these ladies to discuss their Newbery call first. Everyone loves the Newbery call stories. And even though I had helped make that call, I was unaware of all the drama and backstory behind each person’s tale. Whether it was Cynthia Lord desperately trying to log onto the ALA site to hear the announcement (and getting annoyed by the ringing phone) or Jennifer Holm running hell-for-leather around her house for a cat that was sleeping peaceably indoors, each lady had a great tale to tell. I asked how the award had changed their lives (apparently it does that kind of thing when the winner isn’t looking) and I finished with the scrotum controversy for a capper. I do not know if the ladies of SCBWI taped this session. They were certainly taping quite a few others. Hopefully it’ll be available somewhere for you to hear. Here are the pictures, as taken by the very kind Kate Schafer:
The gleesome foursome . . . .
. . . . plus our invisible friend
Immediately after this I had a Breakout Session to conduct on books that Kill Categories. It was a play on my talk at the November SCBWI Conference. Of course, this meant that some poor souls had chosen to listen to me talk for a good two hours at a time. To them I apologize, but at least my Powerpoint went up like a dream. Kim Baker gave me quite a lovely intro and 87 people were slated to attend, though when I look at my audience during these talks they start to resemble funny vertical blurs rather than living breathing human beings. I have no idea if anyone was even sitting there. People assure me that there were. I shall take their word for it.
That was one breakout session. The other happened a little later in the day and it was here that I feel like I wasn’t at my best. I did fine, I suppose, but the topic was confusing. Author Meg Lippert introduced me (shown front and center here), and I thank her for it. I gave info on the pitfalls that authors run into when they publish for the first time. My topic’s title, however, sounded like it was about awful covers and mistakes people make when writing. To their credit, my audience stuck with me all the way, which was awful kind of them. Just the same, I felt like I was saying too little and stumbling too often. In the future I may have to limit myself to merely two talks, a panel, and manuscript consultations. Three pushes me just a teensy bit farther than I should go. Like I say, it was fine but not brilliant.
Arthur A. Levine gave the keynote address at the end of the day and he was charming. Just great. And no, Arthur, I am not saying this to butter you up. At some point I would like to concentrate on writing in some manner, but hearing him speak really offered some noteworthy advice that I hope everyone listening will have taken to heart. Somehow, by bringing up the wisdom of wisdom teeth and the advice of a son about dinosaurs, Arthur knew how to make his talk as funny and well-informed as possible. It was lovely.
Here, by the way, is proof positive that Mr. Levine is not of this earth.
Before hearing his name:
Upon hearing his name:
And suddenly he was on the stage:
As everyone wrote every little tiny word he said as fast as humanly possible.
The rest of the day involved a humongous statue of Lenin…
But that is a story for another time.
And, of course, I flew back on Monday. I would like to thank the lovely ladies of SCBWI Western Washington and hopefully we will run into one another again in the future. I’d like to thank everyone involved too.
A marvelous conference run by marvelous people.
For other round-ups of the week-end, take a trip over to Kate Schafer’s site KT Literary where she dishes on the week-end herself and her thoughts.
Laini Taylor does the same (and I can identify the exact cupcake I ate from her picture of them).
And then Laini Taylor’s Jim adds in his two cents.
Kirby Larson writes of the experience under the inspired title of Oldberies.
Rachel Writes for Kids talks about the experience and is very nice to me, for which I thank her.
Sheryl McFarlane’s News Blog does the same thing too.
Brimstone Soup hits the highlights.
Anne Hale was clearly in attendance.
And I bet there are a bunch o’ people out there who wrote other stuff as well. But as they did not link to me (alas alas) I cannot find them. Kudos to everyone who was there, though, and hopefully we’ll see one another again real soon.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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