SCBWI Summer Conference 2013

Because I’m probably the last person to blog about the conference, this’ll be a quick-n-dirty version. For the keynotes and workshops, I took varying amounts of notes, but for each one I tried to find a take-away message – something I could refer to or apply directly to my writing. Here’s a quick compilation of my take-away messages. I tried to remember which take-aways are direct quotes & gave them the necessary punctuation; I apologize for any mistakes. In 40 handwritten pages of notes and reflections, mistakes are inevitable.

Laurie Halse Anderson: “Defend, protect, and celebrate childhood.”

Jon Scieszka: “Don’t put kids to sleep – wake ’em up!”

Veronica Rossi: Get to work on the log lines – they can help you figure out if your book is high-concept or not. (I only got to stay for half of Veronica’s talk.)

Steve Malk: Get your priorities straight, and be honest. Find a career model to follow.

Panel on YA Worldbuilding with Veronica Rossi, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Tahereh Mafi, & Ransom Riggs: How the world is, is important. How your character views the world and how the world & character interact – VERY important.

Mac Barnett: “Do bold, experimental things.”

Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler: When cowriting a novel, decide message & tone, level of humor vs. seriousness.

Matt de la Pena: “Put your head down, don’t worry about where you fit in, & work your ass off.”

Melissa Manlove: “When you want something you can’t have, it marks you in some way.”

Carolyn Mackler: Get your priorities straight. It’s okay to go slow with the writing & focus on these years when the kids are young.

Ginger Clark: do another polish on your manuscript before sending it out. The ending is probably not good enough.

David Wiesner: There are different ways to approach an idea. Don’t force what doesn’t work.

Kirby Larsen: Research combined with poetry can help you grow an appropriate vocabulary for your character.

Lin Oliver & Henry Winkler: Write the kind of humor that makes you laugh.

Jarrett Krosoczka: Try new things and see what works.

Overall, the conference was inspiring and informative. Plus I got to stay some of the nights with my BFF D-Chan, who lives nearby. She let me try on all of her wigs, which was super-fun. We went to some awesome restaurants, including Fab Hot Dogs, which I’d been looking forward to for MONTHS. And we had ramen at this place that has probably ruined me for all future ramen forever. So now I need to go back!

THANK YOU to the SCBWI California North/Central region for making my trip possible with a grant!


  1. jamieweilhealthcoach · August 18, 2013

    Great way to bring the conf home, QS! And since I haven’t read ANY of the other conf blogs, this was all new for me. Love Matt de la Pena–and his comment! Wasn’t Anderson a fantastic speaker? I’m always so impressed by the presentation skills of these authors. And didn’t you just love the Lin and Henry team? They are so fun to listen to. Sounds like a great time. Maybe next year a different wig to each session?

    • Beth Hull · August 19, 2013

      Ooh, love the wig idea, QS! Matt de la Pena was awesome, as was Anderson, Lin & Winkler, & pretty much everyone. It was an amazing program!

  2. PB Rippey · August 18, 2013

    These are great, Beth–thanks for posting. I especially love Kirby Larsen’s quote. I’m so glad you had such a good experience, and Fab Hot Dogs. Must get the name of the ramen joint! Also: Ransom Riggs! Very envious. Looking forward to hearing more about it.

    • Beth Hull · August 19, 2013

      The Ramen place is Tatsu, & it’s in Westwood, although there may be others. Deeelicious!

  3. Vicki Tremper · August 19, 2013

    What an awesome experience. Good for you and thanks for sharing some tidbits. I got to go to the Winter Conference in NYC a few years ago and it was amazing (search my blog for those tidbits, if you like).

    • Beth Hull · August 20, 2013

      I searched, I found, I commented. 🙂 It was an awesome experience – I hope to go back in a couple of years!

  4. Mónica Bustamante Wagner · August 22, 2013

    Nice recap! THX! I didn’t get to go to all the ones you went, so YAY! I’m glad to know what happened there! xoxo

    • Beth Hull · August 22, 2013

      You’re welcome, Mónica! There were so many more talks that sounded wonderful…too bad I couldn’t like, clone myself or time-travel or something so I could’ve gone to them all!

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