Monday, January 14, 2008

Conference in the Snow

Tip of the Day: Will there be good weather for traveling to Syracuse in January? Let me consult my Series of Unfortunate Events Magic 8 Ball … “Misfortune Imminent.”

Next week, I’ll be attending the annual Syracuse, NY SCBWI New Year’s Resolution conference for the West/Central Upstate NY chapter. This will be my second year there. Last year it was so cold (how cold was it?) I was pouring myself cups of hot water just so I could hold them and thaw out my fingers.

Of course, to us native snowbelters, traveling in snowstorms is a matter of pride. Of course I can drive in the snow, I learned to drive in ten feet of snow, during the blizzard of ’91, I was driving back from a Dead show at midnight. In the Catskills. Under an avalanche. [No, I really wasn’t, but don’t tell anyone and ruin my street cred.] So I don’t mind the drive to Syracuse. But I wonder what the guest speakers get out of it. Why would an editor from a big house in NYC decide to come to Syracuse in January for a business trip? Does she get danger pay? Is it a badge of honor around the office, a sign that one is willing to risk it all to find the next great children’s author?

Anyway, we have our choice of afternoon sessions. Maybe you all can help me decide which to attend because I can’t make up my mind. There are two sessions for nonpublished authors: a basics of the publishing world session and a first pages session.

Last year, I went to the first pages session: this is authors reading the first page of their WIPs and the other attendees and the guest editor commenting on it. I don’t like reading my work aloud to a group of people. Remember in elementary school, when you didn’t know how to spell a word so you ran the letters together? So maybe the teacher wouldn’t be able to tell if you had written an “a” or an “e”? When I read my work aloud, I do the aural equivalent of that. Maybe if I read really fast, nobody will notice if I’ve overwritten.

On the other hand, this session seems more craft-oriented than Basics of Publishing, and my head is in a craft-oriented place right now. What’s the point of finding out what houses need if I don’t have enough completed work to send them anything?

It all comes down to what I’m hoping to bring back from this conference. Actually, my main reason for going is that the keynote speaker is Tamora Pierce. Oh, yeah! So maybe I’m looking for inspiration. I don’t expect to be the next Tamora Pierce, but maybe being Kate Fall, writer, isn’t so impossible.

--Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer


DeenaML said...

I'll prob go to First Pages again, if for no other reason than last year's was so hilarious that I'm laughing again over the woman and her pb about Fuzzball. Did she really use the word "crotch" in her pb? Yes, still laughing....

OK, see, I'm probably the reason now you DON'T want to go to First Pages -- but I promise I won't laugh at YOUR book! :)

Kristina Springer said...

Oooh have fun Kate! And personally, though you don't want to do it I'd go to first pages. The first page is so important and getting that feedback would be great. And you probably already know a lot of the basics of publishing or can look up info online. And if Deena is going with you, not only will she not laugh at your book but she will lead the crowd in a standing ovation. :-)

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

I agree with Deena and Tina (funny...I never thought of that rhyming until now!). There is something to be said about taking those opportunities to immerse yourself in the writing world every now and then--just soak up the energy and relish the inspiration you'll absolutely get from TP. (cool!).

After doing this for 6 years, I find I hear a lot of the same things over and over, but believe it or not, it takes the 100th time for it to sink in, even if you're listening! It's like gathering bits of colored glass that make no sense until that day you slide in one more piece and this amazing picture takes shape right before your eyes.

Enjoy the first pages. I know I had my stomach in my throat on more than one occasion, even when I didn't have a page in the running. But I learned a lot.

So, go get 'em, Kate!

Emily Marshall said...

I fourth the vote for First Pages, just because I think you probably know enough about the "overview of publishing" to be fine, and the first pages critique could really help. Plus, I think opening yourself up for a room full of first-page critiques is really brave and doing so could help you out tremendously.

And hearing everyone else's could be really helpful.

Have fun!!! And drive safe :)

Kate Fall said...

Thanks, y'all! This really did help me make up my mind.

Deena, I don't think we'll get another full frontal PB ... at least I hope not!