The SCBWI Winter conference in New York was informative and inspiring, and when I think back over the keynote and craft-focused presentations that I heard, one stands out above all the others.
Most of you have probably heard of James Patterson. He is a best-selling author who has sold more books than J. K. Rowling and Stephen King (more than 300 million, as of 2014). And within the past few years, he has started writing books for children, and I honestly did not know what to expect when I took my seat at the Golden Kite award ceremony to listen to James Patterson’s keynote address. What could this best-selling author of books for adults who is now writing and publishing books for young readers have to say that could relate to my own creative journey?
“States in the US use third grade reading levels to plan future prison capacity.”
Wow. I don’t know what I was expecting Patterson to say, but it was not that!
Having informed us as to how states use the information regarding student reading levels, Patterson had more startling facts to share.
The best state has 58% of kids reading at grade level. In many states, 2/3 of kids are reading below grade level. In other words, in many states, the percentage of kids not reading at grade level is higher than the percentage of kids who are reading at grade level, in the best-performing state.
So why did James Patterson share these facts with us? And why is he writing books for young readers? Why did he start a children’s publishing imprint, Jimmy Patterson Books, at one of the major US publishers?
Because as an author he visits prisons, where he sees men who spend 20-23 hours a day in their cells, and to pass the time, they read. As he visited these prisons, talking to these men, he asked himself, “How could their lives have been different if they were reading like this as children?”
He challenged us, as creators, as publishers and editors and agents, to think about the kinds of books we’re putting out into the world.
“PLEASE GIVE ME ANOTHER BOOK!”
This is the motto of Jimmy Books, and the motto he challenged us to embrace as we create our own stories for young readers.
Even if you’re writing for a different regional market, where the situation is (hopefully) less dire, the core message still resonates. We need to create books that will make young readers want more books, because whether they’re reading a chapter book biography of a famous inventor, a middle grade adventure about space aliens taking over the school cafeteria, or a young adult contemporary romance, when kids are reading, they’re developing empathy, increasing their literacy and phonological skills, and improving their math skills.
We’re all members of SCBWI because we want to write and/or illustrate stories for young readers, and we’re committed to improving our craft as we create those stories. As we start a new year, and a new decade, I hope that we can all approach our creative projects with a renewed sense of purpose, a renewed understanding of the importance of the stories we’re telling, and that we find camaraderie and support along our own creative journeys from interacting with other members of SCBWI.
5 May 2019
Riding the wave of the excitement of Day 1, we jumped into Day 2 of the Europolitian 2019. The day started with lovely door prizes being given out and the announcement of the winner of the Portfolio Showcase. Congratulations Devon Holzwarth from the Germany/Austria region! #europolitian19SCBWI
Then it was onto an invigorating panel discussion which covered topics such as social responsibility, authenticity of our stories, trends, the difference between the industry then and now, taboo topics in children's literature, diversity and the power of a story. On the panel were Kathi Appelt, Maria Middleton and Alice Sutherland-Hawes.
Sufficiently caffeinated from our coffee/tea break, we go into the morning workshops which delved into topics such as illustrating book jackets, building strong characters and rights.
Then it was time to fuel our stomachs to get more energy for the afternoon workshops.
The afternoon was filled with talk about digital portfolios, creation of a novel and querying basics. A quick coffee/tea break and then it was onto the Mentor Program and Undiscovered Voices. Thank yous were said and gifts were presented.
All too soon it was time for the closing keynote by Kathi Appelt; Whirled P's, which gave us words such as places, people, pets, problems, power, PLAY, partnership, profession and POSSIBLE! My personal take away is this: When you're doing your life's work, your life works!
Next on the agenda was regional networking sessions as well as a few more consultations. And that concluded Day 2.
Monday was given over to Peer Critique Cafe. I have to say, for me, my critique group was a great group. Thank you, ladies, for a wonderful crit!
Below are some pictures for you to enjoy. Here are a couple of links to some other posts about the Europolitian; one from a faculty member, and one for an attendee. Update: another post about the Europolitian from the Germany/Austria region.
Do you feel like you missed out? Or maybe you really want to go to another SCBWI event? Well, if you are a member of a SCBWI region, your RA will keep you updated. If you are not a member, join up!
Hope to see you at our next event.
4 May, 2019
It was the first day of the conference, we started bright and early with registration opening at 7:45 am. It was fabulous to see people arriving early and all excited about the day. #europolitian19SCBWI
Elisabeth Norton, RA for Switzerland, welcomed all the attendees and after a few administrative announcements, we were treated to an inspiring opening keynote by Chitra Soundar. Chitra filled us with much passion for our craft and gave us practical steps to build our foundation that would help us to scale our scaffolding to success.
The panel discussion, which followed next, gave an overview of marketing in the publishing market and touched on aspects such as; building relationships, book covers, authenticity, brand/platform, online presence and trust. On the panel were Andrew Ruston, Chitra Soundar, Molly O'Neill, and Naomi Colthurst.
Then it was time for a coffee/tea break to stretch our legs, refreshing ourselves before diving into the workshop sessions. The four workshops covered topics such as illustrating picture books, writing picture books, aspects of fiction writing as well as a look at how first pages can change through the editing process.
Lunch break was next and conversations flowed over burgers and soup. The afternoon workshops looked at humour in children's literature, crafting a stand-out manuscript and more illustrations for picture books.
There was another opportunity for chit-chat at the afternoon coffee/tea break. Then we headed back into the last set of workshops for the first day. This time, there were discussions about the creative process, author visits and a session which covered almost every aspect of publishing.
Whew! That was a packed day, filled with loads of stimulating and thought-provoking sessions. But we were not quite done yet; a lovely apéro and networking time followed. Individual consultations with industry experts took place at the same time. Finally, it was off to a well-deserved dinner for all of us.
Below is a slideshow, featuring some of the highlights of the day.
Stay tuned for Day 2.
I apologise that this series of posts did not get posted live during the Europolitian 2019 Conference. I had trouble getting the WIFI to work in my room.
The Europolitian 2019 ended 2 days ago, with the last event being the Peer Critique on Monday morning. But I will start this series of posts with the pre-conference activities on Friday, 3 May.
In the late afternoon on Friday, various groups assembled at the Youth Hostel in Zurich.
The Scrawl Crawl group was the first to set off with illustrators, laden with their pens, pencils, paper and digital drawing pads, to capture the many animals and people at the Zurich Zoo.
Next, the Walking Tour group walked down the street to catch the bus and tram, heading for Paradeplatz, to meet the professional tour guide.
The Creative Cafe group settled themselves at a large round table in the lobby of the Youth Hostel, working on their work-in-progress projects.
Participants from all three groups then met up again at the publisher, Nordsüd's office. We were very warmly welcomed by Nordsüd, who lay on a lovely apero. We were able to purchase some of their books at a special SCBWI rate. It was also a great opportunity to speak to them about the work and industry of children's publishing.
You can see some photo moments from the pre-conference activities below.
Look out for the next post which will feature the first day of the conference proper.
It's another three sleeps till the SCBWI Europolitian Conference 2019! Or two sleeps if you are coming for the pre-conference activities. #europolitian19SCBWI
I am very excited and can't wait to listen to wonderful speakers, attend inspirational workshops and, of course, meet all the people who will be there. It really is the people who make the event; it's the organisers, the faculty and the attendees coming together. Everyone there to talk about the world and work of writing and illustrating for children's books - it will be smashing!
I hope to blog live from the conference so stay tuned for the posts.
Now what does an image of a clock tower and some orange umbrellas have to do with the upcoming Europolitian Conference 2019 in Zurich, from 4th to 5th May? #Europolitian19SCBWI
Well, it's a shot from the test run of one of the pre-conference activities on offer at the conference. Sounds interesting? Mysterious? It could even be the inspiration for your next creative piece.
So if you have not signed up for the conference and are still thinking about it, stop thinking and go sign up here!
Registration closes 20 April 2019, 12 AM, Swiss Time. We have just a handful of places left.
See you at the conference!
The New York Winter Conference in February 2019 was fab! It had a different format from previous years with intensive breakout sessions over two days. Our very own RA, Elisabeth Norton, was there, right in the thick of it.
Here she gives us some keywords which stuck with her throughout the conference:
That was just a very tiny bit of what Elisabeth came away with from the New York Conference. Do you feel like you have missed out? You could not get to New York?
Well, fear not!
If you need inspiration, are looking to improve your craft, or want to connect with fellow creatives, come to the Europolitian Conference in May in Switzerland!
Registrations are still open for a short time.
See you there!
Are you ready?
Registration for Europolitian 2019 Conference - Taking Your Work to the Next Level, in Zurich, Switzerland, opens Sunday, 6, Jan 2019, 8 a.m. Swiss time.
Spaces are very limited so get on this as early as you can. The website is here.
Good luck with registration and we hope to see you at the conference in May!
Europolitian 2019 is just round the corner!
Get your calendars out and mark these dates: 4th - 5th May 2019!
While registration for the conference is NOT YET open, you can already have a look at the program and the faculty who will be there.
You can start planning which workshops you would like to attend and start work on pieces you would like to submit for the one-on-one consultations. There are also pre- and post-conference activities you can choose to take part in; such as the Scrawl Crawl or the Walking Tour of Zurich or the Breakfast Critiques.
For the first time, we can offer participants onsite accommodations. Details on how to secure these accommodations will be revealed when registration opens.
So go explore the Europolitian website and start planning.
Stay tuned for when registrations do open; space is very limited so you will want to get in on this as early as possible.
See you there!
CALLING ALL ILLUSTRATORS!
We are excited to announce that for this year's Europolitan Conference in Brussels there is a fun opportunity for members to show their artwork. Submit your illustrations for a chance to be featured in notebooks available at the conference and seen by attendees, agents, art directors and editors. A limited number of entries will be selected for the notebooks.
- You must be a current SCBWI member of one of the five organizing regions* for the Europolitan Conference to enter
- Art may be black and white, grayscale or CMYK color
- File resolution must be 300 dpi
- Jpegs only
- No image dimensions larger than 14.8 x 21cm (A5)
- File must be titled as follows: Europolitan_Your region_First name_Last name.jpg
- Put 'Europolitan Contest' in the subject line
- Email your file as an attachment, not in the body of the email to firstname.lastname@example.org
* The five organizing regions are: Belgium-Luxembourg, France, Germany-Austria, The Netherlands, and Switzerland.
The deadline is February 20th.
Good luck and have fun!
Willkommen! Bienvenue! Benvenuto! Bainvegnì! Welcome!