New England SCBWI 2016 Conference Words of Wisdom for Writing and Life

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on May 11, 2016 in Conferences, Creativity, Events, Guest, Language, Travel, Writing |
Sneaking in some writing time before the conference started.

Sneaking in some writing time before the conference started. #amwriting #selfie

A week and a half later and I feel like I’m still catching up after the New England SCBWI Conference. I’m a little behind on my novel writing goals and I have a few deadlines for other projects creeping up, but the momentum of the writing conference usually keeps me going and focused on my writing goals for months.

One of my favorite things about writing conferences is catching up with old writing friends and meeting new ones. My roommate and I stayed up way too late chatting about writing and family and stuff. I almost literally bumped into a friend I met–well it has to be ten years ago now–at one of the many Poconos conferences I attended, and it was awesome to catch up with her. I squeezed in some writing time on Friday before my first workshop, I gathered with both old and new friends for dinner Saturday night, and I happened to wake up early and couldn’t fall back to sleep on Sunday morning, so I went for a run at the hotel fitness center. It all went by too fast, and I was so exhausted by the time I got home Sunday evening.

To keep the inspiration fresh I like to go through my notes from the conference (something I’ve been meaning to do with past conferences as well). So here are just a few of the words of wisdom I came across during the weekend (note that I don’t use quotation marks because these aren’t necessarily direct quotes, though I do my best to keep them as close as possible to what the speakers actually said and the sentiments are accurate):

  • Marketing is about choices. Choosing to do the things you enjoy and the things you do well. ~Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • The most powerful marketing tool is to write a helluva book. ~Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • People are grateful on the inside, but it’s important to be thankful on the outside. ~Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • This that matter the most in your marketing are also what matter the most in writing: what is uniquely yours and your book, things you care about, and economy & quality. ~Lynda Mullaly Hunt


  • Kids need to see and identify the characters of book in themselves. ~Zaneta Jung (Assistant Editor, Sterling Publishing)
  • I prefer the term quality assurance [instead of gatekeeper]. As much as I love art and I love authors and I love books, I think of the quote in Ratatouille from the food critic, “I don’t like food; I LOVE it. If I don’t love it, I don’t swallow.”  ~ (Editorial Director, Jolly Fish Press)


  • If you aren’t working on and submitting at least seven things a year, then what the hell are you doing? ~Jane Yolen
  • Never neglect and forget your heart books. These are the books the rest of us need to read. ~Jane Yolen
  • Where does the character story start? Start on the day that’s different. ~Wendy Mass
  • We totally get a do-over when we wake up every morning. ~Wendy Mass
  • If we keep doing what we’ve always done, we keep getting what we’ve already got. ~Wendy Mass


  • How did we all end up in this room together? All these details of your journey of how you go there, that’s your best asset as a writer. ~Patrick Carman
  • When you collaborate, don’t think “What am I going to get out of this?” but think “How can I help make this person’s dream come true?” Collaborating is bigger than networking. ~Patrick Carman
  • Intuition and inspiration can only happen in the moment. ~Kathleen Rushall (Agent, Andrea Brown Literary Agency)
  • Your dream agent is the one who adores the hell out of your work. ~Jess Keating
  • Unused creativity is not benign. If it’s not being put to use or being fulfilled, it leads to anxiety. (I failed to mark in my notes whether it was Kathleen Rushall or Jess Keating, who presented this workshop together.)
  • Do a $50 job likes it’s a $500 job, and then you’ll start getting $500 jobs. ~Jarrett J. Krosoczka
  • I’m being invited into a kid’s imagination and that is a privilege and a hallowed space to occupy. ~Jarrett J. Krosoczka
  • I had my sketch book, and I was bored. And that is a wonderful thing to do. ~Jarrett J. Krosoczka
  • Your best achievement is just around the corner. ~Jarrett J. Krosoczka

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  • Dialogue is not about translating real-life situations; it’s about giving your best impression of it. ~Linda Camacho (Agent, Prospect Agency)
  • It is so easy to get lost in your own world. You’re falling in love, and that’s great, but sometimes you have to rein it in. ~Linda Camacho (Agent, Prospect Agency)
  • Likeability is boring to strive for. It’s okay for characters to have positive characteristics, but they should make mistakes. You want them to be imperfect; it makes them “human.” ~Rebecca Podos (Agent, Rees Literary Agency)
  • Writing books you are passionate about makes it easy for kids to fall in love with your books. ~Colby Sharp
  • Graphic novels are complex forms of texts, and no kid should ever be stopped from reading that. ~
  • Being a mommy doesn’t mean you can’t be a real artist. ~Amitha Knight
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