New England SCBWI Conference Gems

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on May 10, 2013 in Anecdote, Books, Conferences, Elixir Bound, Guest, Language, Travel, Writing |

The 2013 New England SCBWI conference was amazing (of course it was…these conference are always amazing)! Caught up with old friends, including the very talented Kimberly Sabatini and Jodi Moore, and met some new ones. Left feeling inspired and exhausted, and I’m still brimming with creative juices.

One of the highlights for me was seeing my book covers up on the screen in the ballroom during the downtime/announcements/mealtime in the ballroom!


I’ve collected a few conference gems that resonated with me. A quick note about why I use italics instead of quotation marks…these are not necessarily direct quotes, some may be close to what the speaker actually said and others are my own rewording/interpretation as I scrambled to take notes during the speeches and presentations. So without further ado, here they are:

  • We should meet the world with all our senses. (Jeannine Atkins)
  • What’s outside in the setting can reflect what’s going on in the inside of a character, but it can also be in contrast to what’s being felt. (Jeannine Atkins)
  • How do we access that which we are trying to recreate when we’re sitting at our desks or computers? Sometimes we need a sensory kick in the pants. (Dawn Metcalf)
  • We work with art and it can evoke an objective response. (Ruben Pfeffer)
  • It was as if someone else’s words had opened up a whole host of words in me. (Sharon Creech)
  • As writers we want company; we need company. You come along too, please. (Sharon Creech)
  • Revision is finding and strengthening the heart of a story, and revision is messier than people want it to be. (Kate Messner)
  • Maybe I had to stop trying to prove to people I was good enough and just had to do the work I was passionate about. (Grace Lin)
  • Every story has a message, whether or not the writer was aware of it or intended it. (Chris Eboch)
  • I come to one little detail that sort of wakes up my mind and then start amassing details like constellations. (Jeannine Atkins)
  • Writers are somewhat schizophrenic; we hear voices in our heads; we listen instead of conversing. (Padma Venkatraman)
  • Go down the rabbit hole. (Greg Fishbone)

Personally, I feel like I stretched myself not only as a writer but as a person. I jumped headlong into any writing activities that came up in the workshops I attended, even braving to share some of my raw work in front of others. I dared to act out an emotion for others to write about (and I have terrible stage fright when it comes to acting anything). I drove to the train station by myself in a city I’d never been to and picked up another author. So all in all, a fantastic weekend!

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  • Meradeth says:

    Sounds like so much fun! Great snippets–I especially love the sensory kick in the pants (definitely could use one of those!). Glad you had such a great time!

  • Erin says:

    Sounds like a great time! Thanks so much for sharing!

    I’ve often wondered about the great authors that we study in school. Did they intentionally write amazing similes and other literary elements, or did they think, “This phrase sounds awesome!” Do we infer intention where there may not have been any other than the creation of a great story?

    • Hi, Erin. I definitely think there is some intent on the author’s part when it comes to literary elements, but I also think readers often find themes and symbols that maybe were less intentional on the author’s part.

      • Erin says:

        Agreed. This comment (Every story has a message, whether or not the writer was aware of it or intended it.–Chris Eboch) reminded me of that question I often ponder. 😉

  • Mary Waibel says:

    Sounds like you had a great time! I heard you met up with one of my CP’s, too.

    I told Trisha that I’d try to be there next year, so maybe the three of us could meet up!

    • Yes, I did run into Trisha! I handed her one of my bookmarks, and she was like, “Wait…who is your publisher?” And then your and Quest of the Hart were mentioned, and the whole connection became clear. That would be awesome if the three of us could meet up next year!

  • I love conferences, Katie. Meeting up with friends and making new ones. I also love how the motivate me.

  • Kai Strand says:

    I’m so envious of you for knowing Kim and Jodi in person (and them knowing you!) Thanks for sharing the snippets. Very inspiring.

  • Ann Herrick says:

    Sounds like a very inspiring conference!

  • Mirka Breen says:

    I’m glad your time away was so well spent. Wish I had the brain to take a similar photo of my cover at the SCBWI last fall. But you did. It’s heady to see it up on the screen, isn’t it?

    • I felt a little corny holding up my phone and snapping the picture…like I had a sign that said, “Newbie author here!” But enthusiasm is always encouraged at SCBWI events. A couple of my CP’s were there and they totally gave a little hoot when they first saw the covers pop up.

  • K.L. Pickett says:

    How exciting to see your book covers up there in front of everyone! I’m so jealous that you got to go to that conference…Wow! It sounds wonderful.

  • Sounds like a fabulous event, Katie. {And Sharon Creech was there, too? Wow!} Love the quotes you’ve shared here, and the one about using our senses to meet the world rang especially clear like a meditation bell.

  • Sounds like you had a fabulous time. I miss my SCBWI conferences! Not sure when there’ll be one here in Arizona. Thanks for sharing. ^_^

    • I do hope you get to go to a conference soon, Angelina. There is nothing better for filling the creative well than to have a whole long weekend of being surrounded by all things writing and books.

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