lindajsingleton (lindajsingleton) wrote,


This was my 21st SCBWI LA Conference & and the organization's 41st

I took my notes on my iPad, which is soooo convenient. Love this device!

 Lin Oliver says there are 1,234 attendees; full conference. 46 states. 15 countries.

 Keynote was ARTHUR LEVINE who is always witty and sincere. He said, “Children's books are a reflection of everything I value most dearly.”.

 Also mentioned quote about anticipation being a better tool than surprise.

He spoke of Harry Potter, saying he won't talk about hype but of the good writing. He made an appearance at a week long Harry Potter camp. Now reading the 2nd book to his own 8 year old son. He published it because of his connection to Harry and how it made him cry when Harry stood in front of the Mirror of Erised.

 TONY DITERLIZZI opened with, "Always have a logjam of ideas...tons of ideas." He showed photo of Albert Einstein, his favorite say, "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairytales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairytales." The importance of imagination, that's key to me. 

 "Dungeons and Dragons introduced me to a lot of fantasy writing"  He drew lots of fantasy creatures.  SPIDER & FLY was his first NYT bestseller and Caldecott Honor. Asked himself "What would 10 year Tony want that  40 year old Tony can make?" He has a collection of toys from when he was a kid to remind him what it felt like to be a kid. Trying to make books for the kid version of himself.

  SARA SHEPARD opened with, “I'm going to be talking about murders, scandals and lying." Author of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, book and tv series.

 She was a ghost writer for Alloy, writing books under other names. Wrote about 6 ghosted books. Then she was told to write her own series and created PRETTY LITTLE LIARS. Was sold as 4 books, then another 4. TV show made it go beyond 8 books. Resurrected book with new plotting; reinventing.   

 She has rules about how to keep a mystery series (that's what she consider PLL) going.

You always have to know who your murderer is before you start out.

Always incorporate the "red herring."

Leave a bit to chance.

Be willing to change like when she had new book offers.                                 

Outline. Outline. Outline.

Creates material that will never make it in the scenes (background)                                    
"I definitely had secrets in my family, and used that."

Got book deal at age 28, and when PLL came out it wasn't that successful at first, and she was humbled. Although it was optioned nothing happened at first but then she heard people cast and script written. She was like "OMG" because some of the lines are straight from the book. "Whole experience has been kind of bizarre...suddenly on TV." Monday she is going to the set based on the town she made up. "It's a wonderful thing to see the characters on the scene, and pushes me to create better story lines." Sara Shepard, author of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS

PATRICIA MACLACHLAN opens with, "I'm so sorry I have no scandals or my books." She added that she’s never written an outline.

She went on to talk about her life as a writer, including stories of her granddaughters and imaginary friends. Humorous, lovely talk! She says, "Even though we look like adults, we're children."

DAN GUTMAN admitted he was a reluctant reader and didn't like classics and wanted to write books for kids like himself. He gave a list of tips, mostly humorous and he seemed very comfortable talking, his humor corny in a cute grown-up-kid way. I liked him.

KAREN CUSHMAN: Pubbed 1st book at age 50. Written 7 books.

 Oens by saying "Use me...stop me in the halls...don't think you're bothering me."

Collects blogs with helpful hints.

Karen says to have no rules.

Be open to surprise. At times stray from our outlines, ask ourselves questions that we don't already know the answers. If you were to respond differently, how would that change the story? When writing our characters we undoubtedly write more than we know.

"I've often been surprised by something I've written." Karen Cushman,

She hadn't noticed her birth metaphors in MIDWIVES until others pointed it out.

Karen says: Read and reread your drafts looking for the surprise...what your story is really about...what you really want to say."

I am not satisfied with lousy first drafts...go over and over, looking for the surprise.

"Inspiration often strikes when I am far from my chair and I have to run home to write."

She reads other writers while writing and she learns a lot (like me!)

"I suggest you read 100 books like the one you want to write. Read what you love and ask yourself why you love it." Karen Cushman

CLARE VANDERPOOL won Newbery for Moon Over Manifest Oct/2010 which I got from library and read. Liked it.

She said: Some highlights in a year and a half, like sitting by Sara Shephard yesterday which impressed her daughter.  Took Clare 16 years to be published.

Then: started writing at 1994, quit job and raised 4 kids. Had no agent and many rejections.

Now: Kids out of school for summer & kids in house with friends.  She sits at the table with headphones on with rain sounds to muffle sounds. Showed video of her daughter singing while she's trying to write. But school will come. Now she has agent and editor and published book soon to come out, plus a nice medal.


Amazing talk, like no other I’ve ever heard.                                                                                                          

 Ruta Sepetys who was blond and gorgeous and opened with her work for American Idol, helping the finalists to pick songs. Then she spoke of how she had a wake-up moment when a finalist asked her about herself and she said she was from Lithuania. But she didn't know anymore, so she researched and found out when her grandfather fled before he would have been executed by Stalin's people, his family left behind was punished, 12 of them sent to Siberia and only 2 surviving. She interviewed, traveled and asked more questions. She got emotional and determined to learn what it was like to survive a prison in Siberia. Then she paused and said she'd been encouraged to tell the rest of her story.

 She heard about a group of college kids researching for a documentary. They wanted a real reenactment and were there for only 24 hours, but they couldn't wear them down over time. She wanted to experience this but was refused. So she offered them money and they agreed. She had to sign papers, and did much to her husband's concern. When she got there, there were lined up and suddenly the first men were beaten. She was terrified and it got worse because they came to her and beat her to, so she fell to the ground and they kicked her, rupturing her disk.

 She paused in her talk to wipe off her tears with her wrist then she continued, admitting how she thought she'd be brave but it took only seconds for her to become terrified and a coward, ignoring a man's gesture for help, just wanting to get away, and glad to be put in a box away from the violence. But when she was put back with the others, one guy reached out to her and offered to help, and this gave her courage to help him, too. She didn't say much more, but obviously she got out and used all this for her book which won awards.

 Afterwards we listened to Deborah Halverson talk about the market, which has improvement with picture books, which I knew already with my agent's sales.

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