Monday, September 26, 2011

SCBWI-Spokane: Conference

Good friends Kim (L) and Jenn (R) with Holiday House editor Pam Glauber
So I’m coming out of my self-imposed Social Media lockdown to crow about a great conference that deserves to get some press. For the past 10 or so years, there’s been a SCBWI chapter in the Spokane, WA area, which is the nearest SCBWI chapter from where I live, and about 60 miles away.
I think it was Verla Kay who started the ball rolling, all those years ago. She’d just moved into the area, up from California. Each year, SCBWI-Spokane puts on an annual, one-day conference, in addition to a couple of smaller events.  On Saturday, for the first time in ten years, I attended their conference, which definitely turned out to be worth my time.
For one thing, it was small, probably around 60 people, which meant I was able to have conversations with most of the attendees. Most memorable, apart from my conversations with the speakers, were the conversations with the movers and shakers of SCBWI-Spokane. (Most notably: Mary Cronk Farrell, Claire Rudolph Murphy, Rachel Hamby, Kelly Milner Halls, and Debbie Fredericks.) I also met a fellow librarian from Walla Walla (go-librarians!). And, surprise of surprises, I discovered that six of the attendees were from my area, in addition to my close friend Laurie Schneider, who’d signed up but was unable to attend.
That makes a total of 11 people who I now know in my immediate area, that are interested in writing for children. It’s possible that our local critique group just might be getting bigger!
New friend Betsy (L) with agent Kerry Sparks of Levine-Greenberg
Friday evening, conference helpers were invited to attend an appetizer/desert event at Claire Rudolph Murphy’s house. That loosely-structured event was where I was met a good number of people.
Lovely Margy Swensen, who I’d never met before, has several spare bedrooms in her house, which she offered to conference-helpers who didn’t want to have to shell out $ for a motel room. I’d been in contact with hospitality chairperson, Rachel Hamby, and mentioned that I was planning to pass on the dinner reception because I didn’t want to get home from Spokane at 10:00 pm on Friday night, and have to turn around and get up again at 5:30 am on Saturday, to be at the convention by 7:30 am. So … we all from my area now know of Margy and her gracious offer, come convention time next year.  
The conference itself began at 8:00 am on Saturday morning and ran until around 4:30 pm. Presenters included one agent, one published author, and one editor.
The agent was Kerry Sparks from Levine Greenburg. She is young and energetic, upbeat—delightful. She was on my list of agents to query even before I met her. Since meeting her, she’s risen significantly on the list.
The editor was Pam Glauber of Holiday House, which is a small house and one of the few that still accepts unsolicited submissions. She is also young and energetic, upbeat and delightful. I’ve always liked the selection of books Holiday House puts out, and so I was thrilled to meet her.
The author was YA author Marsha Qualey, from Wisconsin. For some reason, I’d always thought she was from Canada, but no. She, along with Claire Rudolph Murphy, are both instructors for the low residency MFA in Children’s Writing program affiliated with Hamline University.  
All talks were excellent, but it doesn’t stop there! In November, SCBWI-Spokane will be hosting Greg Pincus, Social Media guru, who will fly up from his home in Beverly Hills to talk to us about all things Social Media. I’ve met him before, and he’s very approachable.  
Then next spring, SCBWI-Spokane will be hosting an all-day workshop with Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein.
Fun events to look forward to! Many thanks to SCBWI-Spokane for their dedication to children's literature, and to providing local events.
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