What I like most about being at a literature conference of any type is that you are surrounded by people who love books. At SCBWI conferences, that focus becomes children’s literature. As Sunday morning opened with a panel of the amazing Asilomar faculty, a great take-away was the reading list. RA Amy Laughlin asked, “What books (that you don’t represent) were your favorites over the last year?” Here’s the list:
When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead
Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story and The True Meaning of Smekday, Adam Rex
Tales of Outer Suburbia, Shaun Tan
Red Sings for the Tree Tops, Joyce Sidman and Pamela Zagarenski
All the World, Liz Garten Scanlon
Lips Touch, Lani Taylor
How to Say Good-bye in Robot, Natalie Standiford
Charles and Emma, Deborah Heiligman
Ages and Angels, Adam Gopnik
Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan
The Hotel Under the Sand, Kage Baker
Diego, Bigger Than Life, Carmen Bernier and David Diaz
Jeremy Draws a Monster and Henry in Love, Peter McCarty
Marcello in the Real World, Francisco X. Stork
And there you have it. The books the agents, editors and authors liked.
Tracy Gates, senior editor at Viking’s Children (she’s blurry in top right because I didn’t want to flash her), presented “Thinking Like an Editor” with visuals via PowerPoint that gave you a real feel for what an editor does. Her favorite part of the job is the reading (not necessarily the emails which can suck up a whole day), but her responsibilities extend far beyond that. She covered topics like how to get her attention (attend conferences, get an agent), what she is thinking when she reads a manuscript (is it as good as these?) and whether or not she can work well with the author (do we have a connection?) Also, are you ready to revise, Revise, REVISE? She looks for people who are ready to work. I’ve seen editors talk before, and I’ve worked with editors in my freelance work, but Tracy’s insight into the thought process of an editor was outstanding and very helpful to both newbies and veterans alike.
The conference ended with a commitment ceremony. People wrote out a commitment for the year on two cards–one they took home to remind them what they selected and the other they burned in the fire. I was reminded of GirlScouts. Before the cards were burned, everybody stood in an energy circle as if to say, “We’re all in this together.”
And, really, we are.