Why Attend a SCBWI Conference? #2013AFCC

Why Attend an SCBWI Conference #2013afcc

Why attend a SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference?

I’ve been writing picture book stories since I was a kid.

But it’s only been in the last couple of years that I have seriously pursued the craft of writing.

I joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 and Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo.

I participated in Susanna Hill’s various writing prompts and contests.

I even took the plunge and joined TWO critique groups whose members are all 12x12ers…a local one and an online international one (love you all, guys!).

Every month I would read about different SCBWI conferences that people in this kidlit community had attended.

New York, Los Angeles…from coast-to-coast, writers and illustrators were sharing how fantastic it was to connect with others in the field. They gave peeks inside the educational sessions.  They urged people to GO!

So, I did! Last week I took a leap of faith and boarded a plane for …SINGAPORE…over 10,000 miles away…my FIRST INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT EVER!!!!

Why attend a SCBWI conference #2013afcc


The 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content was a SCBWI conference AND MORE! Five days of sessions, book launches and festive awards’ dinners, geared towards showcasing the exceptional content being created in the Pacific Rim countries and providing educational and entertaining presentations to help writers, illustrators, educators and parents.

Day One: Teacher’s Congress (Preschool, kindergarten and primary school educators, librarians, language specialists and parents)

Day Two: Parent’s Forum (Parents and children, librarians, preschool, kindergarten and primary school teachers…I gave a presentation on this day)

Day Three: Seminars (Writers, illustrators, industry professionals, librarians and bloggers…I was part of a panel on this day)

Day Four: Writers and Illustrators Conference (Writers, illustrators, publishers, librarians, translators, educators and other professionals related to children’s content…I was part of another panel on this day)

Day Five: Writers and Illustrators Conference and Media Summit (Same as above in addition to producers, animators, TV and film executives)

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my experiences.

One of my favorite sessions was GRABBING YOUR READER’S ATTENTION.

Do you wonder how to infuse your writing with the spark that will cause an editor to turn the page? Do you hope children will ask to hear your story over and over again?

why attend a SCBWI conference #2013afcc

Kathleen Ahrens, author, translator and SCBWI International Regional Advisor Chairperson, told us that we need LIGHTS! CONFLICT! ACTION! She said that our main character must MOAN.

  • Must do or get something
  • Obstacle to reaching goal
  • Action that moves the story forward
  • Negative results

Her presentation was inspired and inspiring! Oh, and one more thing…don’t forget to ADD EMOTION!

why attend a SCBWI conference #2013afcc

Candy Gourlay, author, blogger and literacy advocate, took us on the HERO’S JOURNEY. In an award-winning slide show, she gave us the basic elements that every story must have.

  • Character
  • Introduction to the hero’s ordinary world
  • Call to adventure that the hero at first refuses
  • Hero meets a wise old person, mentor or friend
  • Hero walks through the door of no return
  • More challenges
  • The suspense ordeal
  • Hero seizes the sword
  • Hero wins the prize

Candy showed how this formula has been used over and over again…Star Wars, Toy Story, Shrek. This is a presentation she uses for school visits…it is not surprising that she is a sought-after speaker. Oh, and two more tips from Candy: write what you know and write who you are!

This duo presentation was worth the trip…but there were so many more!

I hope you will come back for my next #2013AFCC excerpt.

29 thoughts on “Why Attend a SCBWI Conference? #2013AFCC

  1. I’m a member of SCBWI, Vivian, and I’ve attended two conferences, one at Chautauqua Park in Boulder, and one at the St. Francis Conference Center. The two were very different with very different speakers and sessions, but both were excellent. And since writers don’t have to belong to attend SCBWI conferences, I recommend all children-through-YA writers go. It’s very helpful, inspiring and encouraging.


    • Thanks for encouraging others to attend, Marylin! I don’t know why I always hesitated…perhaps the cost…or just my own fears of the unknown. 😉 But I’m definitely a convert now…and plan to attend the Rocky Mountain SCBWI Letters and Lines in September…are you going? I know about the one in Boulder…wish I could have gone to that…where is the St. Francis Conference Center?


  2. It sounds terrific, Vivian! What a wonderful experience! And wow – you picked a biggie for your first international flight! 🙂 Glad you learned so much and found it inspiring. Looking forward to more excerpts!


    • Oh my goodness, Susanna…I would fly back tomorrow in a heartbeat! Next time, I will plan a longer trip. 🙂 Marjorie Coughlan and Corinne Robson of PaperTigers.org were flying on to Kuala Lumpur for a week…and so many others invited me to stay so they could show me the sights. But, even without any of that, the sessions themselves were jam-packed with inspiration and ideas!


  3. You did pick a biggie. ha ha.

    There are many local conferences or any way regional ones. I plan on going for my second time to go to the Northern Atlantic SCBWI one in Oct. There are also the on line free ones like Write on con In August and the Muse online Writer’s conference in September.

    Of course you were asked to be on a panel so that is why you picked an international one to dip into for your first. Or is it your first?

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us. I for one am thrilled to live it vicariously through you. 🙂

    I love that the author had an abbreviation for her main character of moan. I am bookmarking this post, Vivian. It has great advice. 🙂


    • Hi Clar!
      So glad the post will be helpful!

      Yes, I was a SCBWI conference virgin. 🙂 🙂 I have been attending our local bimonthly SCBWI meetings for the past two years…and they are really helpful and supportive. But this was a whole other level…and I plan to go to the ‘local’ regional big conference: Rocky Mountain Chapter Letters and Lines, which is held in September in the Denver area (about an hour from me)…I didn’t go last year because I was ‘afraid’ to drive myself there and go alone…how silly! After registration was closed, I discovered that several of the local ladies were going and would have been more than happy to have me tag along and share the room costs. Live and learn. 🙂

      I actually gave three presentations…one on my own to parents about the use of picture books as a parenting tool to build self-esteem, better literacy skills and a stronger parent-child connection…and two different panels on blogging to foster relationships. I’ll share more about those sessions in future posts. 😉


      • Interesting, Vivian. So happy for you.
        I am going to our SCBWI mid atlantic conference in Oct about a 45 min drive away so I am not staying at the hotel since it is only one day. I remember I blogged about it last time I went and I got crowd fatigue pretty quick. ha ha.


        • Thanks, Clar! Our local SCBWI conference is in September…also about an hour away…but it is a 2/3 day weekend one…so I am planning to share a room with one of my local critique partners. Have fun…maybe you will connect with an agent/editor…are there critique sessions available?


  4. I didn’t realize the Asian Children’s Festival was a SCBWI conference. I heard Leonard Marcus talk about his wonderful experience there last year. You certainly were busy speaking and participating on panels. How exciting. Enjoyed the two workshops you really enjoyed and the tips your shared. The pictures are beautiful. Will look forward to future posts. I’ve attended both the LA and NYC SCBWI conferences and feel that writers need to attend a conference — great place to network too. Now, I need to attend the regional SCBWI in my state.


    • When I was invited to speak at AFCC, I did not realize it was a SCBWI conference either.:) The National Book Development Council of Singapore is really supportive of writers and illustrators…in fact, anyone who is creating exceptional content for children. They are trying to work closely with the teachers and schools to implement best practices and methods. There is so much stress put on young kids to excel early on because of limited spaces in universities.

      I truly understand now how valuable it is to interact and connect with fellow writers and illustrators, as well as editors, publishers, etc. And the intimate as well as large group activities at these events is conducive to that. 🙂 Good for you, Pat, for having attended the LA and NYC SCBWI conferences!!! I’ll be going to our regional one in September.


    • You’ve got that right, Nancy! I pray they invite me back. 🙂 I will have NO hesitation next time. 🙂
      I’m flying out to NH to see my daughter and grandson in two weeks…and will stop over in Chicago on my way back to spend a few days with my son, daughter-in-law and new grand-daughter. Those flights will be a piece of cake, now…as long as there are no delays or cancellations. 🙂


    • Thanks for tooting my horn, Sandy. 🙂 Thank you for always being there to cheer me on!

      I was happy to toot yours at both blogging presentations…not only did your online Build Book Buzz course educate me as to press releases, time management as an author and using social media networks and other channels to get the word out about my book, you were amazingly personal and one-on-one in your communication with me…and all of your students. Sandy…you rock! It was definitely the BEST investment…and it was surprisingly reasonable!!!


  5. Wow, Vivian, for your first conference you went for the big guns! And I thought the SCBWI in LA or NY was the one to go to for my first until I read your post. The Asian conference sounds amazing because you are mingling with an international group. How exciting! I see that you were on several panels. Can’t wait to read about it.


    • Thanks, Romelle! I couldn’t believe it either…when I was first invited for last year’s conference, I almost didn’t take it seriously…but I was intrigued and was thrilled when they asked me for this year. As you say, the international flavor was incredible…I got to meet people I had only read about before. 🙂 It was an honor to participate and I would return for next year’s conference without hesitation. 🙂 Stay tuned for the next post. 🙂


  6. Pingback: My little slice of One Big Story at Asia’s biggest book festival | Mum-Mum's the Word

  7. Pingback: AFCC 2013 – Around the Blogosphere | AFCC Wire

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