Today Middle grade writer and poet buddy Rena Traxel is here to talk to you about her recent conference experience. Take it away Rena!
My Journey to Canada West SCBWI Conference
Thanks Catherine for having me on your blog today.
On May 3, I packed up my car and headed west to attend SCBWI Canada West Conference in Burnaby, BC. Two days later and several bear and goat sightings later (I was travelling through he Rocky Mountains) I arrived in Burnaby.
The night before the conference I had a bit of freak out because in the morning I would face not one, but two critiques. I was convinced that the reviewers were going to tell me that I was a terrible a writer. Thankfully that wasn’t the case! Poet extraordinaire Tiffany Stone, reviewed some of my poetry and she was wonderful. Right off the bat she told me that my work has a natural flow to it and that I was funny. She went on to show me how I could improve upon my poems and even told me that one of them was ready to send out for publication. She further boosted my confidence when in response to a participant’s question. “Do you need to write in rhyme?” She said “no, just this morning I read Rena’s poems in free verse and they were really funny.” So that was pretty cool!
During lunch I met up with a girl who I had met through an online workshop. It was neat meeting with someone I had gotten to known online. I didn’t know that the majority of the SCBWI participants had lunch together in a room at the conference. I think next year I will stay behind and eat with the rest of the group. It would have been a wonderful networking opportunity; nevertheless, I had a blast hanging out with my new writer friend.
After lunch and giant cup of Tim Horton’s coffee (what can I say I’m Canadian) there was the first page panel, in which the first page of a manuscript was read out and the four-person panel made up of authors and editors critiqued the first page. I submitted the first page of my fantasy novel, Death of Sleeping Beauty, for critique. I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest when Ken Kilback (regional advisor) started reading my submission. I was terrified! But somehow I managed to calm the rushing blood in my head and listen to the words being spoken. It was pretty cool hearing a complete stranger read my words! (Seriously, give it a try). Thankfully the crowd and the panel laughed where I intended them to laugh. All of them liked my characters voice, which is super important considering my novel is told in first person!
After the panel Kallie George the editor from Simply Read Books got up and talked about how to annoy an editor. Surprisingly, she said fixing grammar is easy. Fixing voice is not. It’s hard to turn down a project that is good idea, but fixing problems such as voice is too much work for an editor.
After Kallie came author Danika Dinsmore who travelled across the world to sell the international rights to her novel at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Apparently, this is not something that is done. Agents are usually the one’s who go to the fair, but Danika didn’t have a agent. She is seriously awesome (I thought submitting one page of my work for critique was brave).
That is my journey in a nutshell. This is second time I have been to a SCBWI conference and each time I learn a lot. I’m hoping to save up and attend SCBWI LA conference in 2013 and finally meet some of the wonderful writers I have met through the 12x12in2012 challenge. Also I ate a lot of beef jerky and drank a lot of Tim Horton’s coffee except for the four hours between Kamloops and Hinton in which there is no Tim Hortons (I was seriously disappointed!) The weather was warm. It only rained for about 15 minutes. The guy behind me, who didn’t notice I was slowing down for the herd of mountain goats feeding at the side of the highway, almost hit me. That was almost as scary as submitting my work for critique.
Wow, thanks Rena! It all sounds wonderful.
Bio: Beware of the fiery haired writer who calls herself Rena J. Traxel. She spends her day brewing up a batch of fantastical stories. To learn more about her check out her blog On the Way to Somewhere @ http://www.renajtraxelblog.com