As promised, I'm back to discuss the remaining presenters at the recent Spring SCBWI Dakotas Conference.
First up, Chris Richman, an agent with Upstart Crow Literary. Chris is actively building his list and is interested in MG and YA fiction with strong commercial hooks, standout voices and plots that grab him and refuse to let go. Chris enjoys working with debut writers and, per his report, loves "dark fantasy" so go for it if any of you out there have something for him. You can find submission guidelines on the Upstart Crow Literary website at http://upstartcrowliterary.com/. Chris' presentation discussed pitching your novel, and he really promoted making your query work for your project and targeting the right people. He said that although a pitch is important, strong writing is a must..."You have to stand out--that's the bottom line."
Lindsay Schlegel, an editor with Simon and Schuster who works with the Atheneum Books for Young Readers and Margaret K. McElderry Books Imprints, spoke about PBs: From Submission to Storytime. She stressed that "story trumps everything." Her presentation was very helpful, especially in terms of what to think about in the picture book process, namely rhyme and repetition, page turn and thinking visually. Unfortunately, Simon and Schuster Imprints are closed to unagented submissions with the exception of conference attendees (we get one unagented submission in the next six months--yippee!).
Chris Browne, illustrator and cartoonist of the syndicated comic strip Hagar the Horrible, and Chris Rylander, author of the MG novel THE FOURTH STALL scheduled for early 2011 release from HarperCollins, completed the panel.
While Chris Browne did not give a specific presentation, he was on the panel for the Question and Answer session as well as conducting informal critiques of art portfolios. I had the privilege of sitting at a table with Chris and thoroughly enjoyed his company and tales of his life and ancestors. He grew up in CT and lived for 28 years in FL. For the last three years, he and his wife have lived in SD about an hour from where I live. He is extremely funny and wonderfully talented, and I encourage you all to read Hagar the Horrible if you don't already.
Chris Rylander is the new Regional Advisor for the SCBWI Dakotas and organized a wonderful conference as you have read. Thank you, Chris; my hat is off to you for a job well done!