Monday, April 19, 2010

SCBWI Dakotas Spring Conference

As I said in a recent post, I just attended the fourth annual Spring SCBWI Dakotas Writers and Illustrators Conference. The presenters/faculty were as follows: Chris Richman, Agent with Upstart Crow Literary; Lindsay Schlegel, Editor with Simon and Schuster; Chris Browne, Illustrator and cartoonist of Hagar the Horrible; Rebecca Johnson, Author; and Chris Rylander, Author and Regional Advisor for the SCBWI Dakotas. All of the presenters shared great insight and useful information, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the tidbits I gleaned from these awesome presentations.

First off was Rebecca Johnson. She amazed me! Rebecca is an award-winning author of more than 75 books for young children, young adults and adults on diverse scientific subjects, most recently about the new organisms discovered during the Census of Marine Life, a 10-year global survey of ocean life.

Rebecca's research has taken her to far-flung parts of the world--into the heart of Antarctica, for example, and to New Zealand to study one of the world's most rare birds, the Kakapu.

Rebecca's involvement in the Census of Marine Life led to her newest book to be released in May 2010, Journey Into the Deep. Make yourself a note to get your copy at Amazon or Lerner if you are a science lover, or even if you're not. The marine life discovered for the first time ever are incredible. Rebecca shared a sneak peak of the photos used in the book at the conference. They are truly incredible! Words cannot even describe how cool are the Barrel-Eyed Fish with it's transparent head and huge, green eyes that rotate; the Ping Pong Ball Sponge and the Swimming Sea Cucumber. This is truly a book not to miss. Rebecca had just learned the day prior to the conference that Journey Into the Deep is a Junior Library Guild Selection. Much congrats to you, Rebecca. This honor is greatly deserved!

From a technical/professional writer standpoint, Rebecca shared so many words of wisdom, most notable to me was, "write what you love...write what you know." This is so true. If we aren't excited about our writing, how are we to encite excitement in the reader and a desire to pick up and read our work?

In a separate breakout session, Rebecca discussed finding time to write and using it. She suggested we figure out what we are spending our time on and cut back on, or eliminate, time zappers. I found this profound--"Perfection is the enemy of good." Perfection is my nemesis!

Rebecca also suggested we find our "zone," or time we are most able to write, and do nothing but write when in the zone. One other tidbit I found inspiring was, "Stop waiting for the BIG CHUNKS of time--they're not going to come." I am so guilty of this and need to learn to set small goals that are accomplishable and stop throwing in the towel on the days when the "big chunk" of time doesn't appear.

Per Rebecca, if you choose the writing life, "write daily...commit....choose it whole-heartedly...decide now to be one of those writers." What profound yet simple words!

I think that is enough for today. I thank you for letting me ramble on but know there are many of you out there that can benefit from Rebecca's sage advice. I know I am better for it!

I'll blog about the remaining presenters in my next post. I hope you enjoyed reading about Rebecca's presentation. She is truly inspiring both as a person and an author.


  1. Thanks for the good review, Karin. Now back to writing! :)

  2. Back to writing for sure!

    Thanks for stopping by, Jane. Hope you are enjoying this fabulous weather!