Buzz Lightyear and the SCBWI

June 9, 2010 § 7 Comments


This past weekend I got a hall pass out of my every day Mommy life for my Mid-Year SCBWI workshop in Orlando. We stayed at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and it was fabulous. Yes, I went to Disney World without my children.

Medeia Sharif and I met at a conference this past January and we thought it’d be fun to room together for this one. Her debut novel The Bestest Ramadan Ever is coming out August 2011 with Flux. She is a blast. Something you might not know about Medeia is that she has an excellent sense of direction when walking. You should not pay attention to where you’re going and put complete trust in her. She will not get you lost. Cough.

I met two other twitter/bloggy friends, The Megan Rebekah and Karen Hooper. Karen got acquainted with some of the locals.

What? Oh right, the workshop. It was fantastic. I met wonderful writers at every stage of the process and learned a lot. At the end I was mentally, emotionally, and socially exhausted. Being a stay-at-home-mommy, I don’t talk to a lot of grown ups face to face on a daily basis. Not at this level, anyway.

Friday I was in a novel intensive with the fabulous author Kathleen Duey, Senior Editor at Little, Brown Alvina Ling, and Editorial Director of Disney-Hyperion Stephanie Owens Lurie. They all rocked my socks off. We were assigned some homework to bring before hand: the first page of your manuscript and a query.

The first query read aloud (anonymously) received a lot of praise. Stephanie Lurie made a comment about how she liked the personal touches in the query. She said they let her know a little bit about the author. This led me to my first and re-occurring lesson of the conference: All of this is so subjective. I had gone to QueryShark to research how to write my query. After hearing the kind Ms. Lurie’s comment, I envisioned adding a small paragraph (not including my writing credentials)  telling Madame Shark a little bit about myself. I saw her cross through those lines. Her blue editorial ink underneath would read: I just don’t care.

You have to write your query/synopses to the liking of the agent. When I get to the querying point (which is fast approaching) I will research, research, research. I wrote both of my queries to Madame Shark’s specifications. I do not have my heart set on Madame Shark (nor would I kick her out of bed for eating chum cookies) or any other agent, but when I do query, I will personalize to their tastes. It sounds daunting, but I will do it.

Saturday I attended a Young Adult intensive led by Brian Farrey, the Acquisitions Editor for Flux and one of his authors, Danielle Joseph. He is also Medeia’s editor and they got to meet for the first time this conference. Brian and Danielle talked about the author/editor relationship and we worked on writing synopses and pitches. He broke synopses writing down into four simple sentences as a great place to start.

First sentence: Who the protagonist is and what they want

Second sentence: What’s standing in their way.

Third sentence: How they’re going to get around the obstacle.

Fourth sentence: What complications arise from their course of action.

I thought that was great. Then we moved to pitches. He asked us if we would like three minutes to practice on him and he’d tell us what areas to work on. Did I want practice pitching to an Editor? You bet I did.

This is just a general overview of what happened, but I had a great experience all around. I will be honest, the best part about leaving for the weekend was coming back home to my family. Walking through my front door and hearing three little voices shout, “Mommy!” made me feel like a rock star. I am eternally envious of that moment Daddy gets to experience every day.

My takeaways from the conference are: 

 1. Research who you are querying and tailor to their wants.

2. The publishing world is a subjective one.

3. Believe in what you’re doing. Keep going.

4. Daddy gets to feel like a rock star every day.

5. I am Buzz Lightyear.

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§ 7 Responses to Buzz Lightyear and the SCBWI

  • Penelope says:

    You are pretty and I’m glad it was such a great experience!

    I must admit–the best part of my day is picking up kiddo and having him race towards me while yelling, “Moooooom!”

  • Karen Hooper says:

    That’s not me. I would never do something like that at Disney! LOL.

    It was great hangin’ out with you. I still love that Buzz photo. You two make a cute couple. 😉

  • Karen Strong says:

    Great recap! It was so cool meeting you at the Novel Intensive and the YA Track. You and Medeia are awesome!

    I learned a lot on query letters. The stuff I learned on that was worth the price of the whole conference.

    Ha, your pictures are hilarious!

  • Simon L. says:

    I still haven’t decided whether to forgive you and Karen for simultaneously ignoring my directive to each of you. I’m thinking that oversight can only be made up for with extravagantly eloquent apologies and possibly a bottle of vodka. Do get on that, eh?

    Oh, and congrats on the awesome feedback from industry pros and such!

  • That picture-why, why? Lol.

    I know that I have impeccable coordination skills.

  • harleymay says:

    Penelope, thank you. Mommies every where deserve to feel like a rock star from time to time. We also need a wind machine and our own photo shoot.

    Karen H, pictures don’t tell lies. It was lovely to meet you, too.

    Karen S, it was a GREAT conference. I hope you come to future ones.

    Simon, Vodka. Check. Eloquent Apologies. Sorry?

    Medeia, I thought that was a guhrrrreat picture of you. You do not take a bad picture. Even when I’m trying to take candid shot after candid shot of your exceptional navigation skills.

  • Larissa says:

    Great recap, Harley!

    If you don’t mind, I would like to link this post on my blog…

    Great meeting you!

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