Member Monday: 5 + 1 Tips on Conference Proposals (the inside scoop)

I spent most of yesterday either driving to, being in, or driving from an NESCBWI RA/Advisory Board meeting. The driving I really hate, but the people I get to work with on the Advisory Board are wonderful.

We spent a great deal of time processing the evaluations from the most recent annual spring NESCBWI conference. Yes, we really do look at all of the comments so thanks to everyone who filled out an evaluation. Your workshop feedback helps us choose the Encore! schedule. You comments on how to improve the conference are implemented by the next conference director. This year, that person is Joyce Johnson. All conference communication should go to nescbwi13 at gmail dot com.

As an RA, the first question that I start to field about next year’s conference is, “When will you put out a call for proposals?” I can tell you that the announcement will be out sometime this week, and I’ll certainly post the info link that Joyce publishes.  If you are interested in presenting, now is a good time to get your ducks in a row. Below I’ve listed some tips to help you hone your workshop proposal idea.

  1. NESCBWI caters to many different constituents: writers, illustrators, industry professionals, beginners, intermediates, and PAL published. You will not be able to meet everyone’s needs. Don’t try. Be specific about your audience. If you say your workshop is for the most advanced members, be sure to be sophisticated, dig deep, and expect a high level of prior knowledge. We are eager to involve PAL members and would love some expert workshop presenters for this crowd.
  2. Also consider the time you will need. Too much time and you’ll be fumbling for enough info to fill the slot, praying that someone has a question for you. Not enough time and you’ll deliver your information so fast that no one will glean the benefits of your knowledge.
  3. Your MFA is awesome, and your graduation lecture/critical thesis was great but that doesn’t make it an SCBWI lecture. People want workshops that give craft-based how-to’s that inspire them to go home and get to work. MFA work is often very theoretical. See if there is a way that you can make your expertise more practical. If not, come up with another idea.
  4. If NESCBWI is going to pay you to come to teach at the conference, they want to get their money’s worth. If you have more than one AMAZING idea, or if you have an idea for something so popular that the conference committee would want to run it twice, that’s a benefit. In this same vein, panels are expensive. If you can do it yourself, and do it well, submit alone.
  5. Consider craft issues that you and your fellow writers/illustrators have faced and surmounted. (Humor in picture books, the omniscient narrator, multiple narrators, ripped from the headlines plots, diverse characters, showing emotion, rhythm in prose) How did you do it? How did others do it? Gather that info, analyze it, and present it in a direct and succinct way with clear examples, humor, time for questions, work time and …
  6. Never forget chocolate for the attendees.

Proposals, submissions, and snowflakes, oh my!

1. NESCBWI workshop proposals are due on Oct. 1. Get ’em in! Think big, propose two workshops. Click for guidelines, rubric, and leveling continuum.

2. Robert’s Snow auction will be starting in November to benefit cancer research in memory of Grace Linn’s husband who recently died. The snowflakes for 2007 are not available for viewing yet, but I got a sneak peak at

 beautiful artwork at the conference planning meeting yesterday. (I can tell you it has frogs, but if you know Laura, you probably already know that.)  If you are a lesser know illustrator, I’d like to post your snowflake link, web link, and short bio here. (ie: not Lynn Munsinger, Kadir Nelson, or Bruce Degen) Leave me a comment and your contact info.

3. To-do: stop blogging, redraw dummy pages, manuscript status and resend, first two chapters of non-fiction.

4. October is the month we’ll hear about SCBWI work in progress grant applications. I’m waiting on a non-fiction proposal, anyone else?

Unloading stuff

1. Hubby comes home on Friday after being away for two and a half weeks. That’s a long time. I’m so tired I could sleep for an entire weekend. In that two and a half weeks I have…
2. Done three poetry workshops for 1st graders: very successful and fun. Beware of teachers who try to revise student writing for them ie: “maybe you could choose some words that rhyme,” or rush them, there-by negating the whole discussion about a writing process, “okay, let’s finish these. We have computer lab next period and I want you to type them up.” Befriend teachers who say wonderful things like, “let’s try acting that one out so we can really understand what the poet is trying to say,” or “let’s put those in our writing folders and you can continue to work on them during writer’s workshop times.”
3. Pasted up the dummy into more of a book format and sent it out to agent who requested the material for May 1st. Please send especially good vibes my way.
4. Completed huge proposal for a mural project at local library. I feel really great about the proposal but if I get it, it is another probono gig. Promises a lot of publicity though so I’m going with that. (See end of post for panel example.)
5. Learned choreography for new aerobics routine and participated in big launch day.
6. Completed synagogue newsletter.
7. Continued love and care of my patient children who heard me yell much more than they should. At least they can laugh with me when I say sarcastically, “Aren’t you glad your Mommy is so calm and understanding?”
8. Endured big storms and rain and power outages.
9. Sort of cleaned, went grocery shopping, and did laundry (as in “Mom, I don’t have any pants!”, and “Oh cool, cereal for dinner.”
10. Built a desk. (A cheapy one made in China kind that I got at Christmas Tree Shop.)
11. Had a sinus infection and took 10 days of antibiotics to get over it. Ended up with the side effects instead. Yup, had that. Yup, that too.
12. Got a babysitter a few times so I could get out. (Salsa dancing lessons from a Latin Hottie is a great way to release. Had a couple of great illustrator and writing meetings too. ) Very worth it.

Okay, so now you are all caught up. And I’m going to sleep. At least until I have to take someone to some extracurricular activity.

Click for bigger image.