Thursday, June 12, 2014

Orlando SCBWI Conference Review

The Orlando conference was held on Disney property at The Dolphin. I snapped the above picture just outside my bedroom window.

I took a Middle Grade Novel Workshop with author Deborah Wiles and Candlewick editor Carter Hasegawa. Deborah's presentation was about excavating your life for stories. She shared how her life has influenced her books. Deborah asked us lots of questions to start us mining our pasts for stories. For example:
  1. When you think of home: what does it smell like, sound like, taste like?
  2. When was your life derailed?
  3. What scares you?
  4. What breaks your heart?
  5. Who are your heroes?
Answering those questions often provides ideas to enrich your stories.

Carter told us that he's read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card about fifty times. So if you write that type of book, I'd say Carter would be a great editor to send it to.

Carter also led a discussion about writing diverse characters. The thing he said that made me think the most is, "What gives you the right to write the other?" We have to earn the right to write stories about people that aren't like us. That reminded me of my friend Nancy Bo Flood and her book Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo. Though Nancy isn't Navajo, (at least I don't think she's Navajo), she does live and work on a Navajo Indian Reservation. Her life experience has earned her the right to tell this story.

One last tip from the workshop is to check out Deborah's Pinterest boards. The way she collects historical images and videos would help any writer, but especially those of us who write historical fiction.

Rumor has it, we'll be back at The Dolphin in June of 2015. You can't beat the setting, or SCBWI Florida. You're invited...come on down!


  1. Sorry I couldn't attend. This workshop sounded good.

  2. It was very good, Nancy. It was the first conference ever that I didn't pay for a critique, but I decided to go after the deadline. I actually missed that experience.

  3. It is a beautiful place for a conference. I was there a few years ago.

  4. I agree and SCBWI Florida holds a conference on Disney property every year in June.

  5. It was wonderful, wasn't it? Deborah Wiles' questions got me thinking in many new and exciting directions!

  6. Absolutely! Those questions had snuck into my writing anyway, but Deborah really gave us a new framework to mine our pasts for stories.