Monday, June 8, 2009

It's That Time of Year Again...

Can you tell by looking at my desk what time of year it is??? It's NJ's annual SCBWI Conference time!!!! Well, it was this past weekend and my desk looks like it! The inside of my brain probably looks like this too, stuffed and messy with so much information!

Highlight #1: OK my number one highlight is really silly but an agent, who I thought seemed super nice, came over to me and said that I had a great smile and that I looked like such a nice, happy person, someone nice to know. I told you it was silly, but it was one of my highlights! Highlights, I tell you.

Highlight #2: was Richard Peck was our keynote speaker!!!! OMG! He was amazing. He was funny and serious and funny and made me cry three times. I was relieved, when in the bathroom later, I heard other ladies say they had cried too. (Note to self - it was not just female hormones... phew!)

He was so approachable too. Later, I walked over to him - wait, let me say that again... I walked over to HIM... OK, so for those of you who might not know... I get star struck around authors, agents, and editors. Usually I am an idiot - my tongue becomes ten times too big for my mouth and all grammar and vocabulary fly out of my brain. I don't know what got into me, but I walked over to him, put out my hand, and said, "Mr. Peck, my name is Sheri Oshins, and I just wanted you to know how moving your speech was. It brought tears to my eyes and I thought, just maybe, you might have done this at least once before." He squeezed my hand and laughed and said, "Maybe once or twice. I am so glad you enjoyed my speech, Sheri." *chills*

Later, when I stood on line for him to sign his books, he remembered me and we chatted a teensy bit more - couldn't hold up the line you know!!!!

Highlight#3 : sitting down with Michelle Poploff, VP of Random house to discuss my WIP. She had some great suggestions and I can't wait to finish this draft so I can begin again - it's like a sickness, isn't it? A word disease!

highlight#4: hanging out with all my writer friends and meeting agents and editors and not being scared to talk to them.

Throughout this week, as I have time, I will be blogging about what I learned so I can share all my knowledge with all of you!

Discussion: If you feel like it - what's the most embarrassing thing you've ever done at a conference in an editor's or agent's presence? I once forgot the title of my WIP. Just a total blank. It was so painful. The published writer next to me said, "Well, if you can't even recall your very own title, that's not a good sign," to which all the editors and agents within earshot laughed. I can laugh now, but at the time... DOH!


Amy Tate said...

Oh Sheri! I look forward to reading every word of what you learned. Richard Peck???? I'm so jealous! I love his Master Class series on writing the novel. Every time I watch it, I learn something new. My most embarrassing moment at a conference was in New York. I was in the elevator at the NYC Hyatt and I forgot to get off on my floor because I was watching CNN. An important looking blonde woman with a SCBWI name tag just shook her head. "First time at the conference?" and before I could answer she walked out! I felt so small town U.S.A. (But that's what I am) LOL!

Ame Dyckman said...

I... um, I forgot my weasel. Which was kinda important, because I was pitching my "drama in the henhouse" scene at the time, and without my weasel, it was just the "in the henhouse" scene. (Luckily, the editor had a sense of humor about the whole thing.)

beth said...

Glad you had a good time!

I once was speaking to an agent, and she asked me what the last YA/MG book I'd read....and I blanked. I read all the time! But I looked like an idiot because I couldn't even think of ONE title--including not one of the THREE books that were sitting in my hotel room waiting for me to read them that night!

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, I was there too! (well, Friday only) I might have seen you in the bathroom crying, because I had to run for a tissue the second Richard Peck was done speaking!

Jeanie W said...

I had an embarrassing moment just like Beth's. I had been reading nothing but middle grade novels for the previous several months but couldn't produce a single title. That was my first conference.

Maryland has its regional conference next month. This will be my seventh SCBWI event. I hope by now my tongue won't swell up or my face turn beet red when I'm around the editors, agents, and successful authors.

Crystal said...

Sounds like you had a great time, Sheri! I'm so bummed I couldn't go this year (I'm in Northern NJ) because of funds (or lack of, I should say!). But maybe It's good I didn't because both my kids came down with bad colds this weekend. Oh well, maybe next year, I hope!
Looking forward to reading more of your notes on the conference!

Casey said...

Sounds like you had a fabulous time! I can't wait until I'm able to go to a conference. But I get nervous just thinking about it!

Sheri said...

Oh Amy! You know what though, that says more about the kind of person she is, then about you! You stand firm, girlfriend and be proud!

Ame! LOL! I can see you realizing you did that but than that gleaming Ame smile would spread and no one could ever fault you after seeing that smile of yours!!! (BTW at the conference I heard people refer to you as... You know, Ame Dyckman, the one with the smile and the vibrant red hair... and then the other would say, oh yeah! She seems so great and friendly!)

Beth, that's hilarious especially coming from you - we all know how veracious a reader you are!

Oh poo, Corey! I wish we had realized this BEFORE the conference... we could have actually then met each other! Did you have a good time and yes, wasn't Richard Peck amazing!

Good luck Jeanie! Will you be bringing your portfolio too! I hope so. You are so very talented! I think next year I am going to write down MY TITLE, and all the titles of the books I read that year - or at least my favorites. it would also be nice if we knew who we were being critiqued by so we can mention the books we've read by that publishing house!!!

Crystal, don't forget, we have a scholarship fund too. I had to apply one year that I lost my job and was awarded some money. It made attending possible!

Casey, you have to stop that right now! You can't believe the invaluable experience gained by a good conference. And the camaraderie built-up. I met Ame Dyckman there and many, many of my good friends. If for nothing else, writers need to be around other writers and YOU are prolific, so give it a try! You won't regret it!

This was fun you guys! I love hearing your embarrassing stories and learning that I am not the only one who becomes a babbling idiot! I also once asked a certain, very well known editor how I knew her because she looked so familiar to me!!!!! She replied coolly, "Perhaps you’ve heard of me? My name is XYZ and I am the senior editor for ABC." To which, I gulped and sheepishly said, “OH, yes. Of course. I took your workshop last year. How silly of me…” She did not find it funny!

Kelly H-Y said...

Oh my gosh ... it sounds like you had a DREAM conference!!!!! Every bit of it sounds wonderful, and I can't wait to hear what else you post about what you heard/learned!

Chris Eldin said...

OMG! Sounds like a fantastic time!!

I sent Michelle Poploff a first draft of my first book 3 years ago. sigh..... such a newbie. I had a golden chance and I blew it. But she is SOOOO nice!!

Barrie said...

Glad to hear it went well. I heard from someone else who attended that the conference was fantabulous! And the VP of Random House? You go, girl!!

Sheri said...

Yes, Kelly, I think it was so far the best one I've attended. Every agent, editor, and key note speaker - I didn't mention EB Lewis was there too - were so approachable and easy to talk to.

Chris, I don't think you blew it. I am sure your writing and that book has changed a lot through the years. You could always query her again. Just be sure to say that she saw a very early draft when you were still honing your skills, describe it, and ask if she'd be interested in a revision. I really don't think any editor would have a problem with a query like that. If they don't want to see it again, they'll let you know.

It really was. So many people I know made great connections with editors and/or agents, and were asked for paritals or fulls, etc...

Rebecca said...

I have never been to a writers' conference, so I am very jealous of all of you who have been!

I look forward to benefitting indirectly from your experience, Sheri!

Sheri said...

Rebecca, you have to go! And if you can, you should come to the NJ SCBWI conference. I think it's the best one out there!

“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

- Anonymous