Sunday, February 24, 2008

NJ SCBWI Workshop

Hello all,
This is just a very brief posting saying... I've been to the NJ SCBWI workshop today. I met some lovely ladies in my group. (Hello Joelle, Marcie, Lynette, Hallee, Lisa, and of course, Leeza!)

In case you've never been to such an event, here's what happens...

About a month before, you are assigned a small group. The ladies mentioned above were in my small group. Each small group is assigned an editor to receive a one-on-one critique with for 20 minutes. So in that month’s time, you have to mail your first 30 pages of your novel, or your entire PB MS to Kathy Temean, RA of the NJ chapter of SCBWI. AND... you have to email your pages to the members of your group.

Then over that month you read and critique all the stories as they come in (or wait until the last possible moment - whichever way works for you...) Then, on the day of the conference, armed with the critiques you have written for one another, you show up ready to share.

Everyone takes turns presenting their feedback while, one at a time, a member will quietly dismiss herself (sorry no token males were present in our group) and meet with the editor in a separate room.

Then, around, well... lunchtime, there is a lunch where we can all mingle and meet other writers or editors present at the event. Then we go back and finish our critiques.

At the very end is an open mic Q+A session with all the editors. We get to learn what they are individually shopping for, how long their personal turn around is with scripts, and their tips and tools of advice and suggestions. We, as writers, are eager to eat up every nugget of info they are willing to provide.

And at the end of the day you've made friends (or enemies – no, only kidding!) and you hopefully will walk away feeling energized, renewed, and ready to revise, revise, revise.

I, on the other hand, always walk away feeling exhausted! I need a few days to not think about it, while all the while my subconscious is percolating, and simmering, deep in thought. Then, in a day or two... or three... I read everyone’s comments. I print out a fresh clean copy and begin writing notes of what the others have said. If someone else says the same thing, I put a check next to the comment. If again, another person says it, I add another check and so on. If there are comments that don't ring true to me, that no one else brought up, then I let that comment go. I toss it, as Joelle said in her “Take it, or Toss it” philosophy. If there are comments that spark something within me, even if no one else said, I star it.

Then I open my computer, copy and paste the story onto a fresh document and save it as... whatever the title is, the draft number, and I give it a new version number. For example, my novel... is on its first draft, but 5th version - 1.5. (For me, a new version is when I make changes within a single draft. Once I get to the end, any other changes would begin my next draft. And then process begins all over again, 2.0, 2.1, etc.) So now, I save it as a new document as TITLE, 1.6. Next, I take the hard copy with all the converted notes and I place it in that story’s binder. All of my stories have their own binders. Then in the binder, I mark it, TITLE 1.5 NJ SCBWI Feb 2008 conference. The editor’s version goes in the binder too, of course, and I attach her business card and her critique, so it is altogether.

And that's my process!

Another benefit of the day is... a good number of the editors that come to these workshops do not accept unsolicited work. But once you've met the editor at an SCBWI event, you are no longer considered unsolicited for a window of time - usually a few months. So even if you met with editor A, you are still welcomed and invited to send you MS to editors B, C, and D, as well. And most promise that they WILL read your MS and WILL write a personal (rejection) letter (OK hopefully not a rejection letter of course! I was only being funny!!!!)

So if you haven't ever tried an SCBWI conference or workshop. I highly recommend it. Visit SCBWI to find your state's chapter. To have that 20 minute one-on-one wiht an editor is so worth it!


PJ Hoover said...

It's such a great idea to think about the comments for a few days!
We have our Austin SCBWI conference in April, and I have Big Sur in a week, so I'm looking forward to my own great feedback!

Sheri Perl-Oshins said...

It is so worth it, but the day after, I am sooooooo drained. I could spend the day in bed, but work, work, work - there's much to be done!

Leeza Hernandez Illustrator said...

What I love about these conferences or workshops, is that I am guaranteed to walk away from them knowing a bit more about the industry, others and myself than when I walked in.

To me, that's priceless.

The more intimate workshops really offer an opportunity to get up close and personal with editors for an entire day — and it's 'okay' to bug them with your questions and ideas.

This weekend's workshop's editors: Meredith Mundy Wasinger, Sterling; Anne Gunton, Viking; Nicole Kasprzak, Putnam and Christy Webster, Random House were gracious, helpful and very nice indeed.

Sheri Perl-Oshins said...

Yes, thank you for that info Leeza. I was in such a haze that day and was running off some where when the editors were introduced I never wrote their names down. And... if I don't write it down... So I appreciate that very much.

I also agree, each time you walk away with something else. And I feel like the more I learn, each workshop, my understanding becomes deeper and deeper.

And ladies and gentlemen, what is my favorite thing I walked away from one of the SCBWI workshops with???? Well you, Leeza! That's where I met you - friendship at first sight!

Sarah Hina said...

I've never been to one of these, Sheri, but they sound like a great opportunity for networking and growth.

I hope all of those comments help you down the line!

Anonymous said...

I love your method of revision and keeping all of your drafts organized! Thanks for the tips. Oh, and I will be going to my first SCWBI workshop in two weeks and I'm so excited!

“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