Heading Home from The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference

posted by Karen Jean Matsko Hood
Monday, January 31, 2011

It is Monday morning and I am in New York City getting ready to go to the airport and return to Spokane, Washington. I just attended The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Winter Conference that was held in New York City at the Grand Hyatt Central Hotel. The conference attracted visitors from all over the world. This was my first time at this particular conference, and it was very worthwhile. I had never attended any children’s book writers conferences before, as I had been enrolling in writers conferences for books for adults. They are two totally different markets, and as an author and writer, it is important to keep up with the trends and what is going on in each market.

I met a lot of wonderful writers as well as the teachers and speakers at the seminars. They talked about what is going on in the world of illustration, picture books, chapter books, middle grade books, and of course the ever-popular and growing teenage and young adult market. The expansion of the market of these books was also discussed, with everyone trying to find the next breakthrough topic.

I was inspired by the wonderful keynote speakers that they had scheduled for the conference. Author R. L. Stine, the children’s book writer of the Goosebumps series turned out to be quite a comedian. Everyone had expected him to look like a person who writes horror stories for children (whatever that would look like), but instead everyone was surprised by his refreshing sense of humor and his inspiring thoughts for children’s book writers. His message to all writers was to only think “yes.” By saying “yes” writers are exposed to many different possibilities in the writing industry. For example, he worked as an promotional writer for the bottling industry in the United States, which was something he never set out to do. This job led him to other writing jobs. His goal was to become a comic writer and to have his own magazine, but he had to go through different hoops and jobs to get there. He never thought he’d be an author of horror fiction for children, and yet that is what he ended up doing.  R.L. Stine has sold over 450 million children’s books, and they are currently becoming more popular on the international scene. “You never know what life has in store for budding authors” was his message.  That will now be my plan … that is to say “yes” to all writing possibilities out there, including contests that I find.

Well, it is time to zip my bags and head downstairs to the taxi. The taxi will take me to LaGuardia Airport. From there I fly to Denver. After a short layover in Denver, I will board a plane to Spokane, returning to the wonderful Northwest, the land I appreciate so much.

It is unfortunate that New York City is going through such difficult times. When I was there they were arguing over budget cuts and were talking about laying off 15,000 teachers! That put people up in arms, as they didn’t think that’s where the cuts should be. The cold snap had caused problems with garbage pickup. They had gotten the streets plowed but the garbage was still stacked up on sidewalks. I heard that people were complaining about garbage on some sidewalks, but I must say I was pretty shocked to see it when I was visiting there. New York City is wonderful for the busy, exciting life, but it’s definitely going through some stressful times now as they try to figure out how to run the city with a small budget. But of course those problems are being dealt with in other cities of the country.  It’s just that in New York City budget cuts are on a much larger scale.

I compliment all of the people of New York, but I must admit I’m a Northwest country girl, born and raised in Montana and currently living in Washington State. I enjoyed my time and the education I received at the writers conference  in New York City, but I’m very glad to return home. You’ll be seeing more news about my children’s writing and children’s book releases in the near future. Thanks again, and please comment and join in on my blogs. Hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you.

Karen Jean Matsko Hood



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