The Top 10 Reasons You Should Come to the NESCBWI Conference

10. This year’s theme is "Moments of Change."  The publishing industry is evolving. We can lament that and snivel a bit, or we can be involved in the process and shape it creatively, in a way that values story and writers and readers.

9. This year’s conference chair is Anindita Basu Sempere, one of the most organized human beings I’ve ever met. This will mean good things for the conference, I’m sure.  Anindita has already posted a FAQ hereConference registration begins on Monday, and you’ll be able to register online here.

8. Manuscript critiques. You can sign up in advance to have the first pages of your manuscript critiqued by one of the agents, editors, or authors offering feedback at this year’s conference. If you’ve never done this before, it’s a great opportunity to get a kind-but-very-honest opinion on how your manuscript might be received when you send it out.  If you want a manuscript critique, sign up for one right away; these spots tend to sell out quickly.

7. Orientation session for first-time attendees.  The organizers of this conference know that attending your first one can feel overwhelming, so they’ve set up this how-to-manage-your-weekend session on Friday afternoon.  Smart.

6. Marla Frazee is one of the keynote speakers.  MARLA FRAZEE!!!  A two-time Caldecott Honor winner, and a kind, funny person, too. Marla will be speaking Saturday afternoon, along with her editor, Allyn Johnston of Beach Lane Books

5. Cynthia Leitich-Smith is another keynote speaker.  You know…from Cynsations?  She’s not only a well-loved kidlit blogger, but also a talented author and faculty member at the Vermont College MFA program.  She’ll be talking Saturday morning.

4. Workshops! Workshops! Workshops!   I’ll be presenting a session on Skype author visits and will also be on a panel with Jo Knowles and Carrie Jones to talk about "Blogging for the Future," how to set up and maintain a blog that will serve you throughout your career as a writer.  And I’ve already started making my list of sessions I’m dying to attend, too.  Matt Phelan is doing a session on Writing the Graphic Novel.  Mitali Perkins and Deborah Sloan will talk about successful social networking.  Toni Buzzeo and Cynthia Lord team up for a session on school visits, and Kelly Fineman offers a session on free verse.  Kara LaReau, with whom I had the absolute pleasure to work with when she was an editor at Scholastic, is giving a workshop on "Getting Unstuck in Writing and in Life" that you will not want to miss; she is an amazing, amazing editor & writer.  And that’s just a start. You can download the full list of workshops here.

3. The "workshop" after the workshops.  At conferences like this, the workshops are great, but some of the most valuable conversations happen after the hour-long session has ended, in discussions with writer-illustrator colleagues over coffee and lunch.

2. Brownies.  There are usually brownies on Saturday afternoon.  Big, thick, chewy ones.

1. Where else can you spend time with hundreds of other people who will talk seriously, for hours, about made-up people as if they’re real?  I laugh at this one, but it’s important to me. Writing for children is important, but sometimes people in our day-to-day, grocery-store, water-cooler, day-job lives don’t entirely get it.  It’s refreshing and invigorating to spend time with a big group of people who do.

Registration opens on Monday, February 8.

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