Last August was my first time at the annual SCBWI Summer Conference. SCBWI stands for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. It’s a mouthful and the acronym is not much of a help, but notwithstanding the name, the society itself is a gem. I had never seen so many people together (over 1,100) working towards that same goal: writing and/or illustrating the best possible book.
Overwhelming as it was, I let myself go with the flow and learned more in those four days than in the past couple of years sweating at my desk, working on new manuscripts. Needless to say, I left the conference with dozens of ideas for new books, and with dozens of new friends, writers and illustrators from all over the world. And all thanks to this amazing British translator who set up the Dutch chapter of SCBWI and made it possible for me to find this inspiring group of colleagues: Laura Watkinson.

SCBWI 40th Summer Conference

This year will be the 40th anniversary of the SCBWI Summer Conference. The conference program is every writer’s and illustrator’s dream. The faculty consists of seasoned writers, illustrators, editors, agents and teachers. Scheduled are keynotes by writers like John Green and Jon Scieszka, workshops like The Five Things Your Manuscript Needs to Succeed, or Pitching Your Work in the Global Market by my own agent Erzsi Deàk.
On Monday there is a day filled with intensive workshops for members. I’m going for Liesa Abrams’ session Conflict and Character Development in Plot and for Krista Marino’s Perfecting Your YA Voice. Both intensives require a full manuscript and that’s why I’m writing my fingers blue on The Weed Man, my first YA thriller written in English. I hope that with their help and guidance that manuscript will be the best I have ever delivered and that it will make my agent proud.

If you’re interested in writing, illustrating or both, check out the SCBWI website, join us and come to the conference if you can. If you’re from the Netherlands or around: the Dutch chapter of SCBWI will be organizing a one day conference on November 5 in Amsterdam. If you’re interested, keep an eye on this blog or join our Facebook group!