Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Post-Conference: NESCBWI 2013

Another NESCBWI, come and gone! And, in what is now tradition, I'm here to give my thoughts on the conference two days after returning from Springfield.

Before I dive into what I learned about my fiction writing, I need to discuss two major realizations that hit me on Sunday:

A travel mug I clearly need.
1. I've been so scared of dabbling in nonfiction, but thanks to Catherine Reef's nonfiction intensive Sunday, I now understand that I've been "writing" children's science nonfiction for years. I've just been doing it verbally. Several times a week, I go into schools and spend fifty minutes introducing a science topic to kids, experimenting with it, and giving them takeaway conclusions/inspiration. Oh, and I'm AWESOME at it.

2. Speaking of what I do for a living, after Kellie Celia's intensive on school and library outreach, I've come to understand that I possess an incredible knowledge bank and skill set that few authors have.  I am a professional outreach educator. I shine in front of audiences of all ages and sizes, and can entertain and teach even the dreaded "middle schoolers". This session showed me how little the average author knows about speaking to kids at schools--something I just take for granted as common knowledge, because of the nature of my job. NESCBWI 2013 taught me that I really should find a way to help other authors learn the ins and outs of outreach and presenting to children. (2014 session anyone?)

So yes. Two surprising revelations that taught me that I'm cooler than I thought I was. But what about my Work In Progress manuscript? Did I learn anything about that?

Of course! I challenge anyone to go to an NESCBWI conference and not leave armed with some great ideas.

First, I've confirmed that I need to make my manuscript 20% shorter. I knew it deep down, but it was helpful to have that told to my face.

Second, Kate Messner's great revision workshop helped me identify the true heart of my manuscript, which will make cutting 20% of it much, much easier. (Thank you again, Kate.)

Finally, and this is going to sound cliché, but I learned that the world really does need my book. I won't go into details, but I have more conviction than ever that a science-driven novel (with a female lead) needs to get out there in the hands of kids.

So thank you, NESCBWI 2013. It was another fantastic conference, and I got a chance to help spread the word about my critique partner's debut novel, GOLDEN BOY by Tara Sullivan, coming out June 27th!

Yes, we were the group with the shirts!


  1. Yay, Katie! So glad you had a good conference! And you ARE awesome...I think you'd love writing nonfiction. You should totally propose a workshop next year to help people get over their fear of presenting to kids (and that would fit right into my theme of being brave...)

    1. Perfect! I'll keep my eye out for when proposal submissions open. And thanks again for a WONDERFUL conference, Kris! I had a blast.