Saturday, 12 May 2012

OLIVER PHOMMAVANH... our Conference official Tweeter guy

Welcoming today's guest blogger, author Oliver Phommavanh.

I've been writing for five years now, two of those years were as an unpublished writer. They say that it's not what you know, it's who you know. Well, at SCBWI you get both.

Not only is the conference a priceless opportunity to network and meet new people from around Australia and beyond, you also learn a lot as well.

I went to my first conference in 2010, just after my first book, Thai-riffic! came out and enjoyed a weekend with peers and like-minded people, passionate about writing. It was a chance for me to talk about my upcoming books, learn about the latest trends and news from publishers and agents, and have some fun.

I know friends who got deals and made progress with their works, so it obviously boosts your chance of success. I also enjoyed the cosy atmosphere. Whether you're just beginning or an established writer, you can get a lot out of the conference, it's tailor made for writers and illustrators.

This year's no different. I can't wait for this year's conference, the line up looks promising and has some new ideas up its sleeve, like the Illustrator's Showcase. Now I have two new books to chat about, Con-nerd and Punchlines! And I have plenty more to come.

SCBWI has a reputation for having great conferences from around the world, this one is going to be just as cool.

If you're coming along, be prepared to be filmed and tweeted about, hehe, I'm the camera person and twitter guy for the conference!

Monday, 7 May 2012

"Spending time with the tribe" ... Meg McKinlay, guest blogger

Meg McKinlay.. This will be my first SCBWI conference and no one is more surprised than me that I’m actually going. 

It’s not the distance or the expense, though those are certainly factors when you live, as they say, off the earth in Perth.
Meg McKinlay, children's author and poet

It’s just that I’m not really a joiner. I’m not really into groups and gatherings. I’m much happier getting all hermitty in my little study with only books and silence and the occasional grevillea-visiting honey-eater for company.

When I joined SCBWI, it wasn’t for networking or support or anything remotely groupish or social. It was because I had been trying and failing to crack that elusive first publication here in Australia, and was considering submitting directly to the US. Lacking any contacts or information on the market there, I saw SCBWI as a resource, something I might join for a year, strip-mine for information, and then be on my way.

Six years later, I find myself the newly minted ARA for SCBWI West, heading off to the National Conference. I’m still not entirely sure how this happened, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that I’ve found SCBWI to be such an incredibly welcoming organisation, supportive of gregarious networkers and solitary hermits alike, and also professionally useful in so many ways that go beyond the simple gleaning of facts and contact details. The wealth of knowledge among members, so generously shared, is one of SCBWI’s real strengths, and something I know will be a feature of what is shaping up to be an amazing conference.

I’m something of a paradoxical hermit in that, given the right circumstances, I love to talk. I love to debate, argue, and discuss. And I hope to do a lot of that over the course of the weekend. I’ll be participating in a panel on “Realistic Fiction”, and chairing another on “Industry News” with delegates from the ASA, CAL, and the NSW Writers Centre. And I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into those discussions. Mostly, though, I’ll be sitting back, listening to others, learning, mingling, enjoying being in the company of likeminded people.

I can’t say that I have any tangible goals for the conference other than Spend time with my tribe and Think about stuff. But I’m a fan of woolly goals, and suspect that will be more than enough to send me away satisfied.

Congratulations to Meg on her appointment as Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI West (Ed. :)