Wednesday, January 18, 2017

SCBWI Nonfiction Intensive, Oakland, CA: A great day with Two Authors and an Editor

Caroline Arnold, Alyssa Mito Pusey, and Pamela Turner, SCBWI Nonfiction Intensive Panel
Last Saturday, I was one of three speakers at the Nonfiction Intensive in Oakland sponsored by the SCBWI San Francisco North and East Bay Region, a day devoted to discussing the ins and outs of nonfiction writing for children. The program was in a workshop format with presentations and hands-on discussions and activities. Award-winning nonfiction author Pamela Turner was the other author speaker, and our mutual editor at Charlesbridge, Alyssa Mito Pusey, provided insights from an editorial viewpoint. The meeting was held in beautiful Preservation Park of Oakland, an enclave of Victorian houses rescued and restored and now used as a public resource for meetings and offices.
Entrance to Preservation Park
After a warm introduction by Co-Regional Advisor Collette Weil Parrinello, the first session was given by Pam who spoke on “The Nonfiction marketplace: Where does my manuscript belong?” It was followed by Alyssa’s talk, “Finding the Fit: Learn how to tailor a submission to a specific editor–and figure out if that editor is right for you.” My talk, which came after lunch, was titled “Creating Compelling Nonfiction for Young Readers–Let the Pictures Do the Work!”
Keely Parrack, Panel Moderator
The last session was a panel, coordinated by Co-Regional Advisor Keely Parrack, in which the three of us answered questions from the audience. The final question was “What is one thing you wished you had known when you started to write nonfiction books for children?” My answer was that I wished I had a better appreciation of the importance of the book title. Alyssa added that in today’s world a book’s subtitle is also especially important–something to ponder as we all work on future projects!
Collette Weil Parrinello Introducting Panel
The day ended with book autographing and a cupcake social. Books were offered for sale at lunchtime by Luan Stauss of Laurel Book Store. I was glad to be able to sign copies of my new book Hatching Chicks in Room 6 and my Habitat books. Pam signed her Scientists in the Field books and her new book Samurai Rising.
It was a full and rewarding day. During the day I was glad to have the opportunity to talk with a number of the writers who attended the intensive and I also enjoyed interacting with Pam, Alyssa and all the SCBWI volunteers who made everything run so smoothly. As Pam urged the participants, we need to campaign for more events by the SCBWI and other organizations that feature nonfiction. Clearly there is a strong interest among both writers and readers.

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