Golden Gate Conference 2013: Top 3 Takeaways

Fred Farr Forum at Asilomar
I love a good SCBWI regional conference, and this year's Golden Gate Conference at Asilomar was no exception. This was my third trip to Asilomar, and each year I find new levels of inspiration, food for thought, time to reconnect with friends, and opportunities to make new ones. No two conferences are alike, and much of the tone of the event trickles down from the distinctive keynote speakers. This year we were fortunate enough to have picture book author/illustrator Jon Agee and Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), so it was only fitting that the weekend's theme was Humor.

There was much laughter to be had and lessons to be learned in the hallowed hall of Fred Farr Forum. Too much to tell on this little post, but here are the top 3 points that have stuck with me now that the party's over:

1. SCBWI co-founder Lin Oliver offered 12 tips for writing with humor and heart. She encouraged us to chase our discomforts, explore our embarrassments, and follow our weirdness. She also implored us to take risks, and to go for risky, unexpected ideas. Take that to heart, you writers out there. When Lin Oliver speaks, people listen.

2. Patty Ann Harris, senior art director at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers said, "Great work in one market can lead to another." This applies to writers crossing genres and forms, but it also means something else. Use the talents you have to propel you into the markets you want to be in. Whether it's cake baking, baseball card collecting, pet grooming, polka dancing, song writing, book shelving, street sweeping, or whatever it is in the whole wide world you love to do...  Do it to the max, and use the unique talents you have to get what you want out of life.

3. On the final day at Asilomar, social media expert Greg Pincus reminded us that, "Online, you ARE what you SAY and DO." If we only use the internet to promote our work, we will fail. Strive to contribute to the greater whole, connect with your audience, and ADD VALUE. But beyond our industry-related audience, there is a whole world of other people out there who might not be PB, MG or YA experts, but are certainly potential book buyers! If anything, social media used wisely can bring kidlit to the rest of the world. Amen, brother.