Illustration of "Brianna's Book Stop" by Jeffrey Duckworth / Book Cover for WHERE DO DIGGERS SLEEP AT NIGHT? (on the bookmobile) by Christian Slade

Friday, May 17, 2013

Welcome to Brianna's Book Stop (and a conference summary)!

Hi! I'm Brianna and I'm so happy to welcome everyone to my brand-new blog, Brianna's Book Stop! I hope this blog is going to be like a truck stop for everyone who loves kidlit-- writers, teachers, librarians, parents, booksellers and kids.

For my first post, I wanted to share with you just a taste of the conference I went to last month-- SCBWI Western Washington's 22nd Annual Writing and Illustrating for Children Conference. It was an incredible get-together for writers and here is just a taste of the wonderful inspiration I got there:

First of all, the local success stories panel was loaded with inspirational quotes. (My apologies if I don't get them exactly right. I was scribbling as fast as I could!):

"There is no wall we cannot break through." Stacey Campbell, Hush

"Learn to write this book... relearn the process every time."


"When you think you're done, you're not done... just a little bit more." J. Anderson Coats, The Wicked and the Just

"You need to find your uniqueness and express that... tap into you."


"If you're going to succeed with anything, it's going to be with you." Kim Baker, Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School

"I love picture books. Even if I never publish another book, I'm going to keep making stuff." Suzanne Kaufman, I Love Monkey

And, of course, loads of inspiration came from our amazing faculty.

If you ever get an opportunity to hear Kelly Milner Halls speak, do! Her advice about school visits is so practical and confidence building. And it's awesome to be weird!

Kelly encouraged us to, "Write your authentic book."

The roundtables (which were new this year) were a pleasure. It was really interesting to listen to an agent and an author critique ten different manuscripts (including my own).

Tricia Lawrence gave me some really great advice to expand an (almost unbelievably) too short picture book.  My mind kept whirling after her critique and I actually started revising at the conference. Yay!

Mac Barnett was a pleasure to listen to as he critiqued every manuscript in our small group. The number one critique I took away from his inspiring session was to make sure to keep escalating the action in your picture book. Plus, he is super funny!

It was awesome to attend Amie-Joan Paquette's session on what makes a picture book manuscript stand out where I was thrilled to get to hear a sneak peak of Tara Lazar's debut picture book, The Monstore.

Oh my! There were so many more amazing sessions! Thank you to Sophie Blackall, Kendra Levin, Joanna Volpe, Robin Lafevers and more! Everyone was incredible!

And then there were my wonderful fellow conference attendees! The discussions in between sessions were just as wonderful as the sessions themselves. It is amazing for one weekend to be surrounded by a community of writers. People who truly get what it means to try to create children's books!

And, of course, thank you to the amazing Secret Garden Books! Kristy and her wonderful team had such an incredible selection of books (including mine-- Thanks!). I left with such a wonderful selection of books and have been busy reading ever since. (Just finished the awesome Chained by Lynne Kelly. Wow!)

Thanks so much to all the conference organizers!  Can't wait till next year!

Hope this very brief summary was helpful! What conferences would you recommend?


  1. How funny that we both posted about SCBWI conferences today. :-) Lots of great advice here. And I am so jealous that you got a sneak peek of THE MONSTORE!

  2. That is funny, Anna! Great minds think alike I guess! Just stopped by your blog. Love the great advice you collected too! (SCBWI conferences are so awesome!) Getting to hear THE MONSTORE early was definitely cool! (p.s. Thanks so much for being my new blog's very first visitor. :o) )

  3. Always applicative of conference attendees sharing what they feel they can. Awesome.

  4. Mirka-- So glad you like my conference sharing! It was definitely an awesome conference!

    Katie C-- So glad you like the new blog! I was so excited for launch day! (p.s. I will still be over at The Paper Wait too!)

  5. I love the look and feel of your new blog. I think I'll have to stop by for a cup of coffee on a regular basis.

  6. So glad you like the look and feel of the new blog, Laura! And so glad you'll be stopping by for coffee! I'm definitely hoping to make it a fun hangout!