For me, a big part of loving what I do is taking the time to learn. Sometimes this means sitting down with a new-to-me how-to title. Page by page, I learn about voice, bringing emotion into my writing, or scripting a graphic novel. Other times learning something new means taking the time for a conference or workshop.
I took my son’s senior year of high school off, not signing up for any events that required travel. As I eased back in, I noticed something – I was really having a hard time finding events that really excited me. Sure, they sounded good but I wasn’t learning as much as I wanted to. The problem was that I was treading familiar ground.
Then, by chance, I signed up for a Library Journal event. It was online and it was free. Whatever. Nothing to lose.
Sometimes you really do get more than your money’s worth. I think it was the fact that it was organized by people with a libraries focus. Yes, everyone spoke on books. Many spoke on writing. But the slant was just different enough to feel fresh, new and exciting. The good news is that School Library Journal has another event coming up in March. Okay, I looked it up. It is on March 27, 2019.
Middle Grade Magic is all about middle grade literature and it is FREE. I’ve already signed up and, if they would let me, I’d sign up again now that the full schedule is up.
10:00 AM | Booths Open
11:00–11:30 AM | Opening Keynote: Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks.)
11:30 AM–12:15 PM | Panel 1: Make ‘Em Laugh: Funny Reads
Georgia Dunn, Breaking Cats News and Lupin Leaps In (Andrews McMeel)
Lamar Giles, The Last Last-Day-of-Summer (HMH/Versify)
Kelly Jones, Are You Ready to Hatch an Unusual Chicken? (Knopf)
Geoff Rodkey, We’re Not From Here (Crown)
Moderated by Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY
12:30–1:00 PM | Lunch Keynote with Kekla Magoon (Random/Wendy Lamb Bks.)
Sue here: If you’ve paid any attention to middle grade, you’ve seen Magoon’s name. She has three Coretta Scott King Honors and has been on the National Book Award Long List. The Season of Styx Malone was named an SLJ Best Book of 2018.
1:00–1:45 PM | Panel 2: Exploring “Tough Topics” in Fiction
Tony Abbott, The Great Jeff (Little, Brown)
Veera Hiranandani, The Night Diary (Penguin/Kokila)
Mae Respicio, The House That Lou Built (Random/Wendy Lamb Bks.)
Kate Messner, Breakout (Bloomsbury)
Sue here: I loved Breakout so I’m really jazzed at the opportunity to hear Messner speak.
1:45–2:30 PM | Panel 3: Graphic Narratives
Don Brown, Rocket to the Moon (Abrams)
Shannon Hale, Best Friends (First Second)
Dylan Meconis, Queen of the Sea (Candlewick)
Mai K. Nguyen, Pilu of the Woods (Oni Press)
Brenna Thummler, Sheets (Lion Forge)
Moderated by Mahnaz Dar, SLJ Graphic Novel Editor
Sue here: Shannon Hale and Brenna Thummler! Sheets is currently in my to-be-read stack from the library.
2:45–3:30 PM | Panel 4: Fantastic Worlds, Incredible Journeys
Alane Adams, The Blue Witch (Sparkpoint Studio)
David Bowles, The Unicorn Rescue Society: The Chupacabras of the Rio Grande (Dutton)
Carlos Hernandez, Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (Disney)
Kim Long, Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament (Running Pr.)
Allison Mills, The Ghost Catcher (Annick)
Moderated by Ashleigh Williams, SLJ Assistant Editor, Middle Grade
3:30–4:00 PM | Closing Keynote: Ali Benjamin, The Next Great Paulie Fink(Little, Brown)
Continuing to learn is a must if you are going to grow as a writer and continue to love what you do. If you want to take advantage of this particular opportunity, you can find out more here.