Is your suitcase out? Your conference ducks all in a row? Or, are you like me, making lists of all the things you still have to get done as you stare at piles of laundry that must be tackled before you fly away to LA for the upcoming conference?
I had one more bit of pre-conference interviewing fun that I got to do yesterday with Bonnie Bader. And, really, how much does Bonnie rock that she took time out of her busy Monday to answer some questions for us? She's got to get on a plane in a couple of days, too!
Take a peek at Bonnie's conference bio: Bonnie Bader is the Editor-in-Chief of Grosset and Dunlap and Price Stern Sloan, two imprints of the Penguin Young Readers Group. She oversees a group of eight editors who actively acquire a wide range of books from series to readers to novelty to licensed properties. The editors are always looking to hire writers to work on both a “for hire” and a “royalty” basis. While licensed publishing is a staple of the group, a big focus is on middle-grade series. Some of the bestselling series published by Grosset include Camp Confidential, Hank Zipzer, and Katie Kazoo.
JOLIE: I hope it's as beautiful on your coast as it is here. If we were able to sit down in some little coffee spot for this interview, what would be your drink of choice?
BONNIE: It’s a beautiful day here in New York – we have a brief respite from the unbearable heat! Emailing is fun, but if we were to sit down for coffee, it would definitely be at Starbucks and I’d order a Coffee Frappuccino Light.
JOLIE: Those of us in the Pacific Northwest have been jealous of that warm east coast weather, but glad to hear you're getting a bit of a break from the intense heat. And, I haven't tried the Frappuccino light, so I'll have what you're having!
You have been a long-time friend of SCBWI and this summer conference. I believe you've been at each and every one I've been to--this will be #6, with one year missed, for me. I've watched your daughters grow up! What keeps you coming back year after year?
Bonnie: Right now, I’d take some of your cold weather over our heat! But then again, it is summer…
You’re right – I’ve been coming to the SCBWI conference for a long time. I’m trying to remember how long exactly – I think this will be my 8th summer conference! This year, I won’t be bringing my daughter Lauren – she’s at a Choral program in upstate New York for the month of July. She’s sad that she’s not working in the bookstore this year. Oh well, there’s always next year….
I love SCBWI, especially the summer conference. Although it’s a lot of work for me (each year I seem to have more and more work to do!) the energy at the summer conference is incredible. I love meeting all the writers and illustrators and it’s fun catching up with colleagues, too!
JOLIE: During the past few conferences you've offered a on-going class (requiring advanced registration) on pitching a series. I know it was immensely popular. But you're switching things up this year. I see you will present a two-part session called "Start: Write Your First Page." I have a feeling your room will be packed, which is why it's probably being offered twice. Can you give us a bit of a taste?
BONNIE: You’re right, I have offered several master classes over the past few conferences, but this year I’m doing something different. My workshop, Start: Write Your First Page will be offered twice and each “class” will meet twice – an “a” and “b” part. Since I don’t like my workshops to be all lectures, this one will be very interactive. On the first day, we’ll talk about what makes a good opening line, and we’ll do some exercises turning boring first lines into great hooks. Then, I’ll have the participants “go home” and work on the first lines of their manuscripts, taking into account all they learned in the class that day. Part “B” will consist of “workshopping” those first lines.
JOLIE: That really sounds fantastic, Bonnie. And something very new and different for this conference. Conference-goers out there, I'd get to this one early for a seat!
You're also giving a "Nonfiction Early Readers" talk. Tell us a bit more, if you would.
BONNIE: In this workshop, be prepared to learn that writing nonfiction early readers is not only creative, but you can learn a lot too! You’ll learn the best parts about writing non fiction early readers, and the most challenging parts, how to pick a topic for your book, which types of sources to use, and other handy tips. I’ll also talk about our reader program and exciting opportunities for authors.
And finally, I have to ask, are you prepared for the "Heart and Soul" poolside party?
BONNIE: I had an outfit picked out, but my ten-year-old daughter said it was too boring. I think I’m going to go shopping after work…
JOLIE: Ha! How about ten-year-old daughters and their honesty (I have one, too!). But, you're doing better than me. I don't even have a boring outfit picked out yet.
Thanks for the chat, Bonnie!