Conference Challenge #1: Two Friends and a Kitchen Table

Happy last day of July! Yikes! Tomorrow is August, which makes September officially around the corner.  Our two-day conference is fast approaching. I hope you plan on attending  Lucky 13: Make 2013 Your Year. If not, then maybe you should check out Laura’s ten reasons why you should and then register.

Speaking of…let’s talk about Reason #9. Are you ready to win something? I hope so because today is your first chance to earn an entry into the raffle for five baskets filled with all sorts of goodies.

Yes, you heard me right. FIVE baskets!


But wait, there’s more!  If you complete four of the eight challenges, not only do you earn one entry, but you automatically win a very cool SCBWI notepad. So really, you can’t lose!

Let’s quickly go over guidelines. Each week until the conference, Laura and I will be posting various writing challenges. We also will be posting illustrator challenges that were suggested by the lovely Susan Detwiler. If you recall from before the spring conference, you must let us know in the comments section of  a particular challenge when you have completed it. You are free to post what you’ve written, but it is not required. And don’t worry if you have a busy week or two and miss doing the challenges. Go ahead and catch up when you have time.  Just remember to comment in the challenge post that you have completed it.

The more you do, the better your chances to win:

– Completing FOUR of the EIGHT challenges will earn ONE entry.

– Completing SIX of the EIGHT challenges will earn TWO entries.

– Completing EIGHT of the EIGHT challenges will earn THREE entries!

There you have it! We will draw five winning tickets for the goodie baskets at the Lucky 13 Conference in September and give out SCBWI notepads to all who complete 4 out of 8 challenges.

And now to our first challenge!


Conference Writing Challenge #1:

This was inspired by one of Susan’s Detwiler’s illustrator challenges, which you will see below. Two friends are sitting at a kitchen table. Describe the setting – give us a feel for the characters and the mood. Paint a picture with words, then start a conversation between the friends. Don’t be afraid to use irony or humour. You may surprise your reader with a sudden twist, gently take them on an emotional journey or leave them rolling with laughter. It’s up to you!

Conference Illustrator Challenge #1:

Depict a window scene – show both inside and out. (thank you Susan!)

Happy writing and illustrating!


About Susan Mannix

Susan worked as a biomedical research editor for the Department of the Navy for fourteen years and has been a member of SCBWI since 2007. She writes young adult and middle grade novels. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time doing all things horses, including attending her teenaged daughters’ many competitions. Susan lives in Maryland on a small farm with her husband, two children, an adorable black lab, two cats, and three horses.
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17 Responses to Conference Challenge #1: Two Friends and a Kitchen Table

  1. Oh, the conference challenges! I love these!! Unfortunately, I’m swamped right now, so I won’t be able to participate this year, but I’ll wave my pom poms and cheer for the rest of you! 😀

  2. Sharon says:

    How do we let you know when we finish one?

    • susanmannix says:

      Hi Sharon. Sorry for not replying sooner. All you have to do is comment in here that you’ve finished. Hope to see you back!

  3. Completed! Thanks for the challenge! Melissa

    • I decided to include the text for the challenge:

      Ryan sat across from me at our kitchen table. There were a few crumbs left over from breakfast scattered over the two flowery vinyl place mats. They were dented and scorched from hot dishes and pans. Dad insisted on keeping them–remnants of my mothers past presence in the house. Dad held on to things like that — the ugly place mats, the green shallow coffee cups, the pink afghan, gnarly with lint balls, flung across the back of the couch, the adhesive art of trees and birds he couldn’t understand, but would not take off the wall. Dad hated all this stuff, but refused to take it down or throw it away. I wondered if Ryan and I would be like that, connected to each other by stuff neither of us liked or wanted, but kept because getting rid of it meant letting go of each other for good.

      We sat there in silence. I had warmed the left-over breakfast coffee for myself and Ryan drank a Mountain Dew he’d brought with him.

      “Why?” Ryan’s one word question confused me for a second. Why what? I wondered. Why doesn’t my dad get rid of these ugly place mats? Why don’t I just make a fresh pot of coffee? I looked down into the cup of lukewarm coffee, brownish green from the skim milk creamer. I knew why he was asking why. I hadn’t confided in him. We were supposed to be a couple, getting closer instead of pushing each other away. I wasn’t sure what to say, so I just repeated the question as my own question.

      “Why?” I looked directly into his blue eyes, cold now with doubt and mistrust.

      “Why didn’t you tell me about the necklace? Why didn’t you tell me about him?”

      “The necklace … I don’t know.” Getting the necklace had both frightened and excited me. Seeing him again had excited me, too. He had always been like a brother, but things had changed since he’d left home. I had changed inside and out. “About him? There is no about him, Ryan. Ray is just my friend. That’s all.” I wanted to tell Ryan he was the only one I wanted, that I wanted him more than anything. But I couldn’t. Saying it out loud makes it so. My mom used to say that. She had a thing about letting words and thoughts out into the universe. Especially bad stuff. But loving Ryan was a good thing, wasn’t it? So how is saying how I feel for Ryan a bad thing? I knew the answer before I asked the question. Loving Ryan might mean that I would never leave Leafy Creek, I would never go out into the world, go to college, have a life. “The necklace … ” I shook my head trying to think why. And just as I thought of the reason why, Dad walked in the door.

      • susanmannix says:

        Um…WOW! Melissa, if you don’t write a book from this you’re crazy! I didn’t want to stop reading. Well done!

  4. Deb D says:

    Even though I probably won’t be attending the conference, this looked like fun. I completed the illustrator challenge #1!

  5. Summer B says:

    Completed- but I had others interrupt and join just before the fruit was served. Does that still count?
    I hope so 🙂

  6. Beverly says:

    I finally did Challenge #1! It was hard to start because I read Melissa’s first, so my idea disappeared into hers, which was so good. Then it took an hour and a half, with all the interruptions around my house. Guess what it’s about… an interruption! Thanks!

    • susanmannix says:

      And I’m finally commenting…well done! We all know what it’s like to write with interruptions. Glad you hung in there.

  7. Teresa MIS says:

    Finished challenge 1, but couldn’t upload. Will try tomorrow.

  8. Larissa says:

    I’m a little late, but I finished the first challenge and I’m off to do the next one.

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