Team SCBWI: Tips, Info, and All Things Conference!

When it comes to writing conferences, is this your mentality?


If so, awesome, you’re going to love this post because it’s about all things Team SCBWI Spring Conference! First up, here’s some info, tips, and words of wisdom that our lovely co-regional advisors, Sue Peters and Sue Poduska sent out last week:


If you haven’t been to the Claggett Center, there are good directions and a campus map on their website. Our meeting are in the Conference Center. The entry to the campus is by a long lane off MD 85/Buckeystown Pike.

If you are staying at the Christiane Inn at Claggett, check in on Friday is any time after 3 pm. I (Sue Poduska) will have the room keys, so look for me. I’ll try to stick around the lobby area. If you’re coming for dinner, that starts at 6:15. Our get together begins at 7 pm. We’ll have a few snacks and some wine and beer. Please feel free to bring beverages to share. Be aware, though, that there will be high school students on campus with another group, so keep a eye on the alcohol and keep it at the Inn. Breakfast both days is 7:30, but they keep the line open for a while.

If you haven’t been to the Inn before, the rooms are very comfortable. The housekeeping staff does not come in and make your bed like in your finer hotels. And there’s no television in the rooms. (It’s a retreat center, for goodness sake.) You will have wi-fi, though. And we’re very happy to have the individual bathrooms, as that was always a problem at Monocacy Hall before the Inn was built.

Claggett has asked that we check out before 10 am on Sunday, so you may want to clear out before the intensives.


Dress is business casual. Remember you might want to make a good impression, but also remember it’s a long day and you want to be comfortable. I told Claggett to expect commuters for breakfast — fruit, yogurt, bagels, and coffee/tea. Book sales are in the large closet next to the cafeteria.

Check in will not begin until 8:15. DO NOT line up before that. It just flusters the volunteers. That won’t stop you from picking out a chair and having a bagel. Do check in, though. It helps us get a count for paying the bill, and you get a badge and a shiny folder with lots of information.

We are bursting at the seams, so get to know your seat mates. Bring business cards if you have them. You never know who can be a big help in your career — or who might let you use their bathroom at the Inn.

Critiques will be at the Christiane Inn — across the courtyard. This includes query reviews by our recently published group of authors. Cross your fingers for good weather. Schedules will be posted near check in and at the Inn.

Lunch is at 12:55. Patience is a virtue in the lunch line. We ask that you encourage the speakers to go to the front of the line. Some need to prepare presentations. Some are signing autographs. They have quite a variety as a rule, but you may want to bring along any special dietary requirements.

There is a mid-afternoon snack, and dinner is 6:30 on Saturday.


Intensives are 9:00 to noon. We do still have room for more participants. We accept checks or credit cards this year for payment. Lunch is at noon.

Now, is this your first conference? Feeling a little nervous? No worries, we’ve got you covered in these past posts.

Surviving Your First Critique and Conference Tips

Pre-Conference Polishing

Prepare for a Successful Conference

Perfecting Your Book Pitch

Don’t feel like clicking any links? Okay, here’s my TOP TWENTY TWO TIPS:

  1. Come prepared by previewing our available breakout sessions and highlight the ones you’re most interested in.
  2. If there’s an agent, editor, or author you’re particularly interested in meeting, check out their website, Twitter feed, or other sites to get a feel for them.
  3. Pack business cards to give to new contacts. Nothing fancy—the kind you print from the computer are fine, with your name, phone number, email address and website, if you have one.
  4. Don’t forget your sweater if you’re like me and freeze if the temperature dips below 70!
  5. Pack a travel mug if you’re paranoid about spilling coffee or tea all over the place. (I also tuck a few Truvia’s in my purse since I’m particular about my sweeteners. Oh, and mints, because coffee breath–yuck.)
  6. Bring your laptop, smartphone–plus a portable charger, paper, pens, and what have you to take lots and lots of notes on.
  7. Also bring snacks if you have certain dietary needs.
  8. Oh, and your query letter if you’d like it critiqued! From our website:
    1. Our Sweet Sixteens, who have recent success in getting published, will be available to critique those letters on the spot for a nominal fee of $10. Note that payment will be directly to the critiquers, some of whom can take credit cards. This is on a drop-in basis and will be limited to ten-minute exchanges. A schedule will be available at the conference.
  9. Practice your book pitch (here’s a post that might help.)
  10. Arrive at the start of registration so you have plenty of time to sign-up, get a snack, mingle, and meet new people before the conference starts.
  11. If you want a book by a certain author, be sure to buy it in the morning before their presentation or they may sell out.
  12. Get your hashtag on! Posting tweets throughout the day is a great way to interact with other attendees. Ours will be #TeamSCBWI and here’s our Twitter page if you’re not following us yet.
  13. Mingle during breaks, lunch and social times. At my first conference, I met someone who became a very important part of my life this way!
  14. Have patience with the organizers if something goes wrong. Our goal is for you to have an amazing conference experience so we will be working hard to make this happen!
  15. Keep an open mind. If none of the workshops offered during a particular session apply to your needs, try attending something new! You never know what you’ll take from it and some of my favorite presentations have been on topics far away from my genre, like ones given by illustrators.
  16. If you have a critique scheduled and must leave during a workshop session, try to sit in the back. (Don’t worry about hurting a presenter’s feelings by leaving – they know all about critiques.) Arrive early and check it with the critique timer on duty.
  17. It’s okay if you need some down time – Saturday is going to be a very long day with tons of information, so if you feel overwhelmed, find a quiet place to take a breather.
  18. Participate by asking questions at the end of a presentation. (I try to jot them down as I think of them so I won’t forget.)
  19. After exchanging business cards with someone, jot down a few notes on the back about how you met, what you talked about, etc., so next week, you won’t look at the card and say, “Who was that again?”
  20. Follow up after the conference. If you had an excellent critique by an author, send them an email thanking them for their thoughts. If you connected with another writer or illustrator, get to know them better by making contact!
  21. Share! If you have a blog, write about your experience and what you took away from the weekend without giving away too much valuable information that conference attendees paid for. Be sure to also send us a link or submit to be a guest poster here!
  22. Afterwards, we’re hoping you go home pumped and excited, reading to attack your writing or illustrating projects with new energy. Capitalize on this by rolling your sleeves up and getting to work!

AND FINALLY, to wrap up this long, long post, if you have missed any of our pre-conference faculty interviews, click on the links below!

If you still have any questions, feel free to leave it in the comments below and I’m looking forward to seeing you at the conference!



About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger/vlogger at Write, Run, Rejoice and Joyful Miles, mom of two awesome boys, wife of one fantastic husband, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She loves run-on sentences and adverbs. She also still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that.
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