Conference Business

Last weekend I attended SCBWI BI’s annual Winchester Conference, the second writing-related conference this year. To put a long story short: I had a blast!

After this year’s Europolitan conference in Zurich–kudos to the regional team of SCBWI Switzerland–I realized was informed that Germany/Austria will be hosting the next Europolitan in two year’s time and I am going to be in charge of organizing it because I’m the Regional Advisor (RA).  (Cue some mild panic.)
I figured I better start looking around ASAP for a) ideas on affordable venues to host the next Europolitan, b) help to get it all sorted, and c) ideas what to do.
Naturally, I arrived at the idea of attending more SCBWI conferences to get a better picture of what can be done, how it’s done, and get some insights from my fellow RA+team who have been around a while. And along came Winchester. And there will be the annual Winter Conference in New York in early 2020. (Can’t wait!)

Pros and Cons from Winchester

On the plus side: the team, all volunteers, the venue, the faculty–well, everyone, really–was amazing. The whole conference was well planned. Talking to Natascha Biebow, I learned there were 200+ attendees, and despite the number of people, everything went like clockwork.
While all the breakout sessions I attended were informative and helpful, I liked the Friday Night Critique best: Feeback on the first 2000 words of my WIP. Neat! Peer feedback is such a crucial part of refining a manuscript! I got paired up with three other YA writers who all submitted super-exciting beginnings. If I had taken up those pages in book form, I would have wanted to read on for all of them.

On the ‘meh’-side – and I am well aware that point does not hold true to many others 😉 –the location is a teeny-tiny bit out of the way for those who don’t live in the UK. Coming from Karlsruhe, Germany, it took me a whole day of travel. (Train to Paris, Eurostar to King’ X, tube to Waterloo Station, train to Winchester; flights to Southampton were basically way beyond my budget) Of course, the time was not entirely lost as I worked on my WIP on the way to the Winchester and jotted down some post-conference notes on the way back. Unfortunately, after a few hours, even the comfiest train seat gets a bit old.

Meeting people

The SCBWI Germany/Austria region covers such a large area, I can’t possibly meet with all members. So, conferences are a perfect opportunity to seek out and meet with those people who you know only via social media. Below, a picture of the three Germany/Austria members in attendance this year. We all met for the first time, and it was great to finally shake hands in RL!

WhatsApp Image 2019-11-06 at 10.51.01.jpegThe brilliant Angela Murray and Helen Ishmurzin at our Ger/AT Region’s network meeting.

Also: THIS AMAZING CAKE at Saturday’s party, showing all the books of the SCBWI BI region’s mass-book-launch, topped with this year’s conference motto Telling Tales and the illustration/logo as sugar figurine.

WhatsApp Image 2019-11-06 at 10.50.44.jpegUnfortunately, I have no idea whom to credit for this masterpiece of cakemanship…but whoever is responsible: KUDOS! Just look at all these details–it’s amazing.

So, looking back to the past weekend, I am super happy I went to Winchester. I will definitely go again next year if I can manage at all and encourage everyone who is on the fence about attending such an event to go ahead – it’s been a blast.
I took home a few ideas for the Europolitan conference, too, so that’s another win. Yay!

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