Recently, I asked Gretchen Griffith about why she wrote The Inside Track. Here is her response:
I was mostly interested in developing a guide for conference newcomers because of my own experiences at my first SCBWI conference years ago in Clemmons, NC where I had no idea what to expect, what to say, what to wear even.
After a few sessions and many friendly greetings that weekend, I realized my fears were unfounded, my ideas taken seriously, and my clothing the least of anyone’s concern. Yet had I been aware of certain elements of the conference, I would not have missed out on valuable information and on available networking with other authors. Through the years I’ve gained a little insight into making the best of a writer’s conference, so when I was in Charlotte a couple of years ago talking with first timers, I did what other SCBWI members once did for me. I helped them.
That led to the Inside Track. I certainly did not approach it as a rule book, but as a tool for navigating the unknown. I knew the information I collected would be as valuable to us many-timers as it would be to the first-timers.
My suggestions to those enduring their first professional critique came from one of my own experiences, not that it was a bad critique or that my nerves flaked out on me. I just wasn’t prepared when the editor asked me if I had any questions for him. I stammered. I hemmed and hawed. I flopped, but the next year, I prepared questions…that I didn’t get to ask…until the mixer that evening.
That’s what the Inside Track, or what I affectionately call, the “Newbie-Doobie-Do and the Newbie-Doobie-Don’t-Do” is all about preparing and navigating.
Whether this is your first or your fifth conference, we want it to be an exceptional experience. So, here's some conference information just for those who like a heads up on how the conference works.
When can I register at the conference?
Conference registration opens on Friday at 7:30 AM for those participants who are taking one of the three intensive programs.
Conference registration opens on Friday at 1:30 PM for those who have a scheduled critique/review/consultation between 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM and for those participants attending the conference.
What do I get at registration?
You get your conference badge and a folder with a schedule of events and what room these events are held in.
If you are having a critique/review/consultation, your session time and reviewer will be on the back of your badge.
What should I bring with me?
You will need a paper, something to take notes with, and a sweater. Bring a book bag or tote bag for handouts and books you may want to purchase and have signed by the conference presenters and breakout session leaders.
This is my first conference, how can I prepare?
We have an Inside Track for New Arrivals on our website. It’s full of helpful hints and suggestions not only for preparing for the conference, but during and after the conference as well.
Gretchen Griffith has navigated through several SCBWI conferences and retreats during her writing career. She attributes much of her success to the skills she learned while being associated with SCBWI. Her nonfiction article, “Finding Forty-two” published in the February 2009 Highlights for Children was first critiqued at a SCBWI conference in Charlotte. Her first picture book, When Christmas Feels LIke Home was recently released by Albert Whitman & Co.