Today's the big day! It's the beginning of The Official SCBWI Winter Conference 2021! This is my first time writing for Team Blog, thanks to Lee Wind and his lovely invite, but it is not my first time musing about book conference tea. I love it all. The workshops, the critiques, the keynotes, and the fashion (Oh yes, my friends, there are lots of bookish inspired accessories and costumes to take in at any SCBWI conference you attend).
My name is Lakita Wilson, and I write middle-grade and young adult fiction and non-fiction. In 2017, I decided to enter the On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Contest. I uploaded my manuscript and got back to querying agents. The next few months were full of rejections (boo). One rejection left me deflated and feeling low (think of that one helium balloon left over from last weekends birthday party--lingering in a purgatory space of not quite reaching new heights, but not exactly popped and thrown out yet). While I sulked on the couch (or in a bathtub of bubbles--depending on who I tell this story to), my cellphone rings. It's Lin Oliver!
Lin Oliver: Hello, Lakita. This is Lin Oliver calling to let you know you have been selected as one of the 2017 On-The-Verge Emerging Voices winners.
Me: Are you sure? Lakita......Wilson???
Lin Oliver: Yes--Yes, I'm sure.
Me: But, no agents want me.
*note to conference attendees. If someone offers you an award--take it. Do not spend your entire phone call convincing them they have made a huge mistake. *
Well. Lin Oliver managed to convince me that I did in fact actually win the award for my middle grade manuscript, BOOKS LIKE ME. And the following August, I flew out to L.A. to attend the Annual SCBWI Conference. Here's a photo of me with fellow winner Anuradha D. Rajurkar, who has a YA Novel, AMERICAN BETIYA coming out this year.
My journey was not easy. I still faced plenty of agent rejections after winning my award. However, with SCBWI opening doors for me and introducing me to industry professionals, and after a two-year run in grad school, studying the craft of writing for children and young adults, (Thanks VCFA!) I finally landed my dream agent, Melanie Castillo at Root Literary ( @wellmelsbells).
Since graduating from my MFA program and landing an agent, I've had the awesome opportunity of working with a variety of publishers. I've written for educational publisher's like Capstone and Lerner. I've worked with an awesome book packager (the project isn't announced yet, so I'm not sure if I'm allowed to give specifics on this), I'm currently working on a WFH project, and my agent has sold a few original projects to one of the top 5 publishing houses (A little birdie told me that the announcement for one of these projects is coming in a few weeks. So, follow me here to check it out)
I do believe that dreams come true. But I also believe that before the dream is realized, you have to put in a hard days work. Attending this conference is just one of the ways you can invest in your writing career. Persistence and believing in you and your work are other great ways. I finally believe in myself, and I believe in you, too! I can't wait to (virtually) meet everyone! :-)
Would you like to talk about books with me during and after the conference? Follow me here: