Friday, October 9, 2015

Tips, Pics, and Congrats from the 2015 Homegrown Talent Conference

Conference co-coordinator Jennifer Rumberger is here to share her conference take-aways, but first we want to say congratulations to SCBWI-MI members Dan Burns and Ann Dalman! Dan won the 2016 Michigan Mentorship Award that featured diversity, and Ann was the first runner-up. This award considered picture books, novels or nonfiction manuscripts that were either written by a person of diverse origins or included elements of a multicultural perspective.

Patricia Hruby Powell
The grand prize is a one-year mentorship with Patricia Hruby Powell, a storyteller, author and former dancer. Her most recent picture book, JOSEPHINEwon The Coretta Scott King Book Award, Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Parent’s Choice Award, Wall Street Journal’s 10 Best Children’s Books of the Year List, and the Bologna Ragazzi Nonfiction Honor.

We'll catch up with Dan and Ann in another post to learn more about them and their work. 

Here's Jennifer's conference recap:

This past weekend SCBWI-Michigan hosted a Homegrown Talent Conference at Thomson-Shore publishers in Dexter, Michigan. The amazing speakers: Ruth McNally Barshaw, Deborah Diesen, Kelly DiPucchio, Lynne Rae Perkins, Katherine Jacobs, Kathleen Merz, Mary Bigler and portfolio reviewer Wong Herbert Yee (all from Michigan or currently living in Michigan) shared much to keep those in attendance inspired. To help those of you who missed the conference find inspiration as well, below are five tips as you continue to write.
  1. Dig deep and figure out why you’re writing for kids.
  2. Fall in love with your main character. It’s the best way to make your reader feel something for them as well.
  3. Make sure you are committed to your story before going too far with it. If you can’t totally commit, your reader will know.
  4. Round characters are a necessity in every good story.
  5. The influence our writing can have on today’s children is a power not to be taken lightly.
As you sit down to type that next story or pick up your pen and paper, remember that a community of writers is cheering you on from their own computer or notepad. 

Jennifer Rumberger is a wife and mom of two very active boys. She is an administrative assistant during the day and a children's writer in her free time, which can be at home or at one of her boys' many sports practices (never during games!). She has been published in a handful of children's magazines and her picture book, DUCKLINGS ON THE MOVE, is available from MeeGenius.

Thanks to Pat Trattles who coordinated the fall conference with Jennifer and the many volunteers who helped - what a great event! Here are some photos from the fun, informative, jam-packed day. Thanks to Kirbi Fagan for taking the time to capture these moments.

Co-Regional Advisors Leslie Helakoski and Carrie Pearson kick-started the day with an audience dance.

SCBWI-MI webmistress Deb Gonzales with editors, Katherine Jacobs and Kathleen Merz.

Ready to start the day.

Kelly DiPucchio during her funny, inspirational speech. Bulldogs, Babies, and Bacon: Everyone Has a Story

Perusing the portfolio display

Thank you illustrators for sharing your work.

SCBWI-MI Illustrator Coordinator, Ruth McNally Barshaw led a session for illustrators: Packing the Perfect Portfolio

Nick Atkins, creator of the Homegrown Talent Conference logo, with his wife Ashley.

Save the date! The SCBWI Wild Wild Midwest Conference will be held in Chicago, April 29- May 1, 2016. Five regions are hosting —Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. More info soon!


  1. Congrats to the winners of the mentorship award. And thanks for the pics and the recap of the conference. It sounds great.

  2. Had such a wonderful time. Thanks to everyone who planned and coordinated!

  3. Wonderful work, Jennifer!!! Thanks for everything.

  4. There was no doubt in my mind the conference would be a hit. Sorry I missed it because I can only imagine all the fun that was had by everyone! SCBWI-MI folks are super spectacular.

  5. Thank you to everyone for their hard work! So fun to see all the wonderful pics and read the recap!

  6. A fabulous day! Thanks so much Jennifer and Pat! And many congrats to Dan and Ann!!

  7. It was a stellar day. I'm so impressed with our homegrown talent! Many thanks to a great team.